More and more, I am realizing the importance of writing for specific purposes and audiences. In my college reading of these texts:
To look into finding out more about writing in the workplace, I interviewed entrepreneur and full-time blogger, Lauren Grove, owner of the wedding blog, Every Last Detail.
The essence of our interview was finding out what Lauren does and how she does it.
In discussing her job, I focused on finding out about the role writing plays in her position, the overall work environment, and how she adapts to changes in technologies and her industry. Throughout the interview I was able to see more and more of the importance of understanding rhetorical situations and being able to adapt.
As we began our conversation, I asked Lauren to tell me how she describes her position to people who ask what she does. Lauren said that she tells people she owns her own business (a wedding blog) and that her blog is kind of like publishing a magazine every day. She said the blog is mostly image-based, but she does a lot of writing for what she features.
Lauren's job is about 10% blogging and 90% sales and emails. Lauren referred to herself as sort of a “glorified salesperson." She says that the sales aspect involves display ads, sponsored posts, and a vendor guide. She does a lot of social media posts and sharing for her vendor guide – what she describes as “content marketing.”
When I asked Lauren to describe a typical day in her job, she laughed, and then I said, “I guess each day is probably different.” But in a way, her days are somewhat the same. She wakes up in the morning, has coffee, and then starts answering emails and posting social media; “basically, I sit in front of the computer all day. It’s a lot of typing, it’s a lot of email answering…a lot of social media.” She does a social media post for each blog post and usually schedules those in the mornings (“on a good day.”) She also answers a lot of emails and Facebook messages. She said she usually stops at around 6:30-7pm to eat dinner, but then works on writing blog posts after dinner. She said she knows what she’s posting on the blog on what day, but doesn’t usually schedule those ahead of time.
I was interviewing her on a Saturday, and she said she still had to write her post for that day. She mentioned that the weekends are usually pretty dead, and people won’t see it right when you post it.
Most of her traffic comes from Google search and Pinterest, so she said, it’s not really like they’re coming to her website every day. Lauren said, "A lot of people depend on social media to tell them when to go.”
Although Lauren does do a lot of writing and editing in her job, she actually did not study writing at all – she never even took a single writing class. She went to USF and majored in psychology.
She has some help from an employee and sometimes sponsors/businesses will write posts, but she also does a lot of the writing, and all of the social media posts.
I asked her if she thought of herself as a professional writer, and she responded with, “I wouldn’t say professional writer,” but said it was a hard question. She said she never has seen herself as a professional writer. She defines a professional writer as someone who has the “technical knowledge” and went to school for it. She also said that she’s heard that some of that “technical knowledge” doesn’t transfer to web really well, because it might be “boring,” and that a lot of professional writers might find themselves “dumbing themselves down” to write for the web.
Lauren has had her blog for about six years now, and with any business – especially one that relies on technology to run – a lot can change in six years. She discussed some of how her site has evolved over time.
I wanted to find out more about the changes in her industry and how she adapts to changes. “The internet user is constantly changing and getting used to new platforms.” She continued, “Usually as larger websites come out with updates, like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and all of those sites that a lot of people frequent, and Facebook – even, that changes the expectation of the Internet user…so, it constantly has to evolve.”
She is always keeping up to date with app algorithms because a lot of people just use their phones now (with Instagram and Facebook), and a lot of people just scroll through their phones without actually clicking on anything. This is a challenge for her because she needs people to click through to her website from those platforms. She says that using social media herself, reading articles, and staying up-to-date with business/tech blogs/magazines helps. She constantly pays for web development to help her keep up with changes, and is always making changes to the site to accommodate to the new updates.
Lauren is also part of a new start-up wedding social media site, similar to Food Gawker. She explained how the changes in social media have led to this. She said that both Facebook and Pinterest have re-done their algorithms and featured only “sponsored” posts. So with Facebook and Pinterest monetizing their platforms, it has “severely depleting our organic reach has kind of scared us because we depend on them to get traffic to our sites, so we just want to create our own social network that we can control.”
Her advice to anyone wanting to start a blog would be to come up with a topic and start now, because it’s really easy to start one – you just need a platform and a subject/topic. Other than that, she recommended getting a job/internship with someone who has one to learn the backend of things (for example, “tagging images”). She recommended getting experience in sales, graphic design (for “pin-able graphics”), photography, and/or video – and said there is a lot of options, and it would depend on what you want to do specifically.
Lauren said she didn’t have a plan to start a blog and make a business out of it; she set out with the goal of educating brides (which is why she does a lot of “tips” posts). She wanted to become a wedding planner and start building a brand for her wedding planning business. “It just kind of segued into selling advertising and becoming…like the blog was my business instead.”
Lauren sort of “fell into it” and didn’t have any sales experience, but said, “I would definitely recommend starting with at least one skill under your belt.” She said she did work in the wedding industry beforehand, and that made it a bit easier for her to work with wedding vendors – so that was her “segue” or “in.” But, if she could’ve, she said she would’ve wanted to have more sales experience beforehand, because “that’s how you make money.”
People began asking her to advertise on her site, and she added a vendor guide on – which is how she makes most of her money. She did some calculations, “I make X per year, what will I need to do to make X in blogging, and that’s how I set my prices for my vendor guide and how many I need to sell.”
One of the best pieces of advice she gave was to ask for what you want. She says, "you have to ask, if you don’t ask and if you don’t tell people about what you do, you won’t make any sales.”
She stressed the importance of actively marketing yourself, contacting people, and “getting the guts” to email people and ask!
With that, I became motivated to continue my own blog, and also consider options outside of schoolwork to pursue.
What do you think? Would you ever become a blogger, and if so, what would you blog about?
Are you already a blogger? Leave a comment and I'll check out your blog. :)
This is my blog for projects throughout college!