This guest post is by Brad Dowdy of JetPens.com.
I had no expectations when I started The Pen Addict that it would turn into anything more than a fun hobby. There were no monetezation goals, I didn’t focus on SEO, and I didn’t take my brand into consideration.
But what I did have was a passion. A passion for pens, a passion for paper, and the drive to find the best products available for myself.
As it turns out, there were many others out there looking for the same answers. The search for those answers led The Pen Addict to become the top blog in its niche, and recently led me to taking a full time job with the online retailer JetPens.com, where I can live and talk about my passion every day. Here are some of the steps I took that allowed me to make the jump from blogger to my dream job.
Do it for yourself
I have a thing for ultra-fine pens, but as it turns out, those are very hard to find on your local office supply store shelves. I was strolling the aisles of one of those retailers back in 2007 and came across a pen with an 0.38mm tip size (the smallest you normally see is 0.5mm, with 0.7mm and 1.0mm being the norm). At the time, that was almost a holy grail find for me. I had no idea that type of pen even existed.
I took to the Internet and found there were other options and even smaller tip sizes. I couldn’t wait to order, but I was curious, how would those pens perform? Trying to answer that question for myself was how The Pen Addict was born.
Tell and show
There are a lot of blogs out there that will tell you what the product they are discussing looks and feels like, but how many take the next step and show you? And by “show you,” I don’t mean adding in some stock photos or promotional shots. I mean fresh content of the product actually being used in real life situations. If you do that, then what you are telling the reader becomes more believable, and the more believable you are, the more of an expert in your niche you become.
In my particular case, pens are easy to photograph and talk about, but I found almost no writing samples online of the pens I was interested in. I made it my focus with every pen review I did to include at least one photo of the ink on the page so readers could get a glimpse for themselves. What can you show your readers?
Become a regular
Blogging was never my full-time job, so I had to set aside the time in my busy schedule to accomplish everything I wanted to with it. For me, a single blog post consisted of (at a minimum) a hand written ink sample review, a typed review, and a photograph to be taken and edited. This is before I even logged in to my blog platform to layout and upload the post.
I knew with the amount of time it took for me to complete one post, The Pen Addict could never be a blog that posted every day, much less several times per day. I settled on three content posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then one additional link/conversation post on the weekend. This worked out well for me and was a pace I was able to manage successfully for almost three and a half years. The readers became used to my work flow and always knew when they could expect a new post.
Along with posting on a regular schedule, which I know readers of ProBlogger don’t really need to be told about, I made sure I responded to nearly every question, comment, or email in a timely fashion. If I had to take an hour before bedtime after putting my kids to sleep to catch up on those things, I did it. I wanted the readers to feel that I was regularly available to them, which again led to me becoming a valuable resource in my niche.
Everything you do matters
There are endless social media outlets these days, and an equal number of articles about how to handle them in relation to your blog, but I can’t stress one point enough: Everything you do matters. Every blog post. Every comment. Every email. Every tweet. Everything.
Within six months of starting my blog, JetPens reached out to me and asked if I was interested in receiving some pen samples. Being the fledgling blogger that I was, I jumped at the opportunity. They liked the work I had done so far, and definitely put me on their radar.
Over the next three years, I kept churning out the content, and of course, that expanded to social media sites like Twitter, Flickr, and more recently, YouTube. Anything I ever typed, photographed, or took video of for any of those sites became a reflection of The Pen Addict, and most importantly, me as a person.
They say it is hard to convey your true personality online, and I agree that it is on a small scale. But if you take the sum of my entire body of work—blog posts, Twitter feed, photos, and videos—you can start to put together the picture of who Brad Dowdy really is, and get some insight as to who I am as a person.
Not to put words into my new employers mouth, but they didn’t hire a blogger or a marketer, they hired a person. They had seen me in action on my blog, in my comments section, on my Twitter feed, and were able to see the passion I had for their product, and the way I related to their current and potential customers. When interviewing for this job, I was up against candidates with much more marketing experience than myself, but I believe my personality, my passion, and my work ethic came through on the virtual pages, and I got the job.
My blog helped me land my dream job with JetPens, and I sure am happy to be here.
Has your blog landed you a gig—a job, a speaking engagement, or some other big bonus? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
Brad Dowdy is a Marketing Associate for JetPens.com, an online retailer of Japanese Pens and Stationery. The Pen Addict is where he honed his online chops, and can be found tweeting regularly @dowdyism and @jetpens.