Greg discusses Strat-Talking and winning UK Blog Award, 2014

GUEST POST from Greg Dillon, Winner of PR, Marketing, Media and Communications Individual Category of the UK Blog Awards 2014....

 

I’m one of those fortunate people who loves that they do, has a passion for it, works hard at it and is not afraid to get stuck in.

About two years ago I decided that I really wanted to start writing a blog. I had noticed over the years that there was very little in the way of support, opinion or honesty in the design agency community that helps people from junior to senior understand how they were doing, what their next options were and even how much they should charge if they went freelance.

Thus, was born.

Providing a toolkit of clarity and inspiration for brand strategy consultants new and veteran, the site aims to be insightful, topical, provocative but above all honest.

Stats started slow, I guess I thought that once it was live then I’d have hundreds of people viewing each day. This was not the case, it takes time, patience and passion to build a following.

It took six months to hit a thousand unique readers per month but I was learning to change my mindset from wanting a high volume readership to recognising that I was writing for a really niche category so the stats were actually pretty good.

Attending #bloghour regularly to both read and contribute helped me see that my queries, no matter how big or small were not unique and that we all have challenges to overcome along the way.

Being involved with the UK Blogging Awards was a great experience, and I’m not just saying that because I won.

It opened my eyes to the power of reader and industry feedback, passing the first round open vote was pride-inducing enough but to then be shortlisted was monumental. It gave me the belief and desire to push on and keep going with it.

I got notes from people all round the world offering support and letting me know they had voted for me, it was truly humbling.

I never expected to win at all, the PR, Marketing and Comms category was so strong.

As soon as the shortlist was announced I obviously checked out the competition, their strengths, their previous awards, their writing style. So many great blogs I genuinely did not think I would make the highly commended list let along win.

On the night though it all fell into place.

Strat-Talking’s name was announced as the winner, Kirsty, my fiancé, who has been instrumental in keeping my motivation up and even guest blogged for the site, screamed as I got up, straightened my tux and headed to the stage to collect the award.

Since winning, I have been interviewed for local newspapers, had more guest blog submissions than before and have had lots of peers and potential clients commend me on my efforts as well as offering their support.

The site now tops six thousand readers a month and is my ‘shop window’ for both work contracts and to give back to the design community whom I serve with advice, conversation and guidance that they literally cannot get anywhere else.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Stay true to why you want to write your blog.
Never let anyone compromise your ethics or principles

Don’t do it for the money.
I initially had ads and tried to sell stuff on the site but in truth that’s not what it is about for me, I find writing cathartic as much as helping to build my profile whilst helping others, you will be renumerated in one way or another later down the line

Focus on design.
No one wants to read a poorly designed site, it helps readers get a sense of your sincerity and pride in what you do if they are treated to a great blog that welcomes them in.

Develop your writing style.
Obvious one but you have to speak as you, in your tone of voice. If any of your blog feels contrived or false it will shine through. I have actively gone back over old posts now I’m more experienced and updated my style to be more in line with how it has developed.

Never give up.
Now you’ve got an awesome blog, thousands of readers and a plethora of people emailing you with content, you haven’t finished. Keep pushing, keep striving. I, for example, am actively working on the back end of the site to make it more user-friendly for readers whilst writing a whole batch of new content as I seek to retain the award next year. On top of that I have launched a second blog, more mainstream, called GreatDrams.com which seeks to make whisky more accessible whilst also talking to those who know their malts well.

Away from blogging Greg is a brand strategy consultant and founder of consultancy GD | Inspires, based in London, that builds, fixes and nuances brands to maximise their commercial value through increased relevance to their consumers.