Melissa Penfold is an established authority in the world of interior style, design and decoration in Australia. Over the past 20+ years her style and design tips have been found on the pages of almost every major publication from Vogue to Australian Financial Review as well as regular columns in the Sydney Morning Herald. Her expertise, experience and willingness to be an outspoken leader in her field has opened doors and given her immense exposure as an expert and influencer in Australia.
While there is financial benefit in writing columns and articles for these publications, ultimately it is helping build someone else’s business. The challenge for Michelle was how to leverage the following she had established to benefit her own business.
The first step was to stop writing for other publications and create content on her own platform – mellissapenfold.com. However, just replicating her output in the weekly columns or other articles would not be enough to convince people to follow. People read these magazines for content from multiple authors, photographers and videographers (online). To convince this audience to follow her she essentially has to create a magazine that is at least on par if not better than one of the publications she was featured in.
To Michelle’s credit she has been able to achieve this by creating a blog that hits the nail on the head in terms of usability and content, offering exactly what her audience craves.
Let’s break this down in terms of why this blog works:
Design & Presentation
Just like Melissa, this blog has a clear sense of style and identity. Everything from the clean layout to the effective use of white space to the choice of fonts is aligned to leave a strong impression on visitors. The photography is professional and helps to tell the story and there is a deliberate choice of language that is playful and accessible. It is an attractive design that visitors will enjoy reading and advertisers would be happy to be associated with.
Businesses will spend hours fussing over design choices for their websites but the presentation of the blog is often overlooked. If blogging is a part of your marketing strategy, the design and presentation of your blog and individual posts is paramount.
Melissa is known for her ability to source almost anything relating to interiors. She knows every shop that is worth knowing, including many hidden gems. If you were to ask her where to find the best outdoor furniture for your new entertaining area she could tell you a handful of shops you have never heard of as well as some places you might ordinarily overlook, such as Kmart or Target. This unique knowledge is a major benefit for her blog readers and keeps them coming back. It gives the blog a unique angle and content that cannot be found elsewhere which is extremely valuable to her audience.
Rather than trying to create blog posts that cover the same territory as everyone else try and find some unique topics or a unique point of view that sets your blog apart from the competition.
The typical business blog is a long list of articles. Some may even have a search feature. Melissa’s blog uses a number of filters to make finding exactly what you are after so simple. You can instantly filter articles by the area you are decorating (e.g. indoor / outdoor) and then further filter by the types of decorating (e.g. shutters, flooring, rugs etc.). This makes Melissa’s blog a pleasure to use as you never feel like you are wasting time just searching for information.
Simple should be behind almost every design choice you make with your website. Just as you want to make it as simple and easy as possible for people to do business with you offline, you should also consider how can you make the experience for online visitors as simple and easy as possible. Visitors appreciate it and will more be more likely to stick around.
Everything on Melissa’s blog is useful for people interested in interiors. If you want to decorate an area of the house, there is more than likely an article somewhere listing the top places to shop.
Being really clear on how you want to serve your audience is a key to creating great content and a blog that people will read. Many interiors blogs serve more as entertainment with beautiful pictures of homes and interiors that you could never afford but can enjoy the dream. Melissa’s content is useful to everyday homeowners who want to add style and glamour to their homes with practical tips and shopping guides rather than selling the dream.
Melissa’s blog is updated very frequently with a new post published almost daily. Maintaining interest, particularly in an online magazine can be difficult, but it is impossible without regularly published content. Visitors will want to be able to read at least 1 new story each time they visit and may stop coming if they find that there is no new information for them.
Publish enough content that your visitors will never be disappointed when they visit.
- Highly successful blog
- Large audience
- Recurring advertising Revenue
The magazine / publishing business model is very different to how most small businesses operate but there are certainly some lessons that can be applied to any business.
- Use a blog to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in your field
- Build a personal brand. People connect with people not businesses. If you can build a profile in the market it can help build the profile of the business as your influence grows.
- Look for opportunities to collaborate with content creators that have larger audiences than your own. Writing articles for other websites or doing interviews with influencers is a good way to start to expand your business reach.