I won’t pretend to know all the answers to this, but I do get asked this question quite often. I’ve attempted to put together some tips (mainly, stuff that’s worked for me) that can help you get your own blog up and running. Running a blog is time-consuming, and you will have to devote resources to it if you want to it gain some notoriety, but I guarantee the feeling you get when one of your posts is shared by a “big-namer” in this business is totally worth it.
Be original. There are so many blogs out there doing the same thing. Try finding a topic about which no one has written. There’s obviously a ton of equestrian fashion blogs, blogs about training and riding tips, etc. I’ve seen a few good ideas lately being thrown around on Twitter that I think should absolutely be explored (I’m not naming them because I don’t want to blow up anyone’s spot). Being original and having original content is a great and guaranteed way to pull readers into your blog. No one wants to read the same thing over and over again!
Don’t do it for the money. Monetizing a blog takes a ton of work, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re blogging because you think it’s a get rich quick scheme, you are in the wrong business. Blog because you are passionate about writing and sharing a message. If you are doing what you love, money will eventually follow!
Make connections. I honestly have to say that some of the biggest reasons my blog has taken off are because I’ve been able to connect with well-known equestrian companies and well-known equestrians. It definitely did not hurt when Ogilvy shared my review(s) of their half pad (See a how-to on washing your pad here) or when I as able to do an interview with Hunter Holloway right after she placed second in one of the Big Eq Finals, and it was shared by USEF and Anne Kursinski. Although this also will not happen overnight, doing product reviews and making the company aware you’ve done them can be immensely helpful to your blog. Additionally, it is best to build up a reputation and a following before approaching a big name rider. By having that following, professionalism, and reputation, a big name rider will take you seriously and be more likely to say ‘yes’ to that coveted interview.
Be positive. If you are writing a post yet thinking “no one is going to read this,” let me break it to you: it’s likely no one will. Put the intention out there that you want the blog to be successful, and that you love what you are doing, and the Universe will follow suit. Ever hear of the law of attraction? If not, look it up! I think it is highly relevant to creating a successful anything, and I try to follow it myself every day.
Be professional. It’s hard not to get sucked into the online drama that is Eq Anon Island, and I have to confess that I’ve been sucked into it time and again. I’m also very opinionated and combative (I’m a lawyer – what do you expect?), but that isn’t always the best idea, especially if you are trying to create a successful blog and professional reputation. I’m not saying stand by when someone is being bullied or someone is being really out of line – but you don’t have to engage in every single argument about whether draw reins should be used on a horse or whether Tailored Sportsman copied Le Fash when they made their two-tone breeches. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is to tone it down, especially when expressing my opinion (you guys know who you are!)
Be authentic. I think this one is the hardest. In an effort to be liked, we sometimes tend to go with the crowd and be someone we aren’t. I’m here to say don’t do that. Be you, but also remember that you are being watched and that companies don’t want to work with a jerk. I have had to learn the fine line between being authentic and being overly defensive/combative/opinionated. Readers want to know that you are being yourself, but at the same time, you don’t want to alienate them. When you are yourself, you’re bringing a fresh perspective to the equestrian blogging world – one that most likely hasn’t been broadcast before. That is immensely valuable, and something that only you can bring. Be proud of who you are, and don’t be tempted to be someone you’re not. People will respect you more for being real than for pretending you can always afford the latest fashions or that you only go to A rated shows.
Be able to take constructive criticism. This is another huge part of having a successful blog. Not everyone is going to like what you have to say. I’ve been criticized about some of my opinions and some of my posts. Just recently I was told my post about law school and the legal profession was harsh and doing the profession a great disservice. Instead of getting angry, I followed up with a comment to the person letting them know that I was merely stating my own experience, as well as that of the many other law graduates I know that haven’t been able to find jobs, and that I would be doing a post about the positives of law school very soon. It can be hard to hear someone say they don’t like what you’re doing, and sometimes people are overly harsh about it. However, there are those out there who really just want to provide tips on how you can improve your blog, and it’s important that you listen. What you do with that constructive criticism then is entirely up to you. This was a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone like me who thinks they are always right, but being told what can make your blog better is actually a positive. Don’t react in a negative way. Thank the person for their feedback, and see how it resonates with you. If you want to give their suggestion a try – go for it! If you don’t like it, you can always go back to how you used to do things. And, my favorite part of this, if you weren’t doing something right, you wouldn’t be getting hate. So, take comfort in the fact that your blog is popular enough to be getting criticism from others, especially if that criticism is anonymous.