For our first Blog Out Loud interview of 2010, we are honored to have Kim Vallee of At Home with Kim Vallee and On The Web with Kim Vallee. Style expert and social media guru, Kim is definitely one to watch and to connect with. Kim has created a strong web presence and is one of the go-to people for style, design and social media. I personally have been following both of her sites for a long time and hope you get as much inspiration from Kim that I do. Let's hear what she has to say about defining your online voice, blog design and finding the time to get it all done.
You are a lifestyle and entertaining expert and offer incredible tips for the home on your popular blog, At Home with Kim Vallee. You also have a blog dedicated to social media and blogging tips that is full of engaging online ideas called On The Web with Kim Vallee. Plus all of your other projects, contributing to HGTV, interviews and more. Share with us how you started both your blog and how you created an editorial schedule.
I always wanted to the editor of a women magazine but I did not choose that as a career. It started when I ran a Web development company with my husband. He introduced me to blogging. I did it very casually for two years before launching At Home with Kim Vallee. This is when I got hooked.
I attend social media events every month for networking and to stay ahead of what is happening on social media. Plus, I am a presenter at “unconferences” three to four times a year. I also coach a few bloggers here in Montreal. Between and within these events, I needed a platform to discuss further what is happening in the blogosphere and how a blogger can use social media to grow their reach. I launched On the Web with Kim Vallee in December 2007. It was just before I migrated my blogs to Wordpress.
I prioritize one blog over the other. At Home is my main blog. I publish several posts a day on a typical weekday and I published one or twice during the weekend. I found that if you publish on the weekend, you will get more traffic on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is no formal schedule for On the Web but I aim to publish once a week.
You have a great tone on your blogs. Share with us how you went about defining your voice and if, at all, it has changed as your blogs have grown.
What differentiates blogging from journalism is that the root of blogging is the way we are. We are aloud to share our feelings and can show our expressions. Plus, we write about what we are passionate about. This fact alone changes how you write as story.
Obviously my writing skill improved over the years. It is so much easier to write now. It is probably due to the fact that I found my voice. I also know my boundaries. Since my blogs have more than two years old, their scope is well-defined. I know what topics are appropriate and what I will not cover.
I shared lots of things about my taste, my ideal lifestyle, what I did, where I go, what are my dreams, up to what meal I cooked for dinner with my husband. But I also do not share our intimate life. I always been very conscious about that. What your question proves is that you can still share a lot of things about yourself and maintain a private life. This is what I mean by knowing what are my boundaries.
How important is social media when it comes to extending a company's voice? What tips would you give to a small business owner just starting out when it comes to setting up a blog and/or twitter?
Social media gives you a chance to show the world what you can do. It opens doors. But it is a long process. You build credibility one day at a time. When I started, I only dreamt on being paid to write an article for a traditional media. Last December, I wrote an article for the Toronto Star, one of the major newspapers in Canada. If I did not start my blogs, this would have never happened.
I found contracts for my husband’s business because I read the tweets of people looking for a supplier. If you connect with people on an authentic way, your followers will send you business opportunities when they see one. When you think about it, the cost of doing social media is a lot less than print advertising. Plus, it is easier to attract customers that fit within the culture of your brand.
After you opened your Twitter account, fill out your bio/description, and get familiar with the basics of Twitter. You need to figure out what you wish to talk about on Twitter. This will determine with whom you will connect. Then, you can write two or three tweets, follow like-minded people, and observe the conversation for a while. This way you will get familiar with the culture of Twitter. As soon as you get comfortable, start tweeting on a regular basis.
If you are willing to put the efforts, you can connect with the type of clients that you hope for. For it to work, you need to give advices to people, to be a problem solver, or to share informations about your market. In this mix, you can share on what projects you are working on. You could start with Twitter and then, you can add a blog to expand on the ideas that attract more attention. If you are present on social media, prospects get to know you and your products or services in a way that a corporate website cannot deliver. Many small businesses found that it can be best to build a blog with a few additional pages (contact, services/products, about) instead of a corporate Web site.
Your own blogs look amazing - very accessible, easy to read and full of content. There are so many blog templates available these days, what are your tips for picking a good theme? Also, how important is a well-designed blog?
Thanks, I am happy you like it. A blog design should be aligned with the culture of your brand and the audience. A well-designed blog conveys a sense of professionalism, which helps build credibility with new readers.
My blog is a very custom version of a Wordpress theme. I believe it saves you time to start this way. I worked with a developer and a graphic designer to get that result. Before you settle on a look, explore the supported features, google to see how well the theme is programmed, and ask people who used it if they had problems installing widgets or changing the headers.
I always check what a link to a post in Facebook looks like before selecting my theme. You aim to see the title of the post, an image of your post and an excerpt of your post. See more details on http://ontheweb.kimvallee.com/2009/04/design-your-blog-theme-to-show-your-post-on-facebook/
Follow Kim @KimVallee
And check out more of our past Blog Out Loud interviews right here.