Jen Bishop is the creative force behind Interiors Addict, the leading Australian blog dedicated to interiors and home wares. She was made redundant a year into starting her blog and was accidentally thrust into the world of full-time blogging.
I’ve loved watching her journey. She started off with a hobby blog on Tumblr and now reaches over 60,000 readers each month. In this interview, we discuss what she has accomplished since becoming a full-time blogger.
You became a full-time blogger earlier than planned. Did the need for immediate income affect your blog strategy?
Not really. I always wanted my blog monetization to be more display ads than sponsored content. What I did do earlier than expected was start working with an agency, who sell my ads on commission. That’s proven to be a good move.
What have been your most successful methods of monetization?
Banner advertising, without a doubt. Now that’s more established with bigger names on board, booking multiple times, I wanted to concentrate on the sponsored content side too. I also make money from social media consulting work with businesses in the interiors industry, and a little from job ads.
Your blog posts tend to be more newsy, with the occasional in-depth feature. How much time do you spend actually writing the blog content?
That really varies. I’m a very fast writer, after 14 years as a journalist, but I spend an minimum of 2 hours a day writing. Some days I’ll write from 7am to 3pm and suddenly realise I’m starving and have missed lunch!
You’ve turned your passion into a full time job. Have you ever felt sick or writing about the same thing repeatedly?
Never! I still feel like I’m living the dream, writing about what I love, day in, day out. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I make my money from advertising so I have absolute freedom with the content. I can write whatever I like and about whoever I like. I can honestly say I have never put any thought into SEO or link-baiting or what might rank well. I just write about what I love, and know my readers love, and lots of it, and I hope that I write it well.
You do a lot of in-person networking at events and conferences. Has this contributed to your success?
It’s definitely good for raising your profile as it’s good to be seen at the right events and in the right places. Now I’m more established, I’m fussier about the events I go to, because time is money. But it’s still very important to me. Plus, I enjoy it!
You are very well connected and have interviewed some of the leading people in the industry. How did you get people to trust a ‘new’ blogger?
I think I was lucky to get a few high profile interviews in the early days and it was a case of people thinking “well if they’ve been on Interiors Addict, I want to be on it too!”. I also suspect that having a background in publishing and journalism helps add credibility and give people confidence you’ll write something professional and engaging about them and their brand.
I also made sure, in the early days, that I went to every industry event I was invited to and took every PR opportunity I was offered, however small, without being snobby or picky about it.
You’ve recently started adding extra contributors to what has mostly been a personal blog. How has your audience responded to this?
My audience don’t seem to have had much of a reaction either way. It’s not something I do very often and am wary of doing so in the future, because the blog is very much about me and my personal brand. I think, as the blog grows, I might have to get over that!
How do you plan to grow Interiors addict over the next 18 months?
I’m trying to write even more content (I’d love to get up to 5 posts a day most days but it’s a tall order!) and grow my email database. I’m also going to start doing some blogging events in Sydney, publish my first eBooks, and there’ll probably be a stint overseas where I’ll cover international trends as well as continuing to report on the Australian scene. Watch this space!
I launched a second, sister blog, Appliance Addict, a couple of months ago, and that’s part of my business growth strategy long term.
7 Vignettes Challenge
7 Vignettes is a creative online community centred around Instagram. Participates take part in a 7-day challenge, which starts on the first of each month.
Each challenge is focused around using elements from a key theme. Jen posts the themes on her blog the week before the challenge starts. Users have shared over 20,000 images so far. They even have guest judges and prizes.
You can learn more via her interview at Australian Businesswomen’s network.
You run the 7 Vignettes challenge on Instagram. Has it led to increased traffic to your blog?
According to Google Analytics, no! It only shows 218 visits in the 6 months I’ve been running it. That said, those people spend an average in excess of 5 minutes on the site which is a long time!
I believe I get a lot of traffic indirectly though, and my unique browsers have consistently gone up since November. It’s just hard to measure. Instagram only lets you link to your site once in your profile, that’s it; nothing in captions.
But there’s been a lot of buzz around 7 Vignettes and a lot of people must be coming to the site directly or via Google after hearing about it. I really believe, and hope, that Instagram will start letting you put links in captions in the near future.
How did you get such awesome judges and prizes on board?
I have a list of offers for prizes and judges as long as my arm! In general, they hear about it and approach me.
You reach over 50,000 (more than 60k this month!) readers a month. What are your main sources of traffic?
Most of my traffic comes from search, direct or referred from social media. A large percentage comes from Facebook, where I have the most engagement.
You were an early adopter of Pinterest. Has that helped attract interest in your blog?
To be honest, I haven’t used Pinterest anywhere near its potential. I do get a lot of traffic via Pinterest, but mostly due to readers pinning my images and then other people seeing them and finding me by clicking through. I’ve had a lot more success with Instagram and found it has been the best tool for building community off the blog.
Over to you
I love Jen’s story. She has accomplished so much since I first interviewed her in 2012. Her professionalism and hard work has allowed to accomplish quite a lot in a relatively small period of time.
What did you like most about Jens story? And, do you have any questions for her?