Twist it

6 February

The best blogging advice I ever got was to look outside of my own industry. See what other people are doing or talking about. Twist that idea and make it your own!

Twist it is a new series all about innovative blogging ideas from different industries. People who are doing something different.

Architect Jody Brown has a Tumblr blog called Sketch Every Day. It’s a place for him to share his amazing architectural sketches. From these, he made a film called “1 year of the sketches in 1 minute“. Here’s what I love about it;

  • an architect, who can draw beautifully

  • shares his creative process

  • and then turns it into an entertaining short film

This film has totally inspired me because it’s so beautifully simple. Customers are buying much more from us than a product or service. They are interested in the process and what inspires us to do what we do.

So here’s my advice; think about different ways to tell your story. Words are great but there are so many different tools out there from audioboo to vine to smart phone videos. Vimeo and YouTube provide endless content. You don’t need to be the artist or film  maker. You can share examples of work that you love or ideas that you want to spread.

The Twist it series is a resource of inspiring content ideas – please share your own finds in the comments below or get in touch to say hello! I’d love to hear from you.

 

What’s the story?

20 December

It intrigues me more and more these days! And it has become a bit of an obsession. I’m on the cusp of something new and it feels great.

All of my blogging has got me thinking about why I do what I do. And that in turn leads to further mad questions about what I’ll be doing in another few years. Here’s the thing; I am addicted to the why of what other people do too… even more so than the what. You may have read my post on the rather cool father and daughter business called Herriett Grace. What they produce and do is great but how it all came about is the seller for me. I get a sense of who they are and that is what draws me into their world.

In order to get others excited about blogging and teaching people in my blogging workshops, I need to show examples of people who are doing this well. The world may be a tiny virtual place but I’m particularly keen to showcase Irish-based businesses who blog. It seems that many people are still reluctant to buy on-line (although this is changing) so a successful blog can lead to that face-to-face sale. Of course, it depends on the product completely. I’m speaking from personal experience here.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered Makers & Brothers; Irish brothers who run a shop and on-line business selling a range of Irish design and craft. They’ve also had a series of pop-up shops from Dublin and London to New York.

Makers and brothers Makers & Brothers – Jonathan and Mark Legge

Makers and Brothers is a project developed by two brothers Jonathan and Mark Legge. It is an online retail venture founded on simple things; the handmade, objects of integrity, contemporary vernaculars, a curation of everyday design and craft. We define craft as a process, a production by hand or machine.

We are an international destination with an Irish foundation and will at all times endeavour to sell objects of use; the simple, beautiful and sometimes nicely odd.

I have yet to meet the guys and visit their shop in Blackrock – but I’m intrigued by their philosophy and obvious passion for promoting good design. They are not just selling products here. They have carefully curated a collection of unique and beautifully crafted pieces. And they are equally interested in the skills and stories behind them. Their blog is filled with inspiring finds – from videos to product releases. My favourite part of the site are the ‘Maker stories‘. In this series, Jonathan and Mark visit the studios of the designers who supply them with art objects. Rather than an interview format, snippets of warm conversations are combined with candid pics of studios, materials, work in progress, people and their pets!

Makers & Brothers Makers & Brothers – Meet our makers

The interviews are unedited chats with makers about how and why they do what they do. Here’s a snippet from an interview with Gearoid from Superfolk:

We went for a drive with Superfolk. We were heading off to see the production of  new mugs that are being sold exclusively through Makers and Brothers.

The text with the image above reads:

We drove home as it started to get dark.
Jonathan and Mark: “What is essential in your work?”
Gearóid: “Honesty, integrity, ease of use and sustainability, the story, the making.”Makers & Brothers

I can’t wait to visit Makers & Brothers and will be back with more posts – I’m hoping to interview them for my Blogger Spotlight series too. Check out their website and blog as well as an interview with Jonathan over on 189.com

The Makers and Brothers shop is open by appointment: The Shed, Abbey Court, Abbey Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

Business stories – Herriott Grace

20 December

How about this for the first line of an ‘About’ page? “Lance and Nikole Herriott live 3400 kilometers apart: his workshop is in Victoria, British Columbia, and her studio is in Toronto, Ontario. When she first made her home more than halfway across the country, they started to send packages back and forth.”

Everyone is speaking about the age of ‘overload’ now; we’re bombarded with choice when it comes to web content. So if something is going to hold our attention, we need to make an emotional connection with it. And the natural way to connect is to tell meaningful stories. The story of family run business Herriott Grace‘ sounds something like this:

Nikole and her Dad now live 3400km apart. He is a wood turner. He often sent Nikole gifts of hand carved spoons in the post which she treasured and loved receiving. Each piece was a one-off and made from salvaged, chemical-free wood. One day Nikole had an idea. She asked her Dad if he would like to share his work with others. His ‘yes’ led to the launch of a family business called ‘Herriott Grace’. The precious packages continue to be posted from Victoria to Toronto, where Nikole styles and photographs them for their on-line shop.

Herriott Grace Herriott Grace

Lance and Nikole educate us about how beautiful things can be made from salvaged materials, how much care and attention is involved in the process and how each piece is a one-off. They also reveal who they are and why they love doing what they do. If I buy something from them, I feel like I’m getting much more than a carved spoon or platter.

So what inspires these two? We’re inspired by homesteads and farms and early morning light. By travel, via train and old world hotels. By well-worn tables and the meals around them. But most of all, by tradition, by trees and by things made by hand.

Have I got you thinking about your business story yet? You don’t need to be a ‘maker’ in order to have a story. I’m totally up for teaching an accountant or personal trainer how to write a blog! I’ll be featuring all kinds of businesses here. See if my workshops are suitable for you or say hello.

Blogger spotlight – Rangoli

13 December

If I’m going to start a series of interviews with business bloggers, I guess I should shine the spotlight on Rangoli! What is it about this blogging lark that I have found to be so great? And why do I want to teach you how to do it too? Let’s get this self-interview started.

Please note that my previous business Rangoli is now closed so I can focus on Three Thought Bubbles; teaching businesses how to write an authentic blog.

Who are you and what do you like to do?

I’m Aisling Nelson and from 1998 to 2013 I owned a business called Rangoli. I designed bridal jewellery and hair accessories. In 2008 I started writing a Rangoli blog and found that it was a great way for me chat naturally about my business and connect with my customers before they met me in person. My blog was a finalist in the Blog Awards Ireland in 2012 and 2103 for best blog of a SME. That was a thrill! I realised that this was a skill I’d love to share with others and so the business Three Thought Bubbles was born. I teach businesses how to write an authentic blog. I train one-to-one or small group workshops. I also work as a social media consultant.

I’ve always been very customer focused; working one to one with brides taught be all about listening and storytelling. That’s what blogging and all social communication is all about! When I’m not designing, I love to go on travel adventures.

When and why did you start blogging?

I got introduced to blogs around 2006. Most of the blogs I read were industry related (bridal) and American. There were very few Irish bloggers on my radar. Bridal trends generally start in the US and filter here after a year or two. I found it a great way to forecast trends. The downside was that the content didn’t always relate to a European audience. I also found a lot of them to be too ‘perfect’. My husband and super-techie business advisor, suggested that I should write a Rangoli blog. I remember my shocked reaction;

Why would I do that? What would I write about? Who would want to read it and how would it help my business?

These, I discovered were very important questions. I thought about them briefly, chose a blogger domain and jumped right in!

Recently re-designed blog template
 

Did you enjoy it straight away and would suggest others take the same approach?

Yes and yes/maybe. I totally took to blogging even though I felt awkward ‘talking to myself’ initially, (now I ramble on confidently as if I was speaking to a bunch of friends!). Writing a blog reminded me of the creative diaries I kept in college. It was a place to gather all of the things that inspired me to design. I immediately saw how ‘friendly’ my blog was compared to my static website.  My service is very personal and I wanted to share some of that feeling on my blog.

What appeals to you about blogging?

One of the main reasons that I enjoy blogging is that I am quite a shy person. I am really good with small numbers of people but I used to find networking or self-promotion quite difficult. Blogging changed all that. I was able to be the ‘me’ that people met when they visited my studio. I have made great connections with customers and peers online. I see blogging as an introduction before a face to face meeting. It’s a lot more sociable than people think! Writing a blog has led me to giving public talks which I would never have imagined possible. (It has also led to great brunch dates at The Fumbally).

Sharing sketches and samples for a bespoke Rangoli design

How did you choose your content – did you have a structure?

From day one, I knew that I didn’t want my blog to be all about me. I thought about the things my readers would be interested in reading about. Then I chose six distinct categories;

Rangoli designs; Here I showed bespoke designs so that readers could see the process of having a piece designed. I often involved the client in the story too and shared pictures of the work in progress. The image below illustrates an unusual jewellery request.

Inspiration for you: These posts are things that I discovered that I felt would be of interest to my readers. My headpiece designs were closely tied in with hairstyles so I featured lots of posts on choosing wedding hairstyles. I’ll also recommended quality products and included links to other online inspiration.

Tips and advice: A place to share my knowledge and expertise on everything from styling your look to being yourself!

Rangoli Loves: Simply put; a place to document things that inspired me to design! Random stuff like Downton Abbey or underwater photography.

Wedding stories: This was a really popular section of the blog where clients shared stories and photos from their wedding day.

And finally, Aisling’s world: Things I love, places I’ve been and the magic in between.

A desert wedding spotted on a trip to Uzbekistan
 

What do you think makes a blog successful?

I think the key is to be very authentic and write with your reader in mind. I write my blog for adventurous on-line explorers like myself! I am a fickle reader with subscription-commitment issues. I want to be surprised by new ideas and feel a connection with people.

If someone reads a couple of my posts and decides to get in touch as a result, then I consider my blog to be successful. The aim of my blog is not long-term readership necessarily. The beauty of this type of content is that is archived for people to read whenever they search for it.

What do you like most about blogs?

For me, it’s finding out something about people and why they do what they do. I love the communication possibilities from written word and visuals to video or audio podcasts. Many people think that the internet is an impersonal place but blogging is all about being sociable! Here are some great storytellers that I discovered recently;

  • Herriot Grace, an online, collaborative family business, where a father and daughter live 3400 kilometres apart.
  • and the Real Italian Foodies, an Irish-Italian couple who run an award-winning restaurant in Limerick and now sell their own line of Italian sauces.
Margarita from Chocolate creative shares her inspiration and design process

What has blogging taught you?

I’ve found a way to tell people what I do in a way that feels comfortable to me. But the biggest revelation is how amazing it is to connect and collaborate with other creative people. The support from other people is amazing!

What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a business blog?

  • Take action and get started (you can keep it private initially until you have some content to share.)
  • Be clear about who your audience is and what they want to read about.
  • Edit and re-edit. Reduce your word count and make every word matter!
  • Be sociable and supportive towards other bloggers; it’s a really friendly community. Meet up in person too.
  • Enjoy not knowing exactly where your blog will take you! It’s a big huge adventure.

Do you have a favourite quote?

People are reading about you while you sleep.” Michael Margolis from Get Storied.

I love this radical yet simple idea. Put your ideas out there online and they’ll work for you even while you’re snoozing!

Why do you want to teach others how to write their own business blog?

Every day I discover brilliant businesses online that are telling their story. But I can think of so many Irish businesses that don’t have a strong internet presence. I really want to change that! Blogging is simple, inexpensive and really effective for business. I’m here to share this skill and de-mystify some of the preconceptions about self-publishing. Here’s the biggie though; I want to teach you that it’s fun. And it will definitely change your world in unexpected ways!

Where else can we find you online?

*Rangoli is now closed but my sites are still available to view for reference.

Rangoli Website
Blog
Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter

Aisling Nelson (rangolitweets) on Pinterest

 

Did you enjoy reading this interview? It’s tricky interviewing yourself, so ask me any question and I’d be delighted to answer it for you! This is part of a series about business bloggers – check out the others. Do you have a favourite blog? Send them my way and tell me what you love about them. And if this post has got you thinking about starting your own blog, let’s get talking about my next workshop dates. I’d love to meet you. 

Business stories – Oliver Jeffers

29 November

This is the first post in a series about business stories. Blogging is all about telling your business story. Why do you do what you do and what are you passionate about? I’m addicted to these stories and bookmark my favourites. Now I’m going to share my favourites with you!

Some of them will be written word, others audio clips or short film. Each have different qualities. What they have in common is that they tell us about people and what makes them tick.

First up is this quirky film by Irish illustrator Oliver Jeffers. Among other things, Jeffers is an author and book illustrator of children’s books. This film captures everything from his studio workspace to his process and inspiration. Most of all, you get a feel for what he is like as a person!

Oliver Jeffers from mac premo on Vimeo.

I’m thinking about, thinking about, making a short video about my workshops! I just need to watch a few more for research. Have you come across any great stories online? Please leave me a comment or drop me an email. I’d love to hear what inspires you or what you think about Oliver’s short film.

Have a gander at Oliver’s website – it’s a totally creative space!

Three Thought Bubbles…

23 October

Hello World! And hello to you. This is a momentous day for me; I’ve been developing this project for over a year.  I can hardly believe that I’m writing another ‘first post’! It’s time to tell you about ‘Three Thought Bubbles’.

I discovered blogs in 2007. Then in a moment of madness I jumped right in and became a business blogger myself and set up Three Thought Bubbles. I experienced all the fear and thrill of learning a new skill. ‘Exposing myself’ online scared the pants off me, but pretty soon I had to admit that I loved it. This was a place where I could communicate with others and share what I am passionate about. I discovered a friendly and supportive community.

Rangoli Jewellery blog Ireland Rangoli Jewellery blog

Blogging has had a big impact on me and the way that I run my business. But something else unexpected has happened which has grabbed me by the hand! While trawling the internet and connecting with other business owners, I have become so inspired by the skills and stories that we share. I see my workshops as a learning collaboration with like-minded people.

At the moment, I’m hoovering up books that talk about the power of storytelling in business! A lot of us are missing the point completely. It’s time to reach out and tell customers why you do what you do, rather than what.  There is no shortage of qualifications in the world. What sets us apart is the why and who you can help in the process.

I’m here to show you how easy it is to write and maintain your own successful business blog. This blog is an additional resource for business bloggers and anyone thinking of starting a blog.

I’ll be sharing some of the daily treasures I discover online:

  • How to: Tips on how to be a great blogger
  • Inspiration: Ideas to get your creative mind racing
  • Design: Great branding design
  • Stories: Brilliant and engaging business stories
  • Blogger spotlight: Insightful interviews with fellow bloggers

I want Three Thought Bubbles to be about and for the blogging community. Please get in touch to say hello and tell me about what you do. Can you share any tips that have worked for you? What do you think about blogging? I want to hear your thoughts so we can get a conversation going.

Nothing beats face to face connection though, which is why you will learn so much more by attending a workshop. I’ll  be announcing my upcoming course dates soon and would love to meet you. In the meantime, read about who the course is suitable for and what I will be teaching.

Welcome to the Three Thought Bubbles blog!