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.
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.