Blogger of the Week: Erin Ferree from Elf-Design
She also believes that all of a business’s brand materials should be not just pretty, but also designed effectively and strategically. This produces a winning combination of materials that communicate visually, look stunning and are designed effectively, which help her clients reach their target audiences.
She writes about design, branding and marketing through her eBooks, blog and in free articles in her newsletter, “Stand Out” [subscription link].
Ans.: I started not-just-pretty.com back in 2006. The original intent of the blog was to help me write a book on small business website design by blogging it one topic or sub-chapter at a time. I wrote the book on the blog, but then never got around to taking the chapters down off the blog and putting them into a book. (If you’re curious, the entire book is available on the blog under “Web Design” – just look for the posts starting in 2006).
BS: How will you describe your blog in one line/less than 20 words?
Ans.: Small business branding needs to be “not just pretty” – but also effective.
BS: What do you blog about? Is this blog devoted to a single theme or do you have more than one quite unrelated categories in your blog?
Ans.: I blog about small business branding – logo design, website design, marketing materials and creating your underlying brand story. My blog is the place where I publish my thinking on design so that small business owners can learn more about the branding process and what really goes into creating a brand that will help them create bottom-line results in their businesses.
BS: One post from your blog that you want to share with my readers…
Ans.: A Small Business Brand’s 7 Jobs
BS: Are you the only author in your blog or do you have co-bloggers to manage the blog? In future are you planning to team up with like-minded bloggers?
Ans.: I am currently the only author. I wouldn’t mind finding a few like-minded people to pal around with, though – especially if they were in complimentary professions and served the small business market.
BS: Do you blog anonymously or your readers know well who you are?
Ans.: I certainly don’t blog anonymously – I want people to know who I am and what I think. For me, that’s the whole reason that I blog – so I can organize my thinking about what I do, and then get that thinking out to clients, potential clients and people who are interested in small business branding.
BS: Do you have any specific goals/expectations from your blog? Have you already achieved any of these goals (or would you like to share any milestones that your blog has achieved)?
Ans.: The first was to write my book – which I achieved early in 2007. Since then, I’ve just been writing the blog as a service to small business owners. I want to offer advice and information on branding. And, getting those thoughts out there seems to be helpful in bringing me occasional clients and growing my mailing list.
BS: How much time do you devote to your blog? Do you blog on weekends and do you think Blogging is eating too much of your time and is it affecting your day-to-day (offline) life too?
Ans.: This is a great question – I have been working on blog time management this year. I used to spend a lot of time (roughly 1 business day/week) writing blog content – but since I run my own design firm and the blog is just one promotional arm of that, all that time wasn’t practical. So now I’m trying other techniques to make sure I blog regularly – like batching posts (writing several at a time and scheduling them to go out evenly).
BS: What are your present blog stats, i.e. number of daily visitors, subscribers, your global reach etc.?
Ans.: Not as high as I’d like them to be (low enough that I’m embarrassed to list them here). I need to get serious about growing my readership and promoting the blog – I’ve been so busy coming up with original content that the publicity side of things has been a bit ignored.
BS: What do you think is a better source of traffic – search engines, traffic exchange sites, social networking sites or paid traffic (like Google Adwords)?
Ans.: I have only gotten leads through search engines – I haven’t signed up for any traffic exchange sites or Adwords. And, I’ve been busy promoting my website through social networking sites – it’s a fabulous idea to promote the blog more strongly there.
BS: Do you regularly respond to your readers and do you think it is important for a blogger to always comment back or reply back to his readers?
Ans.: I do respond to readers – and I take the time to answer questions, point people towards resources and give my opinion on what they’re doing in their businesses. I think interaction is a big part of blogging and of being online these days.
BS: What are your unique strategies to survive and to perform better in your blogs niche against your competitor blogs?
Ans.: I’m not approaching this as a competitive thing – I blog because I want to share my thinking.
BS: Other than Blogging what are your other hobbies or what do you do in your leisure time?
Ans.: I love to cook, paint, read, host parties, exercise and sew. Oh, and not least – to relax! Not that there’s a ton of leisure time, as I keep pretty busy between running my business, elf design, blogging, and everything else.
BS: Is blogging for you just a passion or a medium for earning too? Are you earning enough to quit a 9 to 5 day job?
Ans.: My blog is a marketing tool for my business, elf design (www.elf-design.com). The blog helps me to build interest and credibility, and to connect with entrepreneurs who are curious about the branding process. Then, I can work with them through elf design.
BS: Do you sell any of your products, work as an affiliate partner or advertisements are the only source of income for you?
Ans.: I have written several ebooks on brand design for small businesses and one on search engine optimization. I promote these through the blog.
BS: Are you planning to employee someone to help you in blogging or outsourcing some of your work like blog-designing, social networking or someone for your PR department?
Ans.: Not at this time – I do it all myself. I’m the whole show!
BS: Blogs you follow and read regularly…
Ans.: How About Orange, Pink Loves Brown, Swiss Miss, Productivity 501, Smitten Kitchen…
BS: Communities/Forums you have joined (that help you in blogging):
Ans.: I’ve been pretty much blogging on my own so far!
BS: Have you done any mistakes in your blogging life? And what have you learnt from these mistakes?
Ans.: Not promoting my blog enough! I’d love to have more readers, and to have a more active blog in general. I have some ideas about redesigning and reworking things to encourage that, but would welcome resources and advice on how to do that.
BS: Has blogging added any special flavor to your life? Would you like to share it with us?
Ans.: Blogging forces me to develop my own thinking about design – which keeps me constantly thinking. It makes me think deeply about the strategy and reasoning behind my design choices and the advice that I give my clients. And then I can bring that back to my work, which creates better work for my clients.
BS: Something you really want to change in your blog or in yourself being a blogger?
Ans.: I’d love to increase the interactivity and readership of my blog.
BS: Say, you are sponsored to travel to 3 world destinations. Which destinations would you pick up, and why? Would you like to take someone along with you? If yes, whom?
Ans.: I would go to Greece, because it always looks so relaxing and calming. I’d love to go to Egypt and see the old stuff there – but I’d like to find some places there to go that aren’t too saturated with tourists. While I’m in that corner of the world, I’d love to see the Nile and some of the wildlife. For my final destination, it’s a multi-way tie between going to Alaska to see the glaciers and Northern lights, Australia to see the huge red rock and the Great Barrier Reef, seeing some wondrous rain forest, or going to pretty much any Asian country to eat!
BS: Bloggers generally love to read books? Do you agree with this and if yes what you’re your favorite books/novels?
Ans.: I do love to read – and try to do so for at least a few minutes every day. Some of my favorite books are Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Jitterbug Perfume and Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins and Bulfinch’s Mythology.
BS: If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Ans.: I would love to meet Thomas Keller and to talk bizarre food pairings with him. Or, to meet Michael Stipe or David Byrne and just talk them about lyrics.
BS: Which is your favorite television show? & favorite movies and songs?
Ans.: Project Runway is my current favorite show. I’m a bit behind on my Tivo watching, but I’m really enjoying Defying Gravity and Mad Men as well.
My all-time favorite movie, hands down, is The Shawshank Redemption.
My favorite songs – that’s a really hard one, but I can narrow it down to one artist – R.E.M.
BS: What’s your favorite food? Any particular dislikes?
Ans.: I’m a sucker for vinegar – especially interesting ones. I’m currently growing my own vinegar with a starter. As for dislikes, I really hate olives. They taste like metal to me, and can ruin an otherwise great dish.
BS: Blogs are replacing personal diaries, magazines, journals and today more than just being a hobby we can see corporate blogs too, so what do you think is the future of blogs?
Ans.: I see blogs being used more often as full websites – with pages being fully implemented. I’m making more and more website-blogs for small businesses that are built on the WordPress platform.