This blogger got a book deal and you could too

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Former-journalist Nikki Parkinson began her blog Styling You in 2008. In a nutshell it’s an advice-driven fashion, beauty and lifestyle site – and, most importantly, it has a highly engaged readership, who are motivated to buy featured products and services.

The blog did so well that she wrote an ebook. And then a publisher from Hachette bought her e-book and wanted more. So she did that too. The result is the book Unlock Your Style and hit shelves in July 2014.

When we interviewed Nikki for our top-rating podcast, So you want to be a writer, she had plenty to share with us. Here are some highlights:

Nikki on stumbling into blogging…  “I accidentally fell into blogging because the first website that was designed for me was designed on a WordPress platform. I’m so grateful for that! I had said to this person who was doing my site for me, ‘Look, I don’t want to be coming back to you when I want to share new information.’ Or, ‘I want to continue to do things that I did when I was a journalist.’ He said, ‘Well, you need a blog.’ And I went, ‘Yeah, sure, whatever you say,’ not really knowing what that was or how that differed.”

On realising blogging wasn’t just one-way… “It was probably about a year or so in that I realised, ‘Oh, blogging is a thing, there are other bloggers out there and people leave comments and there’s a community. It’s actually a lot of fun because once people comment on things and leave you feedback you’re not just broadcasting, you’re starting a conversation.’ That’s probably when I kind of refocused and turned things around.”

On actually making it work… “I stopped taking personal styling clients at the beginning of 2012 [to become] a full time blogger. Everyone’s definition of ‘full time’ is different, but for me it was replacing my previous income as a journalist, I guess. I’ve well and truly done that. And in a way that’s more flexible.”

On social media… “There’s a sizable following on [my] Facebook now, but I think that’s because the demographic of my readership, if they’re on social media, they are more likely to be on Facebook. That’s the strategy; I spend more time on Facebook as a social media platform than any other at the moment. I love Instagram for the creativity, but you can’t really track whether that’s bringing more readers or engagement to your blog. Twitter in the early days was an awesome way to connect on an industry level and to just connect with other people around Australia. It’s quite noisy now.”

On just getting the work done…  I’m a shocking procrastinator — shocking, shocking, shocking. [For the book] I was working within school hours. I just had to get off social media, which is probably my favourite procrastination playground, and just hit fingers to the keyboard… One of my first lecturers said, ‘Think through your fingers.’ That seriously has stuck. From that moment on I never wrote anything down first, I just hit the keyboard and let it all pour out and then come back in and play with it. It’s like a brain dump.”

On blogs vs books… “You know, everybody from relatives to friends at school, they don’t understand what a blog is necessarily. But, ‘Oh my god, you’re writing a book? That’s awesome!’…”

On advice for others hoping to blog super successfully…  “Don’t give up your day job. You don’t really have something to sell, whether it’s your space or your products, until you’ve got an audience. To get that audience you’ve got to devote time to building and creating and writing solid quality content that’s engaging and that people want to log on and read and they want to be part of your community and join in on your social media networks or on the blog. If you lose focus of that then the rest of it is not going to happen.”

Like this advice? Share it around:

Nikki quote You can also read the full transcript of this interview, conducted by Valerie Khoo for the podcast So You Want to be a Writer. Or if you’re more ears than eyes, you can listen to it.

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