Expand your brand: Conveying a lifestyle through your blog

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Brands with the best blogs don't just use content to promote their products - our lifestyles editor explains how to build a persona with writing.

Often, when I tell people that I’m editor of the Lifestyles, Travel and Education desk (a.k.a. LifTED), the question comes up as to what exactly “lifestyles” entails. In general, I’ve come to think of this category as the non-essentials that define us. It’s the products and services that people spend disposable income on, and those that we get the most joy out of buying.

Brands that sell a lifestyle rather than a mere product have the advantage of appealing to their customers in multiple ways, from the practical to the fanciful. In doing so, they establish themselves not just as vendors, but as style-makers and trendsetters.

In the early days of content marketing, common strategy was to dedicate blog posts to telling potential customers what’s so great about a business’ offerings. Savvy marketers have come to realize that this gets boring pretty quickly, and are instead housing product information on static pages – where it belongs. Saving your blog space for posts that pique interest even when a follower isn’t necessarily looking to buy is what ultimately keeps them coming back. Not to mention that these posts are far more social friendly than those that try to make a hard sell.

A Lifestyle Blog Success Story

Last year, The New York Times reported on a brand with a dubious-sounding name and an enviable cult following: Nasty Gal. The clothing site began as an eBay operation by owner Sophia Amoruso, who was 22 when she began her venture in 2006. What set Amoruso apart from her competitors wasn’t her penchant for mesh tops and platforms, it was that she infused her persona into everything on the site, writing her own product descriptions, taking her own photos, hand-selecting models and even packing and shipping orders herself.

The Nasty Gal blog is an example of a website effectively creating a lifestyle out of its brand.

Further propelling Nasty Gal into success was Amoruso’s ahead-of-its-time social media strategy. According to The NYT, the young entrepreneur identified magazines that her audience was likely to read, and reached out to their fans on MySpace. This tactic earned her 60,000 “friends” on the site, just the start of her band of loyal followers.

Nasty Gal’s conversion rate is estimated to be well over the 3 percent industry standard

Now with her own domain name and having eschewed MySpace for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, Amoruso’s business sees 550,000 customers a day, one-quarter of whom stay there for six minutes or longer while 10 percent visit the site 100 times per month.

The Nasty Gal blog includes posts on the latest in clothing and beauty trends, but also music, travel, food, movies and a number of regular series that keep readers coming back for more.  

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst for Forrester, told the Times that the site’s conversion rate has to be well over the 3 percent industry standard.

“It speaks to an engaged audience,” Mulpuru said. “They’ve figured out the marketing tool. That’s the real story.”

Blogs That Are Doing It Right

Warby Parker is another primarily online retailer (it has shops in Boston, New York City and Los Angeles, and showrooms scattered throughout the country) that uses its blog not to sell eyeglasses, but to promote a lifestyle. In In its blog, Warby Parker effectively relates to its target audience with references to their lifestyle.addition to posts on staffers and new eyewear, Warby Parker’s blog has quirky posts like a literary map of Manhattan and a cheeky illustration of eight ways to spend a summer day.  

Anthropologie, Madewell, J.Crew and Patagonia are just a few other lifestyle brands that leverage their blogs to give customers news on what they’re interested in – whether it’s indie rock festivals or the best places to rock climb in summer. Never a hard sell, these posts simply reinforce the notion that the retailer is in-the-know, and therefore a trustworthy arbiter of style. Not to mention, these posts can keep readers lingering on their sites, a surefire way to get them to click around until they find something can’t live without.

How To Define Your Lifestyle

With brick-and-mortar stores, establishing a brand lifestyle is a matter of choosing the right décor, music, location, displays and staffers – in addition to important details like the scent, lighting and even temperature within a shop. But without these elements to leverage, what’s an ecommerce site to do?

Take a long hard look at your customers: How old are they? What’s their income? Where do they live? What music do they listen to?  

You can still develop your brand into a lifestyle of its own without physical real estate – you just need to know your audience and hook them with interesting content and sharp visuals.

Take a long hard look at your potential customers: How old are they? What’s their income? Where do they live? What music do they listen to? What are they reading? What celebrities to do they look up to? All of these questions and more can help you determine who to target. Once you have that pinned down, consider the following.

  • Create a style guide. This can include vocabulary and grammatical style preferences that help your creative team stick to an established voice. This should also include preferred fonts, colors, and image and graphic guidelines to ensure visuals reinforce your image.
  • Invite guest bloggers. If there are writers out there who really speak to your audience, contact them to see if they can contribute to your blog, and see if your editorial team can do the same for them.
  • Be bullish about social. Your social media strategy should be strong if you’re looking to establish your brand as a lifestyle. It’s through these sites that people share posts with like-minded individuals, helping to build a loyal following.

Unleash the power of your brandLifestyle blogging demands personality to relate to readers.

Content marketing has matured past the point of simply trying to get on page one of Google results to a place where it can actually help define a brand. Your blog is a tool you can use to build interest and trust among audiences in order to establish a loyal following.

After all, everyone’s got a blog these days, so try to stand out in the crowd and provide your readers with targeted, engaging content they actually want to read.

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Rebecca is a native Detroiter with a traditional journalism background and an unabashed love of all things fancy. As editor of Lifestyles, Travel and Education, she oversees clients in industries ranging from senior living and higher education, to beauty and fashion.
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