Blogging, I think it’s safe to say, is Lucy Revill’s obsession. Her humble goal is to make Wellington as aspirational a destination as New York or London.
I interviewed her because I wanted to find out how she produced vast amounts of great content while working a full-time job. But Lucy went one better and gave me a glimpse into what it takes to be a world-class blogger. She also shared her ideas for writing well and quickly.
Lucy thinks about her blog ALL the time (except for when she’s at her day job, of course!). She has lists and spreadsheets of content ideas, saves everything in Google Docs so she can work on it anywhere, and runs the blog like a business — two years in, it now pays for itself.
Way back in 2012, she started and failed on her first blog. Rather than giving up, she looked at what successful bloggers did. She noticed they posted regularly, and that’s when she decided on her rigorous schedule.
Lucy posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And sometimes Saturdays too.
She works on her blog early in the mornings and even at lunchtime (yes, this woman works a fulltime, brain-intensive job!). When her boyfriend was at university, she would work on Wednesday and Thursday evenings while he was at his job. He worked all day Saturday, so she did too — on the blog. Now that he’s finished university, their routine is likely to change … but no doubt it will be characterised by consistent, deliberate, focused effort.
What looks to me like a massive commitment, Lucy shrugs off with ‘if you enjoy it, it doesn’t feel like work. You should do the thing you want to do so you can feel more like yourself.’ I like that!
Lucy knows her audience is 70 percent female, enthusiastic, warm, often slightly older and often parents. So when she writes, she imagines she’s sitting down with a cup of tea to catch up with her readers. She aims for an intimate, very personal tone.
She’s realised it’s not enough to be information-based. Her blog’s specialness comes from the personality of others — those whose stories she shares — and her own personality. She allows her voice to ‘come out organically’.
Lucy wanted to get on the blogging train. She wanted to be more than just a writer; she wanted to be a blogger. The world is going digital, and she embraces that.
She’s taught herself a lot about photography. She does her own photography to add to the authenticity of the blog. It’s about Wellington; she wants the photos to be Wellingtonian too.
Lucy’s learnt a lot about strategically boosting posts through Facebook. Her blogs are carefully timed to optimise their uptake.
For Lucy, blogging is about collaborating. She writes people’s stories, and they share them. The more a post is shared through Facebook, the more Facebook realises that the community values the post. Facebook then shows the post to more than the normal 8 percent of followers, which means more exposure for the interviewee, and more exposure for Lucy. Win win.
To answer my original question…
She gets something down. Goes away. Mulls it over. Comes back. Reviews. Then chips away at the writing until she’s happy with it.
For blogs based on interviews, her ‘getting something down’ involves transcribing her recording of the conversation she had. A half-hour recording used to take her an hour to type up, but by editing in her head as she goes, she’s now down to about half an hour for a recording.
For lifestyle blogs, she’ll start with a fresh white page and ‘bang something out’. Once she’s a few sentences in, the writing will start to flow, and before long, she has a first draft to work her magic on.
Lucy seems pragmatic and doesn’t let perfectionism get in the way of publishing. She sends posts out into the ether and doesn’t worry too hard about the little mistakes that occasionally show up. Once a post is published, it’s done. She moves on to the next one.
My high school art teacher would love Lucy — they share the ‘learn the rules and then break them’ philosophy. Who says no one will read anything over 800 words? Who says you can’t swear on a blog? Why do you always have to have an accessible, neutral style?
‘If I feel like people would be interested in reading it, I just throw out the rule book. But not as far as sentence structure and grammar are concerned.’ Her tips with sentence structure are to be careful not to repeat yourself, and to use the ‘say it out loud’ technique. She says writing as if you’re speaking out loud helps to create good sentences — not every time, but a lot of the time. She also uses Grammarly to help catch those niggly little errors.
Lucy’s top tips are:
1. Don’t overthink it.
2. Write what you would want to read yourself.
3. Don’t get caught up in what others say is more likely to make your post go viral.
4. Add headings.
Thanks, Lucy, for your great ideas. And all the best at the Social Media Awards!