There is a momentous date coming up in my content calendar: September 1. At least I’ve built up that date to be important in my head. The first of the month is the scheduled send date for my next marketing email to my LoCoFlo list. I’ll be announcing Vicarious Florist for the first time in that e-mail. LAUNCH DATE: T-Minus 2 days. My email list has only 2,000 subscribers so far. I have many more Instagram followers and I’ve linked VF in my bio and referred to a few posts in stories. Nothing in the feed yet. But, my email list has my most valuable contacts. These people chose to stay informed of my activities. They’re not just looking for quick cute pics and fun reels. They told me they want to know more about my business, and I control what they see. Not Zuck. I am the algorithm. These are my flower people, and I want to “wow” them with engaging content they want to consume and share.
Setting Expectations For the Audience (and Myself)
This blog is just starting out. I only bought the Vicarious Florist domain last month. The first post was not long after that. I want to start to promote it . But when is the right time to begin? Should I try to build an audience now and launch the blog with this small amount of content or wait until I have more to offer. There’s a risk of underwhelming readers. Then again, maybe I can hook some early adopters who want to experience the blog’s progression in real time. I look at the stats and see single digit visitors on some days. UGH! If the blog is going to be the funnel to my paid content and a way to generate revenue via affiliate partnerships and advertising, I need to get the views and subscribers up – way up!
Plus, launch? What am I thinking? LAUNCH! Is it really a launch? I picture fire, plumes of smoke, a rocket with the blog logo emblazoned on the side streaking across the sky when I hear “launch.” Let’s get real. I ‘ve got 12 posts and one new video right now. September 1 will be an announcement. Something like: “Hey guys! There’s a new thing over here you should check out. Tell your friends!” I need to be patient, create more content and build a broad audience over time for this blog to become the business and community asset I hope it will be.
Until then, I think the Vicarious Florist right now is what people in the tech world would call a minimal viable product. It’s something. It works. There are enough samples of posts in my journals and articles to give a visitor a sense of what I’m going for here. Plus, I just set up my new email list for VF and added a form to the top of the side bar (try it out). So, while the blog might not be launch-worthy today, I think it holds up for a “Hey, check it.”
Not Letting Perfect Be the Enemy of Posting
One of my favorite podcasts is The Future Belongs to Creators. I have learned valuable creator lessons and listened to inspiring interviews from this resource. A recurring theme from the hosts and their guests is to push content out. I, and many other creators (yes I am referring to myself as a creator now), can procrastinate, obsess, and make excuses to not release content. The most pernicious of my content-delayers is perfection. There is always another edit or correction to make. Owning my flower shop, I understand the importance of maximizing productivity. I need to create digital products for the blog just as I need to create physical products for my shop. I can fuss for way too long over a floral arrangement, but it needs to be done at some point. So do my posts. Viable doesn’t need to be perfect.
One glaring example of perfection-delaying-release is in design. I am new to WordPress, the platform this blog is built on. It is very easy to get started without much experience or knowledge. It does take some work to customize and get things to look they way I picture it in my head. I’m just keeping it simple for now: Journals, Articles, Home and About. That’s it. I needed a plug-in for the email form and I configured the form to match the colors of the blog’s theme. There is a big gap on the home page I can’t seem to get rid of, and I don’t like the title font on the side bar for the class links and comments. Some things are easier to change than others. It is good enough for now. Minimal viable product.
Don’t Get It Right, Get It Written
And, get it recorded, and edited, and published and promoted. You get the idea. This platitude from undergraduate writing class really is good advice. It has become a mantra for me as I have now jumped on the content creation hamster wheel. I have no lack of subject matter: the ongoing flower work I have been doing for the past 15 years and my new adventures as a digital creator. It really is a matter of deciding what I think my audience will be interested in learning about, then getting the ideas in writing or on video and conveying them effectively.
Is it edutaining (a terrible portmanteau)? This is the question I am primarily concerned with when posting to the Vicarious Florist. Is the content interesting enough to capture the reader’s attention, and are they learning something. Those are my goals for each piece and for the experience of the visitor to the site. If I can achieve that, I think I will get a return visit, maybe an email subscription and hopefully a conversion into one of my flower people. Even with a small amount of content so far, if it educates and entertains, it is worth the push.
It’s a Profit Deal
Promoting Vicarious Florist is a new thing for me. Not only because I haven’t had to promote my business before, but because the potential audience is global and online. My flower shop is hyper local. I only buy flowers grown locally. Most of my customers live in my city and many within walking distance. I have never really been concerned with a customer anywhere more than a few miles away. Even Instagram wasn’t a big deal for me. It was nice to see the subscribers grow, but if they weren’t local, I didn’t have anything to sell them. I built my email list by having a clipboard at the checkout. When I market to that list, it is for activities in the shop.
I only recently started to think about a wider audience when I partnered with The Gardeners Workshop for online classes. Lisa Mason Ziegler, founder of the online school, is a great promoter and she has built a huge audience. She has taught me about building email lists with magnets (exclusive content offered in exchange for an email sign up), using social media to spread infectious enthusiasm for her brand and content with genuine authenticity, and partnering with industry influencers for marketing through podcast interviews. My announcement in two days is just the start.
Long before Steve Martin was solving murders in his building, he realized “it’s a profit deal” as a carnival weight guesser in “The Jerk.” I don’t want to compare my content to the cheap tchotchkes he gave away as prizes, but the concept is similar. I need to do some barking, and I have some good stuff to give away. I want your email. I want your comments. If I earn your trust and you like what see, you might pay for additional entertainment, education and access. “Step right up…”
This is awesome Ellen! I’m a new Flower Farmer🌻 I love you what you are doing! I claim much success for Vicarious Florist. Thank you for sharing your thought as you began this new journey in you business. I’m watching you from Amazing Grace Flower Farm, Gloucester VA
Thanks for your encouragement! Looking forward to sharing more posts to help farmers, florists and flower enthusiasts! Feel free to suggest topics you’d like me to cover!
I’m so excited about this blog!! It’s hard to know what is the right way to do things, and sometimes you have to jump scared! Thanks for jumping scared 😊 I took your online “Selling to Florist” course, and I’m so happy I get to continue learning from you. You have so much to offer!
heather! thanks for your note and for taking the Selling to Florists class! I hope to have lots of posts that will continue to help farmers and florists and flower enthusiasts! Let me know if you have any blog post topics you’d like me to cover!
I’d buy what you’re selling! I love this project and your virtual voice and content is captivating already. Can’t wait watch it unfold!!! xo
Thanks friend! I guess I have a special place in my heart for blogging since it was your blog that lead me to reach out to you all those years ago. I’m proud of both of us for all the new things we’re trying. xoxo