At IFB, we're suckers for a good niche blog. With The Budget Babe, Dianna Baros has mastered her niche of celebrity-inspired looks for stylish women with sensible spending habits. She's grown her site with a loyal following of more than 11 thousand people on both Twitter and Facebook, and expanded her reach to television appearances and as a spokesperson for TJ Maxx and Marshalls. We caught up with this Budget Babe to find out how she grew her site into the go-to online destination for celebrity looks for less, fashion Q+A and generally inspiring shopping content.
How did you get started blogging, and why did you get into it?
My then boyfriend, now husband, suggested I start a blog to document all my shopping escapades and bargain hunting (instead of telling him about them all the time!). The moment I started writing, I knew I could turn my blog into something special. I didn't know what shape it would take exactly, but I was instantly encouraged by readers and fellow bloggers and just fell in love with the whole blogging world. I'd always wanted to start my own business, too, so a light bulb sort of went off soon after I started blogging. I was also looking for a better work/life balance and a chance to be more creative and challenge myself. Blogging has proved to be all these things and more.
Honestly I've never been interested in celebrities per se – I was a pop-culture deprived child growing up – but celebrity photos are readily available (thanks to the paparazzi) and my readers really responded positively to celebrity looks for less, so I continued to focus on the things they wanted to read. Besides, celebrities usually have amazing stylists, so they're a great resource for styling ideas and they often wear trends that are readily available at the stores where we all shop.
What kind of tactics have you used to grow your readership and amplify your message?
I've always focused on content, content, content. “If I build it (and it's good!) they will come (and keep coming back!)” sort of attitude. I love Twitter, I'm warming up to Facebook and I take advantage of opportunities to cross-promote on like-minded blogs and websites when possible. I should probably employ more tactics to help grow readership but it's tough!
How do you use social media for The Budget Babe?
Twitter is great for getting to know readers and communicating one-on-one. Facebook has become increasingly important so I'm trying to engage with readers more on that platform as well. Everyone's readers are a bit different, so you have to know where your readers are and then reach out to them accordingly.
You have been featured on many media outlets, how did you do this?
It's really been a rather organic process, fortunately, brands have found me and reached out to me so I've been able to take advantage of many opportunities that way. When it comes to getting press releases and look books, I've been very active courting my favorite brands. They see I'm serious, they see the coverage I can provide and they know I'm not asking for favors, just information. When I'm working with a brand, I try to think, “what will the reader get out of this?” I also try to be realistic about the value I bring to the table. The thing about working with brands is that there are PR people trying to do a job, too, and so you want to make it a win-win for both parties.
More recently, I've had some amazing opportunities thanks to my long-standing relationship with Style Coalition, a network of independent bloggers, so it may be worth your while to join a blogger network that works for you, while still pursuing campaigns on your own.
Did your previous professional experience help you in building your blog?
Absolutely. I learned so much during my time at Oprah.com. It was absolutely invaluable. I became a stronger writer, a better communicator and I had the opportunity to work with some amazing people. That's where I met my husband, too! Had he not persuaded me to move from Chicago to the east coat, I might not be working for myself right now.
How do you monetize The Budget Babe?
I use banner ads (via Style Coalition and Google), sponsored posts, and affiliate links.
What other advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Blogging is a lot of work, whether you're doing it for fun, business or both. Learn as much as you can from your current job – those are skills you can take with you should you decide to go full time as a blogger. Listen to your readers, learn from other bloggers and just be yourself. There's no single recipe for success in the blogging world and that's what makes it so amazing.