Balancing Brand Building with Submitting to Publications

In Tips & Tricks by Scarlett Ballantyne | |

Balancing Brand Building with Submitting to Publications

Like many writers who started off writing their own blog, I have been slowly navigating the online world, and trying to figure out my place in it.

In 2014, after blogging consistently for nearly a year, I had some success with a blog post that went viral – 5000 views in a day, which was a lot relative to my small blog! I was so excited and started thinking about how I could expand the post into a book format, since it seemed that there was a lot of interest my topic. I started with an outline and quickly had 6000 words written. I was on my way to being an author and even blogged that my ‘book’ was on its way, as I was hoping to be done within a few months.

Then one afternoon while I was casually scrolling on Facebook, I came across an article from Scary Mommy that reminded me of something that I had written myself. It gave me the idea to submit my own post to the publication. A week later, I was sitting with my friend having coffee when I got the acceptance email from their senior content manager:

“Hi Scarlett, I like this! I would like to book for 9/27.”

What?! An acceptance on my first try?! I was elated. And although it was several months before they accepted another article (beginner’s luck!), it started me on a path of writing and submitting to various other parenting publications around the web.

Over the next year I was published in xoJane, the Huffington Post, Bon Bon Break, and even started writing a regular column for the website Urban Moms. I enjoyed the rush of submitting and waiting for a response, always hoping to repeat my success by getting the coveted acceptance letter.

However, during all of this activity, balanced with my full-time job as a mom to teens, my book project got left behind.

And after a year of submitting to other sites, my own blog posts became less frequent, less interesting and kind of thrown up at the last minute. Listicles and recycled content started to become my go-to for my personal blog. And since my content wasn’t very engaging or interesting, my readership started dropping.

I took some time over this past summer to really evaluate my goals for my personal blog and writing. Did I want to become a published author? Where did I see myself going with writing and blogging? Was my personal brand even something that was important to grow, or should I just concentrate on writing for other publications? I think like many new writers, I struggled with how to manage this new-found passion with trying to figure out a way to get paid doing it.

While submitting writing to other publications is excellent practice, in the long-term, what do I want to gain?

I’ve talked to many other writers who have fallen into the same quandary. Let’s face it, once you starte getting published, your confidence grows and your writing improves. Working with editors gives you the chance to hone your skills, and be accountable. From my experience, writing my own blog hasn’t helped me improve as a writer as quickly.

So how can you balance building your own brand with submitting your writing to other websites?

Define your goals.

For me, this took a lot of reflection. While I love getting feedback from editors and the immediate satisfaction of getting something published, my larger overall goal is to build my own brand and become recognized as an ‘expert’ by writing about my own experiences. Writing a book, and then using that as a catalyst to help mentor other mompreneurs through speaking engagements and coaching, is something I want to pursue. I also realized that I need to work on vlogging as a part of this goal. So while writing for select publications is a part of the plan and helps me make a little bit of income, I am no longer submitting to places that don’t support my overarching personal goal.

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How much time do you have to write?

I love writing weekly pieces and getting paid, but this takes time. And inevitably, my own blog content takes a back seat. I continuously remind myself that I have to put the oxygen mask on myself first – meaning that in order to be the best for others and build my brand, first I need to spend time moving the needle forward in my own small business. Following a schedule, and using time blocks to get my content written has helped me stay accountable to my own goals. Balancing this with family life meant that I had to cut back and only work on things that a) pay well and b) support my goals. I only have so many hours in the day where I can write efficiently and being honest with myself about that helped me concentrate my efforts.

What defines your success?

Blogging can feel a little bit thankless at times, as you write and post and then….crickets. But writing for other publications can bring a lot of satisfaction as you know that others will be seeing your work. For me personally, I have always defined success by my income, so when I get paid for a piece that I have written, I feel that it was successful. Figuring out what will bring you fulfillment and working towards that in your writing, can help you to balance building your own brand with submitting elsewhere.

This past year I spent a lot of time writing and submitting to publications all over the web, and I have learned a lot from the various editors and websites that I have written for. Now I have re-defined my personal goals and have re-vamped my blog branding to reflect where I want to go over the next year and more. Writing is addictive and balancing submissions with my own projects has taken some practice. Just like in parenting, you have to be firm yet agile to make it work.

About the Author

Scarlett Ballantyne

Scarlett Ballantyne is a freelance writer, makeup artist, designer, and business owner. Married with children, she is an active dance-mom of two teenage girls. She writes a blog, That Mom Hustle, dedicated to inspiring moms that balance parenthood with earning a part-time income side hustling. When she isn’t chauffeuring kids around, she is passionate about photography, cooking healthy meals and Dancing with the Stars. Scarlett’s musings on parenting have been published on Scary Mommy, and the Huffington Post Canada. You can also catch her sharing her writing, parenting funnies and photography on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.