When you think Kentucky, you probably think mint juleps and race horses. Today, we’re going to introduce you to another one of the state’s endearing gifts to the world – The Kentucky Gent Josh Johnson.
Josh is a popular lifestyle blogger, bourbon aficionado, and an all around nice guy. This savvy southern boy shares his love for fashion, food, grooming, and travel on his blog, and today, he’s also going to share some of his tips for building a successful lifestyle blog.
What does a blogger do?
WP Tasty: In your blog post “What does a blogger do?” you make a brilliant distinction between being a blogger and blogging. In your words, “The main difference being that a blogger is someone who views their blog as a brand and business, whereas blogging is sort of like keeping an online diary.” At what point did you decide that you wanted to be a blogger and what was your main motivation?
Josh: It started as a hobby, mostly on Instagram. I was working in retail for about five years, so it started out as an Outfit of the Day kind of thing. Then, it evolved from there.
At first, I definitely was just blogging. Then, I started to really enjoy it, and it took off. I started to focus more on the branding side of it and creating interesting content, and it transitioned into something I can make money at.
People come to me and ask, “How do I get to where you are?”
You start a blog because you have something you want to say, and that’s how you get to where you’re making money. You don’t just start a blog and say, “I want to make money tomorrow writing a blog, so I’m going to start it and charge somebody.”
No, you need to start something, have a voice, have a mission. People are going to find that and be attracted to it, and then you’re able to monetize your content.
How do you manage your time? What gives you the greatest return for your efforts?
WP Tasty: In the same post, you discuss some of the routine chores that a blogger undertakes: fielding pitches for sponsored posts, selling ad space, participating in affiliate programs, managing paid collaborations, monitoring Google Analytics, figuring out hashtags, checking email. And, of course, you affirm that you love all this work. What would you say is the most rewarding of these business aspects of being a lifestyle blogger? Which offers the greatest return on your efforts? And how do you decide what to focus on when your schedule gets a little too taxing?
Josh: The biggest return on my investment is the travel content. I love being able to travel and share that with my audience. Getting to travel is the most fun and rewarding thing for me whether it’s for a CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau), going to a city for a 48-hour trip, or doing a sponsored post, like, recently, I went to Louisiana for Kellogg's cereal to see where the rice was grown for Rice Krispie treats.
The travel posts are more than just a cocktail I made or a pair of shoes I’m wearing. I get to have a more well-rounded, organic experience with my audience.
How do you stay authentic?
WP Tasty: I loved your #WomanCrushWednesday article on Sia and especially the point you made about staying authentic while trying to build a blogging career that will pay the bills. How do you keep it real when you hear the siren call of fame and money?
Josh: I think the biggest thing is figuring out a way to make things make sense with what you’re doing. For instance, I just worked with Nature’s Way on a new vegetarian vitamin supplement. In the past, I probably would’ve been like, “Oh! Here’s this vitamin! You guys should use it!” and just do a flat lay of the vitamins. I love flat lay photography. I think it’s aesthetically pleasing, but also I get, from a consumer’s side of it, it’s much more of an ad than if I work it into something.
I just came from working out, so that’s why I’m in gym clothes. That’s the journey I’m on right now, getting back into health and fitness with high-intensity Orangetheory workouts. This vitamin is for heart health, so I was able to tie that into why heart health is important to me.
Take a step back and figure out a way to tell the story so that it’s something you can share and expand upon for someone versus saying, “Here’s this product. I need you to buy it.”
Any advice for other male lifestyle bloggers?
WP Tasty: For a while, lifestyle blogging was predominately the domain of women, especially mommy bloggers and outfit of the day fashionistas. Fortunately, you and other pioneering fellows have been showing the world that men can be relied on for savvy advice on fashion, food, and travel. What advice would you give to other men who might be thinking about dipping their toes in the water?
Josh: My biggest piece of advice would be just to find a niche that works for you. I’m a gay man living in the South, so my content takes a little bit of that skew because it’s authentic to who I am. Find something that works for you and find something you want to write about.
At first, I struggled with finding what my audience wanted to read or see. While that’s important and you need to have an audience that’s engaged, the most important thing is to write what you want to write about.
I think a lot of people will skew back to that. What does the audience want? You have to take that into consideration, but there for a while I was definitely writing things just to get page views and click throughs. My heart wasn’t in it, and the content was not as good as it could’ve been because I was doing it to get page views from people.
All those things are important for certain aspects of blogging, but I definitely think when you’re starting out and trying to make a name for yourself or a voice, the biggest thing is figuring out what you have to say, why it’s important, and what you can do different than anybody else.
How do you appeal to a wide audience?
WP Tasty: I couldn’t help notice while reading through your posts that you easily have as many female followers as male. How have you built a presence that appeals to such a wide audience?
Josh: I cover a wide variety of topics. I don’t just share fashion. I don’t just share travel. I don’t just share food. I think there’s something for everyone who comes to the site, whether you’re looking for a quick cocktail or city guides.
A lot of people say to find your niche and stick to it and don’t write about a million things. I’m going to disagree with that and say that if you have something to say and it covers a couple of topics, then cover whatever you can. Everything I touch on makes sense with who I am and what I do. As long as it makes sense with your brand, I think you’re able to write about it.
Tips for using WP Tasty Plugins?
WP Tasty: You’ve been using Tasty Recipes and Tasty Pins as your plugin of choice for recipes and pinning, like those yummy Kitchen Sink Cookies. Would you mind sharing with our readers some of your favorite features of Tasty Recipes and how it’s impacted The Kentucky Gent?
Josh: My favorite thing about Tasty Pins and Recipes is the Pinterest text – that line just for Pinterest. I use different platforms for Pinterest and they all pull text from different place. With the plugin, every platform pulls from the same place. No matter what I do, it’s going to pull the right text.
I also love the feature where you can hide Pins from the main page, and it’ll show up when visitors Pin it. I’ve taught a couple of classes on how to monetize your blog and brought up that feature several times. Those long vertical Pins with text always do so well on Pinterest, but they don’t look aesthetically pleasing on a blog post. It’s nice to be able to hide those.
What bloggers do you admire?
WP Tasty: You give a shoutout to lifestyle blogger Poor Little It Girl on The Kentucky Gent. Who are some other lifestyle bloggers you admire and would like to see get more attention?
Josh: My friend Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita is awesome. She’s been there to help me through a million things. We started around the same time, and if I have questions, she’s always able to help. We’re a good sounding board for each other.
Back to you…
Do you consider yourself a blogger or are you just blogging? Tell us in the comments!