DREAM CATCHER: KELLEY LILIEN
Kelley Lilien is a creative jane of all trades – graphic designer, published author (of Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook), and a creative director specializing in commercial design and creative brand collaborations. She works undercover as a creative consultant for high profile fashion and lifestyle brands and is the creator of MRS LILIEN, a multifaceted, aspirational brand that extends across both online and print media. The MRS LILIEN blog celebrates the art of “turning the mundane into the magnificent” with a style that is equal parts intoxicating wit and high design.
When did you know that you wanted to be a blogger? I didn’t. I actually never really wanted to. It happened completely by accident. I needed a way to keep from stabbing my eyeballs out as a graphic designer while still obeying my clients’ needs. MRS LILIEN became my fabulous white padded room where I could do whatever the hell I wanted, and not get asked to make it “a tiny bit smaller, and a little bit more merlot-y”.
What advice would you give someone trying to cut through the noise to establish their voice among the many blogs that are out there? You’d think I’d have some idea of what REALLY is out there. I don’t. I’m that person that really truly lives in my own bubble. I’ve never been one to let the outside infiltrate my mind. I think that’s whats aided in the success of MRS LILIEN. I rant from my own rooftop, drink from my own crazy cauldron and without fail always seem to fall within the confines of my specific (albeit, spicy) point of view. My advice to anyone who wants to tread within the online waters is to do the same. Put your head down and be PROUD of what you do. Concern yourself NOT with who’s looking, what’s trending, or what others are gaining success from. Establishing your voice and carving out your niche should come naturally and should be the same whether you were sitting at your work station with your iPhone, iPad, and iMac operating on all cylinders or locked in a dank cellar with a light, a pencil, and a piece of paper.
What SEO tips can you pass along to someone who is trying to gain followers, subscribers, page views? Invest in HELP!! I’d be lost without my assistant who also doubles as my social media manager. I’m horrible at multitasking and never really did enjoy the art of sharing. That sounds negative, but I know what my strengths are and where they are best utilized. SEO management and deploying analytic strategies are far and above what my brain can handle.
Many bloggers relied on banner advertising to monetize their content, but those days seem to be over. What other sources of revenue should a blogger pursue or consider? How much of this is dependent on having a huge following? Oui oui. In my early days (circa 2009), banner ads were THE thing. I detested them and never ever not even once used them. Why?? Well, they messed with my pretty white space. The thought of ANYTHING dancing on the side of my work made me ill. While my peers were killing it with revenue from said ads, I refused relentlessly. While I wasn’t making any moolah, I had the glory of delighting in my pristine white space. Sure I was tempted, but in the end the white space always won. Later on, I signed with a management company that has been instrumental in monetizing my brand. Also, affiliate links helped and still do. But, as with all good things they come and go. Pinterest popped that bountiful bubble and the monetizing of such links came to a screeching halt. I’m sure it’s opened doors for the next platform to come alive and take its place.
Some bloggers set out to make money by monetizing the actual content on the blog, while others use blogging as a platform to gain followers that will lead to a publishing deal or developing and selling a lifestyle brand. What was your goal when you started? Has that changed? As mentioned before, I had no goal. ZERO expectations, it was merely a creative design staging platform for me. I kept my head down and worked my magical booty out daily in my own little world. I was so cut off that I was startled and caught very off guard when Penguin Random House called me up one day and asked me if I would be interested in writing a book with them. The same experience occurred when my management company contacted me a month or so later. I kept thinking to myself…. wait, did they accidentally call the wrong person?!
I am most proud of… Everything that I’ve accomplished. The peaks of my career. Those whom I have successfully influenced. The story that I’ve lived and all of the projects I’ve been a part of. Being able to say (to myself) “Yeah, I’ve done that”, with a smile.
My favorite business book is… Funny… books are hard for me, I tend to like pictures better. The only books I read are children’s books. So, to answer this, I don’t have a favorite business book. I do however have a favorite business resource. Her name is Joy Cho and she’s one hell of a business book, not to mention a dear friend. It helps having one of those on your shelf. A friend and mentor who’s rocketed themselves into the success stratosphere always lends the greatest advice!
A woman who inspires me is… OMG. There are so many I almost think it unfair to choose. But at the present moment I am going to crown Betty Halbreich as my lady inspirante du jour. I just finished listening to her book, I’ll Drink to That, and I instantly fell in love with her and her story. She inspires me to stop and delight in the details and relish in the grandiose of the little things.
The key to balancing it all is… Please tell me when you find out!! I’m on the constant journey to get to that place and should I remember how to get there I’ll pass along the coordinates.
The most important thing I have learned so far… I’m still learning, still a student, still taking notes. Each day is a new experience and with each day comes a new lesson. When I get to the end and graduate, I’ll let you know.