This week I met Maria Dillon aka Mrs. Dillon’s Diary at the Into The West Blogger Network 2nd birthday bash. I first met Maria last year when I was speaking at the ITWBN blogging for business seminar. I’ve followed Maria’s business blog with interest and earlier this month she scooped the Best Fashion & Lifestyle Blog award at the Irish Blogger Association Awards. So with a national blogging award in hand, I decided to interview Maria about how she went from colouring hair to becoming an award-winning blogger.
Be sure to follow Maria on social media (I love her hair tips!)
JSB in conversation with Maria Dillon
– proprietor of Platinum Hairdressing & Award-winning Blogger
Q1: Tell me a little bit about your business and how long you have been running it.
I have been running Platinum Hairdressing in Castlebar since October 2007. It’s a quaint little salon, in the centre of town. I have a good regular clientele, who are more like friends really. I specialise in colour, and I focus a lot on blondes. I seem to have built up a lot of regular clients for highlights over the past nine years. I also do a lot of bridal and occasion hair mainly up-styling, curls and backcombing.
We always have the craic and a good catch up when my ladies come in for their colour. We’re usually giggling about something as I’m doing their hair. So it can be great fun in the salon at times.
Q2: When did you start using social media and blogging as a marketing tactic for your business and what prompted you to go online?
It was sometime in 2009-2010 that I had began to post special offers on my personal Facebook profile. It was all fairly new back then. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing but I knew I could reach people fast so I gave it a whirl. Things were fairly quiet that year and like many small business owners I was struggling to make ends meet.
I utilised Facebook initially to get my name out there and get my phone number online, to pick up any bit of extra business I could. I set up a new profile for the salon in 2010 when Facebook wouldn’t accept my salon name Platinum Hairdressing.
I now know this is because it was a business and not a personal page. I called the profile Glam Divas. I cringe a little now but hey, it was great at the time. It got me noticed.
I bought myself a little Kodak camera and started uploading photos of my work, products, etc. I guess I was blogging then but I hadn’t ever heard of the term blogger.
From there I progressed to an official Facebook Business Page. I registered my location, added the phone number, company information and began using my Page properly. In 2012 I stepped things up a gear with my own website platinumhairdressing.ie From there I started a little blog on my site, and in 2015 shortly after getting married, MrsDillonsDiary.ie was born.
Q3: How often do you blog and where do you find inspiration for your content?
Ideally I love to get three posts a week out, that cannot always happen but I do my best. I always get at least one a week out. Since setting up MrsDillonsDiary.ie Ive branched into blogging about lifestyle and healthy habits. This gives me plenty of content.
I tend to write about my two favourite things: hair and food. I do blog about events I’ve attended or hotels that we have stayed in, but the majority of my content is either related to hairdressing or healthy recipes. Although I’m partial to a restaurant review if the food impresses me.
Q4: What has blogging done for your business – brand awareness, customer acquisition, speaking opportunities, awards, confidence etc?
Blogging has done wonders for my business, ever since the first day I started! When I originally set up that old profile in 2010, there wasn’t any other local salon with a Facebook Page like my own.
It really helped me to showcase my work and it was a great platform to communicate with customers. I suppose I got ‘Facebook famous’ on a local level. Since setting up my lifestyle blog this has really propelled me into the spotlight. I have been able to connect with women from all over the West and throughout Ireland via my blog and lately a lot through Snapchat.
When used properly blogging is serious weapon in the fight to survive for any small business.
Everyone knows its tough to survive in such a fragile economy. I believe its the personal interaction with readers or clients whatever the case may be that builds loyalty to a blog or business. If you can build a relationship with the public through your social media channels and blog. It will benefit your business in the long-term.
In 2015 Platinum Hairdressing was a finalist in the Connaught Telegraph style awards, My salon was voted by members of the public. I was a runner-up on the night but the recognition was fabulous, all thanks to the great people of Mayo. I also recently won Best Fashion and Lifestyle Blog at the Irish blogger Association awards in Dublin. This was a fantastic achievement for a West of Ireland Blog to be recognised on a national stage. I was so delighted to bring my award home to Castlebar and I’m excited to see what opportunities come from it in the future.
Q5: How would you describe your blogging style and why would we read your blog?
I’m blogging about real life, I’m a thirty five year old married Mum of an Eleven year old boy. I am lucky enough to live and work in my hometown of Castlebar. I struggle with the usual
stresses of life like all ladies of my era. I write about what its like to struggle with weight and try to keep healthy habits, because lets face it, that’s what We are all trying to do. I’m a realist and I love to write about what is going on in my world here in Mayo. I always felt there was a need for a place online for the local ladies to get tips and tricks and maybe some recomendations that are available here in the west.
Q6: How do you promote your blog posts and generate blog traffic?
I generally use my two Facebook Pages to share my posts, I also use Twitter. I tag any brands or pages I’ve mentioned in the post in the hope of a re-tweet or a share. I also make an announcement on Snapchat to direct followers to my post. I have not promoted any posts using ads as of yet.
Q7: Congratulations on your best fashion and lifestyle blog award from the Irish Blogger Association. How important is this recognition from your peers?
I was actually so shocked and delighted to win the award. I really didn’t expect it at all. I never thought I stood a chance because there were so many brilliant blogs nominated and so many in my category. To get recognition on a national level was a huge deal for me. I’m still buzzing a little from the win, it was just so exciting.
Of course its great feeling to know I’m doing something right and so many leaders in the industry are enjoying my work and took the time to nominate me. It was great win not just for myself but for my followers too. I was so delighted to get to bring my award home to the West.
Q8: What advice would you give other bloggers just starting out or trying to make impact with their blog?
Be consistent! You need to ‘be there’ for your followers because they will start to expect your posts and they get used to certain things on certain days.
Scheduling is part of a good strategy to being consistent. Find a quirky little niche like maybe a recipe for Sunday Brunch or a motivational Monday post. Do it every week so you become known for that. Share helpful Information, whether is a recipe, a workout or a lesson in Snapchat.
We all love to be shown how to do or how to make something. Connect with other bloggers. You can and should share each others posts to reach a larger audience. Interact, be nice and have a bit of craic with your followers.
Q9: What’s the next blogging step for Mrs. Dillons Diary?
Well I’m hoping Mrs. Dillon will have lots to put in her Diary in the coming months. I was featured in The Western People newspaper this week and I have an interview on local radio tomorrow. I’ve been on the radio a few times and I’ve really enjoyed it. So I guess I’m all about getting my name out there and keeping it out there.
Getting as much exposure as possible is important but I enjoy the buzz as you never know what’s coming next. My followers are growing everyday so I am very excited to see what the next few months bring. And on the subject of my followers, I want to thank them ever so much for all their support over the past six years. Without you Mrs. Dillon is nothing.
Maria has a series of how to videos on her Facebook Page. For any hair nightmare mornings, you’ve got to watch these!