Meet Jordan Lee Dooley, the girl behind the hit Instagram and blog Soul Scripts! Starting out as an Etsy shop owner originally, Jordan took the idea of Soul Scripts and has since grown her blog into a full business and even has a few books coming out! To top it all off, she has the cutest husband and puppy named Hoosier.
We had the opportunity to chat with Jordan about her blog, business, Instagram, and life! Keep scrolling to check out the Q&A.
Have you always enjoyed writing? Or is it a more recent love?
Writing has always been a part of me. When all the other little girls played with Barbies, I loved playing make believe and writing short stories. However, it wasn’t until college that I really allowed myself to explore it and share it. Over the last several years, I’ve refined my craft and grown even more passionate about sharing a message with the world through my writing!
What made you want to start a blog?
It was really a total accident. I was just writing captions on social media because I had a passion for reaching my peers and others with encouragement, helpful advice, and inspiration. As it evolved and began to get some attention, I decided to add a blog and began copying my old social media posts and those became my first blog posts! Thankfully, those archives are no longer available after switching website platforms this year, some of them were awfully embarrassing! But hey, we all start somewhere, right? 😉
How did you come up with the name ‘Soul Scripts?’
SoulScripts was the very first name God ever put on my heart. I remember I was with my mom and at the time, I was running an Etsy shop where I hand lettered Bible verses and Christian quotes on products like mugs and journals. I remember looking at her and saying something like, “I love scripting Scripture…it’s good for my soul….maybe I should call it SoulScripts!” She literally high-fived me because it was so perfect! Then, a year or so later when I closed the shop, stopped hand lettering, and focused more on the message and meaning behind the words through blogging, the name just stuck. The writing style went from hand lettering (because it was trendy) to writing (my true gift and passion) but the name still worked. It’s as if the Lord anointed it from the beginning!
Were there any struggles in the process of starting your blog or mistakes you made?
So many. At first I thought I needed to get a big social media audience so I really focused on that. After awhile, I totally burned out and felt so much pressure just to keep up. When I finally let that go, that’s when my social media started to explode. Isn’t that crazy? I also used to write very general articles with incredibly boring titles. I was only focused on being inspiring without actually having much substance in my writing (or being very helpful). When I shifted my focus to being more helpful and providing more valuable content, that’s when I really began to see changes in my blog. Sometimes it just comes down to focus and intentionality.
When did you start to see a larger stream of viewers and following? What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
There was always steady, slow growth but I started to see a big shift in my traffic/following in early 2016. Then, around the time that I got married, everything blew up even more. I wrote a blog about the letters I wrote to my future husband as a girl growing up and told the story about how he read those letters on the morning of our wedding. That post went completely viral (I believe it had something like 2.5 million hits and 50k shares or something insane like that).
When it comes to strategy, Pinterest and building an email list have been game changers to me. Most people wouldn’t guess that since my biggest platforms in terms of “following” are Facebook and Instagram. However, I realized how elusive social media popularity really is and how important it is to focus on building a tribe or community through an email list and driving traffic to your site through search engines like Pinterest (seriously the best for female bloggers/business owners). The reality is that Facebook or Instagram or any social media could disappear tomorrow and then suddenly you wouldn’t be so popular anymore. My blog’s success has largely come from really cultivating a community through an email list because that’s a way for me to directly serve my audience and it’s not something that will disappear if Facebook gets bought out or completely disappears (or if my account were hacked!).
I recently made a course on building a blog using only Pinterest because so many quit before they really have a chance to succeed because they keep hitting brick wall after brick wall on social media. It’s getting harder and harder to build a social media following these days but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful blog!
How do you come up with content?
I consider questions my readers send in, listen to the problems or concerns my peers and friends are facing, and learn from others in my niche. I feel as though the Lord has blessed me with a mind that’s packed full of ideas, which is a blessing in that I feel like I never really run out of content/something to say but it can also be a challenge because I have to pick through several ideas and decide which is best to share and what God has given me for me verses given me to share. It requires quite a bit of discernment and I’m not sure I’ve totally mastered it, but I truly believe part of it is the gift of insight.
Marketing on Instagram: any advice? How do you choose your theme?
Instagram is the last place I’d suggest marketing your blog. Considering Instagram is how I got started, it probably sounds crazy that I say that. It’s not the greatest for generating shares (like Facebook and Twitter are), so it’s harder to expand your reach AND you can’t post links other than in your bio (or in the story feature if you have an account that allows it).
That being said, when it comes to marketing and choosing your theme, pick a color family (for me it’s a lot of vibrant + warm tones) and create content using patterns, materials, graphics, etc. with those colors. Mix up what you have photos of and use an app to preview your posts and create a more cohesive feed. This will help you avoid having a feed that looks cluttered while also being intentional about what you post!
How often do you suggest a person should post a blog article?
As often as possible. The more content you have on your site, the more reason people have to stick around and get lost exploring all the value you have to offer them. I personally try to publish two posts per week. A good strategy for doing this/making this possible is to spend two or three days in a row writing the majority of the content in those posts and making the graphics/visuals, then scheduling them out over the next 5-6 weeks. Before they publish, you can sit down and add in a few details or extra information but at least you’re not sitting down to spend several hours writing and preparing a post two or three times every week. The more you can get done ahead of time, the better.
Photography: what’s a good way to get quality pictures without breaking the bank? Who takes your photos? Do you own a camera? What kind?
You can create great content if you know your brand color scheme, compose them properly, and create a variety of visuals (people, stock images, negative space, etc.). Some of my photos are taken on an iPhone and some are taken on a Canon 5D Mark iii. Sometimes I take my own photos and sometimes my husband or a photographer friend of mine will join me for content creation days where we will shoot all sorts of stock images, product images, blog photos, etc.
The key to strong visual content is consistent editing and vibe. You don’t need to break the bank but I would suggest investing in an editing software like Lightroom and finding some presets that you like. Then, you can edit from your phone using those presets to keep it consistent (btw, a preset is not just a filter). If you use engaging visual images that are unique instead of just pulling stock images from the internet, you’re going to create stronger brand recognition. It takes some work but your blog will grow quicker.
What’s the toughest part, in your opinion, in starting up a business/blog?
The willingness to keep going. The hard reality is that blogging isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of trial and error, late nights, uncertainty, and perseverance. It’s easy to start a blog on a free website but it’s not easy to build a successful anything out of nothing. It’s basically like starting your own business if you’re really going to take it seriously and it’s a business that’s incredibly personal so it can be hard to shut off as well as hard to keep going because what people don’t realize is that blogging can open you up to a lot of ugliness–people will always pick you apart and there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you say or how you say it. It just comes with the job so you’ve gotta have a thick skin. And nearly everyone wants to start a blog these days without really understanding what it entails. It’s management, tons of systems, problem solving, putting out fires, trying something fifteen times before it succeeds, etc. It’s almost as if it’s become trendy.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know it would become such a sought after career yet I remained incredibly diligent with it. The toughest part is keeping your nose to the ground, working long hours because it’s all on you to get it done, and learning a careful balance between sharing just enough for people to feel like they know you without totally unveiling your private life to the whole internet.
You are coming out with a book in August. Tell us a little about it. Was it hard to transition to writing a book, rather than just blog posts? Was it a difficult?
The book coming out in August is actually a devotional set for dating couples titled, NaviDating. The girl’s book is from my perspective and the guy’s book is from my husband’s perspective. It’s designed to encourage couples to keep their individual walks with God (because when you’re dating, your faith shouldn’t only be alive because of your significant other) as well as to have the conversations that need to be had and consider the things that need to be considered to really have a Godly relationship.
Since it’s a devotional style book, it is relatively similar to blogging in that it’s short style writing. However, I am working on my first book (full blown, published, chapter book 😉 with Waterbrook, the Christian imprint of Penguin Random House, and it will release in 2019! I’ve been working on my first couple of chapters and transitioning from short style to long style writing is no easy task! I think the biggest challenge is structuring all that you have to say in a cohesive structure that flows well.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start up a blog?
You have to understand that if you want it to be more than just a hobby and more than just a space where a few of your friends hang out, it’s going to take a lot of work. Nothing worth doing or having comes easy. I really suggest in investing in learning the right ways and strategies to do it from the beginning. This was where I went wrong–I thought I could just figure it all out on my own. And while I did learn quite a bit on my own, I wasted so much time and energy sifting through what works and what doesn’t, trying to find answers on Google but never feeling like I had one cohesive, clear idea and plan, and it just didn’t work.
If you want to succeed at anything, educate yourself upfront. Take a couple of courses from others who have gone before you and be willing to commit the time it takes up front. If you don’t have any skin in the game, it’s easy to get really passive about your blog and that’s when you’ll see really slow progress and be tempted to just quit because life gets busy. If you feel passionate about it and really want to do it, you’ve gotta take it seriously upfront and invest time and resources. You can’t reap anything if you don’t sow anything first. That’s common knowledge with just about any other endeavor out there so I’m not sure why blogging should be any different. Don’t just throw something at the wall and hope it sticks, climb a ladder step by step instead. Because a successful blog doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen faster if you are intentional from the get-go.
A huge thanks to Jordan for taking the time to answer our questions! We can’t wait to see all the new things she has planned for the future.