Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tips for Blogging Success Part 1 + Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012

Hell yeah, that's me sandwiched between Maria Ressa and Tita Noemi Dado. Heehee!

But seriously, it still is kind of surreal to be there with the "biggest and most influential" names in the Philippine Blogosphere. Bilibitornot.

L to R:  Abe Olandres, Tippy and Anthony Go, Mic Sy Lim, Noemi Dado, Ivan Henares, Carlo Ople, me, David Guison
photo via @daddyjoey on Twitter

So, I have to thank Nuffnang for inviting me to share my thoughts and ideas on branding and promoting blogs for Blogopolis 2012.

 With panelists Divine Lee and David Guison after my presentation. Photo by @daddyjoey

It was quite an experience because even though I have been blogging since 2006, I still learned a lot from my fellow bloggers. From the audience who asked thoughtful questions to the veteran bloggers who took their blogs to the next level - got funded, hired a staff of writers, created businesses out of it and basically turned blogging into a full-fledged career. Racked and Refinery29, you're my peg!

If you missed it this year, no worries, I am here to share my personal insights plus tips I've gathered, with you. Hopefully next year, you can come and attend Blogopolis 2013, so you can join in on the discussions too =)

TOP 10 LESSONS: First Five 

1. Find your niche. There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, so you have to ask yourself the question, "How do I set myself apart?".  Good question. How do you find your niche? Well, you could be strategic about zooming in on your niche, or you can just keep on writing until you stumble upon it. My tip is to list down the topics you like writing about, put your own spin to it, write it in your unique voice and then run with it. In an interview I did with Tommy Ton for On The Radar in The Philippine Star years ago, I asked him how he started. He mentioned that he couldn't get people to pose for him when he was just starting out. He was literally on the sidelines, so what he did was he started taking these behind the scenes fashion shots - women in the current season's must haves posing for photographers, crossing the street, hailing a cab, running through the Tuileries. Turns out taking photos of all these fantastic shoes and bags in their natural, unposed habitat struck a chord amongst the fashion set. He was soon friends with the models and editors who wouldn't or couldn't give him the time of day then. Plus, retailers and fashion publications took notice and started flying him in and out, hiring him for projects. Of course, it is a major factor that he takes gorgeous photos and he has a keen eye for what's hot and fresh. Photography + a love for beautiful things + fashion = Jak & Jil by Tommy Ton

2. Write from the heart. When I started blogging, there was no such term as "monetizing your blog". I wrote because I enjoyed writing and I love finding about new things in fashion. I'd come across interesting news, stumble upon a most fascinating product, read a book or magazine and find a story that I just had to share in the blog. It was that simple. There was no agenda. I just wanted to document all these topics that resonated with me and share it with whoever was interested. I had no idea if others were reading my blog, but it did not matter. I was enjoying the process. I guess I was enjoying myself, and my readers enjoyed reading the blog and sharing in the discovery of my new finds, that pretty soon, brands started approaching me - to introduce and send products, host prizes, invite me to their events, and eventually, to advertise in the blog. It was a natural progression. I am lucky in that I never had to ask for invites, ask for products or ask for advertising - the blog and the genuineness of it all simply attracted it. I believe it is true, "Do what you love, and the money will follow." Bottom line = Do NOT blog for the purpose of earning money, it will never happen. Blog because you love to write, because you enjoy sharing stories.

3. Luck vs Strategy. When asked about the secret to a blogger's success, Mic Sy Lim of Fashion Pulis says blogging success is based on luck. After all, he gets 40,000 page views a day, and he only started his blog a little over a year ago. In blog years, he is an overnight success. Meanwhile, other bloggers like Carlo Ople of The New Media believe in  strategy. I think there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging because it is based on a lot of different factors. But what I believe in is that, it is a combination of both. Luck is arbitrary yes, but if you also are lucky enough to be the first blogger in your niche, or you wrote a post that becomes much talked about, or a famous blogger links to something you said and continuously drives traffic to your site, well and good. But you also need to take steps to take your blog out there to get it noticed. It will not generate its own buzz. You have to make the buzz. I'll be touching upon blogging strategy on the next installment of this post.

4. Content is King. In my presentation, I shared that what you write about is how you present yourself to the world. Ultimately, what you write is telling of your taste, your background, your lifestyle and the demographics of your readers. Why is this important? Advertisers who would want to partner with you will want to know who they are going to be associated with. If you consistently write thoughtful posts, people notice. If you copy and paste press releases all the time, people notice too - and will not come back, because they have read it elsewhere. You know, it pays to invest time in writing an informative, timeless post. Because I have posts from years ago that people still refer to up to now that still get a lot of hits i.e. - a post on how I planned my wedding from abroad, a tip on how to wear Filipiniana attire, Cambridge Satchels (yes, even up to now), Sperry Top-Sider in the Philippines and Syrian First Lady Asma Al-Assad (I know, but hey, she really is stylish). They're not earth-shattering topics, but readers still refer to these posts time and again. You'd want to be known for writing a blog that has meat and substance in the subject you've decided to focus on.

5. Controversy sells. One time, I must have been either bored, PMS-sy or didn't get to shop that week, that I made patol a catty remark about my style, or lack thereof daw. OMG, my hits went through the roof. That post generated over 100 comments and really struck a chord, thankfully more good than bad. It was exciting and quite fun, but my goodness, I am a mom, and I don't need extra excitement in my life na no. So lesson learned, I would rather veer away from controversial topics. But if you can be deadma about people getting upset about something you wrote, and you really do have the stomach for it, it could be worth a try. Fashion Pulis as we all know, has built the following he has because everybody loves chismis and controversy. It's the spice of life. Just don't forget about credibility and ethics because well, you don't want a lawsuit along with your crazy hits.


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