I’ve been working with bloggers for over four years now and let me tell you; bloggers know their stuff!
The bloggers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with have spent years (some even decades), understanding how the online space works, right from building up thousands of loyal engaged fanbases through to knowing how to develop sticky content that really cuts through.
This knowledge is something that eludes even the most successful brands and marketeers. But as they say; knowledge is power and in the case of Australia’s most influential bloggers, this power is now converting to commercial relationships with brands.
Having long-term relationships with many of Australia’s top bloggers, I decided to go straight to the source and ask them just how they do what they do. So each quarter I’ll be releasing 5 exclusive insights from the top Australian bloggers of the moment.
I’m excited to kick off today with the first 5 insights from some really talented bloggers that have worked with us with on campaigns for the likes of Telstra, Woolworths, Reckitt Benkiser, Marriott, Nestle and more.
Blogger Influencer #1: Ness from One Perfect Day
Q: Content marketing is one of the biggest trends of 2014, what trends have you noticed when creating content that really engages people online?
“It’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? So often I’ve had conversations with fellow bloggers who have said that the content they’ve spent hours crafting and getting “just so” will sometimes bomb on social media but posts that have been written off the cuff go viral and generate some of their highest page views. In my experience, it comes down to two things – honesty and innovation.
Firstly, honesty. If I write from the heart, share part of myself, and talk to my readers, not at them, then readers are moved to comment and share the post. You need to share part of yourself, put yourself out there as much as you are comfortable doing. A post I wrote two years has the highest engagement of all my posts and it still generates comments, shares and direct emails to me to this day. I wrote it from the heart and it resonated with people. I shared some failures and mistakes and people can relate to it. I was brave enough to say “I’m not perfect. This is real life” and people responded to that in a huge way.
The second factor that generates engagement for my content is innovation – a simple idea that makes people say to themselves “Hey I can do that”. If you can provide readers with content that will help them in some way, and that is completely doable, something they can apply to their life with very little effort on their part, then engagement will follow. Finally the role of great photos and simple to the point content titles cannot be underestimated. I regularly spend more time styling and editing photos than writing my content. Online content is a visual medium and people are short on time. You only have a couple of minutes to hold their attention at best, and beautiful photos are a must if you are going to grab their attention”.
Blogger Influencer #2: Claire K from Claire K Creations
Q: Which blog posts have worked really well for you and what factors do you think contributed to their success?
Claire K says:
“My two most successful posts receive nearly 30% of my traffic and surprisingly, one isn’t even food-related.
Every year, as an excuse to eat more cake (and because I’m a Birthday-a-holic), I make myself a Birthday cake and a second one to post on the blog. Last year’s piñata cake stemmed from an idea I’d seen online and a last minute stroke of inspiration to make the icing crazy rainbow colours.
While it’s almost impossible to predict which posts will take off and which will remain unseen there are a few contributing factors:
- Great images are really important. If you have a great image it’s more likely to be shared and noticed across social media.
- My piñata cake received more than 3000 shares on Facebook (just from my post) at a time when I only had 750 fans and is still ‘pinned’ several times a day.
- SEO helps your post to stand out. My post is the top hit if you search for ‘piñata cake’ on Google.
- Being unique or putting a unique spin on something can help cut through all the noise as well as being specific with what your post is about.
- Keeping your post simple and relatable and not too long is important. If it’s not easy to read, who’s going to look at it?
‘How to make soy candles’ comes in at number two which to me is funny as it’s not even food-related but goes to show that a successful post on a food blog doesn’t have to be about food.
When it comes to Google searches, I know mine quite often start with ‘how to’ so it’s no surprise that a how to post will be well received if it’s something that doesn’t have many answers already.
To wrap it all up – to bake a successful post you need
- a good recipe
- something unique or a unique spin
- good photos
- Lots of promotion on social media
- A simple, easy-to-read, relatable post
- A little luck
Mix all these together and you may just go viral.”
Blogger Influencer #3: Kelly from Be a Fun Mum
Q: You have built a huge Facebook community of 201,000 fans, what tips do you have to share when it comes to creating a successful online community?
“I believe it’s important to treat my social media channels as micro blogs. This means they all have their own identity and, although there is overlapping content, I also produce unique content depending on which channel I’m using and how I use it. Facebook is where most of my readers are, so I invest there more than my other social media channels. I’ve grown the Be A Fun Mum community by applying these fundamental qualities to my page.
Be steadfast: It’s easy to get caught up with what others are doing, or what meme is popular. However, for longevity on Facebook, it’s important to come back to what you’re trying to achieve with your blog and supporting social media channels. Frankly, I often need to regroup on a weekly basis.
Be consistent: Be consistent with posting quality content. I post 2-5 times a day, 6-7 times a week.
Be savvy: Keep up to date on changes on Facebook pages and experiment to see what content works with your readers.
With a strong core, I then am able to draw on a variety of different content to support my vision. Below are some of the types of content I use on Facebook to engage and grow my page.
1. Link to other websites
I share links to other websites and articles that will interest my readers.
Pictures stand out on Facebook. I often use my own pictures or source and share other content (ensuring it’s referenced).
3. Personal content
I believe it’s important for there to be a relatable person behind the page or brand and so I sometimes share personal stories that are relevant to my readers. This might be a sweet thing my daughter said or a picture of my washing pile. It’s about connection.
4. Re-use Archived Posts
Resurrect archived posts that were popular in the past for current content. This is a great option if you have a slow week on the blog or struggling to find content.
5. Ask questions
Ask questions that are relevant to the community. Many of the questions I think of putting out to my community are relevant to my life as a parent, and in turn, are often relevant to my readers too.”
Blogger Influencer #4: Tonya from the Crafty Mummy
Q: Which social media platform do you find drives you the most traffic and why?
“I love Pinterest! It is by far my largest source of social media traffic.
I love the fact that once a post has been pinned, it will drive traffic from Pinterest over a long period of time as new users find it. A great picture on Pinterest will be shared over and over again, and Pinterest users will often go looking at other pictures from the same source.
Once users have clicked through to my site, I encourage them to look around with plenty of links and more pretty pictures to pin. Pinterest is a great source of long-term traffic from readers who are really interested in the type of content you are sharing and are in the mood to browse your site when they arrive.
Top Tips for Pinterest
1. Every post needs an image that can be pinned. The best image to pin is a tall rectangle and includes the title of the post.
2. Have sharing buttons so images are easy to pin. I often get frustrated when I find a fabulous image with great content but find it cannot be pinned.
3. Be active on Pinterest. Pin quality pins that are beautiful images, lead to great content and come from the original sources.
4. Set up Article Rich Pins – I recently did this so that every pin from The Crafty Mummy has my favicon and some text from my article.”
Blogger Influencer #5: Karen Cheng from Karen Cheng’s Fashion & Life
Q: You have been blogging for 15 years now! How much have things changed in the world of blogging since you started back in 1999 and how do you see things changing as we move into 2014?
“I first began blogging, before the term ‘blogging’ existed! Back then they were called ‘personal websites’.
Obviously the landscape was very new and these are some of the things that have changed since then.
1. Most people with personal websites were usually web professionals, designers, programmers, people already in the business of publishing, writers, photographers, and generally comptuer savvy people. So in a way, there was relatively more quality content out there, made by professionals who knew how to use the medium and communicate through it.
2. Webrings were so popular! Basically your website gets linked together with communities of like minded people (with a bit of code on your website), eg “Dog Lovers” or ”Australian Asians”.
3. Readers used to find sites they loved, bookmarked them and returned day after day. Now blog content gets pushed into a RSS feed and readers can read them on a blog reader. So readers only go to one site, rather than to many sites. There is so MUCH content out there that readers are much more selective on what they read or subscribe to.
4. I feel that the explosion of Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms have reduced the number of people who read blogs of strangers. I believe that people naturally are more interested in connecting with their own social circles and friends, that they are less drawn to read about what is happening in a stranger’s life!
5. As a result, there are a lot more bloggers who try to stand out by being more contraversial, shocking, sensationalistic. It’s not a new thing in the media cycle.
6. When blogging first started, there was significantly less of a commercial aspect to blogging. Generally the purspose of blogging was to express, have a creative outlet, collect information about a certain topic, tell a story. Now there are issues about editorial ethics, credibility, disclosures, how it compares to pure journalism. It has turned into a full fledged business and industry – and I think this is a great thing!
How I see it changing:
There are a lot of blogs out there!! I do believe more and more people are reading online (news, magainzes, ebooks) so I hope to see more and more outstanding voices and stories… and I hope to see blogs return to its roots of being a creative outlet!
Thanks to all of our great bloggers for providing such insight into the world of blogging. We will be back with more insights from bloggers in the next edition of Fever, so stay tuned.
In the mean time, if you’re a blogger or have worked with bloggers, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on any of these great insights.