Take Your Blog to the World
Renée Blodgett was one of the first bloggers and nowadays is ranked #12 social media influencer by Forbes Magazine.
She’s the founder of Magic Sauce Media, a social media, branding, marketing and PR consultancy focused on small businesses from around the world. She’s also the founder of We Blog the World, an online culture and travel magazine for the discerning traveler and Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings thought leaders, writers and social media experts to emerging markets to cross-pollinate ideas.
We know how much the Paper.li community loves blogging advice so we asked Renée for her best tips.
How long have you been blogging and what are you blogging about now?
I’ve been blogging since the onslaught of the very early platforms, starting with an anonymous blog and voice 15 or so years ago. Down the Avenue is my personal blog where I write about everything from social media, technology and mobile trends to insights from events and human interest stories.
I started We Blog the World, an online culture and travel magazine for the discerning traveler nearly five years ago around the time I led a blogging tour to South Africa. The blog took off and began to cover other parts of the world within weeks of returning and today, we work with over 100 contributors from around the world.
The idea behind We Blog the World is part community, part a collective of independent voices, many of which we syndicate and part high-end online magazine that hopes to educate and broaden people’s perception of different cultures through its coverage. A significant focus of the site is global cultural events, as well as core topic areas such as food/wine, arts, entertainment, style, music and culture.
Can you share some ideas with our community about how to increase blog traffic?
Bottom line: content matters as do the details. Five things that come to mind:
- Be engaging. Don’t just report, but throw in language that suggests you are open to a dialogue in your blog posts and in your comments.
- Show personality in your posts – people don’t just want a story, they want a perspective.
- Spend more time on your headlines. I’m astonished at how many lousy headlines are out there.
- Include stunning images that tell a story as much as your language does. Great photography goes a long way.
- Social media must not just enhance what you do on your blog but be integrated with it. Your whole raison d’etre must be in alignment – meaning YOU, as a brand. Everything you say and everything you do becomes your ‘brand’ over time.
We’re hearing more and more about visual content, and the opportunities for bloggers to promote their work by adding in visuals. Any ideas?
As I said, I’m a huge believer in having striking photography, so spending more time editing photos will help. You can also do more with video than simply uploading your video clips to YouTube, such as cross-posting videos and photos to other sites such as Pinterest and Facebook. You can create PowerPoint slide shows out of your videos and photos which you can cross-post to places like SlideShare and LinkedIn.
What projects are you working on or planning?
We’re working with countries and cities to ‘tell their stories’ in a more human way. Many of the best stories are the untold ones and we are exploring ways we can work together with brands and destinations to bring their magic to the world in a more engaging, visual and informative way.
What advice do you have for travel bloggers on optimizing social media?
For any blogger in any industry, it’s less about optimizing social media than it is fully engaging with it. Social media is a ‘way of life’, an integrative way of thinking and being. Whenever I walk into an event, meet a new person, taste a new food, or experience something new, I immediately think how I can share this through a social media stream.
I also think about where my readers spend their time. In other words – get as many stats as you can. If you learn that the majority of your Pinterest viewers are from Italy, then share everything and anything Italian on that social media network.
We get a lot of viewers to our blog through Twitter and it remains one of the most effective ways I learn about new places, people and things. If that information is useful, I extend that data elsewhere – wherever it makes sense. I see things on Facebook that may be useful to blog about – a micro blog snippet if you like – and while I may re-post it on one of our Facebook pages, I may also choose to share it on the blog or Google+.
While I don’t tap into our YouTube channel as much as I should, we still nearly have 1,000 videos on our site. While the quality isn’t top-notch because frankly we don’t have the bandwidth to spend a lot of our resources there, I’m always amazed at which videos get the most views. Pay attention to this and start to look for patterns – is there a trend around a particular topic or style that gets more hits than others?
Bottom line, know your audience. I know for a fact that my Google+ audience is more technology-focused – they’re the early adopters. What I choose to share there may not work on Facebook or other social networks that have a large European or Asian audience for example.
Where is the future of blogging?
Asking about the future of blogging is like asking where is journalism heading. Where is reporting heading? What will a hybrid of both look like in two years?
Most bloggers I know, if they’re in it for the long haul, do it for two main reasons: marketing and promoting themselves in order to move from writer to thought leader or a benefit that feeds their soul, i.e., travel is a great example. No one I know does it for the money, but everyone is trying to monetize in incremental ways if not make a modest income from writing.
I’d encourage bloggers to have more of a business mind. Based on the fact that I’m extremely knowledgeable about A, B and C, where else could I create revenue streams? Consulting, conferences, events, sponsorships, contests, promotional activities, speaking, photography, video, a book. Disclosure, as always, is key, consider a hybrid approach of ads for eyeballs and engagement and other areas where you can provide additional value.
Traditional reporters are not trained to think that way nor is it as ‘natural’ for them since they’re accustomed to doing the one thing they do well – write. I have a friend who blogs regularly and is an amazing writer, yet his headlines suck and he used to write for USA Today. He says, “we had someone who wrote our headlines”. The same applies to video and photography. Bloggers do it all and it’s that adaptability which can be leveraged in new creative ways.