Kjerstin Gruys was a recovering anorexic. She had had body image issues since she was a teenager. Her perception of herself was based on what she saw in the mirror; if she thought she was fat, then she must be ugly. Gruys decided to avoid mirrors for a year. When her colleagues found out about her experiment they suggested starting a blog, which became the book, Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall.
“I didn’t know anything about blogging…” writes Gruys. “Other than that it was something other people did, specifically other people who not only had mad computer skills, but also capable of writing something almost every day that was interesting enough or funny enough that other people actually wanted to read it.”
Gruys gained thousands of followers through her blog.
The Internet has created a global community. With billions of users, people with common interests can come together to share stories, pictures, and videos.
Blogging is a simple concept but there is a lot of work to create a simple blog post. Blogging is journaling online, which can include text and pictures but there is more to this simple explanation. There is also a matter of finding a website to post blogs that match your brand and style.
According to activeblogs.com, a blog marketing company, 81 per cent of U.S. consumers trust information they find on blogs.
Blogging can be done for fun, to promote a business, or help make money for a blogger through endorsements.
WHERE TO GO
Blogging can be an amazing way to connect to people but first you need to know how you are going to reach those people. You need to create the blog itself.
Many sites provide free templates for blogging. WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Blogger are free and widely used by people and companies.
These blogging hosts are user-friendly so even if a blogger is not fluent in computer coding they can still write text and post photos and videos online. When choosing a blog template, it’s important to remember updating your blog is essential to the success of the blog. Choose a site that is easy to use. Know how to upload and post media. Ensure the blog is easy to navigate and looks inviting to the intended audience.
“A Beginner’s Guide to starting a blog”,on bloggingbasics101.com, is the most viewed
content on the website, with “Choosing a Blogging Platform” being second.
DOING IT AS HOBBY
There are millions of people who just want to get online and share their interests with a global community. They blog as a hobby, not for money.
“Blogging successfully is a lot of work,” says Mark Mueller, a chef and blogger for Earth, Food and Fire, who lives and works in Prince Edward Island. Mueller’s blog profiles the food he creates, the cooking books he recommends, and cooking and catering he provides.
A great way to start blogging is to do it as a hobby. This means connecting with people who have common interests. There is no pressure to advertise or have endorsements.
Hazel Ejercito, a photography student at Durham College, has a blog called Pathway to my Dreams, which showcases her photography and journalistic work. Ejercito says school makes it difficult for her to update and maintain her blog on a regular basis but the goal of any blogger is to get followers looking at your blog, so you need to have regularly updated content that is original and enticing to the reader.
“You have to constantly be doing research, writing the posts in a creative way that will entice new readers and keep those that are regular readers,” says Jessica Duenas-Chan, a web designer who lives and works in Toronto.
When writing a post, it is important to know what you are talking about. Chan has written for and managed a blog for a tech agency and says she takes days to do research on the newest technology to figure out how to gear her text and visuals to her audience.
Writing the post is only half the job. There is also promoting the post by providing links through Facebook and Twitter.
Chan says the most important thing about blogging for fun is to write about something you are passionate about.
Mueller has expanded on his blog Earth, Food, and Fire blog because he has a passion for growing his own food. “Adding the gardening aspect to the blog was inspired by my own love for gardening, and being able to grow,” says Mueller. Although he does make money from his catering services, he blogs to keep his name out there and attract clients to his cooking services. Mueller has designed his blog so there is an opportunity to expand his services in the future.
BLOG FOR BUSINESS
While Mueller is blogging to promote his business, Jessica Duenas-Chan uses a company blog to help sell products.
Jessica Duenas-Chan is digital coordinator for Chive Inc. She works to make the products on Chive’s website appealing to customers.
“It wasn’t until I started studying marketing that I realized how much it was used as a marketing tool,” says Chan. Blogging can be a lucrative business, if you know how to promote and if businesses stay up to on top of updating.
According to activeblog.com, a blog marketing company, 61 per cent of U.S. consumers have made a purchase based on a blog recommendation.
Chris Breikss, a writer for 6smarketing.com, an agency specializing in digital marketing, 93 per cent of Canadians go online for product information. This can come from blog recommendations.
“I am essentially working on the blog every single day, promoting it on social media, writing a new blog post, and taking pictures and learning how to become a better photographer,” says Mueller. Although he is a chef, he has learned to take pictures to post on his blog.
Working on a blog can take a lot more work than just researching and writing the blog, it can mean producing the product as well. This is what Helen Wilkinson, creator of the blog Helen’s Closet does.
“My blog is quite involved because not only do I have to write a post, I have to sew the garment for the post and photograph it and edit the photos. I consider all the steps involved in this ‘working on my blog’,” says Helen Wilkinson whose blog not only showcases clothing she has created herself but also sells her patterns.
Wilkinson has been posting on her blog twice a week for more than a year and a half. She is very active in the sewing community and appeals to those who like independent patterns and seller. Like most successful bloggers, she also uses social media to boost her blogging presence, she maintains a page on Facebook for her blog.
Sophie Bernazzai, a writer for Hubspot.com, says that 76 per cent of total Internet usage is spent on Facebook. This means people spend almost a quarter of their time on social media where they can find a blog recommendation and then make a purchase. This can only happen if people and businesses invest the time to create new content and promote the blog posts.
A company or blogger needs to do their research about their target audience as well. According to activeblog.com, 90 per cent of consumers find custom content useful, so it is vital to make any product information relatable and interesting to the audience your blog attracts.
Chan says content is the most important thing for a blog. “Without content, there is no blog,” she says. Although some people might look at the design or marketing of a page the first visit, it is the content of the blog that brings people back time after time.
For those people who feel words aren’t enough to express themselves, there is also vlogging. This is blogging but on video. YouTube is a website full of people who vlog about interests or teach people through tutorials.
Jacqueline Mackle, a student at Durham College, has a vlog called Jacqueline Sage, which details her everyday life, her interactions with her family, and her pets. She also sings occasionally on her vlog and hopes to make her channel a portfolio piece in the future.
Melody McKinnon, a writer for canadiansinternet.com, an online business magazine, says 49 per cent of Canadians visit YouTube at least twice a week. This means it is important for vloggers to make sure their content is being updated on a consistent basis. In addition to this, 71 per cent of those surveyed visited Facebook at least twice a week. Vlogging is a great way to attract followers but just like blogging, it needs to be promoted through other social media to be a successful venture.
With so many blogs on the Internet, it would be safe to assume blogging must be easy. This, however, is not the case.
Blogging takes an incredible amount of effort. There needs to be a template, which is easy to use and update. Decisions need to be made about who the target audience is so posts, videos, and pictures can be catered to the intended audience.
In some cases, like Helen Wilkinson’s blog Helen’s Closet, the product needs to be made in order for a blog post and picture to be created. Mark Mueller, the chef who created his blog Earth, Food and Fire, learned basics of photography to be able to take pictures of the food he created to post on his blog.
As Kjerstin Gruys discovered, blogging can be a source of encouragement. She often put polls on her blog to allow her followers to voice their opinions about style decisions. Gruys didn’t think she could be entertaining on a consistent basis. She thought wrong.
Gruys made it through her year without mirrors. She still maintains her blog ayearwithoutmirrors.com, which has more than a million views.