OK, final Cybermummy 2011 blogging session coming up – this is ‘Blogger to Blogger Inspiration’ session, hosted by Jen.
This session is about bloggers sharing their success stories. I was particularly interested in attending this session because I love hearing how other bloggers have become so successful. And then I want to steal all their secrets.
First up …
Tara’s been writing since 2008 and has a readership of 40,000 visitors per month and is the creator of the weekly meme, The Gallery. She rocks – I can vouch for that.
“I have a great love of photos. I take them all the time. I will gladly look through all your own photos. I’m *that* person. I used to find photos on people’s blogs and thought how could I go somewhere and find all these photos easily. I wanted it to be a virtual gallery – all with the same theme, but all very different people taking part. I wanted it to have some value to it.
Each week we have a theme. I’m aware some people don’t have children, some have teens, babies, so I try hard to make the themes as different as possible to include as many as possible. The idea was not for people to feel they have to do it every week but I sometimes think that a theme is relevant and that they’ll want to join in. I wanted everyone to enjoy other people’s pictures and comment on them and also, the theme is given to give inspiration for you to go out and take photos with a theme in mind.”
Tara went on to give examples of people’s photos who really ‘got it.’
Tara shared a picture from Hello It’s Gemma – it was a photo of a dressing table which prompted Gemma to post a powerful story about her mum. It gave a wonderful insight into who Gemma was, more than any other post she had written. Tara pointed out that the photo doesn’t have to be technically brilliant. Gemma should take this comment in the way it was meant – a compliment! (I think 🙂
The next photo was from the ‘self portrait’ theme. She recalled a post by Laura at AWNTY who commented that us mothers don’t have enough photos of us to leave our children. Melanie at ‘My Mummy Wrote This For Me‘ posted a beautifully poignant post about her battle with cancer, chronicling how she lost her hair and then how, after treatment, it grew back. The post seemed liked a turning point for Melanie.
Another theme was ‘One Day In August’ and we saw a photo from ‘The (Nudie) Princess Diaries. She’s a neonatal nurse and shared a photo of a Resusitaire – the incubator premature and poorly babies spend time in.
Next, a photo from ‘Mother’s Always Right’ who shared a story entitled ‘Who’s The Daddy’ which showed a photo of her husband and their newborn baby girl, Frog. The post explained how their new baby really changed the dynamics of their relationship but that even though her husband was scared, once he’d admitted how he felt about being a new dad, things just got better.
Another photo was from the ‘Self Portrait’ theme – this one was from Christine Mosler at Thinly Spread – Tara made the point that even though Christine resisted posting a photo of herself (can’t believe she’s shy really!) we now can’t get away from pictures of her! (we love you Chris!)
Tara finished her talk by saying: “The Gallery is about inspiration for your blog. It’s not about how much traffic it drives to your blog.”
If you haven’t given The Gallery a go yourself, check it out here. Once you start, you’ll be hooked.
And for real life, 3d Tara Cain footage (it really does exist – it’s not an urban myth) check out Penny’s video at Alexander Residence – wit woo indeed!
Next up …
“Everyone has different reasons for blogging. I’m just here to tell you my story – not lecture!
I started my blog to promote my artwork for children. I paint pop art inspired canvasses for children and whilst trying to sort out a website, I decided to start a blog. I wanted to drive traffic, tried a few things, and found something I was even more passionate about – craft.
I discovered the importance of:
Offer something – if you want to grow, you need something niche. Something people will come back for. Something specific to you.
Find your voice – what’s special about you? What’s your voice? Try things out until you find it. I get most hits on my craft posts, but do other things because I enjoy doing them. See where you’re getting most comments from.
Work to a schedule – it helps me focus. Every Friday I have a tutorial. Every Monday it’s reviews. Wednesdays its kids’ craft. It helps keep content fresh.
Do reviews – it’s a perk, but don’t overdo it – it dilutes your niche.
You have to be seen. I spend a lot of time on networking. Find ‘link up’ parties to attend as it helps people find you. Brit Mum carnivals – provide valuable backlinks. Twitter transormed my blog. Facebook has enabled me to have a Red Ted Art page to ‘like’ – very useful.
Say yes to everything! You need to figure out what works.
I spend a lot of time on my blog, but if you have less time, your expectations will be lower and that’s OK, just don’t worry about why your blog isn’t getting bigger.”
Thanks for your insights Maggie! I heart you blog big time.
Next up …
Rachael is a first time novelist and is about to move to Canada.
Rachael told us her story:
“I started to put some of my creative writing on my blog and got approached by an agent – she had been trying to get hold of me through Facebook for weeks but I didn’t get the notifications!
You need to be seen to be ‘out there’ before people will take an interest in you. Publishers want to see you writing about your subject but also have an ‘About’ page which is interesting. You need to sell yourself to them as writing these days is hugely about marketing.
Why talking nonsense is good: if you’re interested in writing, follow the ‘AmWriting’ hashtag on Twitter – it allows you to connect with fellow writers. Most of the big literary agents are on Twitter so if your name is known the chances of them looking at your blog are higher (as opposed to just pitching to them direct.) Another good hashtag is ‘AskAgent’ – agents will answer your questions. They talk a lot about what they ‘don’t’ want which is equally as helpful.
I put an excerpt of my book on my blog. It’s very hard to put it ‘out there’ because you often think it’s rubbish – it was very scary. After I published it, I uploaded it to Autonomy which is run by Harper Collins – it’s based on recommendations by other people and I’m now at Number One!
If you want to do a blog and do creative writing – YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVERY DAY. Blogging makes you write something every day. Blogging helps to see what other people are writing, get inspiration from them, talk to people who have been in the business a long time.”
Pretty impressive stuff!
Next up …
Now, Claire and Lucy are sisters. Sisters who look too much alike in my opinion because when it comes to transcribing what they’re saying, I have no idea which one’s talking! So, they’ve become a collective I’m afraid and will now just speak as one:
“We didn’t really realise the domestic drudgery involved in actually having a family. We love food but didn’t find anything in the media that really catered for us. The most popular item on the blog is the ‘5 minute recipe’ slot.
Being a niche blogger, you need an audience – and our audience is women like us. We felt other recipes took too long to make, needed too many ingredients and we were made to feel like we were failing all the time. So we put together ‘Crumbs.’
Some of the niche blogs are so good because they are so targeted – which you don’t get in traditional media.
We seem to have touched a nerve amongst other bloggers and brands – we’re happy to talk about buying ready prepared onions!
Niche bloggers are a very strong brand and talking very definitely to a certain audience – brands want to connect with that.”
The sisters gave us all a recipe to try out … quite frankly, I’d rather they just came round and cooked it for me, but you can’t have everything …
The floor was opened up for Question Time ...
Are Crumbs on Facebook and Twitter?
Crumbs: “You need to devote time to the content of a blog so sometimes it’s hard to devote the necessary time to social media. India Knight picked up on us and will always be a defining moment for us!”
To Rachael – Do you have a background in writing? Is this your first novel?
Rachael: “The story had been mulling away in my head for ages. I’d visited the island in Scotland that I talk about in my story 15 years ago and the idea that there was a book in it remained with me. I began my blog to get back into writing. After writing certain posts, people wrote to me and said “you’ve made me cry” which made me realise that I’d managed to reach someone. It gave me confidence in my writing. The more you write, the better you get. Blogging helps with the creative writing.”
To Rachael – has social media opened up avenues to you that wouldn’t have opened otherwise?
Rachael: “Publishers see that I have 2,000 followers and see it as a ready made audience so it gains you interest.”
Do you ever not write something because you don’t feel it would fit into your blog?
Crumbs: “We sometimes want to write about something non food related, but we can’t because it just wouldn’t fit.”
Maggie: “Because I write a blog as opposed to a website, I’m happy to sneak a few things in that aren’t craft related.”
Tara: “I put whatever I want on my blog! Sometimes, it’s really random, but it’s my blog so nothing is off limits.”
Rachael: “Sometimes its the random things that work well.”
If you have small children at home, how do you put out so much content:
Rachael: “A jar of Nutella to keep them occupied. I often shout, “Go away, Mummy’s writing” a lot.”
Maggie: “Guest posts.”
And on that note …. that’s your lot from me!
Check out Cybermummy here for more info.