There are many reasons to start a blog – as a creative outlet, a means to improve your writing, to find a community, a launchpad to your dreams of becoming an author, and maybe even to finally quit your corporate job and work from home full time! To understand the art of blogging and to find out how to blog better, Blogchatter hosted a panel discussion at SheThePeople.TV Women Writers’ Fest in Delhi last month.
The panel comprised of bloggers Purba Ray, Neha Sharma, and Shinjini Mehrotra, and was moderated by Richa Singh, the co-founder of Blogchatter.
When we talk about the why of blogging, everyone has a different story to share.
Talking about her blogging journey, Purba said that she started blogging back in 2010 after she quit her job as a high school teacher and was wondering how best to fill her time. Back then, blogging was a passion more than a profession, and people connected with one another for the sheer joy of finding and reading well-written blogs. After years of blogging success, she moved on to becoming a columnist at websites because she didn’t want to deal with the headache of constant blog promotion and website maintenance.
Neha, on the other hand, started her blog just about a year and a half ago as a way to deal with post-partum depression. She soon found a loyal readership who could relate with her experiences. As she emerged from the fog of depression, she realized that she had interesting parenting insights to share. New parents with similar concerns became her audience base, and she has gone on to share her parenting tips with her readers and work with brands.
New parents with similar concerns became her audience base, and she has gone on to share her parenting tips with her readers and work with brands.
Shinjini’s blogging journey started in 2006, back when blogs were the new kids on the block and social media was still in its infancy. While she started her blog on a whim, over the years, her blog evolved with her. From being a platform to share vacation stories with friends, it evolved into an exploration of living a life of meaning, and currently combines her passion for art journaling, tarot, and mindfulness. Unlike other bloggers, who focus on working with brands to make an income from their blog, she spoke about turning her passions into courses as a way of sharing her expertise and experience with as wide an audience as she could.
All of these stories make one thing clear: everyone’s blogging journey is different and where you want to take your blog will depend, ultimately, on what your goals are.
The other aspect of blogging better is social media. Like it or hate it, social media is here to stay. More than SEO (search engine optimization), which is what you will hear a lot of people talk about, SMO (social media optimization) is the way to grow.
Richa shared a funny anecdote of when her idea of viral content was having ten people read your blog. Now, of course, viral content has the potential to reach millions of people around the world.
More than SEO (search engine optimization), which is what you will hear a lot of people talk about, SMO (social media optimization) is the way to grow.
So what is SMO and how does one go about it?
It is one of the best and most effective ways is to build a community around your blog and idea. And that is the raison-de-etre of Blogchatter. What started as a weekly Twitter chat on blogging, evolved into a platform for connecting bloggers to each other and to brands.
Speak to bloggers, and you’ll hear stories of blogger cliques – group of bloggers who only share one another’s content. Speaking out against this trend, Purba stressed on the importance of reading widely and being authentic in your sharing and commenting.
Social media is also an effective way of building your blog and your personal brand. Explaining the distinction, Shinjini spoke about using the real-time nature of Twitter as a way of keeping in touch with her tribe and allowing people to get to know the person behind the blog. Given that her focus is on art journaling, which is a highly visual medium, she focuses also on Instagram, which is more like a gallery of her work. And while there is a myriad of social media channels, you really cannot do justice to all of them, and it’s best to not spread yourself too thin!
Social media is also an effective way of building your blog and your personal brand.
There was an interesting discussion with the audience on working with brands and on the trend of buying followers and likes. While that is part of the underbelly of blogging and influencer marketing, Richa spoke about how Blogchatter is making an effort to educate brands and get them to focus on more relevant metrics like engagement and reach. It’s a hard and slow road, but just as blogging was for fun when it started, there is hope that marketers will soon understand just how hollow fake follower numbers are!
All told, there were some interesting insights and tidbits of information for the audience, a majority of whom did not blog, but hopefully were inspired to consider blogging, and blogging better!
Shinjini Mehrotra is an artist, Tarot reader and writer who lives in New Delhi, India.