Blogging in the new buzz among youngsters. You write, you upload, you promote. Sounds simple? But it’s not! “Anyone writing and publishing it on their website calls himself/herself a blogger. But that is not blogging,” says Richa Singh, a blogchatter, while moderating a session - How to Blog to the Right Audience - at the women writer’s fest held in the city’s Teatro Bond art gallery recently. The session saw bloggers Protima Tiwary, Reema Sathe, Aashna Bhagwani speak to young aspiring writers and bloggers, sharing their insights about the field.
NOT A CAKEWALK
First things first, “it’s not an easy job” says Singh, supported by all three panelists. Bhagwani, who is into plus size fashion blogging, says that she took months to figure out her niche. “I was into food blogging and wasn’t getting the response I wanted. It was tough for the first few months. Slowly I figured that my once-in-a-while posts on fashion were getting much more attention and there began my journey,” she recalls.
It takes a lot of reading and researching, says Sathe, who writes about business and travel. “I was and am constantly connecting with business founders on LinkedIn, Twitter etc and catching up with them. We have to keep up with the trends and incorporate them in our writing,” she says. Followers are always asking these bloggers new questions that they need to answer, says Tiwary, a health and fitness blogger.
The target audience thus needs to be defined by the blogger himself/herself. “You can give yourself some weekly and monthly targets. Sticking to a theme helps achieve these targets; for instance, putting up an x number of posts in a week etc. Begin with simpler goals and then explore,” Bhagwani advises.
Blogging and networking go hand-in-hand. You cannot reach anyone without networking, especially in the age of social media, everyone’s outpacing the other in terms of followers and reach. “You must keep a track of which picture/post gets how many likes. The internet will offer you some tools or applications to increase the number of likes. But that, in my opinion, is fake. You need to be good at your job to increase your likes. That’s the only way forward,” she insists. As a blogger, you must get personal with your follower, reply to their comments, adds Bhagwani who started her blog Beyond that Bouffant three years ago.
Different media can work for different people, these women tell us. ‘Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook worked for me. I even get a lot of e-mails from my readers. You just got to be conscious of your grammar when it comes to responding to these as a blogger,” cautions Sathe. Tiwary agrees. “Initially, I did use some short-forms to save characters on Twitter but soon realised that with correct grammar, your follower count and the quality go up. So stick to good and correct English,” she suggests.
BALANCING THE ACT
Speaking of striking a balance, Bhagwani says that it often becomes a tightrope walk when it comes to keeping the brands and your reader happy. “You are approached by many brands associated with your area of writing once you are a little recognised. You got to pick and choose. Don’t say yes to anyone and everyone,” she says, to which Sathe adds that it’s always a work in progress. “Identify your niche and work on it every single day, instead of simply running behind brands. Blogging is years of work,” she stresses.
“If you aren’t happy at the end of the day, then something’s going wrong,” Tiwary says, adding, “I have now figured that a good 90 per cent of my audience is for health and fitness. My initial attempts at travel blogging didn’t yield too many fruits. Now I put it a travel piece once in a while for the limited audience.”
The bloggers tell us that there are also times when brands that have no connection with your blog’s theme will approach you. “If it is a good opportunity, and you decide to say yes to it, try and connect the product with your theme,” Tiwary says, to which Bhagwani agrees while saying that you, however, need to stay true to yourself and get over the fear of losing out. Choose wisely, they insist. “You must also at the same time be open to experimenting with your integrations,” Singh quips.
TECHNOLOGY AND BLOGGING
With your smartphone being your best friend today, ask for it and you get it, from apps to information searches, everything is available at the tap of a finger. Your phone’s appstore will throw up a hundred results if you search for blogging tools and apps. “The basic tools are good. I use them to track my user engagement patterns,” says Bhagwani.
Google analytics, Facebook and Instagram insights are good ways to track your audience, the bloggers say. “But instead of just the numbers, try and study the demographics,” Sathe says.
Throwing some light on content piracy, the bloggers say that in the age of technology and social media, hiding things in a dicey territory. The best thing to do then is put the basics out there, since people find out details anyway. Be honest and at the same time, to the point.
At the end of the day, blogging is a lonely job, they unanimously opine. “You are doing everything alone. Writing, managing, improvising. It is an extremely consuming job and cannot be a part-time job,” insists Singh.