Back in March I went to an event at Amazon HQ. Surrounded by a room full of bloggers, I was keen to meet new people and learn about how they blog. With blogging still being such new and unknown territory, there’s no rule book or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of blogging. A lot of the time when it comes to my blog I’m winging it – testing new things out, analysing the response and planning my next move to make my blog the best it can be. It’s basically walking into the darkness. But it’s not all doom and gloom…the best part is that there are other bloggers in the same boat, and most are happy to help each other out. The community is one of the best benefits to being a blogger, although I blogged for 5 years before really discovering this.
Since becoming more involved in the community after the UK Blog Awards 2014, I’m definitely enjoying being surrounded by likeminded people and was excited to meet up with a group of lovely bloggers for the Amazon event; Becky, Sade, Paige, Natalie, Laura and Katrina.
But why am I bringing all of this up again? I’m not a blogging guru, but I have learnt a few things over my 6 years of blogging and after the popularity of my 10 ways that blogging helps me as a designer post, I felt like I could post again about something more ‘blog focused’. I didn’t post about the Amazon Associates event at the time but I’ve been experimenting with a few things based on the tips I heard that night and wanted to share the results (or non-results in some cases).
First up is the most recent and obvious – my new layout design. With google bringing a focus onto mobile friendly layouts, I thought it was about time I stepped out of the dark ages and caught up with the kids! Also as a Graphic Designer it’s important for me to have a good looking blog, so I bought a pipdig template and kept it simple but added a Graphique twist. Let me know what you think!
One of the main reasons that I wanted to go to the talk was to find out about affiliate programmes because I had read a few things about them but wasn’t really clear – What are they? How do they work? Why should I join one? There seems to be a bad feeling around bloggers admitting that they make money from their blogs, which is just ridiculous.
If you are as clueless about affiliates as I was, let me try and explain; so if I posted about a book that I had read, you clicked on the link from my blog and bought it, Amazon would give me a bit of money as a way of saying thanks for sending custom our way. Due to the nature of my blog, I don’t really post about a lot of ‘products’, but thinking ahead for where I could take my Graphique Fantastique empire in the future I signed up to Amazon associates. Admittedly I haven’t got my bum into gear and posted anything using an affiliate links yet, but watch this space! Graphique Recommends… 😉
So on the night we heard from 5 speakers; bloggers, marketers and entrepreneurs.
Ella of Cocos Tea Party shared the roller coaster ride of her blog, from blogging ABOUT Burberry to blogging FOR Burberry. From her advice, I was most interested to hear about Media Kits. Another thing that I had read about before but wasn’t really clear on. A media kit is like a blogging portfolio – it’s a record of your blogging achievements that you can show to brands to pitch for collaborations.
Ella advised that Media kit should include:
– Intro to you and your blog
– Statistics of your views/reader profile
– Rate card – how much money you charge per hour/post etc
– Case studies of features or collaborations you’ve worked on
– How well received it was – social media stats etc
Very handy to know and I’ve been gathering things ready to produce my Media Kit, but again, I just need to get my bum into gear!
They always say that content is king and Gem Royston-Claire, whose blog was one of the first I ever followed, couldn’t agree more. She currently works as a writer at Cosmopolitan, producing content with the intent of it being shared with the whole of the internet.
She advised on using images on different social media platforms;
– Pinterest likes a portrait image best
– Use horizontal images for Facebook posts
– Always include a horizontal image with with tweets – 150% more RTs!
Gem shared some questions which she constantly asks herself:
– What do people get from my content?
– What is the benefit to your reader? Is it inspiration or maybe just lolz
– Would I share this? If the answer is no then why would you expect anyone else to share it?
She also advised on getting familiar with an editorial calendar so that readers know when to expect a post. This is something which I have been trying to establish; I post 3 times every week on a Mon, Weds and Fri. I’m hoping that you guys will have noticed the pattern and will always expect to find something new and return to read it.
A phrase that was thrown around by a couple of the speakers was ‘Create evergreen content’. Evergreen? (Great, all I could think about now was that Will Young song going round in my head…) What is evergreen? Basically evergreen is brilliant, timeless and relevant content which will keep readers coming back to your blog again and again. So good examples of this would be seasonal posts (Christmas, Valentines etc) because every year people will be googling that kind of thing. I am happy to say that I created some piece of evergreen content without even knowing it back in 2011 – a tutorial on papier mache 3D letters. Every week that post gets 100s of hits which is amazing, but at the same time embarrassing because looking back now the photography is TERRIBLE! Still, it’s brilliant to have a post that keeps generating so much interest despite being 5 years old.
Stylist Rachel Story gave us a workshop on how to create visually exciting images – changing up the angles (from below or above) or using contrasting colours and textures.
From Amazon, we were given the scoop on a new venture;Amazon Fashion. The lady(sorry I forgot her name) explained that their research shows families shop together and order everything at once rather than put in multiple orders. So why not include fashion in this? They already have some major brands on board, and plan to expand into designer goods too. It might seem weird that someone would buy a Gucci watch from Amazon, but when you think about it it makes sense. Why spend a larger amount of money on a website you don’t 100% trust, when you can buy it on Amazon? It was very interesting to hear the insight behind Amazon Fashion and to find out more about Amazon in general really.
Last to speak was Reena Rai of Fashion Daydreams. Working for a luxury department store managing their brand relationships and digital campaigns as well as being a blogger, Reena understands both sides of the fence. When working with brands she advises to:
– Be quick to reply to emails
– Be reliable to post on time
– Keep in contact throughout the process
These are all things that I aim to do, although sometimes having a 9-5 job does slow me down a little!
She also spoke about how to monetize your blog using affiliate link programmes (clearing up some of the mystery about cookies) and using ‘no follow’ links on whole of your blog.
To those who made it this far through the post – congrats! I know that might not have been everyones cup of tea but I really find the analytical/numbers/strategy game behind blogging interesting (as well as the creative side too obviously) and am really glad that I got to go to this Amazon event. I’ve still got a fair way to go with my blog, but I’m happy with the progress I’m making so far – I’ll get there in the end!
Thanks to Amazon for having me (and accepting me into their affiliates programme), Brit Bloggers for the invite and to the lovely bloggers that made me feel part of the gang!