I follow A LOT of blogs. I rarely read magazines these days, choosing instead to go through my bloglovin’ feed with my feet up and a cup of tea. Of all the bloggers I follow, Zoe of ZoeLondon.me is probably my favourite. I discovered Zoe via the Instagram account of blogger Lily Melrose about two years ago, at which point she had already been blogging for three years. I watched and read her journey as she transitioned from TheLondonLipgloss to ZoeLondon, and as time has gone by ZoeLondon.me has gone from being a blog I follow, to THE blog I go to when I have spare time or fancy a good read.
Despite Zoe starting out as a Fashion & Beauty blogger, it’s her food, travel and general chit-chat type posts I now log on to read, not that I don’t love her stunning style-related posts, but food and travel is more my thing. She is a really honest and sincere blogger, and whilst her imagery is strong and beautiful and some of the best I’ve seen, its her wonderfully written words that keeps me going back for more. I think she is one of the most talented writers of the blogging generation today. And last night I got to meet her!
Well, not meet her exactly, that’s a fib (because I was far too shy to approach her for a cheeky selfie, stoopid shyness!) but I went to watch her talk at the Covent Garden Apple store. For a little more than an hour Zoe let myself and an audience of other readers and viewers into her world of blogging, giving us tips and advice and telling us how she went from bedroom-blogger to blogger-business woman. Here are 9 things I learnt from Zoe
Post Regularly: Zoe kicked off her talk telling us how vital it is to post regular content. Something I have personally struggled with is balancing my full time job with my part time blog. I’ll plan to do three blog posts in one week and then have to work late or cover a colleague and before I know it, it’s Friday night and I haven’t posted anything. Then I’ll try and catch up in the following week and post six blog posts over five days and it just doesn’t work. Zoe’s advice is to stick to a schedule, even if you are just posting once a week, your readers need to know when your blogging or when to expect a post, or even just be familiar with the pattern in which you post. I’ve already begun working on my own ‘Blog Content Schedule’ (on excel, all colour coded and everything, had way too much fun setting that up) but taking on this advice I think I am going to try and organise my posts even further, restricting myself to a certain amount a week, and sticking to a scheduled time to post them.
Make the most of Pinterest: So we should all know by now that Twitter is one of the best ways to cross promote your blog, your posts, your YouTube, your instagram or whatever yo thang is! But Pinterest is one platform I haven’t given that much thought to. Personally I’ve never been a fan of Pinterest, so although I have an account I only share my pictures on it every now and then, laziness getting the better of me (because I can never remember my dam password!). But according to Zoe we should be ‘Pinteresting’ all our blog pics. “Everytime someone clicks on that picture it is directing traffic directly to your blog”
The Importance of Time Relevance: Zoe told us to really think about what time of the year it is and what’s happening in the calendar. Obvious ones are Christmas, Easter etc, but she pointed out a few other great examples, one being Prom season. I’ve never even considered doing any Prom related content but it’s such a good idea and once again proving Zoe thinks outside the box. Plan an original post and schedule it for the time that it’s really going to be popular and relevant “People will be searching for it”
Don’t be afraid to approach brands (and be polite): I have NEVER approached a brand, I have always sat around and waited for them to come to me. How is that helping me and my blog? It’s not. I guess I’m afraid of being rejected, but if they do reject me I’m only in the same position I was prior to approaching them. Zoe advised contacting a brand, introducing yourself and asking to be put on their Press list. “Be Polite” was what she followed up with “You don’t want to burn bridges”. If your a foodie blogger Zoe even suggested popping into that cafe or restaurant you like, introducing yourself and discussing your blog, that way they will know your face and it can sometimes be a friendlier and more responsive approach (beats sitting around waiting for an email!)
Make a Media Kit: Zoe didn’t actually discuss this, but I saw it written on her presentation, so I immediately noted it down because she isn’t the first blogger I’ve heard uses one. It seems like a great way to get all your info and statistics into one quick and easy document.
ALWAYS Tweet the brands you’ve blogged: Although I do this occasionally, I don’t with every brand. I’m that much of a worrier, I sometimes get concerned that a brand or company wont like my blog if they see it, or they will my hate my images or my content. So I may love their product but it’s almost like I’m hiding from them. Once again I’m afraid of being rejected (getting a bit deep). BUT Zoe told us a story of how she blogged about Topshop of her own accord, and then tweeted/mentioned them in her Blog Post tweet. Topshop then retweeted this which led to Zoe gaining 4000 more followers within the space of a few hours. So from now on I will be tweeting EVERY brand I blog about. Screw worrying and rejection.
Always email brands to let them know you have posted about them: I’m really bad for NOT doing this. I arrange a review or collaboration with a brand, publish the post, then I don’t email it over to my contact. I assume they will check my blog for the final piece. What planet am I living on? I’m probably the 100th blogger they’ve asked to review the product – what makes me think that they will have time to go refreshing my blog waiting for the published post to appear. I NEED to remember to always follow up with a PR and stay in touch in order to continue the relationship. As Zoe pointed out, they may also share it on their own social channels if they know about it.
Tag your Photos: Okay, I feel quite silly admitting this, but I had no idea that you could tag photos on your blog – Doh! *slaps forehead* Well now that I know I’ll be doing it for every picture. Zoe says it’s really important to tag pictures, whether it’s just general tags such as ‘blog’ and ‘blogger’ to more specific tags such as brand names or locations.
When stuck for inspiration, DO NOT look at other blogs: At the end of the session, there was a Q&A. I asked Zoe how does she find inspiration for her blog posts and what does she do when she is struggling to think up new and original content. She listed a number of things, browsing the internet being a main one and sometimes even just looking around her or looking through her blog photos to see how a photo can be used to tell more than one story. And then she went on to say something that really struck a chord with me. She said not to look at other blogs when your looking for inspiration because you will often end up comparing your blog to the one your reading. This is something I do all the time, I really struggle with it. Especially if I’ve had a particularly quiet month on the blog or the stats have been lower than usual. I look at all these other blogs to try an be inspired but end up asking myself ‘Why didn’t I think of that amazing idea?’ or ‘Why isn’t mine as good as hers/his?’ and then I get down in the dumps. It was a great bit of advice and I think probably the most valuable thing I got out of the whole session. That’s not to say I cant or wont be inspired by blogs, I am every time I read one and ZoeLondon.me has massively inspired me, but if I’m having a bad blog week or suffering bloggers block, I now know to avoid my bloglovin’ feed and instead look elsewhere for inspiration, even if its just going on a walk through London. Great advice!
There was so much more that Zoe discussed, including photography tips, editing tips, equipment advice and more. But the above 9 pieces of advice are the ones that really stuck with me and that were still ringing in my ears last night as I tried to sleep, so I knew I had to write them down and get them out there. Finally, Zoe gave some quick last minute fire tips and here are the ones I loved:
NEVER GIVE UP!
FIND YOUR NICHE
KEEP A SCHEDULE (don’t blog erratically)
STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
INSTAGRAM IS A POWERFUL TOOL – USE IT