I started blogging to write. To share my travel stories. To promote all that’s good and great about Birmingham. To spit out some of the random thoughts spinning around my head like laundry on a spin cycle. I never started blogging to get anything free, or to make any money. I found a platform that works for me (thanks free WordPress!), brought a blog name that I love and set up social media profiles that reflect who I am and what I write about.
But suddenly, blogging is not just writing any more. It’s not just about the words – now you need beautiful images that are “pinnable”. And not only pinnable, but have “alt text” behind. And fancy graphics and text. And you have to have a supply of rose-gold paper clips, pretty notepads, a wallpaper sample and glittery stars for your next “flat-lay” (which will of course be colour-themed so your Instagram feed is consistent). I used to tweet and share on Facebook. Now I pin, stumble and flip. I talk in hashtags. #hashtag.
Thinking up snappy titles is hard, and now you have to make sure titles and captions and headings are chockful of keywords to improve your “SEO”. What the hell is SEO? Now, if I put “What the hell is SEO” into Google, then maybe this blog will appear higher up, because I’ve used a “Googleable” search term.
And then we get into the murky world of PRs and branding and sponsored posts and freebies. So far my freebies have amounted to one Indian meal, a couple of canapes, a taste of tapas, a pizza and a couple of pints of cider. But as soon as you start receiving anything free, and you link to the company or brand, you risk falling foul of the Google gods who can stop anyone finding your blog through their search engine, no matter how thorough you are with your SEO. Follow links. No follow links. PRs who don’t know the rules – or just don’t care about them. I asked advice on this from the blogging community after receiving an opportunity recently, and was surprised that many bloggers still aren’t aware that using a “follow link” in return for a financial incentive can do more harm than good.
I pray to the Moz God every month that my “DA” has improved. It’s a blogging vicious circle. Improve your DA and more people will view your blog and want to work with you, which improves your DA and so on and so forth. It’s a numbers game. How many followers, how many views, how many likes, how many comments. I fall foul of the algorithms which push certain posts up a social media timeline, and do everything I can to get my blog seen even if it’s posting or tweeting the same link five, ten, fifteen times.
I need a “media kit”. Apparently brands won’t work with you until you can show them all the brands you’ve worked with before. So where do you start when you haven’t worked with brands before? My “media kit” is a one-pager knocked together on Canva (the answer to all bloggers prayers) and has nothing but a one-liner about me and my blog, and my social media stats. Oh, and the link to my blog, which was something of an afterthought but probably quite useful information.
Blogging has changed. When I started keeping an online record of my travels seven years ago, it was simply a digital diary I could read back without having to decipher my own handwriting. I would write exactly as I would tell my story, rambling detail and all (OK, so not much has changed there). I’d send the link to Ma and Pa Lee, my longest-standing fans. No SEO, no keywords, no fancy pictures. No Moz, no Google Gods. No PRs, no links (follow, nofollow or otherwise).
Sometimes I just have to forget about all that stuff and just write. A brain-dump, like this one. Remember what people like to read. Remember what I like to write about. A Brummie Home and Abroad is my voice, a way for me to share. And that shouldn’t be complicated at all.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
DA – Domain Authority
Follow/NoFollow Links – who knows? Its a minefield!