Ordinary to Extraordinary through Blogging and Influencing

Let’s talk about Inspiring people on the internet! Last week I was lucky enough to not only attend The Culture Vulture Blogging and Influencing event at the Thought Foundation in Gateshead, but I was asked to be on the blogger panel! This was a huge opportunity for me, so I absolutely had to have it in a blog one way or another.

The theme of the event was #ordinarytoextraordinary and how everyday ‘average’ people (like you and me) can do amazing things through the power of blogging, vlogging, social media presence and influencing. You don’t need a particular background or credentials, a large skillset or even a lot of tools and equipment – you just need access to the internet to be able to use the platforms, a camera (or camera phone), and something passionate to write about or take photos of. For the most part, it’s a free hobby if you already have internet at home, which a lot of people have nowadays!

The night was filled with some fantastic speakers who not only left the audience in awe but offered such valuable and supportive advice for other bloggers and influencers across social media platforms and to brands, PRs and marketers. I thought I would do a ‘round-up’ of what I took away from the event and learned.

Deb Sharratt from My Boys Club, a family and lifestyle blog, was the first speaker who gave advice on having core values for your blog. Your core values reflect not only your blog but you as a person to your readers and to any brands that might want to work with you. She was passionate about ethical blogging, which was something I loved. Things like declaring sponsored work or gifted items, being transparent with affiliate links, and posting honest reviews from your own opinions. Having an authentic and honest blog builds trust with your followers and brands and creates a positive atmosphere for your space on the internet. Deb also highlighted the importance of posting relevant content to improve your DA (Domain Authority), and the use of follow links for non-sponsored content and no-follow links for paid content. Guest blogging and crowdsourcing is also very useful for improving your DA and blog traffic, and helps support other bloggers too. She also listed some very helpful apps and websites like Later, Hootsuite, Stumbleupon, Pixabay, Unsplash, Missing Letter, and Appsumo.

Lisa Dawson was the next guest speaker who is an interior design blogger and Instagram influencer from Lisa Dawson Styling. She spoke about the importance of consistency with your posting and having a minimum amount of posts, whether it’s 3 times a week or just once a month. Lisa also suggested that posting at the right time is a must. If you post a photo in the middle of the day when most people are working, then it’s just going to get lost in the sea of images in Instagram – so posting before 8.30am before people go to work or after 6.30pm, is what seems to be the best time. Instagram has grown so much over the last few years and for photos to be noticed they need to be “shit hot”, as Lisa put it. You need to stand out from such a large, and I mean a LARGE amount of people on the app now, and I agree it makes sense to post your best work. She advised using 30 relevant hashtags because they get your photos to an audience who may not be following you already.

Next up we had Crime Viral, and wow she was such a boss lady, and I admired her so much! Cheish spoke of the importance of engagement with your readers and creating a community around your blog and social media. An example she gave was asking open-ended questions, ask your followers or readers what they think on a subject, and engage them in an open-ended conversation. Creating a sense of community keeps your readers involved with your blog and your posts. She also said that it’s a great idea to reuse old content, which was something I would have never thought of doing. Especially if the content was popular and you can repost it from a different perspective or angle, with a different conversation outcome.

The following speaker was Dominique from All That Is She on Instagram. Dom has such a beautifully creative feed using only a basic camera and props from around the house, with the help of her 2 daughters and husband. She shows that you’re able to create amazing content without the need for the fanciest of equipment – you just need imagination. She recommended using the Weekend Hashtag Project (WHP) from the Instagram official account, which is announced every Friday. Instagram feature their favourite posts using the hashtag in line with the theme every Monday or Tuesday, which gets your post seen by around 230 million followers! Dom has had a few of her posts featured and it gave her a real boost with her following.

The last part of the event was a brilliant Q&A with a blogging panel… which I was on. I was lucky enough to be sat with Pip Milburn, Helen Newman, Hildy Harland, Sharon Sinclair Williams and Cheish Merryweather. Look, there’s me in the photo right in the middle! As I said the theme of the night was ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and here I am, an ordinary person, being able to do something amazing like offer my thoughts and advice in a room full of people alongside some fantastic bloggers. We discussed our own stories of how we got into blogging, starting up and what we did to get seen in the community. As well as how to vlog and do insta-stories in public or to strangers on the internet, our thoughts on sponsored content,  and working with brands. We bounced off each other and the audience, and the vibe was insane!

I know I’ll be taking on all of this advice and I’ll be rethinking how I approach my own blog and social media. Hopefully, this blog has given some useful information to any bloggers out there, new or established, and for anyone who’s thinking of possibly starting a blog. If you are thinking of becoming a blogger - my advice is to just do it! Anyone can be a blogger or influencer, you are capable of doing extraordinary things no matter what your background is. If you have a passion for a topic, whether it’s beauty, lifestyle, parenting, culture, travel, food, or the arts… your voice deserves to be heard.

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