PLGBLOGGINGBIGBUSINESS1OS

Blogs Don’t Just Aid Business, They Become One

Putting on a show: Dennis Littley presenting his kitchen studio at his Kissimmee, Florida, home where he hosts a weekly, live cooking show online. Littley, a retired professional chef, is one of the many bloggers who are making it big for blogging about things they are passionate about. — Orlando Sentinel/TNS

Dennis Littley doesn’t exactly like to prepare elaborate meals for himself. He’ll usually get by on a sandwich or some eggs. But when the camera rolls in his makeshift home studio, the veteran chef – who has prepared food in executive suites, upscale restaurants and lunchroom cafeterias – comes alive.

“Chefs are definitely egotists and we perform for people,” said Littley, 61. “We love to make people happy. It’s where I get my joy from.”

Littley shoots the video footage at his Kissimmee home and posts them to a blog, Ask Chef Dennis, that attracts up to 150,000 page views in a month. He has become part of a growing number of Central Florida residents who have turned blogging into a paying gig. Littley said the Web has created an avenue for more people than ever to get noticed.

“More are getting published that we would never have seen before,” he said. “There is a lot of talent out there. For just about every topic, there are people sharing things.”

In Central Florida, that has meant bloggers who cover topics as wide-ranging as Disney, food, fashion and travel, along with many others. FLBlogCon organiser Bess Auer, who trains bloggers through her website Gotta Get Blogging, has watched the conference grow modestly from a 100-seat gathering in its first year to now selling 350 tickets. An English teacher for 17 years, Auer started the conference, held at Full Sail University, when she failed to find any nearby blogging conferences. She said her transition from educating students to educating bloggers has been a natural one.

“Most who start blogging do so because they are passionate about what they blog about,” said Auer, who also runs the Florida Swim Network blog, which highlights swim programs across Florida. “They find some enjoyment out of it. They quickly find out that it’s a small world.”

But it can also be a lucrative one.

Jeanette Johnson, 32, has been at the helm of J’s Everyday Fashion, a fashion blog that features clothing and fashion every day. Her work has attracted enough visits to draw advertising from some high-profile fashion companies and department stores. The former marketer says she has earned US$700,000 (RM3.03mil) in revenue since the start of 2013, with about half coming from advertising and sponsorships. She said she wanted to make fashion journalism more realistic, so she started J’s Everyday Fashion in 2010.

“People can tell when a blogger is in it for the money, and I think people read my blog and think, ‘No, that’s not why she shows up every day,'” she said. “I keep it authentic and I think that cuts through in my blog.”

Johnson, who considers herself a “baby entrepreneur” because she does not have to reinvest her earnings, said she incurs very few costs because of her blog. She admits she had to adjust to becoming a full-time blogger, just as family and friends needed to come around to believing it was a worthwhile job. But as she learned more about the business side of blogging, she realised she had become an entrepreneur.

“In the beginning, it was strange that I was literally taking pictures of outfits and posting them on the Internet,” she said. “It was an evolution even for myself from being a silly thing to, ‘I’m an entrepreneur and this is a legitimate business.'”

Her transition in blogging, like many, was part hobby and part necessity after she lost her job in 2012.

“I had nowhere else to go and some of my friends suggested I turn it into a business,” she said. “Within a year I was making four to five times more than I was making as a marketing manager.”

Her popularity on social media has grown along with her blog. Johnson has 13,000 followers on Twitter and her Facebook page has been liked 86,000 times. Recently, JC Penney mentioned Johnson to its 389,000 Twitter followers.

As for Littley, the chef, he’s attracted more than 14,000 followers on Twitter. He first got serious about blogging in early 2010, when he joined a blog group and started researching the hobby. It wasn’t until he started to receive feedback from people outside of his family that he believed he could grow the blog.

“I went from being local to being national; then on Google+, I went worldwide,” he said. “I have friends all over the world that I know intimately but I have never actually met them in person.”

But as he does watch his blog grow, he says he intends to continue writing it for himself, as he has tried to do from the start.

“Food is like this international bond that brings everyone together, whether virtually or sitting at the same table,” he said.

“But I write for myself, it’s for me. I’m not trying to make it my living and be dependent on it. I share what I share and, if it’s not what you want, pass it by.” — Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service

[BY MARCO SANTANA] [Read More]

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Interview with Fashion Blogger: The Clothes Horse

There are so many different kinds of fashion blogs. At one end of the scale are those that share their daily rants and raves from their bedrooms, accompanied by iPhone snaps with #NoFilter realness. Then at the opposite end of the scale is Rebecca’s blog, The Clothes Horse. Her ethereal posts are carefully curated using the woodlands and beaches of Northern Ireland as the backdrop for her stylised photography. Scrolling through her posts is like reading a never ending fairy tale with daily doses of magic.

I caught up with Rebecca to find out about how she became the protagonist in her own online fairy-tale, what she dreamed of doing when she was growing up, the thought process that goes into creating a post and what her dream shoot would look like…

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Your photographs always seem to tell a story. Some remind me of fairy tales, others vintage fashion photography and then stylised films too. What is the process that you go through to create these looks and themes?

Part of it just happens organically. I watch a lot of old films and I read a lot growing up so these influences are still with me. Sometimes I’m just out on a walk and I see something and it’s very fairytale-esque, I don’t have to plan the image it just happens. It probably helps that I’m an American and I just moved to Northern Ireland; I see things differently than a local who drives by rock walls and castle ruins every day, for me it’s very old world and romantic while to them it’s just mundane. Being new to an area always helps, you see things more romantically than the locals and since I grew up moving every few years I’m sort of constantly in the state of being new and appreciating my surroundings because I’m not accustomed to them. If I break down the process then it usually starts with an outfit; once I have the outfit I think about what sort of settings would highlight it and then I go for a walk-I have some images in my mind but I also walk around and see what I can find. Sometimes I had a flowering bush in mind for a set and when I get there the plant died or the light is wrong, so I just walk or ride my bicycle a little farther and try to find a better fit. If I lived in a city I think my style would be completely different because I do pick out clothes thinking “this would work in the woods/countryside” or more literally I’d look at stilettos and think “where am I going to wear those?” because so many of the roads I walk along are dirt or gravel.

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What was your dream job as a 17 year old?

I wanted to be a “fine artist;” in my head that was really the dream to make a living doing art but the sort of art that belongs in museums and exhibitions. Even back then I remember my art teacher recommending that I look into illustration because she thought it suited my talents and interests more, but I felt it wasn’t as “cool” and “special” as fine art back then! Of course shortly after that my family moved and the next school I attended didn’t really have any art program so when college rolled around I was completely off the art track and trying to find a new goal! Now I’d probably love to get into illustration!

 
If you had access to an unlimited budget what would your dream shoot look like?

Oh gosh there are so many dream shoots I’d love to do. The wardrobe would probably be Valentino, the location would probably be Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany (it looks like a Disney castle), and I’d love to get some of Tim Walker’s old props out for it as well! He’s created giant moths, cameras, and monsters for some of his shoots and I’d love to borrow a few for my own pictures. That’s really the next level-finding a way to create giant props to use but I wouldn’t even know where to store them once I built them!

So if ever you are in need of a little bit of sparkle on a dull day you know where to head.

This interview originally appeared on lifestyle, fashion and travel blog LedByLucy. If you enjoyed this post then you may want to have a nosy at the People and Projectssection of LedByLucy where you will find regular interviews with inspirational women working within the creative field.

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5 Inspiring Fashion Bloggers Who Are Changing the World

Fashion bloggers are everywhere these days! However, few have surpassed the noise and made it to the top. We’ve gathered five women who inspire us well beyond their sartorial choices and Instagram feeds. These women are changing the face of the fashion-blogging world for good, from Chiara Ferragni’s powerful entrepreneurial skills, to Aimee Song’s second job and two fashion lines, to Gabi Gregg’s positive body-image mantra.

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Why Global Advertisers Are Ditching Celebs For Little-Known Instagram Artists

It was all about selfies for Christine Adelina, until May 1, 2014. That’s when the 22-year-old student and obsessive Instagram poster from London learned her large following on the photo-sharing app could translate to some decent income. After attending a meetup for Instagram “influencers,” she switched from bedroom and bathroom selfies to artistic portrayals of the world around her, now spending at least three hours a day on the app.

And brands are gawking — handing over ad dollars to Adelina and other so-called influencers, anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the deal, to join their marketing campaigns. While some sponsorship deals simply reward users with gifts for sending out company-related Instagram posts, others are contracted.

Take Nabisco’s #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, for example. That marketing strategy to promote new Ritz Crisp and Thin crackers — to which Adelina and a handful of other contracted influencers submitted two photos for this June  — reached 7.5 million people. One post from British blogger Tanya Burr, who boasts 2 million Instagram followers, drew 110,000 likes.

It’s the latest sign that Madison Avenue and its counterparts worldwide are recognizing the pitch power of organically born social media stars like Adelina and Burr. They can be just as influential, or even moreso, as celebs like the Kardashians. Consumers, the thinking goes, may connect more readily with individuals who lead lives like their own. “For ‘Putting on the Ritz,’ we were very interested in getting people involved. The campaign seemed more real,” said Jana Soosova, social media campaign manager at London-based PHD Media.

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While Instagram influencer Christine Adelina’s post was not the highest traffic-driver for the #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, Nabisco paid for and endorsed the submission as part of its marketing strategy.  Instagram Screenshot

Earlier this month, Instagram introduced its first ad product for businesses. The system allows companies to quickly create standard ads, target them to selected users and include direct-response buttons (like “Buy Now” as seen on Facebook, Twitter and Google). The move will spur more ads on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app — and fuel Instagram’s predicted rise to $2.8 billion in revenue by 2017.

But there have always been ads on Instagram, some of which have been embraced by the over 300 million-person active community and have enthralled some forward-thinking brands with big budgets like Coca-Cola, L’Oreal and Asos. Rather than sign contract after contract with celebrities, who boast the biggest follower counts on Instagram, some companies have latched onto the artists that have helped build up the young, but fast-growing network.

“Usually the campaigns are more creative, more advanced than you would see on other networks. Whoever is creating the ads puts more effort into the process,” said Soosova.

A New Network

Unlike YouTube’s Partner program or Twitter-owned Niche, Instagram does not have direct ties to a professional network of creators. But entrepreneurs have stepped in — since Instagram’s early days — to fill the role of connecting eager brands to power influencers and help sign, seal and deliver on contracts and campaign expectations.

“We see plenty of agencies pop up. Anyone can scrape Instagram and get 20,000 names together, but having the relationships and knowing how to run a campaign is a different story,” said Francis Trapp, founder and CEO of Brandnew IO, an Instagram-focused marketing company based in Berlin.

Trapp, who did time in banking, consulting and finance and boasts a passion for photography and advertising, started building a network in 2013. He dug through the app, then only a recent acquisition of Facebook, for interesting accounts and reached out. He now oversees a network of 1,500 influencers across 60 countries and has coordinated 130 campaigns. Trapp projects $2.2 million in revenue this year.

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Brandnew IO is a marketing company focused on Instagram campaigns. The team has worked with international companies, such as Spotify and L’Oreal, to run long-term campaigns with influencers rather than celebrities.  Brandnew IO

Marketing teams, such as PHD London, have come to Trapp for help finding influencers. Trapp’s list does not include the biggest names on Instagram, like Justin Bieber (23.8 million followers), Kim Kardashian (23.5 million) or Beyonce (22.2 million). Some companies, such as teeth whitener Cocowhite, target those celebrity endorsements, Jezebel reports. But when marketers come to Trapp, that’s not what they are after.

Adelina is not shy to admit her labor can come cheaper, and more easily negotiated. Not only that, she brings her own photography skills and artistic influence, which she describes as vintage-inspired, into each post.

“Instagram influencers are not the people who are just taking their products and snapping a quick photo. I think companies see the potential in the photography enthusiasts who took the time to create a picture,” Adelina said.

Treading Lightly

Facebook has been moving slowly to develop Instagram into an advertising powerhouse, like its main site has become. “We’re very, very cautious. Instagram remains small relative to Facebook, and it’s really going to take time,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said during the company’s earnings call in July. Facebook does not break out revenues for the site.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 — two years after its launch — for $1 billion. At the time, there were about 30 million accounts on the app. That has since jumped to 300 million monthly active users who share 70 million photos a day.

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Facebook does not breakdown the revenue by its assets, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus. The company has generated $7.5 billion in ad revenue, so far, this year, as shown in the above investor’s chart. Marketing firm eMarketer predicts Instagram could fuel $600 million in total for 2015.  Facebook

Influencers have emphasized that the company should be careful not to frustrate the power users and consumers. How Trapp views an Instagram post: “It’s a beautifully taken shot in your everyday life.”

“I think this community thrives on creativity,” Adelina said.

“My Instagram style is very minimalistic and whimsical,” said Kerstin Hiestermann, a mother of three who boasts 278,000 followers.

With Instagram’s new system, marketers can generate ads with a click, and the formalized system is just starting. For now, not all sponsorship campaigns need to be approved by Instagram, as long as they fit the terms of service.

That’s not the case for YouTube, where creators must inform the site of product placement and these can only be done by official partners. Google can remove a video if it does not meet standards or if pre-roll ads, from which YouTube takes a 45 percent cut, conflict.

Instagram is now tapping into its own ad cut for revenue, and eMarketer has predicted that the app could generate $600 million in sales this year.

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