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the business behind blogging A SENIOR THESIS BY VIBEKE HAIN

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The Business Behind Blogging A Senior Thesis by Vibeke Hain

Presented to the Department of Design Management in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the BACHELOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION IN DESIGN MANAGEMENT PARIS COLLEGE OF ART May, 2016

Accepted by JARVIN, Linda, Dean of Paris College of Art

ABBAS, Yasmine, Chair of Design Management

BOUHAJEB, Karim, Thesis Advisor

SERENA, Maurizio, Jury Member

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The Business Behind Blogging

Abstract

abstract The subject of my senior thesis is blogs. In this thesis, I aim to uncover people’s needs and motivations to read blogs, and the reason why some choose to start writing blogs. The focus of my research will be on lifestyle blogs. My research covers some history and facts of blogs, how a blog can be monetized, how content can be created, the importance of marketing and storytelling, the notion of branding in the sense of a blog and its author, the legal aspect that need to be understood and how one can set up a blog. Ultimately, what are the key factors for a successful blog? How can it become a legitimate business, and monetized such? I have interviewed four experts. Sebastien Girard, founder of the website icon-icon.fr; Paris-based Karim Bouhajeb, an expert in digital marketing in the luxury industry and co-author of a blog; Louise Estwall, a new up and coming Swedish lifestyle blogger; and Veronique Vienne, expert in graphic design and art direction and author of a blog. I have sent out a survey focused on the segment of blog readers, to identify key elements of preferences in blog reading. In addition, I have carried out a benchmark analysis on lifestyle blogs/fashion blogs with and identified the most important fundamentals in blogs. My project is consisting of a blog. By applying my key findings from my research, data collection and benchmarking analysis, I will test if there is a way to find a recipe of success when launching a blog.

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The Business Behind Blogging

Acknowledgements

acknowledgements I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude towards my school, Paris College of Art, my professor Maurizio Serena, my advisor Karim Bouhajeb, and my classmates for constant support and guidance throughout the process of this senior thesis.

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The Business Behind Blogging

Contents

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Abstract

3

Acknowledgements

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1 2 3 8

LITERATURE REVIEW

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The Blogosphere

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How to Monetize a Blog

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How to Create Content

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Marketing

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Storytelling

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Branding

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Legal Aspect

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Setting Up a Blog

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Conclusion

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DATA COLLECTION

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Introduction

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The Interviews

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The Survey

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Discussion & Conclusion

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THE PROJECT

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Benchmark Analysis

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Design Criteria

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The Blog Concept

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Personas & Journey Maps

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Business Model Canvas

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Limitations

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A Final Note

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Bibliography

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Appendix

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contents

Title Page

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The Business Behind Blogging

Introduction

introduction Blogs have grown to become one of the most impressive and powerful online phenomenon of the 21st century. Bloggers have turned into public figures with an extreme amount of credibility and marketing expertise. The number of new blogs is increasing by the minute, adding to an already endless number of existing blogs. So why has blogs come to be so popular? What is it with blogs that make people read them, and continue doing so? A blog is an expression and distribution of information, whether it being objective, or subjective. Blogs have the possibility to effect and influence people on deep levels, due to relationships built between bloggers and blog readers. Due to the enormous recognition of bloggers in today’s society, they have the possibility to expand their network and professional opportunities – and eventually become much more than just a blogger. They have become the fashion designers, the writers and the models and can be seen everywhere. But what does it really take to become a blogger? What skills are needed to achieve potential success, and how is it be implemented into the blog itself? Today, with the growth of the Internet and continuous popularity of social networks, there are endless amount of possibilities to be seen and heard anywhere and at anytime. Marketing comes into play when discussing blogs, since it is a key element to make the blog visible. But how does one choose the appropriate channels to distribute on? And how can one potentially build up a brand of the blog and as a blogger, to make sure the readers are assured quality and enjoyment? Content creation has for a long time been a popular concept, and non-the least when it comes to blogs. Choices need to be made in terms of creating vs. curating, incorporating pictures and videos, length and format of posts and so on. It can seem hard and frustrating to make these choices, but they are crucial when it comes to the distribution of content across blogs. Storytelling goes hand in hand when talking about content creation, how can this be incorporated into a blog? The visual aspect is also of big importance, and so is the choice of domain and platform distributor. The actual setting up of a blog demands attention and carefulness so that the blog created will turn out the way the blogger want to. Blogs have for the last decade been a growing tool used by an enormous amount of people from all over the world. The successful blogs have been able to become businesses demanding full time attention, and the successful bloggers have the potential to become accomplished entrepreneurs with many profitable rewards. Hard work have the opportunity to turn into big success, this will the help of the right tools, knowledge and dedication.

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literature review

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The Business Behind Blogging

Literature Review

THE BLOGOSPHERE What is a blog? According to Oxford Dictionaries1, the definition of the word is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style”, and it originates from the words “web log”. One of the first bloggers in the world is Justin Hall, who started his blog in 1994 while a student at Swarthmore College with a wish to record his life online. Today he is known as “the founding father of personal blogging”2. Back then blogging was not what it is today. Blogs were an indirect response to the enormous amount of information the Internet . Alongside the immense expansion of the Internet3, blogging didn’t really become popular until 2004 – then counting 7.2 million active

blogs. In 2014, there were more than 170 million blogs, and 74 million blogs existing on the platform WordPress alone4, which is one of the biggest host of blogs and personal websites today. Since setting up a blog does not demand huge financial investments, or being a technology genius due to the many portals offering ready-made templates – it is no surprise why so many people are blogging today. Besides this, running a blog has countless benefits, such as organising your thoughts, sharing ideas, exploring topics and possibly also making money from it – turning it into a full time business. Because of this explosion of the internet, blogging gives anyone with a desire to express himself online a chance to do so, which in its turn has led to a huge empowerment of the

the individual and power-shift in the relationship between companies and the online consumer base5. This social web existing today gives huge opportunities because of its transparency and independence of thought – the idea that the voice of the generations that have grown up and seen the individual matters. There are many reasons why people start to blog, and also many reasons why people read blogs. A popular blog can easily reach millions of readers per week - so the influence the bloggers possess is quite remarkable and evident. Blogging is a way of sharing your own intellectual property. Bloggers have a unique bond to their readers, unlike other sources with the same “celebrity status”. A traditional blog is what is called a personal blog – a blog where a person writes from a personal point of view, a blog consisting of personal posts about various tips, opinions and inspiration etc. from a particular person. Some would probably say that the bloggers are the “it” persons of this age – it no longer has to be the singers, actors or super models, because a blogger could easily be offered job opportunities and become a celebrity in any of those fields. It is important to know that because of the unique position bloggers have they posses an enormous amount of credibility. Ever since the beginning of Internet, it has revolutionized digital media and the effect it has on human behaviour and psychology6. Everything taking place on the Internet has generated activities that are now behavioural patterns changing and effecting the consumer mind-set and influencing the wider society. Because of this, big companies are now acknowledging the existence of blogs and bloggers and are trying to take advantage of their role in today’s society. Through endorsements, advertisement and sponsorships partnering up with bloggers has turned out to be a big source of income and exposure – a relationship with mutual benefits.7 Blogging is so important today that is considered a job and a credible job title. On many formal listings, blogger is even featured as a professional category.8 So who are the bloggers? Technically and literary they can be anyone, due to the easiness of setting

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Definition of blog in English; available from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/blog: Internet: accessed 13 October 2015 2 Time to get a life -- pioneer blogger Justin Hall bows out at 31; available from http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Time-to-get-a-life-pioneer-blogger-JustinHall-2697359.php; Internet: accessed 13 October 2015. 3 Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), 9. 4 14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage; available from https://managewp.com/14-surprising-statistics-about-wordpress-usage; Internet: accessed 13 December 2015. 1

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one up. Anyone with the wish of sharing ideas, having a concept, and a will to blog – can set one up. Looking at the famous personal lifestyle bloggers they are generally females under the age of 30. They are the millennial’s, the generation Y and Z, with a lust and need to openly express their opinions and share inspiration online to anyone and everyone. The generations that have grown up and seen the technological changes, the boom of social networking and the observers and experts of everything having to do with the Internet. The blogosphere is the place within cyberspace where blogs exist, and it consists of no geographical, gender, and cultural, or age boundaries. So it is no wonder why blogs have gained this enormous global appearance; they can be written by anyone, anywhere9. But keeping this in mind, their existence is crucially based on humans, whether they write blogs, or read blogs; without their interest blogs would not exist. There has been evidence of supply and demand when it comes to blogs. More than ever blog readers are demanding more blogs; blogs that really provides answer to what readers are looking for. In the worst case, if the blogs people are asking for don’t exist – a new one can be created by anyone, hence filling the gap of what is missing. With this phenomenon happening everywhere around, it can be hard for some to predict a foreseeable future for blogs. What is left for blogs, what fields are yet to be explored? What lies ahead for this already forwarddriven group of individuals? Many say that blogs will become even more specialized10. The notion of having a niche blog is very important to many, since it is an assurance of getting the answers sought after answered. Somebody who is looking for specific products linked to boats would preferably look for a blog niched on the field of boats. The fact of credibility will continue, but it will be sought after even harder, and further. Bloggers are bound to become an even bigger threat to communications experts, given the fact that they most likely are the best at it11. A successful blogger knows how to market the blog, how to brand the blog and how to in the most effective way sell his service - bloggers are, unconsciously, becoming experts in all of these fields.

Uche Okonkwo, Luxury Online (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 43.

Uche Okonkwo, Luxury Online (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 42. Ibid, 44 8 Ibid, 62-63. 9 Ibid, 71. 10 Ibid, 84. 11 Ibid 6 7

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Literature Review

They therefore seek ways to attract their followers. Through sponsoring they furthermore have the possibility to reach a wider and also more specific crowd, which is one of the reasons they have chosen to team up with bloggers. When a blogger with millions of followers, like Leandra Medie behind Manrepeller.com or Chiara Ferragni behind Theblondsallad.com, who Dior frequently works with, wears a product from Dior and later on posts a picture of themselves with this product, Dior is indirectly and immediately exposed to their millions of followers and hence has wide advertising and bigger possibility of more costumers for their brand. Hence, sales increase for the company and the bloggers earn a fee and samples of the products themselves– a win-win situation.

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HOW TO MONETIZE A BLOG A blog has huge possibilities to be a big source of income, especially if the blog has consistent search engine traffic, and/or a loyal readership. How to actually make money blogging is possible in a few different ways. To understand the enormous economic value of blogs, of it is good to have some hard numbers. The Swedish top blogger Kenza Zouiten, founder of the blog Kenzas.se, had a turnover of 475 000€ in the year of 2015, and this is purely money made on the blog i.e. sponsoring, ads and various other sources connected to her blog. And Chiara Ferragni, who is considered one of the most influential and famous fashion bloggers in the world earned 2 200 000€ on her blog in 201512.

GOOGLE ADSENSE

One of the simplest and most basic ways that a blog can

Companies can also choose to directly advertise via a blog, by having their brand being placed on, for example, banners on the blog, allowing them to expand their target audience and attract the attention of a wider range of people. Much like sponsoring, however not worn by the blogger himself. The advertisement is seen on the blog, but not necessarily on the blogger himself. This however, is almost only preferred when the blog in question generate heavy traffic. What is important to remember, and keep in mind, is that images that the viewer can relate to somehow will essentially mean big business in advertisement, and that these advertisements and feelings should correlate to the content of the blog14. Many blogs can be exposed to bad critique when the ads do not follow the theme of a blog. For example, if a blog is solely based on horses, it might seem confusing to the blog readers if the blog all of a sudden would start advertising for migraine medicine. The ads placed on one’s blog should therefore resonate with the persona of the blogger and its blog. The boom of Instagram and the importance of incorporating social network in one’s blog can also be a way for bloggers to earn an income. A successful blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers can make rather large sums when sponsoring products on its Instagram. Cube Media, an agency for social media profiles in Sweden says a blogger with heavy traffic can earn about 5-7000€ per one thousand follower on Instagram15. Cost worthy for companies but also an assurance of direct exposure to one’s brand. These are only some of the ways to add monetary value to one’s blog, the most basic ones. It can further on be explored and researched.

secure a small income is via Google Adsense13. Google Adsense consists of a paid link on one’s website, paid by the advertiser in question, and each time someone clicks on that link, a small amount of money is generated, also called ad links. This in turn generates more traffic to the advertisers’ websites.

SPONSORSHIPS Furthermore, one can also team up with companies and get “sponsorships”, which can pay out in both money and/or products. During a conference by Dior the 24th of November 2015, the digital communication manager Gary Pinagot explained the importance of celebrity affiliation and how it can help reach new crowds. Because Dior is an old prestigious luxury brand, entering a rather new market like the social web can be a hard adaptation.

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), 17. Så mycket tjänar Sveriges Instagramstjärnor; available from http://www.di.se/artiklar/2015/5/21/sa-mycket-tjanar-sveriges-instagramstjarnor/; Internet: accessed 4 March 2016

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2015 30 Under 30: Art & Style; available from http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mkl45ehmdj/chiara-ferragni-27/; Internet: accessed 8 March 2016 13 Mike Omar, HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 19. 12

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Literature Review

How to Start a Blog People Will Read, written by Mike Omar and describes some points when figuring out how to choose topics for blog posts: What do you have knowledge or personal experience in? What do you love to talk about and discuss with others? What would you like to learn more about? Is the topic evergreen? In other words, are there endless things to talk about regarding this topic? Is there money to be made in this topic? In other words, are there products or services related to this topic that you can promote or sell on your website? Is there other blogs making money in this topic already?

GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER & SEO

HOW TO CREATE CONTENT One of the biggest fears when having a blog is the matter of content distribution. Where does one find content? How does one decide what is good content? And how can one know what content is asked for by the readers? From a survey done in 2011 by MarketingProfs &Content Marketing Institute, the result showed that “producing engaging content” is the highest challenge in content marketing programs16.

CONTENT: CREATING VS CURATING Creating content vs. curating content is a hot topic when it comes to keeping a blog current. Keeping in mind that all posts do not have to be 100% created by the blogger; it is good to mix it up and hence also search for content to curate17. A successful blogger with a loyal readership has the attention and trust of their readers; in other words, the

information posted is of importance to the readers. If a blogger writes a post where he or she is claiming something, or promoting a certain product, the reader will most likely believe he or she and later on maybe try out these products themselves. This does not only mean that the content is curated, but that it is also filtered and adjusted, as the blogger sees fit. This also creates business opportunities for a blogger, through advertising traffic, as discussed earlier. When deciding on content to share on one’s blog, it should always echo the main theme of the blog – if the blog is a personal blog, the blogger should write posts relevant to him/her, and if the blog is more of a personal website niched on politics where the blogger himself is anonymous, this should show through the posts. A blog should be consistent and coherent to both the author and the readers. This list comes from the book

Another technique to create content that has been praised by every book researched in this field is to use Google Keyword Planner. With the help of this online tool, one can get the actual data of how many times a word or term and how many times this word or term has been searched for on Google18. Bloggers can later use these words or terms when composing a post, or adding them in the title – doing this will further on enhance your search engine optimization, also called SEO. Blogs should always be search engine optimized, since it is a reassurance that the blog will be shown on the various search engines. SEO is essentially how to get ones blog a higher rank on a Google search and therefore to be found more easily. Statistics show that the top link on Google generates an average 42% of the clicks, and any link below the first will have a lower and lower percentage of clicks19. To give an example: if the word “shoe” is googled for, the first link will receive 42% of all the clicks, and the links below will have a much lower percentage. This is why big money is spent on trying to be the number one link and search result. Using SEO can be both positive and negative. Since it is a way to try and read Google’s mind, some people do not opt for this, and would rather use Google for its true purpose – to search for content20.

important not only write posts using the SEO technique, but, since it can come off also as false and forced, to go for a mix of post creation, so that the blog and posts get more of a human feeling21. Another thing to bear in mind is that Google is well aware of this technique, but does however to some extent promote it. There is such a thing as a “black hat SEO” – the SEO technique not approved or allowed by Google, and if being caught doing this, Google can take drastic action and punish the offending website. Black hat SEO is when aggressive and strict SEO techniques are used so that the sites rank goes up, in other words not writing to a human audience. This include penalties such as temporarily pushing ones website to the last page of a search result or even going so far as a complete deindexing of the website basically, killing the website22. Google Keyword Planner also works in another manner; one could monitor the search keywords, to see what keywords people are using that land them on one’s blog. This can inform your content stories, and suggest new opportunities that your would-be customers are actively interested in23. Bloggers’ influence on the consumer market is huge, and most people will probably rely on bloggers when looking for what products to buy. This is very much linked to the search engines like Google, and that is why Google Keyword Planner is a good option when looking for potential partnerships with brands. Debra Miller, who writes on compete.com, made a study about how shoppers buy, and concludes that three out of five shoppers use search engines when shopping online24.

ANSWER THE FIVE W’S25: Why are you creating the content you’re creating? Who is your audience? And who are you? What do you want the content to achieve? When and how are you going to develop the content? Where are you going to publish?

Mike Fishbein, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), 32. Mike Omar, HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 21. 20 Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 68-69. 21 Mike Omar, HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 26. 22 Ibid, 26. 23 Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 74. 24 Ibid, 5. 25 Ibid, 21. 18 19

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Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), overview p.xviii. Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 16.

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When launching a blog, it’s important to keep one’s a personal and individual voice. People are not looking to hear the voice of a company trying to sell its products, but rather a person’s opinion and thoughts on various subjects. Therefore, it's important to keep human, and keep the content personalized – something that will also give immediate distinction from potential competitors26. Remember: a blogger always has something unique to say. A blog should be kept simple, and fulfil its promise, a personal website. It can be hard to be a blogger, but the thing they all have in common is that they are all comfortable with who they are. The most successful ones are not trying to force who they are, but rather foster the voice that best represents them27. Because of this notion, the expectations are not the same as with other websites. No corporate voice is wanted in blogs, on the contrary; it’s quite disliked. All the posts do hence not have to be perfect – it is ok to sometimes leave them undone, creating an even further reflection of the human behind it28.

VISUAL CONTENT & VLOGS All blogs does not consist of written text. Some blogs are based on photography, some on videos, and some are a mix of all of the above. Vlogs are video based blogs, a term that has gained a lot of popularity throughout the years. The point is that photographs also tell stories and can sometimes substitute for a written post giving an equal effect. Photographs gives the reader a further opportunity to get to know the blogger, and in many cases – depending on the post – adds further interest, deeper dimensions and stimulates the visual senses more. Vloggers – the people who video blog – are getting bigger and bigger. For people not wanting to read, or people wanting the get to know the blogger even more, vlogs are a perfect alternative. Either they can be incorporated into the blog, clips from time to time that the blogger creates and later on posts. Or they can be purely consisting of videos. YouTube can be seen almost as a platform for vloggers, or youtubers. One can subscribe and follow different account based on interest. Pewdiepie is the youtuber with highest amount of subscribers 43,3 million people around the world follow him, and his videos have received 11,8 billion views29. He started out his carer commenting while playing

Literature Review

videogames today he is still doing gaming videos, alongside producing videos, doing comedy videos and other various projects. On the more practical side, there have been studies trying to figure out the ideal blog post length. Once again this depends on the type of blog one is looking to start, and when it comes down to it, it also depends on personality and individual preferences hence not applicable to everyone and every blog. In the book Content Rules, the authors say that 1500 words is the magic number, Google likes it since longer posts are more likely to have the answer to the keyword searched for30. The last option is to use blog idea generators, which can be found online. They are not writing tools, but can help with ideas and writing around topics you would like to explore31.

SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD CONTENT STORY34: Tell the truth, and stay true Be relevant Be human Be passionate Be original Be surprising If one creates content with all or some of these elements, it will attract the audience and appeal to them through emotion, which further on makes the readers connect to the blogger on a deeper and more personal level35.

IDENTIFY THE BIG IDEA It’s important to always keep the idea as the foundation whether one is looking to create a large post or small post, the post should always be resonating with the idea. It doesn’t really matter what direction it is going in – longer articles, or maybe photo based blog posts with fewer words – it should always be kept in line with the original idea32. If one is choosing the latter option, there are a few tips to make the process of content production easier. First, starting small can be favourable if one wants to test the waters and quickly see the result from the readers, and it can also be less scary.

HOW TO WRITE SEO BLOG POSTS33: Keep headlines tight Add blog bling - photo, video etc. Time it well - best time to blog is between 8.00-10.00 Use bullets and numbered lists Provide sharing option Think about the length of the post Be consistent Experiment and innovate – do something unexpected

Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 45. Ibid, 47. 28 Ibid, 80. 29 PewDiePie About; available from https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie/about; Internet: accessed 4 March 2016 30 Ann Handley, Everybody Writes (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2014), 184-185. 31 Ibid, 271-272. 32 Ibid, 63-64. 33 Ibid, 254-256. 26 27

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Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 70-72. Ibid, 72.

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social media platform Facebook have 10,4 billion daily active users40 and Instagram, a photo based social media platform have circa 400 million accounts41. Letting the numbers speak for themselves, a lot of people are using social media, and the immense amount of reach a business and blog can have because of social media, is quite impressive. So how does one get more followers? Well, the blog is a popular one; the instant traffic will most likely derive from there. However, if one is just starting out and wish to increase the numbers of followers, there are a few ways possible.

HASHTAGS

MARKETING SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS Blogging is a phenomenon of the Internet that is proven to be one of the most influential marketing channels in the history of modern business36. One of Sweden’s most successful bloggers has 1,4 million followers on Instagram, and another famous Italian blogger Chiara Ferragni has 5,6 million. Today getting involved in social media is a must; one needs to establish a powerful online identity37. Although blogging and building a readership is time-consuming and needs constant determination, there should always be interconnectivity to various social media accounts. The more one is out there and visible to people, the more likely the blog is to be spotted, to gain recognition and mass exposure. The return of investment on social media is not always apparent, due to its craving

of a lot of time and attention, but when one has mastered it, the results have the potential to be hugely rewarding38. However, when building a blog, it is also important to keep in mind that one is also building a brand, and one should therefore focus on expanding and promoting oneself both online and offline39. Guy Kawasaki, the author of the book The Art of Social Media says “Blogging and social media not only amicably coexist; they complement each other. The trick is to use a blog to enrich your social media with long-form posts and to use social media to promote your blog”. He means that the blogs will consist of the longer formed posts, while a part of this can be posted on the social media channels to promote that same post. part of this can be posted on the social media channels to promote that same post. The

Something that has become very popular in the last years is the usage of the hashtag, the number sign (#) added before a word or sentence that creates a link, it looks like this: #hashtag. The first hashtag used in this context was 23rd of August 2007 on the site Twitter, by Chris Messina42. This permits users to add a link to the posts, and later on when one clicks on the hashtags, a new page will show up with all the posts that have the same hashtag connected to it. Ultimately this can lead to more followers, since the hashtags creates exposure. There is such a thing as “hashtag of the day”, and multiple websites that offer popular hashtags such as Iconsquare, Tagforlikes, Instatag and Populargram43. The idea of having a hashtag of the day is to create buzz, and help pictures and accounts to be found more easily. Adding these ones, or generally popular ones, will get the post on the page where people who looking for hashtag, and further on give more visibility to the post. How to create traffic on one’s blog is also a topic highly discussed and Mike Fishbein, author of the book The Ultimate Guide to Blogging, gives a few tips such as; be the answer to your customers search queries; write entertaining, valuable and/or educational posts; know the audience; add images to increase engagement; share the posts on the social media channels; always add a personal touch; and be consistent and shareworthy in everything created44.

INSTAGRAM Here are some general tips for engaging on the platform Instagram, retrieved from the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: Have an official hashtag to build the community Show human side - behind the scene photos for example Use filters Check Instagram built in statistics Don’t be salesy Be original Post regularly Use specific hashtags designed to match the post Don’t use too many hashtags Join discussion in comments Make Instagram an interactive experience – blend with the website etc.

FACEBOOK You can also choose to reach out and create an open page on Facebook, like many of the bloggers and businesses do today. Facebook has something called Grok Edgerank incorporated to its sites. This allows the person behind the page to see who his followers are, and also whom he is trying to reach out to. With the help of this indicator the person decides what and who their target audience is, and this is an application supposed to motivate the person behind the page to interact with more people45. The marketing of one’s blog, and brand, is crucial when trying to gain exposure. The important part is to understand the readers and followers, and then be available by creating accounts on the various social media platform relevant to the specific target audience. It is also important to know that people who read blogs usually look for content relevant to themselves, so the blogger needs to be consistent and also serve content relevant to his users – although always letting one’s creativity and personality shine through46. The blogger should know his readers, why they are reading the blog and what kind of information they are looking for.

Stats; available from http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/; Internet: accessed 12 April 2016 Celebrating A Community Of 400 Million; available from http://blog.instagram.com/post/129662501137/150922-400million Internet: accessed 12 April 2016 42 Chris Messina: how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg?); available from https://twitter.com/chrismessina/status/223115412; Internet: accessed 8 March 2016 43 Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 149-151. 44 Mike Fishbein, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), 40-41. 45 Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 139. 46 Dorie Clark, Reinventing You (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 189. 40 41

Uche Okonkwo, Luxury Online (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 62. Dorie Clark, Reinventing You (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 178. 38 Ibid 39 Ibid 36 37

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Literature Review

Another company that promote and value their customers and their stories is Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has identified the opportunities and improvement that customers can provide to further strengthen the outward appearance of the company. The key to them is to be shareworthy in everything they do51. Wendy Clark, the SVP of integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola, have understood that their fans have the possibility to be their sales force. If their fans share what the company does, Coca-Cola is further more exposed to their friends and has an endless amount of possibility to reach people all over the world52. Coca-cola also identifies their customers as storytellers, and not purely receiver of goods, services and content – 80% of the company’s conversation is coming from its customers themselves. They launched a social media campaign on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels called #BestSummerMoment, and encouraged their customers to share the best summer moments53. Coca-Cola later on reposted a few lucky participants’ photos and also gave away special rewards54. The campaign gained huge global success – and lead to memorable and positive reflection toward the brand. A brand who the last years have focused a lot of the power of visual storytelling is Facebook. When the “Timeline” launched in 2011, they promised their users the opportunity to “tell your life story with a new kind of profile”, and the usually rather text-heavy format turned into a more interactive community with its focus on visuals. And indeed, the visual content engagement rose with 65% after the launch55. Visual storytelling is a strategy adopted by many not only for standing out, but also for nurturing and growing vibrant and engaged communities, vital aspects of importance in todays society of “infobesity”56 – the constant flow and distribution of information.

SEVEN ELEMENTS OF VISUAL STORY TELLING57: Design – think about the visual aspect of what you are showing Personalization – personalize your story to make them unique Usefulness – show the usefulness of what you are showing Personality – let personality shine through Storytelling – use storytelling to enhance what you are trying to explain Share worthiness – make it good enough to be shared among others

STORYTELLING Another important element in successful blogging is storytelling and, moreover, visual storytelling. The basis of visual storytelling is pictures, like the nature of human thinking is in pictures47. A proof of the importance of visuals is Youtube48, which is today ranked the second most preferred search engine after Google. Many of the successful brands of today have incorporated visual storytelling and are constantly showing, improving and implementing it online when interacting with fans and followers. One success story is the cosmetics brand Benefit. The director of US digital marketing Claudia Allwood stated that “we wanted to create visual, shareable content that conveyed our brand’s central message: laughter is the best cosmetic”, when describing their campaign #Beautyboost, which was marketed with

funny quotes and plays on words, posted on their social media channels sometimes even tagging some of their customers49.

THE POWER OF IMAGES Visual storytelling has the ability to capture and engage the viewer/reader on a whole new level. And when done correctly it has the potential to enhance loyalty, strengthen customer relationships and increase awareness. Statistics show that visuals are processed 60 000 times faster than text by the human brain and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual in content50. Having this in mind, the visual aspect of a blog should never be forgotten – strong visuals, and captivating headlines are what attract the reader to actually read the post. Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), 51. Ibid 53 Ibid, 52. 54 Ibid 55 Ibid, 11-12. 56 Ibid, 195. 57 Ibid, 47.

51 52

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), foreword. Ibid, 4. 49 Ibid, 2. 50 Ibid, 16. 47 48

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the brand, or blog. As mentioned previously, the idea of keeping a personal touch and voice is of absolute essence, especially when one is at the same time representing its own personal brand. One’s voice should always be aligned with your brand62.

BRAND BUILDING The Internet is recognized to be an important tool for building brand awareness and reinforcing brand identity, another essential point why one should incorporate and interconnect social media accounts to the blog63. Looking at a blog as a service, in order to be great, the service must be great – it has to contain some genuine quality that people can recognize, respect and recommend64. So think about the type of audience the blog is attracting, and how it can become a loyal audience. Because without an audience - the service is most likely not doing that great. Do not forget the importance of trademark because in the real world: if you don’t have a trademark, you don’t have a brand in any real sense or the world65. A trademark is a sign that guarantees protection of goods and/or services.

BRANDING As touched upon briefly earlier in the section Marketing, it is important to keep in mind that while running a blog, one is also building a personal brand. , it is important to keep in mind that while running a blog, one is also building a brand. The concept of personal branding didn’t really become big until the 90s, but it actually originated from a term far older than that – one’s reputation58. Celebrities and bloggers clearly qualify as brands because they can be protected as trademarks, they have distinctive attributes, they have well-defined identities, and they command a loyal following - the founding pillars of a brand59. Much like celebrity endorsement, bloggers are today highly sought after by manufacturers, for three different reasons. Blogs build

BRAND IDENTITY Andy Milligan, author of the book Brand it Like Beckham says: “One example of a celebrity who has created a brand of his name is David Beckham. Beckham as a brand is actually a perfect symbol for our times. His brand values of dedication, style and down-to-earth honesty awareness, linking a brand to a name is an easy way of promotion; it confers credibility; and it adds or reinforces emotional and psychological attributes60.

accord perfectly with people’s desire for authenticity, spectacle and a figure they can relate to and understand. It allows us to identify with a common human predicament”66. Beckham is an example of a football player who managed to grab the opportunity to explore, take advantage and further develop a brand that is standing for so much more than just a football player. And there is no reason why this would not be applicable to bloggers today. A blogger, or anyone looking to start a brand, needs to think about the brand identity – the symbols, signs, language, images and colours – this is what will distinguish the brand in a market, and what most people think about when they hear “brand”67. Brand identity is the most important marketing mix to communicate a brand, and will become the symbol that captures every positive or negative experience or association that people will have with that brand. When the brand building is set, the importance of maintaining and distributing it comes into play. Putting a brand on the market means that one has to think about the appropriate distribution and the effective promotions - getting it to the right people at the right time at the right place, and telling people about the brand on all the appropriate media channels68. At its simplest, a brand can be explained as a symbol that guarantees a particular experience69. The readers will expect things from the blogger and the blog, and these expectations should be what the personal brand of the blog and its founder stands for.

SIX ELEMENTS OF BRAND BUILDING70: 1. Define what the brand stands for 2. Creation of the brands visual and verbal style 3. Delivery of the brand through the product or service and customer experience as a whole 4. Management of the brands return of investment 5. Identification of new opportunities, ventures and initiatives for the brand 6. Protection of intellectual property

SELF EVALUATION Some general tips when deciding to develop a brand are to know what one’s current knowledge is about the subject they want to dive into and what further knowledge one need to explore and develop to get to one’s goal. When figuring this out it can be effective and wise to develop list and evaluate oneself61. Further on when one is ready to launch the brand, or blog, it is important that one thinks about how to go about this – how can one grab the attention of the people and get them to take notice of

Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 40. Uche Okonkwo, Luxury Online (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 55. 64 Andy Milligan, Brand it like Beckham (London: Marshall Cavendish International, 2010), 16. 65 Ibid, 172. 66 Ibid, 69. 67 Ibid, 80. 68 Ibid, 125. 69 Ibid, 32. 70 Ibid, 45-47. 62 63

Dorie Clark, Reinventing You (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 13. Andy Milligan, Brand it like Beckham (Londin: Marshall Cavendish International, 2010), 35. 60 Ibid, 37-38. 61 Dorie Clark, Reinventing You (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 75. 58 59

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every time that browser returns to the site, the information will be sent to the webhost76. Cookies help facilitate the navigation of the site, and all websites, including blogs, need to inform their the navigation of the site, and all websites, including blogs, need to inform their users/readers about the use of cookies. The users need to give their consent, and need also to be able to turn the cookies off if they wish to. This law was added rather recently – in 2013 – and not following the law will risk a big fine of up to 300 000€77. Another big law to understand is the issue and use of intellectual property, both protecting your own, but also not misusing anyone else’s. It is illegal to plagiarise, or steal other people’s content like photos, videos illustrations texts etc. Such information cannot be used without the authors consent78. It is also worth mentioning that many buildings and public places are protected under copyright law, and can therefore be tricky to photograph. To get copyright protection, one does not need to file an application; the pure creation gives it copyright by itself. Any work that has protection will fall under public domain after the death of the author and then a further 70 years. If the blog is set up to sell products and/or services, this must also be specified under the conditions of business – terms of sale, fee prices, payment terms, delivery, return and refund79. A special taxation is also needed when doing this. Even though running a blog can be highly personal, it does not give the blogger the right to say anything he/she wants. Even though the freedom of expression is a right in most countries, it should not be abused. As a blogger one does not have the right to spread slanderous information, and not write insulting, obscene, offensive, violent or pornographic posts. Neither is it legal to discriminate, steal, or communicate acts of crimes and offenses, and inspire to spread ethnic or discriminatory prejudice80. A blogger cannot write criticism just how and to whom they that, since it can lead to unfair competition. The blogger also need to publish quality content and check and site their sources – both for texts, and pictures81. Taxation is a big question when it comes to blogs. But since some blog can generate quite a lot of money, it needs to be properly and appropriately taxed. This also applies if the blogger receives gifts82.

LEGAL ASPECT In regards of legal protection, blogging does consist of some rules, and there are a few things that actually have to be present on the blog, and a few things to consider when starting a one. Pages such as “contact page”, “about page”, “privacy policy” and “terms and condition” need to be easily accessed and fully addressed on the blog71. A blog is considered a website, meaning that one cannot do and say what they want due to rules and regulations that need to be considered and applied72. The laws and regulations of having a blog vary from country to country – mostly based on the recognition it has gained from the government. Since this thesis is written in France, and the project that comes along with it is as well, the French rules and regulations

will be discussed in this Thesis. In France, blogs go under the law Act No. 2004-575 of 21 June 2004, as it is considered a website73. It also important to keep in mind that the person running the blog is a citizen of the society, and hence have rights but also duties and responsibilities, this meaning that subject such as privacy, copyright, freedom of expression, taxation and more74 needs to be taken into account, and followed as the law says. The pages mentioned before, needs to be easily accessed and contain correct information for anyone wanting to retrieve such. Without this, the blogger will risk a big fine, and even imprisonment75. Cookies are data stored in a user’s web browser. It saves the information so that the user searched for, and

HTTP State Management Mechanism; available from https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6265; Internet: accessed 8 April 2016 Les règles juridiques à repecter pour son blog; available from http://www.trucsdeblogueuse.com/regles-juridiques-blog/; Internet: accessed 8 March 2016 78 Ibid 79 Ibid 80 Ibid 81 Ibid 82 Ibid 76 77

Mike Omar, HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 43. Les Règles Juridiques à Repecter Pour Son Blog; available from http://www.trucsdeblogueuse.com/regles-juridiques-blog/; Internet: accessed 8 March 2016 73 Ibid 74 Ibid 75 Ibid 71 72

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SETTING UP A BLOG The most difficult tasks when running a blog, are to maintain it, to be consistent, to have patience, time and determination.

PLAN AHEAD Many opt for making a plan, and use editorial calendars for the posts, writing them in advance before actually posting them. This will hopefully save time, and allow for the blogger to be more consistent when it comes to the frequency of posting83. One can also make lists of potential and future topics to be further explored and explained, organising thoughts has proven to help when striving for an easier workload and to find motivation to keep on blogging. It will also permit the blogger to plan for the unexpected84. In short, it will make the blog easier

APPS, FEATURES AND PLUG INS

INTERNET TROLLS

In today’s world there are countless amount of apps, features and plug ins to be added and incorporated in blogs. Some of the essential ones include certain key things like the social log in for example – this is so that people can sign in to your blog via various different social media accounts. Another one is SEO, search engine optimized, enhancers, so that the blog can show up on Google’s search results - this should be used whether or not one is using the Google Keyword Planner or not, since the blog will gain more attention if showing up on Google. WordPress is one of the largest blogging platforms today, hosting millions of personal blogs and websites. Besides the function of pre-made templates, it also comes with many of the essential and important plug ins needed for blogs, such as the SEO enhancer among others. WordPress is also the preferred platform when the blog posts are longer and larger, or when the goal is to build a large audience and monetize the blog87. WordPress is a very well developed platform, and it offers a lot of already-built in services for blogs. They have a great customer service, and can help with any issue one may have. It is already search engine optimized, and it offers its users tools and help when taking the steps toward monetization. Google Analytics for Tracking is a plug in that permits the blogger to track the traffic and further provides interesting statistics about that traffic88.

Internet troll is the term used for people trying to sir up trouble online. This term can probably best be explained as bullies online. They can usually be identified when posting provocative and mean messages on one’s blog in hopes of getting attention89. This has grown to be a huge mentally draining problem for many bloggers. However, this should not be a discouragement – one should try to ignore the comments and if they get too offensive, the troll should be reported to someone with higher authority. In Sweden there is even a TV show about Internet trolls called “The Troll Hunters”, the goal to catch these persons and hold them accountable for their actions.

to manage. It is also important to know when to post. Depending on region, country, topic, day and hour of the day, a post can gain more or less attention. Just googling this will give results relevant to the blogger, 08.00-10.00 is a time said to be most attractive, due to high Internet activity at those times85. There are also tips for how to write posts, how long they should be – usually between 500 to 1250 words, less will not grab attention and more will get the readers bored - and what type of photos to add and how to formulate a title. Titles such as “How to…”, “Top ten…” and “The ultimate…” tend to capture attention faster than other titles of posts86. A blogger should strive to be brief, but still write blogs long enough to encourage the readers to keep on reading.

PLATFORMS There are countless numbers of blogging platforms, all fulfilling different purposes and wishes. The most popular blogging platforms are WordPress, Squarespace, Movable Type, TypePad, Blogger90, since these are the ones with the best optimization; they offer a wide range of readymade templates and are easy to manage. They all look and work differently, so it is good to do background research – studying blogs on the various platforms – to find the one most suitable to personal preferences and needs.

GUIDELINES TO BETTER MANAGE TIME AND UNDERSTAND WHY INE IS STARTING A BLOG91: 1. Define the purpose of the why blog and its content is being created 2. Set a reliable schedule to ensure both oneself and the followers that content is being created and published 3. Mix it up, write posts with different topics and formats 4. Move beyond the written word, add photos, videos and other embedded elements to enrich the content 5. Size matters, think about the length of the posts 6. Learn how to write killer headlines 7. Design is important 8. Create momentum 9. Consider comment moderation, but do not edit them, just try and keep the commentator field appropriate 10. Categorize and tag everything 11. Write the way you speak, casual and informal but not sloppy 12. Don’t overthink

Mike Fishbein, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), 48. Mike Omar, HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013), 78. 89 Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Content Rules (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012), 118-119. 90 Ibid, 144. 91 Ibid 87

Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 17-18. 84 Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), 144. 85 Ibid, 141. 86 Guy Kawasaki, The Art of Social Media (Portfolio Penguin, 2014), 50. 83

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CONCLUSION I decided early on what subjects I wanted to research for this thesis, based on what I myself found relevant and interesting. Some of the books have touched upon several of the subjects, but in order for me to extend my research I needed books that went into depth on my main topics. These are consist of: The Blogosphere, How to Monetize a Blog, How to Create Content, Marketing, Storytelling, Branding, Legal Aspect and finally How to Set Up a Blog. Besides my research I also have a lot of experience when it comes to blogs, having read them for a decade. I have been a loyal reader to many blogs, followed them over time and seen them grow and/or fail, how the visuals mature and evolve, and how the person behind the blog learn how to adapt to its role as a blogger. I have great respect for bloggers and really do consider it to be a full time job and valid business. Blogs have the ability to be great personal handbooks, develop into multimillion-euro enterprises, and evolve to so much more than purely a blog about a person’s life. There are clear skill sets that need to be discovered, developed and taught, in order for a blog to potentially become successful and powerful. A blogger needs to study marketing, branding, rules and regulations and how to write and/or become photographers and visual communication experts. Going forward to my project, I want to highlight and apply the key findings, and incorporate elements that I found important and relevant to my own blog. The research has given me a steady foundation, and I will now conduct interviews and a survey to help support the project I am building and developing. Having said this, I also believe that although anyone can become a blogger, everyone does not have the commitment, persistency, determination and motivation to do it as a daily job and turn it in to a money making business. It takes more than just knowing about marketing and branding, it takes a person who is willing to look at it as a job with the possibility to become life changing. Someone who can deliver their unique point of view in the most efficient and effective way, someone who can provide answers to what people are looking for in blogs in an interesting and powerful way.

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Methodology and Data Collection

INTRODUCTION I have decided to do both qualitative and quantitative data collection. I aim to ask my interviewees about their blogs and the decisions they have been making, and the people taking my survey about their reading preferences and habits when looking at blogs. I needed to interview experts in blogging – the bloggers themselves. I interviewed Sebastien Girard in Paris, founder of the personal website icon-icon, which speaks about iconic lifestyle products and services. Furthermore, I interviewed Louise Estwall, a Swedish woman who recently started her own blog, for an opinion on what it is like to start a blog, what choices she made and why she made them. I interviewed Veronique Vienne, a teacher at PCA, with expertise in the field of art direction and graphic design. She also writes a blog for The Design Observer, a website with several bloggers. My last interview was with Karim Bouhajeb in Paris, an expert in digital marketing and luxury, also co-author of the blog mydigitalluxurygalaxy.com. My quantitative research consists of a survey, and has the intention to investigate reading habits and identify what is of importance when reading a blog.

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“If

you are starting a blog you need to be clear about where you want to go and do not expect too much in the beginning”

Home page of icon-icon.com92

SEBASTIEN GERARD WHO

Founder of the website icon-icon.fr.

WHAT

I wanted to cover the basis of his launch, motivation, inspiration, marketing, why he started this website and what he things about the evolution of blog.

WHERE

Interview over the phone.

WHEN

29.10.15

WHY

Because he is an expert in the field of blogging - although his website is not a traditional personal blog, I would still consider it being a blog on the basis of it being a website with a person updating posts on a regular basis. I wanted to understand his choices and opinion and interviewing him seem very relevant and important to answer some of the questions I have about blogging.

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INTERVIEW ANALYSIS & RESULTS Sebastien Gerard is the founder of the website icon-icon.fr. Before starting his website, he was the marketing director in Europe for Motorola products; hence he has a bigger connection to marketing than to blogs. He launched icon-icon in 2013; it is a sort of personal website where he and his team write about iconic objects, out of pure fascination for these types of objects. The people who he works with on the website mostly helps him with the translation of French. The site started gaining recognition and feedback a year and a half after its launch. He admitted that having a website like this takes a lot of hard work, and wouldn’t tell anyone his job is easy - time and dedication are the key points for him. Having a website like his craves constant delivery - he needs to be there every day. Confirming the information I found in my research, he also believed that interconnecting social media to his website is of absolute essence. When he has written about a new object, he always shares that information on the various platforms icon-icon is connected to. I wanted to ask him what motivates him to keep on running his website and his answer was simple and clear - out of interest and passion. His website is not a traditional blog; he does not consider himself a blogger. The main focus is the objects, nobody of his readers knows him - he is always anonymous. Running icon-icon is his full time job, but he also combines it with other projects. Now, a few years after his launch he has been offered other opportunities because of his site; teaching, coaching and invites to events. His main problem with blogs is that he himself has no time finding and reading them, but he does have big respect for the industry. His tips for launching a website/blog is that you need to be very clear about where you want to go, you should not expect too much in the beginning, and giving it time and a lot of dedication. Making money from blogs are very hard, and this need to be understood so that you don’t end up disappointed.

Home Page; available from http://www.icon-icon.fr/fr; Internet: accessed 5 May 2016

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“Think about the architecture of

the blog, and learn how to manage your content”

Home page of mydigitalluxurygalaxy.com93

KARIM BOUHAJEB WHO

Expert in digital marketing and luxury also writes a blog for mydigitalluxurygalaxy.com.

WHAT

Wanted to understand the importance of digital marketing within blogs. Karim ended up discussing all major important features and elements within a blog.

WHERE

Interview face to face.

WHEN

10.11.15

WHY

Because of his knowledge within the field of marketing, he had the possibility of giving me insider tips, also considering the fact that he himself writes a blog. He truly understands the importance and impact that bloggers have and gave me general tips in what direction to take when going my initial research. Karim is also my thesis advisor.

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INTERVIEW ANALYSIS & RESULTS Karim Bouhajeb is an expert in digital marketing and luxury. He is very passionate about blogs, has a lot of respect for bloggers, and co-writes a blog himself. During our meeting we generally discussed blogs and everything concerning them. He compared blogging to journalism – but as a new way of writing. In the times we live in we are constantly on the look out for and need of new information; blogs are a way for us to select and filter that information. Sponsoring is a big thing in the world of blogs, and there are many discussions going on whether it is good or bad. It is a way for the blogger to have the upper hand and sometimes they can take advantage of their position and pressure the sponsors to pay and give more. If a blog decides to go for sponsoring affiliates, the proper product information should always be displayed and shared. Karim pushed the importance that a blogger should always stay humble. Regarding blog posts – he advised keeping the headlines short and always adding strong visuals; to make the blog as powerful as possible. The overall tone should also be set to be in line with the reader’s expectations, and the bloggers should manage the content – always thinking about the architecture of the blog. The most popular and successful content in his expert opinions consists of tips and lists. He also recommended; to try and schedule posts in advance to save time – something I also found out in my research. The blog should always aim to attract people and not to exclude anyone. He also brought up the importance of engagement, usually the reader has the ability to comment, like and share posts – this should also be done by the blogger himself. The success of a blog can be determined by the quality of its audience and readers – it’s therefore important to always listen to them and value their inputs and opinions. Lastly we discussed different sources of traffic that blogs can have. They can be: business traffic – affiliations, SEO advertisement and Google ads, brand traffic – advertisement, banners, and brand promotions, natural traffic, and social traffic – the ones retrieved from the social media platforms. A blog is after all a website, and it needs to have a steady traffic stream and attract people to it.

Home page; available from http://www.mydigitalluxurygalaxy.com/; Internet: accessed 8 May 2016

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“I have always loved reading blogs, so I launched my own so that I could have a place to fill with my own content and inspiration”

Home page of devote.se/louiseestwall94

LOUISE ESTWALL WHO

Swedish woman blogging on louiseestwall.devote.se.

WHAT

Started blogging very recently, and I wanted to ask her basic questions about how it is to have a blog, and what difference it is starting a blog today apposed to earlier in the development. Also about her choices and what she feels is of most importance.

WHERE

Interview sent out as document.

WHEN

17.02.16

WHY

She was able to give me another point of view how it is to start a blog now – so I do not only have my own experience to discuss. She gained recognition rather early on and has a steady and loyal follower base.

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INTERVIEW ANALYSIS & RESULTS I interviewed Louise Estwall, who is running the lifestyle/fashion blog devote.se/louiseestwall. This was the opportunity to get both basic and specific information about how it is when running a blog. She is new to the blogging world, and I thought she would be a good interviewee to give more perspective than just my own. She launched her blog in early December 2015, but prepared it for two months prior to that. She didn’t want her blog to look empty when people would go on to it – so she pre-wrote several posts. She is a passionate blog reader and this is the basis why she started her own blog, a place where she could fill with her own content and inspiration. She blogs on a Swedish platform called Devote, and the template she has is a standard for that platform. Devote is considered a big platform in Sweden – with editors that push and promote the blogs on it, and if your blog is popular they also arrange events and photo sessions. She is not a user of Google Keyword planner, but Devote is search engine optimized, so her blog is already visible without her adding any plugins or features on her own blog. Her main source of inspiration for her blog is her everyday life – the things she does in her life are the things she writes about. This is the great thing with personal blogs, because it gives the possibility to try new things out, and to multitask. She spends about five hours/day on her blog – but this can vary depending on weekend or weekday – and she sees blogging as a full time job if the blogger puts in a lot of hours to the blog. She managed to get on Devotes’ top 25 list her first week of blogging, and since then she has had a loyal following base as a result of staying on the list. She does not have a contract for ads on her blog, but she does, however, earn money from paid ad links, and she receives collaboration gifts from time to time. Her blog is connected to an Instagram account, and posts pictures daily leading the people to her blog. Louise loves her followers, and says it is one of her favourite things about blogging. They give her the motivation to keep on writing posts. The worst thing is that she constantly measures her own success as a blogger in likes and followers, so the disappointment can be evident if likes and followers are not many on a given day. Blogging is hard work and it demands dedication and time, but it also a lot of fun. Her best tip to a future blogger is to just do it, and to not be afraid, and most importantly, do not always take it too seriously.

Home page; available from http://www.devote.se/louiseestwall; Internet: accessed 5 May 2016

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“Blogs celebrate diversity – there is always an unique point of view”

Veronique's profile page at thedesignobserver.com95

VERONIQUE VIENNE WHO Expert in Graphic Design and Art Direction, author of many books and also writes a blog on designobserver.com. WHAT Given her field of expertise, I wanted to ask her questions about her own experience with blogs, what she expects from blog and what she foresees in the future. WHERE

Interview face to face.

WHEN

02.03.16

WHY

Because of her background in art direction – she was most successful when the boom of magazines was the biggest – I wanted to hear her opinion about the transition from printed word into digital word, how she understand the phenomenon of blogs and why she believes it has had such huge success.

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Profile page; available from http://designobserver.com/profile/veroniquevienne/428; Internet: accessed 5 May 2016

INTERVIEW ANALYSIS & RESULTS Veronique Vienne is a teacher at PCA, writes a blog for Design Observer, is an author of several books, and was a former designer and art director. Given her background in communication design and magazines and writing, and her current writing of a blog – she was an invaluable source on blogs. Reading blogs to her has both its upsides and downsides. The negative part is that it is very time-consuming; you have to find them and later read and filter the information you are looking for. Information can be mentally overwhelming, so it’s important that the blog is written in an easy and understandable way. For Veronique it is be intrigued by the blog and identify herself with the blogger – otherwise she would not continue reading a certain blog. What she likes is the human element behind blogs, when they have a personal voice. Also adding images and strong visuals weigh up the blog experience, because pictures are information and should be shared. Getting down to it, blogs for her is just another type of information that can be read, she gets the same satisfaction from any other source. Blogs praise and give room for diversity – and shares a unique point of view. She also understands the opportunity and essence of being seen somewhere, making one’s voice heard, in today’s society, so it is obligatory to her. She herself does not read many blogs; but follows about three. She does not always read the posts, but mostly enjoy looking at the pictures. The Design Observer is a website for whom she writes a blog. She spends a lot of time composing posts – finding and re-writing the correct information, and adding images – so does not have the time to post every day. She does not consider her own blog to be her full-time job, but for some bloggers it might be. She reads blogs both as entertainment, and for professional reasons – giving her news about art exhibitions for example, what her professional life is all about. We also discussed the future of blogs, and what she thinks of it. Like many others predict, she thinks videos will expand and gain even more importance on blogs. They give the reader an opportunity to watch instead of to read – and further add to the personal touch of the blog. She is also interested in seeing how sound and other sensory design can be incorporated into blogs, further pushing the innovation. Sound has the property of giving a sense of space and room – it resonates. A downside for her regarding blogs is the constant pushing of consumption that comes with them. She hopes that this will change, though, since in her opinion, she believe that in the future we won’t be able to consume as much as we do right now. In any case she thinks it is up to the blogger to make the decision about what information should be shared; the bloggers who constantly try and sell or promote products do not have the blogs that she thinks will survive in the future. 45


Methodology and Data Collection

The Business Behind Blogging

1. DO YOU READ BLOGS?

2. IF NO, WHY NOT?

8,9%

45%

55%

25%

50%

16,1%

THE SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS I opened my survey the 5th of March and closed it the 30th. My sample size was a hundred people between personal contacts reached through my Facebook page, and PCA students, staff and faculty.

No Yes

I'm simply not interested Takes up too much of my time It's boring Other

3. DO YOU WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG?

4. WHY DO YOU READ BLOGS? 6,5%

15,9%

10,9% 13% 84,1%

69,6%

No Yes

For inspiration To learn Because of habits Other

5. WHAT INFORMATION IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU IN BLOGS?

6. HOW OFTEN DO YOU READ BLOGS?

4,5% 13,6%

45,5%

Beautiful visuals Interesting articles Other

46

50%

40,9%

45,5%

Weakly Daily Monthly

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Methodology and Data Collection

The Business Behind Blogging

7. HOW MANY BLOGS DO YOU READ?

13. WOULD YOU CONSIDER BLOGGERS TO BE CELEBRITIES?

8. DOES THE PERSON BEHIND THE BLOG MATTER TO YOU?

14. IF YES, WHY? The blog have made them into public figures

6,8%

May have the same influence as celebrities

11,4%

Depends on how big the blog is, and how many followers it has

25%

47,7%

52,3%

52,3%

29,5%

People recognize them on the street

75%

1-3 4-6 7-10 More than 10

Yes No

No Yes

9. IF YES WHY?

10. IF NO WHY?

15. IF NO, WHY?

Shared values and interests

Because it’s for inspiration and not the person behind it

It’s not relevant

It the content that matter

They are regular and ordinary persons

No connection to the blogger

They are more like journalists and authors

It does not matter to me

Not famous and important enough

I don’t care

They are just sharing information about their life

Because of inspiration Interesting to know the background and personality and style of the writer Gives an idea behind the concept and gives depth and reflections of the content

May do collaborations with brands and companies

16. DO YOU ALSO FOLLOW BLOGGERS ON THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS?

38,6% 61,4%

It's the person who makes the blog worth reading

Yes No

11.WHAT MAKES YOU CONTINUE READING A CERTAIN BLOG?

12. WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?

For information, innovation and educative purposes Habits Good quality posts and visuals

17. IF YES, WHY?

18. IF NO, WHY?

Gives updates without having to go into their blogs

I don’t have time

Purely for photos

Don’t see why I would

It’s quick and the posts are more frequent on social media

I don’t read a blog for pictures

Let’s you know when there has been an update on the blog

Interest When it’s personal 0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

Not interested in the person I don’t care

It has the possibility to get more personal

Photos Tips Personal updates Guides "How to..." lists Bulleted lists Other

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The Business Behind Blogging

19. DO YOU PREFER READING A BLOG IN YOUR OWN LANGUAGE, OR IN OTHER LANGUAGES?

Methodology and Data Collection

20. WHY DOES LANGUAGE MATTER TO YOU?

It doesn’t

2,6%

Need to understand the language Easier to relate when you understand

36,3%

About comfort

61,4%

Higher level of proximity and credibility

Both My own language Other languages

21. WOULD YOU SAY THAT BLOGGING IS A FULLTIME JOB?

22. DO YOU INTERACT WITH BLOGS?

38,6%

38,6% 61,4%

61,4%

No Yes

Yes No

23. GENDER?

23,3% 76,7%

Female Male

50

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The Business Behind Blogging

Methodology and Data Collection

blog. She does, however, work together with companies, to promote products and services, and does earn money doing this. My project will to some extent be an experiment, so I will take into consideration both what my research is saying, and then adjust this to what my data collection is telling me. All of my interviewees write some sort of blog, whether it being an anonymous website, articles for a platform or a traditional personal blog. The all identify the challenges and hard work, but also the opportunities and rewards one can gain from running a blog. Developing a blog into a business is hard work, and a lot of elements need to be recognized and considered. The unique positioning that bloggers possess is remarkable, and the positive outcome can be quite evident. In my survey, I discovered that blogs are highly appreciated by many. Since it was mostly about the subject of reading blogs, my survey had the possibility to give unique and invaluable insights about blog reading habits, and how I should go about setting my own blog up. As mentioned earlier, my questions were based on the research I found. What content is of most importance, and how often are blog being read? Should I focus on heavy content posts several times a day, or is images of importance too? It became quite evident that personal blogs are the most appreciated ones. Tips and personal updates should be incorporated and images should always be added. The average percentage of the people taking my survey does not read blogs on a daily basis, so it would make more sense to me blogging a few times every week instead. Once again I discussed social media appearance and although not everyone was following bloggers on their channels, the ones who do, do it to get quicker updates about the bloggers.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION My data collection is set out to either support or contradict the research claims I made in the first part of this thesis. After careful filtering and editing of the information I found, I set up my interviews and survey to test and verify that information. I decided early on that I would need both qualitative and quantitative collection of data, since I wanted both expert opinions and general ideas and attitudes toward blogs, and later on connect the findings and incorporate it into my own project. My interviews went into depth on the subject of blogs. Through conducting interviews with people who have connections to blogs I was able to collect information both relevant and important to my thesis. These interviews were not set up to be exactly the same; I needed to adapt the questions a bit depending on whom I was interviewing. The general perception of blogs were positive, and everyone confirmed that it should be regarded as a full time job – although depending on how much time is put into blogging. I can also draw the conclusion that blogs are highly time demanding – both

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when reading them, and when creating and running them. Dedication and commitment are probably the two most important qualities, especially if one is dreaming about turning the blog into a business. My research speaks a lot about various plug-ins and methods of making one’s blog visible, gaining traffic and potentially also money. All of my interviewees stressed the importance of incorporating and interconnection social media – it really is the most efficient and easy way to market both youself as a blogger and also the blog itself. Making oneself available and noticeable is of essence, and this is made possible for free via social media presence and channels. I really agree with the importance of integrating social media, and this is something I plan to do myself. Since Louise Estwall is running the blog most similar to the one I am starting, her answers gave me good insights. Unlike what my research recommends, she is not working with plug ins like Google Keyword Planner, and since the platform she uses is already search engine optimized she did not have to think about this when launching her

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the project

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The Project

Chiara Ferragni TOP STYLE AND FASHION BLOGGER

Kenza Zouiten TOP BLOGGER IN SWEDEN

The Business Behind Blogging

BENCHMARK ANALYSIS

Leandra Medine TOP STYLE AND FASHION BLOGGER

I am conducting an aspirational and competitive benchmark analysis. I am studying the performance of three well-known and successful blogs and their respective bloggers to learn about their tactics and structures, to eventually learn the key points that I in turn identified as being important to take into consideration when starting my own blog. These three chosen blogs are not necessarily similar in layout, foundation or function. The blog of Kenza is more like the blog I am doing myself – whilst Man Repeller and The Blond Salad have turned into online communities and almost into magazines, because of their huge international success. They are all, however, considered blogs. All of the above mentioned bloggers have been mentioned in my literature review.

WEBSITE STARTED BLOGGING READERS/WEEK POSTS/WEEK FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS INSTAGRAM POSTS/WEEK

Kenzas.se96 2006 432509 15-25 294 639 1,4 million 20-30

THE BLOG Her blog is about her daily life. Fashion is a big part of it, as well as food and travelling. She uses big, powerful and good quality visuals that she either makes herself, or produces in collaboration with photographers. Her posts are usually not long, so the focus usually is on the visuals. She does a lot of “outfit of the day”-posts. She usually works with companies and does some sponsored/ad type of posts. She is considered to run the biggest fashion blog in Scandinavia.

WEBSITE STARTED BLOGGING READERS/WEEK POSTS/WEEK FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS INSTAGRAM POSTS/WEEK

Theblondsalad.com97 2009 Information not available 20-30 1 222 193 5,8 million 30-40

THE BLOG The blog is about Chiara, fashion & style, inspirations and travels. Not a typical personal blog like Kenza’s blog, more of a platform/website with well-written, longer format posts. It could be better compared to Man Repeller – almost like an online magazine/community with good content stories. She works with a team, so is not writing all posts by herself.

WEBSITE STARTED BLOGGING READERS/WEEK POSTS/WEEK FACEBOOK PAGE LIKES INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS INSTAGRAM POSTS/WEEK

Manrepeller.com98 2010 Information not available Circa 7 written by herself 265 112 1,3 million 15-30

THE BLOG Texts about fashion, beauty, humour and culture. Medine has turned it in to more of a website and platform, not a typical personal blog. The posts are normally content heavy with a lot of words and a few powerful visuals. Since the posts are more objective, and not necessarily describing a day in Leandra’s life, it makes sense that she posts fewer posts. Works with a team, so she is not writing all posts by herself.

Kenza Zouiten Key Palm 09; available from http://kenzas.se/2016/05/01/tangerine/; Internet: accessed 7 May 2016 Prova2; available from http://www.theblondesalad.com/2016/04/contrasts-are-everything.html; Internet: accessed 7 May 2016 98 Leandra Medine Manrepeller Sophie Mhabille Women Street Fashion Paris; available from http://sophiemhabille.com/leandra-medine-manrepellersophiemhabille-women-street-fashionparis-2/; Internet: accessed 7 May 2016 96 97

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The Business Behind Blogging

The Project

Sponsorships, advertisement, and ad links are great possible ways to monetize the blog. Content can either be created or curated, and the posts should always be search engine optimized. Google Keyword Planner can be used to find content to write about. Don't forget that images are considered a type of content. Be the answer to your readers' questions – and always stay in tone with your own personal voice. Don't forget to integrate and interconnect the appropriate social media channels, to ensure exposure and add hashtags on your social media accounts to further push that visibility. Think about storytelling – how can you in the best way tell your own story? Images and other visuals can further add to the value of the post and should always be integrated. Don't forget that you are building a brand – make sure your represent yourself in the best possible way.

DESIGN CRITERIA

Bloggers need to abide to certain rules and regulations – this might vary for country to country so make sure your know these rules before launching your blog. Research before setting up the blog in order to find the right platform provider suitable to your needs and wishes. Think about the visual elements and how these should be represented on your blog.

I have been reading blogs since 2006, so my knowledge about the subject of how blogs work and look is quite extensive. I also know my personal preferences about how I prefer blogs to look – so when moving into the project I feel pretty sure about how I want my own blog to look, and of what it should consist. My analysis and observation of the three chosen blogs in my benchmark, my research, and the methodologies I have employed, has led me to a design preference. I have read about the importance of content creation, how marketing is playing a big role when looking to gain traffic and what important elements should be incorporated in the blog to possibly gain income and exposure. I have also discovered what people generally consider important in blogs – what type of information they are looking for. I also saw that a majority of the people taking my survey follow the blogs they read on their social media accounts. Even if I normally read blogs every day, my survey told me that this is not the case for everyone. So maybe one should not put a lot of weight on blogging several times per day, and instead work on good content posts a few times per week. What I want to prove is how knowing all of these important features can help a person who wants to start a blog. How making a foundation can make the transition into becoming a blogger more realistic and help plan for eventual problems one might face. I also want to clarify the idea of how a blog should be regarded as a business, how the blog is in other words a full time job with certain expectations and duties.

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The Business Behind Blogging

The Project

VB K BLOG

ABOUT

CONTACT SEARCH

Home page of the project

THE BLOG CONCEPT My project is to launch a blog and make it financially successful. What I am trying to test if the various things that I have discovered in my research is true when applying it to a real blog. I have identified some key points to think about and to be integrated when starting a blog. These are: What methods to be used when wanting to monetize the blog How to create valuable and good content, how to compose the perfect blog post, and what content is the most attractable to readers Marketing tips like what social media streams needs to be interconnected Storytelling – how one can use the power of visual storytelling in one’s blog Branding – creating the ultimate brand of yourself as a blogger Legal aspect – what legal aspects must be taken into consideration How to set up a blog

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Some of the key elements that need to be understood is that starting a blog is not simple, it demands a lot of time, hard work, and dedication. A lot of choices need to be made regarding visual aspects, content creation and interconnecting social networks. Also tactical and structural decisions need to be taken into consideration – what platform provider to choose, what plug-ins should be incorporated and what means will have to be used to promote the blog and gain loyal followers.

THE BLOG The blog I have launched is a traditional blog with a personal voice because looking at the blogs I have examined in my benchmark – they all started out as this, and some even continue doing so today. It is important to make choices; there is only so much you can learn from research, making personal decisions based on preferences and qualities holds equal importance and should also be taken into account. In other words, I will be visible on the blog and not anonymous. I invested in a good camera,

since I believe that good quality images are very important, and also since I want to distribute my own pictures and not use other peoples’, since copyright infringement might be an issue if not being careful. But I don’t want my blog to be solely based on images of or on me – I want to incorporate tips on restaurants, bars, museum exhibitions, traveling and so forth – things I discovered in my survey to be of importance to blog readers. I intend to develop a blog that is as broad as possible, and not exclude any potential reader. I am aware of the large amount of work a blog demands. I will therefore try and schedule posts in advance and try and find stories in things that I do in my everyday life. The important thing to take into consideration is to not force myself to deliver high quality posts several times per day – but instead try and make the blog an elongation of myself, making it look and sound as natural and good as possible. I aim to be consistent, to show up and provide my blog with the right content and information. I strongly believe in tips and guides – and think that those should be distributed consistently on my blog. Finding ideas that I identify as successful, important and enjoyable, and later return to those same ideas to create regularity and consistency. I chose to use WordPress as my blogging platform, since it is one of the biggest ones with a large assortment of ready-made templates. It also has a lot of possibilities when it comes to plugins, and it is already

search engine optimized. I bought the domain vibekehain.com for 18€ - I wanted to have my full name without the word “wordpress” being integrated into the domain link. After choosing a template, I furthermore customized the design of the ready-made template – added a header image, chose my typography and the overall visual aspect of my blog. Unfortunately, the template I chose did not come with many different fonts, which was a disappointment for me. You can choose what pages you want to have on your blog – categories, about, contact etc. I kept it simple and only added “an about” page and a “contact” page. I experienced WordPress to be rather complicated. It is a good choice for anyone who accepts WordPress’ ready-made templates, but as soon as you want to change the design, it becomes complicated. They do offer a wide range of free templates, and also some that costs – but I did not find one out of their assortment that I was completely pleased with. Before I launched my blog, I decided to have a preparation period of about two months. I did this since I did not want the blog to look empty when any viewer would go into my blog and read it. When I was ready to launch my blog, I decided to change platform. I did not like the overall look – the design aesthetic and visual aspect - of the WordPress template. There were too many limitations in changing the template and since I do not know coding, it would be too hard for me to make the changes I wanted. 61


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The Business Behind Blogging

About page

Contact page

Search page Search page

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I did some further research on the other big platform hosts and chose to change to the platform Squarespace. I stumbled upon a blog that was hosted by Squarespace and found the design element to be a lot nicer than my existing one. Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer existing websites to Squarespace, so I manually copied and pasted all my posts unto the new platform. I paid 116€ for my new site, and managed to domain map – direct my domain name to another site – my existing domain vibekehain.com. So the followers I already had on my WordPress blog were redirected to my new and improved blog. I am very pleased with the look of the Squarespace blog because the design aspect and visuals are more in line with my personal taste, the features are a lot easier to understand and the overall management makes more sense to me. Squarespace – like WordPress – is already optimized for search engines, so this was already incorporated into my site. When I eventually made my blog official, it I had about 30 posts, in other words I had filled it with content to please eventual visitors. I announced it the 22nd of March on my Instagram account, and saw a big change in my traffic. The 29th of April I shared my blog on my Facebook page and saw likewise, a big increase in traffic.

Graph showing traffic overview

Monthly traffic overview

Weekly traffic overview

I almost immediately interconnected my Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to my blog. I also linked my blog in my Instagram profile, and did an update on Facebook that I have started a blog. I incorporated hashtags to my Instagram photo posts, always indicate where the image is taken, and specified that it is connected to the blog. I try to blog every other day. Unfortunately, I do not have all my days working on the blog, so I try to set realistic expectation on what I need to deliver. My main categories are “ootd” – a series of outfit posts that are numbered and are posted on the blog a few times per week, the title of those posts are for example “ootd five” and contains information about the clothes and links to them if they are still being sold, and lastly I add information about the location where the photo/s was taken. The category “Tips” includes various tips about restaurants, bars, exhibitions etc. that I visit. I try to write recommendations about what to eat, drink, and see etc. so that my personal point of view is shining through. Lastly I always add the address of the place so that it can be easily accessed. The last category I have added is “Life”, and contains blog posts about my life, thoughts and ideas. I have chosen to work with the fonts Futura and Raleway. I use Futura for the header, page titles, headlines and date specification, and always in all caps. It is a heavy font yet very minimalistic, with very pointy and straight lines. I personally like this font very much, and have worked a lot with it, it works very naturally as a header and title font, and also comes with different types of thickness and condensations so it can be clearly distinguished and personalized. I use Raleway for the text blocks, this because I wanted a light font that easily readable and does not look heavy. It is quite designed and has some characters that stand out, and make the total look more exciting. I was taught by a professor I had in Advanced Typography, to make choices, but then to also stick to those choices. I have therefore chosen two fonts and consistently use them in the same way, and on the same places. 63


The Business Behind Blogging

The Project

Typical blog posts

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The Project

THE BLOG READER NAME Josephine AGE 23 NATIONALITY French LOCATION Paris OCCUPATION Fashion student in Paris RELATIONSHIP STATUS Single, but it’s complicated… DEVICES Computer and iPhone 6s HOBBIES Instagram, Facebook, yoga, cooking, hanging out with friends, fashion exhibitions

BIO Josephine has always loved blogs. Some blogs she has been following for years, she checks her three favourite ones on a daily basis. She really values the opinions of the bloggers, and reads blogs to get inspiration and tips. She has been studying in Paris for two years, and would have loved to start a blog but has not really had the motivation to do so. She also follows her favourite bloggers on their Instagram and Snapchat accounts, so she can get quick updates during the day without having to go into the various blogs.

08:00

10:30

13:00

Wakes up, checks her Instagram and Facebook in bed

Goes to school – tries to concentrate in school but ends up reading blogs and their Instagram accounts instead

Eats lunch with her girlfriends, takes obligatory photo of her lunch and posts it on Instagram

17:00

16:30

15:45

Gets home to her tiny studio in the 7th arr, takes a shower, puts on new clothes and makeup

Checks blogs to find a tip about a restaurant for tonight

Receives a bad comment on Instagram and sees that two people have stop following her

20:00 Tries out the restaurant she found on her favourite blog and adores it - leaves a comment on the blog and says thanks

23:00 Gets home, checks the blogs one last time, and Instagram a new picture of herself at the restaurant

00:30

Goes to bed

Inspirational blogs Family & friends Shopping To start a blog and become famous To become a fashion designer To live the same life as her favourite bloggers

“I read blogs to get inspired. For

me, it’s the person behind the blog who makes the blog worth reading”

Bad updating on blogs People complaining on her selfies Homework

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The Project

06:30

09:00

Wakes up, checks her phone and email.

Checks her blog to verify that the post she scheduled last night was successfully posted.

09:30 Leaves home and heads for the first meeting of the day, a clothing company wanting to use her as their new spokesperson.

12:15

11:00

Writes a quick post updating her readers about her day so far.

Next meeting – the makeup company helping her to produce her makeup line.

15:00

17:30

19:30

Back home, replies to email and comments on her blog. Prepares a post that will be posted in the evening.

Last meeting of the day – interview with a magazine.

The blog has technical issues; readers can’t seem to comment – calls her IT team.

23:30

21:00

Gets home to the apartment, and sees that the blog is functioning again.

Dinner friends. Plans the vacation they are going to take this summer.

THE BLOGGER NAME Felicia AGE 26 NATIONALITY Italian/Danish LOCATION London OCCUPATION Blogger and entrepreneur RELATIONSHIP STATUS Boyfriend since 5 years DEVICES 3 computers, 2 phones and a tablet HOBBIES All free time is spent with boyfriend, friends and family, loves to travel and does it as much as she can BIO Felicia started her blog 8 years ago. She started it as a result of having too much free time – and could never even dream about it becoming her life. Today she has 750 000 visitors/ week and works on several different projects on the side. Her blog has opened up endless amounts of opportunities; she has done collaborations with fashion brands, been the face for another few, been guest speaking on various companies and schools and now she is developing her own makeup brand. Her blog is a traditional personal blog, where she writes about her life, interests, and hobbies. These include fashion, makeup, travelling, cooking and her family and friends. Her blog is her job; she spends at least 6 hours/day on her blog and various social media accounts. She values her readers and is thankful to them every day for making her blog into what it is today, because without them it would not have been possible. Her readers Positive comments New work challenges To develop her own makeup brand Reach 1 million visitors/week To continue on blogging on a regular basis Internet trolls and haters Technical difficulties Time…

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13:00 Lunch at The Breakfast Club – takes pictures and posts one on Instagram, saving the rest for a future blog post.

01:00 Posts a photo on Instagram, tweets about a news article she read and shares the Tweet on her Facebook page and goes to bed.

“Blogging is a great way to meet other

people in the business, it also opens up possibilities to do collaborations with brands and companies”

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The Business Behind Blogging

The Project

BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS KEY PARTNERS

KEY ACTIVITIES

VALUE PROPOSITION

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

CUSTOMER SEGMENTS

•Platform host •Companies •Affiliates/bloggers

•Blogging •Sharing •Informing •Inspiring •Taking pictures/ videos

Sharing my ideas, values and inspirations through my unique point of view as a Swedish student experience life in Paris. Provides tips on what to do in Paris; where to go, what museum exhibitions to see, where to eat, where to shop etc. Offer companies promotion and visibility, with a possibility to positively affecting their brand image. Adding my personal outlook and motivations to ensure a real and one of a kind blog experience.

Through my personal voice I will establish a trustworthy relationship with my readers Build trust, be a source of inspiration Connect and add value to anyone looking for it.

•Platform host •Companies •Affiliates/bloggers

KEY ACTIVITIES •Website/platform •Social media accounts •Camera •Computer •Phone

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CHANNELS •Website/platform •Social media accounts •Camera •Computer •Phone

COST STRUCTURE

REVENUE STREAMS

•Camera/computer/phone •Payment of domain •Payment of platform •Plug ins - Google Adsense account

•Advertising banners •Ad links & Cost-per-click links •Sponsorships & Corporate Partnerships

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The Business Behind Blogging

LIMITATIONS The main limitation I have encountered is time. I realised that in order to make more out of my blog, I needed more time to spend on it. I wanted to show some monetized progress, some tangible numbers to help support the findings from my research. It has yet not been possible for me to apply and integrate partnerships, sponsorship and advertisement into my own blog, since it is not well know at this point of time. It would not make a lot of sense if those factors already played a role of my blog, when thinking about the fact that it has only been a couple of months. I wanted to try out Google Keyword Planner, and compose posts consisting of trending and popular keywords that people use when doing searches online. Unfortunately, in order to access the Keyword Planner, you have to have a Google Adsense account, and in order to get this; one would have to have a real company/business. It would also add to the financial part of my project, since I would have to invest in an ad on Google, and have a daily budget on how much I would be willing to spend on this add/ day. Quite a lot of resources need to be invested into a blog. I spent a total of circa 540€ - my domain, my template on Squarespace and the camera. I also have secondary costs – spent on restaurants, exhibitions trips, clothing etc. All of these need to be taken into consideration when starting a blog, and also when identifying your limits. I aim to continue my blogging journey, since I have come to grown quite fond of it. When the habit of photographing everything you do and finding things to write about is adopted, the whole process becomes more enjoyable and realistic. One thing I was scared that I might face problems with was exposing myself online to strangers – and how this might could become a hinder for me to continue. It is true that the self becomes very exposed, and I can understand those who are turned off by this. However, the blogger is in charge, and decides exactly how much he wants to share. Being self confident and strong is a plus, since peoples’ prejudices can be harsh and also seem unfair – leading to yet another reason why not to start a blog. All of these personal issues start out as hindrances, but at least for me, were yet other habits to learn how to overcome. 72

The Project

A FINAL NOTE I have come to enjoy the habit of blogging, and hope I will continue doing it. Personally, I find motivation when my posts are being appreciated and when they are gaining attention and exposure. In my eyes, knowing that you have loyal followers is really what pushes you to continue. Without an audience, there is nothing that drives you to continue showing up and blogging everyday. It does take a lot of work – and I believe that in order to really turn a blog in to a business, one needs to spend the same amount of time on the blog as in any other line of work. Constant demands on delivery and consistency might demotivate some, so it is true that blogging is not for everyone. It is important to keep the expectations realistic and that a lot of hard work pays of. To some extent I also believe that luck plays a certain role in the blogosphere – being at the right place, at the right time kind of luck. But then again, a blog is personal and the goals and objectives are hence also personal. One blogger might strive for one million readers/week, whilst another might be happy with ten readers/week. Determining and understanding what successful means can be hard – due to not everyone striving towards the same finishing line.

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bibliography

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Adams, Susan. “2015 30 Under 30: Art & Style.” Forbes.com, 5 January 2015. Available from http://www.forbes.com/ pictures/mkl45ehmdj/chiara-ferragni-27/. Accessed 8 March 2016. Barth, A. “HTTP State Management Mechanism.” Tools.ietf.org, April 2011. Available from https://tools.ietf.org/html/ rfc6265. Accessed 8 April 2016.

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Clark, Dorie. Reinventing You. Harvard Business Review Press, 2012. Design Observer. “Profile page.” Designobserver.com, 5 May 2016. Available from http://designobserver.com/profile/ veroniquevienne/428. Accessed 5 May 2016. Devote. “Home page.” Devote.se/louiseestwall, 5 May 2016. Available from http://www.devote.se/louiseestwall. Accessed 5 May 2016. Ewer, Tom. “14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage.” Managewp.com, 7 February 2014. Available from https:/ /managewp.com/14-surprising-statistics-about-wordpress-usage. Accessed 13 December 2015.

Omar, Mike. HOW TO START A BLOG THAT PEOPLE WILL READ. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. Oxford Dictionaries. “Definition of blog in English.” Oxforddictionaries.com. Available from http://www.oxford dictionaries.com/definition/english/blog. Accessed 13 October 2015. W, Mia. “Les règles juridiques à repecter pour son blog.” Trucsdeblogueuese.com, 28 September 2014. Available from http://www.trucsdeblogueuse.com/regles-juridiques-blog/. Accessed 8 March 2016. Walter, Ekaterina and Jessica Gioglio. The Power of Visual Storytelling. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014.

Facebook Newsroom. “Stats.” Newsroom.fb.com, 2016. Available from http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info. Accessed 12 April 2016. Ferragni, Chiara. “Prova2.” Theblondsallad.com, 6 April 2016. Available from http://www.theblondesalad.com/2016/0 4/contrasts-are-everything.html. Accessed 7 May 2016.

Youtube. “PewDiePie About.” Youtube.com, 4 March 2016. Available from https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie/ about. Accessed 4 March 2016. Zouiten, Kenza. “Kenza Zouiten Key Palm 09.” Kenzas.se, 1 May 2016. Available from http://kenzas.se/2016/05/01/ tangerine/. Accessed 7 May 2016.

Fishbein, Mike. The Ultimate Guide to Blogging. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. Handley, Ann and C.C. Chapman. Content Rules. John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Handley, Ann. Everybody Writes. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. Harmanci, Reyhan. “Time to get a life -- pioneer blogger Justin Hall bows out at 31.” Sfgate.com, 20 Febuary 2005. Available from http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Time-to-get-a-lifepioneer-blogger-Justin-Hall-2697359ph p. Accessed 13 October 2015. Icon-icon. “Home Page.” Icon-icon.fr, 5 May 2016. Available from http://www.icon-icon.fr/fr. Accessed 5 May 2016. Instagram Blog. “Celebrating A Community Of 400 Million.” Blog.instagram.com, 22 September 2015. Available from http://blog.instagram.com/post/129662501137/150922-400million. Accessed 12 April 2016. Kawasaki, Guy. The Art of Social Media. Portfolio Penguin, 2014. Leijonhufvud, Jonas. “Så mycket tjänar Sveriges Instagramstjärnor.” Di.se, 12 June 2015. Available from http://www.di.s e/artiklar/2015/5/21/sa-mycket-tjanar-sveriges-instagramstjarnor/. Accessed 4 March 2016. Messina, Chris. “Chris Messina: how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg?).” Twitter.com, 23 August 2007. Available from https://twitter.com/chrismessina/status/223115412. Accessed 8 March 2016. Mhabille, Sophie. “Leandra Medine Manrepeller Sophie Mhabille Women Street Fashion Paris.” Sophiemhabille.com. Available from http://sophiemhabille.com/leandra-medine-manrepellersophiemhabille-women-street-fashion- paris-2/. Accessed 7 May 2016.

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INTERVIEW SEBASTIEN GIRARD • Founder of icon-icon.com • Connected with various social media platforms • Previously marketing director in Europe for products for Motorola - Closer to the marketing world than blogging world - Started icon-icon 2013 • Started icon-icon because of simple fascination for this kind of product (personal website) • Interesting because iconic products have the possibility to grow over time – not products that are going to be obsolete – staying in fashion even though time go on • Works with a team to help writing and translating (English and French) • Inspiration – comes from himself, he has complete control of the editorial direction • Objects he finds himself iconic • First gained recognition – 1,5 years before receiving good feedback • Does not want people to think that it is very easy to do it because it’s not an easy work • Time and dedication • Market icon-icon – always interconnected to social media platforms (not Instagram but Facebook and Twitter) • Motivation – combination of interest and passion • Also teach and train on the subject of luxury influence what he does on a daily basis • Is considered his job, although combining this with other things • Other opportunities gained from the website – consulting, teaching and those sort of things • Read blogs when he has time – hard to find time • Popular because it is a subject that is of interest to people, fashion and luxury has always interested people. Social media – very present interest, it is reinforcing the desirability of the industry • Tips – be clear about where you want to go, do not expect too much in the beginning, does not always generate money directly. Only a very few people who make big money from it – keep this in mind and do not expect too much 1000-1500 euros ok, but above 10000 euro is going to be very tough if you don’t have major global success – needs to be understood if not it’s likely that you will fail • Dedication, and consistent delivery – you have to be there every day • About products – nobody of his followers know him • Do you consider icon-icon a blog – would more consider it being a website than a blog • Never used books – but look into marketing, positioning and things like that • Suspicious about books on blogs

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INTERVIEW KARIM BOUHAJEB • Mydigitalluxurygalaxy – his blog • Affiliation • Personal/self-promotion • Journalism – a new way of writing • The need for new information • The bond between blogger and reader • Selecting information • Editing and filtering • Sponsoring – good or bad? • Pressuring the sponsor to pay/give more • Be humble – stay humble • Tone has to be in line with the expectation of the reader • Blog needs to be powerful - Short headlines/questions as headlines - Strong visuals • The architecture of the blog • Managing the content • Tips and lists • Attracting people – exclude no one • People don’t always need entire blog post/article • Schedule the posts • Blog automation • Make an RDV with the readers - let them know when you are posting • Digest into facilitator (digest information and personalize it on the blog) • Journalist/social media specialist/viewer - blogger in-between • Be analytical • Readapt consequently • Level of engagement can be measured in posts, shares, likes, comments etc. • Topic example – Interviews - Specific - Catch a new type of audience • The quality of readers determines the success • Buying readers/followers/content • Create a loyal base – marketing technique • Costumer relationship marketing – same • Link to social media platforms • Be proper – product files • Key visuals (should you mention price? Link?) • Personal touch – tone of the blogger • Product info • Structure - Blog is a website - need to attract people to website • Enhance image of blogger – Instagram

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INTERVIEW LOUISE ESTWALL 1. When did you start your blog? • I published it Dec 4th 2015, but started writing in October two months before, trying it out and to have several posts for the readers to see when launching. 2. Why did you start blogging? • I have always loved reading blogs so I just wanted a place to fill with my own content and inspiration 3. How would you niche your blog, and why did you chose this niche? (Ex. Fashion, lifestyle, food etc.) • Lifestyle, fashion because it´s what I like to read about and it’s what inspires me in daily life 4. Is there a reason why you have chosen to do your blog in Swedish? • It’s what felt most comfortable and relevant, since I’m mostly in Stockholm and I figured that my first readers would be Swedish. 5. How did you decide the visuals for your blog? • It´s pretty standard for the platform I use but I’m still trying to find my way… 6. Why did you choose devote.se as the platform for your blog? Did you look into any other options? • I choose devote because it’s a good place to start, the editors of the site push and promote you in article and also if you’re in the top list they arrange event, photo sessions etc. 7. Did you do any background research before launching your blog? • No more research than reading blogs for several years… 8. Do you use SEO: s and Google Keyword Planner or any other plug ins to improve your follower stream? • No 9. Where do you find the motivation to keep blogging? • In things I do, travel, food, outfits that sort of thing that makes me want to pick up my camera. 10. Where do you find the inspiration for your blog? • Other blogs, pictures on Instagram and interest, travel and things I want to do and see 11. How many hours per day do you spend on your blog? • Around five hours. More or less depending on weekend or weekday. 12. Do you consider blogging a full time job? • Depends on how many hours you want to put in, it could definitely be a full time job. 13. Do you feel as though you have a loyal follower base? • Pretty loyal I would say because I have been more or less on the same place on the top list since I started. 14. If yes, how long did it take before you started to gain a loyal readership/followers and how did you gain followers? • I made it on the top 25 (Devotes top list that is) my first week of blogging so that motivated me 15. Do you earn money on your blog? • Not in a contract for ads but I have received “collaboration”- stuff, and get money from ad links I use. 16. What means do you use to monetize your blog? • Paid ad links for products. 17. What social media platform have you connected to your blog? (Ex. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.) • Instagram and Facebook 18. Do you feel your blog have/will open up other opportunities/work possibilities for you in the future? • I hope so. The blog is a good way to meet other people in this business, and meeting companies for collaborations etc. 19. What are the best thing and the worst thing about having a blog? • Best thing is that its so much fun and also you get love from strangers, it is so cute when readers comment on my blog! The worse thing is that you measure your success and likes and followers etc., you are also very exposed in a way… 20. Have you encountered so called Internet trolls? • No thankfully not. 21. Do you think you will ever stop blogging? • I don’t know, hope not. 22. What are your three best tips for a person who wants to start a blog? • Just do it, don’t be afraid of taking pictures whenever and be social, collaborate with people and do the hours. Even if you have to work hard to get result I think it’s good to keep it balance, not to take it too seriously... Contradicting myself but it’s supposed to be fun and one shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. 82

Appendix

INTERVIEW VERONIQUE VIENNE 1. What do you think of blogs? • Negatives – it addresses only people who have the time to look at blogs, many people do not have time. Because of the mental space and time, it takes to consume, can only keep up with some blogs • Information can be overwhelming • Some blogs are written as almost transcription – the texts are not intriguing - needs to be short, on time and on point • Needs to have the opportunity to identify with the blogger, otherwise does not have time • Blogs filter facts for you • The difficult thing is to make choices • Human element – personal voice • Virtual friend • Picture is also source of information – share that information • Make me feel as I’m a part of a culture • Another form of information read – gets same satisfaction from newspapers and other • Blogs have given the world an opportunity to be uncontrolled – so one can be panicked over all the information and what is the next thing – also healthy when accepting this fact • Blogs celebrate diversity – there is always an unique point of view • Blogs simulate the brain as any other source of information • Becoming a brand • Obligatory to be seen somewhere 2. Do you interact with blogs? • Reads three or four, not time for more – creating and consuming content and it limits the market • Looks at the pictures 3. Tell me about the blog you write. • The Design Observer • Does not write often because she does not have time • When she is writing its more of an essay – it takes time, around half a day • Ex. of a post: writing about an exhibition of feminist posters in the communist headquarter in Paris • Have to choose your words • Does not have a day to write everyday 4. Do you consider blogging a job? • A job in the sense that people who don’t know me follow me, her blog is not a fulltime job for her 5. What type of blogs do you read? • Personal voice is very important, pure factual blogs are not needed because there is too much of facts already • Big text blogs – not for her, it becomes tedious 6. What do you look for in blogs? • Feeds a part of the brain that needs to be fed – the one in touch with her culture • The vocabulary is so important – makes a certain connection in the brain and because of new vocabulary you also learn • Images need to be taken by you otherwise credited. Want to know the source. What is it, who took it, where is it – what is the image in the context of the content 7. What do you think lies in the future for blogs? • Films in it – “vlogs” – reading and watching • Some blogs add a video to the story – about the story – gives you the option to watch if you want • Watching a video takes longer time than reading a post • Sound – music – almost can imagine that blogs will have sound – birds, waves etc. – sounds in the background to stimulate another sense • Sensory design is the next big thing – will this also be integrated into blogs? • Add something more than visuals • Sound gives you a sense of room – it resonates • Everything is evolving, how will blogs keep up with this • The thing that concern her is the notion of blogs pushing consumption • Blogs are “buying guides” - it's all about consuming • We won´t be able to consume as much • The job of a blogger can be to push the consumption even further 83


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Appendix

COMPLETE LIST OF SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS IN SURVEY 9. If yes, why? • Shared values and interests • Inspiration • Interesting to know the background and personality and style of the writer • More personal • Gives an idea behind concept and gives depth and reflects the content • Relatable and easy to associate • Keeping up with their life • Trustworthy = legitimate • Integrity • It's the person who makes the blog worth reading • Influence • Need to be intriguing • If blog is interesting = person is interesting • Match oneself • Blog is more interesting if you know the person behind it 10. If no, why? • Because it’s for inspiration and not the person behind it • It the content that matter • No connection to the blogger • It does not matter to me • I don’t care 11. What make you continue reading a certain blog? • Interest • Consistency • Inspiration • Fun facts • Fashion • Interesting daily routines • Good visuals • Interesting texts • Good quality posts • Personal • Habits • Focus on subject • Fun • Interest in blogger • Several facts. The amount of times the blogger updates each day (it should be more than one time). If I feel like I get anything out of the blog like inspiration for lifestyle or fashion or recipes • Educative • Innovation • When I don't have something better to do. • Information • Content 84

• Frequency 14. If yes, why? • Blog made them into public figures • If you have many (millions) of followers (fans) – like authors of a book • Recognition – collaborations • Same influence as celebrities • Share their private life to public • Attending big events, featured in magazine, brand advertisement etc. • Used for marketing – recognition • People recognize them on the street • Big influence • Awareness-Recognition-Influence • Some have become famous because of their blog • In the blogs I read they are a sort of quite celebrities like writers; not big Hollywood people • Because they put themselves in front (before content) • More life coaches and motivators • Influence on large scale • Depends on how big the blog is • 15. If no, why? • It’s not relevant • They are regular and ordinary persons • They are more like journalists and authors • Not famous and important enough • They are just sharing information about their life • They just take pictures of their life 17. If yes, why? • Updates without having to go into their blogs • Purely for photos • Give you energy • Only Instagram • Fun • It’s quick • More frequent • Let’s you know it there is an update on the blog • Easier and more convenient than checking the blog • Because I like the blogger • Social media is an evil cult • Sometimes twitter is interesting • SM account leads to the blog • To get to know them even more – it’s more personal 18. If no, why? • I don’t have time • Don’t see why I would • I don’t read a blog for pictures – would not follow on instagram • Not interested in the person

• Depends on the person • Didn’t know it was possible • I don’t care 20. Why do language matter to you? • It doesn’t • Need to understand the language • Easier to relate when you understand • Preciseness • Need to be understandable – otherwise inspirational • About comfort • Language is a way to learn a culture • Easier to use/can be read quicker • Higher level of proximity and credibility • It’s quicker • As long as I understand it doesn’t • Feels more personal in my own language

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Profile for Sara Krauskopf

2016 hain vibeke thesis business blogging  

2016 hain vibeke thesis business blogging  

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