Blogging has left behind its late ‘90s stereotype of being something that geeky teenage boys do in their bedrooms.
It is now a firm part of modern day culture enjoyed by people from all walks of life. Business bloggers, fashion bloggers, health and fitness bloggers, parent bloggers, expat bloggers, political bloggers, technology bloggers; millions of people around the globe use blogs to share ideas and information.
“I’ve received tons of email from the four corners of the earth from Finnish expats, international visitors and foreigners living in Finland that could relate to my stories on my original Finnish blog about life in Rovaniemi,” explains professional blogger, journalist and Spin FM radio host Chryssa Skodra.
Skodra, who currently blogs for FORUM Shopping Centre in Helsinki, and for Fujitsu as a brand ambassador, first started blogging when she was at university in Athens, receiving considerable media attention for her efforts. After sharing her thoughts about life in Rovaniemi when she lived there, she now blogs about technology and fashion.
“It is a dream come true!” Skodra exclaims, when asked what it’s like to be paid to blog. As FORUM’s first ever English-language blogger, Skodra writes about fashion, lifestyle trends and events that take place at the shopping mall. “I interview shop managers, personnel and visitors, try the services and products that FORUM offers and report back to the world.”
“It is hard work though,” she continues. “I am not writing one or two sentences and uploading bad quality photos snapped on a phone. I have a high quality standard, therefore it is time and energy consuming to come up with an interesting concept for my next blog post, to contact and arrange interviews, borrow clothes and products for photo shoots and work on the aesthetics with my photographer, Kim Ekman.”
In keeping with her passion for blogging, Skodra has also been chosen to be one of Fujitsu’s brand ambassadors. “In Autumn 2010, 53 people from 8 countries were selected as Insiders (bloggers) and brand ambassadors for Fujitsu. We were given a specific model of Fujitsu Lifebook laptop and we had to test and review it for our LIFEBOOK4Life blog. They even flew me to the CeBIT 2011 in Hannover, Germany for the world’s largest IT trade fair to interview IT experts.”
“The internet is a vast place, you need to work hard to stand out
and be noticed.”
Becoming a successful blogger
Starting a blog is as simple as setting up a free blog account on the internet. However, to become a good blogger and one that makes money, you need to have passion, drive and something interesting to say.
“First, you have to think about what is close to your heart,” Skodra advises. “Find something you want to talk about, something that is important to you.
Second, you need to think about what is missing, what value you can bring to the blogosphere. And thirdly, you have to have a passion for creative writing.”
This enthusiasm for writing and sharing ideas is what makes a quality blog, and has people coming back time and again to read it. “People read blogs because they are looking for an honest voice speaking passionately about a subject,” Skodra says. “When I blog I want people to get to know me and feel we are virtual friends. To be a successful blogger you have to consume a lot of social media and be active. Opportunity will not simply come knocking on your door. The internet is a vast place, you need to work hard to stand out and be noticed.”
And persistence, it seems, does produce results. “I started blogging with Huffington Post UK a few months ago,” says Laila Escartín-Sorjonen, a half-Finnish half-Spanish journalist, author and blogger. “I contacted them to offer my articles as a freelancer and they asked me to blog. I do it for fun. They don’t pay, but it’s good exercise for me and it’s nice to write in English for an English paper.”
To start your own blog the first things you need are a topic to write on, about which you are passionate, and a name for your blog.
Setting up a blog is easy. You can set up a free blog at www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com. Or if you want to have your own URL, you can set up a self-hosted blog easily using www.wordpress.org blogging software. Although you will have to pay a small sum each month for hosting.
When you have written a few blog posts you need to start telling people about your blog to find readers. Popular ways of doing this are to comment on other blogs, set up a Facebook page and use Twitter and other social media to talk to other people and tell them about your blog posts.
Try to avoid spamming people with links to your blog however and have patience. It can take 12 months to build up a good blog with regular readers.
Get involved in blogging groups for your niche to find out more about blogging and get to know some other blogs and bloggers involved.
When you are ready to take advertising or try sponsored posts on your blog find out the name of some PR companies for brands you would be interested in working with and contact them with information about your blog.
Enjoy it. It’s supposed to be fun, not a chore.
Earning from blogging
To become a successful, professional blogger takes time and hard work, but there is nothing to stop you earning a little money along the way. “It’s better to start blogging for yourself and see where it leads rather than start doing it just for the money,” Skodra explains. “There are people that earn their living by blogging. I am being paid for my blogs plus I receive a number of privileges. I enjoy discounts in FORUM stores and invitations to VIP events. I got invited to the ELLE Style Awards this year. I also receive the latest Fujitsu gadgets to review which I get to keep afterwards for my role as brand ambassador.”
The most common way for people to try to make money through their blog, Skodra suggests, is with advertising. “There are services such as the ad network AdSense, where every time someone clicks an ad in your blog the blogger gets a certain amount.”
“If you are not getting 100,000 visits to your site a month it’s not really worth doing,” counters Sally Whittle, journalist and professional blogger in the UK. According to Whittle, pay per click and affiliate advertising earns money only for the really top bloggers. Instead she advises taking on advertising directly from PR agencies who pay a certain amount per month for ads.
With the increasing volume of bloggers voicing their opinions and observations online, however, there has been a resultant growth in the restrictions being placed on posted content. “Nowadays bloggers are required to disclose that they are being paid for posts,” Skodra warns. “The internet has its own rules, netiquette, which needs to be strengthened amongst bloggers, as many have varied ethical stances on these issues.”
A passing phase?
Far from having reached its peak or being a fad, blogging is continuing to grow and strengthen, with blogging in Finland really just starting to find its feet. “The past few years the Finnish blogosphere has really grown in importance,” Skodra observes. “Bloggers have achieved a higher status quo and are not seen as a threat to the traditional media. In this year’s ELLE Style Awards, Indiedays.com was nominated as the best Finnish blog. Traditional media are awarding blogs and that’s great.”
But according to Skodra, the blogosphere is not all about making money. “Social media has opened up all sorts of doors to the world. Through the act of sharing information, people’s eyes have been opened to events around the world that they wouldn’t necessarily have heard of – things that may be censored in their country or not reported in the news for whatever reason. Social media and blogging is helping to empower people to speak their mind, and help the democratisation of societies.”
*This article first appeared on the website Six Degrees Finland.