Lucy Birchall

Introduction and Beginnings

She’s So Lucy has had a rocky journey, yet overall been a success. Originally it set out to be a mix of healthy lifestyle, beauty and other lifestyle elements. However this wasn’t specific enough, nor did it make it any different to all of the other millions of blogs out there also aiming for success. There was a lack of clear content, organisation and it wasn’t going in the direction I vowed in the Planning Portfolio. It was necessary to write a ‘panic report’, identifying the key factors that were preventing the blog from being as successful.
These factors were: the content did not meet the healthy lifestyle blog criteria that I desired, and was predominantly a beauty blog with food or lifestyle related posts and too few healthy lifestyle posts; my posts were sporadic; I wasn’t using social media effectively enough to gain blog traffic; my original schedule was too overwhelming and demanded full time hours daily, and generally wasn’t realistic enough.
Instead of three blog posts a week and one YouTube video, two blog posts a week sounded more feasible and I can proudly say this has been almost consistently met for the past few months. The consistency has allowed my readers to trust I’ll have new content available each week, and makes the blog more inviting for new visitors.
The YouTube videos have phased out for the time being as the majority of the content wasn’t matching the blog content, plus the filming and editing process was too time consuming and unrealistic to maintain success on my blog. By focusing on one platform for the time being has therefore proved more successful. Once I have finished with University, I hope to reintroduce the video platform as I’ve re-evaluated how I want the videos to be and have taken inspiration from other healthy lifestyle writers who also create YouTube videos.

Since, I have noticed my blog have a blossoming success and it’s given me a much clearer perspective on the direction I’m going with the blog.

Development

I’ve had several casual meetings with my photographer friend, Owen Vincent, who has given me photography crash-courses to improve the way I take photos for my blog, and just understand how best to use my camera. Alongside that, I’ve used photography blog posts from blogs I read for further information to improve blog photography.

I have kept a ‘blogging book’ since the beginning of the project to generate ideas for posts and to just get my thoughts onto paper. This has allowed me to successfully have a continuous bank of ideas for posts when I’m stuck for the following weeks posts, and often sparks off other ideas too. I manage my posts by spending every Friday working fully for the day reading posts or articles about healthy lifestyles or beauty posts such as Sali Hughes’ column, Get The Gloss or Caroline Hirons blog. Then I generate ideas for next weeks posts, research, take photos and draft the posts. I’ll edit them throughout the week before scheduling their upload.

Statistics & Analytics

As of May 2015, the blog has slowly but steadily grown with approximately over 12,000 total page views and 56 ‘followers’ who have subscribed to the blog via Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin’. I originally approximated myself with the goal of having 500 followers by May, however my estimations most likely weren’t as accurate or well calculated as there isn’t any information available that can give accurate estimations of how your blog will grow. Recently I’ve begun using Google Analytics which gives detailed insight to my blog’s traffic and how visitors use the website. The ability to know how to use Google Analytics is a recurring requirement for job descriptions in creative media industries. Therefore, as I get to learn to use it, this will be a great attribute to have when applying for jobs. Unfortunately, as I only started using Analytics in recent weeks, I don’t have an accurate overview of how visitors view and use the blog since I first created it. However, my current statistics show I have an audience of 75% visitors and 25% recurring users. For a small but growing blog, this is decent. For further Google Analytics figures, and Blogger Analytics.

Blogger Development, SEO & Traffic

I’ve used several other bloggers’ ‘guides’ to blogging, gaining traffic, and improving your content and the majority have all prioritised commenting on other bloggers’ posts. This is a technique I’ve prioritised daily when reading my daily feed of posts from other bloggers I follow, and takes up to an hour per day to read each post, leave a thoughtful comment, and sign off with a hyperlink to my blog. Since, I have been using my Blogger Analytics (the platform I use to host my blog) which shows a large amount of my traffic comes from the blogs I post on. I’ve also been able to build relationships this way. This has been a fantastic way for me to receive feedback on my blog, and opens up further conversation with the bloggers who leave comments in regard to my posts, and I have compiled a large collection just some of the comments I receive on my posts to highlight the positive comments I receive.

I’ve learnt SEO techniques through these blogging guides, which suggest posting at particular times of day, how to get your blog in a higher position on Google through re-naming your photos, and how to encourage social media users to click on your links.

Social Media

Social media has played a huge part of my blog’s success and development, with Twitter and Instagram in particular encouraging further traffic. I aimed in my planning portfolio to participate in a weekly ‘health bloggers (#hbloggers) chat’ on Sunday evenings as a way to promote my blog and interact with similar bloggers. Unfortunately due to work commitments, this isn’t always possible. However, on the evenings I have been able to participate, this has acted as a fantastic opportunity to communicate with other bloggers and also to promote my blog. If it were possible to participate weekly, this most certainly would encourage a larger audience.

When promoting new posts I often tweet three-four times per day, using Buffer. Scheduling these tweets has meant I don’t have to be available throughout the day to promote the post. I often re-word the title of the post differently per tweet to entice readers and hashtag each tweet with #hbloggers or #bbloggers (beauty bloggers). This has proved successful with brands or other bloggers sometimes re-tweeting or favouriting the tweets, and my analytics have shown Twitter plays a large part in my blog’s traffic. I’ve had interaction with Liz Earle, Maybelline, Merumaya, James Duigan, Madeleine Shaw, and First Aid Beauty, to name a few. Here is a collection of relevant tweets and interactions with Twitter users and brands.

In regard to Instagram, it’s difficult to see with Analytics how or if readers are coming from Instagram. However, as with Twitter, I use Instagram to post an image from my recent blog post to promote it and then use appropriate hashtags to get anyone relevant to find the photo and therefore my blog. Recently, I tagged @waitrose in a photo of a smoothie I had made and photographed in a drinks jar from Waitrose. One week later, they featured it on their Instagram feed, still giving credit to me, to their 28.6k followers and gained me more than 20 new Instagram followers. This was a fantastic opportunity for promotion on my blog.

Working With Brands/Blogs

It’s only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to start approaching brands in regard to potentially working with me. I understood that brands wouldn’t want to send me PR samples or want to work with me if I had too small of an audience as they’d gain very little from it. However once I started gaining over 2,500 views per month, I started approaching brands and sent e-mails to appropriate brands. Because my blog still is small, I’ve only received one response so far from a brand in Belfast called Keen Nutrition, who specialise in natural nut butters. I’m now developing some recipes featuring some nut butters they sent to me that shall be featured on my blog in the next coming weeks.
I also spoke with Beyond The Kale, a small Organic health food shop and smoothie bar in Bath, about a potential interview discussing their business and their ethos. The interview was successful and it was also my first experience in journalism, which I really enjoyed. Prior to the interview I researched the company, despite being a regular visitor, and looked into issues or topics that I believe to be current now such as Veganism and gluten and dairy free diets, which would both be relevant to the company and also to my audience. I’ve learnt starting with smaller companies is the best way to go, as larger brands will be after much larger exposure. Pactster contacted me about trialling their exercising app and I have agreed to write a blog post for them to give them further exposure.

My blog was featured in a ‘Weekly Favourites’ post which gained me a large amount of traffic and new readers. A colleague at work runs an online magazine website, Pie Magazine, and his own wines website and we’ve agreed to work together on some guest posts for both of our websites in the near future. He felt my audience was actually rather large for a small blog, and believed it would be a good platform for his own wines website that is growing too.
I had hoped my association with Waitrose (I work part-time there as a Team Leader) would lead to them wanting to work with me for their monthly Waitrose Kitchen magazine. However, so far I haven’t had a response and I believe this is due to the small audience I have. The success I had with the Instagram picture, however, was encouraging and from discussions with managers at work, is something that may potentially featured in Waitrose’s internal magazine, The Waitrose Chronicle which will bring more awareness to my blog.

Conclusion

Overall, although my blog hasn’t been the overambitious success I originally estimated it to be, I still believe it has been successful and have learnt blogging success is near impossible over a nine month period, unless you are working on it full time. Brands have approached me, I’ve successfully approached small brands for blog work, plus I’m continually gaining a steady, growing audience. The blog acts as a fantastic platform and portfolio for my future career, and I’ve learnt that writing for a living would be a dream profession. It only seems natural to continue working on my blog and building an audience, and I look forward to seeing what’s next for She’s So Lucy. There’s still so much more I want to say and share with the world, and this will take time. That’s the true magic of being a writer – constantly having a story to tell. It has been a fantastic outlet for me to express myself creatively, and write about topics I’m so passionate about that will hopefully lead me on the right path to a career best for me.

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