Today, blogs are a huge part of our online experience and many of us interact with them on a daily basis. Some of us might choose to write our own blog, others contribute to them and most of us will regularly read one or more (several in my case) blog posts each day. Some bloggers have enjoyed such success with their blog that they have given up their ‘day job’ to focus all of their efforts on their online writing. Now, these people are incredibly dedicated and it is no mean feat to climb to the top in such a competitive world. After all, there are over 60 million blogs just on wordpress, to mention just one host site. The people who are highly successful with their blogs have huge amounts of drive and passion and probably deserve the success they have received. This said, the influence and money that some get as a result is beyond comprehension. For example, Michael Arrington, who founded the tech news site TechCrunch earns between $500,000 and $800,000 every month! Pete Cashmore who founded Mashable isn’t too far behind with around $560,000-$600,000 each month. Gina Trepani, who runs Lifehacker, is on about $110,000 a month while tech master Ewdison Then, co-founder of Slashgear earns about $60,000 a month. What all these blogs have in common is the subjects that their owners write about. Technology features highly with lifestyle and celebrities not far behind. These are the topics that are at the forefront of people’s minds and also have the capacity to provide space for companies who are constantly looking for new avenues to market their products.
Achieving success in terms of lots of hits is far more difficult for the environment blogger. Whilst a tight community, and one that is, I think, slowly growing, if you write an environment blog, or indeed anything to do with the land, you are setting yourself up to limit your audience base from the start. It is a hard graft. Many of the rules of environment blogging are the same as blogging on other subjects. You need to be regular with your posting (I have not been very good on this front in the past – very sorry!), you need to be passionate about what you are writing about, you need to be engaging, it helps to have lots of pictures (again, sorry, I often fail on this front as well), you need to publicise your blog widely through social media, you need to be dedicated and you need to involve your readers. The difficulty with environment blogging is that your immediate readership is much smaller. You can also probably give up on the idea of making it your ‘job’ as the opportunities for advertising are fairly thin on the ground, principally because of the subject but also because of your lower readership. However, we do it because it is what we are passionate about. We want to spread that passion to as many people as possible.
Perhaps though, as an environment blogging community we should be broadening the subjects we write about on our blogs to draw others in, whilst contunuing to write about our core topics? I think that the blogosphere has a huge capacity to educate people about issues, as well as to inform and entertain (on risk of sounding like the BBC). Environment and Ag bloggers have a duty to somehow expand their audience base and attract new readers. You don’t want to tarnish your core reason for blogging in the first place but perhaps there are other ways of enticing people to your blog? The baldhiker blog for example, a site that has become very successful, is principally a travel blog (which lots of people are interested in) but it slips nature and environment stuff in on the side. Clever stuff.
I’ve already mentioned the bloggers with the highest earnings in the world. Let’s take a look at some of the most influential bloggers in the UK:
- Guido Fawkes – Blogger Paul Staines is well known for striking fear into Westminster and his influence is great…even if personally I really dislike the fonts he uses!
- Lisa Eldridge – A highly regarded make-up artist, Lusa Eldridge moved into blogging from an already successful career. Nonetheless, she has huge influence through her blog.
- Style Bubble – One of the most prominent and successful fashion blogs, run by Susie Lau.
- Pixiwoo – Another make-up blog run by sisters Sam and Nic Chapman (in reality an accompaniment to a successful ‘vlog’. Perhaps environment bloggers should do more vlogging…
- Liberty London Girl – another very successful fashion blog
- Zoella – Youtube megastar, icon for teenagers, you’ve probably heard of her.
- Baldhiker – this is the blog that comes closer to environment than any other on this list. This was founded by Paul Steele in 2010 and has grown to be a base for travel stories.
- Deliciously Ella – Again, you’ve probably heard of her.
- Brides Up North – Founded by Julia Braime in 2010 and has since been regulatly named amongst the top 100 wedding blogs in the world.
- Stephen Waddington – Stephen didn’t begin life as a blogger so I was tempted to not include this on the list. However, it’s an example of how expertise can be channeled in a way that garners influence through the blogosphere. He focuses on public relations, marketing and social media.
One of the most well known environment blogs (that I know about anyway) is Mark Avery‘s site yet there is no sign of his blog in many online lists of influential or successful blogs. This really makes me question whether we are going about this the right way. Are we alwas preaching to the converted? Is there something else that we could do? When we publicise our work through social media, usually it is self selective and will reach those people who WANT to read it, rather than those people who may not even think about the environment or food and farming as an issue.
In the context of Brexit it is really important that we get as many people as possible thinking about and talking about food, farming and environment issues so that we get the best possible deal for farmers and the natural world in the upcoming negotiations. If people don’t know about the issues then why would they care to support the work that we know is so vital? Bloggers need to play their part as much as anyone else. I am going to try and shift my work to follow this line…although to be honest I am a little unsure how best to do this. Perhaps we could get Zoella, Joe Sugg or Caspar Lee to highlight our plight? Hmmmm…perhaps not. However, we need to do something to boost the influence of the environment blogger…