An interview with Jo Ridout, author of the home interiors blog, A Passion for Homes. Jo shared valuable advice for budding bloggers and outlined the rules marketers and PR should abide by before getting their story into the blogosphere.
Why should people read your blog? What makes it different?
The blog is a ‘housey hub’ for people who love or have an interest in homes, property and interior design across the globe. It features articles, advice, stories and information on interior design, home products, DIY advice and dream homes.
It is also interactive with regular polls, votes and free prize draws for visitors to get involved with. I have worked with top brands and individuals such as Homebase, Checkatrade, Anglian Home Improvement, Carpetright, Next, John Lewis, Hillarys, and many more for the blog and also the main website www.apassionforhomes.com, which is a homes and interior design lifestyle website that the blog supports.
However, it’s not all about me! This blog is different from others in this space as I use it to support people such as young entrepreneurs, small businesses, designers and writers. The blog is available for free coverage for anyone who falls into these categories and I feel that visitors to the blog would benefit from hearing their story.
How do you measure the success of your blog?
As it is a wordpress blog, it has a great analytics tool built in that tracks traffic patterns to the blog. I also monitor the amount of social media interaction it gets on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Google+. A good indication of the blog’s popularity is when it recently made it to the UK Blog Awards 2014 Final.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog?
Go for it, be yourself and enjoy the experience but remember the following things:
Be respectful to yourself – this blog is global and is out in the virtual world for a long time – it’s not like chatting to a few people, so remember, as with all social media, to not say anything or act in a way that you wouldn’t in public.
Be respectful to your readers – imagine people reading your blog – your audience – how do you want to connect with them? What do you want to say and what message are you giving them? The blog is as much for them as it is for you getting your views and profile out into the virtual world.
Be careful who you allow to do guest blogs for you – check them out, check out their motives and if they want to place links into the article for a major company that’s not their own company, ask if they are getting paid for this – are they just using your blog?
Retain editorial control over your blog, so you top and tail a guest blog to make sure your voice is still in the post, and you reserve the right to change the post if you need to (spelling mistakes, grammar errors etc) – if the piece is written badly, it reflects badly on your blog!
Copyright your original work at the end of each post.
Don’t blog when you’ve had a few drinks!
Who do you work with in marketing? PRs? SEOs?
I work with a range of contacts including but not exclusively: company directors/owners, PR staff, digital marketing staff, social media staff, digital agencies and PR agencies.
What can marketers do better in liaising with you?
Send pictures that are in high and low res – pics are so important! Along with video if there is any available.
Pictures should be sent via dropbox or wetransfer, or an even better option is from websites like PRShots and PressLoft as I can then browse and choose my own. Unless of course it is a specific picture the company wants me to use.
As long a deadline as possible.
Please, please, please retweet tweets that are for the blog that includes a company Twitter handle – I am constantly surprised that so many companies don’t! I’ve spent time on the blog post, the least a company or individual can do is RT and help me raise my profile too!
Realise that it is a reciprocal partnership and can turn into a partnership that produces great benefit for both parties, such as myself and Anglian Home Improvement. It’s not just a one-hit wonder – use this blog and then onto the next one!
Not all small companies have a marketing person, so it’s sometimes a case of me helping them with marketing and social media advice and support!
What was your blogging highlight of 2013?
Being nominated and then reaching the final of the UK Blog Awards.
Hitting the 3,500+ monthly visitor numbers.
Receiving lovely feedback from blog visitors.
Seeing the difference the blog has made to smaller companies and individuals such as Token Homeware and Lovestruck Interiors.
Resulting in long-term blog friendships, such as with Out of the Dark charity (upcycling furniture).
Being able to blog about things that I do in the ‘real’ world such as interior design, home styling and knowing there is a receptive audience out there that shares my love for all things ‘housey’!