When I started this blog what seems like an eternity ago, my main motivation was to channel my love of food into something more productive than sitting around and talking crap with friends.
That someone other than my mum and my friends (to be polite) would read it is still shocking to me.
Today I have readers all over the world and many in my home city of Doha, Qatar.
There has been some discussion in Doha social media circles recently about the relationship between bloggers and social media “influencers” and brands.
In a smaller market like Doha, this is inevitable. I see it every day on Twitter and on blogs, I even do it myself.
I’m very fortunate that living in a smaller yet outward facing city, brands and companies are starting to awaken to the value of bloggers and the approaches are becoming more sophisticated than just a press release. They are starting to understand the value of partnerships.
A 2011 survey found that consumers would rather receive marketing messages from bloggers or influencers that they are familiar with than a celebrity. Moreover, this preference ultimately affects their purchasing behavior (53 percent of female readers have bought a product based on a recommendation from a blogger).
I don’t want to let too many cats our of the bag (disclaimer – I work in PR), but almost every public relations practitioner on the block knows that bloggers (and tweeters and Instagrammers) can wiled a lot of influence in their markets and they use this to leverage coverage and publicity. It’s a two way street.
For example, some brands will use bloggers as their “ambassadors”, using them in campaigns as well as driving dialogue between their readers and the brand. This drives traffic to their site and in turn they drive traffic back to the bloggers.
It is true, as a blogger I get invited to a lot of cool things, get to travel and also and get to eat some amazing food. Some of it is gifted. It is also true that at times there is an expectation of positive feedback or coverage. I also pay for a lot of what I do.
I am fortunate that I have been able to develop my blog to the point where I have good relationships with brands here and abroad and also in the very near future some advertising and partnerships including consultancy roles. I even get asked to speak at events about blogging and social media.
Anyone who starts a blog with the express purpose of making money or getting free stuff will find themselves sorely disappointed.
I half jokingly call this blog my “Night Job” (stop snickering) as most my work happens at night (both writing and attending events etc) and on weekends (travel etc). I have an intense and fabulosity rewarding career in communications in healthcare (hi Boss!) but this keeps me sane. That it has been moderately successful, has touched people in some way is both exciting and a bonus.
The point of this unusually cheese-free post is to say that where applicable, I will be clear about any arrangements (commercial or otherwise) I have in the course of my blogging. you can read my policy here.
Now, enough of the serious analysis, here is some awesome cheese I ate recently!