Monday, November 26, 2012

What I learned at Blogopolis

Last week, Vince and I attended the biggest and most fabulous blogging summit in the country—Blogopolis! Presented by Nuffnang, the conference dealt with topics such as how blogging truly is the new media, how to keep coming up with great content, how to turn your blog into a brand, how to engage your audience, how social media helps market your blog, what advertisers look for in blogs and bloggers, how to turn your blog into a real money-making machine, and the trouble with that troublesome Anti-Cybercrime Law. Then there's a party at the end of it. So comprehensive! And all that packed in one day!

I wanted to be there the whole day but I'm a mommy so I can only be a few hours away from home. I figured that the most applicable to me right now is how to attract advertisers, what kinds of services can I offer clients, and how I can turn my blog into a brand. So I just attended the afternoon session.

This dapper guy is Liam Capati. He's the media director of Starcom. That means he gets to say where the ads go. That means we shoulda gone up to him and said hi! See all those logos behind him? I want all those brands on my blogs and Twitter campaigns. Liam, if you're reading this, please make my wish come true! So far, I've worked with Meralco, Sun Cellular, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. That means I'm on their radar!

Actually, I got a big surprise when Liam mentioned that my parenting blog, Topaz Mommy, is a good example of a well written, well done, well branded blog. I knew Topaz Mommy has great writing (of course!) but I didn't know it's already seen as a brand. I must be more aware of what I'm doing!

That's Carlos Palma, executive director of Havas, with Liam. They're talking about numbers. Basically, what they're saying here is your blog doesn't have to be as huge as Yugatech or Chuvaness. Of course, a large readership is great but it's more important for advertisers to be associated with good blogs. So what matters to advertisers?

  • The blogger's personality. Is she engaging? Does she make readers feel like they're her friends? Is her personality strong enough that she stands out in a sea of bloggers? 
  • The blogger's influence. When she recommends something, do people try it? Are her blog posts shared, her Tweets reTweeted?
  • The blogger's authority within her niche blog market. Does she know what she's talking about? Is she an expert in her field?
  • The blog's good reputation. Your blog may be popular but if it's too negative or controversial, brands won't want to work with you. 

Now numbers. When is a blog big enough to make advertisers sit up and notice? Well, here's the thing: Because of the long tail statistical distribution, it doesn't really matter. Let's say Brand X has P10 million to spend on a campaign. Media buyers are in charge of distributing this budget over various media. So TV gets a chunk, so does a few print publications, and some big bloggers. Let's say P6M went to that. The rest of the money, which is still a hefty P4M will now go to a group of smaller bloggers and social media influencers.

That's where we come in. The more, the merrier because Brand X wants to be talked about. Sure, the money isn't as big as the one that goes to traditional media but considering that blogging is just a fun hobby for most of us and not a job, any income that comes in is amazing!

Now the good news is with blogging and Facebook, bloggers are getting a bigger and bigger chunk of that pie while traditional media's slice is getting smaller and smaller. So if you're asking me, "Should I blog?", I only have one answer: "Hell, yeah!"

Now, I did say that blogging is usually just a hobby for most bloggers but when your hobby becomes huge and starts taking up most of your time, Abe Olandres, Nuffnang's Country Manager, says it's time to make it a brand and a business.

Abe says there are many ways to make money from your blog. Display ads, sponsored posts, paid links, affiliate sales, co-branding and partnerships. I've done all of the above, except co-branding and affiliate sales. It's good money, y'all. But not enough. That's why I'm focusing on making the blogs bigger next year. It's top priority! I want to earn as much as some of my blogger friends! They earn much higher than I do as a magazine editor!

Besides, people already think of me first as a blogger. Then they remember my day job. It's an afterthought. So I might as well make blogging the day job, right? We'll see if this plan pans out!

Speaking of people thinking of me as a blogger, here are a couple of readers I met at Blogopolis:
Roxi of Mr. Jacob's Mom. She's so sweet! She's like my top blog commenter. I should give her an award! 
Chrissy of Changing Nappies in High Heels. I always run into Chrissy everywhere! 

And this is me with my date, Mr. Third World Nerd. We're having dessert and coffee at Shangri-la Makati while Blogopolis is on break. Vince wrote about what he learned from Blogopolis, too. Check it out!

Next year, if Nuffnang holds another Blogopolis, I'll stay the whole day. Why? Because we won the grand prize this year—an iPad Mini!!! But since mommy-to-babies duties and my breastfeeding boobs dictate my schedule, we couldn't stay and so we lost the prize! It's okay, it's okay. What I've gained from Nuffnang and Blogopolis is worth much more than an iPad Mini. Chos!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Topaz Fashion: Joke's on me!

Vince calls these photos the anti-fashion blog photos because he says I don't look like I tried to look fashionable. Tee hee. Well, he has a point. These are my usual "wala lang!" outfits. To be fair to me, never naman ako nagsabi na this will be a fashion blog. Mothers, hindi ko kaya so don't expect!
Zara knit top, Zara mini skirt, Zara ballet flats. Kate Spade tote.

I'll also add some of my observations about Topaz Fashion in this post. I think you'll find them more interesting than the shabby outfits haha.

I tried FF because many readers were curious about what I usually wear. It's usually very boring, ladies.  Comfy dressing all the way! Stylish comfy dressing—I want to reiterate that!—but not the kind that'll knock your socks off or get me a fashion endorsement deal, as some young fashion bloggers are currently fighting about.

Wrong angle. Yaya was sitting on floor. You can almost look up my Uniqlo dress!
Others: Lacoste ballet flats and Rags 2 Riches bag by Aranaz

So FF was an experiment, nothing serious, nothing I planned to continue. My findings are:
1. It is very hard work.
2. It made me overly concerned about what I'll wear.
3. It made me overly concerned about repeating clothes haha.
4. I'm starting to figure out my best angle! Face camera. Left foot forward. Bend left knee. Stand up straight. Turn away right shoulder. Slightly keep arms away from body. (But in these photos, you can see I'm still trying out different poses.)
5. It works.

Wha?? Topaz Fashion works, bloggers. Want to make your blog popular? Do fashion posts! In October, my page views jumped from 40,000 to 60,000. That's huge.

Ojay raw silk blouse, Frou Frou embroidered shorts, Lacoste flats, Longchamp clutch

I was scratching my head wondering why I suddenly had so many new readers and when I studied the stats, it's the Topaz Fashion posts that always spike the stats meter. Like, there's a big jump. 

So this November, I skipped several FFs just to check if the stats will remain at 60K. Well, it didn't. It went down and now it's hovering at 55K. Still much higher than the 40K but I see now that FF had a significant effect. And so now I have a dilemma!

Muji scarf, Forever 21 tank, Levi's jeans, Anthropolgy flats, Charles & Keith sunglasses

Obviously, I have to continue with FFs, right? It's okay actually. I think it can be good for me to care more for my appearance (although I hope I don't become vain and shallow in the process!). My problem with it now is this:
  • I don't have a lot of clothes. Well, I actually do but they're all pre-pregnancy and so I don't fit into them anymore/yet. I fit into maybe 12 outfits. I think you'll get very bored once you've seen me recycle 12 outfits! Plus, I may have lots of shoes but I seem to wear only 3 pairs!
  • Some of my friends say that posting photos of stuff you own is nagyayabang and I don't want to appear mayabang. 
  • But if I post outfit shots only of my affordable fashion or second-hand finds courtesy of eBay, baka naman you'll think I'm poor! Haha.
Sexy White Shirt tee, Colours shorts, Lacoste flats, Rags 2 Riches bag by Aranaz

Grabe, napakabigat na problema ito! Is Topaz Fashion worth it??? Muni-muni muna me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

This is what I'll do today

I wish!

Start of the week and I'm already drowning in my to-do list. Initially, I thought I'd be absolutely free today (today of all days!). But, nope, I have tons to do. In order of urgency, here's what I need to do today:

  1. Buy food! We actually have a fully stocked everything except there's no meat, vegetables and rice in the house! 
  2. Go to the bank for some OTC transactions.
  3. Sort dirty laundry and send out to laundromat (yes, I'm the one who does this!).
  4. Write an article for a parenting magazine.
  5. Unpack the bags from our mini getaway in Tagaytay this weekend.
  6. Organize the stuff I brought home from the office.
  7. Re-sked a dentist appointment.

Then I seriously need to fulfill some blogging promises I made to people and brands who have generously sent me goodies. The list is long and I don't know if I'll ever get this done!

How's your Monday like? No matter what you plan today, remember to smile and thank God that your busy life means it's a blessed one. I know I complain a lot but I'm actually really grateful. For one thing, despite all of the stuff I have to do, at least I don't have to go to the office! How lucky am I?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Taking my hits

Iggy Pop wrote this lovely letter to a young girl who was going through a lot of shit. His letter made all the difference.

I have also just recovered from a pretty massive hit. I wasn't surprised when it hit as I have felt it building up since the start of this year. And when it finally punched me straight between the eyes, I was dizzy and in despair for a good long while. You didn't notice it? I'm very good at hiding things apparently, which comes as a surprise to me.

For a while there, I was thinking, "Why can't my life just remain perfect? Why do I have to go through this? Why must things change?" I soon realized—rather, I was made to remember—that some things, good and bad, are meant for you. You'll just have to man up, embrace the changes, and move forward.
Good or bad, it applies.

What got me going was the gigantic love and support of Vince and a few very close friends. Yes, only a very few knew. So precious few, but if you read between the lines of my blog posts, especially at the start of the year, you'd have been able to tell that I was going through some major emotional seismic shifts.

Now I've taken my hits, I've recovered, I'm moving on. It wasn't so bad, after all! In the great scheme of things, my hit was so ridiculously shallow, I am ashamed I was so worried and upset about it. In fact, I'm now glad it happened. Because I'm so psyched about the future!

I'll tell you all about it soon. I'm off to Tagaytay for a much needed break! Meanwhile, what I just want to say is if you're going through hell right now, don't despair. It's happening for a reason—whether it's to humble you or to prepare you for something much bigger. Or maybe you're being used to help someone. Whatever it is, you have to believe that there is a purpose. Of course, some shit is really just random. You just happen to be collateral damage. But don't allow yourself to be a victim of random shit flying about. Like that poster above said, if that shit wasn't meant for you, it wouldn't land on you! So get a-hold of the situation, stand up, dust yourself off, and move on.

Now if you know someone going through hell lately, be more patient with them. Sometimes, words of encouragement are all we need. Or a smile, a hug, a look of love. Then we're ready to take on the world again.

Thanks to my amazing support group, I am. I am oh so ready.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My 36th birthday!

Last week was really fun! Best birthday week ever. Which comes as a surprise to me because I'm obsessed with my birthdays and I'd always plan for it and bug people about it BUT this year, I totally forgot that my birthday was approaching until I looked at the calendar and saw it was November. I kinda freaked out a bit—I haven't come up with a gift list, I don't have anything to wear, I didn't plan a party. Nothing!

In a futile attempt to celebrate, I got free Facebook covers with a birthday theme (sample above and the last photo below) so I can remind everyone on Facebook that my big day was coming up and then I thought, "You know, I don't really care. I have a great and happy life, wonderful family and friends. What am I freaking out about? I don't want anything; I have everything!"And, yes, the week proved that!

Monday. My prayer group surprised me and Cathee with a birthday party. Surprise parties I'm usually allergic to haha since I'm never ready! Ya know, I didn't have a pretty dress, my hair was unbrushed, my face was devoid of makeup. But, what the heck, I had the loveliest time with my mommy friends!
Yummy chocolate cake from Red Ribbon. But I want to know who did the icing letters!
Cathee blew out her candle first since her birthday was before mine.
Vito blew out my candle but I made a birthday wish for my sons.
Thanks so much, Claire, Earl, Dada and Tricia! Happy birthday, Cathee!

Tuesday. My favorite hairstylist in the world, Louis Phillip Kee, treated me to a salon day. I had my good friend Jane Kingsu-Cheng of Forever 21 and Lucky Janie with me and we chatted about everything under the sun—from our sons and yayas to career plans and other bloggers.
Louis, thanks for making me beautiful! Jane, thanks for spending the day with me and for the free lunch!

Then Vince surprised me with a bouquet of red roses. Vince always gets me flowers for my birthday. I love flowers. He either gets red roses or multi-colored tulips.
He also got me Chocolate Truffle Cake from Mary Grace Café. It's my favorite chocolate cake. Yum yum! It's Vito's favorite cake, too. Hehe, yes that's Vito's birthday candle! We didn't have any other candle kasi haha. For more photos of the boys and their Grab The Cake Mission, click here!

At work, my staff "surprised" me with the best banana chocolate cake (from Kitchen's Best) I have ever had in my life. I put surprise in quotes because it's tradition that we give cake to whoever the birthday girl/boy is. But I was still surprised because... I don't know. I really truly wasn't expecting anything!

Sugared pili nuts, dried mangoes, calamansi honey with toasted quesong puti,
La Maria Camembert and Queso Rustico.
Then the day after my birthday, I met up with my girlfriends at Kabila of M Café. We had wine with the tastiest cheese platter ever. We gossiped and encouraged each other. It was a lovely afternoon! Thanks, Kat, Nicole and Nikki!

And now it's done. My birthday's done. I had a great week. I felt really loved. I am really truly happy and excited for what life has in store!