Lifestyle blogging has exploded over the past decade. Some bloggers have gone on to become best-selling authors (Belle de Jour, Jon’s Jail Journal) while others have used their platform to raise awareness of important issues that are often ignored by the mainstream media. (Downs Side Up).
Lifestyle bloggers are now a force to be reckoned with as shown at the BritMums Live conference at the weekend where brands ranging from Panasonic, Fox’s and Warner Brother’s courted 500 bloggers in a bid to get them to try out their products and write about them. Every kind of blogger you could imagine was at the two-day conference in London, ranging from family travel bloggers, mummy bloggers, food bloggers and those writing about personal tragedies. (I was there after reaching the final in the Brilliance in Blogging awards for my blog Our Life With Leukaemia) What all blogs seemed to have in common is that brands want to work with them.
“These days bloggers are at the heart of influence out there,” said Helen Gunter from TK Maxx, in a panel discussion dedicated to what bloggers and brands really want from each other.
So why are companies engaging with bloggers in this way? It is the case that by giving away freebies they can get a favourable review?
Steve Keenan, from the digital consultancy Travel Perspective, says that tourist boards have been forced to be creative with their marketing due to straightened economic times.
Budgets for mainstream media are being cut while social media can be much more effective on a much lower budget.
The travel industry is now coming to family bloggers and inviting them on trips. And Steve says this is just the beginning of a whole new way of working with bloggers.
“It’s all to play for,” he says. “It’s the Wild West out there.”
Charities are also now working closely with bloggers to highlight campaigns and to help with fundraising and bloggers are now regularly being invited to travel to overseas destinations.
Rosie Childs, digital media manager, from Save the Children explained that as traditional media often focus on bad news and controversies, it is difficult to get editors to take an interest in good news stories and projects that are actually working.
By taking bloggers to witness charity projects first hand, they are able to humanise the story through the bloggers’ personal connections with local people.
Every blogger that I spoke to at the conference said they would not compromise their values and would always write honestly about any product or experience. Many will only review items that fit with their lifestyle and the subject that they are writing about.
With some bloggers getting thousands of hits per months and thousands of followers on twitter, and the market for their content growing daily as internet use expands around the world, it seems that brands are taking notice and doing all they can to harness their power and influence.