Blogopolis 2013: Five things aspiring bloggers must know

Peter Imbong

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Guests, speakers, and participants at the blogging conference discuss how to become responsible and competent content creators

BAYANIHAN IN THE DIGITAL AGE. “All of our efforts together can create real change,” says Rappler’s Maria Ressa. “If we organize ourselves, then we find a true spirit of bayanihan.” All photos from Peter Imbong

MANILA, Philippines – “Bloggers are changing everything right now, and a lot of it is because of the technology that’s there,” said Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, one of the first speakers during Blogopolis 2013, a day-long bloggers conference covering topics on social media know-how, digital marketing, and online advertising trends.  “Bloggers are changing definitions and the way journalists work,” she Ressa added.

Held at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila in Makati City on November 16, the event brought together some of the country’s most popular bloggers and online figures. Organized by Nuffnang, a leading leading blog advertising community in the Philippines, this year’s theme was “#IntotheWild: Weaving Information for Leaders of the Digital World.” 

Guests, speakers, and participants discussed how to become responsible and competent content creators. Here are 5 pointers we picked up: 

1. Every content you create leads to something bigger, and connects you to something more.

This leads to change, said Rappler’s Ressa. She discussed how social media has proven to be a powerful tool in augmenting rescue and relief efforts during the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). 

It begins with content creation. “We call it journalism on our end, and anything you post up is content you own.” This content is then amplified by social media which connects you with your audience.  

That connection can lead to crowdsourcing – “bayanihan in Filipino,” said Ressa. “And when you pull it all up, it can lead to the fourth disruptive trend globally: big data.” She mentioned examples like Jakob Rogstadius’s CrisisTracker and Rappler’s Project Agos. 

“All of our efforts together can create real change,” she said. “We may not be able to do it on our own, but if we come together, if we crowdsource, if we turn and analyze big data, if we organize ourselves, then we find a true spirit of bayanihan.”

2. While content is king, it should be quality content.

Lori Baltazar began her food blog, Dessert Comes First, in 2008. She has gone beyond text and photos, and now does video podcasting. It was a natural evolution, she said, “because there are some things that video can best explain more than text or photos.”

But more than just producing online videos, the quality has to be good as well. “Intent is important, but action matters more,” she said.

According to Rappler’s Michael Josh Villanueva who spoke to the conference through video, “Consumption habits are changing and people are getting most of their video content online.” Digital video, including podcasts, are now being consumed more and more and are taking away from traditional television.

However, echoing, Baltazar’s point, Villanueva said that “execution still plays a big part,” so make sure the content you produce is of good quality and with substance.

QUALITY CONTENT. According to activist and musician Jim Paredes, everyone is looking for that elite experience of real insight and connectivity online.

“What we’re looking for [online] is to have that elite experience of real insight and connectivity,” said musician Jim Paredes, who spoke in the conference about community and advocacy in social media. “Because if you’re going to expose yourself to the world through technology, you might as well expose yourself to the smartest people.”  

3. It’s not just about pushing content, it’s about interaction.

According to broadcaster TJ Monotoc, who spoke about using Twitter in the newsroom, “social networking [platforms] are a two-way street. You are pushing content and visuals to your readers, but at the same time engaging them.”

He said this is important because, before bloggers would simply post their stories and leave it to the readers, but now: “it’s not just about pushing content, anymore. It’s become an ongoing conversation.” 

Engagement is important. Whether it’s gathering opinions, creating live discussions online, or debating on certain issues, “it’s important that the audience is engaged,” Manotoc said.

This not only humanizes yourself and the story, but also builds a unique relationship between you and the reader, or even between readers.  

This includes learning who your readers are. Jeff Lo of spoke about building an engaged community. It’s about 3 basic things: keeping them continuously informed, putting yourself out there more, and making an effort to get to know your readers.  

4. Take your readers offline

The tandem of Asia Ipac and Ana Gonzales are the brains behind  Bloggers United, a twice-a-year blogger’s bazaar whose aim is to create a venue where bloggers and their readers can come together, interact, and buy some of their favorite bloggers’ merchandise.

They’ve held 5 successful blogger events so far (with the sixth scheduled for December), and their advice on how to take your blog readers offline is to mount a blog event.

ONLINE TO OFFLINE. For Ana Gonzales and Asia Ipac of Bloggers United, mounting a blog event creates a stronger relationship between bloggers and their readers.

There are several aspects to launching a successful meet-and-greet, said Gonzales: find a venue that can accommodate your expected guests, promote the event through your blog and social media accounts, approach sponsors whose target market include your readers, find a beneficiary to help promote their cause during the event, and lastly, make sure your readers are treated well. All this will help create a strong relationship between the blogger and reader that goes beyond the digital world.

5. Learn how to re-write a press kit.

Bloggers receive press kits all the time. But instead of simply copying the entire text and placing it in your blog, give it a more personal approach, said the husband-and-wife team of Pong and Tippy Go, the brains behind the popular Googly Gooeys.

When writing about an event, product, or service, “use your own words and write from your own personal experience,” said Tippy. Go beyond the press kit and don’t do hard sell. “This makes it more personal for the readers.”

It’s also a good idea to use your own photos and, perhaps, create your own graphics. “The virality of your post is also important,” said Tippy, talking about how posts get shared to the point that they become viral. To do this, she said, “The more original and the more heart you put into it, the better.”

Meanwhile, for Christine Dychiao of, it’s of utmost importance to use the many social media options available to you to help promote your posts. She mentioned Twitter and Facebook, as well as Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, Reddit, and Vine, among many others.

The key, she said, “is to choose the right one where your target readers are on. You don’t have to use everything, but only those that your readers find relevant.” – 

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