For those of you who don’t know what ECMeetup is, here’s a quick introduction: ECMeetUp is an annual blogger networking event for bloggers and social media influencers in and around the Eastern Cape of South Africa. For more information, check out their website.
This year’s ECMeetup was a little bit different, and instead of inviting a guest speaker, the event organisers, local bloggers Luchae Williams and Eleanor Douglas-Meyers asked us to nominate our favourite local bloggers for a ECMeetup panel. They also asked us to send them any questions we have about blogging, and then they would ask the panel to discuss a few of these questions.
Our ECMeetup Panel, made up of local bloggers Megan Kelly Botha, Anje Rautenbach from Going Somewhere Slowly, Amanda Klaas from Yellow Orchid Child, Laurina Machite and Abegail Witbooi, founder of Krulkop Society, answered some of our questions about blogging, content creation, SEO, microblogging and how to approach brands. The panel gave us a chance to learn more about topics we’re interested in or don’t know much about, and to learn tips and trick from experienced content creators.
But as the panel discussed our questions, it became evident that the answer to most of our questions had one simple solution: we need to support each other as bloggers.
The answer to questions like how to get brand deals, approach other bloggers for collabs, find local photographers, get local bloggers on the map is so simple that we missed it.
And so, instead, the question became this: how can we support each other?
I’ve shared a few of the suggestions from the ECMeetup panel. These ideas are the ones that really stuck with me and inspired me to do more to support bloggers and seek support in the local blogging community:
We need to recognise our value
There was a big conversation about how, as Eastern Cape bloggers, we undersell ourselves to brands simply because we are based in the Eastern Cape. Just because we are in the Eastern Cape doesn’t mean that we aren’t doing awesome things (as Luchae suggested, we are NOT the armpit of South Africa!). We are just as talented and creative as bloggers and influencers in Cape Town and Jo’burg. But if we want to be appreciated and supported as much as other content creators in the country, we need stop putting ourselves down. When we start seeing the value in each others’ work, and stop complaining about the price for event tickets, photo shoots, logo designs, and websites. The price for our services needs to match the value of the service we offer as content creators. Only then will brands start to see our value.
We need to work together
Quite a few bloggers in the audience mentioned that we don’t do enough collabs as local bloggers. It’s almost like we’re too scared to work together; we fear that if we work together, there won’t be enough pie for everyone. But what are we afraid of? When we work together, we can share our resources and ideas. If you’re really good at designing logos but haven’t got a clue what SEO even stands for, and if someone else is really good at the SEO game but could do with a fresh look for their blog, help a sister (or brother) out! We all have strengths and weaknesses, and we can share our strengths to grow together rather than struggle on our own.
We need to show appreciation for brands
Supporting local businesses and brands as a blogger is just as important as supporting each other. There are so many brands – both big and small – supporting Eastern Cape bloggers thanks to Luchae and Eleanor who have worked to build relationships with these brands. These sponsorships help to make every ECMeetup a great success – the least we can is show them some love! While it’s not always possible to share products and giveaways live at an event, it’s always great to take some photos when you get home, share some of your goodies on social media and tag the brands to show them that you’ve received their product. Besides showing your support for local businesses and entrepreneurs, sharing online opens the door to start a conversation with a brand that could lead to a brand deal or partnership in the future.
We need to encourage authenticity
As bloggers, it is our duty to encourage one another to be authentic. While we love to like, heart, comment and share each other’s content, we also want to encourage each other to be the best bloggers we can be, and this means reminding each other to stay true to who we are as content creators. If we want to get support from local brands and grow our following, we need to share content that is authentic. Brands want to work with bloggers who are true to themselves. You should never change who you are, or change the voice of your blog to suit a brand. Share content that works for your audience, but more importantly, content that is a reflection of who you are – your likes, your interests and your own life. If a brand deal comes along that doesn’t really suit the theme of your blog, that’s okay – you don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Be true to your brand and stick with what you know – there may be a brand out there searching for someone just like you to represent them.
There is enough pie for everyone. Whether it’s a pie, a pizza, or a melktert, there are enough ‘slices’ of brand deals and opportunities to go around, whether you’re a microblogger, baby blogger, big blogger or wannabe blogger.