Meet Jess, founder of FBL Bloggers, we caught up with her to discuss being a #GIRLBOSS and how she grew a community of 50k bloggers:
First thing’s first, tell us a little bit about yourself – how did you get started with blogging and why did you start FBL Bloggers?
So, I’m Jess, I’m 26, I’m a London girl and social media is my life at the moment. For my day-to-day job, I head up social media for a travel company – Outside of that I run Fash Beauty Life Influencer network (FBL Bloggers) and I’ve had my own personal blog for six years.
I’ve always been a creator, I’ve always loved digital, Fash Beauty Life, was a natural progression from my blog, I had been blogging for a year when I decided to start FBL bloggers, the main reason I decided to start it was because I didn’t have any blogger friends, I had a lot of friends who liked what I was doing, but, you don’t get it unless you’re a blogger. So I started a Facebook group, within a couple of months it spiraled & I decided to create a Twitter account, and have a Twitter Chat, because I always got involved in the fashion and beauty blogger ones. I saw there was a gap in the market, I love fashion and beauty, but I’m not all about that. There was nothing that talked about real blogger issues or how to take your blog to the next stage, so I decided to create the FBL chat.
What steps did you take to go from just a blog to a blogging community?
Around 2012, I was on a blogger forum, and people would blog these posts out. I was friends with a few people on that forum, and I was like “What do you guys think about creating a Facebook group?”, I was asking “Who would be interested in joining?” I was kind of naive and didn’t think it could be what it is today, and loads of people said yes, so I quickly created a Facebook Group, put the link in and I had about 50 people join, after that I thought “Okay, let’s just share our blog posts and comment. And week on week it’s grown. We’ve mostly been organic, in terms of reach, very little paid reach. Currently we are 14K on Facebook, and 31.5k on Twitter, across all platforms I have a network of 50k.
What are your top 3 tips in terms of growing communities, as someone who has done it for themselves, and is hired by companies to do it?
I would say to get involved with the communities that you like. Learn how they work, learn what kind of content people are posting, learn the do’s and dont’s of engagement. You have to interact and learn how to interact with those networks. Then, work up the content that resonates with that part of your audience. Content is another monster in itself.
Social media has changed so much since you started in 2012. How have you maintained your growth in the changing landscape of social media?
One of the main things is engagement, when I started my Facebook group I’d have admins and moderators, over time some of them have stopped blogging or taken a step back, but they helped with growth and creating a network. With Twitter Chats, our bloggers get feedback and interaction that allows them to be exposed to a massive network. This is a community, I think Twitter Chats are still relevant, but I’m expanding to host events in line with where social media is going. The trends in social media are videos e.g. with Instagram live, Snapchat, even WhatsApp video, so learning from that I want to utilize that and create live FBL chats.
We see a lot of young creatives running businesses like yourself, and people are like “Goals, their lifestyle looks so cool, I want to do this” but what is the reality like behind the scenes?
Let me tell you, it’s not glamorous at all. A lot of people can’t do it. I used to host the chats on my way to Uni, on the way to the train, even in my lectures. What you need to have is a true belief that you’re going to create something great, you have to love it. I literally love FBL Bloggers, even when I can’t be bothered with it because you need a break. But one thing I do have, is a love for it. I might not be where I want to be, but I’m so ambitious, I have that belief that this will take off. Another thing you have to have is organization, literally, that’s why I schedule those chats on a Tuesday; I make sure that’s in my diary and it goes ahead, if I can’t do it, I make sure I have people in place who can host it. Another thing is to listen to your audience, and really listen to people around you and take help when you need to. I can see the potential of FBL, and I can see where I want it to go, so at times I get frustrated. Reflecting and taking heed of what you’ve created, and trying to take stock of “okay,relaxing and take a break is important. You can’t go full force and not have a break, because you will break down.
I want people to see what goes into it, I’m not being shady, but people think it’s kind of like all a fairy tale and it’s not like that, in order to be the next Zoella, you’re negotiating with brands, you’re creating content, you’re doing realistic things and with my platform I aim to educate people on this.
You have worked with countless bloggers, what would you say is the difference between someone who becomes successful and someone who doesn’t become successful?
To be a massive blogger, you have to be a Jack of all trades, I’ve taken a few months break because my job is so intense, but I keep still going. You’re a writer, you’re a model if you’re a fashion blogger or beauty blogger, you are a PR specialist, where you have to be able to promote your stuff, you’re a business manager, because you have to negotiate with brands, you’re making money from blogs. You have to understand money, negotiation, you have to understand law, when you’re doing contracts as well. Then you also have to understand social media, you have to be a social media specialist. I get weekly updates of what’s happening on social media, so I can leverage my content and tailor it. I need that to connect my words with my audience. Otherwise no one will interact. So there’s a lot that goes behind it.
I just think that a lot of people are not being 100% truthful, I’m sorry to say, it’s beautiful to see those lovely Instagram themes, and they’re beautiful, but at sometime, just be a bit realistic, show what it’s like to be a blogger, what it’s like to content create, what it’s like to get that successful, what do you have to do, and then also reveal all their secrets, and you don’t have to, but kind of like “you know what, going to these events is great, but in order to have got to this stage, I had to do X, Y and Z”
Love that, real talk with Jess.
Who would you say are the 3 upcoming bloggers to watch out for in 2017?
My girl Natalie from Discoveries of Self Blog, we’ve been blogging for about the same amount of time, I think she started about a week before or after me. She’s now an Elle beauty writer, talking about women of colour and makeup articles, she’s an amazing beauty blogger, so she’s one to look out for in 2017. My friend Christy, who writes Xtine love, because her writing is amazing, she just connects to you on a personal level, I think she’s going to start blogging again and Tasha of Style and the Sass, she calls me her “fairy-blog-mother”, I’ve kind of taken her under my wing and kind of shown her the ropes, her posts are amazing, her Instagram posts are amazing. So yeah, those are my top 3.
What’s next for FBL Bloggers?
I’m working on our brand to connect with more bloggers, I’ve got a blogger outreach network, and plan on taking it to the stage,by doing events and workshops for bloggers helping them to take their blogs to the next stage.
Just for fun, what is your most used emoji?
Last year it was the fire one. I’d say at the moment, it’s the upside down smile. I just kind of like it, it represents not taking everything too seriously
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Jess for joining us for this in depth interview.
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