For just under two years I’ve been working with the team at Keene Communications to deliver world-class digital strategies to clients. So we were delighted to hear the news that our client, St Helena Tourism, has had their blog recognised as one of the top ten travel industry blogs in the UK in the UK Blog Awards 2015. It was shortlisted alongside others such as WWF Holidays, Thomson Blog and Teletext Holidays.

This is a significant achievement. Especially as St Helena has been blogging for less than 2 years. It’s been a real team effort at the agency, with St Helena Tourism and their island community. So we are very excited for their success.

This win is an extraordinary achievement for our client. Why? Just read the quote from St Helena Tourism.

“To have been shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards 2015 is an achievement beyond our wildest dreams. As a remote British overseas territory we launched the St Helena Wirebird blog to give potential travellers a digital experience of the island before they arrived. A feat in itself, as St Helena Island doesn’t have a mobile network or widespread Internet access. Which makes being shortlisted as a top travel industry blog extra special, as the island community who are mostly new to the Internet age is managing the blog.” — Chanelle Marais, Marketing & Communications Manager

So how do you go about building an award winning blog?
The simple answer is apply for awards. But before you do that, you must build a blog that is successful.

We measure success by:

  • Seeing increased visits year-on-year
  • Monitoring who is sharing or recommending posts
  • Having a disciplined publishing schedule

Being shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards 2015 was reliant on blog readers voting for St Helena. Therefore a significant amount of readers were needed to generate enough ‘umph’ to be shortlisted, especially as readers need to ‘give away’ their email addresses.

We worked with St Helena to build an award winning blog in under two years by following these below steps. Perhaps they’ll help you too?

  1. Leverage your existing audience

We all have an existing online audience, whether they are personal or professional contacts. St Helena has an audience of Saints (those who come from St Helena) living in the UK, potential travellers and those who have visited the island. For the St Helena Wirebird travel blog, this was the starting user base.

We then built this audience through creative copywriting and by addressing topics that were directly related to the audience. As St Helena’s PR agency, our overall focus is to increase visitation to the island. Therefore the blog needed to tell potential travellers a story about the island, which is delivered by collaborating with Saints.

You then publish posts, make sure they are shared on social media, and capture as much data as possible. On a blog this is simple: have an email subscribe form.

  1. Have a robust publishing schedule

Blogging is a marathon and not a sprint. To succeed you need a robust publishing schedule that can survive the ups and downs of daily life. Even in stretched weeks, a post must be published. Every post will generate more views; over a period of time a visitor base will grow and eventually you may have a blog that can rival traditional news outlets.

This means planning a content calendar that looks ahead for at least the next three months. Knowing the dates of upcoming events, getting guest bloggers to write their posts in advance, and drafting copy way ahead of deadlines will all help.

  1. Be transparent. Be social.

Online news publications can only survive if they are tapped into social networks. This applies for mainstream news, trade publications, and every blog ever created. Unless people share posts, then it will be extremely difficult building any sort of audience.

Blogging is completely social. This means networking with other bloggers. At Keene we’ve invested huge amounts of time networking with various blogging communities. This has even involved travelling abroad to meet with blogging groups. We treat bloggers as we would journalists, because their craft has just as much influence. Part of owning a blog means commenting on other peoples blogs — get involved in the community.

  1. The most important question is ‘Why?’

St Helena Tourism has a blog to generate tourism for the island. Keene Communications has a blog to show our team’s insight to generate business. I personally run a blog to help make a name for myself in the PR industry. Your blog needs a ‘Why?’ element; no matter if you are an individual or organisation.

This post was also published in the Keene Communications blog.

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