After a career in television and entertainment as a producer and content creator in the US Hispanic industry, Ana Lilian Flores became a mom, soon after she co-founded SpanglishBaby.com, an online community for parents raising bi-cultural children. It was at that point that Flores reinvented herself as a blogger, published writer and social media strategist.
This experience lead her to build LatinaBloggersConnect, a community for uniting Latina Bloggers with the resources, opportunities and connections they need to be successful in the Latina Blogosphere. We caught up with her right after the launch of the new LBC site to get her thoughts on blogging and the Latino Blogosphere.
How long have you been blogging?
I´ve been blogging, officially, since February 2009. I really “discovered” the blogging world in 2007 when I had my daughter. I’m a bit of a late bloomer.
Where do you blog?
I have two blogs. SpanglishBaby.com is a site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children that I co-publish with my best friend, Roxana A. Soto. I also recently launched LatinaBloggersConnect.com, a place for the community of Latina Bloggers to keep learning and growing as professionals and reap the rewards.
Now-a-days with the ease of setting up any type of site using “blogging” software, what does “blog” even mean anymore?
Blog is a platform that is available to anyone who has something to say or share. It is no longer just an online diary, it is a space where anyone can reinvent themselves. The beauty of blogging is that you can make it be whatever you want.
What blogging platform do you use? Why?
I use self-hosted WordPress for both of my blogs, and I have a Tumblr for my personal blog. I chose WordPress because, from the beginning, the blogs were created to be able to grow and utilize the latest social media tools. The plugins available for WordPress allow anyone, with enough patience, to become a designer and experiment with their site.
What is Latina Bloggers Connect?
Latina Bloggers Connect is both a blog and a business. The blog is where I share what is going on the Latina blogosphere, tools for bloggers to grow their blogs and reap the rewards, and an open space to discuss the relationship between bloggers and brands. The business side of it is to connect bloggers with paid opportunities from brands and services that cater to them.
What is next for LBC?
LBC will grow with the Latina blogger community. My goal is for it to become a resource site for new and seasoned Latinas to learn the tools of blogging and monetizing. That might be achieved through webinars, local workshops, ebooks, etc.
What would you say to Latinas to get them to start a blog?
To just do it! To not be scared that they are too late or they don´t know what to say. We all have something to say, and there´s always someone that´s interested in your voice. Also, don´t focus on how others are making money or getting sponsorships and deals. The bloggers who have achieved that level have invested tons of hours and hard work, and most likely a bit of cash, into becoming pro and getting compensated. Figure out what they are doing right, and do it, but don´t obsess. Invest time in creating amazing content and engaging with others online and it will all come to you in due time. Expect to work hard.
Can you outline the differences of casual blogging and blogging for profit? Is it a misconception that getting into blogging means trying to make money at it?
It is definitely a misconception. The blogging universe is immense and we all have different motivations for being here. What I believe happens is that after a while of investing time and efforts into our blogs, we eventually start feeling that we want to be compensated. Also, we realize that there is a way to live off of something we´ve become addicted to and love doing! So, the passion for monetization begins.
What is the most common mistake bloggers make when kickstarting a blog?
Not having a clear topic or niche. Having a niche is one of the keys to blogging success. It´s one of the easiest ways to have clear keywords and great SEO. Also, it allows you to find your tribe and grow your readership through that tribe. No one can blog on an island and be successful. You need blogging partners to give each other advice, encouragement and even comments!
How many major design/theme changes do you go through in a year? What is your process?
Once per year. The first design for SpanglishBaby I did myself with the Thesis Theme. I was completely new at WordPress, CSS, XHTML, etc but found a great resource at the Thesis forums. I basically copied/pasted my way around it. In February of this year we revamped the site and hired a designer to do it. We wanted to be able to showcase all of our categories and older content on the homepage. It also helped increase pageviews because seeing the categories and its latest post on the sidebars provokes curiosity.
How important are analytics and how do you keep track of your traffic?
Analytics are gold! We use Google Analytics for our stats and Quantcast for our demographics. I urge every single blogger to install Analytics on their sites from day one. You will not be able to monetize unless you can prove your traffic. It´s also a great tool for you to know how your visitors found you and what they are reading on your blog.
What has been the single most important thing you’ve learned from blogging?
That the good things in life come through very hard work.
What’s missing from the Latino Blogosphere?
More mentorship and guidance to new bloggers. There are many fabulous communities on Twitter, with Latism leading the way, but I believe those communities need to expand to create more mentorships and real-life guidance to those bloggers who are truly trying become pro and make a living out of blogging.
We´re also missing a conference that really represents Latina bloggers. Now that our numbers are at a steady rise, I´m sure that will come.
Now that brands and companies are kicking up their own blogs, how can a single blog compete, how can a blogger work with them?
A single blog can always compete by having an authentic voice and style. Brands are limited by their key messages and selling points. The beauty of independent bloggers is that we can write and say what we wish without having to receive approval from above.
A blogger can work with brands by finding what it is that she has to offer that complements the brand´s needs. But first, bloggers need to be writing with integrity and honesty to be attractive to any brand.
The big ad dollars are spent on sites and blogs with high number of monthly uniques and traffic, what is a brand’s relationship going to be with hundreds of individual blogs with high user overlap and significantly less traffic and uniques than that of the major portals?
The relationships vary at every level and is proportionate to each level´s needs. A large portal most likely has more than one person operating it and requests more advertising dollars to manage its overhead. Individual blogs may exist for many reasons beyond advertising. They may be part of a blogger´s professional tool kit, or a stay-at-home mom´s supplemental income. Brands are targeting these blogs with more cookie cutter promotions that allow the brand´s message to cast a wide net, even if the message is not overtly original, and have their keywords appear heavily on SEO. Most of these blogs will have an average, yet attractive captive audience that multiplies due to the large universe of them out there.
Is it really only the product giveaways, gift-card kickbacks, product reviews, and guest posting that brands are looking for or is there something else that is going to bring in real revenue for bloggers based on these relationships?
These are always excellent ways for brands to begin getting their feet wet in the blogosphere and for bloggers to establish working relationships. Many Latina bloggers have already gone to second base with brands by working with them as consultants, brand ambassadors and even partnering up on sponsorships for off and on-line events. These have all been the case for me and have allowed me to move forward to make blogging my profession. I am excited to see many Latina bloggers getting the same opportunities.
What do you love most about the Latino Blog Community?
How close-knit we are, and how we love to have music in our Twitter parties! Elianne Ramos is a master at that!
We would like to applaud your work in the Latino Blogosphere, bringing awareness to latino blogging and providing another resource for Latina bloggers to succeed at blogging whether it’s to start a business or just for fun! Thank You LBc!
Thank you for giving me this space to share and for being a pioneer in our corner of the blogosphere.