Every month, we select one member of the Blogosphere Community to be celebrated through our blog, social media and newsletter.
Our #MemberOfTheMonth for December 2020 is… Sophie from Sophie Etc.
You’ve become a leading resource for businesses in Milton Keynes, why did you decide to focus on your local community through your blog?
In 2016, I returned to Milton Keynes after spending three years in Birmingham studying at university. Birmingham is very much a traditional city and has a thriving independent food scene. I got a taste of that and found a passion for supporting independent businesses, so when I came back to MK, it felt natural to explore that more. I never felt like anyone was truly celebrating Milton Keynes’ independent businesses, and there certainly wasn’t a platform showing people what MK was like from a 20-something-year-old’s point of view.
I want to provide people with a different perspective of Milton Keynes – one that it isn’t that it’s full of chain restaurants and roundabouts! A few people have told me that they have this idea of Milton Keynes before they found my blog and an enitrely new Milton Keynes after they found my blog – I am so proud to have instilled a newfound love for MK in people who have lived here all their lives! Focussing on local businesses and the local community is just so rewarding.
Has anything surprised you about refining your niche so specifically to one location?
Yes – I’ve never had more ideas for content! I think there is a general misconception among bloggers that if you niche your content to one location or topic, you limit yourself and who wants to follow you. In reality, it actually gives you more freedom. I genuinely have about 100 blog posts I still want to write, all about Milton Keynes!
In regards to the audience, niching to MK has only accelerated my growth. I rank really well on Google for MK-related content, and people know who to come to when they want to find out where to eat. It all makes sense now, but when I was debating whether to carry on my blog a few years ago, niching felt like a really scary thing to do. It’s been the best thing I have ever done.
You recently hit the 10,000 followers milestone on Instagram. What are your tips for growing a following on the platform in 2020?
I’m going to continue to bang the niche drum! You don’t have to find a niche in a particular topic, but I would advise at least having a strong brand. With Instagram growth, you have to be a bit more strategic and think ‘Why am I posting this? What will my audience get out of it?’ Whether it’s a new food spot in MK or some tips on supporting local businesses, I always make sure that there is something more than a pretty picture for my audience to take away. I was also very lucky to have a shout out from a blogger who I admire greatly. If you become an expert in your field, people will engage quicker and will be more likely to share your page.
What are the benefits of having a newsletter?
You OWN IT. If your Instagram account crashes or your Facebook page disappears, there is not a lot you can do other than hope and pray that it can be restored. We invest so much in social media platforms now, which is fantastic, however, I still think the true value of content is in websites/blogs and newsletters. If your page disappears, at least you have an email list of people you can connect with!
A newsletter also helps you to curate a more personal relationship with your audience. I always receive replies to my newsletters and welcome emails, because it feels more personal. You can address people by their first name in emails, and they feel a little more compelled to engage in the content you share. It’s also great for selling products like my supper club tickets. I usually sell out from my email list alone.
How can Blogosphere and the Blogosphere Community best serve you in 2021?
Hopefully with some in-person events! I love the virtual VirBELA events but boy, do I miss in-person events. I’d also love to upskill myself more in things like video editing, so more workshops on fun stuff like that would be amazing!