A lot of you guys have been requesting a recap of my Future of Lifestyle Media panel at SXSW last Friday, so thought I’d take a moment to share some of the highlights. I was totally honored to be on a panel with media rockstars Grace Bonney, Tolly Moseley and Andrew Wagner. We had a great mix of perspectives on topics like finding your voice as a blogger, adapting to changing technology tools and (the topic that everyone just can’t get enough of) potential forms of revenue for bloggers. I think one of my favorite moments of the panel was when Tolly stated that her best writing happens when she remembers that the city of Austin is her muse… and Grace expanded by encouraging bloggers to identify who their muse is. For her, it’s the artist community who are making things that provides inspiration. Such a good reminder that I want to be mindful of every time I sit down to write a post. As for me, I felt most inspired by the question that Tolly directed my way, asking, “How did your blog evolve from content curation to content creation?” (Keep reading for my answer…)
Content: from Curation to Creation
When I started blogging three years ago, I wrote about food, fashion, travel, beauty – basically a little bit of everything as I tried to find my voice as a blogger and decide what CamilleStyles.com was all about. During this period, I did a lot of content curation, pulling images that inspired me from all over the web and putting them together in a new way on my site. While this was fine in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I realized that not only did I crave more of a creative outlet; I wasn’t necessarily finding all the inspiration out there that I was looking for. So little by little, I started creating new original content, styling a photo shoot here, creating and photographing a recipe there. And what I discovered is that these were the posts that received by far the most reader response, commenting, retweets and shares from other sites. I realized that there was a huge difference between content curation and creation…and that I wanted to do a lot more of the creation side on my site. When I decided that I wanted to turn my blog into a business, I made the commitment to post almost totally original content, and that’s when I began to build out our team of contributors who could help me develop innovative content on a daily basis, as well as bring in fresh creative voices who would add something unique to the conversation.
Thanks to Pinterest and other totally useful online tools available to us now, everyone has become a content curator and can easily pull inspiration together into their own unique collection. As a blogger, I really believe that the only way to become a valuable resource and true online destination is to be the source where the creation actually happens – where other people will go to curate from and be inspired! Grace and I had so many conversations about this topic while she was in town, and we shared how many emails we get from bloggers who are starting their journey and want to know the secret to building a following and dedicated readership. The only “secret” that’s really worked for me is to remember that content is king. If you want to set yourself apart from the masses and grow as a blogger, continue producing high-quality, original content, and readers will follow.
I’d love to know what y’all think about this topic! If you’re a blogger: is creating original content something that you’ve given much thought about or would like to do more of? What are the biggest challenges that might stop you from creating original content? If you’re a reader, have you noticed that you respond differently to sites that post original content versus curated content? This discussion totally fascinates me, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!