Fatma Al Hashemi who posts updates on her photography blog (f6amyi.blogspot.ae), says it "didn’t only get me customers, it also gave me the chance to fulfil my dream of having my own exhibition" Image Credit: supplied photo

Web-logs or blogs are what net savvy individuals track to access information covering a wide range of topics — from frivolous and funny to serious. Enabled with links to other sites, blogs are a great way of keeping up to date with the latest happenings in any field. And so, when Charlotte Massard saw Teresa Karpinska wearing an enchanting bracelet on styledrifter.com, she checked out the seller’s online store and bought a few pieces herself.

“I would never have known about that particular seller if it was not for Styledrifter — it is like having my own personal stylist for free,” laughs Massard, a marketing expert who keenly follows blogs such as www.buynowbloglater.com and mrsdubai.wordpress.com. Having moved to Dubai a year back, Massard says she also relies on blogs to widen her knowledge base about the city. “It is great to get tips and recommendations on tried and tested hotspots around town, hairdressers, beauticians, restaurants and so on.”

Three years since starting a blog, Teresa Karpinska candidly admits she can live off what she makes as a fashion stylist. According to the Swedish national, turning a blog into a lucrative business is simple. “I make sure to be present at the right events, target the people I know could be beneficial for my career growth and maintain a certain public image — at the end of the day I am my own walking business card. If you want high-end brands to advertise on your website make sure it looks the part,” says Karpinska.

So how does one choose which blog to follow? I ask brand strategic consultant Charmaine D’Souza. “By surfing the net, chatting with friends, hearing about it on the radio, perhaps see a mention of it on social media. But that’s just the start. The topic, style of writing and attitude needs to connect with me before I feel I want to read that blog regularly.”

With a similar thirst for success, a growing number of Arab women across the UAE are honing their writing skills and using the World Wide Web.

“We started our blog (khawlawroadha.wordpress.com) recently to support our new fashion label, KhawlaWRoadha,” says fashion designer Khawla Bin Khedia who runs the business with sister Roadha. “Since the blog is light-hearted and easy to read, it opens up dialogue. It’s important to develop the conversation. We love the constant updates telling people what we are up to and giving them insights into what is happening within the fashion industry”.

Blogs are like virtual mushrooms, there is no knowing the exact count and there is no stopping them from sprouting either. With no controlling body or agency to monitor the rising blogging culture in the UAE, bloggers can simply take to the web and set up. All they need is basic computer skills. For aspiring writers, blogs are the perfect launchpad.

After two years of interning with various publications, Nada Al Ghowaneim, the Rebellious Saudi Diva (what she calls herself on her blog undefineddeclarations.wordpress.com), took to blogging hesitatingly last year to showcase her abilities as a writer. “As time went by, I realised that there is still a lot that I had to do in order to prove myself to potential employers. Writing a blog allows me to attend various events, network with different groups and communities and then go back to write about the experience, which is when I am completely in my own world.”

Asma Lootah started a blog (thehundred.ae/blog) in 2012, after opening The Hundred Pilates Studio, to share educational articles about health and fitness and talk about the benefits of doing Pilates. “Through your blog you can share beneficial information and articles with the audience and get your message across. It shows the end user that you are not just a profit driven business but you are here to make a change and the blog is one of these mediums,” says Lootah, who has now hired a part-time marketing consultant to help her update her blogs.

“In the Middle East a lot of companies and brands still do not take it that seriously. But I do get paid for a lot of reviews that I do, aside from being affiliated with an online website,” says Nadya Hasan, who has been writing thefiercediaries.com for two and half years now. She has over 2,000 followers and loves every bit of what she does. What started off as a hobby is now a full-time job as she blogs regularly about fashion and includes reviews on beauty, restaurants and even fitness at times. Hasan admits blogging is expensive though bloggers can live off of their blogs.

Writing a blog and managing one are time consuming activities which require multitasking. Fatma Al Hashemi found it difficult to juggle college projects and post daily updates on her photography blog (f6amyi.blogspot.ae), till technology came to the rescue.

“It all started when Tariq Malek the owner of Momentum Dubai, surfed the internet for an Emirati female photographer, he found my blog and contacted me. So my blog didn’t only get me customers, it also gave me the chance to fulfil my dream of having my own exhibition.” Blogging has also helped introduce the 20-year-old final year Zayed University graphic design student to prospective clients.

“I post enough photos from different categories along with the rates I charge. I was surprised to know that people actually read my entries. The more tags I add, the more people get to see it. But I used to find it hard to post on a daily basis as I have no time. But now one can simply blog using their smartphone. It’s the same thing as texting but instead you text to the whole world through a blog.”

— Shahana Raza is a UAE-based freelance writer


Box: Dos and don’ts

After having studied successful blogs abroad, Teresa Karpinska discovered that those with ambitious content such as high quality images and captivating write ups were acknowledged by both a large following of readers as well as public relation companies and representatives of brands. “If you want high-end brands to advertise on your website make sure that it looks the part. Images taken with smartphones are a big no, spell checks are a must. Think of yourself and your site as a corporate venture and you will be perceived as one.

“Everything put out there might eventually be used against you so while maintaining an approachable persona is important, it is also crucial to remember that corporate heads that are about to invest in your product might not want to read about wild nights out and emotional outbursts.”


Box: Put yourself out there

Successful bloggers must learn to market themselves. Here are some helpful suggestions on how to transform your blog into a commercial success:

• Be present at the right events, it helps grow business.

• Target people that could be beneficial for your career growth.

• Maintain a public image; get a business card and add the URL link of your blog on your business card.

• Social media presence is crucial. Create a Facebook page, get on Twitter.