By Allison Lawlor
ANDREA TOMKINS HAS been blogging so long
that she remembers writing out HTML code before
she posted anything online.
The Ottawa-based blogger started A Peek Inside
the Fishbowl ( quietfish.com) in 1999 after the birth
of her first daughter. The blog was a way for Tomkins
to chronicle family life and keep friends connected.
Thousands of posts later, Tomkins’ award-winning
blog provides her with a part-time income.
“I’ve always loved to write. It’s not a chore to keep
it going,” says Tomkins, a mother of two who
edits newspapers in addition to blogging.
Tomkins, a Costco member, is one
of thousands of Canadians blogging
about everything from bad parenting moments to poutine.
People are increasingly turning
to blogs for entertainment, lifestyle choices and product
reviews. It’s no surprise. With 86
per cent of the population using
the Internet, more Canadians use
social networks, such as Facebook,
than any other country.
Social media is critical to most
bloggers, says Tomkins, who credits Twitter
with driving up her readership. She regularly tweets
and shares other bloggers’ posts. “It has to be a con-
versation [with readers],” she says. “It can’t just be
the blogger always talking about themselves.”
As her readership grew, advertisers took notice.
But before a company places an ad on a blog, they
need to know readers are engaged. They look at how
many tweets a blog post has or how many likes on
Facebook, says Linda Dessau, an Ontario-based
blogger ( contentmasteryguide.com) who helps busi-
nesses use blogging as a marketing tool.
With few notable Canadian blog awards
around, ads are one of the hallmarks of a successful
blog, says Dessau, a Costco member. But what
defines success depends on the blog’s intention. For
some, it might be having a large following or getting
paid to endorse products; for others, it’s building
new business relationships or making connections.
“You need to know why you are blogging.
Consistency is a big part of being a blogger,” says
Dessau, who recommends posting a minimum of once a week.
New bloggers often run into two
pitfalls: expecting to make money
immediately or losing interest
after choosing the wrong sub-
ject. “Pick a topic you are really
passionate about,” says
Tomkins, “There are all types
of blogs, and there is no right
or wrong way to do it.”
What keeps readers coming
back? “It’s all about the content
and whether that content connects
with me,” says Tomkins. But don’t
underestimate the value of editing, correct
spelling and being kind: “I’ll never write something
I wouldn’t say to someone,” she says.
Good images don’t hurt either. “People don’t
Creative chroniclers are earning a living
want to see a wall of text,” says Dessau. “Ultimately,
it’s best to be as genuine and authentic as possible.
It’s what sets you apart.”
Over the next several pages The Connection
profiles several Costco members who have found
success in the blogosphere by documenting their
passions and their day-to-day lives. C
“Pick a topic
you are really