Last night, bloggers from all over the city made their way to the Meatpacking District for HPNOTIQ and RdV’s “MusicMediaBuzz” summer series, hosted by Kristina Marino and Natalie Zfat of Downtown Diaries and Poison Ivy.
Harmonie specialty cocktails flowed freely, while nearly 200 bloggers mingled and munched on snacks from Harmonie’s candy bar. Later in the evening, guests rocked out to a live performance from Pete Wentz and The Black Cards.
During all the excitement, HPNOTIQ got a chance to chat with the hostesses of the evening about how they created their blogs, how they manage to balance work life and a personal site and what advice they have for up-and-coming bloggers.
How did you two gals meet?
KM: We met backstage at a Semi Precious Weapons concert about three years ago. It was for the launch of Justin Tranter’s Fetty line.
How did you guys come about creating your blogs?
KM: We met backstage, I didn’t have a blog at the time, but Natalie had hers. About a year later, we ran into each other again and I told her, “I think I’m going to start a blog” and she told me I should totally do it. And so I did.
NZ: I started my blog in January 2009 because I thought there was a niche to be filled for New York events and I love sort of finding a cool way to cover a party that really doesn’t happen in a Gate Crasher or Page Six; in more of a humanized way.
How do you manage your blog with a full-time job?
KM: I always say that I’m not going to work and just do my blog full-time, but that never seems to happen because I get caught up with work. Right now I have four to five girls that are contributing to Downtown Diaries and I manage their posts and write as needed. For the most part, I give them a little direction on what parties to cover and I help them get into parties. It’s definitely hard to work and run a website full-time; it’s pretty much two full-time jobs.
NZ: I manage the two by drinking HPNOTIQ.
What’s the most difficult aspect of running a blog?
NZ: I think that there’s a stigma associated with bloggers. People thin that we don’t necessarily have the integrity or the media savvy to really write articles that are meaningful. As somebody who started writing at Rolling Stone and US Weekly, I feel like I actually do bring that journalism integrity to the table. For me, it’s not the biggest challenge, but it’s a challenge for corporate America. Companies need to embrace this media or else brands are really going to suffer.
What do you feel makes your site stand out from other blogs?
KM: Well my blog is written in a very casual and conversational tone. I try to write and do the best I can, but I don’t get caught up on what’s a run on sentence. I use a lot of “ums,” filler words, and dot-dot-dots; it’s very conversational. If you know me, and you read my blog, you’ll see that I write posts exactly the way I talk. I guess, coming from a professional background, I always have to write so prim and proper at work, so for my blog I try not to. I’m trying to tell my story as is, so I try to keep it as conversational as possible.
How has your personal blog helped your career?
KM: My career wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for my personal blog. I was working in advertising working for corporate companies like Digitas and Yahoo. I really wanted to be an event planner, so I started throwing parties on the side. I began using my blog to promote my parties, so it forced me to get into social media, which is good for being in digital advertising. Eventually that led to me getting a full-time job doing social media and managing digital content for brands. I kind of created my own career path, so to speak.
NZ: I think blogs are the new resume. If somebody is interested in hiring you as a writer or a social media manager, they definitely want to look and see what kind of experience you have, what kind of writing you’ve done, what kind of events you’ve posted about. Essentially, instead of printing out some PDF, you can just tell people to check out your blog or see how many Twitter followers you have.
What do you feel distinguishes an effective blog from an ineffective blog?
NZ: It’s definitely not a quantity issue, because I definitely read some blogs that are updated once a week and consider them to be some of the most well written and researched blogs. I think quality is very important. Something with fair reporting and accuracy or somebody who took the time to step outside RdV to interview somebody, even if it’s not convenient; that’s what makes a good blog post.
KM: I try to stick to a niche audience. I try to cover things that aren’t on other blogs, if I do that then I just link to other blogs and say “This is what I’m reading this week.” I live in Williamsburg, and a lot of times I break stories on restaurants and bars that are opening right in my neighborhood. It’s all about going into a place, asking questions and finding out as much as possible. For me I like to stay under the radar. A lot of people don’t know my face, they don’t know what I look like, so I feel like it’s really true to the story. It’s not like I’m getting wined and dined to write about something, because they don’t even know I’m there at the time.
What are your tips for people who are considering creating a blog?
KM: You really have to find something that isn’t being done. If you’re trying to take down a huge competitor, it’s not going to work; there has to be a hole in that market. Fashion’s been done, style’s been done — you have to bring something different to the table. Sometimes you can even kill it with just a Twitter handle. The New York Nightlife – which is run anonymously – doesn’t have a blog, but is constantly tweeting and linking back to other blogs. It’s seen a lot of success with that. It’s just finding that unique angle and just running with it.
NZ: Find your niche and work your ass off. That’s it.