Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Interview: Lehigh Valley with Love

There are certainly no shortage of bloggers in the Lehigh Valley, but some certainly stand far above the rest.  One of those blogs is Lehigh Valley With Love, the irreverent blog that makes fun of...umm, by George Wacker.  George was kind enough to allow us to pick his brain about the success of his blog and his advice to others, and his answers to some questions are below.  Some key takeaways:

  • Have fun with blogging and make it entertaining.
  • Writing style matters.
  • Use Social Media to find content.
  • Don't drive 90mph on the highway, drinking beer and holding a cat out the window.
How do you find your content?

Usually the same way anyone finds weird stories; I'll check the Internet. However, as the site has gotten larger, I receive tips from friends, readers, and sometimes even newspaper reporters, on some of the crazier stories they read. Twitter is also a great place for someone to shoot you some information on some weird thing they read.
Where does your blog traffic come from? 

Originally, I just shared my blog posts with friends who would sometimes share it with their friends, if they thought it was funny enough. After awhile, through people Google searching, and Twitter, and Facebook, the stories just started circulating and people just kept finding them. Right now, most of my traffic comes from online searches, Facebook fans and those who read every day!

How separate do you keep your real world life and your LVwithLove persona? 

Not very well, since I'm answering these questions. I originally started the blog without a byline as a way for people to distance themselves from the author. I wanted readers to just have fun with it and not attribute the content to any one individual, but, instead, the blog itself. After awhile, it just kinda got to be a running joke. I don't try to hide in any way. Well, unless you're trying to find me!
And, keep in mind, this is something I do in my spare time that has allowed me to meet a lot of great local people and make some lasting friendships. I have been very lucky in finding a fun niche that people enjoy. It's like having a hobby that people actually want to watch you partake in.
Your style is incredibly humorous, irreverent and occasionally vulgar.  Have you ever gotten into any trouble in the real world for how you blog?  Any awkward moments you want to share?

"Trouble" is a relative term. I've had some moments where people have mentioned how I wrote about their cousin or about a friend of theirs and my response is usually, "Well, they shouldn't be doing 90 mph on the highway while drinking a beer and holding a cat out the window." My writing style isn't usually the thing that gets people up in arms. A lot of the time they are just mad that they are in the paper in the first place. And, if they don't want to be there, they should be more prudent. I'm not saying I'm perfect. No way. In fact, I'm very far from it. However, I guess at the end of the day it's all about accountability and the fact that we live in a day and age where people are really interested in the weird news that's around them. It's just human nature in this heavy communication age.
Looking at your blog, you’ve got sponsors, so it’s probably safe to assume that you’ve been able to use Social Media to generate some income.  Is this correct, were your sponsors skeptical, and is that something you’ve seen grow over time?

For some advertisers, spending money to be on a website is a no go, unless it's a larger, local website. However, through using Google analytics, I am able to back up the fact that I have around 20,000 unique visitors per month. It doesn't matter if that's coming from the Morning Call or from Judy's Blog on Baking Cookies. If someone is going to come to your site and read it every day, then a business that is on that site is going to get some attention. I definitely had help from some friends early on who advertised with me and gave the site credibility. After that, it was easier for me to go to other businesses and say, "Hey, well Joe Schmoe down the road advertises with me, I must not be THAT bad!" We also incorporate our advertisers in contests, online fun stuff, so, it's a good deal for everyone, I think.
Any advice to small businesses that are considering, finally, making the leap into Social Media?

If you haven't already, you're late, but not too late. Just don't think that because you post something online, people are going to notice it. No one, and I mean really no one besides my close friends, read my site for about six or seven months. You have to make a commitment, just like anything you do with a business. Keep it light, keep it fun, keep it conversational and keep it real. People definitely want to hear about your special sale, but they also don't want to feel as though they are talking to a robot.

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