A question I always get asked in Croatia is, “How do I become a blogger?” And by blogger I mean, someone who owns a domain (without .wordpress.com or .blogger.com attached to their blog name) and regularly produces content that is insightful, inspiring and interesting to read. Simply having an instagram account and calling yourself a blogger, without having an actual blog does not make you a blogger, this makes you an influencer, or a wannabe. This may sound stupid to someone reading from outside of the country but the ‘Blogger without a Blog‘ epidemic is well and truly real in Croatia.
To be a blogger in Croatia and paid for your time and efforts you need a mixture of a few things I will mention in the post. No matter how “effortless” and “easy” life may seem from a blogger’s perspective, don’t let this illusion detract from the fact that there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes and many late nights to produce content, and also make your clients happy.
BLOG ABOUT WHAT YOU LOVE & BLOG REGULARLY
There is no point in starting a blog on a topic you’re not 100% driven and passionate about. Find a topic you enjoy, the more niche, the better. Fashion, beauty and the gastro scene seem to be the most popular themes in the balkans and also the most profitable.
Think about it as a business, would you open up a furniture store if it wasn’t something that you’re willing to lose sleep over?
There is also no point in starting a blog if you won’t be updating it regularly. Content doesn’t just create itself, you need to really think outside the box, constantly. Ideally, you should be posting between 3-5 times a week but if this seems too much, regularly posting on the exact same days each week will also keep your readers routinely aware of when to expect new content and lead you into building a following.
UNDERSTAND THAT HAVING ‘JUST A BLOG’ IS NOT ENOUGH
Yes, being a blogger is a lot of work.
You need to be visibly active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. My most powerful social media medium is Twitter and I get a lot of business from there so I use it to my advantage. However, in the Balkans Facebook dominates with Instagram not too far behind for the younger generation. Learn how to drive traffic from your social media and onto your blog by using imagery that is related or the feature image used in your post.
On this note, understand and respect the psychology of each social media platform. The way you connect your audience to your blog on Facebook is different to the language you use on twitter or Instagram. Know your audience, know who you’re speaking to and if you need this information, it is always available in your analytics.
CONTENT IS KING
I find in this region that many bloggers write from a place of ego. It’s all ‘me me me‘ and ‘look how amazing I am, look at my life.’ This is great if you can justify how to covert your amazingness into sales for a company. Think about it, sounds easier said than done.
Personally, I don’t care when a blogger tells me I how much they love the latest YSL lipstick, tell me why I need to buy it as opposed to the Chanel one I’m used to purchasing- Sell it to me in a way where I don’t feel ‘sold to’, manipulated or bored.
Yes, blogging eventually becomes selling.
You become a glamourised virtual sales assistant either by posting reviews, affiliate links & discount codes or enticing people to stay or visit where you did. Brands come to you so that they can use your following to drive sales, get it? It’s all about money.
Never undermine good content that is interesting to read, inspires the reader and best of all, ranks well on Google. Your blog and Google need to become good friends and you must use keywords and proper SEO strategies to make Google happy.
Your content should always be original and personalised. Copying and pasting city facts about Milan (or where ever you visited) from Wikipedia or another blog can easily be traced and is quite obvious, making you look amateur.
On the other hand, if your readers wanted to know everything about “Milan“, for example, they would Google it. If you’re going to quote someone or a web page, mention the source. People log onto blogs for a personal recap and to read about your own observations and opinions, not for something you directly stole from another website.
Let me confirm that Croatia has another epidemic apart from the ‘Blogger without a Blog‘ one and it’s plagiarism. It is so obvious when someone publishes a post that is copied from somewhere and not written in their writing voice. Maybe people in Croatia don’t realise and think they are a talented writer, but it’s funny what a simple copy and paste into Google brings up for someone like me. Hashtag Busted.
& you thought blogging was easy. Being original is hard but it’s worth it in the long run.
Also, figure out which language you’ll write in. If you want to translate your Croatian to English, make sure you don’t refer to Google Translate because often your content loses it’s context.
HAVE AN UPDATED PRESS KIT READY, ALWAYS
At State of Style, a store I used to manage in Zagreb, we regularly received messages on social media from bloggers who wanted to collaborate with us. This is fine and we were always open for collaborations. However, whenever I asked for a press kit to be emailed through to the store email, I was met with the sound of crickets. In any other land, this is a normal procedure.
I would also like to point out that all of my blogger friends in Australia and UK would say that messaging through social media is unprofessional. You should use it to ask for a direct PR email. It goes a lot further that pitching yourself in instagram DMs.
Always send an email (preferably the to Marketing/PR department), try to avoid contacting brands on social media, it’s amateur.
If you really want to stand out as a blogger in Croatia, have an updated press kit ready at your disposal on you at all times- with all your latest Google Analytics, Instagram/Facebook/ YouTube insights and statistics. Also include your rate card for what you’re prepared to do for a company.
Everywhere but here in Croatia are you required to inform your readers and followers about sponsored content. Bloggers can face fines in the tens of thousands if they haven’t disclosed that their content has been paid for and we are only a few years away from the Croatian Government catching on to this. Not only that but it’s just general courtesy to let people know that you’ve been compensated for your review, either through a payment, free product or free stay/free lunch etc. In most instances your readers won’t mind and will be thrilled that you were able to collaborate with a company and be paid for it, very rarely does sponsored content upset people but it’s better to be clear from the start.
SIDE NOTE– Keep in mind that if your blog begins to receive revenue, you will need to register as a business. There are a few start-up costs associated here but if your blog is doing well, it is all worth it. This means invoicing through clients (paying pdv in Croatia), declaring your adsense money and/or any affiliate links you use.
I’m quite interested how many “professional” bloggers in Croatia are actually registered businesses for all their “sponsored” posts on instagram or blog. There’s a good story for a bored journalist in the country.
LASTLY, BE YOURSELF
Thinking about being fake? Think again. Be yourself, you’ll last longer.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about blogging in Croatia or in general. Have you got any tips to advise any aspiring bloggers? What do you think about bloggers in Croatia? Leave your comments down below with a link to your blog ☺️
Full Croatian Translation Here –