If putting yourself out there for the world to judge by deciding to write a blog wasn’t daunting enough, starting to blog in a country with a relatively under-established blogging scene can be completely and utterly terrifying.
Are people going to read what you’re writing? And if they do, are they going to care enough about what you’re saying to stick around? Are brands going to take an interest and value your input? Are there any other like-minded bloggers out there that are sharing the same experiences who might be able to offer some advice and support? These are some of the questions I asked myself when I first started my blogging journey in my little adopted country of Qatar 18 months ago.
Luckily for all of us Qatar bloggers (and yes, you’ll be surprised, there are many!), there are several different ways to become a part of the blogging community these days – or even to build your own. It’s just that like every opportunity out here, you have to be a little bit proactive in searching for it and brave enough to get involved.
Here are my top six community-building opportunities for bloggers in Doha, and all of the details that you need to get started. Good luck!
1. Blogging ME
When I first started reading Kirsty’s hilarious anecdotes and ogling at Sarah’s beautiful posts many months ago, I had no idea that these brilliant bloggers were hatching a plan to launch BloggingME: the first blogging agency of its kind in the Middle East. At the beginning of the year, I attended their inaugural meet-up at the Four Seasons Doha following their first blogging workshop where I met some fantastic bloggers who have since gone on to become really good friends and form part of my great blogging-related support network out here.
There are soo many benefits to getting involved in this network, but I will leave it to the agency’s founders themselves to tell you a bit more about what BloggingME offers and how you can join in (and please ignore the blurry video, Kirsty’s camera didn’t want to play ball!).
2. Food Bloggers Qatar
If food is your particular niche, you’re in luck, because the wonderful Doaa has founded Food Bloggers Qatar to bring all Doha-based foodie bloggers together on one platform. We had a great meet-up (again at Il Teatro in the Four Seasons) a few months ago, where great food was eaten, analysed and widely photographed, stories were shared and prizes awarded.
There are plans afoot for more meet-ups in the future, and there will be other opportunities to get involved through the website so if you have a food blog, keep your ear to the ground!
Even if you’re not a food blogger, if you enjoy a good restaurant then I think you should all sign up to Zomato. Launched in 2008, the platform has rapidly expanded to cover 22 countries, lists over a million restaurants, and has been successful in helping people to discover great places to eat, promoting the food culture of particular cities and building foodie communities.
For bloggers, it provides an opportunity to network with
like-minded food-minded individuals and to raise your visibility in the blogging arena. The new “spoonback” feature is an excellent SEO tool, blogger contests increase community engagement and Zomato profile widgets can be added to your blog following each review (or as a side bar widget) in order to engage your followers further. Furthermore, Zomato can create user profiles for bloggers, which (after obtaining written permission from you of course!) they will automatically upload all reviews from the past six months to for other Zomato users to browse at their pleasure.
With regular opportunities to meet with fellow foodies (our last one was just a couple of weeks ago, kindly hosted by Eatopia Qatar), I don’t see any reason for you to delay in signing up!
4. Guest Posting
The benefits of guest posting are numerous: you build relationships with other bloggers or organisations by adding value to their online space, you introduce yourself to new audiences and raise awareness of who you are and your own particular blogger ‘brand’.
Today I was sad to learn that Funky Qatar Blog, the platform for which I have been guest blogging for a while is up for sale on Flippa. Rachel, the website’s owner and a very impressive blogging entrepreneur has moved back to the UK and is looking for someone more locally based to run with it going forwards. However, there are many other platforms in Qatar that might be interested in a guest post from you. For instance, the online and print magazine, Ahlan has become much more interested in receiving content from bloggers recently. Or why not try curating a social media platform such as We Are Qatar for a week, or guest posting on a friend’s blog, as I am doing on Dream Days.
PRs in Doha aren’t as proactive at reaching out to bloggers as they are in cities with more established blogging scenes such as Dubai. However, don’t let this put you off. The vast majority of the ladies and gents working in the PR and Marketing industry in Qatar are incredibly friendly and approachable, and what’s more, they are very open to being approached by bloggers and interested in how you might help them out.
If a PR does approach you, make sure you listen carefully to what they are asking of you, and don’t accept anything that compromises your integrity, or what your blog is all about…and always disclose any freebies at the end of your post!
A great way to contact Marketing bods in Doha is to reach out via social media. A DM on Twitter can go a long way!
Excuse the gormless face…I am mid-sentence in the video!
6. Say yes!
Last but not least, this is the best piece of advice I can give you for growing your blogging community in Doha. There are lots of opportunities out there to meet new people and experience new things – you’ve just got to be willing and ready to get stuck in!
If an event crops up or an invitation comes your way – whether it’s within your particular blogging ‘niche’ or not, try to make an effort to go along and check it out. Fashion shows, new season launches, menu tastings, food festivals, new restaurant openings, concerts, cultural events…you never know who you’re going to meet while you’re there and what benefit they might be to your blogging community in the future.
I’d love to hear from all of you Doha bloggers out there! Are there any other ways to get involved in the blogging community out here that I’ve missed? How do you meet other bloggers? Have you got involved in any of the activities above?