Blog Out Loud Interview:
Emi Hofmeister of DivineCaroline

I am excited to share our latest and greatest Blog Out Loud interview from the lovely Emi Hofmeister of DivineCaroline, a publishing network with all the content written! I love the tag line "life in your words" and also that the site is a "reflection of it's Members". The concept of the website truly encompasses and empowers the "every woman" while providing a broad platform for engaging and interesting content. As you get your own blog up and running, joining DivineCaroline's free site is just another opportunity to connect with like-minded readers and extend your online presence even further. Let's hear from Emi has to say.

Real Girls Media is an online community that provides a platform for women to express themselves. What steps have you taken to create such an amazing community? How have you seen the community grow and evolve?

When Real Girls Media was founded, there were few opportunities for women to share their stories and connect with others in a meaningful way. Independent blogs provided a place to write, but lacked a community feel. DivineCaroline offered an alternative, offering a place for women to both share their personal experiences and learn from others.

Creating and engaging a community is an ongoing process we initiated before DivineCaroline even launched. When we were developing the site, we recruited a host of prominent bloggers to serve as an advisory board. These women provided invaluable insight about online communities. Their advice helped us shape DivineCaroline. After the site launched, we invited these bloggers and other relevant web site owners to join our community as content partners. By publishing articles on DivineCaroline, they receive exposure to our audience and increased traffic to their sites. In return, each of these partners share information about DivineCaroline with their audiences, spreading word about a unique place online, where people read and write about everything that matters.

While our content partners play a crucial role in the DivineCaroline community, we depend on the commitment and loyalty of our users. As the number of contributors and readers on the site continues to grow, we regularly respond to evolving needs with new publishing tools (such as slideshow and video capabilities), a message center to connect with friends, and a rating system for most liked stories. As a result, the quality and quantity of story submissions continues to climb and we are confident that many women have found a trusted home online.

A lot of creative people are busy with their own business and haven't found the time to start a blog for their company. What advice would you give to a new blogger to encourage them to get in to the blogging ring?

For all those hesitant to enter the blogging ring, remember that an online presence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Blogging is free marketing. It’s an opportunity to share information about yourself, your company, and your products with consumers. Your competitors are already in the social media space and you should be too. That said, I would caution against hastily jumping into the blogosphere. Before you launch a blog, take time to develop a social media plan that meets the needs of your consumers and fits with your brand persona.

· Spend time researching your industry and competitors. What are people saying about your company? Your industry? What are people worried and excited about? Think about specific issues and/or accomplishments to address on your blog.

· Set specific goals for how social media can help your company; develop content relevant to those goals. Are you seeking to drive new traffic? Increase awareness for products? Keep people informed about the industry? Create personal relationships between your brand and your consumers? The answer can be “all of the above” but pick a solid approach first. If you present yourself as an expert on a particular topic and can convey information in an interesting and relevant way, others will begin to seek your expertise.

· Promote. Promote. Promote. Make sure that consumers know the blog exists. Include it on your traditional advertising vehicles, make notes on your Facebook wall, and tell other members of your company to pass the link to friends. Once you have a few readers, you’ll feel more responsible for creating good content on a regular basis.

Divine Caroline, your first "vibrant community" of Real Girls Media is such an expansive and resourceful community. Can you share some blogging success stories or blogging inspiration stories from some of your members? (hoping this will encourage and empower new bloggers to join)

At DivineCaroline, we give everyone a voice by creating a place where they feel comfortable sharing stories, experiences, and talking to others. Our readers and contributors continually inspire us with their articles, but there is one writer who stands out for her success.

A regular reader of DivineCaroline, this particular woman found her voice during the election. As a bleeding heart liberal living in the middle of a red state, she needed a place to vent, to be excited, and connect with others that shared her views. She began writing, not just about politics, but about her family, friends, and the trials of motherhood. Her eloquent style attracted many DivineCaroline readers, who became loyal followers and eagerly commented on every new article submission. Encouraged by DivineCaroline editors and seven faithful readers, she launched her own blog. Her tagline reads “I have a voice. Who knew?” She openly credits DivineCaroline for giving her the opportunity to share her words and find that voice.

Divine Caroline has a clear, defined voice. We encourage new bloggers to really consider and define their own. What advice can you give for finding your voice?

Finding your voice is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a blog. It can also be the most fun. Committing time and energy to your blog will be much easier if you write on a topic that not only interests you, but stokes your imagination and ingenuity. Think about what you talk about with friends. Is it fashion? Kids? The hilarity of cats wearing hats? Truly, a blog can be about any topic, it just needs to be a focus or a theme that will continue to excite you after the first few posts. This does not mean that you will be pigeonholed and must write about one thing forever, but initially, it will help you launch a site with purpose.

Thanks, Emi!! Click here to read and join DivineCaroline and follow Emi on Twitter @EmiHof

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