I’m so excited that the UK Blog Awards introduced the Nature & Wildlife category for 2019, after a growing number of nominations fitting this genre emerged over the last few years (not least this very blog, which was Highly Commended at the prestigious awards ceremony in 2016).
I’m absolutely thrilled to be the first ever judge of this brand new category, and from the perspective of a wildlife blogger myself, I’ve loved seeing the diversity of entries in the category over the last few months and the brilliant work that bloggers are doing to tell the story of our planet’s nature and wildlife. It’s certainly a hugely important addition to the UK’s biggest celebration of bloggers!
The full list of Nature and Wildlife category finalists 2019 can be seen below, or viewed here. Winners announced 12th April!
An interview with Nature & Wildlife Judge – Kate Stephenson
This interview first appeared at https://blogawardsuk.co.uk
We are so thrilled to have the incredible Kate Stephenson on board as our Nature & Wildlife judge for #UKBA19 (a brand new category that we hope has given a lot more bloggers the opportunity to enter this year!)
Kate has a LOT of strings to her bow….she sits on the board of charities, runs the incredible blog – Kate on Conservation, works with companies such as the National Geographic and spends so much of her time campaigning for animal welfare and conservation hot topics. We wanted to understand her journey in the blogging world and how she has grown her reach and authority.
What has been the number 1 challenge with building/growing your blog?
My blog has a very specific niche; it’s about wildlife conservation and animal rights — and I want all of my content to reflect that.
That includes any brands or products I’m discussing, any posts related to travel or photography; everything has to tie back to my purpose and never leave my readers wondering why I’ve included it.
For me, it’s about reflecting my life philosophy, and that means I have some self-imposed limitations. For example, if a product is ‘eco-friendly’, that’s not necessarily the same as ‘cruelty-free’ — sure it may be made from sustainably sourced products, but I want to know that it wasn’t tested on animals, too. Likewise, I like to draw a connection between the topic/issue I’m discussing and the wider context (e.g. I featured a post on bamboo socks, where the company who makes them also donates a portion of their profits to the Dian Fossey Fund; this gave me a chance to discuss who Dian Fossey is, her impact on gorilla conservation; what the charity now does with her legacy and the issues that gorillas are facing).
It can be challenging to grow into new areas, while still meeting my criteria. But that integrity has always been my message, and to me that’s gold dust. I strongly believe that eventually it will pay-off and one day become an asset or my ‘unique selling point’, rather than a limitation.
Do you think it’s ‘pot luck’ for a blogger to become a success and get paid for it?
Not at all. I think successful bloggers are where they are because of an incredible amount of hard work, and a lot of effort to maintain their status and stay ahead of the curve. They have to constantly evolve and move into new areas and trends to stay on top.
That said, I think it’s like many other industries connected to gaining popularity and a form of celebrity; some people will take off in a huge way, and others simply won’t. It’s impossible to truly know the formula for what is going to make someone gain a following of millions, while others are equally as hard working and innovative, but gain a more modest following. It’s having that ‘X-factor’, or not.
I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘pot luck’ though — probably more a mixture of timing, appeal, the right network, the right marketing strategy, etc.
Do you think it’s easy for a blogger to break into the big time these days?
No, I think it’s incredibly hard. But I also think that not everyone is necessarily looking to make the ‘big time’. For some of us bloggers, it’s about a ripple effect — trying to create a social change on even a small scale.
For others, it’s about making a living or substituting their day jobs; for others it’s a hobby, and for some people it’s as straightforward as having a voice and expressing an opinion. The blogging world is incredibly diverse and can be what you make of it.
Want more? Take a look at my reflections on 8 years of wildlife blogging here.