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Successful Filipino Bloggers Who Prove That Blogging is a Profession
February 15, 2021 by Bianca Angeli H. Arellano
What is the definition of a successful blog? For anyone who has considered starting their blog, a usual metric would be to reach a bulk number of followers, activate a solid social media presence, or perhaps get featured as a "top blog" in a certain industry. Blogging can make you rich. Blogging can make you a celebrity. Blogging can get your name "out there". The list of opportunities goes on as you research technical to-do's and start to get serious about it, and the rewards get even more glamorous as you shift your career-sharpened perspectives on it.
Some of us may still be picking up on new things that we discovered (or rediscovered) about ourselves during this lockdown, aspiring for something remotely "big" as those success metrics may still be overwhelming. But as the popular lockdown mantra goes - "It's okay if all you did today was survive". The same applies to blogging, especially in times when your website receives only a trickle of visitors, or your posts get little to no engagements. Just like in choosing a career or making that life-changing investment in a premium house and lot in Cavite, pursuing your passion requires a driven commitment that is not so independent of external validation - that's why success in online content creation is often difficult to achieve.
You do not need to have a degree in communication or marketing for you to run a successful blog, even if it is undeniably an edge. The truth is, the most successful independent bloggers have documented their thoughts and lifestyle not primarily to seek fame and engagement, but more to share nuggets of wisdom based on experience. They chose to blog about the sides of them that they did not want the fast-paced world to gloss over, as their often corporate or celebrity-level identities pull them around with uncertainties, challenges, and often, unfulfillment.
Recovery rarely happens overnight, and more often than not, you need to take a good hard look at the actual things that help you survive the dark times and bad days. Bloggers have mastered using their highly-personal stories about recovery and determination as leverage for success with their audience. That is because it is these types of quality content and intimacy, that were so painfully lost in the maze of advertisements and TikTok crazes, we still unconsciously crave every time we open our phones.
You may be a prolific manager in Ortigas or an in-demand consultant based in Baguio, but who knew that you had such a taste in Netflix movies? Or if you are an internationally-savvy entrepreneur hailing from your one-bedroom condo in Cebu, you might have sown productivity hacks that many young professionals are dying to know.
A good number of Filipinos have reaped financial, professional, and personal success from creating quality online content. However, you do not need to turn your quiet interests into a full-blown online career every time. Many ride it alongside a day job for security, celebrating the only true win when it comes to blogging: to be true to themselves, in each new big or small milestone in their blog.
That said, here are 4 Filipinos who prove that blogging is just as personally worthwhile as a stable career.
Trisha Velarmino of P.S. I'm On My Way
If you have ever considered opening a travel blog, one of the first questions to usually ask is: "Am I a good enough photographer to capture all of my travels? Or will I be too busy enjoying the views that I could not document it quickly enough?"
Trisha, however, has mastered the balancing act of business, blogging, traveling, and immersing herself in different cultures. Her main activity is in telling stories about her conversations, friendships, relationships, and realizations about every moment in a digital nomad's life, alongside breathtaking views of the many cities she's solo-traveled to. Many Filipino travel junkies start a blog to share their experiences of traveling to the rest of the world, or to stake that claim and proudly declare that "we made it to another country". But few of these bloggers cut close to how intimately Trisha spills her reflections into her articles, making her audience feel like they have traveled Asia and the Latin Americas with her.
Just to describe the extent of how personal her writing is, her blog post about romantic relationships in Tel Aviv unexpectedly ranked highest in Google for the keyword search "dating Israeli men"! This is not the first time that one of her articles went viral for something unrelated to travel, but she has hinged her blogging success on the honesty of her stories. She writes:
"In order for people to read your blog, you should present your true, authentic self. Tell them what makes you happy, what makes you scared. Every one of us has our individual truths and that is the beauty of writing — there is freedom. (...) Ask yourself when was the last time you wrote something honest, something brutal, something that just came out of you? What are the worst and best things in your life? Whether it’s about lost love, grieving from a loss of a family member, winning the lottery, shout it out to the world and let them know how you feel."
Despite the pandemic, Trisha continues to provide travel courses and writing workshops online, as well as remote work in PR consultancy, content creation, and trip planning for aspiring backpackers.
Nikki Torres of PrettyDarnFit
Nikki is one of the biggest names to have been known to trade a successful corporate life for one that gave her every excuse to be in the sunlight and put her muscles to work. After graduating from Communication Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, her career quickly rose in many international advertising firms. After four crazy yet glamorous years of client interaction, events planning, team management, and project execution as an account manager and executive for several brands, she soon realized that she was not fulfilled in her craft.
Nikki turned to the one thing that helped her survive the late nights and long hours: physical fitness. She trained in professional yoga and Zumba and eventually started PrettyDarnFit, a lifestyle + wellness + nutrition blog to promote a well-rounded state of balance in life. She also used her advertising prowess to mount NT Sweat, a choreographed toning and cardio fitness class, to build a community around fitness. Although her blog does not comprise the usual 1,000-word articles, Nikki continues to publish content about health and nutrition. She writes on Instagram:
"I still care what people think of me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. What changed though, is the selection of people whose opinions I care about. It was a long distilling process I did on my own but with the help of personal relationships, I’ve built and nurtured with humans who matter to me and who legitimately care. I choose those who want to see me grow, not drag me down."
Johanna "Joey" de Larrazabal-Blanco of 80 Breakfasts
Here is a content creator whose food blog stood against the test of time. Despite being a wife and mom with a full-time job for a media firm in Hong Kong and Europe, her food blog 80 Breakfasts is professionally and intimately curated for people "who may not have that much cooking experience, or who are a little nervous about cooking, to get into the kitchen, get their hands dirty, whip something up and (most importantly) enjoy eating it afterward." In her blog, she writes about the magic in "a small kitchen and a growing family, and all that happens in between the nooks and crannies of the everyday rush…and the special places you can find there if you pay attention."
As with most food blogs, Joey also features a personally-crafted recipe alongside the mouthwatering food photography of the finished dish. Before and after she serves this delicious piece of content, however, she inserts a little snippet about her family, friends, traveling, and work. And even as she allows these musings about life to trickle into her stories, her thoughts only serve as a cherry on top of her rock-solid reputation as an authentic kitchen mommy who loves to gush about her KitchenAid, all-purpose cream, and favorite salad dressings.
Joey is currently a columnist for Yummy PH. With more than a decade of blogging experience under her belt, many would have expected Joey to launch her cooking show, publish a recipe book, or release a line of kitchen-related equipment under the 80 Breakfasts brand. But beyond the occasional product feature in her recipes and alongside her role as a columnist for Yummy PH, Joey calls herself "the simplest, most uncomplicated person in the world." In an interview with the motherhood blog The Spoiled Mummy, she shares:
"I’ve never tried to avoid being anything really. I’ve just been myself, I guess, however corny that sounds. And I think that’s the crux of it… just be honest, genuine, sincere. If you write about things you genuinely love, it will show. If you write about things you truly believe in, it will resonate with others. (...) I’ve don’t think I have ever written anything on my blog consciously thinking: 'I need to be relevant!' I write because I love to write. I write about food because I love food. I think if you have something genuine to share, and it comes from a place of love and truth, then it will be relevant to someone."
Erwan Heusaff of TheFatKidInside
Not going to lie - even if the restauranteur has almost reached the peak of "celebrity" with his successful Mothership F&B Group, a famous actress for a sister, and an even more popular media personality for a wife, his 2011 WordPress blog TheFatKidInside is still on the internet. To any curious celebrity-stalker who wants to know more about "the heartthrob owner of Erwan Heusaff restaurants'', the blog is a hidden gem. In his earliest posts, he muses:
"I used to be really fat and I can still feel him inside of me, telling me that eating a mars bar coupled with a snickers bar, melted in the microwave and topped with whipped cream; now and again won’t kill me. (...) The problem was not that I didn’t know how to cook; before starting university I already had a good culinary hand; but because I was lazy and I couldn’t be bothered in learning from over-enthusiastic TV chefs and cooks with misplaced egos working in tourist traps."
As with most WordPress blog upgrades, TheFatKidInside has since moved into its website, collaborated with other brands, and even offered up its merchandise—but the Erwan who started everything remains in every piece of its content. Even as an avid restauranteur with a hands-on view of the food and beverage industry, his continuously-running blog ensured that he never lost sight of what truly helped him connect with people and with himself: food, recipes, fitness, travel, and restaurants.
The sudden change in the fabric of our society has triggered many fears that caused us to rethink our business strategies and past choices. Stuck at home, you might notice that the boundaries between yourself and your career start blurring, as work becomes only a few steps from your bedroom sanctuary. The heightened immersion in the online world does have its negative effects, and seeing so many passionate people express themselves on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Tumblr, or even WordPress, can trigger social media imposter syndrome: a comparison game of who you are versus what you see online.
Without a strong self-care routine, it is tempting to let fears creep into and consume every aspect of your personal life. Despite these challenges, however, the mere self-assurance that you are able to follow through with whatever you have set your heart to — is enough motivation to remain ready for life. If there is one thing we all got more used to last year, it is in chasing off boredom and stagnation by building new habits and routines, boosting and expanding our skillset, and venturing into more meaningful and empathic perspectives.
More often than not, the catharsis of "being unexpected" ends up being worth the effort. You do not always have to prove that you are the expert in your hobby, but it is reassuring to know that you are leaving a sort of footprint, online or otherwise, in the shared interests of humanity. Truly, the digital space proved just as essential in keeping us connected to the outside and reminding us that there is so much more in our lives outside the struggle with the pandemic.
Related Blog: Why We Fail at Being Productive