Carl Thompson: All the Stats from my Blog Revealed

I was recently asked in an interview where will I be in 5 years. Currently I'm writing this on a retreat in Bali, with no return ticket, with no plans or agenda. The blog is a great platform for me to empty all my thoughts on men’s lifestyle. 

It's sometimes cathartic, sometimes a chore. But it's become an extension of me and I was thrilled to get nominated last year in the Top 6 UK Men’s Lifestyle Blogs by Vuelio. Today I want to share a couple of facts, stats and behind the scenes trivia. 


WHEN DO I WRITE? 

I normally get up at the crack and meditate on a particular subject or campaign whilst out walking Charlie across Clapham Common. By the time I return to the desk I hammer out 300 words, just empty my head and then leave it. That takes about 15 minutes. When you do this for as long as I have you realise that writers block is a myth. No one is going to read every blog, or every word in that blog. (I'm amazed you're still with me right now). 

I'll then come back to the article later in the day, mid-afternoon or dinner. Do a quick edit, fact check, tweak and post. All told I make sure that a blog never goes past the hour mark. 

WHO IS READING

I'm very pleased to have such a wide demographic of people that are tuning in to the blog. Naturally my audience is hugely UK and London centric. With over 73k users finding their way to my site I'm pleased to have developed a large contingent in the US, India and Canada. 

AGE AND GENDER

This is a very interesting one, and not uncommon in the male blogging industry. Women are tuning into my blog as well as men. I'm very pleased that women are reading my posts, finding style and gifting ideas for themselves or their partners. 

I read plenty of women blogs and tune into discussion lead podcasts myself.

The age range is very much my own, written by me for me I guess. But an undeniable peak of the 25-34 range. 

AN UNHEARD OF BOUNCE RATE

That's right, I've been burying the lead. The bounce rate on my blog is the statistic that I'm most proud of. What is a Bounce Rate? 

From Google 'It is the percentage of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. Google analytics calculates and report the bounce rate of a web page and bounce rate of a website.' 

In other words, people are coming to the site and having a mooch around. They haven't come there by mistake. They've not been put off by my mug and ran to the hills. 

According to an article by Go Rocket Fuel the most common bounce rate for blogs is between 35% - 40%. Anything above 70% is disappointing. 

QUICK THANKS

So a genuine quick thanks for everyone that reads and visits my blog. (Still reading this? Oh you are a saint, you know that you've just notched up my retention stats so thank you).

DISCLAIMER: All statistics are genuine screenshots from Google Analytics for the date range 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2018. My blog carlthompson.co.uk talks about everything men’s lifestyle.

Streamline Your Time Spent Blogging | Get These Apps Now!

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We're all looking for new ways to make our lives more time efficient. There's nothing that grinds my gears more than waiting in line with nothing to do. Especially with regards to the blog. The biggest strain on my time is often not the writing (as you may have guessed) but the uploading, the photo editing, the tagging, then the distributing across social media. 

I've put together a mini-listicle of Time Saving Blogger Hacks, I'd be interested in hearing in the comment section if anyone has any more. 

Otranscribe 

Otranscribe is a free web app to take the pain out of transcribing recorded interviews. I've tried countless of different apps, some with varied level of success. Ultimately if you can afford it, outsource it. However, this app makes transcribing those recorded interviews a sh&t tonne easier. Not such a well-kept secret anymore. 

Tailwind 

Oh the sweet joy of bulk image uploads. Talking earlier about multiple social media distribution, Tailwind will relieve you of all that heavy lifting. It will post all of your visual marketing content to Instagram and Pinterest from one tool with a single workflow. 

LogoGarden 

Especially if you're just starting out as a blogger, Logo Garden will not only save you time, but money as well. You don't need an all singing-all dancing logo for your blog because chances are you'll change it in a few months when you rebrand. Yes many bloggers think it's a great idea to write about one thing, their love for cats or thrift stores, but soon realise that money isn't allocated to a single genre. Why do you think the word 'Lifestyle' was invented. 

Loom

Ohhh yes baby, this is the biggy. Loom is a ten minute screen recording device that allows you to share a screen and record audio. Perfect if you have a team of minions that you need to address, rather than hammer out a dissertation email, this software is free and has been a revelation for me. 

For example on my e-commerce site I have a small team, each assigned different roles. Copywriting, graphic design, layout etc. Rather than shoot them independent emails I get to summarise in a five minute video, sharing my screen and highlighting the problems that need addressing. 

Also a really good tool for those big pitches! If you want to make that very big pitch personable, nothing better than a very recorded video just for that one client. Less spammy. 

Last Pass 

Oh sweet Lord, what a find this is. Passwords were the bane of my life. Constantly having to refer to my little black book, then I'd need to decipher my own handwriting, then I'd lose the book anyway. 

Last Pass, it's a vault for all the passwords and populates all the fields so you can do away with that little black book, if you haven't lost it already. 

 

 

Things for Bloggers to Know Before Buying Drones

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Are you thinking of buying a drone? Well cool your jets there hotshot, because if you don't play by the rules you could be facing jail time. Drones have become ubiquitous thanks to the upsurge in technology, increased fascination with photography and videography and the decrease in cost.  

Now new legislation for drone users is rolling out as we speak and UK drone users may have to pass online safety tests under legislation being introduced to the Commons. Here are some of the KEY facts you should know before buying a drone. 

 

How much should I pay for a Drone

Depends pal, how flush are you right now? The sky is the limit (pardon the pun) when it comes to drones. Generally the less expensive the drone, the more of a remote control plane it becomes targeted for your ten year old nephew.

But you're a blogger, and you want to up your YouTube game. You're just finding your feet in videography and want a drone to film around the hotel you're reviewing, or do a 360 around the new outfit you're wearing? 

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Here's what you need to consider

You need to factor in the following. The wireless range and battery life. Can the drone land safely automated when out of range or better yet, can it return back to you once it reaches it flies out of range? Here are my recommendations:

The Yuneec Typhoon H is an auto return drone currently selling for just over £700. It has an automatic takeoff, landing, and return to home so you don't have to do an Anneka Rice treasure hunt to find the thing. 

Is the drone compatible with my GoPro? 

You might want to put your own camera into the drone. In that case you can purchase the GoPro Karma Quadcopter currently on sale at Amazon for £375. It's portable, compatible with GoPro HERO5 and HERO6. Also backwards compatible with HERO4. The only downside is the fly time of 20 minutes, which could be better considering the price. 

Does it have Orbit Me? 

This is the coolest feature. You might be interest in the Orbit Me feature (otherwise known as follow me mode, which locks the camera onto your movement). Very handy if you're a mountain biker, skateboarder etc.  A lot of bloggers and videographers would recommend the Mavic Air if you're just starting out or the Mavic Pro (which is the drone that I personally use).

The Mavic Air/Pro comes with Active Track so it can zero in on moving targets. It's renowned for being extremely lightweight and portable, folds up and easily fits in a camera bag. Perfect for travel. Though I strongly recommend you seek out the travel allowance for airlines and countries. 

Lithium batteries are on the banned and restricted list for British Airways flights, this is direct from their website:

Due to the potential fire risk associated with lithium batteries, hoverboards and other self-propelled electrically-powered vehicles such as Air Wheels, Solo Wheels, skateboards, scooters and Hover Karts are completely forbidden.

Some countries require a permit; others simply won't allow them into the country. Morocco for example. 

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And what are the new laws coming in I need to be aware of before flying my drone? 

The chances are all the spectacular footage you've seen on YouTube of drones circling over cities and hotel resorts have been captured illegally. 

Consumer drones (classed as those that weigh under 20kg) must be flown no higher than 400 feet (120 metres), and be kept at least 50 metres away from people and private property, and 150 metres from congested areas and organised open-air assemblies of more than 1,000 people.

New restrictions soon to be implemented will mean restrictions around airport boundaries have also been clarified stopping any drone flying within 1km of them.

Also, people who own drones weighing 250g or more will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Make sure you check the weight of your drone if you're augmenting its features. I.E adding your own camera.

Users who fail to adhere to the flight restrictions could face unlimited fines, up to five years in prison, or both.

 

I’m glad they are taking a reasonable initiative to ensure the safety of the public and drone pilots alike. Drones are getting cheaper and a lot of people are taking them out of the box and flying them without understanding the rules and limitations. The new law won’t stop people from buying them but allow them to fly safely and with confidence.
— @GadgetsBoy | Instagram

My Journey into Blogging | A Massive Thanks to my '&FRIENDS' Contributing Authors

It seems a lifetime away from 2013 when I launched my menswear brand Hawkins & Shepherd and starting writing blog posts about shirts, fabrics and what knot to wear with your shirts. In 2014 I launched my eponymous Men's Lifestyle Blog. Back then, to begin with I was looking to drive more traffic to my menswear label, but it soon came apparent that the blog was developing into something separate and deserved its own platform. More and more people were coming to me for advice and I wanted to provide a place for people that wanted to enhance their style. 

It has been a major learning curve moving from my previous career which I was the Global Head of IT Communications & Networking for a major privately owned commodities trading house to starting up my own shirt label and subsequently men's lifestyle blog. Back then when I was building my previous career, I had no clue what a blog was and would have laughed at you if you suggested that I would give up a career that I've spent 15 years perfecting on a gamble for a better lifestyle; but that's exactly what I did. Some friends laughed, some suggested it wouldn't work, some were just worried for me but in most cases they were supportive. All of these reactions are forever indented into my memories which I call upon for inspiration and to make myself even more dedicated to succeed.

One thing I do miss about working for someone else is the holiday pay, the sick pay, actually the consistent pay in general - oh and the odd hangover day when you're on the clock getting paid but not really there mentally! Starting Hawking & Shepherd, not only took a lot of capital but also a hell of a lot of my hours and I think there is a massive misconception about life being greener when self-employed and now I know that to be correct. Since 2013, I've put every single penny that the business makes back into it, to help it grow, improve and to have the best chance of success in the long-term. It's really hard and have so much respect for anyone who has made a successful change in career or launched their own brand.  

Mid-way through 2017 I was thinking of ways to turn my self-titled blog into more of an online magazine, an encyclopedia of everything men's lifestyle. It was then that I decided to seek out other writers and journalists to contribute to carlthompson.co.uk and to help them launch themselves to a possibly difference audience to what they would usually come in contact with. The relationship had to be beneficial to all parties and we have achieved that. I wanted to take this opportunity at the start of 2018 to say a massive thanks to these writers who have contributed to the success of 2017 in which we've seen an increase of unique visitors by 85.8% compared to the previous year.

Unfortuently my budget doesn't stretch to have them all employed full-time. So I'm sure they will not mind if I did a shout out to each of them and say to feel free to contact them if you require unique content, copy-writing, event coverage etc.

Peter Brooker is a Professional Freelancer & Copywriter with SEO experience. Founder & Editor of Human Research. Lifestyle Editor & Podcast host for Menswear Style. Fashion Editor for The Essential Journal. He has interviewed leading ambassadors, athletes, celebrities, actors including David Gandy, Daniel Sturridge, Paul Weller, Evander Holyfield, Sir Steve Redgrave, David Haye, George Foreman, Dita Von Teese, Idris Elba, Jamie Redknapp, Sir Roger Moore and Stephen Hendry. Oh in case anyone is still reading he also writes for Viz and is unbeaten at crazy golf. 

Originally from Cornwall, Holly has two main passions in life: history and gin. With a degree in history and over 7 years of knowledge working in the gin industry, she now writes about both. Holly creates food recipes for artisan spirits companies and is always on the search to try and experiment with new flavours. You can follow her on Twitter @HollyHarwood and on Instagram @HollyHWood.

Patrick McAleenan is a freelance journalist, PR and Personal Trainer, based in London. He is a regular contributor to Telegraph Men, Metro, Attitude magazine and other high profile publications. He was a Stonewall Awards 2014 Journalist of the Year nominee and is currently writing his first work of fiction. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ontheptrain

Suzanne Bernie is the founder and Managing Director of Coathanger. Based in one of the fashion capitals of the World, London; Suzanne is a leading fashion stylist who helps clients develop a better relationship with their wardrobe and how they express themselves with fashion. With over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry and having founded Coathanger in 2002, Suzanne and her team of personal stylist’s aim to help people step out of their comfort zones and develop a whole new outlook on the role fashion plays in our everyday lives.

...and to the newest member signed up for 2018, I'm incredibly excited to introduce to you Christopher Modoo...

Christopher Modoo is the "Urbane Outfitter". With over 25 years experience in men's fashion he is an expert on style and etiquette.Having worked in all aspects of menswear from shop floor to senior creative, Christopher is now a freelance stylist and is working on launching his own label. As well as fashion, Christopher is a keen fan of the cinema and enjoys travel. He is married and lives in Hampton Court.

Blogging Tips: How To Create a Kickass Media Pack

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As a blogger I've found the best way to optimise your time is handling the majority of conversations and introductions via email. I still like to network; do the meet and greets, press the flesh etc. But you'll find the one commodity that’s in short supply as you get more successful, is your time. 

Hence the Media Kit, will be your new business card. I like to say when you're networking, your smile is your business card. Well when you're making an introduction or someone has asked to see your portfolio, this Media Kit will be that best smile. The one you give the cute waitress when you want a table, but don't have a reservation. 

You don't need to a bachelor’s degree in IT to put together a Media Kit. I did mine on Photoshop and if you're not familiar with that software there's plenty of YouTube tutorials out there that will guide you through it. 

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Before you start compiling the Media Kit, ask yourself, if you were a brand or in PR, what would you want to know about the influencer before employing their services. I made a list before I did mine. If I was hiring someone to represent me, I'd be looking for the following qualities. 

1. Professionalism
2. Professionalism
3. Professionalism

The above means you'd need to be reliable, presentable, with a good client roster. There's no room on the Media Kits for witticisms. I know a blogger who is a good guy, but can't help himself when it comes to wanting to stand out and he has some tongue-in-cheek gags on his Media Kit. Which might work for him, but unless you're looking to get an open mic spot down the Comedy Store, you're Media Kit should be so straight laced to the point of boring.

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Why I like to keep my Media Kit straight laced is because there should be zero-ambiguity when it comes to delivering the message. Your message is YOU. Who YOU are, and what YOU can deliver. I've started with some strong images of me at the top. It greases the wheels; you're not hitting people with a lot of text to read which can be off putting. I've kept the text to a minimum, (unlike this blog haha) and have dissected the text with some strong images, site and social media stats, and client roster logos. (Logos look better than simply reeling off names).  

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You might also want to include your website. I know it sounds daft, but I've seen a dozen or so Media Kits, and it's so frustrating when I have to double back on the email and ask them to send me a link to their page. Lastly, try and show a dusting of diversity in your kit. It's important to let your potential client know that you're not a one trick pony. I've listed other interests such as interiors, photography, a cute picture Charlie made the kit. Who doesn't adore a cute dog pic right? 

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If you're Media Kit can deliver a message, that you're an influencer with many arrows in your quiver, then that versatility could pay dividends later down the road. You'll find more doors could open for you.