A Blog Life

By Tara Croft

FEELING THE BURN

If Gregory Ng ever finds himself on Jeopardy, his first personal anecdote will be he’s crazy about Legos.

His second will be that he’s the founder and sole employee of Freezer Burns, a video-based blog that garners 200,000 views per episode.

Ng entered the blogging world shortly after he moved to Cary in the summer of 2008 for a job as chief experience officer at online optimization agency Brooks Bell. While he loves his day job and has no desire to leave, he wanted a personal business project on the side.

“I wanted to look for something backed by big business that was untapped,” he said.

Pondering a food-related subject, he turned to the grocery aisles for inspiration. Cereal was top of mind, but his lactose intolerance posed a slight challenge. Frozen food was next on the list, so he ran with it.

“People like to live vicariously through video,” he said, so he set out to create thorough reviews, from presenting the packaging and nutritional information of a food item, through analyzing its appearance, texture and taste.

He started out ambitiously, posting five episodes per week for the first year. With an original average time commitment of about 10 hours per video from filming to uploading, it was a substantial time dedication for a venture that wasn’t yet earning money.

“I had two reasons: I thought it was great idea and I didn’t want any copycats,” he said regarding his attempt to flood the market.

His plan worked. Now dubbed “the frozen food master,” some of his fans won’t buy new products until they hear his reviews, and he’s even had strangers approach him in the freezer aisle to ask for his opinion on what to buy.

By the end of his first year blogging, Ng had begun picking up advertisers. Today, about 25 percent of his reviewed products are sponsored, meaning the manufacturer pays to bump them to the top of his to-do list.

Freezer Burns episodes, now produced twice a week, are broadcast via more than 30 channels, including YouTube and iTunes. Interaction with subscribers is important, Ng says, so he also maintains Twitter and Facebook accounts for Freezer Burns, along with subscribing to users who support his videos and fielding up to 100 frozen food-related emails per day.

Not all of his efforts to increase his visibility have worked, however. “I have an iPhone app and tried to push some content exclusively on the app. It didn’t work,” he said. “When I tried a download for a free coupon, that worked.”

Originally, Ng thought he’d hit a landmark number of episodes and call it quits. But he’s still having fun with Freezer Burns, and won’t run out of products to review any time soon, so for now he’ll keep visiting the frozen food aisle every week for inspiration.

See his work at freezerburns.com.


Big Business of SMALL STUFF

Kate Bryan has a famous face, but she’s best known for the back of her head.

A hairstylist by trade, she frequently taught new techniques to her clients. Realizing most women seemed to forget the steps by the time they got home, she wanted to help by showing them some step-by-step videos. “I did a bunch of searching on YouTube for tutorials, and there are a lot of great ones out there, but none that make me say, ‘I want to refer my clients to this video,’” she said. So she recorded her own.

With no fancy equipment or video editing experience, Bryan simply records herself styling her own hair from her Raleigh home and posts the videos on her personal blog, called The Small Things Blog. She originally started it in January of 2011 as “sort of a random, unfocused” collection of posts. “It took a different direction after I started posting my hair tutorial videos,” she said.

Each Monday, Bryan posts a new tutorial video. The rest of her content remains personal, ranging from “a product feature to a recipe to a bunch of pictures of my cats,” she said. She’s garnered quite a following, with The Small Things Blog raking in more than 12 million page views since June.

Revenue from the blog comes primarily via BlogHer, a media network that syndicates blog content. Bryan also averages four to six sponsors at a time directly advertising on her site, but she’s never pushed for ad sales.

 

“I am not a business person,” she said. Rather than relying heavily on ads, she uses the viral nature of online content to her advantage. “I think strategic promotion of myself on social media has been the main business move. I don’t think I would ever purchase an ad on Facebook, because I don’t think that would be as valuable as tweeting or having a Facebookbusiness fan page.”

Humanity is key for Bryan. She posts about real-life topics ranging from her messy closet to the realization that she folds her clothes inside-out, which she believes helps set her apart as a real person on the impersonal domain of the Internet. She makes an effort to answer every email she receives, and looks for new avenues to interact with her readers in order to foster a relationship.

Her tactics worked so well that Bryan maxed out her client list for her personal studio and had to start recommending another stylist, who’s booked more than a dozen of her fans. While she can’t take on any new business at her day job, she’s looking forward to seeing her blog continue to grow.

See what the buzz is about at thesmallthingsblog.com.

Photography By Jonathan Fredin

 

Tags: Features, New
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