Welcome to the first in a series in which we share the profiles of some of our content creators. We ask them all about their challenges, how they document their journey and what they value in partnering with the Freestak to connect with brands. First up is ‘Queen of the Mile,’ Lorna North. We had a chat with Lorna about how she started out, her experience and what she is up to over the coming months.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you start writing your blog?
‘The idea came about when I bought my first road bike in 2014 and couldn’t find any personal insight on how to get started. As a professional journalist and copywriter anyway, I decided to build a resource to fill this gap and share first-hand experiences of the cycling and running challenges myself and the community were embarking on.’
What benefits has blogging brought you?
‘The most valuable benefit that my blog has brought me has to be the network of like-minded people that I have built from it. I thought I was the only woman on the planet who enjoyed cycling until queenofthemile.com connected me with others who shared the same passion. It’s also linked me to brands, experts and opportunities to travel that I would have never have dreamed possible when I began cycling. Having a blog can be an invaluable door-opener.’
How do you measure the success of your blog?
‘I have basic Google Analytics set up which I check most days. I have quite a strong interest in user-journeys and what makes people engage with a page and what makes them to leave it as soon as they can. I find myself getting quite geeky over what image would be best placed and what kind of font size and layout to apply to each post to make the story flow better. I also track my social but currently don’t invest any money in promoted posts on my social channels. I enjoy watching it grow organically at this point but would consider it in the future if it became a proper means to make a living.’
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog/ be an influencer?
‘Start today. Build up your collection of photos, connect with relevant accounts on social – begin to lay the foundations. I think people worry about starting a blog because they don’t have a set plan or style. Neither did I, all I knew was that I had found something I wanted to talk about and it sprang from there. Your style will establish itself eventually and don’t be demoralised if in the first year it gets little traction. That will come. Start a blog because it’s a labour of love, not because you think it’s something you ought to be doing.’
What has been your blogging/influencer highlight?
‘I’ve had so many incredible experiences as a blogger but two that stick out the most are making a series of films about cycling with adventurer Sophie Radcliffe and GoPro and having the opportunity to cycle with women’s pro-cycling team, Wiggle High5 in Majorca. Being on the bike, doing what I love with people that inspire me whilst creating epic content is extremely fulfilling.’
Is there a brand(s) you dream of working with and why?
‘I would love to collaborate with a brand that speaks to my own character, dreams and spirit of adventure. My main goal with brands is to create content that’s purpose is to tell a story first and sell a product second. It needs to have the principle motive to inspire, amuse and create a positive outcome from the writing, video, photography we are producing together. So any brand that can do that!’
How do you use social media to promote and share content? What are the challenges?
‘The suite of social media tools and platforms are incredibly useful to a blogger. It is through these channels that my stories get read. My most popular is Instagram which I enjoy filling with strong images and captions from my adventures. I ensure that all of the content I put out across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is optimised for each respective channel. I won’t just pump the same message out over all of them but tailor each. This can be time consuming as can thinking up a witty caption when you’ve just ridden 140 miles in one day. You need to be on it and responding to engagement but also make sure you get off your phone long enough to enjoy your adventure. It’s a balance.’
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months?
‘I’ve just started using Snap Chat which I am immensely enjoying. It’s so candid and quick that all the best bits of the editing room floor get a chance to shine. I am really enjoying using it to show the less serious side of London life, adventuring and the great times I have with my cat, Richard Parker! It’s a chance to create silly content to put a smile on people’s faces.’
What the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself and your blog in 5 years time?
‘I honestly find this so hard to predict. I think in this digital age we are constantly on the cusp of the next big thing and the opportunities to carve your own space are endless. When I started my career as a writer over 12 years ago, the best hope I had was charming my way onto a newspaper or into a publishing house but now I have my very own IP and publishing platform which I would never have imagined back at school. Queenofthemile.com has already surprised me in the opportunities it has provided for me. At the moment it pays me generously in experiences but it would be good if within the next five years, I could start to draw a salary from it and invest more creativity and passion than I already do.’
Feature photograph of Lorna: Matt Austin
Cycling with Sophie Radcliffe: Laurence Crossman-Emms
‘The Freestak platform connects influencers and brands in a way that we’ve not seen before. There are opportunities to find intuitive matches with brands that suit your identity and effortless synergies can be created that are authentic and consistent with your audience’s interests too. Mostly it’s a wonderful way to get inspired from other members of the influencer community and to keep that adventurer spirit alight. It helps you to dream big, get creative and find the tools and support you need to get on the road.’
If you are an influencer in the endurance sports sector and want access to brand campaigns, useful pointers around content creation and engagement ideas, why not join Lorna on the platform? Questions? Hit us up on Twitter. ??