Chantelle Ellem is one of the most established ‘blogger-type people’ in the parenting and lifestyle space, having created her blog Fat Mum Slim back in 2008. Chantelle prides herself on her tight-knit community of followers and providing an inspirational space for women to discuss life, personal interests, photography and her favourite recipes!
Here, we managed to sneak four minutes with Chantelle to tell us about her journey so far, what content she loves to write about (and her followers to read about!) and how she views the fast-evolving blogging and social media industries.
How would you describe yourself – a ‘blogger’, an ‘influencer’ or something entirely different, and why?
In my email signature, I call myself a blogger-type-person, because I don’t really know what my official title would be. I think I started off being a writer of words, and then fell in love with photo-taking and community creating. I don’t really care about the titles (I know some people passionately hate the title mummy blogger) but I just care more about what I’m doing rather than how people are describing me.
You were one of the first to jump on to parenting and lifestyle blogging, back in 2008. What are the top two/three changes you’ve seen to the blogging world since then?
The changes since almost ten years ago have been nothing short of epic. Back then, most of us were writing as a hobby. It was nothing more than a sharing of words and connecting with people over the internet. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen over the years is a movement from hobby blogging to professional blogging. Back then we were coding our own sites and designing our own logos, and now there are big fancy sites and teams of people behind some blogs.
Another change I’ve seen happen is this online to offline moment. Ten years ago it was just people on their computers typing, but now blogging is the great connector. I’ve seen magic happen offline from online connections. With the magic of Facebook and Instagram, it’s become easier to connect than ever. One of my favourite stories is when a lady who played my Photo A Day challenge formed beautiful friendships with people around the world and even travelled halfway across the world to Australia to meet them in person. That’s pretty cool!
How has social media impacted your blog?
When I started I was just writing, and just hoping that people would read it and like it. Now we have social media, which I liken to little parties on the internet. Now I can turn up at the Facebook party and share my content, but even better than that I can continue the conversation with my readers, and create communities of like-minded people so the sharing continues.
If I really consider how social media has impacted my blog, I just have to think about Photo A Day, the photography challenge that encourages people to share a daily photo. There are over 30 million photos shared online to date in the challenge, and that just blows my mind. Social media has made it easy, and wonderful to share creativity online among so many people.
What do you find readers resonate the most with? Recipes, branded content, photography, social etc
I find that different content will connect with different people. I’ve always wanted to be a bit of everything, like picking up a magazine and flicking through and reading what suited the person on whatever particular day. I think my readers love useful content. They love my simple recipes that always taste good. The content I love to write most and share, is the content that has readers thinking, and nodding in agreement, ‘Oh, me too! I thought I was the only one!’ I want people to feel like they’re not alone, and open to sharing their stories too, whether they be about parenting, life, healthy, happiness, or anything.
How do you decide what brands you collaborate with?
Deciding who I work with runs through a filter of sorts for me. I have to think, is this a product/service/brand I use, will the content be useful for my readers, or is this something that will help my readers in any way. I get lots of requests from brands every day, and about 90% don’t make it through the filter. It’s become a bit of a gut feeling now.
Are there any trends you see coming up for the world of parenting/family blogging?
I’d love to see us move to a space where we remove the guilt and we start praising ourselves for all that we do as mums. I think we’re in a space now where there’s a lot of raw and honest sharing of parenting tales, and I love that, especially when it’s authentic and the motivation is right (to share and connect, rather than to shock and attempt to go viral). I think that will continue, and I think that’s a really good thing. We need to have attainable and real people to connect within the online space, rather than seeing people’s highlights that only serve to make us feel like we’re somehow underachieving.
What influences your blog content and style?
I think photography, and that visual element always sparks the creativity for me and then influences the style and changes I make to any aesthetics on my blog. My life, and whatever path it takes will always influence the content as my blog is personal, and always has been.
Any tips for brands when working with you, or general guidelines?
One thing that I’ve learned over the years of working with brands, is that when brands respect your knowledge and experience and truly collaborate, that’s when the magic happens. A lot of brands don’t understand the space, and just want to use bloggers as an amplification tool, to share the brand’s message with strict objectives and guidelines – much like just recreating a press release without any creativity or warmth. They already think they know how that looks and can’t step away from that vision.
If they collaborate with the blogger instead, let them use their experience, and understanding of what their audience likes, they have an opportunity to really create great storytelling and beautiful content.
I also think long-term relationships between brands and bloggers is the key to the future. I always think of short campaigns as one-night stands. Of course, they’re fun, and they get the job done… but the long-term relationships is where the magic truly happens. There’s this beautiful understanding of each other (the brands key objectives over a long-term, as well as trust) and an ability to open the conversation and ask how the two can work together, rather than just be an amplification tool.
FORWARD recently collaborated with Chantelle on our client, MAGGI.