A Network for Chronic Illness Bloggers
By Julie Ryan – http://www.chronicillnessbloggers.com
Thank you to Barbara for inviting me to share my story here. We met earlier this year via Chronic Illness Bloggers, a new blogger network that I set up in early 2016 (more about that shortly).
I’ve been blogging about chronic illness since 2010. During that time I’ve seen (and even been part of) many different blogger networks. Blogger networks are at the core just a way for bloggers to interact with each other. I belong to local networks which are made up of bloggers from my town. And, I belong to nation-wide and international blogger networks, made of bloggers with similar interests (or not so similar) from across the globe.
What I’ve noticed through all the networks I’ve been a part of is that I didn’t really fit. Even in my local blogger network I felt like I was a one-of-a-kind. While most of the bloggers in my local network were focused on local activities, local food, or just local life, my blog has never been really local. Maybe once or twice a year I’d post about something local, but that wasn’t my niche. My niche was chronic illness. I faced the same problem on the larger blogger networks, except the problem was on a larger scale. You see these larger networks offered something that my local network doesn’t really – opportunities to interact with sponsors. The problem I found was that once again I didn’t fit. The sponsors were usually looking for mommy blogs or foodie blogs or (at best) lifestyle blogs. Every once in a while they’d pitch a product that might sort of fit with my focus, but it was rare. I wanted more opportunities for my blog. I wanted to share products and ideas with my readers that would help them.
I was left with only one option. Go out and find the opportunities that fit. Over the years I was lucky enough to occasionally have companies come to me and ask to be featured on my blog. They might ask me to review a Fibromyalgia supplement or a topical pain reliever. I’ve even been contacted by representatives of larger international companies to review things like heating pads. So, I knew the opportunities were out there, it was just a matter of tracking them down.
My background is in online sales and marketing, so after much thought I decided to take that background and apply it to filling this need. Rather than just focusing on myself and finding companies that I wanted to work with on my blog, contacting them, and hopefully creating a mutually beneficial relationship, I thought that if I could contact them on the behalf of many bloggers, everyone would win.
I knew that I wasn’t alone in this need. Other bloggers were having the same troubles, so in January of 2016 I reached out to my blogger friends and decided that it was time that we have a blogger network that fit our blogs, and Chronic Illness Bloggers was born.
We started with about 100 bloggers in our little group, mostly my blogger friends and their friends. I began by reaching out to companies I was already working with on my blog to ask if I could help them reach out to more bloggers. The response was good, they wanted help finding more bloggers to work with. Then I started making a list of companies that I’d like to work with, products that I’d like to try, as well as companies that I was already working with on my blog. I asked the bloggers to share companies they wanted to work with as well.
It’s not even been a year now but Chronic Illness Bloggers has grown at an amazing rate. We have just passed 400 bloggers in our network. We’ve worked with over 35 different companies to help them promote their products and services through product reviews and sponsored posts. Many of those companies have come back repeatedly to allow us to connect them with even more bloggers in our network.
The best thing, though, is the community. We aren’t just promoting products, we are promoting the blogs in our community. So many bloggers have reported growth in their reach since they’ve joined with us, and have attributed that growth to their CIB membership. We work together to help each other solve problems, create blog posts, and promote our blogs. The best part for me is just knowing that I’m able to help so many people solve a need – helping bloggers grow and monetize their blogs while helping businesses connect to the chronic illness community.
If you’re a blogger with chronic illness, or a blogger who blogs about chronic illness (any chronic illness) we’d love to have you join. We do have some minimum requirements that you must meet (but they really are minimal). You can learn more about our network and those requirements at http://www.chronicillnessbloggers.com – I look forward to having you join our community so that we can help you reach yours.