Bloggers and brands
(NED) The MediaSnackers podcast focusses on individuals, organisations or companies who are simply impressing us and which are crying out for more discussion.
1.31—3.00 the background and development of the blog
3.01—4.05 what brands and organisations can leanr from bloggers
4.06—5.25 examples of brands Nalden has worked with
5.26—7.05 how to ensure authenticity
7.06—8.00 video interview with Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman
8.01—9.47 brands Nalden wouldn’t work with
9.48—10.44 how can brands and organisations use / partner with bloggers?
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Nalden: So, my name is Nalden. I’m currently in Amsterdam. And I started as a blogger and I became a so called entrepreneur and I blog at Nalden.net. And I own another company called We Transfer.
DK: Okay. Well, thank you for giving up your time to speak to us today, Nalden. I’m going to ask straight away, so tell us a little bit about Nalden.net because that’s really what you’re known for. What you do on there?
Nalden: Yeah, Nalden.net is basically my creative outlet to share my interests. It kind of started as a thing for me and my friends and it basically grew a little bit, got out of hand. And it became a platform of inspiration, of inspirational thoughts. But also like non-humoristic stuff and in the end I was talking about lifestyle and specifically for digital natives so it’s all about sharing and providing a platform for great initiatives, great products, great ideas, great people, great music, fashion deck, everything that fascinates me, and that became noticed.
DK: Tell us a little bit; you say it’s got a little bit out of hand. Now that’s an understatement. Tell us a little bit about kind of —
Nalden: It started when I was 16, so it was nine years ago and I was doing a website myself. I was coding in HTML. Back then I was uploading HTML files every day, so it, I just called it blogging. And later on I evolved to programming PHB; so, I used publishing software, xSPEM machine, and later on WordPress. So, I was always doing the blog totally myself and back then it was still in Dutch. It got sort of a fanbase because of what I was blogging about music a lot, sharing music as a free download that I hosted myself. I got in trouble with that as well with labels but I succeeded to, you know, work together with labels already in 2005 instead of getting sued.
So, that was interesting. And that really trained me to do that more and see ñ trying to create valuable partnership with brands that I like. In the beginning, it was all about music and still in Dutch. And when it switched to English with my new website, it depend like, my business quadrupled and became noticed internationally.
DK: Now the brands and the organizations you currently work for or kind of get involved with you guys, you know, I see a lot online, but I’ve hear you talk before so I know a little bit about your history. But tell us what you think brands and organizations can learn from bloggers such as yourself then.
Nalden: On the latter things, bloggers are like most of the time influential and have a strong opinion and just share what they think. It’s not like most of the time; it’s not journalistic piece but more of an honest opinion from a person. So, it’s all about, you know, I used to say that it’s consumers formerly known as people or people formerly known as consumers, you know. And I think bloggers are people and that honest approach attracts brands because they want to hear what people say about the brands. So, it’s interesting if brands were together at least listen to bloggers and reach out to them.
DK: Tell us; and give us an example, if you would, of a brand that has approached you in the past or recently and what you have done with them or for them.
Nalden: Well, the example I gave earlier, like that I blog a lot about music and I was giving tracks, free mp3s away, which got noticed by a Universal Records, or Universal Music, which is like one of, it’s the biggest label. So, they were scared at first and then I convinced them of okay, I know this is illegal, but if you look at it this way, it’s a good promotion for the CD because I never gave away full CDs. And if you do the timing right then it’s also promoting the artist when he’s performing live at a concert here in Amsterdam or here in Europe. So, we started working together and they realised that bloggers became more and more a tool for them as well if they structured things to promote their CD’s even better by a social media. So, instead of suing me they went through advertise on my website, so that was pretty hilarious and I have other brands like Phillips or Nike that did the same.
DK: So, the question then comes around about being compromised because you’re now taking money from brands that maybe you would have talked about in past or maybe not. So, how do you ensure that you are authentic and not just blogging for a brand?
Nalden: Yeah, just ñ it’s, I’m being me; I’m just doing me on my blog. I write. You know my English is not even that good on my blog. It’s hilarious. I just write about; I just write how I talk and brands have no influence on the subject I talk about or what I share. I tend to only share positive things on my blog because I don’t want to waste my time on negative stuff. And but that way I experience positive things coming back to me, you know, like it’s a karma thing I guess. Brands only can be visible in my world via the wallpapers because Nalden.net is inspired on a desktop ideal so it’s basically like a visual desktop environment as a blog; which is pretty unique. And, you know, I just thought like I hate vendors, but I want to involve in some business model so why not use the whole wallpaper background as advertisement space where I challenge brands to create a wallpaper to create engagement among my readers and that worked out pretty well.
DK: Well, you also, I can bring in something that Ive watched recently this morning actually, which is one of your interviews, video interviews with a really well-known graph artist based over there. And is the story right that he also did some desktop wallpapers for you?
Nalden: Yeah, definitely.
DK: Sorry, go on.
Nalden: He recently published a book and to promote that I just help him with blogging and showing wallpapers of his book and of his crafts, and we did a video just because I love it. So, you know, I try to find a good balance of having commercial stuff on my website as a wallpaper mixed with creative stuff. So, the whole contextual value is very interesting because they all maximize each other.
DK: Yeah, the balance is; I think you got it right, but tell us a little bit maybe of a brand or organization that approached you that wanted something that you could never provide or maybe a brand that you wouldn’t work with.
Nalden: Oh, there are many brands that I don’t like even more. Like a brand like Puma, for instance; they offered me lots of money, theyeven doubled their marketing budget to advertise on my website, but I never wear Puma, so it doesn’t feel right for me to advertise for Puma. And I don’t like the brand, you know. Puma was the brother of Adi Dassler from Adidas and it started with a fight, so not much cool heritage around the brands and I don’t like the product so, then it’s not for me and it’s okay, you know.
But in the end I was, you know, saying no so much that I was missing out on a lot of money as well. So, that’s why I try to scale my business model to a platform which is for everybody because Nalden.net is for like-minded people. It’s basically like a museum/dictature/platform which I control and so I started this online service we called We Transfer which is a very easy file transfer service like YouSendIt, but better, and more sexy. And that’s why I also included this whole wallpaper advertising model, which is now called Billboard Bannering because, you know, the whole wallpaper is a banner now which is clickable and that’s for everybody, so also everybody can advertise there.
DK: So give us very briefly because we’re kind of to the finish now. Give us a quick rundown of what you think brands and organizations, how brands and organizations can use bloggers in a really proactive or processor way. What are the good things they can do?
Nalden: First of all, they should really do well research on which bloggers they want to associate with and vice versa because you can’t have all bloggers representing your brands, in my opinion. And then talk about co-creation, whether it’s projects, whether it’s you know, services. Everything is possible when bloggers can find their own stories and brands. So, provide them and facilitate the facts and everything that’s necessary to create an interesting story from a blogger’s point or perspective.
DK: And very briefly, what are your future plans?
Nalden: I’m starting a web shop within on the net because I’m a fielder for a lot of projects, so I’m creating this shop, this online boutique with very interesting products. So, that will be online on August 1st and I’m also starting an agency, which is basically an incubator/ideas company.
DK: Wow, so you’ll be busy for the next year or so then.
Nalden: You might say I’m busy. Yeah, definitely.
DK: Well thank you for giving up your time, Nalden, really appreciate it and good luck with all this stuff.
Nalden: Thank you very much.