Atkinson has been running the Studio Home blog for seven years. This year she decided to stand out from her competitors and do something different.
The Directory, launched on the Studio Home website today, changes the blog’s advertising scene quite drastically.
Instead of having ads in the column beside the blog posts, the ads are all under a separate section on the site labelled “Shop.”
There, brands are beautifully curated in big tiles, with a photo, a blurb on the company, and links to the company’s online stores and social media channels.
It’s described as an online “visual mall.” There are 24 companies in The Directory so far and Atkinson wants to add more this year.
Studio Home founder Julia Atkinson
“I hope people will bookmark the page and use it when they want to go shopping,” she says.
The stores are all of interest to Studio Home’s design-obsessed readership and Atkinson says she wouldn’t feature any stores on The Directory that aren’t relevant.
Atkinson says the move is a gamble as medium-to-big advertisers have only warmed to advertising on blogs in the last year or so.
However, she thinks it will show the value of advertising to a very specific audience.
“You’ve got to take calculated risks. My readers are a very specific type of person, which can be very valuable to retailers,” she says.
She says visitors to her site are usually female, tech-savvy, within the 25 to 45 age group and design-obsessed.
She came up with The Directory as a way to show advertisers the advantages of advertising to a tailored audience on a blog, rather than targeting anyone and everyone.
“It’s exclusivity and plugging brand awareness and they don’t have to fight to stand out. I can facilitate that,” she says. “The advertising is flexible and it can be their brand, their product or a special offer.”
As well as The Directory, the site has a “powered by” section, where one brand can be the sole advertiser on the homepage for a month.
She says her site averages about 800 to 1500 unique visits a day, depending on content and day of the week.
Visitors are also driven there by Studio Home’s social media channels: the Facebook page has over 9000 likes, its Twitter has over 2000 followers and its Instagram has over 33,000 followers.
About 90 percent are visitors from New Zealand and Australia, with the remaining 10 percent coming from other countries.
Atkinson says she’s humbled that brands have been willing to take the risk and try something new.
“I think it’s quite scary [for them] to be fair, as a lot of brands have only come around to the fact they want to advertise on blogs in the last year,” she says.
She says companies are good at promoting themselves in traditional advertising, such as Google Adwords, but need to learn to cultivate relationships with websites and blogs.
“Any partnership I have with a brand is a collaboration, even advertising,” she says.
It’s this attitude that shows in the collaborations with companies she has lined up for this year: designing shoes for a company called Radical Yes, designing limited-edition poster art with Evie Kemp and and at least another three projects in the works for later this year.