What do you get when you cross a long work commute, two frustrated co-workers, and some very poor recycling habits?
The birth of Philadelphia’s greenest media source, Green Philly Blog.
During their daily drive from Northern Liberties to Malvern, Julie Hancher and her former co-worker, Beth Funari Sims, would often discuss their sustainability pet peeves. They were horrified when they realized their office’s recycling bins were thrown in the trash nightly.
They set out to create a platform that not only taught people about being “green” in general, but how simple it was to live sustainably. The duo took to the internet. A few clicks later, they bought the domain Green Philly Blog and set out writing about all things green in Philly.
Six years later, they’ve written thousands of posts on green breaking news, events, travel, leaders, restaurants, companies and lifestyle tips. Green Philly Blog is a preach-free zone. Instead, they deliver fresh and sassy content that teaches its readers how to make their everyday actions a little greener.
Their social media channels have surpassed 7,000 followers, and Green Philly Blog reaches over 30,000 visits per month. Throughout the year, Green Philly Blog boasts a team of three to five contributors. As a green guru, Julie, GPB’s Co-Founder & Editor-In-Chief, Julie has spoken on several social media panels and at green conferences throughout the tri-state area.
I chatted with Julie to see if she had any advice for green writers trying to break into the world of blogging.
A writer is constantly evolving.
“Although I’ve been blogging for over six years, I think writing is something that I’ve always been drawn to and enjoyed. However, you’re constantly growing as a writer, so I’ll find works from a few years ago that I’d edit without mercy today. I feel like you’re never truly satisfied with your writing ability and always evolving.
I wouldn’t be where I am career-wise without creating GPB. It’s something I’ve included in resumes and on my LinkedIn page since it’s invaluable experience. Seriously, I initially thought of it as a creative outlet that would be fun. It’s grown into a personal venture that has changed my life, professionally and personally.”
Blogging is equal parts planning and going with the flow.
“We try having consistent themes – We’ve experimented with columns like Quick Tip Fridays, “Where Can I Wednesdays” (about recycling & where to get rid of ‘stuff’ responsibly), #ThisWeekI about various community members. I try to have a balance of events, interesting topics specifically to Philly and then a recipe or personal advice which would apply to anyone, whether they live Philly or in another country.
It totally varies how I come up with story ideas. Sometimes it’s an event I’m psyched about, or news from a press release, sometimes it’s because I met someone who is doing something awesome. Sometimes it’s due to a situation or something in my life that is bothering me and I want to learn a lot more about.
I try to have a mental plan of what posts I’ll publish each week. It rarely is 100% what I imagine on Sunday, but when there’s more writers involved, and we have a publishing calendar, I stick pretty close to my Sunday intentions.”
Always be learning.
Julie wears many GPB hats: writer, editor, photographer, WordPress & “IT”, SEO (search engine optimization), social media manager, and managing interns each semester. Beyond all of the writing and editing, she’s done for GPB, she’s spent the past six years teaching herself WordPress, SEO, and social media techniques or attending professional development conferences outside of work. Her go-to resources are Copyblogger, Problogger, Moz, Search Engine Land, Wordcamp, Barcamp, Girl Develop It, Philly tech scene and Meetups.
It’s not as easy as it looks.
Julie puts 10 to 15 hours a week into Green Philly Blog, on top of her full-time job, traveling, working out, going to green events and having a social life. “Be ready for a commitment and to dedicate time to the science behind blogging. People easily get the idea that ‘anyone’ can do it, and they can. But you have to learn how to balance time, write posts regularly, how to use WordPress, Social Media, network and a ton of other ‘behind the scenes’ stuff like when your blog totally breaks and no one can access it.”
Your words can make a difference.
“There are also those unexpected moments in conversation when someone brings up a post you wrote or how they’ve changed a behavior because of something you have written. I try to avoid being overly preachy in everyday conversation – I enjoy my friends’ company. But if I can casually help someone save money or me, I slip in advice. However, I’ve had friends humblebrag that they go out of their way to recycle or bring reusable bags to the grocery store. It’s it’s cool to realize you’re influencing people’s behaviors because of your writing .”