Here is a really interesting story of how a 9-year-old school girl created a blog which within a few months has had nearly 5 million hits and raised over £60,000 for charity.
Helped by her father, Veg set up a free Blogger account and decided to document her school meals everyday. She would take a picture and then describe the meal, including a rating system that indicated, health value of the food, number of mouthfuls, price and worryingly, number of hairs.
For anyone who is familiar with UK dinners, then you will know that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been campaigning for school dinner awareness for years. He has campaigned for better dinners and suggests that most of what is served is pretty poor.
So, school dinners could be described as a hot topic, but not one that has been adequately explored online.
Veg, however took the bull by the horns. She started blogging and immediately caught the interest of other parents who were interested in what their school was actually serving their children. Pretty cool idea.
Veg was very honest in her reviews and they were all short and sharp reads with a good picture of the actual food on the tray.
The school had supposedly given its blessings to the project and Veg’s blog, with help from her father began to gain traction. Naturally word spread around the school via her friends and through to their parents, who seemed to take an active interest. She was said to be clocking up 50,000 hits a month and lots of comments on each blog post before the local council decided mid-week that her blog should close.
Closing her blog however made national news. It was everywhere, from newspapers to online news sites such as the BBC. Veg’s site traffic rocketed.
People gave her a lot of support and there were a few choice words said about the council’s decision to shut her blogging project down. Her last post has over 600 comments on it.
On Friday however, the council did a u-turn and agreed to let the site continue! Not only can she go on doing what she had intended, but all the palaver has earned her thousands of extra visitors and lots of new supporters.
Fantastic work from a 9 year old supported by her father.
However, there are some business lessons we can learn from her great adventure:
1) The name of the blog itself is alluring
The name of the blog ‘never seconds’ is a very interesting one. When you hear it is about school dinners you immediately want to take a look at what could be so bad about them.
It creates interest.
2) It’s a hot topic with a unique angle
School dinners have been a hot topic within the UK for a number of years. Backed by celebrity chefs and school dinner champions there is a growing wave of influence to make school meals healthier.
Veg taps into this market in a very unique way. Most people only hear about school meals from their children or from other sources, however Veg let you see what the children see. You saw their plate, you saw their portion sizes and you saw how much love went into its presentation.
3) Veg’s rating system creates interest
Veg has a rating value which states ‘ number of hairs’. One’s immediate reaction is WHAT! Is this really such an issue?!
It creates shock value and it temps the user to click through all her posts trying to find one which actually contained a hair. It’s almost like a mini game which helps engage users and increase her page views.
4) Never seconds encourages readers to contribute
Veg encourages her readers to send in photos of their meals so that they can compare pictures and health values of food from schools around the globe. This creates interaction and allows her to grow her following with like-minded people.
5) She had an immediate captive audience
Whilst many sites struggle with an immediate audience, Never Seconds had it covered. All parent of children within the same school would have an interest in what their children were eating, so just by word of mouth within her school she was able to create an audience for her blog. Of course this spread as other parents wanted to take a look, alongside children from other schools who wanted to compare meals.
It all however started from a captive audience.
Of course the issues with her project being closed down helped tremendously in giving her efforts media coverage, however she had already made her blog successful by doing so many business things right. She may not have even known she was doing it right, but there is a business lesson here for many of us out there.
Well done Veg and daddy Veg too.