I had the pleasure of chatting to the ladies behind the Blog Awards Ireland 2012 recently – Lorna Sixsmith of Garrendenny Lane Interiors and WriteOnTrack, Amanda Webb of Spiderworking and Beatrice Whelan of Sage Ireland. The gala event takes place in Kildare on 13th October 2012 and tickets are available at a very reasonable cost. Knowing these already successful women, their work ethics and their involvement with TweakYourBiz.com I was sure they’d have a great event lined up so I wanted to know more.

What made you decide to take on the Blog Awards Ireland this year?

Lorna – All credit goes to Amanda! It was her idea, she likes a challenge! Well, we all do, I guess! For all of us, we see blogging as an important part of marketing one’s business and so many people pour so much passion and dedication into their blogs, it seemed a shame that their work wouldn’t be recognised any longer in an Irish blog awards so we decided to set up Blog Awards Ireland.

It will be a fantastic event – 30 categories, a gala dinner, lots of surprises planned …. Grafton Media are the headline sponsors and we’ll be announcing new category sponsors next week – we’re still looking for more sponsors. Nominations are still open until 16th July and we’ve had over one thousand nominations in to date.

As a collaborative effort do you each have specific tasks to arrange the Blog Awards Ireland – is it taking up a lot of your time?

Beatrice – It really is very collaborative. As different tasks arise, we each discuss who can do what. As I have a background in web design and WordPress customization, I designed the website but I’m also involved in the PR and event planning for the awards. We aren’t very precious about whose job it is to do what, we just play to each of our strengths. As Amanda and Lorna are self employed at Spiderworking and Write on Track, it often comes down to who has the quietest day or quietest week!

Some days yes, it can take up a considerable amount of time – between manning the social media platforms, writing blog posts, sending out press releases, making contact with potential sponsors and much more, we are fortunate that there are three of us to manage the work load.

Tasks tend to vary too as the months move along. I am working on this in my spare time as I have a full time job in Sage. Lorna and Amanda tend to fit it around their appointments. All three of us are often having conversations about the blog awards up to 11pm at night.

You all come from different working backgrounds – how did you meet?

Lorna – Amanda and I met at a women’s networking meeting organized by Carlow Enterprise Board in 2008. I had started up Garrendenny Lane Interiors and Amanda’s business then was Feelgood Hampers. As we were both members of Carlow Business Network for some time, we got to know each other much better and shared an enthusiasm for social media. Amanda had an idea for setting up a bloggers network and asked me to join her in organising it which I did – this became KLCK.

Beatrice was working for Kildare.ie when she came to a KLCK meeting and met us for the first time. Beatrice and I travelled to Belfast together for the Irish Blog Awards in 2011 ( we were both finalists) and talked about social media almost non stop (and other things). Having got on like a ‘house on fire’ Amanda and I then asked her if she would like to become a co-organiser of KLCK bloggers network. The three of us went on to organise the Bloggers International conference in 2011 and of course, we are now organising Blog Awards Ireland.

How long have you all been blogging?

Lorna – I started blogging early in 2008 for Garrendenny Lane and achieved my first piece of national press coverage in March 2008 as a result of my blog. Having achieved finalist status for my blog in the Irish Blog Awards and Social Media Awards in 2011 and realising that blogging was the favourite part of my business, I decided to set up Write on Track with a friend, Marie Ennis O’Connor, to offer content creation and social media training services to SME’s.

Beatrice – I started my own blog in 2010 after attending a KLCK meeting but before then I had blogged for wow.ie and had written for recirca.com. I now blog for Sage.ie/blog.

Amanda – I started blogging in May 2007 and have been blogging ever since. I knew I was addicted when I blogged on Christmas day. Now I blog at least three times a week on Spiderworking.com, a blog that has reached the finals of both Irish and International blogging awards. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t blogging or didn’t have the idea for a blog post percolating.

You run KLCK Bloggers Network – tell me more about it.

Amanda – The idea for KLCK came to me when I was at a conference in London. I’d been to tweetups in Dublin but wanted to bring together the social media and blogging community locally. I was already friends with Lorna and she seemed the ideal partner for my madness.

We meet once a month and alternate between the four counties that give us our name. (Kildare, Laois, Carlow & Kilkenny). Our aim is to learn from one another, so generally we get a member of the network to speak on a topic that they know about and then open up the floor to questions. We have bloggers of all levels there, people who are just starting, haven’t started yet and well established bloggers. There’s always something to learn, I always come away buzzing.

And an obvious progression is the Blog Awards Ireland. Do you nominate your own blog or someone else’s? How is the voting done?

Amanda – Anyone can nominate a blog. You can nominate your own or someone else’s. We’ve got a button to add to your blog encouraging people to nominate you for anyone who doesn’t want to nominate themselves.Once all the nominations are in and collated only one category is up for the public vote. ‘Best Blog Post’. The rest will be assessed by a panel of judges.

Thanks for spending the time to answer my questions ladies. I understand that although Grafton Media is the main sponsor there are still sponsorship opportunities open to businesses. Plus nominations are open until 16th July so if you have a blog you would like to nominate then please do so here. This collaboration and celebration of good blog writing is proof that Blog Awards can be done in other countries, counties, cities and states – what do you think?