Credit: Ross Mondon (right) with singer Lewis Capaldi. Image courtesy Vibez Music

Interviewing the Scottish singer and songwriter Lewis Capaldi for one of Bournemouth University's student publications gave Ross Mondon the idea to set up his own independent music blog Vibez Music.

That was back in 2018 and the blog has been steadily growing since. Then, last year, the pandemic hit and the music industry was profoundly affected and so was the student life. Instead of giving up though, the multimedia journalism student used this time to revamp the website and grow its audience. At the time of writing, Vibez Music has around 400 unique monthly users, more than 2,000 followers on Instagram and some 600 followers on Twitter.

Interviewing big names, such as the former member of JLS Aston Merrygold, is one of Mondon's strategies to attract readers. What else should you be doing if you want to launch your own music blog? We asked him for his best tips on finding interviewees and making connections within the industry.

Be proactive

Finding artists and bands to interview is essential to provide content for your music blog. Be forward-thinking and contact artists' managers and PRs to get your foot in the door.

"When you start from scratch you’re at the bottom of the pile, so obviously people aren’t going to come to you," says Mondon.

Do not be scared to approach people directly - most will want to help you out when you show your passion for music journalism.

Make connections

Getting in touch with artists is a good first step but building up your network and staying in touch with people is just as important.

"The music industry is so demanding," he says. "It is 24/7, non-stop, and I think that’s where the challenges lie."

Keeping up to date with the latest news from the world of music and researching the artists you talk to will pay dividends when writing your stories. Take on people’s advice when you talk to them and use it to make more contacts within the community.

Grow your brand with social media

Social platforms are an obvious way to drive traffic to your blog. The algorithm will reward you if you are posting regularly and staying consistent with your style without becoming stale.

"Engagement is definitely harder on social media at the moment with how Twitter and Instagram work, so you’ve got to find new ways to do that," says Mondon.

To grow his social audience, he tags the artist featured in the post and uses hashtags to help the fans discover the story. He also uses Linktree to point the users to his blog since the platform does not allow links in the posts. Finally, to keep the account interesting, he mixes up images with reels, IGTV and sneak peek videos, and uses the design tool Canva to create smart infographics. Mondon even keeps a spreadsheet to stay organised with his social strategy.

"Just have fun," he concludes. "Yes there are bad days, but you’re doing it because you love it."

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