Today, we're talking with George Torres from Sofrito For Your Soul. I met George on a trip with Fiat a couple months ago and he and are working on some cool stuff coming up to help bring the male blogging space together. It's always good to meet other guys who share the same goal of building a community of bloggers who can come together to share ideas and help each other grow our sites while working to enhance the experience for our audiences.
Why / How did you get started as a blogger?
I did not really start as a "Blogger"
The earliest incarnation of www.SofritoForYourSoul.com was born on 1997 at the campus of SUNY Old Westbury as a webpage on the now defunct Geocities platform. It began as a personal website to share my poetry and thoughts about Latino culture similar to what is today considered a blog. After catching the attention of several student organizations, it was not long before I was accepting submissions from fellow students from campuses all over the country. It has since evolved into a platform that promotes Latino Culture thru my experiences.
The concept of Sofrito For Your Soul was born through my personal struggle of being a NY born Puerto Rican (Nuyorican) and my evolution to the realization that there is a bigger picture...that I am Latino and that we do have culture. That culture is not just “living la vida loca” but living una vida...full of our heritage. The site is intended to be a cultural exchange for a growing community of US born Latinos, to share ideas, experiences and knowledge to those who are struggling with their own identities.
Blogging has opened up many opportunities I never thought I would have from representing Latino influencers at the United Nation's Social Good Summit to being a social media correspondent on CNN en Espanol.
Today we have a reader base of tens of thousands Latinos in countries all over the world. We also created Sofrito Media Group, a multi-media company currently located in Freeport, NY that manages and produces branded projects that appeal to the Latino / Hispanic segment. These projects include web properties, live events, social media campaigns, internet radio production, content development and consulting services.
How does the Latino / Hispanic blogger community differ from "the rest of us"?
Tough question... the truth is we are not much different in many ways. We want the same things that that anyone wants. The key difference is that our stories have been told for us in a very stereotypical way. This often translates into marketing campaigns using generalizations that do not really reflect the entirety of who we are and can often be insulting. This causes us to really push for our stories to be told by us... it also creates the expectation that we are reflected in the media in a way that is proportionate to our real life presence in this country.
Because general market bloggers seem to work on such bigger campaigns, we have the sense that we have not yet have gained access to all of the brands we like as well as have access to the bigger budgets. We still seem to be contained to smaller multicultural or nice programs that are not always long term. This is changing via the influence of organizations like Hispanicize, we are now getting the mentorship, education and access to a platform that provide quality opportunities for bloggers who are ready for prime time.
The truth is here is our audience is over indexing on every platform and our bloggers and Latinos do not fit in neat little marketing demo box. We are a very diverse group that is embedded in the DNA of this country. The Latino story is an American story.
Which male bloggers do you enjoy reading?
What brands are doing a good job engaging with male bloggers?
You tell me... I have often been included in campaigns that had a strong female presence and wanted to mix it up a bit.
The only brands that stand out to me are the car brands, in my case Toyota, GM and Chrysler that have had solid male outreach and have been focused on what men want out of a car buying and driving experience.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers looking to get started?
Do not try to be everything to everybody. Embrace what your voice is and stand firmly in that space.... be the best you can be and always deliver what is promised.
In addition to that, I would say, treat your blog as a publishing business and incorporate best practices accordingly. You need tools like editorial calendars, proposal software and a strong media kit to help you stand out from the bloggers only looking to get freebies and attend events.
Last but not least... seek out mentors. There is a community of men (#menwhoblog) who want to help and collaborate on projects in the same way our female counterparts do... it's time we made it happen.
What is the favorite campaign you've worked on?
My favorite campaign was #ViajaConBW which translates to "Travel with Best Western" and was my introduction to the brand thru a experiential road trip from Dallas all the way to San Antonio for a the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference in collaboration with one of my favorite brands in the world (Toyota). I had a REAL WORLD experience bonding with two bloggers whom I have worked with extensively since the trip (Leaura Luciano & XOXOLizza) and sampled a beautiful cross section of Texas' culture and cuisine. During this trip we also had the opportunity to visit the plant in San Antonio where the Tundra and Tahoma are built... a truly eye opening experience for the geek in me.
What I loved about this trip was how well planned it was, the itinerary was extremely engaging and interesting and gave us a deep look at the value that both brands bring to the table by way of innovative product offerings as well promoting diversity in the workplace. I am a 4th generation Toyota customer and because of the experience I had during this trip, I have since become a Best Western customer (I am actually writing this post from a Best Western in Miami that was NOT sponsored).
I am very interested in experiencing more campaigns like this... and certainly to be engaged by brands that want to work with #MenWhoBlog.