Blogging has provided a platform by which we can connect with those of similar interests, sharing experiences and thoughts on a daily basis with people we’d never meet if it wasn’t for the beauty of the internet. With the bloggersphere expanding at an unprecedented rate, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of sites and wonder what to do next to ensure you’re standing out from the crowd. Although there’s no definitive way to run a blog (that’s the beauty of blogs – they’re individual) there are some things I often experience bloggers doing that make their journey a little bit tougher. ‘Advice’ posts are ten a penny, but they mostly provide an indication of what you *should* be doing rather than what you could be doing wrong without realising. There’s no right or wrong way to do anything, but there are tweaks you can make to ensure your journey is as smooth and effective as possible. So, in the most light-hearted and non-preechy way I could muster, here are ten things you may be doing wrong that you might not know about until someone tells you…
Making It Hard To Get In Touch
Be it a reader that wants to ask a question, a blogger who wants to collaborate or a brand who wants to send you something shiny, you’re always going to have people who want to get in touch with you. Making it difficult to track down your email or social accounts is the major downfall of many bloggers I discover, preventing them from networking in the way that they may like. Unless your blog is anonymous and you never want to speak to another human, make it as easy as possible to drop you a note or have a conversation.
Copying A ‘Magic’ Formula
It’s easy to emulate what you think is the secret to success, but copying that formula you think is the magic answer simply won’t work in the long term. Blogging is about the individual, your own passions and tastes – so why would you just create a ‘cookie cutter’ blog when you could create something awesome, different and stand-out? Although it can be intimidating being different, it’s the best way to carve your own way and ensure you stand out amongst the crowd. I see so many blogs that are practically identical (from their layout, to image set-up, content, themes and name) that it makes me wonder where the creativity, that was the fundamental of the bloggersphere, has gone. Be different and be proud.
Expecting Miracles To Happen Overnight
Although it may seem like the success of blogs has happened quickly, many of us have been quietly beavering away for three/four/five/six years. My site didn’t really ‘take off’ or become financially viable for three years, meaning I worked my backside off behind the scenes with little reward before that time. With the media focusing on Zoella’s five bedroom house and the new way to ‘make a fortune from your bedroom’ it’s no surprise we’re all swept away with the promise of overnight success. However, it simply doesn’t happen like that and you only do yourself a disservice if you believe it will. Embrace the bloggersphere for what it is, work hard, make connections, develop relationships and see where the rollercoaster takes you.
Not Participating In Twitter Chats
The best thing about blogging is connecting with like-minded individuals and talking about cleansing oils as excitedly as if it was an Eastenders cliffhanger. Twitter chats can connect you to those women (and men) who have similar interests, opinions and hobbies as you, as well as providing an opportunity to learn and grow. I still love taking part in the regular chats to connect with other bloggers and believe it’s a fundamental part of growing your site in 2015. Dipping in and out of chats regularly will help your contacts to expand and your journey to be a whole lot more fun – working alone on something can be hard, so connect with like-minded individuals for a little regular boost.
Using Bad Lighting
I was the worst photographer when I first set up this site, relying on smartphones and poorly lit rooms to provide me with illustrative images. Five years later and photography is now a massive part of what I do, as readers want to not only see what the product in question looks like in as much detail as possible, but great images capture the emotion of what you’re trying to convey. Bad lighting causes products to look dull, uninspiring and completely lacking of detail; great lighting helps to create an inspirational and engaging site that will leave readers coming back for more. Investing in spot lights or simply making the most of a sunny day will make the world of difference.
Forgetting The Spellcheck
My biggest bugbear is blogs that are full of spelling and grammatical errors. Sure we all make the odd blooper, but side-stepping the spellchecker or refusing to re-read your work is a sure fire way to come across as a little careless and unprofessional. Your blog should be a portfolio of your talents, interests and passions, so ensuring it’s of the best quality you can muster will only ever be a good thing. Readers may become frustrated at badly constructed posts, while brands may not want to work with bloggers who don’t pay attention to the details.
Putting Up Barriers For Commenters
Encouraging engagement and feedback will ensure a thriving site. However, putting up barriers that make it hard for people to comment will reduce the number you receive; we’re all impatient, so if we have to provide our life story and fiddle around with captcha for ten minutes, then we’ll click away and comment elsewhere. I approve all comments before they get published (to prevent spam and anonymous insults!) and that’s the only barrier I’m prepared to place between us. If you have a complicated comment approval system, it’s definitely worth attempting to simplify it.
Sending Shopping Lists To Brands
This isn’t a blogging myth, but something that happens more frequently than I care to imagine. Brands and PRs are always up for connecting with new bloggers, but sending a shopping list of products or requesting to be sent samples straight away is like asking a lady to give it up on a first date. You have to woo the brands, make sure they know you have common interests and you’re genuinely passionate about their products; in time the relationship will inevitably move to the next level. Put simply, never ever send a list to a PR and expect not to be blacklisted – it’s just never acceptable.
Charging For Everything & Anything
As blogs have become more and more commercial, there’s a misconception that you have to charge brands for everything and anything that appears on your site. It’s all about give and take; brands don’t have a never ending budget to meet your every need. Identifying the opportunities that should be paid for is a skill, but equally when you’re starting out the exposure and collaboration could be of benefit in the long-term. Don’t feel like you have to start talking money every time a brand approaches you, but instead draw up a list of ‘will and won’ts’ that will help provide you with clarity. I still do a lot for free (if the opportunity is right) because often a campaign or project is mutually beneficial; I’ve heard nightmare stories about blogs running for three months wanting to charge for every single thing they’re approached about. It’s not great practice and won’t get you far.
Not Writing About What You Love
This links in with my advice about copying a ‘magic formula’, but if you don’t write about what you love and are truly passionate about then it’s glaringly obvious. Don’t just cover what you think you should, or feature the endless tags you’re obliged to participate in, but write about what you genuinely want to share with others. The bloggersphere is full of ‘what’s in my bag’ posts and top tips for creating a smokey eye; push the boundaries, do something different, share your passions and your readers will love you for it. That’s what will help you stand out from the millions of other blogs out there and keep you going for years to come.
Do you have any tips for new bloggers, or established ones wanting to change things up? Did you make any mistakes or errors when you first started out, that you’d love to share with others?
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