As I worked to match bloggers with a Splash Creative Media campaign recently, I found myself rolling my eyes with frustration at some blogs I found that were unattractive, not user friendly, or provided poor navigation, all the while having excellent content. Rather than venting to my husband, who absolutely couldn’t care less, I began making a list. Then I chatted it up with a few successful bloggers and marketers and asked them to participate and add to the list. What followed was an excellent list of suggestions for bloggers who want to be read, enjoyed, considered professional, and work with marketers.
Dear Blogger, Please don’t beg for sponsorships or spam a conference hashtag begging sponsors to notice you.
Why? Because that’s a bit pushy and desperate. Potential sponsors are looking to work with people that are respected in the community. If you’re hogging a hashtag (which is something that the conference uses for announcements), it’s distracting to potential sponsors and attendees and insulting to those who put their blood, sweat, and tears into planning a conference. Think of it as this: would you rather be considered the girl at the prom who people respect because she shows a little skin, smiles at everyone and is all-around friendly, or the girl who gets attention for wearing a simple little nothing to the prom and flaunts it?
Additionally, reach out to potential sponsors that already know you. As a marketer, I’m far more likely to invest in someone I have a relationship with than someone I found screaming on Twitter that she needs money.
Finally, consider what you’re willing to do for a sponsorship. There’s a phrase “whore yourself out” for a sponsor. Sure, sponsors will love you for tattooing their logo on your forehead, but everyone else will think you strange. And, really, you won’t be influential because of that.
Dear Blogger, Please do not leave a comment on another blog that says anything along the lines of, “I found you at the such-and-such. Please follow me back at ijustwantafollowbackandalinkbacktomysitefromthiscomment.com.”
Why? Because that’s not a comment to a post. Comments to posts should generate conversation, not advertise for yourself. If you’re going to take the time to comment on a blog post, make it relevant. The same goes for Facebook comments.
Dear Blogger, Please share a tight, concise bio (think elevator pitch), great headshot, and key vitals in easy to find /edit format…
Why? Julia Beck of the marketing firm Forty Weeks shared that she needs you to “make it easy for me to sell you through (assume I will need to cut and paste a bit!!!)” to the client. The more information you share that’s simple for her to convey, the easier it is for her to share you. Which also means the less work the marketer has to do, the better for you, the blogger.
Dear Blogger, Please don’t put automatically playing music on your site.
Why? Have you ever held your itty new baby in your arms while she slept and turned to your laptop to do a little surfing, only to find you accidentally left your speakers on loud? Girl. You just woke a sleeping baby.
Dear Blogger, Please don’t bash a well-known PR firm publicly on your Facebook timeline.
Why? This goes back to the whole thing first before you say it. Long ago, a very wise man told me to write my feelings and then put them under my pillow for the night. By morning, you’ll have a fresh perspective and will have an opportunity to think about the potential fallout. Even if you have a timeline set to private, there’s still the chance, a very good chance, that someone you don’t want to see it will see it and that when that PR firm offers a promotion that you so desperately want, they’ll look right past you for someone else.
Dear Blogger, Please don’t use center alignment for the content of your posts. Even more so, please don’t switch between the center and left and right from one post to another.
Why? It’s unprofessional. The Center is cute. It’s great for a title. It’s attention-getting. But when you’re writing content, you want to be taken seriously. Have you ever read a novel that’s written with the body-centered? Neither have I.
Dear blogger, Please don’t invert the type.
Why? I find it hard enough reading paragraph after paragraph online, but when it’s white type on a black background, I start feeling a bit seasick. –Becca from the Picaboo blog
Dear Blogger, Please, no animated gifs.
Why? They’re annoying and distracting and slow down your load time.
Dear Blogger, Please stop focusing on cheap tricks to build followers and instead focus on good content that will bring not only followers but engaged ones. –Melissa at Momcomm
Why? Cheap tactics are just that, cheap. Consider how many followers you have in direct proportion to those that understand, know, and engage with you. Sure, marketers are looking for numbers, but good marketers are looking for respectable numbers. There’s a difference.
Dear Blogger, Please put your full name on your blogs, right on your contact page if not on the home page.
Why? I can’t tell you how many times I have decided not to contact a blogger because I didn’t want to write Dear “Name of Your Blog.” —Carol Schiller, former Social Media director at Cozi.
Dear Blogger, Please stop pretending you don’t know about Facebook’s rules for giveaways and promotions. Be a rule follower like the rest of us that are trying to do things right. –Elena at Ciao Mom
Why? There are two very distinctive reasons for this:
- Facebook creates its Terms of Service (TOS) for a reason. And, because you are using Facebook’s bandwidth and amazing marketing services to blog, you have to follow their rules. Plain and simple. Don’t believe me; check out Melanie’s post, which explains the Facebook TOS and shares what happened to a company that didn’t follow Facebook’s TOS.
- It’s about respect. Bloggers, the good ones, are very careful about following Facebook’s TOS. We recognize the value of respecting a giant that allows us so much influence. So, not only are you losing our respect, by being a rule-breaker, you’re encouraging others to break the rules to get ahead. It might be fun to have numbers that wow marketers, but keep in mind that you’re numbers are also bringing a good deal of disrespect. The bottom line, do it right to remain a respectable blogger.
Dear Blogger, Please don’t make your header take up the entire screen when I first load your blog. –Annie at MamaDweeb
Why? First, we’re back to a slower load time. Second, it takes up valuable real estate where you can include vital information. See Erica’s post, Changes in WordPress Blogs, for more information and inspiration. (great tips regardless of whether you’re blog is a WordPress blog.)
Dear Blogger, Please be wary of using a cartoon-y image of yourself. –Jill at Musings from Me
Why? Jill shares that “someone else might be using the same image or it may look nothing like you. If you want to use images, invest a few $ in an istock photo or two.” And she’s completely right. I’ll never forget meeting someone that looked nothing like her cartoon character. Several people commented on how artificial it seemed.
Dear Blogger, Please include a link to your blog on your Facebook account information (unless you’re anonymous).
Why? With Facebook groups being more and more common ways to communicate throughout our community, but only accessible through our personal pages and not fan pages, when someone is inspired by something you say, they’ll want to learn more. Not having your link in your about page is a dead-end.
Dear Blogger, Please, please please include your email somewhere on your site. Please.
Why? Look, I get that you’re leery of spam and stuff that doesn’t apply to you. But in many cases, it’s worth it to have your email address on your site all the same. Scenario: a promising start-up knows you’re the perfect fit for their product and wants to hire you to a. write a post, b. manage their Twitter, c. invite you to an event…, d. something else that will make you happy. But without a contact email on your website, they can’t. So sad… too bad. In fact, Carol Schiller shared with me that “when confronted with a contact form, I often decide to just move along.”
Dear Blogger, Please include how old your kids are and where you live.
Why? If I don’t know that, how can I know if my event or product is right for your household? Stephanie Schwab, Crackerjack Marketing
Dear Blogger, Please be you on your personal Facebook page.
Why? @CarissaRogers shares blogging tips which include…” on Facebook go with the naked you. (Not literally.) But be yourself. I likely will not follow you if your Facebook username is: Susie SkippyBritches. Even though I’m sure you are nice and all.” (and I agree. Plus, it’s against Facebook TOS to not be a real person on a real person page. And if you’re a serious blogger, you don’t want to lose your Facebook account.
Carissa also wrote a great post about participating in social media with your real name.
Of course, this is just an introduction of tips. But if you want to take a good, hard look at your blog, I highly recommend Melissa’s DIY Blog Critique. It’s a quick, honest, workbook-style ebook that spells out exactly what will make your blog shine… and work well with readers and marketers alike. Also, consider her Content Brew course (the next offering will be in the fall.) I’ve heard nothing but raves about the course that Melissa ran this spring (both courses sold out quickly, and I’m sure her future courses will as well.) From Momcomm:
In Content Brew, you’ll learn how to plan & create fresh content ideas for your blog, Facebook and Twitter. You’ll also learn ways to find content to share and tools to make doing all of this easier. At the end of this course, you’ll have anywhere from a month to a quarter’s worth of content planned out for your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter (to a more limited degree), not to mention a process that you’ll use over and over again.