I always wanted to be a good blogger. I wanted people to actually read my blog and enjoy it. Not necessarily a lot of people, but those that did, I hoped would come because they liked what I wrote. I thought I would share some observations and ideas I have come across in the years I have been blogging. Some people blog for profit, some just for fun and others a mix of the two. So not all of this applies to everyone. They are not rules, or rights and wrongs, just suggestions, based on my own experience.
This post is not about making lots of money, it's about being great at what you do. Blogging for cash isn't usually something that can be sustained long term, as PR companies and SEOs will soon get wind of the fact that your content is mainly reviews and sponsored posts and this is not good for their brand. A big point about advertising through a blog is that the products are being talked about by normal people, who actually like them, which gives potential customers something to relate to. So 'organic' content, where you write about something because you want to, or because it might be useful, and not for any kind of gain, is really important from a PR perspective. It also makes a blog fun and interesting to read, which is the bottom line when it comes to attracting and keeping readers.
Point one, then, is write because you want to. This has two advantages; firstly, you will enjoy it, which will make it much easier to sustain your blog in the long term. Secondly, you will find readers that are genuinely interested in you and your style of writing. There is no point trying to imitate bloggers you love. You could end up vying for the same readers, rather than creating your own, which is a waste of time and your own personal talent!
Point two, be nice! The blogging community is full of people who are just like you, trying to make something of their own ramblings, which isn't easy. For this reason they are usually very supportive and helpful, because they know how hard it is and it definitely pays to be that way too. I have found blogging to be one of the few professions where it really pays to spend time listening to and helping out other people. Whether it's providing a guest post when someone is struggling to write for whatever reason, or helping out with a technical problem if you can. It pays to make friends and be sociable!
Point three, opportunities are everywhere! I have realised, over time, that it really pays to be professional in your approach to even the smallest review. If you make an effort to return your review posts on time, in the way that was agreed with the supplier and show yourself to be reliable and thorough, it is possible for these to lead to bigger and better reviews. The biggest review I've ever been offered came directly from one of the smallest reviews I've ever done, which shows that you can be remembered for doing a good job!
Point four, be grateful! Your blog is great, you spend a lot of time on it, and it is your personal baby, I get it, but, honestly, so are most other people's! One of the hardest things I've found is accepting that there will always be people who are better than me and lots and lots of people who are the same as me, especially in blogging terms! This means, if you get offered a sponsored post or a review, it's always wise to be polite and professional in your response. Even if it's not for you, that's fine. It's ok to have your own rates and standards of what you will accept in return for your work, but that doesn't necessarily mean the PR who approached you is wrong either. Your rates and standards will usually be based on your blog statistics and experience. A lesser known blogger may be happy to accept less, to gain the experience and become better known.
Point five, do your homework! If you put something in the public domain, whether you like it or not, you have certain responsibilities which you are accountable for. You can't say whatever you like. You can be in line for all sorts of libel hassle if you say something about someone that isn't true. You can also be sanctioned in Google's search rankings if you have content that is inaccurate or flaky. Also, if you run competitions, you are regulated by the ASA CAP code, which applies to everyone and is non-negotiable. It makes no difference if it is your blog, or if you supply the prize yourself. You have to adhere to it, or someone will report you, and no one wants that. The CAP code is actually for the blogger's benefit too, it provides guidelines so that everyone knows where they stand. For more information on the ins and outs of running competitions legally and fairly, have a look at the competition guidelines on the Super Lucky website.