When I was invited to speak on a panel in London over the weekend about blogging, Sarah sent us four topics that would be covered during the talk.
In order to ensure I was fully clued up, I wrote posts about each of the topic on the train down to London and decided to create a mini-series of blog posts to help you take your blog to the next level.
The posts are:
- Getting started with a blog or YouTube channel.
- Should you be creating content that’s sharable and relatable?
- How to make money from your blog.
- Mistakes to avoid if you want to take blogging seriously
Mistakes to avoid if you want to take blogging seriously
Most bloggers will go into blogging pretty blind. Unless you’re already aware of the potential opportunities around making a blog into a business, it’s probably not something you’ve spent tons of time looking into.
Many bloggers start out blogging as a hobby, then later they realise that’s a little more than just posting pictures of lipsticks and dresses.
When I first started my blog, I didn’t realise how many brands were wanting to collaborate with bloggers.
I assumed that PR samples and sponsored posts would only get sent to the biggest bloggers, leaving those like me day dreaming of opportunities such as reviewing items and even getting paid.
It’s not actually as unattainable as you think.
All you need is the right attitude, determination and ability to network and communicate.
Though there are mistakes that can be made along the way.
Most of these mistakes come from that fact that we’re just normal people that decided to start a blog one day.
We have no idea about marketing, about creating an audience, about writing sharable engaging content and zero clue about the technical side to running a blog.
But if you want to make blogging into a career, or even start working with brands and earning a bit of money – you need to get yourself clued up. And quick.
1. Not understanding the law around disclosure of sponsorship.
Though this has become something that’s been highlighted recently, with the ASA implementing the new rules that on YouTube, you must disclose a sponsored post as such by indicating it in the title, there are still people out there that don’t fully understand the implications of not disclosing.
If you receive payment for a post, you must disclose it within the post IF the brand dictate the content of the post.
Which is where things get complicated, so it’s best just to disclose all content – not only for the rules around advertising and sponsorship, but to keep your integrity and be 100% transparent to your readers.
While tempting to not disclose when brands ask – you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it if you are caught out. All it takes is one person to report a brand asking bloggers not to disclose and you can find yourself in hot water.
You can read more about the advertising code here and read about advertising features and control of content here.
2. Not understand copyright laws around images.
I was at work a few weeks ago and a girl had a photo of my place of work on a print out.
A photo that I had taken and posted on Twitter. I joked with her that I had taken the photo and she didn’t have permission to use it. She joked back to me saying she found it on Google images so it’s probably them I need to complain to.
A lot of people don’t understand the law around the use of images.
It’s often a mistaken thought that Google images is a library of pictures that are free to use.
Google images is just a search engine, that scours the web to find images that are related to your search query. These images are from websites, from social media, from blogs.
The image the girl I work with found had been pulled from the Twitter page of my works account – which I manage.
Taking images that are not yours can get you in trouble and can come back to haunt you.
Even if you posted a picture two years ago, you never know when a photographer might search their image in an image search engine and find your blog post – then send an e-mail asking for payment for the use of their work.
It isn’t as uncommon as you think and unfortunately, there are some people that will take advantage of peoples ignorance around this to make money.
Read my post on legally using photos for more information.
3. Not knowing when to say no.
It’s exciting, isn’t it? The first time you get an e-mail asking if you’d like to work with a brand. I remember my first e-mail. It felt like a massive milestone for me.
Don’t let the excitement cloud your judgement and do be aware that there are some brands or websites that again, will try and take advantage of your innocence by trying to:
- Influence you to write a post for them with nothing in return.
- Offer to pay a very small amount for links.
- Offer low quality products in exchange for blog posts I links.
- Want you to write posts as a competition entry.
Do read my post on when to say no to blog sponsors for more information
As a rule of thumb, if it make you feel icky, then don’t accept.
It is important to remember that sometimes it’s worth it to write for free. If you’re new to blogging, don’t have a large audience or want to network with a brand – you should consider accepting.
Sometimes the post might just be a good idea that’s fun. It might provide content for you and be on a topic you want to write about.
Although your time is valuable and you may want to change for this, you need to be realistic about the size of your blog. It’s not just your time that’s being bought, it’s also your influence over your readers.
4. Not being unique.
It’s natural to want to be the same as your favourite bloggers or review similar items – but buying the latest mascara from Benefit to review it isn’t going to be unique as many other bloggers are probably doing the same thing.
The tricks is to try and keep your content unique and not review the same things as everyone else unless you find yourself getting a lot of requests for something, or you’re known for something.
For example, if you’re always reviewing the latest mascaras and people often wait for your review because you’ve built up your trust, it will work for you. One thing I do is review a Glossybox every month because I rank high in Google for them and they’re my most viewed posts.
You also want to develop your writing style – which will happen naturally over time.
Don’t try to sound like an article – you want your blog to be personal and read as if you were writing an e-mail to a friend.
People like blogs for the personal touch as it makes them more relatable.
5. Not branding.
You want to be recognisable across platforms and easy to remember.
Humans are visual and are probably going to remember your logo or pictures over your site URL and name.
There are a number of free resources available to help you create a header or logo that you can use across all social media sites as well as your blog, as I previously discussed in this post.
The means that if someone who had read your blog before comes across you on Twitter, they’re going to recognise you and are more likely to follow.
6. Not commenting on blogs.
Just writing content and hoping search engines will pick it up is not enough anymore. You need to be able to create relationships with other bloggers.
The best way to do this is by commenting on blogs or being active on Twitter.
Once you’ve established a relationship with another blogger, you have an engaged reader that’s going to return to your blog again and again.
The bloggers I’ve build relationships with are usually the ones to share my blog posts on Twitter and link them in roundups.
7. Putting to much on your plate.
Blogging isn’t just about writing blog posts.
It’s about social media, editing, promotion, planning, photography, design and more. Don’t set yourself up for failure but setting yourself unrealistic goals such as posting every day.
This is a sure fire way to make blogging become a chore rather than something fun.
Create a schedule that fits around your life but also be willing to review and amend it to suit your life style. It will evolve as you settle into blogging, but also as your life changes.
8. You don’t edit.
Don’t fall into the trap of just writing content and hitting publish straight away.
Take some time away from your writing then come back with a fresh mind.
My doing this you’ll be able to spot spelling mistakes easier and also see when your blog posts don’t flow and need rearranging.
A good way to check for spelling mistakes is to read the post backwards. When you read the words without the context, the errors are more likely to stand out.
9. You’ve not bought your own domain.
It can cost as little as £2.99 to buy a domain name and it can instantly make your blog look more professional.
If I can set up a domain name on my blog after a week of blogging with NO idea what I’m doing – so can you, too.
As well as making blog look more professional, it also means you can start building up your DA (domain authority) which is important if you’re wanting to work with brands.
If you are going to stick with a blogspot or wordpress.com domain name for a while, just be aware that when you switch over to your own domain, any links directing to your posts or site may become broken.
Have you made any blogging mistakes in the past?