I’ve been blogging 4 years now. Wow. That seems like a long time. How things have changed in my life since then. No idea I’d still be at it today!
Being new to blogging is fun but also confusing.
There are things you need educate yourself on before you start blogging. I have written about some of this in the past but wanted to put them all together in one post with updated information.
Saying you need to educate yourself sounds serious. But the thing is, if you’re not careful you can find yourself in a position where you could face a fine.
Blogs are mostly hobbies so it’s hard to believe you could find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation if you do something wrong. Pleading ignorance won’t be an acceptable excuse if you’re getting sued for copyright, for example.
As always with posts like this, if you believe I’ve given incorrect information or have missed something out, please let me know so I can correct the post or add things in!
You are not permitted to take any image you like and re-use it without permission.
Many people believe that Google Images is like a library of images you can search and take. It’s not. You search for images and Google scourers the Internet and pulls up relevant images from websites. Images that belong to other people.
There are a few websites you can get free photos or stock photos from, such as Pixabay, but do be aware that the best ones are often the most overused ones, so you might find a lovely photo of a laptop and coffee to go with your Sunday Vibes post, but a thousand other bloggers have probably found it too.
Never use a photo unless you are sure you can use it. If there is any doubt in your mind, use your own.
It’s amazing what you can create with an iPhone now, so you do have the ability to take your phone photos!
Further info: Are you legally using images?
Even if you buy something yourself to give away, you still can’t make your own rules up. Seems mental, right?
There are many terms and conditions to hosting a competition, such as not being able to exclude people and having to send out the prize or the money of equal value yourself if a brand doesn’t.
Something I have to remind people of often is that you cannot exclude a set group of people, like Compers, for example.
Further Info: How to correctly host a blog competition.
Even if you only earn £10 a month, you have to register with the HMRC and declare the money you earn and pay any taxes on it.
You can be hit with a massive fine if you get caught, or if you register but don’t meet the deadline.
You can do it all online, so remember to track your earnings monthly and get it done as soon as possible so save getting fined for missing the deadline or caught for not declaring.
Follow vs No-follow.
As a new blogger, you’re at risk of being targeted by companies that want to buy anchor text links by either a small amount of money or a shit product in exchange.
Prom dress sites and cheap jewellery from China sites seem to be the most common culprits.
While selling follow links isn’t against the law, it is against Google’s guidelines and your site could be hit with a penalty that sees you removed from Google altogether, meaning you’ll lose page views.
Further reading: how to disclose sponsorships.
Social Media Etiquette
It can be very tempting to get onto Twitter and start Tweeting people links to your posts or follow loads of people and then unfollow them to quickly increase your numbers.
There is an etiquette to Twitter and it’s worth finding out how you should use it without annoying others.
If you’re a new blogger and suddenly come out of nowhere, asking random people to read your post, you’re going to annoy people and they’ll start to avoid you.
The trick is to build relationships with similar bloggers and share your posts via hashtags, not by spamming people.
Also, don’t use auto-DMs. That’s a dick move.
As above, there is some etiquette to follow when engaging with bloggers, especially when commenting on other people’s blogs.
You will often see bloggers cut and pasting the same message on many sites, starting they love their site and would love you to follow them. They’ll follow you back in return!
No. Don’t do this. Like auto-DMs, that’s a dick move.
You want to build steady relationships with a handful of bloggers rather than a fickle comment and getting follows from someone that will never return to your site again.
Further Reading: How to leave great blog comments.
Working with brands and PRs.
When you become established in blogging, you will start to get contacted about working with brands and working on blogger campaigns.
This is when you really need to be honest about if you can stick to commitments. Because a lot of these people on the other side of the screen have a boss to report to and targets to reach. It might not seem like a massive deal to you, but you not publishing something to a deadline, or not publishing something at all, could mean a whole lot of hassle to someone who then has to go back to a brand and tell them they sent money or products to someone that didn’t deliver their side of the deal!