Blogging is very personal and I don’t know exactly what makes one a “good” blog. As the sole writer of this blog, each post I write is a reflection of my own personal taste – some like it, some do not. By no means do I consider myself an expert. There is no set formula to make your blog a success. I’m flattered that so many would ask for my advice, but here are a few do’s and don’ts from my own personal perspective. Note this is rather lengthy and unedited as I have tried to answer all the questions and concerns I’ve received over the past several months.
The best way I know if is word of mouth. Getting more followers is an enigma to us all, and all I can say is that it doesn’t happen overnight. I still remember when I only had 10 followers and thought that was huge. If your goal is simply to get a large following then I’d question your motives for blogging. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, you should be more concerned with your content rather than popularity.
a) Start with your friends – A number of friends I had made over beauty message boards helped me spread the word. Many of them were bloggers. I can’t thank them enough – they were sweet and supportive and motivated me to keep blogging. Do proceed with some tact though. Simply e-mailing every blogger friend “I have a new blog, please follow me as I follow you” is a turn-off and just tasteless. I can’t think of any blogger who thinks that is a great sell. Just start to let people know in an appropriate way that you’ve started blogging, maybe ask for feedback, but if you ask, be prepared for an honest answer. Don’t just e-mail hoping for flattery.
b) Find a blog who is asking for guest writers – Writing for a popular blog can be a great start. I submitted an idea for a guest post for Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog when she asked for submissions even before I started my blog. She did have a few requirements (one of them being that the content must be unique) so I brainstormed a couple ideas and she liked it! Thank you Karen from the bottom of my heart! If you submit an idea to a blog and don’t get picked, don’t give up! Be aware established blogs who ask for guest posts are looking for something specific. If they took just anything it wouldn’t be as meaningful, right? The key phrase is “asking for guest writers.” If a blogger isn’t looking for guest writers and you email them, be prepared for no response.
c) Get on Twitter – I have to chuckle at this one because it took me 6 months to figure out what a “tweet” was and how Twitter worked. It’s confusing at first but can be a great tool. I find blogs through the people I follow all the time. Once you start tweeting, don’t spam you blog on tweets, we can already see your profile name which will link to your website if you set it up right.
d) Start commenting on other blogs to get noticed – Commenting on other blogs can be a great way for others to find out about your blog. Be respectful and don’t spam them with links. The best way to get noticed is to write something insightful or meaningful instead of simply “love it!” (although those are appreciated as well). Many of us get numerous comments on more than one post throughout the day, sometimes it can be difficult to sort through all the noise.
e) Be patient! Sometimes weeks can go by without the numbers going up. Do keep in mind that if you are actively networking and reaching out, but your numbers aren’t going up at all, your content might need to be reworked. Simply starting a blog that is a collection of press releases or copying content from other blogs has been done a million times over. But getting followers does take time and lots of hard work.
f) Join a blogger network – This is something I can’t give much input on as I haven’t joined any. I would love to but don’t have the patience or time to follow all the rules they each have, but I know from others it’s a great resource for support, generating revenue, getting PR contacts etc.
b) Be original and find your own voice – I roll my eyes at bloggers that copy other bloggers. Yes, there are only so many ways we can write about certain things, but the posts that have a unique twist or the posts that show passion & enthusiasm always bring a smile. We are all inspired by what’s around us and bloggers are no exception. We inspire each other constantly. Just be original or try to contribute something meaningful from your own perspective.
c) Moderate your comments – Nobody likes spam. Some bloggers don’t mind you linking your own blog through the comments but it’s really just plain rude. I don’t like spam of any kind so I typically don’t publish comments with links that self promote. Also people can write crazy, hurtful, unrelated or just plain stupid comments. I’ll publish most of them (even the hurtful ones) but if it’s just completely over the top, moderating allows you to filter out the ones that aren’t relevant.
d) Be honest and consistent – We all know of a certain someone who has said “I won’t do glitter” and then released glitter products in a number of her collections. As trivial as it may seem, so many women have jumped on the criticism bandwagon saying, “can you believe she said that?” I chuckle at the drama this causes, but apply this to your blogging methods. We can change our mind and preferences as we age. Sometimes a hot trend one season will be out of fashion the next. If you change your mind, it’s ok to say so. Be honest and avoid writing in absolute terms like “this is the worst product ever!” Instead tell us what you didn’t like and why it didn’t work for you. If you try it again in the future and like it, just say you gave this product a second try and liked it better the second time around.
e) Make an effort to write properly – I am guilty of making mistakes on numerous occasions. I don’t have anyone editing my work and don’t always proof read. Sometimes commenters will post in the comments “you used the wrong version of that word.” I am always appreciative for any corrections but am usually embarrassed too. How could I get “bare” and “bear” mixed up? Is it “peek, peak or pique”? Where do I put that apostrophe? In my haste I’ve written “there” instead of “their.” If you at least make an effort, people will be forgiving of a mistake every once in a while. (I hold my breath now wondering how many mistakes have I made in this article? If you see any let me know.)
f) Again, be patient! Blogging has a learning curve. Taking photos and swatching are both difficult. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. If someone tells you your photos look like crap, they just might, but ignore them and keep moving forward. We all get better with practice!
b) Don’t spam – This is my personal opinion, but when in doubt, don’t spam my blog or any blog with links to your website. There are fields that you can fill out in the comment section that will allow you to properly link your blog.
c) Don’t accept anything that seems too good to be true – If companies contact you to send you product, verify it with someone you trust. Don’t give out your information or address to anyone without verification.
d) Be careful how you self promote – Make sure you try to find out the rules beforehand. Even though I’ve already written that I don’t like spam, I guarantee you this post will still get spam comments. So if your comment isn’t published, it’s either spam or just plain stupid. (Sorry, I have to be frank.)
e) Be careful of what you write on message boards – I can’t tell you how many hate comments I’ve seen about my blog and that same person will later e-mail me “can you help me get started with blogging?” I won’t respond to these e-mails. I don’t visit message boards much anymore for a variety of reasons, but know what you write on the internet on a public forum can be accessed and viewed by anyone.
f) Do be careful about posting your face online – I don’t post photos of myself for two main reasons. I am self conscious and like my privacy. Having already been told I’m fat, don’t want to subject my face to even more scrutiny. If you think I’m fat or ugly, that’s fine, I can take it. I just don’t want my face out there and think it’s a waste of time to moderate the “you’re ugly” comments. I also don’t want random strangers coming up to me. So if you decide to post your face, just be ready for criticism. Know there are good angles and bad angles. Taking pictures of yourself can be a challenge in itself.
g) Don’t blog just for free products – It’s clear to me when a blog has 5 followers and a big note that says COMPANIES CONTACT ME HERE on the sidebar that they are simply blogging to get free stuff. I get e-mails every week for free products I have never heard of and have only accepted one. The day Chanel or Dior or any of the brands I love come knocking on my door, I won’t turn them down, but this is more wishing than anything. Even if you get large following and write unique articles and reviews – you aren’t guaranteed to get sent anything. I have yet to be contacted by any major brands and I’ve been blogging for over a year, have over 1,000 followers, 150,000 hits per month and have reached over 1.2 million hits total since I started tracking activity. I want to clarify that I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting products to review (I’ve met a couple bloggers who do receive PR samples and they were TOTAL sweethearts, they know who they are). If your main goal is to score freebies by blogging people will see right through it.
Again note that this list is simply my own opinion. There are many who won’t agree especially with linking blogs in comments or stealing content as it’s done frequently. I hope this helps give some perspective. Know that blogging is hard work and requires commitment and an open mind to change your technique to improve.
It’s always a battle between pleasing readers while staying true to yourself. Take control of your own blog and take criticism and requests with a grain of salt. I used to have my blog background yellow, then someone told me they hated it. Once I changed it, I got 5 e-mails asking “why did you change it? I liked it better the old way?” I was thoroughly annoyed and still get annoyed when people make demands that will only suit their likes with no consideration for others.
Blogging can bring out both the best and worst in people. All I can say it’s like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I end up crying. Still, it’s a hobby I hope to continue. Half the time I don’t know what I’m doing when I blog so many times it’s just a matter of trying something out. If it works, yay! If it flops, I won’t give up and I’ll just try it in a different way next time.
Find a support group – people you can talk to and who will tell you when you’re wrong. Find people who will say “it’s ok to cry, everything will be ok.” Sometimes we all just need to vent and get over whatever is bugging us. Reach out to people. Make new friends. Be open to feedback.
Most importantly – STAY POSITIVE and know that’s ok to get discouraged every once in a while. I definitely know I go through slumps. Knowing it happens to everyone kinda makes it better – having that feeling you’re not alone.
Have a great weekend everyone!