20 Practices that are holding your blog back

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Dead weight practices holding your blog back

We all want growth. We want to increase our followers, statistics, and mom blogging is becoming especially competitive.  What you might not know is that there are things holding you back from true greatness.  Brands do not only look at numbers – they look at engagement and influence. If you want to see your writing and social media influence really rise, then trim the fat!

Just like when you stop eating processed foods, your body gets stronger, if you cut out these practices, your influence will increase!

1. Group Rafflecopter Giveaways
Group Rafflecopter giveaways are the worst thing to ever happen to blog giveaways. Avoid them. This could turn into its own post. Just understand that by participating in them you run the risk of Facebook shutting your blog down. You attract only sweepers to follow your page. (Regular blog readers hardly ever enter them)  It inflates your numbers with followers that rarely engage. These will do more harm than good.

2. Relying only on Giveaways for traffic/audience
I’m going to be kind here, because I know that review and giveaway bloggers are very successful and I do not begrudge them the income they make from their full-time job.  This point is more about “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Learn quality SEO practices. Create pinnable posts. You can grow so much more if you go beyond the giveaway and reach an audience that will return without a Rafflecopter form to entice them.

3. Social Media Spamming
Look at your Twitter feed.  How often do you interact with people? If all you tweet are links – to your blog, your friend’s blog – then stop. Cut back on the amount of links you tweet and start interacting. Look through hashtags. Tweet fun things! And go beyond the Instagram pics too. Tweet conversationally. And read the “Comment Vomit” post on MomComm - it is hilarious, but also tells you how not to comment on other blogs.

4. Spreading yourself too thin
Working full time to represent a ton of brands has the potential to do more harm than good.  Sure you are earning a decent income, but when you are meeting too many deadlines at once, quality might suffer. Instead of giving 100% of your best, you might end up giving 10% to everyone.  Just like people that volunteer at too many organizations can’t give their best, you can’t give your best if you cannot focus entirely on the brands you represent.  Take a step back, say no to a few companies, and increase your rates so you are not losing income.

5. Growing numbers on every single social media channel
The number of followers you have on 50 different social media networks doesn’t mean you are influential on all 50.  Focus on the channels that will market your blog posts best. DIY/Food bloggers – Pinterest. Lifestyle bloggers, Facebook and Twitter. Vloggers, YouTube.   If you hope to expand your income to social media consultation for businesses, then you definitely ought to learn how every single channel works, what their audience is comprised of, best practices, etc.  But if your full time job is your blog – focus on the channels where your readers spend the most time.

6. Lack of Engagement with readers on posts
I understand that non-blogging readers do not comment as often as other bloggers do. However, if your blog never receives a comment unless you beg your blog friends, I would suggest making some changes. Shake things up, post something different. Brands do look at engagement in the comments.  Some brands only want to be seen, but others want their brand discussed and shared.

Also, engage with your comments – respond. Don’t just reply to emails, respond in the comments. Blogger now has this feature, so use it.  I have heard from lots of readers that they will comment more on blogs where they are part of a conversation. Your blog is not a 1996 GeoCities “GuestBook” people sign, it is a fun conversation, enjoy it!

7. Visual aesthetics
A beautiful design brings readers back in droves compared to a poorly designed blog. Melissa at MomComm has a fantastic ebook about blog design. I highly recommend it for every blogger. Make your blog one that people send to the friends and enjoy coming back to!

8. Asking for eleventy-billion extra entries in a giveaway
Giveaways can be a fun way to work with brands and a reward to your readers. But asking for a like, vote, follow, blog post, and 50 thousand other ways to enter will turn a pleasant experience into drudgery.  For each giveaway, focus on three areas you want to grow. Yes, Rafflecopter does make it easier to follow multiple channels, but read #5 above. When you have simple, easy to enter giveaways, more people will enter, and you will have happier readers!

9. Being late on sponsored posts
Life happens. Brands understand this.  So if something happens and you cannot meet a deadline, send a super quick email and let them know. Just ignoring deadlines will put the brand behind on schedule and you will look unreliable. Bloggers, I know you talk to each other about reps you don’t enjoy working with – the same goes for blogger outreach programs. Bloggers that fail to communicate and repeatedly miss sponsored posts are not asked to join future campaigns.

10. Not keeping track of your stats
If you are on WordPress, the plugin “WP Post Views” tracks views per post. When you send the post views for a sponsored post to a brand, they will appreciate it and be more likely to ask you to work with them again.  I also suggest every blogger become familiar with Google Analytics. It is free and knowing your stats will help you see where your traffic is coming from. This knowledge can help you focus more on your strengths and improve your weaknesses. I found a super awesome post – Google Analytics for beginners!

11. Not having an updated Media Kit
Brand reps still ask for media kits. They are best kept to one page and should include your stats and how you prefer to work with brands and any experience you have working with brands in the past. Everything you could possibly want to know about Media Kits on the New Media Expo post. Read it, bookmark it, and make sure you have one ready to send.

12. Only using stock photos
Blogs stand out from magazines because they are personal.  Using photos of you with products, the recipes you create, or even just your everyday life, will create a personal connection between you and your readers. You can take phenomenal pictures with your iPhone. Or, invest in a DSLR (especially if you hope to share recipes!).  Your blog will go to the next level with amazing pictures, I promise!

13. Selling Links
I’ve done it. And Google penalized me for it.  Kelby from Type A Parent explains what I’m talking about.  I understand how fun it is to get $200 for one link that takes a few seconds to put in your blog’s side bar. I also remember how devastated I was when my page rank dropped to a zero and I stopped getting Google search traffic.

14. Begging for votes
You can ask for votes in a very classy way – Dagmar Bleasdale is a Circle of Mom’s Top 25 and that took lots of work. But be careful when asking for votes. What is the reward? Is it worth alienating readers?

15. Grammatical Errors
If you want to be respected, take the extra 10 minutes to proofread your post. Lots of common mistakes I see are not picked up by the spell-checker – “you’re vs your” and “weak or week” or missing words.  Just read every post before hitting publish.

16. Captcha
Readers will comment more and enjoy your blog if you make it easy for them. Captcha is infuriating. Period.

17. Page load time
Lots of things can slow down a blog’s loading time – ads, cluttered side bars, photos are too large, too many plugins.  Problem solve your blog and make sure your blog loads quickly.

18. Non-Disclosure
While readers who enjoy your blog will want to help you earn an income, I have heard from numerous sources that reading a “personal” post and then finding out at the end it was to promote a company left them feeling “duped.”  Even if you don’t agree with that, you might agree with following FTC.  Just this month they released an update to their terms.  You have to disclose clearly (at the beginning of a post or in the title) that it is sponsored. The same goes for sponsored social media updates. In Tweets, use #ad or #sponsored (#spon is not clear enough, per FTC).

19. Unoriginality
This is your blog – let you shine! Don’t let your blog be just another blog in your niche. Don’t try to be just like your favorite blogger, either. Stand out. Let your personality sparkle in the voice of your posts, the design, your photos. Be you and people will love it!

20. Lack of a quality “About Me” page
My most popular page on this blog is the “Meet Mama Dweeb” page.  People go to the “About Me” to get to know you. Be brief – they don’t want to read a book about your life – and sum up the personality of your blog. Will they find humor? Recipes? Mostly reviews and giveaways? Inspiration? If your About Me page does not tell the reader who you are and what the blog is about, you have to change it.

And please – make it obvious where and how to contact you. If you have a separate contact page, put the link to the contact page in the “About Me” page.  Put your e-mail address on both pages as well, just to make sure companies will know how to reach you.

I am always here, happy to help! Please let me know if you have any questions as you continue your journey of professional blogging!

Written by:: Annie

Annie Shultz has written 1949 post in this blog.

She is THE Mama Dweeb :) She created this blog back in 2009 and loves to inspire and connect with others through her writing. She also loves talking, dreaming, 90s pop and country music.

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Comments

  1. says

    I love this, Annie! Thank you!

    #15 and #18 are HUGE for me. I know at least 3 (local) bloggers that ALWAYS have at least a handful of grammatical errors and it drives me CRAZY! And I DESPISE going to a blog where they DON’T have disclosures. I understand it’s not needed on personal posts, but I still (usually) include something to say that it’s mine.

  2. says

    Thanks, Annie! I’ve been mulling quite a few of these points over for a while now. I’m feeling like it’s time for an overhaul and this was just the nudge (and affirmation) I needed. :)

    • says

      I agree with you, Tamara. I am thinking it is time to change things up a bit. Now to figure out exactly what that will look like. :-)

  3. says

    Actually, I *do* enter the group giveaways on blogs where I’m a regular reader – assuming they’re something I’m interested in. (So, in other words, if it’s relevant to the blog’s niche, I’m probably going to enter.) But I *don’t* follow all eleventy-billion FB and Twitter pages, so I’m not adding onto someone’s friends’ followings on social media.

    I also don’t mind Captcha, actually, as long as it’s there as part of the original comment form and I don’t have to go through an extra page load to get to it. It often annoys me less than the “confirm you’re not a spammer” checkbox that for some unfathomable reason is designed to show up BELOW the submit button so that I always miss it if I’m not scrolled down far enough.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Thank you for sharing, Rachel. You make a really good point about staying in niche. For example, if a blogger is known for their avid love of all things Apple and then does a give away for a Droid tablet…..that just feels fake/not genuine.

      And thank you for reminding me about the “spam” check box. With askimet not working in the past, I resorted to this plugin. But I have heard that askimet is working better….so maybe I should try it!

      • says

        Oh, I think the checkbox plugin is a great idea! I just don’t understand why they didn’t program it to put the checkbox BEFORE the submit button.

        Also, I realized after-the-fact that I only pointed out where I disagreed with you. I should also have pointed out that that was the easier route because it’s a great post and I completely agree with almost all of it!

  4. says

    Thank you.
    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOUUUUUUUU, Annie!
    I have needed this! I always hear such conflicting advice on what works, what doesn’t work, etc…
    So, thank you bunches for putting everything in one spot! :)

  5. says

    Great tips— I am all about working on #4 right now– because I simply cannot keep up the things I am trying to juggle. It is not good for anyone.

  6. Christine M says

    Great article. I enter sweepstakes as a hobby but I also follow and read blogs. I found your blog through a giveaway being hosted by another blogger (I can’t remember her name I know she does a lot more cooking because she is studying to be a chef). Anywho if I do enter a giveaway and THEN find out there are a gazillion other bloggers involved in it, I only do the entries for the blogs I follow then call it quits. It is not worth the time and effort. I also like the ‘Confirm you are NOT a spammer’ button much more than captcha which can be a pain in the rear. I am also one that loves to read the About Me section. I like to get to know the person behind the blog before I commit to following, reading and commenting on their page. Oh and for #15 thank you for pointing that out! I stop reading a blog if there are too many errors because to me it shows that they don’t really care and just want to get their post published quickly.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Hi Christine! Oh yes I know exactly who you are talking about – my good friend Candy from SerendipityMommy.com She is amazing! We paired up one Christmas to promote each other’s gift guides. We offered an extra entry for entering each other’s giveaways. Opinions differ on whether that is annoying or a good idea, but since since it introduced you to my blog, I will say it was a great idea! :)

      Thank you so much for your valuable feedback. (that was cheesy, but I do appreciate it). I’ve been wavering on whether to keep the “check this box” plugin or not.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Oh no! LOL!! And ya know, that is a really tough one. I make it so links open in a new window so you don’t have to hit the back button if you were in the middle of reading a paragraph. I’ve had people say they appreciate that. But then there are others who side with you…they say it is as annoying as pop up ads….frustrating conundrum…but I know what your vote is :)

  7. says

    These are great; as I am new in this whole blog-world I always enjoy reading such posts from exeperienced bloggers – some things come naturally, the other I have to practice on. Thanks, Annie!

  8. says

    Sure money would be nice, but I’d just love for people to read my blog and comment. I have a small community of readers, but don’t seem to ever get any new ones. I’m trying to do some stuff on my own (made my own header, yes it’s probably crappy, but I did it MYSELF!) But I rarely get comments. If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them!

    I’ve done a couple of giveaways, but no one ever stays to keep reading, or if they do, they don’t comment. Most of it has come out of my own pocket or are pay-it-forward types where I just review something and then give something away that I have to ship. I’d love to know how people get insider info on giveaways to things like clothing stores, etc. I don’t want to be completely sponsored, but hey, my kids need clothes, too! KWIM?

  9. says

    #15 drives me nuts! I don’t know if it is the English background or what, but it really gets me every time.

    Question for you… I am having trouble with the comment thing. I keep trying to engage the readers but it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t know if it from to small of numbers (after a break from blogging) or they just don’t care to comment or like the content. Any pointers on the ‘shake it up’ aspect?

  10. says

    wow- this is great and I am going through it all now…you mentioned on blogger a way to engage with comments- I do reply to people but is there a way to respond that links back to their email directly?

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      As far as I know, there is not a way….unless you install a different comment software like Disquis.

  11. says

    This is a really helpful post. I’m checking out a few of your links right now. I’d never really considered rafflecopter’s to be a negative thing for my blog, but now I can certainly see your point! Thank you for sharing your blogging wisdom. Pinning this post!

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Thank you Jelli! That means so much!! And yes – Rafflecopter has its place. It is those huge “win an iPad by liking these 100 blogs on Facebook” giveaways that could hurt your blog.

  12. says

    Thank you for this article! Mine is just a small blog, and I really have no desire for brands or affiliate links, but I do want it to be the best that it can be. I have some improvements to make. Thanks again!

  13. says

    All of these are definitely great tips! I don’t really understand all the tips about giveaways, though. I suppose that’s because I rarely do giveaways on my blog. Maybe once a month, if even? If a blog hosts giveaways all the time, I just don’t even visit them. So I’m probably completely out of the loop with seeing how harmful giveaway issues can be.

    • says

      Hi Melissa – thanks for stopping by :)
      Yes, those tips I gave above are really only for people whose traffic and followers rely at least 80-90% on giveaways. But if you only do a giveaway a month, then you are doing great! And you said exactly what I was saying – if a blog hosts giveaways all the time, I don’t visit them much either. About the only people that do visit those blogs are people who are entering the giveaways. And that does work for some bloggers….. I just wanted to give them some more tips/ideas.

      I am off to visit your blog now, thank you for the comment!

  14. says

    I had some idea about the giveaways but not all of this. Your examples are true. I always thought just a simple name address, maybe a email follow. Just something simple.

  15. says

    Love, love, love this post. Excellent tips Annie. some practices I’m doing well on- like not asking for votes or overloading my Rafflecopter forms with entry to-do’s, but I need to stop doing group giveaways. That I didn’t expect to see in the #1 spot.
    I’m working on #’s 5,7,11 and can’t wait for the new year because I feel it will be an awesome year for me and my lil’ blog that could. :).
    Thanks for your help!

    • says

      Thank you Linda! This list is not in numerical order by importance. If it was, I think I would have put either #9 or #19 as number one. Because you see, as you create a reputation for always being on time or early with campaign deadlines and always being able to be relied on for quality, original content, your blog WILL grow.

      Group giveaways can be done right. If you go to my blog now, I have a Kroger gift card posted. BUT there are only 10 bloggers to follow each with only one easy entry. AND I made sure that the bloggers would have the same audience as me…..also, I didn’t pay a dime for it.

      Good luck in 2014! I believe it really will be a year of amazing things for your blog!

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