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.
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.
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).
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!