This post has been sitting as a draft on my dashboard for months now. Every time I went to write a few things, it came out super snotty and to be frank…made me sound like a total blogger bitch. And that’s not what I want this post to do. I want it to be informative for beginning bloggers who may not know about certain issues, and, if they need it, a reminder to veteran digital publishers as well. So I admit, some points in here I get a little attitude out of pure frustration…and I apologize in advance if it’s too mean. But whatever, let’s do this.
The blogging industry is a tricky one. As a relatively new career path on the market, a lot of us are learning as we go, and aren’t sure what the do’s and don’ts of the industry really entail. Considering that being a blogger is a career that literally ANYONE can do, it’s common to see a lot of taboo tactics and unprofessionalism from your peers on the daily. But at the same time, you can’t blame them! There’s no handbook! A lot of blogger don’t research on what is considered an industry standard and what is just plain wrong. Basically, where’s the blogger etiquette? What are the rules?
So with about six and a half years of blogging under my belt (and a LOT of conversations with my blogging friends) I wanted to touch base on, what I consider to be, the top five blogging rules and etiquette tips for the industry. And we’re diving into the good, bad and down right ugly. As I mentioned before, I hope posts like this not only educate up and coming digital influencers, but I hope it also opens a dialogue for all bloggers so we can openly discuss how to make our industry the best it can be.
Be Professional In All Correspondence
Email can be a funny form of communication. But what’s the alternative…getting on the phone all day? No thanks! (I know I’m not the only one who hates talking on the phone, right?) Anyways, the issue with email is that there can be so much miscommunication with a simple message and unprofessionalism can be shown so easily. So skip the smiley faces, the “Hey Girl!” intros (I’ve had a brand say to me that they hate when bloggers they’ve never met do this…heads up!) and anything else that makes your voice sound aloof. (Here’s a great article on why you also need to stop saying “Hope all is well.” as email intros too!) My rule: I never respond to work emails from my phone. I always wait till I’m at my computer so I can really sit down, proof, and be present while working. Brands and PR agencies want to work with bloggers that take their brands seriously and are mature in their correspondance, so simple email etiquette could be the difference between landing a collaboration or not.
Be Supportive And Respectful Of Other Bloggers Work
If there’s an industry that needs to band together to be supportive of each other, it’s the blogging world. Let’s face it, a lot of us don’t know what the hell we’re doing so having the ability to bounce ideas and thoughts off other bloggers is so super helpful. Hello, that’s the whole reason Jessica and I started The Blog Societies – to create a network where bloggers could come together for this exact purpose.
So what does it mean to be supportive of another blogger? See a post they do that you love, like it/share it! Leave a comment showing you’re a fan! Share and SHOW that you care about what they’re doing. They notice, I promise, and are likely to do the same in return or at least acknowledge they appreciate your support. Insert warm fuzzy feeling. Bloggers loving bloggers…whoohoo!
Now on to the other half of this: respect. I think it was last year, we all had the big discussion on if asking another blogger (you’ve never met) “out for coffee” to “pick their brain” was acceptable behavior. Update: we settled that it really wasn’t. (Read a few great articles on why here and here). The next wave of things to not ask another blogger is “Can you send me your contact for (insert brand name here)?” No. I don’t know you. I don’t know how you work professionally. I’ve worked hard to research and cultivate my brand relationships and for you to think I’m just handing it off to a complete stranger is borderline absurd. It is, in fact, disrespectful to a blogger who has worked hard to build their brand to ask for a freebee or hand out. Google, use LinkedIn, call the company – you can find contacts yourself. I promise they’re out there…just do your own grunt work. You’ll earn the respect of the brand and you won’t disrespect your fellow blogger.
Y’all know where I’m going with this (it’s gonna get nasty!), so let’s just dive in: Stop with the loop giveaways! (Note: Yes, 2 years ago I did a loop before everyone else and was so stupid I thought it was post on my blog and not Instagram and had no clue what I was actually doing. There was only 10 normal bloggers in this group and I did this without doing my homework and before it became as mainstream and controversial as it does today. So before you blast me, I admit it and have clearly educated myself. Let’s continue.) Stop buying followers/likes on Instagram! Stop with the comment pods! Be genuine. Be honest. I can’t count how many bloggers (or wannabe Instagram-famous girls – because there is a difference between the two now) that I’ve unfollowed because their constant loops and fake numbers are so infuriating. Yes, loops are a form of paying for followers, so your “oh we’re just trying to say thank you to our readers with a prize” is such bull crap – you’re in a loop with a 50+ accounts you have no similarity to all over the world and you paid $25 to increase your numbers. You paid for your followers. Period. Who cares about how big your number are anyways? Honestly, it’s just you. Because brands and other bloggers see that you cheat, and no one likes a fraud. And paying for likes? We aren’t stupid. You have 3000 followers and get 1500 likes on a photo? Yeah. Not possible. Or what about these BIG bloggers who are guilty of doing this too…we see you. And when we look to see who “liked” your photos we know it’s all spam accounts because all of them have no profile picture and no posts. We also see the bloggers that host loop giveaways to hide the fact that they did a huge payout for followers. And yes, you paying systems like Twitter and/or Instagram bots to fake comment on pictures for you that use certain hashtags…that’s cheating too! Some shady shady shady shit going on. Hello! Have some self respect and stop. Just stop. Create content people actually want to follow/like/comment instead of paying for imposters to make you feel better. It’s pathetic. It’s not the new algorithm that’s hurting everyones Instagram engagement – it’s the cheaters who participate in these kinds of programs that are doing the damage. Don’t be one of them.
Work To Create Original Content And Find Your Own Niche
We all get inspired by other bloggers. it’s the nature of the industry. (I’m not the first person to flay lay a pair of sneakers or pose with flowers in front of my face!) I mean, who was the first person to ever take a picture of their outfit and post it on a blog? They deserve a fruit basket and a puppy – they created a movement! So while the umbrella we all work under has us creating similar content, be careful about specific content you take “inspiration” from. And while it’s hard, find a niche that’s your own so you can stand out in the crowd. For me here at Poor Little It Girl, I work hard to keep my looks affordable with a focus on petite styling. My outfit post titles are some of my favorite song lyrics and I like to have fun with my writing. That’s my angle and that’s what makes me different from every other blogger posting their daily #ootd’s. Basically when someone asks you “What is your blog about?” you need to have a confident, unique and concise answer. No mine is not breaking the mold, but it does help me create my own corner of content. Find your own corner, do YOU…not a clone of someone else.
I’ve had a few blogger friends share with me instances where another blogger has copied..sometimes word for word or shot for shot, their content. While they say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” I completely disagree. Someone that copies what your brand does/is exactly (we’re talking same outfit, same caption, same everything) is rude, tactless and is so unbelievably unprofessional…it blows my mind. The worst part, they think they’re getting away with it and no one notices. Bloggers are the most observant people on the planet! Come up with you own ideas. Be authentic. And if you do find inspiration from someone else and it’s clear that’s where you got it from, give them a shout out! It goes back to the idea of being supportive each other in this industry.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
This last point isn’t so much a rule, but more of a warning. So many bloggers today are so focused on building their Instagram page. And we’re not talking like they just love the platform a lot, we’re talking neglecting their other platforms, and even their blogs, just to curate a feed that is esthetically pleasing to followers and themselves. Don’t get me wrong, a great Instagram feed is crucial to building a great blog…but it’s not everything. When I see women who classify themselves as bloggers, and have 100K+ followers on Instagram. I’m proud! That’s awesome! But when I go to their blog and they haven’t posted in a week, and their Twitter feed and Facebook pages have less than 500 followers…I’m left confused. Why do people care so little about your brand outside of Instagram? Are you really just focused on an LTK post? Because that’s all it looks like. And then what? When Instagram becomes the next Vine, GLAM/MODE media or MySpace…where does your brand go after that? I guess no where because you haven’t actually built a solid foundation for your brand. Be smart and make sure you’re producing quality relationships with your readers across multiple platforms so that when one dies (because it WILL happen), or you don’t earn income from one anymore, you have a stable support system to hold you up still.