I hear it all the time. People say things about their blog like “no one ever reads my blog” or “my blog is so small.” But really? Until you take your blog seriously, no one else will. Yes, that even applies if you are just blogging for fun and to express yourself creatively.
That applies even if you don’t want to work with brands. Don’t you want people who are not brands to respect your blog? Or possibly you want to do freelance writing, or write a book someday, or get a job or a gig.
Your blog is your online presence. If you have a blog, you are a publisher. That is a pretty big deal.
If your blog only gets read by your mom, you still have a reader (I would say a pretty important one).
So here are some tips for taking your blog more seriously (and having it show).
Stop Publicly Insulting Your Blog
First of all, don’t say negative, apologetic things about your blog, especially in public spaces like Twitter and Facebook.
“No one reads my blog” or “My blog is so small!”
“I love my tight-knit group of loyal readers!”
Stop Being Sloppy
This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but I see blogs with haphazard designs and littered with typos and grammatical errors.
- Clean up your design. There are some wonderful tips in a series on blog design at Mommy Words. If your blog is a hot mess (especially that sidebar), it isn’t just companies that will leave. Readers will, too.
- Clean up your posts. The tough thing about blogging is we don’t have editors like traditional media does. Even if English wasn’t your favorite subject in school, you can still get some help. After the Deadline is a WordPress plugin that checks grammar and spelling, or even save your post and then paste it into Word with spelling and grammar markup enabled.
And I am just going to say the unspeakable, even if it gets me haters. If your header or your avatar involves you depicted as a cartoon, I think it’s pretty hard for people to take you seriously. That is just a personal opinion of mine, but I know many others share it. If you are concerned about your face being known, consider doing a photo with your face partially obscured instead.
Stop Ignoring Your Numbers
Numbers matter, especially if you actually do want to bring in advertisers or work with companies. Be sure you are using, at the least, Google Analytics. It is free.
Do NOT use Webalizer or Awstats, as those stats packages record every hit (as in every image loaded, every script loaded, etc.) and those numbers are meaningless and can be ten times your actual numbers. If you don’t mind paying a small amount, I also love GetClicky and I run that with Analytics on my sites.
Once you know your numbers, put them together in a one-sheet PDF or on your about page. It can simply be a rundown of monthly visitors, monthly page views, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and fans, RSS feed subscribers (use Feedburner or Feeblitz if you want tracking on that), etc.
And be sure you have all of your basic information somewhere easy to find, such as an about page, including your contact information. I am surprised how often I find blogs where you cannot even reach the blog owner unless you comment publicly. Not good.
Stop Kissing Up to Companies
You know what is more important than getting a company’s respect? Getting your readers’ respect. Without the readers, you have no numbers to give the companies.
I see lots of “reviews” that are nothing but a commercial. That is not a review. When you write a post (shoot, even a sponsored post), you always need to be mindful of your readers.
A good review does NOT have a headline raving about the wonders of the product, but simply has the product’s name followed by review. (Bonus: that way it will also be much more likely to show up in Google search results). It has both pros and cons. It shows the reader you took the time to test it out for them.
I think many times bloggers fear a company will not work with them unless the review is glowing. This is not true. They have worked with traditional journalists for years, and those reviews are balanced. They also know readers do not trust a review that is nothing but sunshine and rainbows, and that readers will be much more motivated to buy if they’ve gotten the full low-down on a product.
Start Taking Yourself Seriously
Those are just a few tips that I think will help you take your blog seriously and, once you do, help everyone who encounters you and your blog take it more seriously.
Do you have any tips as well? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Kelby Carr (@typeamom) is the founder and CEO of Type-A Parent, a social network and multi-author magazine-style blog for digital moms and dads, and Type-A Parent Conference. A former journalist with 15 years of experience in newspapers, she is the publisher of Investigative Mommy Blogger, providing daily breaking news and investigative journalism for moms, and the author of Mom Blog SEO. She’s been geeking it out on computers since she was 10, social networking online since the 1980s, web publishing since the early 1990s, blogging since 2002 and tweeting since 2007.