Making it as a professional blogger is tough, especially if you’re just starting out. The marketplace is a crowded one and it can be hard to make yourself heard in the clamour for attention. So what can you do to help raise your profile as a professional blogger and increase your chances of securing brand partnerships? Are there any secrets to keeping brands and agencies coming back for more and, more importantly, what are the things you definitely shouldn’t be doing if you want to make a living from blogging?
Here are my top nine things not to do as a professional blogger, but I’d love to hear your suggestions too (drop them in the comments!).
1. Don’t miss deadlines
I’m as sympathetic as the next person to tales of vomiting toddlers and broken down laptops, but if you want to win that well paid, repeat business from clients then reliability is key. Yes, they may be understanding at the time, but when it comes to choosing who to work with on the next campaign, a brand is going to pick the bloggers that they know they can rely on to deliver work on time. Try a programme like Trello if you need help managing projects.
2. Don’t get involved in the politics
Like any industry, professional blogging has its ups and downs and its controversies, but if you want to be taken seriously by potential partners then you can’t be seen to be getting involved in Twitter spats or bad mouthing other bloggers online. It’s just not cool.
3. Don’t gossip about clients either
You might think that Facebook group is private, but never underestimate the power of the screenshot. Avoid saying anything to other people that you wouldn’t say directly to a client – you never know when an offhand comment might come back to haunt you.
4. Don’t think you can just skip over a contract
Read it carefully! More and more brands now are introducing very specific terms into their blogger contracts, such as exclusivity periods and insurance requirements. It’s your responsibility to make sure you know exactly what you are signing up for. I once very nearly signed a contract promising not to work with any other ‘lifestyle brands’ for 18 months, so be warned!
5. Don’t forget about a post once it’s published
Hours of work might have gone into producing a fantastic post, but the hard work definitely doesn’t stop there. If a brand has paid you to produce content, it’s because they want people to read it – you need to invest just as much time in promoting the post as creating it in the first place. I use tools like Buffer and SocialOomph to help set up multiple shares across different platforms.
6. Don’t misuse other people’s content or images
There’s really no excuse for lifting other people’s work, whether it’s a paragraph from a review post or an image from Pinterest. It’s not enough to say ‘well I credited the source’ unless that person has explicitly given you permission or you’re 100% sure that no credit is required. Ignorance is not an excuse. The Stocks is a great starting point for sourcing royalty free images.
7. Don’t get lazy with your media pack
Sending out a media pack where the figures are six months out of date never looks professional. If you can’t keep on top of a few stats then you’re not exactly going to inspire confidence from a potential client are you? Try a tool like Canva to put together and maintain a professional looking media pack – I created mine with one of their templates and it’s was incredibly simple.
8. Don’t neglect your admin
I know, taking photos and writing stories is the fun bit, but if you want a sustainable career as a professional blogger then you need the infrastructure to support it. Invoicing, taxes and record keeping aren’t exactly thrilling but they are necessary. If you know you lack the skills yourself, (like me), then think about delegating to a virtual assistant. It can definitely be worth the investment if you want to take your blog to the next level. If you’re looking for a simple tool to help with your accounting then I can definitely recommend having a look at Quickbooks. I was always a ‘12 months of receipts in a drawer’ kind of girl, but now I just swipe and it’s done! Like Tinder, but for bookkeeping.
9. Don’t assume that everyone else is doing better than you
I’m pretty sure we’re all guilty of this sometimes. But there is nothing more soul destroying than constantly comparing yourself to other people. When embarking on a career as a professional blogger, it’s important to concentrate on you and your blog. What makes it special? Maybe you have small reader numbers but they’re loyal and engaged? Maybe you take amazing food photos? Identify your strengths and celebrate these.
Comparison is the thief of joy – only you can be you.