Blogging

Benefits of Having a Blogging Mission Statement jimmielanley.com
How a Blogging Mission Statement Benefits a Blogger

I had a wonderful hour with fellow homeschool mom and blogger Kirsten Joy Torrado from Kirsten Joy Awake. We chatted on a Google Hangout and recorded 36 minutes of talking about the benefits of a blogging mission statement. I was tired when we started this hangout, but by the end, I was energized by Kirsten’s confidence and vision. Don’t miss this video. You will be blessed.

Kirsten outlines these four main benefits to having a blogging mission statement.

  • find your target audience
  • develop good content based on your life
  • build a platform
  • be cooperative instead of competitive

Authentic Blogging

Like Kirsten, I rarely get blogger’s block. I always have more ideas than time because I’m writing from the overflow of  my normal life and busy little mind.

This is why when blog readers meet me they say, “You are just like you are on your blog!” Of course! I am the same me on the blog and off the blog. I blog about what is real in my life. That keeps blogging interesting to me instead of a chore. And it keeps me true to my voice. I’m not trying to be something I’m not. Having a mission statement that aligns with your personal goals keeps you authentic as a blogger.

Competition Versus Creativity

When Kirsten touched on creativity, I was all ears. Just recently I realized how much competition saps my creative process. When I start worrying about other people stealing my ideas, I spend more time guarding than creating. As bloggers and online entrepreneurs, we must be secure in our own purpose so that we are not threatened by others who are doing something similar.

My advice is if someone saps your creativity, do your best to remove that person from your vision. Social media can be a real detriment if you are constantly seeing what your competitors are doing. Tune them out for a while and get in touch with your own vision for your work. You actually don’t have to know what the competitor is doing, especially if it causing negative emotions in you. Creativity doesn’t flow when we are angry, jealous, or bitter.

If someone else becomes your benchmark, you will fail to be creative. If you are mimicking or even simply trying to be better that the competitor, you will lose touch of the most powerful part of your creative process because you are reacting instead of acting.

Like Kirsten, I have seen the power of bloggers working together to create something strong and much more valuable than the sum of the parts. This collaboration is a key to moving your blog or business to the next level.

I loved her analogy of a group of soccer players  grouped around the ball instead of playing their unique positions to cooperate. On the Internet, our possibilities are endless. We don’t have to all bunch around a single soccer ball.

 

 

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How to Pitch a Company Even if you Don't Have Huge Blog Stats
How To Pitch a Company Even if You Don’t Have Huge Blog Stats

The truth is that most companies want to work with bloggers but they don’t know who to trust or if their investment will return any results. They may have been burned in the past by bloggers who didn’t follow through with their promises.

When you are putting together a media kit or email proposal to a company you would like to work with, you need to speak the language of that brand. Tell them what they need to know in order to make a good decision about you. And don’t be afraid. Huge stats are not the main thing they are looking for.

Also, the person getting your email is probably very busy and receives dozens of emails a day. Yours needs to stand out by grabbing attention and stating clearly and early exactly what you can do for the brand. Avoid the long introductions that focus on you. Get right to the point of how you can benefit the company. Then spell it all out later.

I’ve received general emails like this (on behalf of a client), and I admit that they do not get me excited about working with the blogger.

Hi, I’m a blogger and I want to review your XYZ on my blog. Let me know if you do that kind of thing.

Sincerely,

blogger’s first name

So many things are wrong with an introductory email like this, but instead of focusing on details such as including your whole name and linking to your site, I’m going to focus on this research reported on ViralBlog.

According to the survey, these are the factors, in order of importance, which companies consider when evaluating blogs.

  1. quality of content
  2. relevance to the company 
  3. personality of blogger
  4. comments and engagement
  5. traffic/followers 

This list forms a perfect road map for speaking the language of a company you want to work with. If you follow these guidelines, your email will be read and probably responded to in a favorable light.

Quality of Content is the Most Important Factor

Whoever gets your email will click over to your site and evaluate the quality of the content there. What says low-quality to brand?

  • a majority of posts are sponsored content
  • a majority of posts are deals, coupons, or affiliate promotions
  • a majority of posts are reviews and giveaways
  • posts are short (less than 350 words)
  • posts are riddled with spelling errors
  • posts have unappealing graphics
  • the sidebar is overflowing with ads and buttons
  • there is no legal disclosure on what appears to be sponsored content or affiliate links

What says high-quality to a brand?

  • a majority of posts are meaty (often lengthy) and provide answers, how-tos, encouragement, or help to readers
  • the content is original and personal
  • top content is featured in the sidebar
  • images, colors, and fonts are appealing
  • the blog navigation leads the reader to other valuable content on the site

Relevance to Industry is Very Important

Besides making that all-important first impression of the quality of your site, you also need to demonstrate the fit between your blog and the company you seek to work with. Although you may think this is obvious, go ahead and spell it out.

Remember that your blog has to be relevant on two levels.

  1. you yourself have to match the brand
  2. your readers have to be interested (at least potentially) in the brand

Explain both aspects in your pitch to the company. State your tagline or blogging vision/purpose if that shows your relevance to the brand. Give some demographics information as well. Who are your readers and why would they care about the brand you want to work with? 

Personality of Blogger is Also Very Important

What is your online reputation? What do your last 15 tweets say about you? Do you use social media to blast companies or vent your venom? Do your photos show you in situations that might be questionable to some companies? (Consider alcohol, clothing choices, political stances.)

Is your writing clear and positive or does it sound like a stream of consciousness therapy session? It can be hard to see how we look to outsiders, so getting feedback from others can be helpful here.

Your overall blog gives a taste of your personality, but a critical place to focus is your About page. Make sure that you have a clear photo of yourself, use your full name, and share details about who you are. No company wants to work with a mystery blogger. Read more about brand turn-offs here.

Comments and Engagement

Engagement is somewhat out of your control. You cannot make people comment or share your post. But if you are creating remarkable content, it will generate engagement on its own. So instead of begging for comments or shares from your blogging community, focus on providing that quality content from point one above.

A great tool for evaluating shares on social media is LinkTally.com. Share screenshots or stats from that tool with a company. Give them the link so they can verify your numbers. Share the link that shows what is pinned from your site so a company can evaluate your presence on Pinterest.

Don’t just say you get engagement, demonstrate it objectively.

Stats

Yes, companies want to see numbers, but they are the least important factor on this list. Include them, but don’t apologize for their being small. Share them proudly and honestly.

Google Analytics is the industry standard for blogging stats. You need to mention that your stats are coming from that measuring tool (not a stat counter, not JetPack). A screenshot is a nice way to show that you are being honest.

Have you seen great growth lately? Share those numbers! Do you have any testimonials from other companies in regards to how much traffic you sent? Share those.

Stats can be misleading. And companies already know that high numbers do not necessarily equate with engagement, clicks, or conversions.

For example, I was recently evaluating data from a campaign with twenty bloggers. As expected, the bloggers with lower traffic numbers had fewer clicks to the client’s site. However, the blogs that drove the most clicks were not from the mega-bloggers in the group. Surprisingly, it was the blogs with mid-level traffic that drove the majority of the engagement to the client’s site. Why? I think it goes back to the factors on this list. The sponsored content was on a blog with quality content and written by a blogger with a great online persona; therefore, it engendered engagement.

Your Pitch

When you craft your pitch to a company, focus on these five areas and make sure you remember their importance. Don’t begin your email with your stats since they are not the primary factor. Instead, demonstrate the quality of your blog and your own character.

State very clearly in the opening what you are asking from the company and what you will do for them in return. Don’t make this busy person weed through four wordy paragraphs or open an attachment to see what the crux of your offer is. And worse, don’t send a generic inquiry email with no details whatsoever. It is your responsibility to offer a proposal to the company.

When you have a blog with quality content where your personality shines through and you clearly lay out a reasonable proposal where both sides benefit, most companies are eager to agree.

If you need help honing your pitch, creating a media kit, or devising a strategy for working with brands, I can help. See my special package just for bloggers.

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How to Know if Your Online Voice is Authentic

Finding your voice as a blogger is a challenge that pays off in a loyal audience that knows what to expect from you and comes back for more and more. Hopefully your voice is not an artificial mask that you don for the sake of your audience but comes from the essence of who you are. If your blogging voice is who you really are, then you will find blogging easier and will be able to present a consistent persona across all platforms.

How can you know that your online voice is authentic? You will know when you meet your online friends in real life and they say those confirming words,

“You are just like you are on your blog!”

or

You are exactly like I expected you to be!”

At one particular event this spring, I kept hearing those words over and over, and it affirmed to me that who I am on my blog is who I truly am. I have a clear voice, and that voice is me.

As a blogger, it was one of the greatest compliments I can receive. My voice is authentic. It is true to who I am. I am not putting on a false persona or posing as someone I am not.

It also shows me that my voice is ringing out in my writing. My work is not bland and void of personality. It sings with a flavor of Jimmie! And that is what creates loyal readers — they come back for more of that voice. The voice is who they connect with and develop loyalty to. Your search engine traffic comes for answers to their questions; they don’t care about your voice initially. But if you can get them to subscribe and come again, your voice is what makes friends with them.

And this is why when people who read your blog meet you in person, they say,

“I feel like I know you!”

Because they do know you. Your true person has been revealed in your blogging voice.

 

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Five Reasons That Company Doesn’t Work With You, Blogger

I have lots of connections in the homeschool community, so curriculum companies sometimes approach me about recruiting affiliates to review their materials and promote sales or to find brand ambassadors to partner with. These companies are trusting me to select the best bloggers to receive free samples and compensation. When I look for those ideal bloggers, there are certain characteristics that disqualify a blogger in my mind.

Your Blog is All Reviews

The best kind of promotion is native marketing — organic mentions within valuable content.  On a review blog, a post about my client’s product is going to get lost in a sea of similar looking posts. I always look for real content, evergreen posts that are helpful and provide answers to a reader’s question. Too many sponsored posts are a turn off.

How many is too many? I suggest you aim for a ration of 4:1. Write at least four meaty, content-driven posts for every one promotional post (review, affiliate, or sponsored).

You Use Social Media to Rant

Yes, your blog is your online home, but think twice about venting your venom there if you want to work with brands. I recently read a scathing series of posts by a blogger about a specific curriculum company; I was horrified. The risk is too great for a company to  associate with a blogger who discredits companies so vehemently in public.

Even if you keep it off your blog, if you tweet nasty quips about customer service or vent on Facebook, you are still a dangerous risk to associate with. Yes, use social media to ask for help and even to express dissatisfaction. But there is a line that you cross when you start name calling or lose control emotionally.

Your Online Persona is Inconsistent

You use different names on different platforms. Sometimes you use one last name; other times you use a different one. More often you go by versions of your blog’s name instead of your own name. It gets confusing. Who are you really?

You use radically different and unrecognizable avatars. On Twitter you are the face of your dog; on Facebook you are the image of your youngest child, and on Google Plus you use your blog logo as an avatar. Are you hiding something or just shy?

You Have No Disclosure or Privacy Policy

If you are not complying with the law, it sets up a red flag for me. Maybe you are unaware of the rules set out by the FTC. Or maybe you just don’t care. I have no idea of knowing, and it really doesn’t matter. Brands want to work with bloggers who have their ducks in a row already.

You Have No Contact Information

Maybe I really want to work with you, but I can’t find a way to email you, and your blog has no contact form. My only recourse is to communicate via social media (often publicly) or to give up and continue my search for another blogger. Make sure that you have contact information very apparent in multiple places on your site: in your sidebar, on your about page, on a contact page.

I am certainly not the god of blogging, and it could very well be that the bloggers I rule out would be very effective partners. But these characteristics are obstacles in my way to recommending you as a brand representative. Shore up these five areas, prepare an attractive media kit, and companies will be eager to cooperate with you.

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