By Holly Reisem Hanna
If you want to be the go-to-blogger in your niche, there are certain cardinal blogging rules that you need to follow. While you’ll need a good amount of traffic, quality content, and a decent sized social media following, there are some not-so-obvious practices that can really make or break your blog.
Listed below are 5 common unprofessional practices that can hurt your blog’s reputation and money making potential immediately.
Find out if you’re making these common blogging mistakes.
Accepting Payment for Do Follow Links:
Search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO is basically an algorithm that awards points to websites and blogs that have incoming links from reputable websites; the more reputable the site, the more points that are awarded. These points are then added up and used to determine the value of your site, which directly correlates to how much organic (free) website traffic you’ll receive from Google and other search engines.
To keep the algorithm fair, Google requires that publishers (bloggers) place the no follow attribute on advertorial and/or sponsored links. This way the link will not be awarded any points, because it is paid for and unnatural. Now here’s where it gets tricky, even though advertisers know that this is the rule, they will still ask you to place a do follow link on their ads — because it helps their SEO efforts.
Now here’s where it gets ugly, should you choose not to follow Google’s rules and they find out, they can remove your website from their search engine results. This would kill your traffic, as well as your blogging business. Bottom line, don’t accept short term gain over long term growth and profitability.
Breaking Giveaway Rules:
Blog giveaways are big business, both for bloggers and brands alike. But did you know that there are very stringent laws and tax implications in place for running giveaways? First, I highly suggest reading Mom Blogging for Dummies, where Wendy Piersall consults an attorney for details on legally running giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes on your blog; which by the way, are all very different.
Once you have the basics down make sure your promotional methods aren’t violating any social media rules. For instance, many bloggers run giveaways where they make entrants “like” their Facebook page, or the brand that they're working with. This is a violation of Facebook’s promotional rules and if you are caught, your Facebook page could be deleted, as well as the brand that you’re working with. Just because everyone else is promoting giveaways in this manner doesn’t make it alright, act with integrity and follow the rules.
Lastly, if you choose to run a giveaway on your blog you must award a prize, even if the sponsor does not follow through. I’ve personally had to pay out of pocket for prizes that were not delivered upon by the sponsor. While the prize itself does not have to be the same item, it does have to be the same value. Running a giveaway is a contract between you and your readers, make sure you follow through all the way to the end. Failure to do so can affect your reputation, fan base, and earning potential.
Recently, I had a blogger email me about guest posting on the site. After tossing a few emails back and forth, I sent her all of the requirements, appropriate topics, and told her to submit her article for review when she was ready. Upon reviewing the article, I found that many of the guidelines had not been met, as well as her article was filled with typos and errors. I kindly replied back, letting her know that I would not be able to use the post. She emailed me back with a very nasty and ugly response, which I did not respond to.
This sort of behavior is never okay.
No matter what the situation is you always need to act with integrity. If you’re feeling frustrated by an email or situation, take a time out and cool down, respond when you’re feeling less agitated. Or perhaps you need to ignore the situation altogether. As they say, don’t burn your bridges, because you never know when you’ll need to cross them again.
Leaving Them Hanging:
When I first built my website, I used graphic designer to help me with the custom design. For the first couple of weeks she was very responsive, but as time went on the less responsive she became, until she totally stopped responding altogether. This of course left me in a bind, as I had to find someone else to complete the work that I had already paid for.
I’ll never know why this designer left me high and dry, but I’m fairly certain she was having issues at home (which I would have understood). To this day people ask me who designed the site, but because I had such a bad experience with this designer, I obviously can not refer work to her.
When you give a delayed response (or no response at all) it tells people that you don’t care and that you don’t value their time. Answering queries promptly and honestly, can help make you stand out from the crowd, as well as convey a sense of concern and trustworthiness. Always remember to respond to people in the manner you wish to be treated yourself.
It feels good to be approached by brands and companies, it means you’re in demand. And who doesn’t want to make money with their blog?! But there is a fine line between relevant partnerships and advertising, and selling out your integrity. When you do the latter, your audience loses trust in you and over time this can seriously hurt your blogging business.
So how do you keep from selling out?
First and foremost, always trust your gut. If a partnership or advertising campaign doesn’t feel right, don’t accept it. Stick with products and services that you yourself love and use. And always remember to disclose the nature of the relationship, as well as promote in moderation. Nobody wants to visit a blog jam-packed with ads, sponsored posts, and giveaways.
What are your thoughts? What other common blogging practices make bloggers look unprofessional?
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