legally blonde

10 Blog Irritations

I love blogs. I love that every blog started from nowhere. I love that my friends that I’ve made through this shared love are able to make money, experience things they would never have had the opportunity before, and learn new things.

However, when you read a lot of blogs, you tend to see the same things popping up all the time, and its frustrating to see how blogs follow trends, when we are praised for creating them.

Here’s my top 10 things that turn me off a blog, and ways they can be changed. Its not aimed at any one blog in particular, but when you take a step back and look at a lot of blogs at once, these things stick out.

“PR Friendly”
I find this phrase really odd. I’ve seen it on bloggers PR pages, and its just weird. Do we really need to declare that we are friendly? If a PR contacts you with an offer that you’re not interested in, and you haven’t said you are PR friendly, what exactly are you going to do, tear their head off and explain why they’re so crap? Of course not! Lets retire this silly phrase, before I start saying I’m tea friendly. I just really like tea.

Cliche Posts
The “What I did this week in Instagram photos”. The Glossybox/various other beauty box unboxing. The “Whats in my bag” post. The makeup storage post. I’m guilty of these myself – sometimes, the “whats in my bag” post is conveniently easy to do – empty bag, arrange everything nicely, photo, write whats in there. Boom, done.
Sometimes, when reading through my Google Reader, it feels like 10 posts in a row have done the same topic on the same day, and unfortunately, they all just merge into one giant post that makes me wonder how one person can eat 50 lots of Dominos in a week.
I’m not saying to stop doing these things, especially if you have a certain day that you do them (because sometimes, regular posts like “what I did this week” help to keep you blogging on a regular basis), but perhaps try to mix them up a bit. Make them stand out from the crowd!

Sponsored Posts
Although most of us started blogging because we like writing*, its always a nice bonus when someone offers you money or a product to write or feature a blog post. But.
(There’s always a but.)
Too many sponsored posts, and your blog feels less about you and more like an advertorial. Which doesn’t really interest anyone. I’ve done a few sponsored posts in the past, where I have been paid to write about a certain topic, and I think (hope!) that the posts could stand on their own, without the links back or payments received. Its difficult though to talk about something, especially if you don’t know the actual product. (Which yes, I have seen sponsored posts for a product that hadn’t been sent out for review. Defeats the point a little.)
There’s also the posts that SEO agencies will pay you to post, and those are strange. People read your blog because they like how you put things across. They’re probably not interested in a post written by someone else. However, when you’re offered a prewritten post, why not offer to write the post yourself? I know that Sarah does this, and I think it works really well. Still a sponsored post (and sometimes, you may even be able to negotiate a higher rate because you’re doing the actual work), but at least it sounds like you, and not someone who’s churned out 20 similar articles today.

* Those people who start blogging because OMG FREE STUFF usually don’t keep it up for long.

This is one of the things that will instantly make me unsubscribe from a blog. One of the things thats kinda cool about blogging is that we are offered money and items in return for links and reviews. It is difficult to not enjoy that part of blogging – everyone likes to get something for free. But bloggers seem to forget that we all get the same emails. We all know that certain retailer has sent you that item for free, we know that you were paid to insert that link for SEO purposes, and we know that by not disclosing that, the blogger is essentially lying to their readers. Which is pretty silly. If we think of blogging as a job (and I know that some people do – they put it on their LinkedIn, they dream about blogging full time and getting paid), the reader is your customer. Customers stay as customers when they trust the producer – your readers need to trust you, because without them, you’re unlikely to be sent/paid for posts again.
It isn’t difficult to add at the end of the post “This post was written in collaboration with [brand]” or “I was provided this product for review purposes”.

Self promotion
Self promotion is a good thing. No one else is going to talk about you until YOU talk about you. I actually find it very awkward to talk about my blog, even in places where it’s kinda expected to talk about it.
But theres a difference between tweeting “Hey, I posted a new blog post! It would be lovely if you had a look” and tweeting your blog link every half hour while you’re awake. If I follow you already, I’m probably subscribed to your blog. You really don’t need to keep reminding me that you have a blog. Some blogs have a setting that it can automatically tweet your post when it goes up – this is good sometimes, but if you’ve set up a few different things because at one point they stopped working, then they all start again, you’ll end up auto tweeting the post a few times in a row. I have a separate Twitter account for those sort of things, so I can choose when to tweet them (I also use it for those retweet to win competitions, which helps stop spamming your “real” followers).
If you’re feeling guilty of this, head over to the Twitter applications page and revoke the access for those things that tweet your blog post for you. (While you’re at it, revoke anything you can’t remember using for a while. )
Instead of constantly promoting your blog, why not talk about other blog posts you enjoyed instead? That way, your followers find out about a post that you enjoyed and they might not have seen, and you get a little bit of a warm glow, because you’re helping to share the blogging love. Aah.

Those numbers that pop up on our Google Analytics, Facebook page, Twitter account can be addictive. I actually have my stats always open on a tab on one of the spaces on one of my monitors. (Hush, that’s not nerdy) (Other tabs in that window: my WordPress dashboard, and my Facebook Page. Things I don’t need to look at all the time, but want to glance at occasionally.)
Whether its a humble brag, or just a plea for new followers, constantly talking about how you’re only 50 followers away from 1000/100/51 followers is just dull to those who do follow you.
Don’t get so hung up. All blogs started with no followers, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 50 or 50,000. The thing that matters most is that you talk to those followers, respond to comments, talk on Twitter, send emails to say hello!

Advice Posts that don’t make sense
The internet is a great place when you need to know something or want to know about someone elses experience . Isn’t that why we blog, so we can give our opinion on this product, that dress, these shoes? Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?!
There are some things that I wouldn’t give advice on though. What the best skincare regime is. How to care for a horse. How to beat the winter blues. I don’t give this advice because I don’t know myself – which is why I find it really strange when people start off an advice giving post and then at the end essentually say “Well, I don’t really know this topic”.
We can’t all be Gala Darling with her articles – it is much better to be a great version of yourself than trying to copy her style. I know what I’d rather read.

Here’s my thought process when I see a giveaway which I want to enter. “Oooh, thats an awesome prize! Oh, I have to like all these different brands on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, tweet to each of them individually and write a 500 word essay on why they are the bestest brand in the world? I’ll just go buy the damn thing instead.”
Too many rules on a giveaway put people off. Having to do all these things, then prove it in a comment is kinda annoying. The latest thing that many bloggers are using is Rafflecopter. I’ve only used this so far as an enterant, but it seems like such a simple way to collate the entries (so good for the giveaway holder) and makes each rule easy to carry out (so good for the entrant!)

Ending a post
Sometimes it’s difficult to end a blog post. Everything that you learnt about writing essays at Uni and school just don’t seem right in this situation. But please, don’t cop out by putting “Have you ever…” then add something you wrote about in the blog post at the end. (“Have you ever eaten pizza?” “Have you ever worn lipstick?” “Have you ever licked a camel?”…actually, I do want to know if you’ve licked a camel. Also, why?)
Blog posts can just end. They can end with a thought, a proposition and yes, even a question. Or, of course, just BLAMMO. DONE. That will get the point across.

Ask any “big” blogger how they got their following, and most likely, you’ll hear “I just kept commenting on lots of blogs” Building up those relationships are important – people will want to talk about your post if you want to talk about theirs. All blogging systems will include a way for you to link back to your blog (and why shouldn’t it – you want the blogger to know who you are, right?)
Some people like to leave their link at the end of their comment, like a signature on an email. Personally, I don’t really see the point, but I don’t mind it too much. Its when the links back to your blog, twitter, tumblr, Pinterest, giveaway, hamsters Amazon wish list (damn he wants that ball that looks like a racecar!) end up being twice as long as the comment you leave that it gets a little ridiculous.
Chill! If your comment is interesting, it will get people clicking through to your blog, and on to all those other things. If you’re just leaving “nice outfit! [blog link] [twitter] [etc etc etc]”, so many people wont even bother looking at your site. Which is kinda a shame.

This post grew into a bit of a monster (I wrote this in Google Docs, and ended up being 3 pages long…) but I hope someone finds it useful.

If I were to sum up this blog post in two bullet points, I think it would be

  • Don’t be a dick
  • Share the love

I think those are pretty good pieces of advice to remember in all areas of your life though!

A Readers Dilemma

Till these hearts keep flowing, my love for you will keep growing. (explored), originally uploaded by .neha.

No, not the Nelly/Kelly song that ruled my first year of Uni.

The lovely Young (if you’ve never seen her blog, what. Go over there now and admire her photography. I’ll wait for you) asked on Twitter a few weeks ago*:

If one of your favourite bloggers posted something that made you lose all respect for them, would you tell them?

(* Yes, it’s taken me this long to try and get my thoughts on this down in a coherent manner!)

It’s a question that’s got me thinking a few times but not one I’ve actually thought to answer. Personally, if a blogger I admired posted a picture of them smoking (or using a cigarette for a prop) then I’d be disappointed that they thought this was a good image to project to their readers. Even if its just being used as a prop, by using a cigarette in a picture, the blogger is implying that cigarettes are cool (At least, thats how I see it). However, I probably wouldn’t say anything to them, because I would be just one voice. (I know, not the right attitude to have!)

Natalie (another awesome photographer, you should look and admire her stuff too.) mentioned that she found bloggers who talked about the free stuff they got “tacky” – that it made the “person’s life seem artificial/bought by a corporation.” I agree with this to an extent – as you’re probably aware, I’ve been given opportunties by companies like Aussie and 3MobileBuzz to experience a product and then if I wanted to, I could write about the experience. The reasons why I’ve blogged about it obviously vary on the event, but with things like the Aussie Events, I write about those because they’re always such fun, and an experience I wouldn’t normally have. With 3MobileBuzz, I’ve written about how I’ve found the MiFi’s that I’ve been lent in the hope that it will help someone make a decision on whether the item is a good choice for them. Also, there are some blogs that just wouldn’t work if they weren’t offered freebies from time to time. Think about the best make up blog you read (for me, its the lovely The more items that a blogger recieves, the more they can review them, and then (in theory) the more people that will go out and buy them. I’m fully willing to admit that I’ve been influenced by Charlotte to buy make up items I wouldn’t have thought about before – a good example of this are the Revlon Colorburst Lipsticks.I’ve bought two of these lippies and have found them to be amazing. I probably wouldn’t have bought one (never mind both of them) previously because Revlon always seemed an older age groups sort of brand.

However, with all the good bloggers that will give good reviews (and provide good images as well), there are the ones of course who will happily accept the free products sent, and give a vague review or worse, just have a blog which reads like a collection of PR releases. There are the companies who will inundate bloggers in the same circles (Eyeko, I am definately looking at you here) with the same products, of which not much can be written about. Once you’ve seen one review of a new nail varnish, you’ve seen 95% of the others. The companies whos product ranges are at a higher price range sending out review items to people who then write (and I’m paraphrasing/reading between the lines, of course) “I’d probably use this product, but its too expensive for me”. (This actually annoys me more, because if a product is that amazing, then the price shouldn’t be that much of a factor – this obviously depends on the persons situation, but even so)

I think I’ve gotten a bit lost here now. I think that it is a great thing that bloggers are asked to trial and review products and services, but disclosure is important, as is a unbiased, original review.

How do you feel about items being sent to bloggers? What do you like or dislike about sponsored posts? Tell me your thoughts – I love to hear both arguments :)

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