vietnam crafter

Introducing: Bonjour, Blogger!

Well, this is awkward, dear blog.

I’ve been neglecting you. Ironically, so I can write about blogging. I’m sorry. Let’s be friends again?

bonjourblogger

For those who have no idea what I’m on about, or for those who have missed out on me talking about it (what feels like) constantly on Twitter, I’ve been busy the past few months, and super busy the past few weeks.

I wrote a book.

OK, so it’s only self published, and the version up on Amazon at the moment isn’t quite as finished as I would like, but I wrote it. I wrote 20,000+ words (over twenty flipping thousand words – probably more than I wrote in essays in my entire degree) and I’m going to be writing some more (which I’ll republish and make sure everyone who has a copy so far gets – because it’s kinda sucky when new versions of things come out the day after you bought the old one)

I’ve been working on this book since before Christmas, writing bits before work, in lunch, while on the bus – everywhere and anywhere I could, I wrote things. But then I realised that the problem with a book is that it isn’t updated as soon as something happens. While writing the book, I had to change things I’d written to account for sites closing down, sites being merged and just things not doing what they used to. I will aim to update the book when major things happen, but for certain things like explaining how to do something, a website works better. (Especially the way I like to explain things, with lots of pictures and screenshots. That just couldn’t work on Kindle)

So I made a website as well

bonjourblogger.com (and indeed the book) were created because while I love sites like IFB and iFabbo, I didn’t really feel like they were catering to their audiences very well. Both sites assume that all bloggers will want to become professional full time bloggers, but every blogger I’ve asked are just happy to bumble along and if they make some money, awesome!

I felt like there needed to be a more central sort of place that bloggers could find out tutorial style things (maybe you’re wondering about how to make a Google map of your favourite places or how to remove the WordPress admin user – which I didn’t really know until I did it recently!) or have discussions that are a bit more than just a tweet or two (like whether you’re disclosing everything you should be).

I’d really love it if you followed bonjourblogger.com – and if you have anything that needs to be answered (or you want to give some information out to other bloggers), I would love to hear from you too!

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.

Disclosure
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.

Numbers
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.

Giveaways
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.

Overcommenting
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!

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