10 Mistakes and Lessons Learned As A New Blogger
Sicilian Dreams by Tom Craig for Vogue Russia, May 2013
You might have noticed that we haven’t posted our normal Wednesday Wedding inspiration today and you may be wondering why? Well due to a few errors on our part, the way in which we credit our inspiration boards is being re-evaluated, so we thought today would be perfect timing to lay a few of our cards on the table in order to help others get started on their own blogging journeys.
Life is about making mistakes. I would like to meet someone that hadn’t made a mistake in their time! Today however, we are not interested in the mistakes more the lessons learned from those mistakes and how you went about handling them. So to honour that we have outlined 10 of the biggest mistakes that we have made or seen done in our first couple of years of blogging so that you can learn from them as well as us.
It goes without saying these mistakes will never be made again however I can’t promise that we won’t make more…
Don’t Just Blog About Your Own Brand!
When we first started Bespoke Bride I suppose we were a little unsure of how we would be received as there were already so many other wedding blogs out there. We felt like we had to get our brand out there and recognised as soon as possible, Right? Wrong! Just blogging about Bespoke Bride and weddings got very monotonous very quickly and readers were BORED! Thats right we were BORING! You need to blog about more than your brand, be more personal, explore other avenues, blog about others and if you do want to blog about your brand do it in a helpful way so that you aren’t just ‘selling’ a product.
Stay True to your Niche!
It is extremely easy to get caught up in what others in your sector are doing. We often got caught up comparing ourselves to others but this only meant that we were steering towards becoming more like them instead of finding ourselves. Becoming the same as someone else in my opinion is a recipe for disaster!
When Jess returned home from Blogcademy, we discussed exactly what we wanted for Bespoke Bride. We quickly realised that although we both wanted our blog to inspire others to have personal, original and unique weddings, our blog wasn’t conveying that in the best way, purely because we were too worried about keeping up with everyone else and fitting in. That led us to a complete rebrand with a new website and features. Now I’m not saying go and overhaul your whole blog, i’m just saying stay true to you and what you stand for. I finally believe that now we have found our niche, we no longer compare ourselves to anyone else and it has definitely made a difference to our readers and our blogs success.
Never Send Mass Emails!
No matter how genuine they may be, if the exact same email is sent to more than one it instantly comes across as insincere. It might be a great time saver but unfortunately its not great for relationships and reputation, which as a new blogger is something you seriously need to build on.
If however, you do decide to mass email, at least make sure to change the name. I recently received an email entitled to someone else about how they really wanted their wedding to be featured on another blog – AWKWARD!
Always Fully Credit All Images On Your Blog!
This has caused us quite a lot of trouble in the last few weeks and quite frankly is the reason I am writing this post today. I suppose we have been quite naive in thinking that the way we credit was acceptable. It turns out it most certainly wasn’t! We have always credited the source and never the actual photographer, which we now realise is wrong. You might think that photographers should be grateful to you for sharing their work but it is common courtesy to ask before you post and at the very least make sure you are crediting the actual photographer as well as the source. It is after all their hard work that went into creating that image, so it is the least you could do.
Never Use Social Media Platforms to Air Your Rants!
If you have a complaint there is usually an easy way to rectify the situation through a simple call or email but never take to a social media platform without first discussing your issues with the other. Fair enough if the problem has been ongoing or you feel your complaint is not being heard, but just remember most rants will make you look unprofessional and after all who wants to use a supplier that might end up bad mouthing you on their Twitter or Facebook?
Don’t Do it For the Money!
Being a blogger is not a glamorous lifestyle so when an opportunity arises to make a quick buck it can be hard to turn it down. Many times we have received emails from companies offering us large sums to blog about their latest weight loss program and believe me when times have been tough we have seriously thought about it. The truth is though, no matter how much money they offer we always put our readers first and losing weight for your wedding was not the type of message we wanted to endorse so we always turn them down. My message is, if you are blogging for the money, DON’T! It takes lots of hard work, dedication and time before you see any return so you really have to have a passion for what you are doing!
Don’t Just Sit Behind Your Computer!
You need to get out and network. Only within the last year have we actually made an effort to get out and meet people face to face. Not because we are lazy but because number one, we were a little terrified to actually talk to people and number 2, networking also means having to spend money. OK so it is never usually much but when you are on a small income even petrol money can cause havoc to your bank balance! The important thing to remember is that, the money you spend in the short term will be made back in the long run once you have started to make contacts and your name, face and brand becomes more recognised, so honestly that £20 petrol money will be worth it, eventually!
Don’t expect quick results!
We naively thought after our first couple of months that we could start asking for advertisers. Everyone else had advertisers why shouldn’t we? Because we were completely unknown thats why! We had made little effort to network, no one knew us through our blog as it had no personality and although our traffic went up pretty quickly we didn’t have a niche readership so to speak. Advertisers want to know that they are going to be seen, used and talked about when they are on your blog and we were in no position to do that just three months in. You might read that and think we were extremely stupid and naive but believe me it taught us a valuable lesson about exactly how we needed our blog to be, in order to receive advertisers. We have since worked our asses off to get to a position where we think we are now a suitable advertising platform and that lesson was a valuable one.
Always ask your worth!
This is something we have really and I mean Really struggled with! We used various tools to compare our traffic and social stats with other blogs in similar niches and tried to come to a reasonable price that way. We were asked for media packs, sent out our prices and would never hear anything again. So we put our prices down, even offered special offers but again no one would take us up on them. We considered putting them down again but we had to be honest with ourselves, for over a year we had worked making no money at all from our blog, so it was only fair that we started valuing our worth.
Our belief is that our prices are now both fair and reasonable for the work we do and for the amount of traffic the blog receives. If we were to lower them anymore we would be selling ourselves short and giving the impression that we believe our services are a lot less valuable which is certainly not the case.
Don’t give in to bartering!
We have been victims of bartering many a time and really it achieves nothing more than selling yourself short again. In our first year or so we were more than happy to do a sponsored post for free, we knew we had to build up a portfolio but nearly two years on believe me we have done more than our fair share of work for free!
Only yesterday, I sent our media pack to a potential advertiser, who then replied stating that the cost for a sponsored post was too high and they had received quotes from other blogs with higher traffic for a lot less. My answer to that would be take them up on their offer, that is a bargain! We like to think we are a niche blog, our readers are those who want to find something different, they want something original and personal. It’s great you are being offered a lesser price by another blog but ask yourself, will your advert be seen by the right people?
If you want more advice on blogging Rock N Roll bride has covered this extensively in her Green Room you can find all sorts of information there on sponsored posts, networking, how to make money from your blog, blog advertising and much much more! I really would recommend giving them a read if you are a newbie blogger or business owner.
So tell me what mistakes have you made on your new blogging or business journey and more importantly what lessons did you learn?
I really would love to hear from you and thank you for allowing us to really lay our cards on the table, it really is OK to make mistakes.
“It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile” – Garry Marshall
Much Bespoke Love