When working with bloggers on campaigns and projects (for Traverse) I often find myself hopping from blog to blog just to find contact details, Instagram or Twitter accounts. In the process I get to see a whole host of varying blogs and blog post content all with differing styles, branding and quality.
There are some stunning blogs out there, one of my favourites being the minimalist Jelly Journeys, with beautiful photography, superb design and excellent supporting vlog content. One of the main reasons I like this blog so much is that it’s uncluttered, clear, focused and visually appealing. There are no distractions for the reader, purely content relating to and supporting the article.
So, what’s the problem?
Too often I find myself stumbling across blogs that look dated, old, cluttered, distracting and in the worst cases… spammy. So how does this happen? Well, the problem is that not all bloggers are designers (unlike Joe at Jelly Journeys!), have web development skills or even have the time to figure out how to make changes or carry out upgrades to their own website. They may have a poor theme for their blog that makes it look low quality or unappealing. But for me, my personal bugbear with blogs is being totally distracted by adverts whilst reading… where all the above isn’t an excuse, and the motive is profit at the expense of the quality of the blog.
Let’s tackle the first problem. If you are taking blogging seriously and looking to push it beyond a part-time hobby, then you need to take it seriously and invest in it. This may mean purchasing a higher quality theme, hiring a developer, tech support, designer, marketing or admin assistant. You could even attend a conference to learn the skills you need in a particular area that you need to improve about with your blog (I’d recommend Traverse www.traverse-events.com obviously!). If your skills lie elsewhere it’ll free you up to concrete on doing what you’re good at, whether that’s writing, photography or producing videos etc. If you are pitching to work with brands and DMO’s but your website is slow, visually poor and generally looks low quality then don’t be surprised if you don’t have much luck. It’s increasingly important that your blog is high quality in its design, usability and content. It’s not good enough to produce beautiful writing if your brand looks poor or the article itself is a poor reading experience. It’s not only the readers that’ll be unhappy, your bounce rate is likely to increase and in turn it could affect your organic search traffic. Search engines like Google are constantly evolving to ensure that articles ranking highest not only answer the search query but also give users a great experience, free from distractions or clunky slow loading or even insecure pages. What kind of readers really want ads sandwiched between every other paragraph or that really annoying ad in the sidebar that stalks you all the way down the page? Especially when you consider that (Knoll, 2018). It’s worth considering whether short-term income from advertising could actually harm your brand/blog or pitching success in the long run.
Landing projects and campaigns
The bad news is that it’s not only Google that you have to worry about. If you’re looking to work on projects and campaigns then you need to make sure your blog gives off the right impression about your brand and its content. Those choosing between a shortlist of bloggers will review the blogs (or should be if they know what they are doing!) to make sure the content and the blog itself is of a high enough quality. If your blog content is covered in multiple distracting adverts then it’s less likely you’ll be selected to work on the project compared to a blog that gives the user a better (ad free) experience (unless they’re just link building or driving affiliate traffic only of course). What brand would want to have their product on a blog post when it’s crammed for of advertisements for many other products and services, especially when most are irrelevant to the product they want you to talk about?
There have even been cases of adverts being displayed on blog posts by rival companies, for example a blogger has written about x hosting company and y hosting company are using the ad network to target and display their ads on it.
Your blog’s dated or not working
Equally if your blog looks dated, is slow or some functionality is no longer working, it all gives off the wrong impression. It shows a lack of care and investment for what is supposed to be your main offering. How can you pitch for support from brands and DMOs if your blog/brand isn’t ticking all the boxes?
Only creating content around sponsored and paid projects
As bloggers there are some great opportunities to take on campaigns, creating content for your blog whilst having the chance to experience amazing destinations. It can be quite tempting to take up every offer that lands in your inbox, but it might not be a great strategy for your blog and its audience. If all or the majority of content is coming from sponsored or paid content then you have less control of its direction. Instead of writing about what you want to write about and what your audience wants to consume, you may find yourself writing about places or experiences that don’t quite fit with your blog’s overall purpose. Even though this direction change could be quite subtle at first, the more projects you take on the less authenticity and focus your blog may have. There are many experienced bloggers that won’t even do press trips or campaigns for this reason, they’d rather create the content that they themselves want to write, and their audience want to read. In the long term it’s a healthy decision for their blogs.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Traffic Chasing
When I first started blogging over 11 years ago, no one had much knowledge of SEO in the blogging world. Today, the word is out that organic search traffic is a perfect way to build your blog’s figures. It’s led to a trend in bloggers tuning their writing towards topics that drive decent amounts of traffic. So what’s the problem you may ask? Well, if your blog is full of articles tuned towards search queries then is it really the type of content that your audience want to read, or is its purpose purely to get one off traffic visits from search engines’ users (to look good in you media kit)?
If you’ve gone to the hassle of creating a media pack to pitch to brands and DMOs then you must be taking your blogging fairly seriously. Far too often I see blogs that don’t seem to have the same amount of care put into them as their media pack. If you are wondering why you aren’t finding much success from your pitching it may not be a problem with your approach, but actually with your blog itself.
Taking blogging seriously means thinking of it like a business. With any business you need to nurture, invest and care for the brand you are trying to grow. With blogging this means having a plan, investing time or money into the design, development, branding, marketing and admin – not just the content alone.