What does it mean to be a blogger? Does it make a difference if you are a “professional” blogger? Does that word really make a difference? Most of us women in the blogosphere are labeled “Mommy Bloggers.” As if this label is something bad, sloppy or dare I say, UN-professional? I suppose the level of each blogger’s professionalism is probably based on the reason why they started blogging or what the purpose of the blog is.
Why all this professional talk?
I sat in on a seminar at the BlogHer convention over the weekend:Putting the “Professional” in Professional Blogging. The topic is super relevant for any blogger who wants to make a living out of this, no matter what they write about. Being professional isn’t a foreign concept that has never been discussed before. But, from what the panel described, there must be many bloggers who have forgotten what “professional” means.
Most of us started with zero readers when we started blogging. Maybe friends and family tuned in, every now and then, but for the most part, it was just you and your words. A shout in the dark.
Is anyone out there?
But, over time, your words get read. You develop a following. And whether it’s ten people or a thousand, your words are being read. An image of the writer behind the blog is being formed. And each blogger has the power to develop whatever image they desire.
I used to work in advertising, the business of deception according to some. There I found myself immersed in what I loved, graphic design, even though I began on the business side. I have tried to keep this blog as professional as possible, although I admit that I might have slipped now and again, when I felt frustrated or upset. But this seminar reminded me that you never know who may be reading your blog, your tweets or your Facebook fan page.
Here are the tips that I took home with me:
1. Be honest, in your posts and in your business relationships. Insincerity is easily recognized, so keep your posts authentic. If you are working with a brand, don’t make promises you can’t keep. If an emergency pops up right before a deadline that you can’t meet, speak up. But remember, life happens to everyone. We all have families, children, obligations. Don’t let your toddler’s afternoon nap keep from following through on your promises.
2. Don’t copy and paste a press release. If you are sent a product to review, don’t just rework the corporate copy and make sure you include your opinion. Original content is key. You were hired to represent this brand through your voice.
3. Keep your online integrity. If you want to project a family-friendly identity, don’t drop the F-bomb on twitter. Don’t get blitzed at corporate parties or conferences. Yes, brands read your tweets, watch your behavior and google your name. You can be true to yourself without selling yourself out. But, if you want brands and corporate sponsorships, don’t let your dark side crossover into your public life.
4. Use spell check. Have grammar problems? Have a friend edit your post. Clean up your blog. Don’t bombard it with photos and frills that slows down the load time. Keep your blog easy to read.
5. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and not a comment form. ‘Nuf said.
6. When working with brands and PR companies, keep the communication lines open. If you want to work with a brand, pitch it. If you were sent a product and you didn’t like it, be honest and call your contact. If you didn’t get picked for a campaign, send an email and ask why.
Thanks to Amy Lupold Bair from ResourcefulMommy.com and Global Influence, Janine Nickel from TwoferMom.com and Buzz Cooperative, Jessica Rosenberg from ItsJessicasLife.com and Tiny Prints, and Linda Sellers from ShortPumpPreppy.com and One2One Network for their candor, insight and humor.
Oh, the tomato tart? I thought it was a prettier picture than some boring office picture or BlogHer logo.
We are still over-flowing with fresh garden tomatoes, not that I’m complaining! I made this tart pretty quickly when for a small dinner party. Very simple: puff pastry, brie, tomatoes. A little egg wash for the crust. Salt, pepper and thyme.
We were fighting over that last slice.
I love my tomatoes….