Friday, 4 March 2016

How to Avoid Devaluing Yourself as a Blogger


Being both a blogger and a professional writer for separate publications (my blog is my own publication, but I was also a writer for a print magazine under an established publishing house), I can’t help but notice the changes in tone that I come across from the various people that contact me throughout the day.

During both my day job and my blogging time, I’m in contact with PR and marketing people as well as small business owners; however, the way they speak to me depends on which publication the matter regards.

As a journalist, I’m always spoken to in a professional manner - I have made a few friends with some very lovely PR people, in which cases the conversation is more casual, but the tone is positive and therefore results in a positive transaction. I am always addressed by my name (apart from when I am sent a generic mass email containing a PR newsletter) and the email will always finish with a formal conclusion such as ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Sincerely’ if I do not know the sender, or ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Many thanks’ if I do.

I will always reciprocate polite manners, and if the email doesn’t contain any of the above, I tend to ignore it. Seems harsh, but if someone doesn’t take the time out of their day to address me by name in an email containing information that they wish me to write about, then why should I take the time out of my day to write about it. My parents always told me that manners go a long way and, for me in a professional capacity, that is entirely true.

It seems that, generally, I’m treated with respect as a journalist.

So, why should I be treated any different as a blogger?

Any industry professional who is up to speed with the way that marketing and advertising has evolved within the past five years understands that blogs have become a very useful tool for reaching target audiences. Blogs have reached such a high level of influence that they’re now on par with magazines; thus making bloggers just as influential as journalists (much to some journalists’ chagrin, but not mine).

Hence, if bloggers are such important tools, why is it that I’m not always treated with the same respect that I am as a journalist?

To take one example into account: I was recently contacted about placing an advertisement in my sidebar. The sender did not address me by name – funny, as my name is clearly stated in several places on my blog (as well as in my email address itself) – and the email concluded with an apathetic ‘Thanks’ followed by the senders first name only. This isn’t just rude; it’s also unprofessional.

After researching the company to check if it was a legitimate request, I gave the sender the benefit of the doubt and replied with what was a very reasonable quote for a month’s worth of sidebar advertising. I was then asked to cut my quote by three quarters – by which point it was not even worth the time it would take to place the advert on my blog – and told that ‘there would be a chance’ that my rate would go up if they saw results by the end of the month.

Needless to say, I didn’t bother replying. If I was to be spoken to in a rude manner regarding a matter which devalues entirely a blog that I spend a huge amount of time working on and perfecting, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wouldn’t be in the most agreeable mood.

However, I didn’t always think this way. Before I became a journalist, I would let people talk to me like this because I thought that’s how you were talked to as a blogger. Becoming a journalist has actually helped me understand that I shouldn’t allow myself to be communicated with in this way – and you shouldn’t either.

(NB: I also meet some very lovely, polite and professional people who I collaborate with positively as a blogger – the above is an example of an extreme situation)

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, I’ve written up a few ways to make certain that you don’t end up devaluing yourself as a blogger:

Never go below half of the amount that you quote for work

Going below half your ratecard quote (the standard rate that you give to potential advertisers) is unsustainable. For those who ask, take an initial 20% off ratecard; if it's a particularly special company that you'd really like to create a relationship with, offer them an introductory rate of 30% off.

Always ask for the specifics when entering into a deal

Cover your back when entering into any deal. It might seem like an easy collaboration at first, but they may want to to add in specific links, anchor texts or even images that do not fit in with your blog's style.

If you've had a phone conversation with a potential advertiser or sponsor, make sure that you get the specifics in writing before moving forward. Shoot them an email ensuring that they confirm everything that was agreed.

Alter your work at YOUR discretion after publishing

It's rare for a collaborator to make major changes to your work after it has been published. If they're paying for a sponsored post, they may want to tweak a few things (a keyword here, a link there); however, if it's unpaid editorial (i.e. a post that you've written in your style, with your opinions, of your own accord), you have the right to alter - or not alter - at your discretion.

Remember that this is your blog, and you control what is posted on it.

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