August 4, 2011

Blogging about Blogging... answering questions about blogging & brands

As much as I'd love to be at BlogHer this weekend, it wasn't the best fit for me this year. A group of bloggers stuck at home or just not there like me gathered together to impart some of our knowledge for free in a little "at home" conference setting, the BlogHop Blog Conference at Home. Want to come? The accommodations are like, super affordable! Wink.

Oh, also, there is a Listen To Your Mother salon reading tonight at BlogHer but you can watch my Listen To Your Mother show right here! Yippee!



Hoping my take on bloggy stuff is helpful to someone.... as always, please feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me anytime. I'll try to respond in a timely manner!

At both the Midwest Moms brand/blogger summit and also Tech Week in Chicago last month I spoke on a panel about all sorts of blogging topics, but I wanted to highlight a few tips/tricks of the trade real quick here.

When starting out, how do you go from 1 reader to 100 a readers a day?

My best answer to this is a few things:
  • Comment on other blogs and be engaging and relevant - it's like your little fingerprint or "calling card" as some might say (but don't be spammy or promote yourself, just comment and be nice! ) Also, I haven't been very good at heeding this advice in the past year or so and am working on remedying that right quick. It takes time- but is worth it.
  • Join blog carnivals that interest you such as Wordless Wednesday, You Capture, Bigger Picture Blogs, Small Style, What I Wore Wednesday, etc. Link up and then visit the participants & comment.
  • Create your own carnival or blogroll or writing prompt and make a way to get others to link to you on their site (for example, see my Babywearing Bloggers blogroll)
  • Link your blog in your email signature
  • Tweet your posts, link on facebook. People are ditching their blog feed readers left and right and only reading blogs based on what they see on Twitter, Facebook, & Google+. I still have a Reader, tho! (And you can subscribe here btw.) 
  • Be patient. It will take time. If you like to write, write. People will come in time as long as they know how to find you.  

Do you pitch brands or wait for them to pitch you?
Normally, I don't pitch brands. Basically because it makes me anxious and I'm not usually in that mindset but! if you have a great idea and want to partner with a brand to bring it to fruition, do not sit around and wait for them to knock on your inbox. Why wait? Go for it!

And if you don't know how to reach them, ask a blog friend. Seriously, all my contacts and information is welcome to you and I've found through the years that other bloggers live by this same motto. Of course, don't use people, be genuine. But, if you need a favor, ask!

(For example... the Acadia Denali I'm driving this week- we've been having car troubles and have an upcoming family road trip. I reached out to my friends MJ  & Casey and asked if they'd mind sharing their contact info at GM (because I remembered they'd both blogged about GM before and had good experiences), and not only did they share, they also sent a heads up recommendation email on my behalf. But then, I had to make it worth GM's while, too, so I will be taking photos and sure to write/tweet/facebook about our trip and use of their vehicle... and so forth.)

Going to blog conferences is an excellent way to connect with friendly bloggers and brands. But, it's not always the right timing in your life especially if you have kids- oh do I get that! You don't have to go to conferences in order to make those connections, but it does help, I admit. It seems like more and more conferences are popping up all over, so maybe one will come to you. Honestly, they are all pretty good from what I hear. And if anything, you'll meet great people.  

What if you don't "do" reviews and get pitched by a brand?
In the past, if I get emailed about something that I don't want to write about I'll often try to turn it into an ad sale. "I have advertising space available in my sidebar if you are interested!" It works. Important advice: Google the brand's name and the word "controversy" before you sign any contracts or attach your name to theirs. Know the background, know your readers (what would they think of you partnering with this brand?) and be true to yourself. Think about their online presence- do they have someone manning their social media outlets and handling it with grace? Dollars are not worth as much as your online reputation and integrity. Oh and if you or the brand makes a mistake? Own up to it. Make it right. We are human and we err!

Do what makes sense for you. 

Hello me working with Hallmark? Yes, it's sponsored posts but also, it's a dream come true for me and definitely worth my while. It makes sense for me! Know it in your heart. Try not to create imaginary rules- it's okay to not blog every day and it's okay to blog two times a day! I am sure someone else has a much better (educated) opinion of this than me but honestly when I am reading my favorite blogs, I read them because I like them. Not because they know some secret handshake. I want to read their words. Everyone has their own unique way to tell their story. I love this about blogging!

To see the full agenda of learning sessions during the BlogHop Conference, visit Blog Conference Newbie 

20 comments:

  1. As someone relatively new the blog world it is overwhelming to learn and wade through the enormous amount of information out there...often in bits and pieces. I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with other newbies like me. It is great to get information from a blogger I admire! How do you go about finding blogs in your niche to read? I am mainly using other people's blogrolls right now and have found some great ones, but is there another way you recommend? Thanks!

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  2. Hay blog friend I love your blog post about blogging!!! They just said such nice things about you over at MomCrunch!!!(http://blogs.babble.com/momcrunch/2011/08/04/benefits-of-commenting/)
    Hope you guys have a fabulous break can't wait to watch your trip!!!

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  3. Thank you for the smart advice! Saw you at the Midwest Moms Summit and you were wonderful. I went out and bought Wendy Piersall's "Mom Blogging for Dummies" after the conference and it is an incredible resource, too. Please keep the info flowing~

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  4. fantastic ideas. I also like the carnies you chose. I have really wanted to jump into one of those! Also, I'm a babywearer (moby and ergo) and Love the look of the one on your blog. Also, that dress your dd is wearing in your header? where did you get it? I MUST HAVE IT. Gorgeous beyond.

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  5. I love hearing other bloggers ideas and tricks of the trade! I'm definitely still learning all the in's & out's, up's & down's, so Thank You! I've been following you since 2006 and it makes me sooo happy that you've grown such an awesome following! Congrats!! <3
    ~Jody

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  6. I've blogged with different accounts about different things in the past, but never with the idea of having an audience. I've always done it because I feel like I just have to write and I'm a bit of a masochist/exhibitionist.

    I feel like I have something to say now though that might strike a chord with other people. It might not, and that's ok too. It's an outlet for me. There are things I have just GOT to spit out! LOL

    I've seen people do "wordless Wednesdays" and such but didn't know that there is some kind of combined effort. I've never heard the term blog carnival before. I'll definitely have to Google that!

    Is it rude to end my comments on other blogs with my @ Twitter name and a link to my blog? I don't want to feel sleazy. I never comment for comment's sake. I write when something speaks to me and makes me feel compelled to respond.

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  7. We just had a discussion in the Philly Social Media Moms group about following blogs. I think a lot of people are using Twitter and Facebook now because they're there already building relationships. It's a 2 for 1.

    I haven't done any conferences yet because of having lots of littles at home, though it's my hope to change that next year. In the meantime, I'm networking with local mom bloggers through workshops.

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  8. Great tips & reminders...Commenting around is so tough for me. I wonder if it's the introvert in me? But I'm much more prone to read, "like" and really appreciate a post and not comment on it. I'm convinced it's necessary, though, and I really want to spend more time doing so.

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  9. Great points!!! So true. I do not pitch companies of ten either. I love when a company finds me that is a perfect fit. It is like a dream come true.

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  10. I am SO thankful for this post, for the BlogHop Conference, for the information, for your honesty! Thank you so much! :)

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  11. Thanks so much for the tips. Who knows...we ALL may be at Blogher2012 NYC next year!

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  12. Thank you!! I love these tips and need to definitely start doing more of them. :-)

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  13. Awesome advice! Especially about leaving genuine comments and researching the controversy behind brands before you endorse them! Have a great family vacay!!! :)

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  14. I've so enjoyed this series. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and experience.

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  15. Love your advice here Stephanie.

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  16. I know you don't like to do it very often, but I LOVE it when you blog about blogging.

    Also, Little side note? I worked at Hallmark one summer in college. :)

    I agree about RSS feeds. I do still have one, but I mostly read posts because I see them on Facebook/Twitter. Not Google+ yet (Are you using it quite a bit?).

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  17. Your advice is helpful to both new and more experienced bloggers. I agree about asking for help from other bloggers when pitching. With all of the controversy about the Mom blogoshpere, I find that more bloggers are helpful than not. Comments are so important to. You can't expect others to read your blog, if you're not reading theirs.

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  18. Very nice post.

    I too have been wondering about the whole feed thing. I have quite a few subscribers, but little to no engagement from them. Probably because a feed is so passive. In order to comment, you have to click out of a feed, and to do so you need to REALLY have something to say. I prefer to click through facebook and twitter as well. I also make a point to visit as many participants of any blog carnivals I participate in. It takes time, but I am slowly growing a following.

    I've pitched one company successfully. It worked out well, most of the time they pitch me. I'd love to work out a nice long relationship with one!

    I enjoyed reading about you in the Digital Mom handbook. . .just finished it last night!

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  19. These are really good, thoughtful tips. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I went to Blogher, but I tend to learn the most from my blogging friends.

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