Dear Blogger: Pretend You are a Brand
This post isn’t meant to offend anyone – of course, I say that and it probably will. The purpose of this post is to encourage some introspection. Blogging, as I’m finding, truly is a community. I honestly want you to succeed if you’re a blogger. I want you to be happy with your site, I want you to meet new, awesome people and find totally awesome connections through your site. This article is meant to simply ask you to think about your own blog, your own motivations, goals, etc and question if you’re doing the best you could be doing to meet those goals.
Most people begin a blog because they feel like they have something to say. They hope that people will stumble upon them online and find something universal in what they’ve said and connect. It is an act of union with strangers.
However, some people later begin to wonder if they could make money from their blog. After all, there are plenty of stories about it, right? We love to hear those stories about the average guy who “made it big” doing something fairly ordinary. And blogging is pretty ordinary these days.
Which brings us to a concern: if lots of people are blogging—and they are—how do you know whether your blog is worthy of brand-sponsorship - the holy grail for many bloggers in the blogosphere?
Bloggers that wish to interact with brands and take on sponsors need to take a moment to critically evaluate their site. Use an outsider’s eye. Is your site laid out in a pleasing, but also functional manner? If someone is a new visitor, can they find what they need easily? Is your navigation intuitive?
And, speaking of pleasing, how is your color combination? Is it harsh on the eyes? Do the colors you’ve chosen match or do they look like you selected them right out of a grab bag?
Is the purpose of your blog clear to the new visitor? There are blogs out there which never really state why the blog exists. Even after reading some posts, it’s difficult to tell if there was a central idea or if this is an online diary.
Is you site professional? Jargon and hip expressions can be cool and draw in visitors, but there is a line. Have you crossed it?
If you want to interact with brands, then it’s a good idea to let that be known. If you want to review products, and gain sponsorship, then you need to state that as your intention for the existence of the blog itself. How do you think brands would happen upon your site? Do you imagine that company men cruise the net checking for blogs that might be a good place to have a presence? Even if that were true, could they tell your blog is open to the idea or even actively seeking that? If not, you might want to add a “PR Friendly” type page to let them know beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The bottom line is that unless you make the purpose and intention of your blog known, you aren’t actively seeking a relationship with a brand. Blogs aren’t transformed into money-makers by themselves. No matter how much we want to embrace the stories of the average person who just happened to make it big, the reality is that you must captain the ship of your own destiny.
Take a good look at your site and be honest about its appearance and ask yourself – if you were a brand, would you work with you?