If you missed my post on Tuesday, I started delving into the world of blog design. It’s not my area of expertise but it is quickly becoming one for Melissa Culbertson, founder of Momcomm. Melissa is not only a friend but also a colleague, in that we frequently talk shop (or try to when our kids are playing). With her years of real world experience in design and marketing, I love what she’s doing to help mom bloggers. I’m thrilled to have her guest posting here today.
Over on Momcomm, I do free weekly critiques for bloggers. With over 35 critiques under my belt, one recurring goal that many bloggers have is the desire to work with brands. And why not? You extend your blog’s reach, get great perks and earn a little income in many cases. What’s not to like?
In critiquing so many blogs, I’ve come across a few things holding fantastic bloggers back from getting the brand opportunities they want.
Here are a few ways to whip your blog in shape and get brands contacting you:
Make It Obvious
If a PR rep or employee from a brand happens upon your blog, is it obvious that you’re a blogger who is open to opportunities? Many bloggers want to work with brands but have no Advertising/PR page. Or they want writing gigs but don’t have a page highlighting that they offer freelance writing services.
Instead of making people dig through your site to figure it out, hit these guys over the head with your awesomeness! Create a PR page that highlights what you do (and don’t do) and why they should work with you (more on that in a bit). Once you have that page created, be sure to feature it in your navigational menu bar. That’s where people look first.
Make It Easy to Contact You
Have multiple points on your blog where a PR rep or company can initiate contact with you. An About page, a PR page, an email icon within your social media icon set. Nothing is more frustrating than being EAGER to contact you only to hop back and forth between pages to find an email or contact form.
Think of it like walking through the grocery store and suddenly deciding you do want that ice cream after all. Wouldn’t it be magic if your ice cream was right in front of you in the cereal aisle? Hooray for the Internet being magical like that… at least in terms of being able to put the same thing in multiple places.
If you don’t have a Contact page in your navigation menu yet, now’s the time to set one up. Fadra wrote a great post on creating an awesome Contact page that’ll get this off your to-do list in no time.
Sell Your Assets… But Don’t Focus on Yourself
Sell yourself on that PR page of yours. I spell these out in greater detail in my DIY Blog Critique eBook but a good rule of thumb is to tell them about you/your blog, about your readers and about what opportunities interest you. If you’ve worked with brands before, highlight that too! And don’t be afraid to ask your contact for a short testimonial that you can put on your PR page.
The key to this is to keep your PR page light on talking about yourself and heavy on talking about what you can offer to the company looking to work with you.
A few tips on a creating a killer PR page:
- Don’t say things like “I LOVE free stuff!” It sets the tone that you’re just out for free stuff, not in helping to spread a message or promote a product.
- A clear call to action. Ask the company to take the next step and contact you.
- Be brief. Don’t give a company EVERY single thing they’d want to know. Get them to contact you. At least then you’ve opened the dialogue and can address any objections or questions they may have via email.
- On the other hand, don’t create a PR page that just has your email address or a contact form. Remember you have to sell them a little on YOU and your killer blog!
Stop Playing Tricks to Grow Your Numbers
Self-promotion is necessary to grow your blog but avoid crossing the line into tactics that lack professionalism. Yes, I know some companies seem like they are only interesting in your “stats.” But do you think they’d want to work with a blogger if they knew 70% of their pageviews were from StumbleUpon traffic who stay on their blog for two seconds? Or that a blogger boosts their Twitter followers by following hundreds of people on Twitter hoping for a reciprocal follow back, then unfollowed them all?
These are extreme but sadly they’re happening in this field. What brands REALLY want are bloggers whose readers trust what they say. They want a blogger who drives action. By that I mean a blogger whose readers will gladly spread a blogger’s message or purchase a product or service they recommend. Pitch your blog as one with high engagement and prove that numbers aren’t everything.
Make Sure Your Blog Looks Professional
Did you know it takes someone about three seconds to make a first impression on your blog? That’s barely enough time for me to take a sip of coffee.
While killer content is crucial to having a blog that brands want to work with, if it’s hidden by a bad blog design then it’s a huge missed opportunity. Your design, especially your header, speaks VOLUMES. Even if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can learn some basic design principles for a clean look that aligns well with your content.
Fadra laid out some great tips in her post earlier this week so I’ll just be her sidekick and say that I’ve seen these common challenges come up in the 35+ blogs I’ve critiqued:
- No clear focus: In the part of your blog that’s “above the fold” (what you see on a page before you have to scroll down), a company should be able to figure out what your blog is about.
- Disjointed branding: You write about fun topics but your blog colors are very subdued. Or your header design has pictures of trees in it but you blog about food. Align your design with your blog’s purpose to give brands a cohesive look at who you are and what you blog about.
- Too much clutter: Too many fonts, too many design patterns, too many bloggy buttons thrown all over the place. Simplify! A cleaner look will complement your content, not distract people from it.
Want your blog to get noticed? Find out the do’s and don’ts of an awesome blog with my eBook, the DIY Blog Critique. It’ll guide you through improving your blog’s design, navigation and content so your blog can reach its full potential. The eBook includes over 105 links to resources, articles and tools as well as a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress as you critique your own blog.
Melissa Culbertson is a mom, marketing communications consultant, blogger and author of the DIY Blog Critique, a 43-point guide to making blogs more awesome. With over 11 years in marketing, you can find her on Twitter and hanging out at her blogs Momcomm and Adventuroo.