If I have learned one thing about blogging, it’s that blogging is like every other job on the face of this planet…you have to work hard, you have to put in your time, and it’s all about relationships.
Getting work as a blogger might differ a bit from a “normal” job search (most prospective employers don’t need to know how many Twitter followers you have!), but once you’re hired, it’s pretty similar to any other job. You’ve got to perform well and be an asset to your team (your team = the PR firm you’re working with, the brand, and other bloggers working on the same campaign). Like any service provider (and you are providing a service…hopefully to your readers, and most definitely to the brands you work with), you need some serious customer service skillz.
I’ve got some tips for passing the Blogger Employee Review with flying colors (I just made that up…thank goodness, right? Employee Reviews are the worst). But first…
- If you’re looking for blogging jobs to begin with, I have a post all about how to find blogging jobs. It is a good place to start if you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to monetize your blog or not, and if you need some direction about where to start looking for work and blogging opportunities.
- If you’re new to writing sponsored content, I’ve got a list of simple tips and best practices for writing sponsored posts over at The Blogging Bunch…be sure to check it out, as it’s got some suggestions if you’re just getting started and looking for some guidance.
So – bloggers who are getting paid to blog and want to keep getting paid to blog – how can you go above and beyond what is expected of you so that your content will stand out in a sea of blog posts? And what can you do to make a PR person or brand rep love you so much they’ll seek you out for future jobs? How can you provide amazing customer service to your readers and the people who hire you?
Disclaimer: I’m not perfect, and I mess up! A lot! But, I do my best to adhere to these practices…they’ve served me well in the corporate world, and they are serving me well with blogging, too.
Give 110%. I’d be lying if I said I put in 110% on every post I ever got paid to write and every job I ever had. But most of the time? I do. If I am working for someone (and when someone pays me, I am, indeed, working for them – even if it’s for my own blog), I don’t want to disappoint. It’s easy to get lazy and half-ass projects (don’t I know it!), but I always feel better when I put in the extra effort. As my old boss used to say, “Under promise and over deliver!”
Create content that is interesting and helpful for your readers. You know how people watch the Superbowl for the commercials? Well, the last time I checked, no one is reading blogs to see what products we’re writing about today. But if you make a post really interesting (always tell a personal story), or really helpful (include an amazing recipe or helpful tips), people will still read it. Here are a few examples of posts I’ve written that get search traffic every day, and that also see some action on Pinterest:
- I wrote this post for Unpakt moving service. I get search traffic from it every day, and it usually gets a few repins everyday, too – it’s not because people are interested in the brand (although the brand is great!). It’s because it’s got tips for moving with kids (and even better, I didn’t even have to come up with the tips – Unpakt sent them to me!). But when people are looking for tips to make moving easier on kids, it’s because they’re moving…and by default might be interested in Unpakt.
- This post is about Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. I wanted to create a post that would do well on Pinterest, and that was actually interesting to read, too. I included creative ideas for using apple cider vinegar in the home, and a recipe, too – so, there are two things in that post that might interest a reader along with information about the brand.
Meet deadlines. When you miss a deadline on a campaign, the PR person behind the campaign is missing their deadline, too…and that doesn’t reflect well on anybody involved (and if you want PR firms to hire you. you’ve got to be easy to work with…and that means meeting deadlines).
Pay attention to detail and meet all of the campaign’s requirements. Some people are naturally detail-oriented. Others are not. No matter which camp you fall in, it’s a good idea to sit down and really map out the requirements of a campaign before you start writing. You don’t want to forget to include the necessary links, or miss out on key talking points, only to realize it after your post has been written and published (uhhh…been there, done that). I make a list of every.single.requirement before I start crafting a sponsored post…it takes awhile, but it helps me to thoroughly understand the campaign goals and requirements and helps me do a better job.
Always share your sponsored content on all of your social media networks. Most of the time, a campaign requires a share or two on specified social media outlets (namely, Facebook and Twitter). Always go above and beyond…I like to share everything on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.
Ask questions. If you’re unsure of what to do, or you need more information, always ask. Trust me. I have learned more than once that it’s easier to ask up front than to correct a mistake later.
Utilize your awesome communication skills. If you’re a blogger, you’ve got communication skills of some kind. Use them! Keep an open dialogue going with your contact at a PR firm or a brand, keep them updated on your progress (especially if you’re running behind or going to miss a deadline), and notify them when you receive a product they’ve sent you in the mail. People like to be kept in the loop.
Be honest. If you’re unsure of what to do, or uncomfortable with a requirement, it’s easier to tell the truth up front in a kind and matter-of-fact way. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to turn down a job because it doesn’t sit well with you…more jobs will come.
Never stop improving your blog. And don’t forget to keep PR firms and campaign networks updated as your stats increase (because they will!).
Support other bloggers. Especially if they are working on the same campaigns you are! You want the campaign to be successful for everyone – yourself, your colleagues, and the brand.
Keep thorough records. Screenshots, or a document with all of your links (blog post, social media shares, etc.) are great to have on hand if a rep suddenly needs to see them. It’s a LOT easier to record them all in one place than going through all of your tweets and status updates to find what you need!
Be nice to everyone. You’re probably going to get some pretty lame pitches from PR people every now and then. If they seem legit, I (mostly) answer these. You can easily craft a generic “Thanks but this is not a great fit for my blog, please keep me in mind for future campaigns” email that you can copy and paste as a response to less-than-awesome opportunities. The PR person is just doing their thang, and if they send me a pitch to review the Lamest Product Ever…it’s only because they’re doing their job.
Engage with your readers. Answer comments, and respond to people on Twitter and Facebook. If someone takes the time to comment on my blog, I always try to acknowledge their comment and keep the conversation going. And, brands like to see people talking about their products!
Be grateful. You guys – there are a LOT of bloggers out there. Many of them have better stats than me, and many of them have better content than me – when I get a job, I always remind myself that I’m not the only one who wanted this job – and that I may not get the jobs I want in the future. Be grateful for the opportunities you get, and express that gratitude towards the people who hire you for jobs!
Be yourself. Even though you’re writing content for someone else, and even though you might have guidelines you have to follow, you still need to be yourself. Your voice is important, and it’s part of the reason you were hired to begin with. Use it!
Many of these tips are things I learned not from blogging, but from my previous life in the corporate world. It all comes back to relationships, and to providing stellar customer service…no matter what your line of work may be.
What are your tips for making a good impression on a new client? What do you do to make yourself stand out in the crowd and to convince people to keep hiring you?