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There are so many misconceptions about blogging, and although it’s been around for 20+ years, people are still figuring it out. But one thing’s for sure: professional blogging is not taken seriously. It doesn’t matter if you’re raking in millions from your blog, there will be those who view your job as easy, superficial, and a glorified hobby. You might even encounter those people on a daily basis. I know I do. And there’s one thing we bloggers can do to combat that: keep it professional.
If I had a dollar for every unprofessional email, or even worse, social media direct message I got, I would never need to write a sponsored post again. It’s a touchy subject and can be a bit of a grey area due to the nature of the industry. Blogs are personal. A lot of times, the tone is extremely casual in blog posts. For me, my blog posts are about sharing my experiences. It’s as if I’m talking to a friend when I’m writing. But that does not mean my professional communications should be the same.
I think a lot of brands and PR companies try to keep communications with bloggers light and cheery, which is totally fine, but there’s a level of professionalism that is often times lacking. This leads to underpayment, over-asking in post requests, and bloggers being taken advantage of. I strongly feel that if you want to be treated as a professional, then you should act like one.
Emails should always begin with an opening greeting and end with a closing sign-off. Furthermore, the opening should always contain the recipient’s name. If I get an email that does not have my name in it, I immediately report it as spam. Every time, no exceptions. I do not have time for mass emails and you shouldn’t either.
It goes without saying, but grammar and spelling should always be double checked. Please, at the very least, capitalize I and the first letter of each sentence. Instead of writing back a quick “yeah ill check on that”, take the extra 5 seconds and clean it up:
I’m so sorry for the delay! I will check on that now and get back to you asap.
Social Media Etiquette
If you want to work with someone, don’t send them a DM in Instagram. Would you direct message a lawyer when you’re looking to hire one? Would you DM a doctor to inquire about symptoms? Then why would it be ok for you to DM a blogger to hire her? People who can’t take the time to send an email probably can’t be bothered to pay either. It speaks volumes about the level of respect the brand has for the blogger and the blogging industry as a whole and 9/10 times, lack of respect = lack of payment.
Related: Why Bloggers Can’t Work for Free
It’s also important to keep it professional when posting to social media. It can be so tempting to use social media to vent. I admit, I’ve done it a time or two on Twitter, but I’m working on that. The main reason for this is the simple fact that everything you put online is public, and can be permanent. Whether it was your fault or not, if you had a horrible experience with a brand, don’t share the behind the scenes drama with the world. No brand wants to risk that and it could deter other brands from partnering with you.
Once you get past the initial communications, it’s important to remain professional throughout the entire campaign. I’ve definitely been in a situation where I’ve had to hold my tongue, but it’s absolutely essential. Instead of getting angry and firing back when a brand suddenly asks for extra work or sends negative feedback, take it as an opportunity to educate. Bloggers provide lots of services, but our focus should be on creating beautiful content that sparks engagement and drives conversations. The campaigns we participate in create interest around a product and our opinions can help generate brand awareness, brand trust, and overall recognition and credibility.
That said, I love going above and beyond the bare minimum requirements for sponsorships. When I enjoy working with a brand–and feel I’m being fairly compensated–I’m happy to over deliver. In addition to the extra posts, it’s also helpful to send stats and reports of any content shared. Even if the brand or agency didn’t ask, sending over pageviews, social impressions, etc. shows that level of professionalism the industry seems to be lacking.
I could honestly go on for days about this, but I’ll pause for now. I’d love to engage in a conversation about this, so if you’re also a blogger, or if you have an opinion from another perspective, I’d love to hear what you have to say about professionalism in blogging!
What has your experience been with professionalism in blogging?
Second photo by Katie Donnelly.