It’s been a while since I have given advice to improve your blog so I thought I would provide some tips to help you make your blog the best it can be. Occasionally I receive emails from new bloggers asking how you start working with PR reps and companies for product reviews. They want to know how to make their blog look professional and be considered for PR opportunties. Some advice I give often is to make sure your blog stands out among the crowd. I don’t mean you have to pay thousands of dollars to hire a graphic designer for a custom blog design. But I do mean that your blog should have more pizazz than just a text header with your blog name in all caps. Blogs just like businesses have brands. Consider getting custom header which can help you develop your brand. If you don’t have money for a custom blog design, consider just paying for a header. You can always go back and add the background later. My point is if you want to be taken seriously by PR professionals, you should take your blog seriously as well. In my opinion your blog should be more than just your words on a page. It should contain a unique design that reflects who you are.
While you can spend thousands in design fees you don’t have to. There are many affordable designers out there who would love to work with you. And if you are looking for an affordable blog designer who also happens to be incredibly talented, hire Stefanie from La De Daa Designs. Make sure you tell her The Write Gal sent you. She created my blog design and I LOVE IT.
No I didn’t get THAT kind of facelift — a blog facelift. I am SO excited about my new blog design courtesy of the amazing Stefanie of La De Daa Designs. If you are looking for a blog header, button, banner, Twitter page, or total blog makeover, you will be delighted with Stefanie’s blog design services. She is very talented and one of the most patient people I have ever met. You might imagine that since I am a writer I am not a visual person and I never know I like something until I see it. Stefanie has spent countless hours working on my design until it was what I envisioned.
My personal opinion is that having a custom blog design really enhances your blog and makes it more appealing to read. If you are interested in working with PR reps, a custom design makes you look like a more serious blogger. Stefanie is talented and affordable too! If you hire her tell her The Write Gal sent you.
This Christmas blog design is really putting me in the Christmas spirit. I hope you enjoy it while you are here and thanks for visiting. In January I will be rolling out the new and improved Write Gal design that will look at lot like this one only with different colors. And if you want a great blog to add to your reader, check out Stefanie’s Mommy’s Quiet Time. It is already in my blogroll in my sidebar but you can read it by clicking here.
P.S. In real life lipo comes before facelift but I am not sure Santa can deliver that!
When I first started my writing services Web site last summer, I never anticipated that I would have other bloggers as clients. One of my most requested writing projects these days is a blog Media Kit. If you are a blogger you may be wondering what a Media Kit is or why you need one. Basically, think of a Media Kit as a resume for your blog. It is a package of information that introduces your blog to interested advertisers and answers their questions about it. In addition to providing advertising information, it can explain your policies related to writing reviews or hosting giveaways on your blog.
I wanted to offer you the “tools” you need to write your own Media Kit!
- Contact information. Make sure you include your contact information at the beginning of your Media Kit letting a PR rep or company know how to contact you. If you routinely write reviews or host giveaways on your blog it is a good idea to include your mailing address so they can send product(s) to you without having to filter though various emails to locate your information. I would also include this again at the end of your Media Kit.
- Blog profile. In this section you will describe your blog, your blog content, and yourself. It is very important in a Media Kit to state clearly what your blog is about as well as your subject matter. Be sure to answer what exactly is your niche, and which part of your niche your blog is most focused on. You want to explain why are you a good fit with a potential company or PR representative and how you can add value to a campaign.
- Press. If your blog has been mentioned or featured in the media (actual media not “blog awards” from other bloggers), you should list the publication you were featured in and the date it was published. If you have a direct link or screen shot of the article, you should provide it in this section.
- Blog Statistics. In this section you will want to include any statistics for your blog such as your unique monthly visitors, number of page views, number of subscribers, Google Page Rank, etc. If you are on Twitter, then I would also list your number of followers. Companies are understanding more and more the importance of social media. If you use Twitter to market your blog then they know this means additional exposure for their company.
- Reviews and Giveaways. A Media Kit is a great way to communicate your policies concerning reviews and giveaways. Make sure in this section you include your policies relating to hosting them on your blog including any fees if applicable. If you require the company to ship the item to the winner of your giveaway be sure and include that information as well.
- Advertising. One of the main reason bloggers use media kits is to try and secure advertisers for their blog. If you accept advertisements, you will need to explain clearly the size of ads you accept (125×125, 468×60, 300×250, text ads, etc.) as well as the correlating costs. Be sure to include your methods of payment you accept such as PayPal, money orders, etc. Personally I only accept PayPal as payment. If you write advertorials, include information relating to cost, maximum word length, number of photos, etc.
- Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. I cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring your Media Kit is free from spelling and grammar errors. A company is not going to take you seriously if your Media Kit is laced with errors. The same thing holds true with your blog as well. Your writing should be flawless.
Finally, I want to address the number one question I get asked about writing a Media Kit and that is whether to include it as an attachment on your blog. Personally I choose not to do so because I do not want the general public to know my stats or my advertising rates. I do, however, send out my Media Kit whenever I send a pitch to a company or when it is requested by a PR Rep or company. It is acceptable on your blog to include that you have a Media Kit available and that you would be glad to send it out upon request.
For more information, Mom Bloggers Club has an excellent template on writing your blog Media Kit. Or if you don’t want to write it yourself, you can always hire me to do it for you. In addition to writing Media Kits, I also write press releases, Web site content, marketing brochures and more. Please feel free to contact me for a free quote.
The more blogs I read, the more I want to educate people how to improve them. Consider these few tips to make your blog even better:
- Update your blog regularly. Don’t blog if you are not going to commit to regular updates. If I happen to stumble upon your blog and the last post is two weeks old or more, I am going to skip it. If you have a hard time deciding what to blog about, keep a notebook and jot down ideas when they come to you. Also it helps if you decide how often to write a new blog post and stick to your schedule. I try to post at least twice per week.
- Consider a blog header. You can’t feel inspired by your blog if you are using a standard blogging template with a boring blog header. Consider hiring a Web design company or graphic designer to create a unique blog header to inspire you and your readers. The Write Gal was created by my fabulous Web designer, Billie, the owner of Molto Bella Designs. Custom blog headers are an affordable alternative to companies out there who will customize your entire blog design. Just make sure you select a template that allows you to download a unique header and doesn’t constrict you to the one that comes with that particular template.
- Use pictures. Insert pictures into your blog posts that are appropriate for your topic. A site I like that allows you to download free photos is Stock.XCHNG. Always make sure you check the image’s licensing agreement before you download. While many of their photos are free, some require a small fee to use. Just because a picture is on the Internet doesn’t give you free reign to copy it. Doing so is considered copyright infringement and is illegal. Make sure if you are going to post a picture of a product on a Web site you like that you obtain the owner’s permission first.
- Include links. Links are a helpful way to give your readers useful information and add variety to your blog posts. As I have stated earlier, just make sure your links work by testing them out prior to publishing your post.
You don’t have to be a writer to write a good blog post. But just because you hated English in high school doesn’t give you an excuse to write a sloppy blog post, either. Consider these tips from a writer to make your blog better than ever:
- Keep it short- People don’t have all day to read your blog post. If you have a lot to say, consider splitting into two posts.
- Lists – Use bullets or numbers to break up text when making a list like this one. It makes your blog easier to read.
- Spelling- Please spell check your post before publishing. It only takes a few minutes. At WordPress we have a spell check feature built right in, although I have to say it is not foolproof as these types of programs never are. If you are in doubt over a word or it looks funny to you, look it up online. Merriam-Webster has a great online dictionary that is user friendly.
- Titles are Important- Write an interesting title for your blog post. Why? Because if people aren’t interested, they won’t read it.
- Bad Grammar – Bad grammar is just bad. Please consider proofreading your post carefully before publishing. A good way to do this is by printing your text and proofreading from the paper. There is a simple way to do this rather than printing the entire page using your print functions at the top of your screen and saves paper too. Simply highlight all of the text in your post box and then paste it into a software program like Microsoft Word. That way you are only printing the text you need to review.
- Links- This last tip has nothing to do with being a writer but I thought I would throw it in for good measure. If you include a link in your blog post please test it to make sure it actually works.
While these tips may sound like common sense to some, I have read enough blogs to know that everyone (including myself) could stand some improvement.
Happy Blogging & Happy Independence Day!
After just one week of blogging, I have to say I wish I would have tried it sooner. Here are a few things I have learned as a blogging baby:
- You don’t have to be an expert to be a blogger - Ever thought about blogging before but were too scared to give it a try? Don’t be! I have been amazed at how simple it is. Whether you are using WordPress, Blogger, or another blogging system, there are plenty of resources out there to help you as you go along. I love using WordPress because of all of the Help Pages, Forums, & FAQ’s. Another great resource is the blogging expert Lorelle on WordPress. Even if you aren’t a WordPress blogger, Lorelle has plenty of blogging tips that you will find to be helpful.
- Don’t get intimidated by all of the lingo- I have to say I still don’t have a clue as to the difference between a trackback or a pingback. Flickr, widget, HTML, Meta, WHAT??? Try not to let the technical terms scare you or keep you from starting your blog. You can learn as you go. You don’t have to be a “techie” to be a blogger.
- Remember Quality vs. Quantity - You might be hesitant to blog because of a fear of running out of things to say. It is more important to have quality blog entries that communicate to your audience rather than incessant ramblings just to fill your blog. Also, before you begin blogging it is a good idea to know generally what you are going to blog about. For the Write Gal I picked my two favorite subjects which happen to be writing and shopping. That is not to say that I may not digress and occasionally post about something else, but to me consistency creates credibility in the blogging world. I would personally much rather read a blog that is topical on a consistent basis rather than a random one that posts about the weather or whatever topic is on that person’s brain for the day.