Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

5 Pet Peeves Every Good Blogger Has

I loved reading blogs long before I started writing them. When I started blogging myself, my eyes were opened to a whole new world that the average reader never sees.

I learned fast that a high follower count doesn't equal quality writing. A blogger that seems trustworthy is sometimes scamming their face off. And for some writers, a reader is nothing more than a shiny dollar sign.

It was both disheartening and annoying to learn these things, and I quickly discovered I wasn't the only blogger that felt this way! Read through to see the five pet peeves I hear the most often - what you learn may surprise you!

Not disclosing correctly to readers:

Although it is true that a lot of newer and/or smaller bloggers don't know that there are rules attached to certain aspects of blogging, there is no way that a blogger posting more than one sponsored post per week doesn't realize that the FTC requires us to disclose when we're sponsored.

We're required to let our readers know when we receive something (whether it's a gift card, monetary payment, free bagel, free stroller, free car, etc.) and we have to have it in writing BEFORE any links that may lead away from the page.

In addition to the banner some of you may have seen at the top of my site, I also have a disclosure page and I mention within my posts whenever I received something. If you go back (way, way back) through my posts, you'll probably see that I didn't know what I was doing and missed a few disclosures when I first started. And every so often I'll get caught up in my Instagram photos and completely forget to mention that a company gave me something.

And that's fine. Bloggers are human. We forget from time to time. And we know that some of you will definitely be affected from knowing that we received something for free. We also know that some of you have come to realize that bloggers can be honest. Most work hard to earn your trust.

That's why it really ticks us off when a friend shares a link to us (a viral link, no less) about some must-have-product of the year... and when we click it, we see this at the veeeerrry bottom of the post:

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I posted this in actual size! ACTUAL SIZE!!!!
Kinda bums me out because I know that there is always some small percentage of readers that will trust a blogger posting the teeny-tiny invisible disclosure over me. You know why? Because I made sure people know I'm sponsored, putting me at risk of looking like a paid shill. Meanwhile, the blogger with the smudge of words on the bottom of their posts looks like a saint. Not. Fair.

(Are you a blogger that's unfamiliar with the FTC requirements? It's okay - we've all been there! Click HERE to read the Disclosure Guidelines and HERE to read the Endorsement FAQ's.)

Paying to make a site look important:

Paying to make a site appear important? Le gasp! Who would do such a thing? I'll tell you who: bloggers who want PR companies and readers to think that they have lots of followers.

Let me just lay it out really quick for you: this blog isn't free. None are. That recipe you got the other day? Not free. The post you found through Google to figure out how to get rid of ants? Not free.

Oh sure, it's free for you. But what about the little guy on the end? The writer? It's not free for him (or her!) because it's time and money down the drain. They have to get some of that money back somehow, and the best way to do that is through sponsorships. Companies tend to sponsor blogs that already have a lot of followers. And readers tend to gravitate toward sites that already have lots of followers. For many writers, a quality blog is a LONG term investment.

I blogged for almost a year before I was good enough for a PR company to notice me. It was one of the most satisfying things ever. Something not so satisfying? Realizing that a blog could pop up today and have three times my follower count by next month simply by paying for followers, comments, and more.

Most readers don't notice when a blog suddenly appears on-scene and quickly gains an overly-large audience in a too-short time-frame. But bloggers notice. (We're a lot more tight-knit than most people realize, with our own cliques, groups, and circles of communication!)

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My very own off-shore spammer for only $3 per hour!?!! .. no thanks!
I get a letter like the above maybe 2 or 3 times per week through random LinkedIn messages. It sucks knowing that there are people out there using companies like this one to get a boost, but it sucks worse when I get passed over for a sponsored opportunity and then later see that a blog with shady stats got accepted. (I mean, it really really sucks.)

Making attempts to sabotage fellow bloggers:

Now, it may seem like I'm doing a bit of that here (ha ha), but the type of sabotage I'm talking about is the backbiting that goes on behind the scenes.

Blogging is still one of those rare careers where no one really reports to anyone. There isn't a hierarchy in the blogging world, there isn't a certification we need to get (although I think there should be!) and there is no one to report bad behavior to.

Some bloggers seem to be quite fond of wandering onto other people's pages to make nasty remarks for no apparent reason. It's an unproductive exercise and does nothing more than make someone feel badly for a few hours.

Every blogger is the victim of a rude troll from time to time, and there's really nothing we can do about it. There's no way to find out who the person is, and even if we could there's still nothing we would be able to do about it. Google doesn't have a "Report for Bullying" button.

I even got trolled on my disclosure page, which was absolutely confusing to me since I over-disclose if anything. I could have deleted the comment, but I don't need to because I feel my work speaks for itself. (Plus I posted a snarky retort which was almost as satisfying as being able to tell this person off to their face.)

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Dear Anon: Did you read ANYTHING on my site? (Seriously, anything??!!?)

Posting "deals" that aren't really deals:

One of my biggest peeves is when someone posts something and I think, "Whoa, what a deal!"... and then I follow the link and find out that it isn't such a great deal after all.

I'm a busy lady, and I don't like to waste my time. So when I see a blogger claiming to be finding the best deals to save people money, it irritates me to see that their site is full of garbage ads. It leaves would-be readers with a bad taste in their mouth and gives a bad name to bloggers who are actually scouring through every last shopping flyer in the universe. (Who would want to keep clicking on "deals" when they've been burned before?)

I'm sure we've all been guilty from time to time of posting some freebie that wasn't really a freebie. Maybe we were retweeting something so we could remember to check it out later, maybe we were legitimately misled into thinking it was a good deal. But no one should ever have a site full of posts that are nothing more than the blogger telling their readers to click the picture for a super-great freebie.

A free Fisher Price set? Sign me up!!!
The ad above is one that I foolishly wasted 20 minutes of my life on after reading a blog post on a "deal" site about three years ago. It takes you to a page where you have to buy about $200 worth of stuff to be able to qualify for the "free" item or you can never advance past their offers.

Posting junk like this is the reason that when bloggers post legit deals, we practically have to beg our readers to take advantage of them.

Bloggers who will promote anyone and anything:

Oh the things that some people will do for an extra dollar. I would have a lot more going on in this blog some days if I wasn't so incredibly choosy.

There are the paid tweets I pass over - like the one whose hashtag was #FAGET (I MEAN COME ON, REALLY?) or ones talking about a new cream for the herps...

And there are paid posts and reviews I pass over - sometimes because I just have too much going on already and sometimes because the company seems scammy or illegal.

Sometimes I just pass because I can't see myself having real feelings toward an item or I don't believe in the product being offered.

So why does it annoy bloggers when some writers choose to take every offer available? Because it works against the blogging community on a large scale.

Sure, it's fine for a blogger to tweet about herpes cream, or jump on the bandwagon with everyone else now and again... as long as it's authentic.

Because the thing is, we're supposed to be these beacons of knowledge and heartfelt nonsense that combine to create a consumer opinion that our readers can trust. Bloggers should be individuals with personalities, people who have real likes and dislikes and can stand for something at the end of the day.

If every blogger in the world is talking about the same thing at the same time, how will anything coming from us ever be perceived as real? We need genuinity. Without it, we're just wasting words.

Do you have a pet peeve about blogs? How trustworthy do you find most bloggers?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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