Are you thinking about blogging? Wondering how and where you should start? Well, I hope this post can help you. If you already have a blog, can you pause and remember the day you were about to start your blog... When you started blogging, did you have any idea what's right and wrong? Along the way, have you ever thought that maybe you've crossed the line? Did you check a blogging manual or read something about it?
Last October 18, 2014 was an afternoon worth remembering because it gave me the opportunity to know more about other bloggers as well as learn from them too especially those who had been in this industry for so long.
While you might think that blogging is all just about writing anything under the sun, I can't help but emphasize the need to follow some basic guidelines especially after listening to the sharing of the professional bloggers. In this case, I summarized what I learned from the invited speakers by coming up with the 10 Commandments for Professional Blogging which I hope you will consider too as you pursue your blogging career.
Commandment #1: BLOG WITH HEART AND PASSION. Ask any professional bloggers and they will tell you that they all started blogging out of hobby and passion. They started writing about things that matter to them and tickle their interest because first and foremost blogging is not only a means of earning money but a medium for change and inspiration. As a professional blogger, you must always go back to your core. Why do you blog? What do you want to serve? What is your purpose? While money is important and will let you sprint and finance your expenses, it is your heart and passion that will let you take this enduring online marathon. Start blogging topics you truly care about and amplify its voice with your online presence. The monetary success is like a magnet that follows you when you keep blogging something that you are passionate about, besides it won't feel like a task that you need to complete. So before anything else, always remember this commandment.
Commandment #2: YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE NAME OF OTHER BLOGGERS & BUSINESSES IN VAIN. With easy access to internet, it is easy for us nowadays to put someone in vain. But the question is, how do you want to use your access and power? Will you rant? Will you click and share something you're not completely sure about? Would you easily believe the issue without verifying it? Do you want to be a tagged as a cyberbully or to be someone who used the internet responsibly? If you are not directly involve in the issue, do not meddle. If you know the parties concerned, directly contact them and discuss it privately instead of openly attacking the person or the brand. While we have all the right to express what we truly feel, we must maintain diplomacy and decency, both offline and online. Gone are the days secret remains a secret. Now, with just one click, our emotions explode like virus on the internet. We click before we think which should not be the case. With our online presence, we have the tendency to abuse it and feel like all powerful that we can easily put a fellow blogger or a businesses in the bad light with just a few clicks and shares.
Commandment #3: HONOR YOUR COMMITMENTS & ENGAGEMENTS. Most of the time, PR invite bloggers to certain events and activities with the hope that bloggers will write their experience and share it to their community. Usually, you'll get many free stuff and samples when you attend their events and it shouldn't stop there. Aside from your presence, be generous in sending out a tweet or two, post a photo in your instagram and share what you've experienced on your blog and other social media accounts too. As a professional blogger, while money is important to us, you shouldn't take for granted the basic rule of receiving and giving. If you do not feel writing about the event or activity, might as well politely decline the invitation so that the PR can open the slot for other bloggers. It is one of the unwritten rule in this industry. You do not just take and receive, you must also learn how to give and honor your (unspoken and unwritten) commitments.
Commandment #4: YOU SHALL NOT GATECRASH. Accept the fact that not all the time you get to invited and be part of the guest list. No matter how tempting, do not show up to any event uninvited. You are not only disrespecting the organizer, but you are also putting a bad mark in your name as a professional blogger. Remember, what comes around goes around. You want to be treated as a professional, act like one. If you can't really resist and you really REALLY want to be in that event, try to get in touch first with the PR person and ask if they can still accommodate you. If not, let it pass and just express your intent to be part of their next event for bloggers.
Commandment #5: YOU SHOULD BE VISIBLE. BE SEEN. BE HEARD. IN A GOOD WAY. Create your personal brand and stick to it. Visibility does not only refer to online presence but also to offline events. Leave your mark and positive impression. Make friends with fellow bloggers. Connect with related industries. While other bloggers opted to be well known in a different and somehow negative way, you have all the capacity to build your own brand name online. Participate in guest posts, comment exchange and other activities with fellow bloggers. Do not also forget your readers. Find time to answer their inquiries and messages.
Commandment #6: THOU SHALL NOT BE A "PATAY GUTOM" AND ACT LIKE A "PULUBI". You are a blogger, not a beggar. As a professional blogger, you must set aside budget for you to eat to the new restaurant, buy the things what you want and try the services you would like to review. While most brands are generous to bloggers, it is important that you still budget your expenses and just always ask for sponsorship. If you consider blogging as your main business, then you must invest too right? These investment includes fare, food allowance and a big chunk of it goes to representation expenses. With this in mind, then you must also set a revenue goal and check your ROI.
Commandment #7: BE A RESPONSIBLE BLOGGER & ENTREPRENEUR. While you may have started blogging as a hobby, there will be a time that you'll also wear the hat of a businessman. Professional blogging entails a lot planning, content management and generation. You will have clients who will engage you to do some projects. You now have a responsibility to your readers and to your community to publish relevant posts and use your freedom of expression wisely. As a blogger and businessman, you must follow some norms and that includes being responsible and accountable for whatever you post online. As the old saying goes, power comes with great responsibility.
Commandment #8: EXPAND YOUR NETWORK AND CONNECT WITH PEOPLE, BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE. While it is easier for most of bloggers to interact online, professional bloggers know the importance of connecting with real people offline. Attend events. Be active in blogging community activities. You are not just a blogger, you are a professional blogger so make sure you have business card ready and hand it over to people you meet in the most humble way. Reach out to potential partners and do not be afraid to connect with them offline.
Commandment #9: REMEMBER TO GIVE BACK AND TAKE FELLOW BLOGGERS TO GREATER HEIGHTS. Never belittle the newbies. If you've made it far and big, remember to give back to your community and yes, take the newbies with you. Do not be afraid to share what you know to other bloggers. You'll never know what it means to them and blogging is also about community so it's always nice to know that your fellow bloggers got your back. In this profession, strong support system is very important. Instead of competition, focus on collaboration and community building. You can explore greater heights when you have a strong foundation and when you know how to complement. This is the time for professional bloggers to work together and be one for stronger presence both offline and online. We become the company we keep.
Commandment 10: THOU SHALL NOT STOP LEARNING. Congratulations! You've made it from a newbie to a professional blogger. You've become a star on your own. Will you stop there? A big NO! Being a professional blogger means that you always have to be on top of your game by constantly learning from new people you meet and discovering new things to improve your craft. Yes, you have to learn, unlearn and relearn stuff as part of your professional development. Get certified if you must! The point here is that even the brightest bloggers turned celebrities are constantly developing their skills and expanding their network, so what's the reason for you to stop here?
I hope this 10 Commandments and sharing from the speakers will help you in your professional blogging career. As you have read, these are not technical tips rather a universal approach on how you can be be a professional blogger. Sometimes we often forget the to apply the most basic principles because they are too common yet it is always important to be reminded and guided. HAPPY BLOGGING!!!