The speakers at the 1st Professional Blogging Summit organized by Janette Toral of DigitalFilipino.com and Jeoff Solas of LiberatingJepoy.com are professional bloggers with different background and interests yet I've noticed that most of them talked about the lack of reference of the Do's and Don'ts when they were just starting a few years ago.
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 #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.
Engineer / Model / Blogger / Stylist / Entrepreneur / Consultant Seph Cham shared how he manged to wear many hats and how important it is for professional bloggers to market themselves and their blog. While it is not an easy task, you really need to dedicate time and effort to get to know your community and establish rapport with fellow bloggers, PR people, brands and future collaborators. Being a celebrity blogger means you also have the bigger responsibility and be a role model to your readers. Credibility is also a factor for brands to consider your blog to be part of their campaign so be true and have your own signature.
Social media manager to the stars and blogger JayL Aquino shared how his blogging experience gave him the opportunity to work with some famous personalities and handle the online accounts of some celebrities. He also stressed that when it comes to basher, it is better to ignore it and focus on the good side. Comment moderation is also needed especially when there are foul words and violates your published rules and guidelines. He also emphasize the need for bloggers to have more patience in dealing with negativity and refocus on things that can be improved. There is always a room for change. :-)
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 #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.
When I came to the event, I must be honest that I've heard some controversies surrounding Ross Del Rosario even though I haven't met him personally. Based from what he shared, he initially used his presence online to rant about things he dislike and somehow it involves politics too. Some members of the blogging community also attacked him but it didn't stop him from pursuing what he loves to do which is blogging. As a community manager, he also assumes responsibility for his members' wrongdoings and learn from his earlier mistakes too. Now, he focuses on the good things and continue to grow his network.
Sai Sayson Montes is a professional make-up artists who uses her online presence not only to make the online world more beautiful but also for business too. She said that every professional bloggers must have their own business plan. If you really want to succeed in this field and earn from it, you must consider taking the entrepreneur's hat together with your blogger's cap. She also emphasize the need to have a content plan which some newbies might find toxic or too time consuming at the beginning but will be very helpful in growing your readership, community and credibility because of relevant posts you'll share.
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?