Do I really need a blog?

Whether you are a budding content creator, an established influencer, or a business, you may be considering starting a blog. But obviously you are questioning whether or not it’s even necessary. Blogs can be time consuming and extremely difficult to start up. So the question stands…

Do I really need to start a blog?

Simply put, yes, you need a blog. It does not matter what industry you are in, you need a blog if you are trying to make money through selling products, services, or monetizing your content with affiliate links. But this is a loaded question as it also brings up other questions about why you should make a blog and how.

Why do I need one?

When people are looking for something, they are using a search engine to help them. They are typing words into a computer and hoping for an answer. That answer will not be found on your social media page. It will be found on your own website. Social media is great for fleeting engagement, time sensitive information, or sharing something fun. You may recommend to your followers how awesome a certain vacuum is, but within a week, your audience probably will forget the model you were talking about. And if they weren’t a follower of your page, the odds of them finding the answer with you is slim to none.

Having your own website with blog content ensures that those searches find their way to your door.

What do I write about?

It’s easy enough to say that you can “write whatever you want”. But that’s too vague and mostly untrue. You need to write things that are 1) in your wheelhouse, and 2) relevant to your audience. For instance, I don’t have kids and as such you won’t see content about “what to pack in a diaper bag” on my blog. Because that is not in my wheelhouse of knowledge. I also don’t write about “the best plays by the Kansas City Chiefs” because that is not relevant to my audience.

So I will say this: you can write whatever you want within reason.

What shouldn’t I write about in my blog?

Like I have said before, people everywhere are looking for answers to questions. It will be your job to answer them. I can tell you from personal experience that writing about your personal experience will get you nowhere. I am not sorry to say this, but no one cares about how much fun you had in Utah. No one cares about how difficult it was during your breakup. No one cares about the list of books you read this year.

Instead, you should be writing content like this:

  • “Fun Activities to Do in Utah”
  • “How to Get Through a Rough Breakup”
  • “30+ Books that You HAVE to Read This Year”

People are searching for answers for themselves. They are not going to type “what did Chelsea do while visiting San Diego”. They are going to search “what to do on a short trip to San Diego“. Obviously to answer these questions you will need to have personal knowledge on it. But your content should be geared towards helping someone else. Nothing is more painful than looking up a recipe for snickerdoodles and having to scroll through paragraphs and paragraphs of that person telling us about their life history with their grandma. I’ll say it again for the people in the back – no one cares about YOUR experience. And as such you will have to spin your blogs to make sure it is directed towards what other people would be asking.

Blogs are meant to answer questions. Even if they never formally asked them. Write your content in a way that helps to answer a question that they may not have even known they were trying to ask.

So stop waiting. You need to start a blog because you need a blog. I personally recommend WordPress. It has helped me start at the level that I wanted for free and as I saw growth, they had upgrade options to help me do that. I love the amount of customization you can put in the blog content itself. You can also install plug-ins to help advance your blog further. A lot of the plug-ins I use are free too! This year, I was even able to use one of the plug-ins to make my own app! (Check it out – it’s available for iOS and Android!)

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Can AI Write Good Blogs?

Believe it or not, this blog was written by artificial intelligence. Well.. in part. Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly popular. And its real world uses are becoming more diverse and helpful. One area that it is starting to grow in is online content. So can AI write good blogs?

How can I use AI to write blogs?

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years. One area where it has made significant progress is in the realm of writing. Many people wonder if AI can write good blogs. Well the answer is: it depends.

On one hand, AI has the ability to generate content that is coherent and well-written. It can also be trained on a wide range of topics. That means it is capable of writing about a variety of subjects. In fact, AI has even been used to write news articles and reports, with some readers being unable to distinguish between AI-generated content and human-written content.

On the other hand, AI is still limited by the quality of the data it is trained on. If the data used to train the AI is of low quality or biased, then the resulting content may also be of low quality or biased. Additionally, AI lacks the creativity and critical thinking skills of a human writer. That being said, it may struggle to produce truly original content.

Not to mention, some free online AI’s may have a knowledge gap. For instance, the AI program that wrote the three paragraphs that you just read, ChatGPT, only has knowledge until the end of 2021. So anything that has happened in 2022 and beyond has not yet happened. This could make it difficult to provide content or answer questions in current times.

So.. what’s the verdict?

Overall, it is clear that AI has the potential to write good blogs. However, it is not yet at the level where it can consistently produce high-quality content on par with human writers. While AI may be able to generate coherent and well-written content, it is still no match for the unique perspective and creativity that a human writer brings to their work.

Oh, and that paragraph above was also written by AI.

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Should I Say When A Post Isn’t Sponsored?

If you are posting as a creator on social media, then you probably talk about brands and their products. You have your normal, fun un-sponsored posts, and your paid sponsorship posts. However, if it’s an unpaid post that is still product-focused, you may be wondering: “Do I need to disclose that it is not sponsored?”

You do have to disclose when something is a sponsored post. However, you definitely should not say when a post is not sponsored, and here is why.

What does it mean to disclose that a post is not sponsored?

Imagine that you are talking about how much you love Brand X in a post. But you don’t want your audience or the algorithm to think it’s an ad. So you think to yourself “I will just say that it isn’t an ad!”. An example of that could be: “Wow I just love this dress! It’s flowy, beautiful, I feel amazing in it! And don’t worry, this post is not sponsored.”

By saying your glowing words about this brand or product, followed by that it’s “not an ad” or that “this isn’t a sponsorship”, you’ve almost set yourself up for mistrust. This gives the idea that by saying nice things, it means that someone paid you to say that. Almost like by saying something nice now with no strings attached somehow makes this product recommendation even BETTER. It comes off like those previous things you said in the past for sponsored posts were not actually your honest opinion. Because now moving forward for a sponsored post, it’s going to sound like you are only saying that because you were paid to do so.

Your words should be the truth. Whether you were paid or not to talk about a brand. You need to build trust with your audience and talk about the things that you love. Even if no one paid you. And if you are gearing up for a paid collaboration, make sure it’s with a brand you actually do love!

An Outdated Mindset

Why is there a mindset that we can only talk about brands if we are paid? Maybe we think it will take us out of the running for getting paid if we already gave them content to our audience for free.

Break free of this mindset and talk about brands willingly, openly, and regularly! This will not only build trust with your audience, but also when they do see a sponsorship from you, it won’t look like you are just shouting “AD” into their face. The best sponsorships are the ones that are organic to your feed. If you consistently talk about products on your page, then seeing a sponsorship won’t seem any different to your audience.

Be open with your audience when you have a paid partnership that you need to disclose. But also be honest in your everyday life about the brands and products that you just love on the regular! Your audience will love hearing your thoughts and will trust you more for it.

Read more influencer tips and advice on Donna Gail Blog.

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How to Reach Out to Brands

Every creator gets to the point in their social career that they want to start monetizing by working with brands. If that sounds like you then congratulations on getting to this part! I definitely understand that this is both an exciting but very confusing time. So how do you start? How do you reach out to brands?

How do I start the conversation with my favorite brand?

You will need to do some groundwork before you send that first message. If your intention is to work with brands that you believe in, then you will need to prove that. For starters, you should be following them. That support is the least you could do.

I usually will spend at least a week to a month being an active follower. That means interacting with their stories, commenting on their posts, etc. But maybe you are a mega fan and have been following them already for a while. In which case, you are ahead of the game! Brands love it when creators are real fans of theirs. Not to mention, you should really be mega fans of brands you are reaching out to regardless.

Where do I find a brand’s contact information?

The best way to find the information needed to get in contact with a brand’s marketing department is to simply ask. Instagram DMs were meant for this! I normally send a short message introducing myself, expressing my interest to work with them, and then asking if there is an email that I can send my inquiry to. More often than not, they will either give you the email address, respond by saying that discussing via DM is fine, or may even give you a link to their application form.

If you don’t receive a response via DM, it’s time to look on their website. Since the influencer game is growing quickly, many brands have now placed sections on their website just for creators with pertinent information. I usually look on the Contact Us or the FAQs page as they normally have a contact specifically for these sorts of inquiries.

What do I include in my message to them?

Now that you have the correct contact information or the person via DM is willing to chat through Instagram, what do you include? First, you should include 1-2 sentences about you and your content. Next include any relevant information about your experience with the brand. If you have purchased from them before, let them know! Next you should mention any information that would be of interest to the brand (ie. your engagement rate, your audience demographics that relate to the brand, etc). Lastly, the email should end on your excitement at the prospect of working with the brand and a thanks to them for taking the time to read your email.

You should stay clear of sending your email with attachments or links in it. The brand doesn’t need your life long content history. However, the other big reason to not include attachments or links in your first email to the brand is because this could lead to your email going straight to spam. Don’t cut yourself off like that!

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Are Social Media Engagement Pods Bad?

Maybe you have heard of them called “Instagram pods” or “Facebook pods”. But their purpose is the same. To boost engagement. So are these engagement pods bad? And what kind of effects can they have on a person’s social media account?

What is an engagement pod?

An engagement pod is a group of creators who have gotten together with the sole purpose of helping each other boost their social post engagement. These originally started on Instagram but have thus grown so large in popularity that there are entire Facebook Groups dedicated to being one giant engagement pod hive.

These groups are well organized and involve engagement games. These games focus on likes, comments, shares, views, follows, etc. They are moderated by the admins and are announced via post on a Facebook group. To engage with the game, you just pop into the comments of the game’s post and begin. The games are simple enough. Put the link to the social post you want boosted, and play the “game”. To name a few examples of these games:

  • Must “like” the social post of the 50 people above you
  • Must comment something, four words or more, of the 30 posts before you. NO copy and pasting. (ex. “This is so cute!”, “I love this idea!”)
  • Must follow the TikTok account of the 10 people above you.

To ensure that participants are actually keeping up their end of the bargain, they are given 24 hours to complete the game. If they do not complete the game in the allotted time, the admins will punish the creator by banning them from playing these games for X amount of time. Or they can even be removed from the group entirely.

Are engagement pods good or bad for account growth?

Although we love to see creators helping other creators, this is not the way to do it. Engagement pods are extremely detrimental to your organic social growth.

Learn more on this topic by readying my blog “The Biggest Mistakes of Trying to Gain Followers“.

Final thoughts

Don’t do it. Do not stoop to engagement pods. I know that the algorithm sucks and it seems like if you don’t get the same engagement that brand deals will also disappear. But you need to remember something. The algorithm affects EVERYONE. It leaves no heroes amongst us. If your engagement went down after the last algorithm change, so what. So did everyone else’s. No need to sweat it!

I can guarantee that brands will continue to come to creators that make great content. And I can also guarantee that they will stop coming to those who partake in engagement pods. Speaking as both a creator and a social media specialist for a company that partakes in hiring influencers… we can tell who is using them and who is not.. 😉

Still need to be convinced NOT to partake in an engagement pod? Check out the blog, “Why Engagement Pods Are Damaging Your Value“.

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