I've had this conversation with bloggers often: what blog business strategies do you share with your readers? I was asked recently by MoMoMod, “How does one steer their blog in a new direction? Inform readers or just do it?” And though I haven't always been this way, I'm now of the mindset that when it comes to how you run your blog as a business, that information shouldn't be shared with readers.
Imagine that Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz, or Louis Vuitton shared with the public every move they made to increase sales, build awareness, and shift public opinion about their brand. How would you feel about shopping with them? I wouldn't like it, and I'm guessing you wouldn't either.
Apply that same scenario to your blogging idols– those blogs who have become successful, have great followings, and that you strive to be like. What have they shared with you? Did they share when they were changing the layout? Do they share when they are taking on advertisers? Or do they just DO IT? In my experience, bloggers who treat their blogs as a business make decisions, make changes, don't announce it, and don't apologize for it.
Below are my own handy tips for deciding how to share information with my readers!
- Share with your readers if... it involves money. If there are affiliate links, if it's a sponsored post, if it is a paid campaign, then (for US bloggers) you're legally obligated to disclose it to your readers. However, you don't need to share how much you made or what the details of the arrangement are. Make sure that there's a page outlining your advertising policies, though, and that readers can refer to that at any point.
- Don't apologize if…. you spend time away from your site. Yuli Ziv mentions this in Fashion 2.0: “never apologize for not writing enough, or taking time off from writing. Just get back right to where you were, and keep producing great content.” Readers won't notice, I promise! Those that do may leave you a comment or send an email, and you can choose to respond then. Otherwise, act like business is usual.
- Use your discretion if…. you're planning a huge overhaul of your site. Are you going from one specific niche to another very different niche? If so, maybe you should let your readers know so they don't get confused when their google reader vastly changes. Recently I considered shifting my own blog so it didn't include shopping or “coveting” related posts, as my readers don't respond to them. Instead of announcing it, I just filled in my content gap with more style and lifestyle posts– pieces my readers DO respond well to!
- Feel like… you need insight & feedback to a change? Run a reader survey and publicize it through social media. Take to twitter and ask the blogging community. But keep it off your site!
- Remember that…. your blog posts are prime real estate. They're supposed to be filled with great content. If every few months there's a post explaining your absences or a change in your blog, you're diminishing the value of your content.
Do you believe in sharing your business moves with your readers? Or do you prefer to keep your head down and do what you need to grow your site?