How Much Blog Business Should You Share with Readers?

 

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?

 

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20 Responses

  1. Samar

    Great advice as I’m right in the middle of a blogging absence & content shift!! Just what I needed to read – thanks!

    Reply
  2. Madeleine Gallay

    I have mad respect for Yuli but think that acknowledging an absence is simply good manners. Not an apology no.

    Best if one knows you’ll be away to mention that you look forward to coming back shortly.

    I think the criteria is … what would other media do.

    Reply
    • Ashe

      For me, it depends on the length of the absence. If you’re going to miss posting for a week, I don’t think it’s necessary.

      If you’re going through a life change, like moving, that may impact your posting for months? Then yes, mention it. With some themes and widges, like Thesis, you can put up notifications and not clutter up your blog archives!

      Reply
  3. Donatella

    I totally agree with your post and like the approach… although, as a newly blogger, I’m glad someone share information, so I can learn from other people experience!
    If I’m MIA for sometime I do mention it, without apologizing… it’s a blog, it’s not the daily news, at the end of the day!!

    Reply
  4. Courtney

    Great topic! When I switched gears to be more of a feminist blog, I did let readers know but not because it was a business decision. It was more of an out-loud wondering feeling of posing a question (Can you be a feminist AND a beauty blogger), getting feedback (yes) and making a change (woot! Go feminism).

    When I started my second blog, I did let readers know that certain things they used to see on the first site (ie: tutorials, reviews, how tos on beauty) would now be seen only on the second site.

    In terms of the day to day, I don’t talk much about blogging. Why? Well, to be very honest, no one reading my blog cares. Ok, maybe not “no one” but certainly only a very small percentage of those who read it.

    Reply
  5. lisa

    I love these tips! On the rare occasion I do a sponsored post or I start a long-term sponsorship (like my Shopbop sponsorship), I do disclose it. But I never say anything about new advertisers I have on my right sidebar. I also keep mum on how much I charge unless it’s a potential advertiser.

    I love what you said about not apologizing, Ashe. It actually irks me when I see “Sorry I’ve been such a bad blogger” posts. If you need a break, just take it! We’re all human. If I’m going to be on vacation or I need to focus on work instead of my blog, I will say something so people aren’t left hanging and I’ll say when I expect to return. It’s like the blog equivalent of the out-of-office email. 🙂

    Reply
  6. the clothing menu

    I’ve shifted the focus of my blog a number of times in the 2 years I’ve had it. A couple times when I’ve had a more major shift, I’ll post something letting people know of the change or that I’m not going to be posting for a while (if I’m taking more than a couple months break). I think it’s good to let loyal readers know what’s going on and that you’ll be back.

    Reply
  7. Fajr | Stylish Thought

    Great post Ashe! I couldn’t agree more about not apologizing and running your blog like the big brands do. Every strategy or move doesn’t need to be discussed. However, if there is a backlash or concerns from readers then you must address your reasons for the changes.

    Reply
  8. Moe

    One of my biggest peeves is when I visit a blog and find an apology for not writing more and a promise to do better. And then nothing follows.

    Reply
  9. Shayne Renee

    Great tips! As a new blogger it is good to hear this perspective. I always feel guilty when I miss a day and I must admit I have apologized. But, now that you mentioned it, I don’t think anyone noticed. Keep up the great work!! 🙂

    Reply
  10. GFS

    You know, I’ve never about this as a blogger. Not that I share too much at all but I do notice bloggers apologizing for changes/absences,etc.

    I agree with you. If you want to take a break, just take the break and don’t apologize for it!

    Now, can we talk about blogs that talk way too much about their personal life!?!?

    Reply
  11. River Sun

    I deal with my blog as a Channel to express my Style and Love toward Fashion, These tips opened my eyes to the fact that i should consider dealing with my blogs reader in a more professional way. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  12. Lou Jones

    I agree with this – the focus should be on the content of the blog as and when time allows, and not apologising to readers for having a life. For me, it’s family, friends, maybe work or study, then blog. In that order!

    Reply