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I started blogging about five months ago and, whilst I call myself a blogger, I have yet to establish myself in the bloggers-sphere market which has grown enormously over the last few years in South Africa and around the world.
For the uninitiated, a blog is actually short for a weblog and in its simplest form is a collection of content that is organized repetitively. This content can take the form of basic words (copy) as well as rich media (audio, video, and embedded objects) and focuses on a particular subject matter for clarity such as fashion and books in my case.
My day-to-day profession is a PR and Marketing Coordinator for a retail store. When I was an intern and an assistant at PR consultancies, it was my responsibility to update the media list by including new bloggers who write on a particular subject such as fashion, beauty, and décor. As such, I have read many blogs and am in awe of the beautifully creative images accompanied by an individually crafted copy. I yearn for their gorgeous outfits and beauty products and as such can see the value of big brands sponsoring content and reviews.
However, in my research on bloggers, something has really shocked me: Plagiarism and poor grammar.
I recently read a blog post of a highly established blogger who I have been following for a long time. Two days later, I read another bloggers post and thought I was reading the same blog. I realized then that the writing style was identical but the words were slightly changed. And it’s not the first time I have come across something like this.
I also came across another blogger who has an astonishing large following but had the most horrendous grammatical errors I have ever seen. I shared this link with my fellow PR peers who were shocked that a blogger of this nature writes so poorly. One mentioned that it is okay to make the odd grammar mistakes like I was told I do (oops) but this particular post really gave our PR industry a bad name.
I started blogging so that I could practice writing and learn how to write well. Initially, I wanted to be an Engineer but chose the route of Public Relations. I will read a newspaper from cover to cover to try to understand the way a journalist writes. I also read novels to really immerse myself into writing styles so that I can learn from them. This is how I came about doing book reviews on my blog and I absolutely love this knowledge I am gaining and hopefully passing on with my reviews. I do all of this because I want to be the best in my field seeing that English, in general, is not my strongest quality.
My first and foremost piece of advice is to stop plagiarising. People notice. Brands notice. It’s annoying and downright unprofessional, to say the least. You are not only tarnishing your individual brand but the brands you are talking about too. And don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you become labeled as a copycat, the word will spread and at the end of the day you won’t be considered for media kits.
Secondly, if you are not a good writer, the best thing you can do is ask someone to proofread your writing. From time to time, I send my work to my mother’s ex-colleague who is brilliant at writing because I am the first to admit that I am not the best writer out there.
Thirdly, just be yourself. There is nothing worse than someone being pretentious. I am a serious person but can crack a joke once in a while. If you can’t express yourself on your blog then rather don’t blog at all.
Lastly, this is my own opinion from a PR point of view especially since I am representing a company where from time to time I have to identify bloggers for reviews or competitions. Being a blogger myself, I am now aware of what to look for. Having thousands of followers does not represent who you are. I look for bloggers who will represent my company’s reputation well and who won’t put us to shame in the long haul.
Just thought I share with you guys something that has been bothering me for a while now 🙂
Until next time.