Perception Is Key – An Interview With Kristen Crusius

As much as we’d like to believe content is king, a reign isn’t complete without an aesthetically pleasing site.  Many bloggers are on the hunt for the big ad dollars, the best products to review, exclusives and media notoriety.  Even if you’re not looking to be famous, it’s important to be perceived as a serious, knowledgeable blogger in your chosen field.  For the answers to the tough questions, we turned to Kristen Crusius, a SEO & Emerging Technologies Strategist for Morpheus Media.

How important is domain mapping? How does it affect the perception of a blog?

Domain mapping is extremely important for SEO, Marketing and perception value. When a client sees someblog.blogspot/typepad/wordpress.com they question its validity – and at times, so does the social media team. Each platform is great for its own reasons, easy and it is very easy to map a domain to it. Having a domain mapped or a self hosted blog indicates you take what you do seriously, and thus others will.

What is the first thing you notice on a blog in terms of advertising? Does it affect you negatively or positively?

The quality and placements of the ads, the amount as well. If there are non-specific ads associated with the blog, its really unappealing. There is nothing wrong with being a part of an ad network, it makes everyone’s life much easier. Joining the right one is key. I would recommend even joining a network like blogads so each blogger has full control over their placements.

The placement of the ad is also important, if there are dual sky scrapers, how it plays into the usability, readability and design is a major factor. If you are using ads that force your content below the fold, it creates a poor user experience and perception of the blog – not to mention crawlers are likely to see you as a spam blog.

A lot of companies don’t fully understand he value of blogs. What are some ways bloggers can make companies more at ease when dealing with the blogosphere?

We really try hard to present the value of each blog to our clients – we spend a lot of time reading through posts and comments and looking at the quality of photos and presentation.

First and foremost: make it easy to find your contact info – also your city location. The hardest part at times about outreach, especially about events, is knowing who is where!

While it is in the best interest of everyone to establish one to one relationships, it may need to start with a press release to open the gates. Include a section about how you accept press releases, event invites and samples, your personal preference is key here – companies need to know how you like to be interacted with. You are a blogger, part of the new internet press – noting that you are open to receiving press releases and being explicit about sampling is key. Set some “ground rules” in your reply if you receive these types of things, how often or methods you prefer after initial contact is made without being pushy.

Set up a PR alias for your blog if you don’t like being inundated with releases but still want to receive them – that way you can browse that at your convenience.

Be open about your traffic – the statistics we see from quantcast are never going to be spot on – so if we have questions, don’t feel that your traffic isn’t sufficient enough. Our main focus as an agency is quality of content, but for analysis we like to see numbers. The more familiar you are with your traffic and demographics, the better it is for all parties involved.

Break out your blog into categories – associate categories by brand even, that way when we visit your blog to see how you feel about a particular brand, its all right there.

If you really love a brand, link back to their site in your post – if you want to link your readers to deals and third party sites, include those too – but always give credit to the brand site first.

 How much does a blog’s design affect it’s perception?

Oh, very much – this is the fashion & beauty industry – you will be judged by your appearances! Have a well made theme, if you don’t understand how to do it, there are plenty of people out there cheap-for-hire, or even other bloggers within the network who know – have them work with you on tying it all together.

First and foremost – your header image is like a window into your soul – or people assume it is. Make sure it represents who you are, of course! The size of it matters as well – it should not push down the content of the page below or near the fold.

Sites that use the obvious set of default templates or garish looking sites are often not even considered by our clients when we send them for approval. Backgrounds, colors and fonts that interfere with readability are usually the culprit. It is key to have a professional looking blog  - remember, if you want people to take you seriously, be sure it looks like you do too!

On that note – it is always super important to remember to never alter a brands logo – distort it or change its color for any reason.

 Thank you so much for chatting with us Kristen! If you have any questions for our next interview with her, please leave them in the comments.

Kingdom of Style Teaches A Valuable Lesson

It seems like everywhere you look, someone has an opinion on blogging.  Perhaps the best authorities on the subject are those behind the blogs with the biggest cult following.  Imagine our delight when one of our Network Partners, Kingdom of Style, weighed in on what they believe to be the keys to success.

Queen Michelle offers solid tips for the beginner blogger or the experienced blogger who has lost their way.  One of the best things about this post are the comments from Kingdom of Style readers, offering their opinion on what makes a blog great, and why they keep coming back.

However, the biggest lesson to be gleaned from this post is that it’s not always about your traffic numbers.  Sure, it’s a great feeling to be the biggest blog in the sandbox, but that’s not always what matters the most.  Engaged readers are a valuable asset for a blogger to have, as their involvement gives you a following and credibility that will take you much further than random search engine traffic.  

The truth of the matter is that bloggers will run their blogs the way they see fit.  There are many, many types of blogs out there, and not every site is right for every one person.  As they say, you can’t make everybody happy all the time.  But you can strive to keep your readers coming back again and again and again.

Coutorture Is Looking For Interns!

In case you haven’t heard, Coutorture is looking for interns.  We need 2 of them to work with us during the Fall season, particularly through the bulk of show season.  We’re looking for multitalented people who can assist the Coutorture staff and potentially contribute to the website.  If you’re interested, please send a cover letter, resume, and 2 writing samples to intern@coutorture.com.

What Happens To The Blogs Of Know More Media?

Late last week Know More Media, a network of blogs offering tech support, educated authors, and revenue share with it’s authors, unofficially announced it was folding.  Blog authors have a few options.  The blogs will remain online and the authors can continue to update them without revenue and without tech support and the authors have the option of purchasing the domain names.  Additionally, b5 Media has offered to purchase the blogs and allow the authors to continue under the b5 Media umbrella.  After viewing the comments, this is not an option that is preferable to former Know More Media bloggers.

After hearing this unfortunate news, we turned to one of Coutorture’s own and a Know More Media blogger to hear her reaction. Maria Palma (you might remember her from our Twitter BlogTalk Radio segment) authors The Runway Scoop, a respected and successful fashion industry centric blog.  Maria had this to say:

I’m deeply saddened that KnowMoreMedia.com is ceasing operations and wish the best to everyone who has been involved with the network.  I’ve made some great friends through the network and will continue those relationships.  All businesses go through changes and this is just another one of those changes.  I will continue to write at The Runway Scoop until further notice.

We wish everyone displaced by the closing of Know More Media the best of luck and continued success, should they move forward with their blogs.

Blogging Strategies: The Great Ad Network Debate

Perhaps you’ve noticed that some blogs are using every bit of their advertising space as efficiently as Times Square.  Ad space, ad dollars, ad revenue – the truth is, we all just want to make money.  If you haven’t joined an ad network yet either because of lack of information or indecisiveness, you’re not alone.  Even if you are monetized to the hilt, there’s no guarantee that you’ll turn a profit, even though advertisers are being seen on by your readers.

Ad networks compensate publishers using one of three methods:

  1. CPM – Cost Per Thousand.  For every one thousand ad impressions, publishers are paid a flat rate.  One challenge publishers face with CPM deals is the ad servers that power the advertisements often use different metric systems to determine impressions than the blogger’s own metric system.  
  2. CPC – Cost Per Click.  Publishers are paid on a per-click basis.  This is the least desirable method of payment, as a very small number of users actually click ads (read: less than 10%), especially if they visit several blogs running the same ads (which often happens when blogs in the same genre belong to the same ad networks). 
  3. Flat Rate Advertising. Publishers are paid an agreed upon flat rate for an agreed upon time.  This is also known as brokering your own advertising, it is often the best option for those who are interested in advertising, yet would like to keep the organic feel of their blog.  The only downside of selling your own advertising is that the opportunities aren’t always consistent. 

Ad networks aren’t right for every blog, especially if you pride yourself on originality. Additionally, another problem with ad networks is that publishers cannot select the advertising displayed on their page, and ad networks also require premium placement on it’s partner’s sites.  

How have your experiences been with an ad network? Do you broker your own ads?

    Weekly Educational Wrap Up: July 21 – 25

    Discussion: Are Post Templates Right For You?

    Most blogs are dynamic, centered around a revolving door of topics, thoughts and ideas.  It’s been suggested that readers appreciate a certain level of consistency, and most bloggers deliver that consistency in the timing or the subject matter of their postings. However, a new theory has emerged relating to consistency within posts.  Would you format posts specifically based on their subject matter and furthermore, would you use a template for those formats?

    Blogging Strategies: Making Money

    The “blogging success stories” run rampant.  It’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the thought of making money off your blog, but monetization isn’t the best option for everyone.  As we’ve lightly touched on before, there are many methods of advertising, but before delving deep into advertising strategies it’s import to decide if advertising is right for you. ProBlogger offers an informative post on how to decide when and where to advertise.

    Discussion: Pay Per Post “Advertising”

    Blogging etiquette is always a hot topic swirling amongst bloggers (and one we’ll discuss in an upcoming BlogTalk Radio segment).  Everyone is looking to turn their online venture into the nextcash cow, but would you accept money to write a post on a topic, even if you weren’t interested?

    Discussion: Pay Per Post “Advertising”

    Blogging etiquette is always a hot topic swirling amongst bloggers (and one we’ll discuss in an upcoming BlogTalk Radio segment).  Everyone is looking to turn their online venture into the next cash cow, but would you accept money to write a post on a topic, even if you weren’t interested? 

    This is the premise behind such websites as PayPerPost and ReviewMe.  PayPerPost offers products, websites or services to review on a flat fee basis, whereas ReviewMe allows companies to bid on a post appearing on your website.  

    Similar to sampling etiquette, the ethical question remains whether or not to disclose the motivation behind your posting.  

    Would you take part in pay-per-postings sites? Have you and would you again?