Basics of Blogging Etiquette - What You Should and Shouldn't Do

Sunday, August 28, 2016

One of the hardest things about blogging is that there's no official guide or handbook, filled with all the rules and guidelines that you have to comply to. People may have different views on how things should be handled and what rules should be in place, but nothing is official or set in stone. However, blogs have been around for years now and many more people have been creating them, causing a blogging etiquette to be established. What you should and shouldn't do is much clearer as people are getting a better idea of what blogging is and how it affects their world.

Despite this, there are still many people who don't know about this and are unsure how they should react in certain situations related to blogging. I thought I'd identify some of these and determine the rules that you should follow, which is now widely agreed on by many bloggers.

"Should I reach out to a brand or wait for them to contact me?"

This is a commonly debated question and has no right or wrong answer, so it all depends on your personal opinion. On the one hand, it may appear selfish if you're asking for products and opportunities without doing anything for them, creating an impression of being greedy or begging. This definitely isn't how you want to present yourself in front of a brand, and since many PR companies talk you could be hindering yourself in any future collaborations. I definitely think that if you do want to go down the route of contacting a brand, it's best to be polite and professional, carefully choosing your words so you don't come across like you're pleading for free products.

On the other hand, you may be a newbie blogger and need a place to start. It can be hard to get started and you may feel as though you'll never get recognition from brands with so much competition. In this case, I'd gather some quotes and testimonials from other bloggers, as well as your follower count and blog analytics, and present them to the brand in a formal yet friendly way. This way, brands have everything they need to know about you, and may consult you in the future if you were the perfect fit for an opportunity.

An alternative to this is asking the company if they have a bloggers database or directory that you could join. Many will have one of these in place, and by being included you will be notified about future offers and opportunities. By being included in this, they'll always have your details and are therefore more likely to reach out to you, and asking to be in a database is much less demanding than asking for them to send you products.

"Do I need to comment on a blog if they comment on mine?"

Although it's never compulsory to comment on someone else's blog, I definitely think it's a nice habit to get into, as it shows that you're caring and appreciate the hard work of others. Also, if they comment on your blog and take the time out of their day, the least you can do is visit their blog in return and show it some love. I've found some of my favourite blogs through comments, and so returning the favour by commenting back is definitely a great way of letting them know that they're doing something right. Plus, I'm pretty sure all bloggers will know the warm, happy feeling that they get when receiving a really nice comment, so why not instigate that yourself and comment on other blogs?

If you are going to comment on a blog, there's definitely a right way to do it. Put thought into what you say and make your comment heartfelt or personal if it's called for, as this will show your true feelings and passion towards whatever you're praising. You should aim for your comment to stand out and really connect with the blogger, and maybe even give them a recommendation or ask a question to spark a conversation. I'd advise you not to write anything that looks spammy or generic, showing that you hardly even read the post or just care about the self-promo. 

"I was sent a product by a brand, do I have to lie and say that I love it?"

One of my biggest pieces of advice when blogging is that you should never lie about a product, ever. Whether it's something you were sent or not, being untruthful is a quick way to lose trust from your audience and will make you look fake and unreliable. If it's a PR sample it's especially bad, as it creates the impression that you care more about the free products and treats than your readers, who are the ones taking your advice and listening to your recommendations. Honesty is the best policy in this situation.

You've also got to consider the fact that if the brand has sent you something, it's likely that they want feedback on it, and so giving some constructive criticism and improvements will definitely be valued. However, don't be rude and ensure that you're not just hating on the product, as this could really tarnish your appearance in front of a brand.

If you do find that you really dislike a product that was sent to you, still search to find some positives. Even if it's only the super-cute packaging or the fact that it's travel-friendly, the little things will make a difference and show that your views aren't just one sided. Especially with makeup, which can work differently for everyone, it may help to include a note about how products may suit different skin tones better or isn't the best for your skin type, so something that doesn't work for you may be perfect for someone else. Just because you hate it doesn't mean everyone else will, so remember to target your reviews towards everyone and not just yourself.

"When should I credit someone else for an image or post?"

As a rule of thumb, if you find a photo on Google Images (or anywhere on the Internet for that matter) then chances are you aren't free to use it. Some people may choose to include it anyway and display a link to where it's from, but this may still not be enough and could anger the initial creator, so I'd be careful if you do this. You should never steal an image, whether you're using it for a blog post or on social media, as it's likely that a lot of hard work went into making it and it isn't fair on the initial creator. If you really need to use an image that isn't yours, I'd advise looking for some CC0 images, meaning you are free to use and edit them without permission.

As for posts, if you got an idea from a certain blog or website, it doesn't hurt to mention it. This shows that you appreciate their content without copying it, and it also gives your readers a separate source of information that may be useful for them. Why not ask the author if you could link to each other's posts if they're about similar topics and that way you can drive traffic between both of your sites. If you're worried that your post is very similar to someone else's and you're not sure what to do, the safest option is to drop them an email. Ask them if they're fine with the post being similar to their own or if anything in yours should be changed, and it's also a nice touch to let them know that you will give them credit for inspiring the idea or adding another perspective to your post.

"I didn't win a giveaway, should I unfollow that blog?"

Many people notice that after hosting a giveaway, their following starts to slowly decrease as people who didn't win leave. The most common case of this is where people follow as they like the giveaway item, only to realise that they aren't interested in the blog's topic or content at all. Although I don't think you should follow a blog if you aren't a genuine reader and support them, I strongly believe that unfollowing a blogger after you don't win their giveaway is the wrong thing to do.

First of all, the blogger hosted a giveaway as a way of giving back to their followers and showing how much they are appreciated. If they start to see their followers decrease afterwards, it may create an impression of their readers not being as loyal as they initially thought, and can cause a lot of future distrust. You have to remember that not everyone can win a giveaway and the blogger didn't purposely choose someone other than you, so you shouldn't take out your anger by unfollowing them. By sticking around, you may also find that you really like their content anyway and enjoy reading it, which is something you wouldn't know if you unfollowed them.

My advice is to only enter giveaways from bloggers that you either already follow or from those who you really like their content and want to support. This also ensures that you aren't reaping the benefits when you actually show no interest or passion towards the blog. If you absolutely can't stand following the blog and don't want to constantly be updated with their new posts, I'd say to at least wait a few months, as things could change and their content could actually start to grow on you. If you do win the giveaway then you certainly shouldn't unfollow, as this could come across as being ungrateful for the prize, and is particularly unfair if a lot of money was spent on it and hard work was put into organising the giveaway.

"If I'm sent a product or sponsored for a post, do I have to declare it?"

Advertising laws vary between countries, so it can be hard to determine whether you have to declare it or not. Personally, I'd say that it's best to be on the safe side and always include a note if you've been sent something or sponsored. This won't cause any harm to your or your blog, yet does avoid any future legal troubles that could occur if you don't mention being sent something. If you're worried that saying a product is a PR sample will affect your credibility or reliability, I'd recommend including a statement saying that all opinions are 100% your own and haven't been persuaded by the brand.

My previous approach to declaring that I was sent a product would be to place an asterisk (*) next to the name of the product, with an explanation for this being in the PR section of my blog. However, most people now believe that if a reader has to click a separate page to find out something was a PR sample, it's not clear enough. It needs to be evident on the same page as the product mentioned. There are many ways that you could go about this, whether it's by simply saying that you were sent the product or by writing the word PR or gifted next to the product when it's first mentioned in the post. My personal approach is to place an asterisk next to the product name and explain that it was sent to be at the end of the post (although if you do this you've got to ensure that it's clear and not in tiny writing, otherwise it's useless).

I hope that this post was useful for you and if there's anything important that you feel as though I've missed out, make sure to mention it down in the comments for everyone else to see. Thank you very much for reading and for the continual support, and I'll see you next Sunday as usual with a new blog post.

Love from Daisy x


  1. Great little post hun! Just found your blog through Bloglovin', I feel like all newbies should read this - I learnt some things too. Great job & love you edited feature pic! xx

    1. Thank you very much, it means a lot to me! Glad that my post was helpful and I'll definitely have to take a look at your blog xx

  2. Love this post! I've always wondered what was a good way to reach out to brands without coming off the wrong way. I've been trying to join sites like Bloggers Required and that's been really helpful, too!

    1. Thank you! I haven't joined any networks like Bloggers Required but I'll definitely have to look into it, thanks for the recommendation! x