Lessons Learned from Starting an Anonymous Blog


Last month around this time I announced that I was starting a brand-new blog to see what would happen if I applied the blogging advice I give to you to a blog of my own. My new, anonymous blog has a “made-up me” behind it. There are no references to “Jennifer James” or the Mom Bloggers Club. I wanted to start completely fresh without the advantages of the influence I’ve built or the relationships I’ve formed. In fact, the blog isn’t even in the mom niche.

Thus far just by working on my new blog minimally, I have already received products to review within the first month of being online, have impressed PR professionals with my posts that they are now sending more product and pitches my way and I have created really great relationships on Twitter with leading people and brands in my new blog’s niche.

How have I done it?

#1: I started with a stellar design! I wouldn’t think of starting a blog that does not have a top-notch design. I also have a domain name. A blog’s design and URL go hand-in-hand. Make sure to have both: a domain name and a beautifully designed blog!

Always remember, your blog tells the world about who YOU are. PR professionals and brands will make judgments based on how your blog looks. First impressions do count!

#2: I joined PR Newswire: My blog’s niche requires that I have access to the wires, so I joined PR Newswire as a journalist. It was free and easy to join and now I can pull brand images from the wires and also blog about some of the latest news in my blog’s niche.

One of the things that impressed me with PR Newswire is they emailed and welcomed me to their service even though on paper I am a very new blogger. They even customized a daily email for me so I receive the most relevant press releases direct to my inbox.

#3: I also joined Cision. I have worked with Cision for about six years now and highly recommend them. Essentially what Cision does is allows PR professionals to send pitches to media outlets based on topic, beat, or niche. Some fault Cision for being too spammy, but as a beginning blogger I need to make connections with PR professionals quickly. For me, there’s no better way to do that than with Cision. Now I receive relevant pitches in my inbox each day. A major word of caution: Do not include your address or phone number on your media outlet application. It will prevent PR firms from sending unwanted products to your home or calling you about a pitch. **NOTE: Sign up for free here: us.cision.com/contact_us/update_media_profile.asp

#4: I have been connecting with brands on Twitter. Starting a new blog is not the time to be shy, so I intentionally write blog posts that I know will resonate on Twitter and that will give me a reason to talk to leaders in my blog’s niche. Admittedly my Twitter and Facebook pages have seen slow growth. Once I really hunker down and get to it, I am confident those numbers will grow. In fact, those numbers will be the key to my ultimate success as a new blogger. Companies, PR firms, and brands want to work with people who have a great deal of influence. One way to gauge influence is by looking at social media numbers, so I need to grow those quickly.

One month into my new blog and I am excited about the prospect of growing it and the possibilities that await. Next month, I’ll let you know what happens. Stay tuned!

58 comments

  1. Jennifer,

    Thanks for sharing your process and progress. Those two links, PR Newswire and Cision, are valuable to me as I wouldn’t have thought to seek them out or join them. I learn something new each time I read your posts.

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    • I purposely didn’t mention my new blog because I want to grow it without the advantages of using what I’ve already built. This is an exercise in starting over using the advice I give to others.

      Like

  2. Do you recommend a certain type of blog platform (WordPress, for example?)
    I’ve tried to set up a WordPress account & found the whole process difficult, although I generally don’t have any problems with working on the web. I use a Blogspot blog and do use a domain name.

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      • If you used WordPress, then did you use one of the themes already out there? Or did you pay someone for that great design you talked about? Or something else …? One of the reasons I am staying with Blogger is that it’s easier for me to do my own design and code there than at WordPress. I’ve tried. But if I want at least the same level of design and control that I now have at Blogger, I would have to pay someone to set things up for me on the WordPress platform. I once priced blog designs and got quotes for several hundred dollars — something I couldn’t shell out right now for an established blog, much less a new experimental one. Just curious about your design.

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  3. Thanks Jennifer for the great blogs. I do have a question, are the sources something anyone can join, or those journalist specific? Thanks again for all the help you provide to mom bloggers.

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    • Anyone can join both Cision and PR Newswire. You can tailor both services to your needs and to the topics you cover. PR Newswire is where you will find press releases from all the major brands. It’s a nice resource to be able to tap into. Cision is where PR people can send pitches your way.

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  4. Jennifer, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and being a part of Mom Bloggers Club! I have read the e-book “From Blog to Business” written by yourself and Esther and loved it! A lot of great advice. I have a question for you … I have a savings blog (savings tips, freebies, samples, coupons, weekly deals, etc) and wondered if Cision or PR Newswire would be a benefit for me and my type of niche?

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    • Thank you!!

      These services are not going to work that well for coupons, savings, freebies blogs. It never hurts to join them, though, because you get really great information from them that can ultimately help your blog.

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  5. Great article, very helpful! I’m always looking for ways to put images to my content, but am very careful not to trigger copyright issues, so I often have trouble with images of brands or celebrities. PR Newswire sounds like it’s helpful in this area. Can you tell if any blogger can join PR Newswire? Thanks!

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  6. Oh! Those sites are new to me. Thanks for mentioning them. Its a great news that starting as new blogger or another blog in a different direction can be successful if you know how to go about it. Very helpful info to know.

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  7. Thanks for the great tips and advice. I’ve been blogging for about 6 months and it seems like it took me 4 of that just to kind of kind my voice and get in my groove. Turns out, I’m a snarky, inappropriate wench who likes to talk about weight loss and sex. Who knew? My point is, no blogger is going to be a successful or happy if she/he tries to imitate someone else’s blog. Besides, that blog already exists, right?

    The one element that I would highly recommend is Google Alerts. I use this free and customizable feature for all of my keywords and I get more content and inspiration for my posts than I could ever need. It’s also a good way to keep track of who is adding me to their blogrolls and what HARO (Help A Reporter Out) peeps are using my query responses.

    I did have one question about your Cision recommendation. They seem to have lots of different programs/options. Where would you recommend a newbie start? Are there any free options worth pursuing?

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  8. Jennifer, loved the article- had never heard of cision before!

    I added a media profile- is that how you got started?

    Are the journalist tweets and media updates worth it, or too much junkmail?

    THANKS

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  9. 2nd question- did you write off the $195 to join prnewswire as a business expense? Seems awfully high if you’re just starting out!

    If you did, how, if this is an anon blog?
    THANKS

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  10. I love getting your email newsletter as it’s helpful I’m going to look up both places
    you mentioned. However, the google ads on the right side completely coverup
    half of the article! You can only read half of each post as it runs into the google
    ad.

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  11. Thanks for mentioning the value of creating a profile with Cision, Jennifer!

    I am Cision’s VP of Media Research and we are always working on ways to provide bloggers and other journalists with tools and resources to make their jobs easier. We always welcome feedback on how we can do that the most effectively – Your community should feel free to send us any comments, ideas, questions, etc…

    The most direct line to our research team is changes.us@cision.com. Best of luck on your new anonymous venture!!

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  12. Thank you Heidi for chiming in! I am traveling so your information is invaluable especially as I can’t get back to everyone’s question.

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  13. Jennifer,

    What a great and original idea to go undercover as a newbie mom who blogs with the desire to share what you’ve learned with all of us mommy bloggers. I’ve been a huge fan of yours from when I started following you on Twitter and have become an active member of your wonderful Mom Bloggers Club social network. Certainly both beginners, the somewhat savvy, and of course the most professional of moms that blog can learn a lot from you.

    I especially appreciate the links to the valuable resources in this post. As a former PR pro working in both agencies and corporations for more than 25 years I already knew about both Cision and PR Newswire from the client perspective. But, until you wrote the above post I hadn’t even thought of signing up with both as a journalist as another way to seek pitches from my former comrades in PR and the industry at large. Already today, I’ve signed up for both of these and look forward to getting even more better quality pitches than I’ve been receiving via my existing connections in the PR biz.

    I’m so grateful you are doing this and I look forward to continuing to learn from one of the top female bloggers I know.

    Way to Go, Jen!

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  14. I appreciate you telling me about these wonderful organizations. This was a great experiment, who knows where the end result will take you! I’m grateful for your insightful sharing and inspired by your determination.

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  15. Ha Ha I’m tempted to ask you the same thing everyone keeps asking me, Do you EVER sleep?? LOL

    I could see where with jenniferjameslonline.com and Mom Bloggers Club that you have so much extra time on your hands for yet another endeavor! LOL

    And I thought I was entrepreneurial? ;-)

    I am alreadying utlizing PR Newswire but hadn’t heard about Cision, I’m off to join now, I know you always steer us in the right direction!

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  16. It sounds like the kind of blog you started is a review blog, for the post is mostly about how to connect with PR reps. Is this true? I find I don’t want to read a blog that is full of ads and reviews and giveaways, by bloggers who blog for swag and have nothing much to say unless it’s about their oldest child’s tooth which fell out. instead I want something I can sink my teeth into, learn from, connect with. Can your ideas and advice benefit these types of blogs as well?

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  17. Very interesting info. Thanks so much for sharing your tips. I am working on 2 new sites myself, so knowing about the links that you mentioned are very helpful. Mine wont’ be anonymous though, but it still takes a lot to build up a new blog.

    I look forward to reading more about this project.

    Like

  18. I am so impressed with the fact that you have put your own advice to action in such a drastic way! What a wonderful idea. I can’t wait to hear more about what will happen next.

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  19. I’ve signed up for Cision I had originally signed up for some type of email but I was getting like 100 a day and they were more about news. Can you help direct as to what you do with the site? I did just get an email that my media profile has been listed is that all you need to do?

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  20. Wow!!! What a fun project! You are truly remarkable! So helpful to moms getting started. I’m reworking my niche now and feel like I need to make it more specific. Pre-ttc made me origional. Now I feel like so many others. Gotta work on that!

    Like

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