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Blogger Accountability 101

This guest post is by JC of JCDFitness.

Every blogger who’s responsible for a sizeable readership knows the excitement associated with gaining new subscribers and exposure.

The process is encouraging and humbling at the same time – people are actually reading what you have to say.  They’re not only reading, but commenting and coming back every single time you hit publish.  They have your site bookmarked, and never fail to tweet about it whenever you publish something new.

Everyone has their reasons for producing content, but if we take a look around the web, it’s easy to see the reason why most of us are blogging. It’s a basic need that everyone shares: community. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to manage and nurture reader relationships through content. Every piece of content you write and present must be of superb quality—if it’s not, don’t click publish.

How can we ensure that everything we create is genuine, worthwhile, and full of awesome?

By being accountable.

Without some form of accountability and sincerity in your work, your blog will likely never make it.  Let yourself slip up too many times, and you’ll become another screech in the cacophony of blogging noise.  Your readers will figure you out and many of them will leave.

Accountability in action

Many months ago, I received a product from some fellow bloggers in my niche. They were launching their first digital download for profit and had set up an affiliate program to assist with promotions.  I was familiar with their work and enjoyed their writings on multiple subjects.

I opened the ebook within a few weeks of receiving it. I scoured most of it, but not all—and that was my biggest mistake. Thinking it looked fine, I signed up for the affiliate program.

Finally, while I was writing a post, I realized that the product fit nicely into the discussion, so I promoted the product in my post, and hit the Publish button.

And then it hit me—square in the kisser.

I received an email from a colleague I’ve garnered much respect for. He questioned my motives for promoting the product and challenged me to read it a few times over and re-examine why I was promoting it.

After my second and third looks into the product, I found myself asking the question, “Would I purchase this and if I did, would I recommend it to my friends and family?”

I wish I could have said yes, but it was impossible. I had nothing against the author or their previous writing. But their product contained a few things I disagreed with. I simply couldn’t feel good about referring it to anyone—especially my readers.

I took down the link, checked my affiliate account to ensure a refund could be processed if needed, and called it a day.  Later that evening, I made a decision.

I made up my mind that I will always seek another’s opinion before I publish something I’ve never promoted before on any site I own.

Developing an accountability system

That night, I phoned a friend and established a weekly accountability system. He, too, is a blogger in the same niche, and we now meet once a week to discuss our goals, the articles we’re working on—we even critique each other’s writing before publishing.

If we catch an affiliate product link, paragraph, or even one measly sentence that’s incongruous with our goals and ideals, we communicate this to one another immediately. It’s our goal to produce the best content with our readers’ interests in mind.

They are, after all, the only reason we write.

While most would like to go it alone, it’s fairly easy to let ourselves slip up every now and then.  No one’s perfect, and none of us can expect to make the right judgment call 100% of the time.  But, what if that one time we screw up, it costs us our entire audience?  What if it could’ve been avoided by inviting some extra accountability from someone you respect and who cares about you?

You’d be crushed if you inadvertently did something that ruined your relationship with your audience.  All your hard work would be in vain, and re-establishing your credibility would seem almost impossible—and it might be.  It would be even more frustrating if your mistake could’ve been avoided altogether had you created an accountability system to keep you on your toes.

If your audience means anything to you, I challenge you to seek out one or two people who will hold you to the standards you’d like to live by—someone who’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, and who’ll give it to you straight if they see you’re headed for trouble.

What about you? How do you hold yourself accountable and ensure your work is always your best? Let us know in the comments.

JC is the author of JCDFitness, where he shows regular people how easy it is to lose fat, build muscle and transform their body using his simple No-BS Approach to Looking Great Naked.  Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Great post! You have to be accountable to your readers or your blog will not survive. On my blog I give sports advice away for free, when I am wrong I get tons of angry emails, when I am right, I got tons of emails thanking me. I always try and be fair and think of my readers. Just stand behind what you say, and the readers will respect you!

  2. Dan Evans says:

    I think the most challenging part of this could be finding the kinds of friends who can really give you honest feedback. Finding the kind of person who has enough understanding of who you are AND what you’re doing – then actually being able to know when and how to say “hey, bad idea!” can actually be more difficult than it first seems.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Jessica says:

    I thought this was an incredibly insightful post and I really appreciate it!

  4. Andy Taylor says:

    Great Post! I think what Mike says in a nutshell is a good rule of type. You really can’t please all the readers all the time but if you believe in it and the concept and how it affects your blog subscribers then it is ok to go with it.

    While I might not purchase pink headphones, I might write about them from sound quality perspective and comfort and then think of the end user and how they may feel about it. Sure, you might not buy it but somebody who visits your Blog may.

    Honesty with the readers is important but remember your target audience and how it could or will affect them. Love the Blog post and I see the catagories below, will be back to check out more! Thanks!

  5. James says:

    “…would I recommend it to my friends and family…”
    This is how I try to judge everything I promote on my blog. Partially because I hope they are reading it too.
    I had a problem once because I had a feed for a social network from a third party. Unknown to me they started to run advertisements in the stream. One of my readers clicked on it and thinking it was safe installed malware on the computer. I was able to fix the situation, but since then I very careful of anything I let on the site.

  6. I agree accountability is of main focus….

  7. Steve says:

    JC,

    Very important point. You said it perfectly when you stated,

    “Would I purchase this and if I did, would I recommend it to my friends and family”

    Linking to associates pages and offers are one one thing, “here is a new product by….” but if you actively endorse anything it should pass the would I recommend it a family member -or friend- test

    Thanks, Have a great day!

  8. Very true and very touching. It seems that you have learned a lesson from promoting a wrong product.

    Yes, I agree that accountability is something very serious and something that needs strong attention and care. Although we are aware of the accountability to our readers and truly want to be accountable with all our heart, sometimes things happen due to carelessness (see we are humans!) or ignorance. The thing is, there is no excuse!

    We prove that we are not that responsible, even if we are so by will or if it happened by some error. However, I think every blogger learns various things that prove their responsibilities as they evolve with experience and as they become “big” bloggers as days pass by. For this reason most of the newbie bloggers seem to be not that accountable, sadly!

  9. Steven says:

    I had a similar experience recently. A friend gave me a free copy of his ebook. I read it through and it was very lackluster. A 3/10 would have been generous. I decided I couldn’t review it without bashing it for just how poor of a product it was, so I abstained from writing about it. It’s unfortunate, but I need to build trust with my readers and shoddy affiliates is not a good way to do that.

  10. Nancy says:

    What a great post! Accountability is important in business, in general. I think your accountability partner suggestions are helpful. Need to hold ourselves accountable to a more regular blog schedule – so we will definitely work on that! Thanks for the blog!

  11. Jana Rade says:

    Definitely, accountability counts!

    I only review a book I read cover to cover. (couple times I was asked to just use reviews and summaries written by others – no, thank you, won’t do it.)

    I only review a product I have tried and liked.

    And I do have somebody check my veterinary info.

    I am out here to help people, not to harm them by inaccurate information.

  12. JC says:

    @Dan Evans: I agree – it’s not always easy to find someone to give you honest feedback. However, if you’ve been in your niche for some time and haven’t made any contacts you can rely on, you probably need to give some thought about your approach.

    @James: Wow, that sucks. I’m glad you were able to remedy the situation.

    @Steve: yea, and at this point, if the product is not awesome, I won’t even mention it – affiliate link or not.

    @Steven: Absolutely – if you cannot feel good about it, don’t promote it. Ever.

  13. Jhay says:

    That’s why I seldom buy e-books from the same niche, because as it turns out, all of the e-books are just another iteration of the other telling the exact same things.

    What’s funny is that the same authors buy each other’s e-book, promote it on their own blogs and most of the readers swallow everything without question.

    It’s like the the oil cartel in the of the same niche.

  14. I think it’s great you’re working with someone else and accountable for what you put out on the Internet. I have a sizable following on one of my blogs and have had hangups about posting certain articles — and paused like you suggested. Some of those articles later became great reading material after a few iterations. Many of them stayed the same and went live to great fanfare. My point being that sometimes I can over analyze my own material so having someone read your material would be ideal.

  15. Ann says:

    Accountability and excitment and timeliness all helps

  16. If a blog cannot generate enthusiasm among the reader and compel him to read more and more of your article, it is not worth publishing. Always write your best and connect with the audience.

  17. Avinash says:

    Well, until and unless a blogger treats himself accountable to its reader and to the web as whole, he cannot survive in a long run. Blogger needs to create a accountable system on its own which can be easily seen by the way he or she writes his posts, moderates comments, interacts with them and much more.

  18. E. Sheppard says:

    I like this posting a lot. Now to figure out who to be my accountability partner. Thanks for an insightful posting.

  19. Neat post. I wrote something similar a few days ago – recently there’s been a HUGE launch/push about a marketing product that I could never recommend to my audience.

    So….I wrote exactly the reasons why. It’s very powerful to take a stand and say, YES or NO….this is good or bad and here’s why.

  20. Hi JC,
    I wrote a post in September about How to Keep Your Reputation and your clients. It was written for people who are running wellness businesses to help assist them in making sure they are sharing quality information. Perhaps some people reading this note will find it is of interest to them.
    The link is http://growyourwellnessbiz.com/how-to-keep-your-reputation-and-your-clients/

    Thank you for highlighting the importance of accountabilty,
    David

  21. Carolee says:

    Yup- I have an accountability partner and we meet via telephone weekly.

    It is like a second set of eyes for both of us. Although we are in somewhat different niches, we both read blogs about blogging & social networking and other business, attend webinars,etc…

    We both coach others, and to a point, each other :-)

    It’s great to have someone share links to great resources when they find them. Saves each of us time researching.

    We brainstorm about a problem one of us may be having. Or consult with one another about future domain names,…

    It is really something EVERYONE should consider doing – I even offer it to my clients.

    BTW- I wrote a post on this very subject a couple of times. anyone interested can just check the accountability link under categories.

  22. JC says:

    @Carolee: Absolutely. It’s definitely something everyone should do simply because it’s going to keep you in check. It’s also motivating because it’s easy to let yourself get behind if you don’t have someone else pushing you.

  23. Ben Harack says:

    We have two editors for every post, and we call in extra reviewers when dealing with highly technical material.
    We ask for opinions and thoughts from our readers and friends.
    We constantly correct and update our content with better citations and qualifications.
    We adopt a ‘prove it to me’ attitude when reading each other’s work.
    Skepticism of your own work is a must. Write something, then go away for a while and come back, does it still look good? Imagine that someone you don’t particularly like had written it. How about now?
    Know all of the logical fallacies so that you don’t commit them or fall prey to them. You can find excellent lists of them on google.
    Read your citations. Sometimes a citation might contain the point you are trying to make, but it may say a lot of things you disagree with as well. Be selective.
    Be honest with yourself.

  24. Actually For me , i keep writing about different things , and that’s the most important thing i guess , talking specially about things that interest at least 70% or readers ,You need to be accountable to your readers or your blog will not stay any longer !! :)

  25. Connie Myres says:

    You’re right, accountability is important. I know I’m more likely to spend my time reading and trusting the content of an article as well as my hard earned cash if I trust the author and the Website. Also, great idea about having someone check your work, there’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes to find problems that you may not have thought of. Thanks for the post!

  26. JC says:

    @Connie: Thanks for the comment. It’s really been amazing to have someone who lives up similar standards I’ve created for myself. This way, I’m less likely to slip up.

  27. margaret says:

    I would be happy to partner up with a newer or basic-level blogger for accountability checks and co-motivating.

    My blog is not for profit and is quite new. I don’t mind if my partner’s blog is for profit or not; just need someone who would get the difference when evaluating.

    Thanks for the great post!

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