The Rules of Blogging are the things I’ve learned that helped me create a successful blog. Whether this is your first, or like me, your fourth blog, you can do things that will help you reach your goals. Leave the heartbreak behind and create the blog of your dreams!
I wrote the Rules of Blogging because there are a few things I’ve learned over the past year that I wanted to share. Prior to this blog, I had three “failed” blogs before I finally put the time and effort into doing one right. One thing to keep in mind is that blogging really is more of a marathon, rather than a sprint.
Yes, some people have quick success but in general, it is those people that build a good foundation who have success in the long-term.
So by rules, I really mean some insights I’ve gleaned during the past year. I break so many blogging “rules” it’s not even funny. Who makes these rules anyway?
I guess people like me! I’ve finally crossed a few thresholds that let me know that I can do the professional blogging thing. I still have some ways to go to meet more of my goals but I know they are just a matter of time now. Feel free to follow the rules or break them as you see fit.
The RULES of Blogging
Writing Good Stuff Is Worth the Effort
Writing a good blog post takes time. By the time I’ve wrung a whole blog post out, I’m wiped out! Writing is hard work. If it doesn’t feel like work at times, then you might not be writing deeply enough. Sometimes magic happens on the page easily and quickly. More often, you have to put some effort into it.
When you think about it, if you write something good enough, it could be around and getting shared for YEARS. It is worth the effort to do your best on each and every post.
Don’t whet my appetite for a good topic and not deliver. I hate clicking on an intriguing title and there is only a scant few hundred words that don’t deliver.
You Have to Build Solid Foundations
It’s too common to see bloggers write a few posts, try to promote, and then moan about how they can’t get any traffic to their site. What’s missing? The fundamentals:
- strong content
- a good reputation
- using social media correctly
The thing is—none of these are built overnight. It takes time to develop good content, for others to become familiar with your work, and to learn how to use social media. I can tell you that if you take this part seriously and build with an eye towards having a long-term business, you will grow and you’ll have work that you are proud of. But none of these three things happen the minute you put your blog up.
You Can’t Tell What Will Go Viral
The collective desires of your readers will surprise you at times. You will write your best post ever and sometimes no one will read it. Or maybe your mom and best friend will but otherwise, it languishes despite your best efforts to to put it out there.
On the other hand, that crazy post you wrote in 20 minutes at midnight, goes on to get thousands of views. What can I say? It’s part of the life of a blogger.
I have posts I absolutely LOVE and they have no fans. I will usually re-do the title and graphic and put it out again. Sometimes that does the trick, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s best to keep writing and creating new material.
Every post you write does not have to attract 1000’s of readers. But your collective body of work will bring in readers. And if a few of your posts can bring in large numbers, then you will grow. Keep writing what you need to write. If it’s good and you promote it right, your readers will find you.
Don’t Give Away Your Good Stuff
Here’s where I go against common blogging advice. Don’t give your good stuff away. I’ll talk about ways you can share and be generous, but seriously QUIT giving your good content away. I don’t know about you but I only have so many hours in a day. I can’t afford to spend a week creating a course or post, only to give it away.
This includes guest posting. Guest posting helps the blog where the post is posted. That’s who gets the page views. If you’ve written an amazing post—put it on your own blog and promote it!! Believe in yourself.
A lot of people get all excited about Huffington Post. Not me. As cool as it might sound, the HP is using your great (and free) content to make money. To my way of thinking, they are taking advantage of bloggers and making us HAPPY that they are doing it.
Just think, if everyone quit giving them free content, they’d have to actually pay for it. Think about it. This is a quote from Huffington Post. I found it so disparaging of bloggers and the WORK we do.
“Now, people often wonder: why would anyone blog for free, at a place that pays other contributors? Please note, that part of what “free” entitles you to is a freedom from “having to work.” No daily hours, no deadlines, no late nights, no weekends. You just do what you like when the spirit moves you.”
Really HP? We do what we like when the spirit moves us? We’re free from having to work? This thinking is so disrespectful to all the bloggers who are supporting themselves and often families. And it shows ignorance about what the profession of blogging entails. (full article here)
And I don’t care if I’m sitting in my bathing suit, by the pool, sipping a cool glass of wine while I write–writing is work. And it isn’t the kind of work you get paid for by the hour. There are thousands of hours of education, practice, and experience behind each post. Your writing is valuable.
Quit giving it away! You deserve compensation from for your work. Period.
Be generous with your comments, your likes, your advice and support, and your genuine appreciation of your fellow bloggers. I love to seek out good content to like, share, and comment on. Build up your fellow bloggers. Don’t expect a follow for follow. Like the people you like and be thankful for the readers that connect with you.
I occasionally will read a blog where one blogger tears down other bloggers. That was difficult to read. Even though we all share the name “blogger,” we express it in many ways. For the most part, I believe that if you have nothing good to say to or about another blogger, then don’t say anything.
However, if you’ve got something good to say—then say it! There are a few bloggers out there that make it a point to comment on my blog posts and to share them. I cannot express enough how much that means to me.
Your positive words can make a huge difference to another blogger. So be generous with them!
Take Care of Yourself
I think I’ve already said it, but blogging is hard work! Sitting at a computer for hours on end is horrible for the body. My mind is always thinking about the blog, what I need to do, what I need to write, or what can I go back and fix. The to-do list truly is never-ending. It’s exhausting.
You can always do more. Always. It’s so easy to not take care of yourself. I’m a huge believer in taking time to rest, recharge, exercise, play, and connect with others. Go for walks. Meditate. Go see a movie. Sometimes, no matter what is on your blogging plate, you need to get away from it once in a while.
Take breaks. Move. Don’t let blogging make you sick or crazy!
Try Something Different
When I started this blog, my idea was to write about food, entertaining, and dating. I tried, I really tried. The problem was that none of these early posts had any real energy. They weren’t horrible but they weren’t great either.
No one was reading them anyway.
However, other things wanted to be written. It took about 6 months and 20 posts before I opened the door to what wanted to be written. Once that door was open, the whole direction of the blog changed and I began to write with passion and enthusiasm.
And that’s when things began to happen. My page views began to double each month. I gained followers on Pinterest. Over a period of a few months, my page views went up 8000%. For real.
Just because you started with an idea doesn’t mean it’s carved in concrete that you have to stick to that one idea. Go with your inspiration. Sometimes this is where you find that something special that puts you on the blogging map.
There’s that saying, be yourself, no one else can. That is so true. When we try to be like other writers either in our content, titles, or even graphics we usually come off a poor second.
I had a fairly short time in writing that I tried cheesier titles. They didn’t feel good and I’ve been going back and cleaning those up when time allows.
My graphics were really bad at the beginning. Then they got better. At times, I felt like my graphics were so different than everyone else’s. I loved them but I worried that they looked amateurish and silly. And they featured faces—a big Pinterest no-no.
As much as I wanted to fit in, I had to be myself and I always feature faces in my graphics. I sometimes spend hours looking for just the right face to express my feelings about what I’m writing.
Sure they look different. Now, I feel like it’s my thing—they identify me by their very uniqueness.
Have an Overall Goal for Your Blog
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to monetize my blog. There are different models for doing that and what I decided to concentrate on was increasing my page views. I did this by consistently creating content, building my Pinterest presence, and connecting in Facebook groups.
I knew that I would need page views to attract ad networks and sponsored posts opportunities. So, before I even tried to monetize, I built the foundation that would allow me to monetize when the time was right.
One of the great things about connecting with other bloggers is that I’ve seen other ways to monetize a blog that are different. I’m looking forward to exploring some of these as well!
Let Go of Perfection and Just Go!
My blog is imperfection in motion. Everything I do is done by me and I am just winging it most of the time. I see other bloggers who put months into getting their blog ready to launch and I’m impressed.
Me, I just got it started and did the best I could as I went. I wouldn’t trade those ugly early posts for anything! They allowed me to find my voice, to practice writing, and to discover what I really wanted to write about.
Those months were not in vain!
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to have the perfect blog, the perfect graphics (though do try to match industry standards), the perfect titles, or the perfect anything.
Perfection is not necessary for growth and success!
What is needed is commitment, consistent effort, and courage to trust yourself.
The Rules of Blogging
I hope you realize after reading this post, that I don’t think any rules fit every person all the time. The title is a little riff of the famous dating books, The Rules. As with the dating books, some people swear by them, some not so much.
I really want you to succeed with your blog. There is so much opportunity right now for people that are willing to get in the game. I hope these “rules” help you or at the very least encourage you to keep playing.
I have a new baby Facebook group open, Banking on Blogging. It’s pretty darn scary to work hard for so many months without pay! But we know that there is the potential to make money. My daughter Stacey, who is a successful ($100,000+) blogger and I opened the group to provide support for bloggers who have the goal to monetize and are interested in filling in the missing pieces on how to do it. Request to join then introduce yourself.
Keep showing up my friends!
Check These Out!
I wrote a post On Why Blogs Fail and How to Beat the Odds, that is one of the FEW guest posts I’ve written. There is a printable Blog and Social Media Metrics Tracker (whew–quite the name) that is available for free in this post. Tracking my metrics really helps me stay on my game. I can see at a glance what is working and where I need to improve.
I seem to have a never-ending supply of post ideas to work on. At any given time, there is one up on my computer and one or two hovering in the background, waiting to be written. Here’s my how I do it.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.