How To Blog In Ten Easy Steps By Going Down The How Not To Blog Route
As I may have alluded to in the past I used to frequent a fair few blogging tips and advice sites. I’m sure I absorbed some useful information. Yet, pretty soon I figured out that at best they were stating the obvious (“Be nice to your readers! Make your site look pretty!”) and at worst were carny schemers looking to part gullible or trusting people with their money (“Subscribe to my newsletter to become a blogging star! Buy my pdf report to find out how you too can become a Full-Time Blogger!”). Beyond all that, these people were sermonising on how to be a better blogger, yet were often terrible, wooden, formulaic writers. I need never see a How Blogging Is Like *insert cultural influence here* article ever again.
However I’m not sure how useful or entertaining my bile toward vague targets really is. So, I thought I’d try playing them at their own game. I’d put together my own top ten list, and being all contrary and stuff, contradict the truisms of the Blogging Advice World, in order to enlighten, entertain and encourage you, my dear readers.
Of course some of this won’t contradict yr standard Good Blogging Thinking. But hopefully I’ll be able to express it without sounding like a salesman.
Full disclosure: I am not a blogging success. Hah. You knew that already. I am, however, mean-spirited and I like inflicting my half-baked views on the world. So, shall we begin?
1. Be ready to inflict your half-baked views on the world
Don’t worry about preparing water-tight arguments, or a balanced worldview or any of that nonsense. That is what journalists and real writers are for. If you cover everything in a reasonable and systematic way, nobody will comment as there will be nothing to argue with and nothing to add, so you’ll get zero comments. And you want comments. Comments from people will make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
2. Don’t settle on one theme/subject
If you are a normal, interesting person then the chances are you enjoy many things. Why restrict yourself? People will come back because of you and your writing, not because of some circumspect area of interest. Well, people might come back because of some circumspect area of interest, but I bet they will be weird. And pretty soon you’ll get bored. Mix it up. Try different things.
3. Your blog is there to serve you. You are not there to serve the blog
So, do what you like with it. Try different subjects and different formats. Play around with how it looks. Blog five times a day. Blog once every three months. Be inconsistent. Do it because it is fun, not because it makes you feel guilty if you don’t do it every day.
4. You will not make money blogging
Accept this and you are on the path to blogging happiness. Monetization is one ugly word. Just look at it. It is ugly. Plus, the idea of monetizing readers is pretty nasty. It is the devil’s work. If your number one goal is to make money from blogging you have no soul and I can tell you now, without even reading it, your blog is shit.
5. Don’t buy professional themes/logos/flashy things for your blog
You don’t need them. If you really want a funky looking blog do it yourself and spend the money you save on beer to dampen your frustrations with HTML and CSS and other strange acronyms. Or make your blog look so terrible people will think it is a clever, ironic design choice.
6. Do not optimise your posts or your titles for search engines
It reads horribly. Write something good. Give it a good title, or at least one that you get a kick out of, or failing that just throw anything up there. Anything SEO-y looks and reads badly. Think of your art!
7. By all means read and comment on other blogs but don’t kid yourself that this is ‘networking’ and don’t be a dick about it, just trying to get a link back to your site
I think this is self-explanatory. Feel free to be a link-whore here though. I want that warm and fuzzy comment feeling.
The fun stuff often comes out amid all the Proper, Real Writing. That’s where we find out who you are. That is where the interesting and novel connections are made between different subjects. Don’t worry too much about revising, just get it out there. We won’t mind.
9. Don’t write Top Ten Lists
10. Ignore everything I have written
Pretty much in total agreement with you there, Steve. For me, the key rule is number four. Blog because you want to, not because you need to make a living – because the overwhelming odds are you will never earn enough money to do so. Just as I can practise kicking a football against a wall for five hours every day, but I will never be Wayne Rooney.
I’m also a fan of rules two and eight combined. I think every blogger needs to decide whether their blog is designed to focus on pure content (either timely, detailed or both) or as an expression of you as a person and your interests. If the latter – which seems to be the case for most casual bloggers – then it’s more relevant to be passionate than to be laser-focussed. That’s my excuse, anyway.
As for not being a blogging success, well, that depends how you define success. I peruse a few blogs which receive thousands of hits and dozens of comments every day, but several are poorly written and designed to do little more than stir up arguments among the chattering classes – when the first comment on most posts is “First!” and half the comments are written almost exclusively IN CAPITAL LETTERS WITH LOTS OF PUNCTUATION!!!!! you can be sure the ensuing debate is not going to add much value to your life. At least half of the blogs I read regularly are relatively low traffic sites written by interesting people who cover a variety of topics, some of which I am very interested in, some less so. They are the ones I come back to time and again, because both writing and reading blogs should be enriching and fun.
However, I’m now going to apply rule ten and ignore all of the above… 😉
Oh, I should also add that the one thing I disagree with is in rule one: “Don’t worry about preparing water-tight arguments, or a balanced worldview or any of that nonsense. That is what journalists and real writers are for.”
Have you read the Daily Mail?!?
Seriously though, the one thing many journalists do not produce is water-tight arguments or a balanced worldview. There is usually an editorial or personal agenda at play, Many bloggers can express a subjective opinion in a far more logically robust way than many journos – and equally some of the very best bloggers are brilliant at outlining both sides of an argument in a way few professionals do.
Entirely fair point. I think I was being a little idealistic re: journos. Maybe there is a journalist/hack distinction I should have made.
At least half of the blogs I read regularly are relatively low traffic sites written by interesting people who cover a variety of topics, some of which I am very interested in, some less so. They are the ones I come back to time and again, because both writing and reading blogs should be enriching and fun.
I really should have said this, as I completely relate and agree.
Anyway, thanks for the comments!
I’m with you on all of these, except #9. Of course, it looks as if you’re not so sure about that one either. The list is the easiest way to say a lot without really saying anything. By limiting your post to ten items and ranking them, you add a whole other level to the post that would normally take weeks to cultivate. The top-10 (or 5) is a blogger’s best friend.
Of course it is, as you gathered I was being a bit silly.
However, I think there is a risk of list posts being seen as a cure-all or an easy short-cut, which leads to Top Ten Overkill.
Saying that, I guess it is how you go about them. Good writing shines through no matter what the format, and if it gets more good writing out there then that sounds good to me.
Agreed. One should only resort to top-10 lists when stuck or when the entire blog is nothing but mundane top-10 lists. I had friends who started a top-5 war blog where they would name their list and argue merits. Too bad one of them decided to quit blogging and finish is dissertation.
Fun post. I’ll admit that I’m kind of a sucker for the “How to be a better blogger” post genre. I love the rhythms of posts like the Top 10 (or to 7 or whatever) Crazy and Wholly Original Tips for Monetizing Your Blog and Generating Return Readers, because they end up sounding somewhere in between unsolicited advice and the most depressing motivational mantras ever. But I am a little tired of blogging. I’m not sure if I need motivation or if I’m just legitimately through with the genre.
[…] Jealousy with a Hollywood-Style Launch TrailerIRS Tax Notice Help and Tax Notice Number CPBloggingHow To Blog In Ten Easy Steps By Going Down The How Not To Blog RouteGrowing Your Internet Business – Learn How To Get About Doing More In Less Time – JOKES […]