Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 18, 2014
Back to blogging for a bit.
There’s a lot of bad blogging advice out on the internet. There’s also some pretty good advice. However, what I find is that sometimes people are misinterpreting what they’re seeing, and that’s never good.
A major truth is that for every bit of advice someone gives you as to how you should do something, there’s someone who’s violating every one of those principles and succeeding in doing so.
Or are they? Truth be told, sometimes people are doing just what they’re supposed to be doing, but it’s not being seen for what it really is, or what it really means. It can be confusing to new bloggers, but it’s also true for long time bloggers who are trying to be something more than just another writer, yet don’t know whose words to follow.
I’ll tell you; follow mine! lol Okay, that’s a blatant throwaway statement, so let me clarify. Here are 7 blogging beliefs you’ve probably read somewhere that are both true and not true, depending on how you’re reading them. As always, I’m going to tell you the truth… MY truth.
Yours might be different; heck, I know it will be for some because I’m going to be interpreted rather than understood. C’est la vie! lol Here we go.
1. People won’t read long blog posts.
This one is always out there on someone’s blog, with the explanation being that you can only hold someone’s attention for maybe 2 or 3 minutes. Luckily, it’s not true, and some of the most successful blogs you’ll find have very long posts, even longer than some of mine.
The problem with some long posts is they don’t advance in any way as people go through them. For instance, some people harp on the same thing over and over, thinking they’re finding new ways to tell you something or complain about something while we see it as the same thing. No one likes to read rambling thoughts that don’t mesh together in some way.
That’s why list posts are a good type of post to write. It involves putting some thoughts together up front and then writing about them, and each point is different. Thus, if it happens to go long, people will still read it, or possibly jump to the points they want to see. By the way, as I’ve done on this post, it’s a good idea to highlight either the topic line or the point number so they can jump to it easier.
2. You need to have a blogging schedule.
There are some people who see the word “schedule” and their minds freeze. Suddenly, it makes blogging, or anything else they’re doing, look more like that dreaded 4-letter word “work”.
When people talk about blog scheduling, what they’re saying is to try to have some kind of frequency for writing posts that people can get used to. If you write once a week and can stick with that, then that’s your schedule, and people know when to stop by and look for something new. If you write twice a week, nothing says it has to be on the same day each week, and nothing says you can’t deviate from it every once in a while.
The basic reasons for writing a blog are to have a platform to say what you want to say and to have visitors stop by and read what you have to say, hopefully learning something or interacting with you in some way. Schedules help you keep them coming back for more, which is a good thing. You can do what you want, but if you want consistent visitors you’ll find a pattern that works for you and stick to it.
3. You must define your niche to be successful.
I know you’ve read about niche blogging; how could you not? After all, if you can find someone who’s interested in your specific topic and you can stay as close to always writing about that topic as you can, you can build up a loyal audience.
However, writing on a niche that’s too finite can spell doom for both you and your readers. Say you love humpback whales and start writing about them, and only them. How long do you think you could write on them before you have no idea what to write about next? Say you’re a person who researches humpback whales so you actually have a lot to keep writing about. At what point does your writing stop seeming to be fresh and invigorating? When does it become like a parent who takes 100 pictures of their baby every single day, seeing changes that no one else can see?
Every niche has a way of being broadened so that you, the writer, has a lot to talk about. If I decide I only want to write about blogging I can write about process, write about writing, write about blog platforms, write about plugins for my blog, write about colors, fonts, images, making money, page rank… on and on. I could write on it for years… oh yeah, I have! And I can deviate from it here and there and not lose anyone because when all is said and done it’s still about blogging.
4. People don’t care about your spelling or grammar as long as they understand what you’re saying.
True and not true. If you have some typos here and there it’s never a big deal. If there are certain words you misspell because you’ve always done so, maybe people will overlook it and give you a free pass.
However, one of the saddest things a blogger can do is not learn anything about the craft or try to improve what they do and how they say it. Truth be told, how you write influences how people see you. If you write like a professional, people will see you as one.
Think of it this way; how easy is it to define spam on blogs or email based on how the messages are written? You’d never think about clicking on any links where the language is barely understood would you (please say no lol). Well, say you’re selling jewelry; would you really expect people to buy from you if you wrote a sentence like “these ones is nice”?
We will give a pass to those whose first language isn’t the same as our own though; after all, most of us only know one language, and I’m always amazed that people seem to easily learn English, even if they don’t learn all the nuances. That’s why it’s true and not true at the same time; if English is your first language, you should be better because you’ve had more time to learn it. Just sayin’… 🙂
5. You need to optimize your posts and titles to rank well on search engines.
Have you been paying attention to Matt Cutts lately? Although everything isn’t, and shouldn’t be about Google, there are some interesting things one can learn by hearing what they have to say.
The biggest push Google has made over the last few years is natural writing that conveys what your content is all about. You might get an immediate bump from a well written title and stuffing your content with the same word over and over, but eventually the algorithms will catch up and work on determining if what you’ve written is pertinent to anyone.
I always feel it’s best to have titles that tell people what the article is about most of the time, although sometimes a funny title will catch a person’s eye. Don’t ever deceive the audience; they won’t like it.
As for content, if you tell your story you’ll help get across what it is you’re writing about without having to stuff your article with a certain percentage of your keywords and keyword phrases intentionally. For instance, this article is on blogging, and notice how many times I’ve used that word or phrases around that word and the short version without intentionally doing it. Think it’ll get the point across okay?
6. You can’t use too many big words.
This one makes sense but it’s not really telling you the whole story. If I wrote this blog and I used 10 large words for every 500 words written, I might lose my audience. And yet, William F. Buckley did this intentionally and his books sold millions.
Any of you ever read the New York Times? Not the news articles, but things like movie and book reviews. I do all the time, and invariably there’s going to be a word that sticks out like a sore thumb.
One of the things the New York Times seems to want to stay away from is talking down to its audience. Showing that you have some intellect every once in a while boosts the IQ of the audience you’re communicating with, whether they like it or not. In my opinion, education is never a bad thing.
However, that’s still misinterpreting the statement. As an example, let’s look at the word “intelligence”. I could write 20 blog posts in a row and use that word in all of them, and within the same article I might use that word 5 or 6 times. At a certain point it starts to water down the content and now it means nothing to anyone. Kind of like the phrase “the shocking truth”; how many times have you seen that by now and how often do you check those types of articles out because, unfortunately, there’s not really a shocking truth?
What works instead is to use “intelligence” maybe once or twice, and if you have to go back to it again change a word, maybe saying “brilliance”, “perceptive”, or maybe even “smart”; that’s not too big a word right? The idea is to change things up from time to time to stay fresh while elevating your audience just a little bit. Yeah, I know, pipe dreams… lol
7. Blogging is hard/easy.
Both of the above are true and not true. It depends on what you’re writing about, if writing comes natural to you, if you have a lot to say, if you’re a good or bad communicator, and if you care. I think that about covers it. lol
I visit lots of blogs; I love blogs. I see some good writing and I see some bad writing; that goes with the territory.
The worst thing I see are blogs that have long gaps between articles, or blogs that suddenly stopped having any new content. I’m one of those folks who occasionally takes time out to go through blog comments, and there’s plenty over almost 7 years, and checks on links to see if blogs are still around or not. Lots of them are, but people stopped writing in 2012 or before; what the hey?
Last year there were a lot of big time bloggers who decided it was time for them to close up shop. They weren’t getting what they initially were getting out of blogging, or mentioned that they didn’t have time to keep up with it any longer, and they up and quit.
I know what that’s like, as I stopped writing my leadership newsletter last February after 10 years. I could have continued writing it, but I’d lost any passion for it, never got the type of movement from it that I thought I might, almost never got any feedback on it, and frankly I didn’t think anyone cared any longer; have you felt like that sometimes?
Mentally it was hard to keep doing. Technically… I can write forever, because I still have my leadership blog. So I ended it, and though it’s not left as an eyesore for anyone to come across accidentally, truth be told one of these days I’m going to have to figure out what to do with all those article links, which are sitting on the site not linked to anything; now that’s a shame.
Anyway, there’s my take on 7 blogging beliefs. Did I touch upon any of them that you’ve believed that you’d like to offer an opinion on? Let me know; enjoy!