How to write a blog by breaking all the rules.
I was recently listening to a speaker who was giving advice about blogging. I cringed, anticipating what I expected to be some forthcoming horrible rules that one must follow to be successful as a blogger. Surprisingly, his advice was this: write engaging content. That is a blogging practice I can get behind. But the topic made me heavily consider what suggestions I would give on blogging. Not that I would define myself as the pinnacle of success, but I’m happy with what I create and honored when people want to read it. So I think my advice to aspiring bloggers would be to break all the rules.
The first rule you will hear is that you have to blog regularly and consistently. Every day, every week, twice a week, etc. That’s stupid. I don’t want to hear from anyone once a day. Forced content is obvious. I can sense it. It feels like desperation. My advice would be to blog whenever you feel confused, passionate, upset, elated, frustrated, or inspired. Blog when you have something powerful, inspirational, funny, or mundane to say. Blog with a purpose, and don’t let that purpose be just to blog.
The next rule you’ll hear about blogging is that your blog needs a voice. You need to decide what that voice is and focus on that subject. You can have a cooking blog, a gardening blog, a parenting blog, a writer’s blog, but not a cooking/gardening/parenting/writing blog. I think that is ridiculous. We are fully human people with complex emotions and interests. Blogging should be about connecting through shared experiences, and those experiences can be diverse. I have blogged about everything from wedding diets (intended to be funny, I promise) to travel experiences, to every kind of parenting failure imaginable. I like to think that my blog has a scope. My description says I write about parenting, technology, books and childhood. Indeed I do. But those are not the limit of what I can talk about! My blog has many voices, as a living, breathing blog should.
The rule you will likely hear the most when it comes to blogging will have to do with advertising. I don’t want to offend people who advertise on their blogs because I get it. That is a choice you made and if your content is good enough I will wade through the advertisements to read your blog because I recognize why you made that decision. However, I will argue adamantly that you do not HAVE to advertise on your site to have a successful blog. I would even stand by the statement that you can still make money through blogging if you choose not to advertise, but that could be an entire other post. I made a conscientious decision when I started blogging that I would never advertise on this blog. I actually spelled out my reasoning on my “about me” page but it was ignored at least 3 times a day by those soliciting advertising opportunities, so I finally just took it down. It was rooted in the belief that I want to give readers an authentic experience. I don’t ever want my decisions around content to be influenced by the desire to make money off selling stuff to my readers. I want to write what sits heavy on my heart and light on my finger tips, not what I think will generate traffic or clicks.
Along the same lines as advertising, I have never paid a penny to promote my blog nor do I think you have to. If I did, surely I would have more followers. But blogging isn’t a numbers game to me. Blogging is building a relationship with readers. Dialogue. Listening. Being able to see reactions to what I write. I certainly put it out there because I want it to be read, but I prefer it to spread organically through genuine sharing, not through what money could buy me.
Finally, I would say to always ignore the rules that talk about formatting and posting. “Blogs must be between ___ words and ___ words.” “Blogs do best if posted on this day at this time.” “Blogs should be short, with lots of links and in list form whenever possible.” All of it is crap. In fact, I’ve sworn off lists entirely. I have been rejected for submissions because I have refused to adhere to these rules. Good riddance. I believe your blogs should be the amount of characters it takes to tell your story powerfully and succinctly. They should be posted whenever you have time to confidently (or sometimes timidly) hit that “publish” button. The format and structure should be as diverse and distinct as the ideas behind the posts.
You should ignore any rule that tells YOU how to write YOUR blog unless you made the rule yourself.
All the other rules should stand as a challenge to be broken.
Are you ready to break some rules? Then get to blogging!