Just when we think we are starting to figure out this whole blogging thing, people come in and change all the rules. Particularly, it seems, the tried and true ones. An epidemic of bloggers telling us we’ve been doing it all wrong.
Why is this happening?
We could believe that these “thought leaders” have been inspired by a meditation-induced a-ha moment. And now, they suddenly realize the error of their ways.
Or, here’s another take. Maybe some of these bloggers have decided that they must be contrary, go against conventional wisdom—even be sensational—in order to be heard above all the noise. It’s how they stir up conversation and attract more readers: disagreeing for the sheer sake of being different.
My 7 Untruths About Blogging
Whether the bloggers are giving bad advice to shake up the status quo and get noticed, or they really believe what they are preaching, bad advice can confuse both the beginners and the more experienced. Because bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, with different goals and needs, and making blanket statements can be dangerous. So, here they are, my seven untruths about blogging.
1. Every business needs a blog.
Well, no, not necessarily. There are just too many variables to consider. A blog is just one of many marketing tools at our disposal. And making sure we are using the right tools, the ones that fit our business, is key. So if your social media coach has dropped a blog into your new plan for growing your business, and the thought of it makes you nauseous, you might want to map out the pro’s and con’s before deciding.
2. Blogging is easy.
It’s all over in our culture: the ‘quick and easy’ thing. And who wouldn’t want to try something if we are promised that it’s easy. Some say, just create a simple blog, and start writing. It’s easy, don’t worry about it, just do it. Anyone who has started blogging knows there is a little more to it than that.
It can be mastered, with some effort. What’s wrong with saying that? Chances are if you are reading this and you are a blogger, you know damn well that it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s well worth it in the end.
3. Write for yourself and your readers will show up.
This topic comes up in my workshops all the time. Writing about what interests us makes blogging more fun. And yes, you may be passionate about red wines or old black and white films, but in the end, who do you want to please, your readers or yourself?
Nowhere, in any other form of communication but blogging, would someone be advised to forget about their audience. Writing about the things our readers are interested in, the things they want to know, is a way to build our community. Why would we not want to do that, especially if we are marketing our business with our blog?
In the end, it’s your readers you want to please, not yourself. If you do this, they will come. And, most important of all, they will stay.
4. Long posts are the kiss of death.
This is another piece of advice floating around out there. But if you have something to say, say it. If you google how long a post should be, you will find tons of different advice. Again, this boils down to what you are writing about, what you have to say, and whether you can keep the reader engaged. Don’t destroy what could have been an amazing post by being a compulsive word counter.
5. Consistency doesn’t matter; post whenever the mood strikes you.
I’m seeing this advice crop up more and more. We want to believe it because it takes the pressure off. We don’t have to have a schedule anymore. We can post whenever a new topic lands in our brains.
But, for the sake of Google (who gets trained to look for fresh stuff from you at certain times) and for your readers, who might actually look forward to Tuesdays because they can expect another engaging, thought-provoking post from you, you might still want to aim for a regular posting schedule.
6. You must be on fire with passion every time you sit down to write a blog post.
Passion is highly overrated. If I waited for it, I wouldn’t get a lot of blogging done. The novelist Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Yes, we should be passionate about our topics. Because if we are not interested, how can we expect our readers to be? But the notion that we must be shaking with excitement every time we sit down to blog is a surefire way to burn out.
Let’s get real here, folks. Passion is a good thing, but showing up at the computer and writing regularly, whether we feel like it or not will take us much, much further. And sometimes being passionate can merely be writing about the things we care about.
7. Your blog does not need to be interesting and engaging.
This is another new one I saw just this week. After I got beyond the provocative title, the point was that it’s more important to be helpful than interesting. But the fact is, there are millions and millions of “helpful” blogs out there. And it is very hard to get noticed and read—unless you are also interesting.
Interesting still matters because it is how we both attract readers and keep them. It is the extra ingredient, the secret sauce, that adds a new dimension to our blogs. And we become interesting by giving our readers fresh takes on topics that have been done to death. By telling engaging stories. By letting our voice and personality shine through.
How about you? Have you run across advice lately that went against everything you have found to be true in your blogging?