You know, some estimates say that there are more than 50,000,000 blogs floating around out there. Stretched end to end, they’d circle around a penguin’s backside and over a polar bear’s south paw. Today I want to share a list of things I wish I’d known about blogging going into this. Some of it, I’m sure is common blogging knowledge. Some of it may be new for you if you’re a blogger. Some of it may fly in the face of what other bloggers have said about blogging.
My blog (Single Dad Laughing) is in a really great place right now, but it hasn’t always been. In fact, I’ve had to go through the fiery gauntlet a few different times, and rightfully so. I did a lot of right things along the way, but I also did a lot of stupid things too. I ticked off a lot of people. Some of the resentment coming from others was justified. Some of it was just mean. But, all of it was a byproduct of me and what I was doing, one way or the other. So, for better or worse, here are 100 things I never expected to learn about blogging.
100 Things I Never Expected to Learn About Blogging
- Remember whose blog it is anyway. The bigger it gets, the more other people will try and control it and you. Don’t let that happen.
- Keep a constant list of possible blogging topics. I suggest the toodledo app. Don’t worry about whether what you write down is a good idea or not. Write it down as soon as you have it. You can sort out the bad ideas later.
- Blog every single day, if you can. People only subscribe to things worth subscribing to.
- Don’t use shameless growth tactics. I did a couple of times. And it bit me in the butt big time.
- Don’t call your own work powerful. It’ll just tick people off and it makes you sound like a marketing narcissist.
- Don’t fill your blog with profanities, vitriol, or negativity. Use profanities (if you want to) only in humor or when it’s needed to make a specific point, and not tons of it. And don’t rant and rave in every blog post. People will grow tired in a hurry, and you’ll end up with a following made up of negative people.
- Be a part of the blogging community, but don’t be at the same time. You have to do your own thing. Hopefully that lines up with the greater blogging community sometimes, but other times it won’t. Be okay with that.
- Don’t ask your readers to do things like contact Ellen and Oprah on your behalf. When I started my blog I got so sucked into all the people telling me so many nice things and that I should be on these shows that I actually asked them to write to these two ladies. Stupid move.
- Don’t think you’re the bomb when good things happen. Good things happen when you’re a blogger because other people share and appreciate your stuff. In no way are you the bomb.
- Do think you’re awesome when good things happen. When you create content that people share with wild abandon, that’s pretty awesome, and you’re pretty awesome. It’s okay to know that and be proud of yourself. Just don’t be cocky or arrogant about it.
- Don’t let the few negative voices drown out the dozens or hundreds of positive ones. It is so easy to not even see the overwhelming positive when a big negative is staring you in the face. Learn to ignore it.
- Don’t ever try to plan a viral post. You can’t. I have learned this lesson more times than you’ll ever know.
- Make your blog look good. Your blog needs to be unique. It needs to be visually appealing. You know, if you want people to want to be there.
- Make your blog load fast. This is tricky, but doable even with ads. You’ll notice on my site, everything loads before the ads, so even though they load a little slow, people don’t really notice.
- Be prepared for the trolls. There will be trolls. Just laugh and delete them. Then ban them. Don’t get sucked into what they say.
- Be prepared for the criticizers, and learn to see the difference between trolls and harsh critics. People will criticize you or your work. That’s okay. If nobody is, you’re not doing it right. Just don’t make the mistake as I did in the beginning of thinking any criticism was an attack. Usually it’s just criticism.
- Don’t reach out to the harsh critics or the trolls. When you do get attacked or lamblasted, don’t reach out to try and make peace. It will only make things worse every single time.
- Don’t call your readers followers or fans. Call them readers. It helps you stay connected.
- Ask your readers to follow and share. But do it in tactful ways. I only specifically ask people to share when something is really important to me. The rest of the time I have a standard footer that takes care of it for me.
- Keep it on the shorter side, but don’t be afraid to write as many words as you need to write. I’ve written some viral posts that were more than 4,000 words.
- Ask your readers to comment and give them specific ideas of what to comment on to get the conversation going.
- Don’t get sucked into negative things being said about you off your blog. I have lost entire days focusing on the negative things people are saying elsewhere and on other blogs. In the end, all I lost was time and I went to bed stressed. Learn to ignore it all.
- Learn to see negativity about you as what it is. A sign that you’re making a mark in the blogging world. Negativity wouldn’t exist if you weren’t doing something noteworthy.
- Put a heavy focus on Facebook and less on Twitter. Tweeps are great, and I get good traffic from Twitter. But Facebook is king when it comes to social sharing and building.
- Always build your following legitimately. When I first started my blog, I got sucked into an ad for a software that added Twitter followers automatically. All I got was a couple thousand Twitter followers who were also using the software and never on Twitter. I axed it, started over, and let it grow organically. Numbers don’t matter if there aren’t humans attached to them.
- Delete what you need to delete. This applies to comments. Emails. And yes, sometimes even blog posts.
- Don’t quit your day job. My blog blew up really fast, and I got all excited and quit my entire career. That was really stupid of me, if I’m being honest. The next year I lost money, and I lost a lot of my property and possessions including my house. Making money blogging is HARD to do, and remember that it’s one thing to have something go viral and see lots of traffic. It’s another thing to keep your blog running at those numbers long term.
- Do ask for money. When it’s appropriate. It’s okay to put a donate button on your blog. It’s also okay to ask your readers to support causes that are important to you. Just don’t pressure them about it, and don’t spend too much time on it.
- Don’t waste your time doing things to promote your blog that will bring in minimal visitors. Focus on making quality content. That’s what brings traffic and that’s what brings new readers.
- Focus your efforts on content, not on growth. If you focus on growth you’ll never grow as fast as you could if you focus on what you’re putting out there.
- Always post an image with your posts.
- Post during the best times of day. This time of day is not universal and will differ from following to following. It also changes depending on the time of year and the current school holidays/sessions.
- Don’t brag. Nobody likes people who brag.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. Nobody likes know-it-alls.
Thanks for this post Dan, I really appreciate it! There are some great things here...I particularly like the parts about writing things that are embarrassing and/or make your stomach hurt on occasion. I also appreciate the tip around putting more personal pictures out there, whether it be on social media or a blog post itself.
To answer your question, I just started blogging in October. It's a quazi-virtual coffee shop blog...basically a place I write and talk to other people who write-- trying to create a virtual feel to the actual "coffee shop" experience we have at Starbucks or Panera. http://brewsandviews.wordpress.com
Thanks again for the great post.
I've recently discovered your blog. I've been poking around, reading old posts, FAQs, and other random things. I came across this list and I love it. While I don't necessarily practice what you preach, I'm walking away with some good advice. Thanks for being you :)
This is an awesome list, Dan! I started blogging in February, and I'm loving it! I do wish I had a bigger following, but I know it'll happen eventually. :)
Great list, Dan. Even your list follows your own blogging advice. One thing I think that needs to be mentioned is that blogs tend to throw up ads waaaay too soon and there are several other ways to monetize a blog without ads. I think the dad and mom blog-o-sphere really should focus more on creating useful and compelling informational products that benefit the whole community, rather than attempting to push traffic just for an ad view and a couple cents for an impression.
Just my own $.02.
Wow, this is an amazing list. As a new parent and new blogger it is great to get a free cheat sheet from such a wily veteran. I know that I will still make a ton of mistakes, but hopefully I will make less after reading this.
Who am I kidding? I will still make a ton.
Thanks so much for writing this Dan, and keep up the great work.
I have several blogs, some are extensions of others, The one I have most activity on right now is one of my ministry blogs http://prayershawlpower.blogspot.com/, it is one for prayer and comfort for people who are hurting and grieving, need prayer or encouragement. We send out requested prayer cloths, prayer shawls and blankets to those who need comfort and help, I love this blog because it gives me a chance to really reach out to so many people who are hurting and offer them love, kindness, compassion and encouragement.
I have a personal blog for parents, http://mommaj-becauseisaidso.blogspot.com/... I try to share experiences, thoughts and hope in parenting, being single mom, single dads, and also being children ourselves, what God expects of me as a mother, what God tells parents as his children to do and what kind of parents He wants us to be, to train our children. But also, it is a blog for hope, encouragement, faith, and strength. Sometimes it is just to share my thoughts as a person, other's to share what the bible says, as an ordained minister. I pray that it reaches others who get something from it, from serious posts, to some that have a little jesting, silliness, and "out of character" fun, which I attempt to do in my own way. I don't know how funny I am, but I try.
I also have a ministry blog, a photography blog and one for career women who are attempting to pull being working wife, mother, and woman all together... they are all different and fun in their own way.
I do follow other blogs, but this one here, yours is one I truly enjoy, and have found that goes very much along with the ministry my husband and I have been called to, so I love getting thoughts from another point of view. Thanks.;
Just started, http://www.mikeysmixedbag.com. What I've learned so far is that my blog platform isn't nearly as robust as I'd like, and I need to research others. Thanks for keeping it real and providing value here, that's the way to roll....
Hi Dan. I read your blog and you are an inspiration. I am thinking about a blog, I have no idea where to start or the process. I suppose I can spend money on buying a book for dummies, but I thought I would ask you instead. I like the title "Single Dad Laughing" what a refreshing title, a gift to single fathers and single mothers. Although I am not a dad, cheers to you and your son.
Hi Dan, this was such a helpful tool. I don't blog much but I recently got publicly humiliated because of a fundraising page I shared on my blog and it was borderline detrimental to my blog and my personal life. Your advice on drowning out the few negative people means a lot.
Hello Dan. I blog. www.gailmaries.blogspot.com (It's All About The Rubber Chicken). I have learned much after reading this post. Trial and error are things not to be feared in blogging. I agree with many of your points here. I do follow other blogs....Around The World "L", Assortment, Maxson's in New Zealand, Nancy's Vintage Trailers, Summer Friends, The Last Frontier, The Pearl, The Tin Can Cottage and tickleberry farm....OH...and Single Dad Laughing. :) Thank you.
I am new to blogging and dont know much about it, but I had the crazy idea to start a new to be dad blog as well and document my mishaps and findings along the way.
I blog too! My blog is https://nurrieum.weebly.com
This was helpful! Thanks!!
I do blog, ( http://gracefulpandemonium.wordpress.com/ ), I started trying to be more regular with it just recently. Mostly because all of these thoughts and ideas were burning in my head all of the time...they have to go somewhere. Maybe it will be "sucessful" maybe not, but at least my mind will feel better.
I read some other blogs, not religiously or anything but I like to hear other people's thoughts on things. This post was really helpful actually, and encouraging. Thanks :)
I follow more than a few blogs, but somehow only really read yours and one other regularly. FWIW, I used to have a blog years ago - it got pretty popular just as i was posting about & going through some very difficult things - it freaked me out and I quit writing for a long time.
This post is full of good reminders, and so succinct! Thanks for writing it.
Good advice. Thank you. I'm just starting out with my blog limpetgirl.blogspot.com and sometimes I really worry that I'm too honest about my personal life. Most people wouldn't ever dream of publicly sharing pain and heartbreak and honesty and failure. Mine is out there for the world to see...
I shall use some of your advice. Thank you.
Hi Dan! I fell in love with your blog the first time I read "16 Ways I Blew My Marriage." I have just started my own blog (showme2lonestar.blogspot.com) and these are great tips! Thank you very much for the info and help!
Hi Dan ~ I came to your blog via a link that someone posted on Facebook to your post "16 Ways I Blew My Marriage" and I have spent the past hour reading random posts, and thoroughly enjoying myself, I might add. I have been blogging for over four years now and on Monday I will publish my 1,000th post (yay me!). I loved reading this list of 100 things about blogging and nodded and chuckled as I read through your list. One of the many things I'm taking away from this is to not take myself too seriously. I've had a few comments that were mean spirited and I allowed them to eat at me for DAYS! Seems silly now that I'm over the sting of it but I'm human so... Another thing I am guilty of is steering clear of controversial subjects. Pretty sure I need to be a bit more courageous with my content. Anyway, I just wanted to take a minute to leave you a little love and tell you that you've got a great blog here. I appreciate your honest and humorous approach to blogging. Keep it up! ~ Deb
I happened across your blog through Sarah's (sdbaird.blogspot.com) and I'm soooo happy that I did. I love #88.....makes me feel better and proves that I'm not totally nuts. I had an issue that was weighing on my mind, I couldn't sleep..... so, I got out of bed at 2am, stubbed my toe and fumbled down the stairs and wrote a post on bullying. It took me a while to post it, because I was afraid...but my friend encouraged me to do it and I did. I got some really great responses and encouragement through email -- no one is really commenting on my blog....but that's okay.
Anyhow....Love this post - I'm gonna to refer to it often....might even print it out and use it to decorate my office space.
I love your blog. I love your humor. I love that you are not afraid to fail. Thank you.
My blog is http://DeservingOfBeauty.blogspot.com I am on a personal journey to allow in and appreciate more the beauty already present in my life. It is a journal of my journey. I am relatively new at it, but I welcome feedback. I appreciate your pointers. I really like the one about following numbers. I don't have a lot going for me yet, but I do know that watching the map and the number drives me crazy sometimes.
The only other blog I follow is "Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures" www.crappypictures.com I can really relate to her challenges with two little kids around. She uses a lot of wit and sarcasm, and it has me laughing every time.
I only follow your blog currently, for lack of time mostly. I find your writing "real." I appreciate that.
Plus, you have a great sense of humor and it helps me laugh at myself and life a little more.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I haven't even read them all yet, but am in the process of setting up my own blog prior to the publication of my book. I've been doing loads of research on it. Isn't it funny how the universe sends you what you need? To think that I should receive an email with 100 tips about exactly what I need. BRILLIANT!
As someone whose blog recently started gaining momentum, I appreciate this list of insights! Personally I don't really agree with #3, though. I can think of several blogs I'd consider to be "worth subscribing to" that don't update every day, or even every week. I tend to agree more with this comic: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things - I would rather write when I have something interesting to write about than post every day simply for the sake of it.
i'm not even a single dad...i'm neither single, nor a dad, and i'm reading this. that means you're doin' pretty good then, right? i do laugh...so there's that..
Great post, Dan! Great site, period! I prefer blogs that have a good mix of humor and introspection and you've definitely got both of those -- in spades. I'm a dad, too, so I can relate to a lot of what you're talking about. Oh and yes, I blog. I literally just put up my first post on Saturday at lovethisroad.wordpress.com
I read your blog, nieniedialogues, cjane and kellehampton daily, without fail. All for different reasons. Plus, I think you look like the guy on the "5 Hour Energy" commerial when he records his "debut album". Strangely, no desire to blog myself, teaching takes up all my time.
I only follow your blog. Because you have interesting content daily & I respect you as a good person.
Hi again, Dan!
I potter along to a few blogs, but yours I follow religiously! Inspired by Single Dad Laughing, five days ago I began my own blog, littleblondelionheart.wordpress.com and this post by you could not have come at a better time! You can put money on it that I will be printing this list for guidance. THANK YOU!
I must admit, before I go, that your number 100 made me giggle. I wrote on my blog a few days ago about the inhibitionless, one-person random dance parties that I throw and it's so good to know you're on the same wavelength!
Much love and gratitude <3
Deanna, Little Blonde Lionheart
This is a most excellent set of guidelines. I love to write, but rarely find the time. When people read what I write, they generally like it. After my current huge emergency situation is settled (my son was in a very bad accident and is now paralyzed from the chest down) I intend to start writing again. I may blog about what happened to my son and the whole roller coaster ride. I might not. My problem is that so much of what I'd like to say would seriously annoy half my family and all the doctors. :) If I do start blogging, I will definitely keep your list nearby. Great advice for any social network, really.
Oh, and my time is very, very short. I have had to cut many things I used to like to do. I find time to read your blogs because you sound like a real person with real problems and a good sense of humor. You engage my interest and I enjoy your blogs enough to keep coming back.
Thanks for the advice! I have only been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. I stumbled upon one of your posts on pinterest, and thought it was awesome! I only follow one other blog, and it's by a friend of mine. I have been wanting to start a blog of my own for a while now, but haven't done so. I wasn't really sure where to start or what to expect. Hopefully I'll get that started soon! I'll definitely keep this post in mind when doing so! Looking forward to reading more from you!
I am looking to start blogging. I am one of those people who let fear stand in my way. I hope one day when I get am blogging, my blog will grow up to be as good as yours. Thanks for the inspiration
I've been blogging on and off for the past 3 years, but I've become more serious about blogging within the past 6 months or so. I feel like I've grown a lot as a blogger because of help from awesome bloggers like you. I really appreciate you sharing things you have learned.
My family has had a blog for a few years. We intended it to be a creative outlet for everyone, with posts on everything from sustainable living to my son's reviews of new lego sets. We post and then ignore it for a long time. I just picked it up again (TheViewFromTheTree) and was surprised how many people had found it to read about our backyard chickens, and sustainable living. I am trying to add a post a week, but have failed this week lol! Last week was making yogurt, which took me a long time to figure out.
I would love it to return to what we wanted, a silly place for everyone to be creative and have a voice. maybe we will revisit that.
I also have an anonymous blog that I am using to work through the parental aspects of my son coming out to us, at school and then getting his first boyfriend. My panic to make sure I don't make any of the mistakes others make, my huge joy at finding a wonderful community for ME at the local Center, where there is also a youth group..it has been a good outlet, and I hope at some point to make it more public, for those parents like me who jump into a panic looking for that list of things to do right, and the list of things not to do. (FYI there is NO LIST. darn it.)
I just started blogging about two weeks ago. To be truthful, you were one of my inspirations. I love writing, It has always been important to me. And I am really loving blogging, so far. www.butterflywriterblog.wordpress.com