You know, some estimates say that there are more than 250,000,000 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.
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