A long time ago, I went through Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger archives and went all way the back to the beginning of his blog – to see what kind of stuff he talked about when he first got started. I actually kinda wondered if he noticed somebody going through his entire archive. It was me.
I had a lot of questions about how his blog progressed toward popularity. When the blog first started he was cranking out a lot of quick posts that weren’t nearly as well written as the stuff he writes today. After a while he started posting consistently and over time his posts became better and better.
The post that stood out in my mind in the very beginning was called something like “The Rules Of Blogging”. I thought it would be pretty cool to write a post like that here in 2012 and share some of my philosophy about the dos and don’ts of blogging. So here goes.
Never Lie… Seriously.
This may sound like kind of a no-brainer but a lot guys fall into the temptation to be deceptive – particularly in the beginning – by doing things like buying Twitter followers and Facebook ‘Likes’. Then there’s the guys who write fake reviews about products that they know nothing about and even leave fake comments to help bolster the power of their fake review.
That may sound like a good idea now, but all it really does is: ruin your reputation. Every person that notices you being deceptive is a person that doesn’t trust you anymore and it really does add up. I’ve lost count of how many successful business people told me “It’s easier to keep customers than gain new ones.”. Don’t focus on just selling people stuff. Focus on being able to sell them something again.
Respect Your Audience
Lying is definitely not the only way to disrespect your audience but, let’s be honest, it deserved a subheading of it’s own. So here’s a list of other things that are disrespectful that you should go ahead and considers No-No’s.
1. Using pagination for brief pieces of content. We’ve all been on those sites and I pretty much never make it through their posts because I get so tired of waiting for pages to load. Pagination is cool if your post is 5000 words long but, it’s not cool if you’re just posting a photo gallery and inflating page views for your advertisers.
2. Using “wait” pages when people try to leave. That might seem like the thing to do when people are trying to leave a sales letter but, it’s not the thing to do when people leave your blog – and it DOES make you seem desperate and rude.
3. Using excessive pop-ups. If you insist on using pop-ups, please only use a light box and don’t set it to come up more than once per visit. I shouldn’t see your light box again when I go to check out another post on your site.
4. Sending excessive advertisements to your list. Nobody likes getting a bunch of ads in their inbox. Emailing people great content is the way to dramatically increase your open rates. Your subscribers will quickly lose interest in what you have to say if all they ever get from you is ads. If people don’t want to hear what you have to say they’re either going to unsubscribe or ignore your emails – and many people will actually report you for spamming. I know of a very well known blog(who I’m not going to mention by name)- and everyone of their emails go straight to my spam folder and I’ve never even reported them for spamming – and these guys have never emailed me content. Never. Just ads, ads, ads, and some more ads.
5. Ads that expand when the mouse moves over them. Maybe I should have mentioned this in number 3 but I’m thinking of it now and it is one of the most disrespectful things you can do to your audience. How am I supposed to enjoy your content when I’m spending all my time making sure my mouse doesn’t wander over to a place on the page that’s going to bring about that – which is the equivalent of a pop-up? I don’t even know why advertisers want ads like that because I would expect people spend more focus on closing it than viewing it(like I do). Spam is spam.
Don’t steal content and always cite sources.
A ‘Rules Of Blogging’ post just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that you shouldn’t steal or scrape content. The part about citing sources still hasn’t sunk in for a lot of webmasters. I was reading some medical stuff last night and came across a ridiculous amount of sites who basically just rewrote what others were saying and didn’t provide one single source link or cite one single study. So yeah, be sure to always cite your sources and link to them if you want your site to be trusted.
I do have an exception to that rule. Sites that cite sources but don’t link to anyone but themselves. Every time I think about linking to a site like that I want to put a nofollow attribute on the link unless their content is so 100% original(like if they’re publishing their own research) that they truly have no legitimate reason to link out. I’m just not a big fan of Pagerank hoarders. Your blog isn’t a printed magazine and you should link to your sources.
Google rewards you for linking to useful sites and they have no real way of knowing who is useful if people don’t link. Google engineer Matt Cutts, has already stated this on his blog. It’s important to note that this post was written in mid 2009 but, it doesn’t sound like something they would make dramatic changes to. Here’s the quote -
Q: Okay, but doesn’t this encourage me to link out less? Should I turn off comments on my blog?
A: I wouldn’t recommend closing comments in an attempt to “hoard” your PageRank. In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.
Blog comments are supposed to be nofollowed and dropped from Google’s link graph anyway but, I think Matt was just itching to mention: linking to good sites is good for your site. I seem to remember Matt stating this with more detail in a QnA video but, I’m having a really hard time finding it. At least I was able to find that blog post.
Post as often as you can.
Popular blogs(like ProBlogger and Copyblogger) that don’t seem to need to depend on search engines – tend to post at least 5 time a week. Then you’ve got huge blogs like Mashable, WebProNews, and Venturebeat who post so many times a day that I don’t dare try and count, and these guys get massive traffic and social shares every day. The take-away for this section is- if people can expect fresh content, they’re more likely to subscribe and/or return to your site.
Be careful how you recycle content.
Sometimes, you can update flagship content, republish it, and earn some more links for it. Be sure and disclose it when you do. What you can’t do is reuse it like this guy did. Don’t copy and paste from other posts – reusing sentences, paragraphs, or even multiple paragraphs and try to call it a unique article. Stuff like that can be very damaging to your career, especially if you find yourself needing to write for someone else.
Always make your share buttons easy to find.
I haven’t held a poll or anything, but I really hate it when I have hard time finding the share buttons on a piece of content I want to share. When I don’t find the share buttons there’s a very good chance I won’t share that piece of content.
I believe people are used to sharing being made easy for them and not making sharing easy just seems rude.
These are the rules I’ve thought up so far and I plan to update this post if I think of anymore. Do you have any blogging rules that think should have been on this list. If you do, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.