I used to participate pretty actively in the SITS community. I don’t honestly know what SITS even stands for, but it’s basically a community for bloggers meant to help you grow your audience, make money, and just generally be a “better” blogger. I haven’t been over there since I shut down my website, but I do still get emails from them almost daily. Tonight I got one with the subject line: 5 Blog Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making.
The thing that always strikes me about these emails is how much of a business blogging has become. It’s cool to a point. I mean, there are people who make a living blogging, and honestly, how many of us don’t think that sounds at least a little bit awesome? The flipside, though, is that blogging has kind of, well, sold out. When you see an article about how to make your blog more popular, blogging tips, or blogging mistakes you’re probably making right this very second OMG, very rarely does it ever offer any sort of substantial advice. It’s all about how to basically manipulate people and turn them into pageviews so you can get paid.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with being well-read, well-known, or getting paid…
But, I have to wonder sometimes if the methods used and hawked by so-called social media experts and “blogger boot camps” is really the way to go. In fact, sometimes I feel like its downright shitty. So I wrote my own tips. Here are 5 Ashley-Approved Ways to be a Less Crappy Blogger:
1. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
I know, I know: you’re hot shit. You wrote a post about 13 creative things to do with Tweezers and it got 27.7 million views and now you’re a superstar. In fact, you’re pretty sure you’re now the expert on Tweezers, as well as on anything else you write about, and people better wise up and take you seriously because, um, do you see this blog over here? Do you see the comments on this post? Eleventy-billion. Did Hemingway ever get ELEVENTY-BILLION comments? I. Don’t. Think. So.
The thing is, we write blogs. Even if they’re really great blogs, even if a lot of people read them, they’re blogs. We’re not exactly establishing peace in the Middle East here. So my advice to you is, when you get really famous and go on Good Morning, America to talk about whether or not little kids should be allowed to eat gluten or whatever it is you wrote about, feel excited and proud, but um, also remember that your photo isn’t going next to Nelson Mandela in any school textbooks or anything.
2. Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER use the phrase “content is king.”
Just trust me on this one, okay? If you start sitting in front of your computer every morning (or evening) trying to figure out what “content” will generate the most pageviews and/or the best opportunities for social media outreach, it’s time to refer back to #1.
3. Don’t leave comments on other’s people’s stuff just because you want them to leave a comment on yours.
We may be sitting behind computer screens, but your desperation is pretty stinky. We can smell it from here. And, even if we can’t smell it, we can see it. It’s oozing through your words, your actions, your desperate pleas for attention.
You might see blogs that get a TON of readers, and think, “Whoa, Baby. I want me some of that sweet action!” Or something to that effect. Keep in mind that most of those people have been writing for years. Or, if they haven’t been writing for that long, they’re at least very engaging, talented people, and you can’t fake that. You can’t fake relationships, honesty, genuineness. And you don’t want to. If you take the time to cultivate relationships with people, you will be richly rewarded in more ways than just hits on your blog. Many, many of the people who read my blog are people I’ve never met in real life, but consider real, dear friends.
You’re not going to be best friends with everyone you meet through blogging, and that’s okay, but remember that it’s called the blogging “community” for a reason. If you’re just using people for personal gain, you’re doing it wrong. And don’t kid yourself: people can see through your self-serving BS.
4. Be you.
Don’t subscribe to a gimmick. Don’t brand yourself. Don’t start writing to an audience. Just be yourself. Let your unique gifts, talents, and take on life shine through. People read blogs because they relate to the writer in some way, or because the writer offers something unique that can’t be found anywhere else, and you can’t achieve that by creating some kind of online identity that isn’t true to who you are. It’s just too much work to keep up. Plus, should you go on and become a super mega-popular blogger, I’m betting you don’t want to spend your entire “career” sticking to some lame persona you created way back when just to get pageviews.
5. Let your work speak for itself.
Don’t worry about the best times to post a blog, how many times you should Tweet about it, how often you should post…
If you write it, they will come.
If people are interested in what you have to say, they’ll read it, regardless of when it was posted. I read blogs on the toilet. I read blogs at 2:30am when I’m trying to fall back to sleep after my baby wakes me up. I read them in the car (while my husband’s driving, of course) on the way to the supermarket. And not once have I ever thought, “Well, this person posted at 7am and I generally only read things posted after 3. Also, they usually post on Tuesday and Thursday, but this is a Saturday, so yeah, nope. Not going to read it.”
Certain times of day are better for generating traffic, I suppose, only because of work schedules and all that, but remember: your goal is not to spend a bunch of time manipulating the system to work in your favor. Your goal is saying what you want to say, ideally saying something other people can connect with and would like to read, and then fostering those connections so you can become a part of this wild, wacky community we call the blogosphere.
In short, don’t be an arrogant jerk. And please, remember that writing tips on being a better blogger in no way implies that I have any idea what the hell I’m doing.