10 Blogging Rules You Can Break

There are loads of people out there happy to tell you how to write a better blog, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself how relevant their advice actually is to you?

Those blogging "rules" are all aimed at aspiring professionals. They tell you that if you want to attract advertisers, you have to knuckle down and make a lot of effort. You can't get away with sporadic publication schedules, meandering blog posts and poorly lit images. And that's largely true.

But if, on the other hand, you're blogging for the fun of it, you're free. If you're in this for the joy of writing or the warmth of the blog community, you can ditch the rules and focus on having some fun.

Specifically, you can consider scrapping all of the following advice:

Find Your Niche

Are you a beauty blogger, a baking blogger or a book blogger? If you're trying to earn the big bucks it helps to know - if you're writing about, say, environmental ethics you want to be approached by vegan shoe distributors not disposable fashion brands. But if you're writing for fun, it doesn't matter. Just as chats with your in-person friends can meander from films to fashion, careers to cakes, so can chats with your blog friends. With so many people bemoaning how samey and sterile a lot of blogs have become, there's something very refreshing about some old school streams of consciousness.

Use Lots of Pictures

Not all readers can be bothered with huge chunks of text. I'll admit: I sometimes find myself skimming enormous blog posts and skipping to the end. Pictures break those posts up and make them easier to digest. They also make your listing look prettier in people's blog feeds. But if you're all about the writing, be all about the writing. Don't stress yourself out trying to find relevant copyright free images or master an excessively expensive camera. Just skip the pictures. I do it all the time and, in fact, my wordy posts are invariably my most popular. Conversely, my photo-heavy posts usually tank - I publish them for my own satisfaction, fully aware that they're going to get little response.

Have a Blogging Schedule

Conventional wisdom states that you should pick set times of day/days of the week and post a little something, regardless of its value or your mood. If people don't know when you're going to post, it is said, they will eventually get bored, give up and stop checking your blog. Only, very few people check blogs these days - most people bung their favourite blogs in a feed reader (Bloglovin, Feedly etc) and rely on that to keep them up to date. If you don't post for a month, most people aren't even going to notice. So, unless you're positioning yourself as a quality alternative to a regular magazine, cut yourself some slack - there's no need to churn out substandard content when you're not in the mood to write.

Keep it Upbeat

If you're trying to sell - actually sell - a lifestyle, you may want to show an idealised version of it. Pretend everything will be rosy in the world if your readers just buy your new screenprint. But if you're writing a personal blog, don't be afraid to write a personal blog. Life can be tough and talking about the hard times can not only be cathartic for you but can allow people in similar situations to feel a little less alone.

Stop Taking Mirror Selfies

Professional fashion bloggers may need tripods, complicated lighting set ups and well practised poses, but somebody who is simply showing off their new shoes does not. Your photography is not the focus here - the shoes are. If you can't be bothered setting up and processing magazine style photos, then don't. There's no point stripping the fun out of your new possessions by turning them into a chore.

Sell to the Day and the Night Crowds

You know when you see a blogger promoting the exact same blog post over and over again at all times of day and across the space of three or four weeks? You know how you seethe for a few months and then unfollow them completely? Don't be that blogger. That blogger is all about having as many links to their site as possible so that Google thinks it's great quality so that advertisers find them so that they can earn more money. You just want to find a few friends and you can do that by chatting to people, not by spamming them with self-promotion. Sharing your blog posts is absolutely fine; ramming them down people's Twitter feeds is not.

You Need Social Media

I love chatting to other bloggers on Twitter. You might like interacting on Facebook or [even] Google+. You might hate social media entirely. That is fine. You do not need to be highly visible unless you want to be very widely recognised. You do not need to have a Facebook page or a Google+ page or a specific Twitter handle for your blog unless it brings you pleasure. You can promote your blog on as many or as few different platforms as you feel like. They can be added bonuses; they are not an obligation.

500 Words is Enough

Or 300 or 800 or 1000 - the exact figure varies. The point is: not everyone will read long blog posts so, if you're blogging for popularity, keep your posts short. If, on the other hand, you're blogging because you love writing, don't set yourself arbitrary limits. I said earlier that I sometimes skim very long blog posts - but I also sometimes enjoy getting absorbed in a well written essay. Your audience may be smaller if your posts are bigger, but it's better to have a handful of readers who love your style than thousands who can't be bothered reading about the things which really matter to you.

Write for Search Engines

If you want to earn money, you need to get Google to like your site. There are various tricks for doing this and they include writing in such a way that your blog is easily and frequently found. This used to mean stuffing your text with key phrases ("There are lots of blog rules. If you want to know about blog rules read this list of blog rules..."); these days it's a little trickier. And I'm not going to explain it to you because, if you care, you should be doing some serious reading up on the subject; if you're writing for fun, you don't need to try tricking the search engines. Connect with new people directly instead of attempting to lure them in.

Brand Your Site

Nicely designed sites are pleasant to visit. Big blogs benefit from having a recognisable look and style. Writers benefit from getting their name widely known. But if you're happy enough having anybody read your blog, you don't need to spend too much time or any money at all designing logos and downloading special fonts and making everything pretty. Left align your text, use dark writing against a plain, pale background and that will do. Most people are going to be reading your blog through a feed reader, anyway, and that strips out all of the painstakingly chosen design elements. So don't stress yourself selecting the perfect palette of colours - just get writing. For fun.

22 comments

  1. You talk a lot of sense Miss McGarva :)

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  2. I really needed to read this, you've helped me to decompress, thank you! It's all so stressful for a new blogger!

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  3. It *may* have been inspired by a couple of new blogger comments you have made...

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  4. YES YES YES! I've been working on a similar post but as always, you say it all so much better than me (and yes, I can confirm you haven't paid me for that review!). I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've said here and will revisit when I'm feeling stressed about not posting for a while or my blog not looking as pretty as others.

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  5. So true. I still stress about a lot of these, 1 and 3 in particular. Which is stupid because its just a blog. It's no big deal. Yet its so easy to feel we're doing it 'wrong' somehow.

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  6. I need to start charging you for these comments...

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  7. They're the two I hear the most. Blogs are so new, it's up to us to figure out how best to make them work. :)

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  8. I think it's ME who needs to be charging you!

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  9. I hate the blogging tips stuff because I always feel like so much of it doesn't relate to what I want to be doing so I'm glad you just went right ahead and said ignore it all haha!

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  10. Oh yes, that would make more sense...

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  11. Of course! No need to always conform.

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  12. I've never even heard of the 'day and night crowds' thing! Probably a good job... I never understood the 'post on certain days always' thing, seems very outdated, plus I never ever notice if people do that! :)

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  13. Totally agree with you Sarah! Unfortunately I think too many people are following these rules and that's making for a very sterile and uninteresting blog world. My favourite blogs are the ones that just do as they please! x

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  14. Yes, yes and lots of times yes! The blogs I enjoy are always the ones which blog about anything and everything, whenever they like and however they like. It definitely makes for a much more interesting read. :-) xx

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  15. Exactly - there was a point to it before people used feed readers but, for the majority of us, it's out of date now.

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  16. Mine, too - my challenge now is to find some new blogs to follow because my reader's looking a bit empty...

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  17. Glad I can provide any small form of inspiration, your experience and blogging wisdom are great goalposts for me :-)

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Please play nice.