12 Most Horrible Pieces of Blogging Advice

12 Most Horrible Pieces of Blogging Advice

 

There is nothing more dangerous than a social media expert. For those of you who are new to blogging, be prepared to read a lot of advice from self-proclaimed experts whose only qualifications are that they’ve read a lot of advice from other self-proclaimed experts.

Here are twelve suggestions you’re likely to run into, and why you should run away from them as quickly as you can.

1. Keep posts under 300 words

Beware of absolutes. This advice stems from the generalization that all blog readers are in a hurry. However, if your blog’s purpose is to provide information or analysis, and you’re good at it, people will be willing to read five times that word count.

2. Stick to a rigid publishing schedule

Nobody gets to work and thinks, “It’s 7:25, so I better hurry up and get over to Sally’s blog to read her new post.” People are way too busy to keep track of when a blogger is publishing. If a blog is good, people will read it sooner… or later.

3. Blogs are an SEO shortcut

If your definition of a shortcut is doing a lot more work and having to wait months or years for results, than yes, this advice is accurate. It’s true that blogs can strongly bolster SEO, but it takes careful planning, consistent execution, and a lot of time.

4. Bloggers need to be edgy

No. Bloggers need to be themselves. Blogging is about authenticity, and when you try to be something you’re not, you fail. Beyond that, edgy doesn’t always work. If you’re in a straight-laced niche and you push the envelope too far, you’ll take a licking.

5. Images aren’t important

Eh? Images are what draw people in. They arouse curiosity and drive home key points. They clarify complex ideas. Furthermore, artful handling of images and captions creates SEO and even conversion opportunities.

6. Blogs should be monetized

Loading up a blog with ads is a compete waste of time for new bloggers. Advertising is a numbers game, and you need a mighty big audience to make it work — and even then, it’s iffy. Unless your blog’s purpose is to generate ad revenue, all ads will accomplish is turning off readers.

7. All it takes to succeed is quality content

This is the build-it-and-they-will come philosophy, and it only works if you already have a humungous reputation. But most of us don’t, so we need to market our content and patiently build a following. Blog marketing can easily be more time consuming that writing posts, and that’s OK.

8. Cultivate reciprocal links

This is an outdated SEO tactic that can now do more harm than good if you have links coming in from bad sources. For audience building only, reciprocal linking is OK, but only when you are selective in terms of the relevance and quality of your link partners.

9. You must use a custom design

In theory, this sounds good: a fully customized blog design creates a unique brand. In practice, though, I’ve seen too many bloggers succeed with the most vanilla stock templates you can imagine than to buy into that theory. More important is to select a template that delivers an outstanding user experience.

10. Blogging has been replaced by social media

Blogging may have changed because of social media, but it isn’t going away on that account or for any other reason. In fact, blogging has become so intertwined with a firm’s other web assets that it is sometimes not even thought of as a separate “thing.”

11. Corporate blog content can be outsourced

Some, but not all. Business blogs become indispensable when they convey insights readers can’t get from outside sources. Nobody knows more about your industry than you do, and by withholding that value from readers, you lurch toward mediocrity.

12. It’s all about subscribers

Having email and RSS subscribers is a good thing, but readers find blog content in many other ways — through social media mentions, bookmarking sites, and Google searches, to name three of the most significant. Smart bloggers keep a close eye on all traffic sources and continually adjust their marketing and syndication strategies.

This is bad stuff, alright, but we’re still scratching the surface. What bad blogging advice have you heard… and did you find out the hard way?

Featured image courtesy of kimrose licensed via Creative Commons.


Brad Shorr

http://straightnorth.com

Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, a full service Internet marketing agency with headquarters in Chicago. A blogger since 2005, he writes frequently on social media, content marketing, SEO and business strategy.

468 ad
51 comments
Harlan West
Harlan West

Thanks for the post, Brad. I Liked what you said in #7, 7. All it takes to succeed is quality content. I spend a lot of time marketing my blog.

juliedawnharris45
juliedawnharris45

In blogging, what matters most are the content and the image that it has to be catchy and of quality. These two are essential to  blogging because readers are most likely to judge us in the way we present our blog. Bad blogging well that's when you talk more about yourself. :)

MegECox
MegECox

Wonderful stuff, but I'm gonna push back on #11. Some small organizations don't have excellent writers or editors on staff, and some of us bloggers-for-hire learn our clients inside and out so we can write as part of the team, even though our income is reported on a 1099 instead of a W-2. Yes, there are content mills out there. But we ain't all them.

Karen Jonson
Karen Jonson

This post is going to help a lot of people relax. I have heard so many bloggers stridently state: you must blog every day. you must stick to a strict schedule. you must get a butt-load of link-backs. Instinctively I felt this advice wasn't right. But then I would second-guess myself and start bending to peer pressure -- then feel miserable and inept when I couldn't meet these goals. Tax resources, indeed. After all, I AM the resource.

Thanks Karen, self-published author and blogger

Niall Flynn
Niall Flynn

Love it, Love it, Love it. Away with the BS this article works for me. So many wannabe experts out there, blogging is unique for all. I get all my traffic from an Excel Macro and a Server Side fix on my blog, which was totally unplanned. Don't get me wrong blogging for the win but a golden bullet it is not :)

multitoool
multitoool

@leejacksondev thanks for the RT :)

multitoool
multitoool

@peaksmedia thanks for the RT :)

kstaxman
kstaxman

.@terrinaka Thanks so much for the RT's you have a great day

arkarthick
arkarthick

@DavisMTL Thank you! @terrinakamura @AlessandroRea

peggyduncan
peggyduncan

Outstanding post! I agree with every point. I didn't realize so many people from all over the world were reading my blog until I installed the Feedjit widget. It tells me how they got there, what else they clicked on, and their country. Thanks for sharing this Brad!

douglaserice
douglaserice

Love #11, Brad! I encounter business people time and again that want me to blog FOR them and I pass onto them this little piece of wisdom. What credibility do they really have if their content development is being outsourced? They know their business better than anyone they can outsource to. And, if they don't, they've got bigger problems than blogging. Great article!

modwilli
modwilli

@Timberry Nice blog. I just subscribed. Looking forward to future posts.

dbvickery
dbvickery

A significant portion of my blog posts that are found as a result of a search - are found through a Google Images Search. And good thing I went with "be yourself" because edgy doesn't fit my profile ;)

And I don't know if I've had a blog post under 300 words yet...good thing I have patient readers with better attention spans, or I'd be toast!

reneedobbs
reneedobbs

Really great article. As a relatively new blogger (less than 1 year) all the blogging advice can get overwhelming. Nice to see some reality thrown in the mix.

Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson

One piece of advice that baffles my mind is how some blogging sites recommend a new post everyday.  In correlation to point #2, I would say your posting frequency is all about what your audience wants. My company currently publishes blog articles on a weekly basis because our subscribers demonstrated a clear preference for the weekly article format.

365DaysOfVerse
365DaysOfVerse

@MartinaMcGowan @12Most great points in this piece, very enlightening.

DixieLil
DixieLil

@bradshorr The bad blogging advice I've gotten is to forget about grammar and spelling and write the way you speak.  I understand the free flowing spirit of this advice, but a blog with too many misspellings and bad grammar is a turn off.  

rosemaryoneill
rosemaryoneill

I would add "you have to use WordPress."  Use what suits your mission and style, whatever platform works best for you.

bradshorr
bradshorr

@wittlake Thanks for retweeting, Eric!

dadblunders
dadblunders

Having not blogged nearly as long as some of the great people I have met and followed its always good to hear about advice that I don't need. 

I can tell you being a parent, the one that gives me the most difficulty is sticking to a rigid schedule. I have had many people tell me that it's imperative to do. I never really thought that it might not matter that much. 

I have found in blogging I seriously know very little about the community and the world and learn more each day. I know its a process and not always easy.

DonnaVieira
DonnaVieira

Excellent post as usual, Brad! You hit the nail on the head with so many of these. Too many people think they need to stick to the "rules" and forget to be human.

businessplanhub
businessplanhub

Well said! The number of times I see a lot of these said makes me laugh! I think points 2,3 and 10 are the most important! Thanks for sharing your insights! :D

StraightNorth
StraightNorth

@thindifference Thanks for sharing, Jon! Much appreciated!

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

#2 is my favorite here, Brad. I've seen a lot of companies who demand to have a blog post up by a certain time on a certain day...but the honest truth is that, for a lot of people, your blog is something they sit down to read and enjoy, much like a good book or a fascinating news article. If I love your blog, I'll remember to check and see if you have a new post up when I have some time to sit down and enjoy it -- and I won't be checking the time stamp to see if you put it up on time or on schedule. 

BradShorr
BradShorr

@peggyduncan Thank you, Peggy. It's nice to get pleasant surprises like that on your blog, isn't it? Keep up the great work!

BradShorr
BradShorr

@douglaserice Hi Doug, Glad you like the article. I think the Panda and Penguin updates underscore the importance of the point you are making. Google wants to reward truly valuable content and devalue content written just for the sake of optimization. People are just starting to understand this, and it means companies will have to bite the bullet and hire in-house writers.

BradShorr
BradShorr

@dbvickery Hi Brian, Glad to hear you've found a winning formula. A lot of bloggers completely miss the boat on image optimization, which is great for the ones who do it right! 

BradShorr
BradShorr

@Scott Danielson Nothing could be smarter than basing a publishing schedule on known reader preferences -- it would be interesting to know how you determined this. As far as the one post a day thing, that has roots in the SEO idea that Google will index your site more frequently if you add content regularly and often. While this may be true, if in doing it you irritate your readers or overtax your resources ... you're way off the mark. 

BradShorr
BradShorr

@DixieLil Good point! Informal is not the same as ungrammatical, and some "experts" seem to think they are identical concepts. Grammatical errors can undermine your credibility. But you can also go too far in the other direction and edit for hours. For a blog, this isn't always cost effective. I guess it's a matter of finding the happy medium.

BradShorr
BradShorr

@rosemaryoneill Interesting ... I'm a big fan of WordPress, so I'd love it if you could elaborate on how mission and style might suggest a different platform. Maybe I'm taking WordPress for granted ...

wittlake
wittlake

@bradshorr You show up everywhere! Good stuff, as usual.

topleftdesign
topleftdesign

@JedLomax good exposure, right? How did that come about?

BradShorr
BradShorr

@annedreshfield Hi Anne, My thoughts exactly! I couldn't tell you the publishing schedules of my favorite blogs if my life depended on it. Doesn't matter.

bradshorr
bradshorr

@planetplanitbiz Thanks for retweeting, Paul!

John_G_Olson
John_G_Olson

@StraightNorth Thank you for the RT! cc: @bradshorr

rosemaryoneill
rosemaryoneill

@BradShorr No doubt WordPress is the big kahuna, but there are other blogging options out there, including our Hoop.la platform, which integrates a ton of other community features, no plug ins required.  So by mission and style, I really mean are you a hobby blogger, making a living from it, or supporting another business with it, and how geeky are you...how important is self hosting...do you like to "noodle," etc. 

JedLomax
JedLomax

@topleftdesign Another Twitter success story! They followed and then contacted me, and it went from there.

JedLomax
JedLomax

@topleftdesign I'd be honoured! I shall have to think what to say. But you can expect to be bigged up, you've been great.

topleftdesign
topleftdesign

@JedLomax we need to get you blogging about all your Twitter success stories so far - you can guest blog for us?

Adsense