The 5 Worst Blogging Tips You’ve Ever Read

typewriter blog logoThere is no special formula to being a successful blogger.  Some people find success through guest blogging, others through commenting dozens of times a day on just as many blogs, and others just write whatever content they want and let the search engines bring home the bacon.

Since there’s no guaranteed formula for success, I am intrigued how so many people write comprehensive lists about what new bloggers can do to have six-figure incomes and become experts in their fields.  Some of these lists can be very well written, logical, and helpful, but rarely do any of them really go beyond common sense.

With that in mind, I present to you a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past couple of years that are guaranteed to backfire and will probably hurt your website.

Every Single Post Must be SEO Perfect

Search Engine Optimization is the magic bullet to hitting the big time. Make sure that every post you write is full of keywords and search phrases. Coherence and readability should be afterthoughts.

The Thesis WordPress theme (or AllinOneSEO plugin) helps with tagging posts.  But that’s not enough.

You want to embed every post with as many search terms as possible in the body of the content.  If you’re writing about the upcoming Joss Whedon movie The Avengers, you want to make sure that you have his name and the title of the movie in every single paragraph—sentence, if you can manage it—so that your post is recognized as being about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers above all others.

If the content gets clunky and hard to read, don’t worry about it.  Your readers need to know you’re talking about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.

People will understand the post anyway.  All they care about is Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and what you have to say about the movie.  Not how you said it. Once they’ve searched Google and found your site, they’re yours forever.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

Joss Whedon Avengers.

The More Ads, The Better

Some people say there is an art to placing ads in blog posts.  To them, I say “pfft!”  The more ads that you can fit in a post, the better.

Stack the odds in your favor.

Don’t bother trying to integrate them where they are most context-sensitive or where you think they’ll have the most impact.  And don’t even think about where the reader’s eye will be aesthetically drawn.  Put them in as much of the white-space as possible.

Make it impossible for your readers to miss the advertisements, and you can guarantee they’ll click.

Don’t Leave or Respond to Comments

Blogging is all about you.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  There is a lot of advice out there saying that the trick to building a successful blog is fostering a community, or that the only way to really drive traffic to your blog is through leaving meaningful comments on other blogs.

Hooey, I say.  Hooey.

Readers don’t care about what Joe Schmoe says about your blog, nor do they care what you have to say about his, either.

People don’t visit sites to read comments.  People visits sites to read the great articles and posts.  They visit to get the best content available, and if you’re wasting your time schmoozing with other writers and readers, then you are wasting valuable time that could be spent making new content that will even more visitors to your site through your mastery of SEO.

Spelling and Grammar are for School Kids, Not Bloggers

If your word processor puts a red or green line under something you write, take its advice.  Change what’s wrong.  But if you spend more time than that on spelling and grammar, you’re blogging the wrong way.

The beauty of the Internet is that no one cares about the occasional typo or grammatical misstep.

In fact, the more mistakes you let through into your blogs, the better your readers can relate to you.  They will see that you are like them.  They don’t understand or care about grammar, and neither do you.  You are no longer the blogger on high, but a regular guy or gal who your readers want to shower with money and ad clicks.

And those sticky little things that English teachers try to say are big deals?  Who/whom? Lay/lie? Their/there/they’re?  It’s/its?  They’re nothing.  Most readers can’t tell the difference, so why should you?

Readers go to your blog for what you have to say, not how you say it.

First Draft, Only Draft

If you’re the kind of writer who goes back through each post you write, poring over words, structure, and phrasing so that each article you publish is perfect, then stop it.  You’re wasting your time.  Didn’t anyone ever tell you that if you think long,  you think wrong?

Much like grammar and spelling, revision and editing are myths that writing teachers preach as being gospel, when they’re closer to apocrypha.

If you’re spending all your time making each and every post perfect, you’re losing writing time.  Those ideas are already on paper, and since ideas are what readers care about, give them what they want.

Working through multiple drafts just slows you down.

If you spend 3x more time revising a post than you do writing it, then you are severely hurting your writing’s proliferation rate.   The more time you spend on creating new content instead of fixing old, the higher your chances are of going viral or hitting the right topic and the right time and making it big.

The base ideas stay the same through every draft, and those are what readers take with them anyway.  They won’t remember if you broke Point 3 into two paragraphs or left it as one.  They won’t care if you spend 45 minutes rephrasing your opening sentence for better effect.

Readers like it raw, and the more you edit, the more processed the ideas become, and the less memorable.

Remember how you like that demo of “Billy Jean” on the Thriller Special Edition far more than the radio release?  It’s like that.

Seeing Your Problems? Taking My Advice?

Then I feel sorry for you.

In fact, I feel sorry for you if you place more stock in any advice column more than you place in getting out there and racking up personal experience.  What works for one person may not work for another.  What made the The Beatles or Stephen King successful probably won’t work for the garage band down the street or the writer locked in the attic.

Reading about blogging, talking about it, researching it, and going to conventions/meet-ups can only take you so far.  Stop sitting there wishing you were a successful blogger, trying to find a magic bullet that just doesn’t exist, and go start blogging and making your own path.

All the advice in the world—good or bad—can’t help you if you don’t.

Comments

  1. I like a good advice post here and there, but it’s like with writing anything. If you follow everyone’s advice, where does your work go? I’ll admit I’m guilty of not commenting around, but I do when I have time (or pretend I have time) much like how I blog. My favorite “tip” has got to be “Every Single Post Must be SEO Perfect”.

    Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.

    Can I tell you how surprised I am to not hear you chime in about the Buffy reboot? Or have I missed your remarked completely? Not to get off topic, sorry!

    • Thanks, and I’m pretty guilty of reading tons of advice columns and articles myself in secret. Most of them get on my nerves though because they harp on the same issues over and over again. The blogging-about-blogging niche has some really good content and a lot of really mediocre copycats.

      Regarding the Buffy reboot, the reason I hadn’t really touched on it lately is because I had done so a long time ago when it first came up. My opinions haven’t changed much since the initial conversation that can be found here: http://www.professorbeej.com/2009/05/why-buffy-vampire-slayer-reboot-is.html

      Overall, I think it’s a terrible idea, and even though Joss has recently said he doesn’t want to be known as “Mr. Buffy,” I can’t help but think any so-called reboot at this point is just a moneygrab. I’d love to be proven wrong, and they may be going a totally new direction with it than they were in early 09 when I wrote that article (back in the wee days of my blogging when I was even wordier than I am now). But I don’t see it happening. For me, Whedon is Buffy for no other reason than the voice; if they new team can’t get the voice of the show down just pat, it’ll come across as them trying too hard. And if they do get it right, so many of us purists will still see it as being “not Whedony enough” out of principle. I see it as a lose/lose situation. Again, though, I’d love to be proven wrong.

  2. I have to agree with Aden about point #1. It’s something that I fight with, or against, or something.

    As a relatively new blogger (just over a year), I naturally have an interest in bringing more people to my blog. Blog advice sites always recommend making shorter sentences and paragraphs, and optimizing for SEO.

    However, my writing style tends to be more conversational, and my posts are usually long and completely not focused on ‘keywords for the sake of driving traffic.’ Keywords are certainly used, particularly in titles or subject headings, but that is merely a byproduct of trying to write a good post, not because I have optimization in mind.

    I’m not a professional blogger, and I’m not trying to sell anything, so it has always seemed that paying attention to optimization, at the expense of the natural flow of my writing, would take the soul out of it. And the joy. So, I prefer to write what I write, and not worry about it too much.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for posting this – it’s nice to see a blogger that I respect and enjoy confirming my thoughts about SEO. I liked the entire article, but that point really resonated with me this morning.

  3. The question is how we define “success”. A lot of the people who give out advice about “how to blog” seem to think that it’s all about numbers – the amount of hits, clicks, subscribers or similar measures. More goblin minded people think it’s about income – and I figure ads become more important to them. But you could look at it differently. What if the quantity of the visitors doesn’t matter as much as the quality? Wouldn’t you rather have 2 or 3 intelligent, well written, thoughtful comments on a post that sparks your own thinking and move you forward than 30 “nice post” comments? I would for sure.
    And what about the pleasure you get in the writing process? Isn’t it important that the blogging is fun, stimulating, enjoyment rather than work? Many of those guides with cheap tricks don’t take those aspects in at all. In the end I think every blogger has to find his own way.

  4. “Success” for me is making people think without making them too angry (anger puts up defensive screens that actively impede learning). It’s a fine line sometimes. Sparking great comment threads is icing on the cake and a fine diagnostic for how well I’m doing.

    I don’t think I’ve *ever* posted a first draft. Too many years of writing class papers and reading books has given me a deep respect for writing. I can’t just throw garbage out there and hope someone else finds the wheat among the chaff. It’s the same for spelling; I can’t let stupid errors slide.

    Perhaps most of all, I write to keep my own thinking agile and my communication skills functional. If I get lazy or start to write for the page hits, I’ve already lost the war. I’m certainly grateful when someone else finds my work useful, but first and foremost, as selfish as it sounds, I write for myself. I try to keep high standards, though I’d certainly like to push higher.

  5. “People don’t visit sites to read comments. People visits sites to read the great articles and posts.”

    Have to disagree there… Although I tend to stay away from YouTube comments, I read blog comments all the time, and I’m sure I’m not alone, which is why the Gravatars have become so popular. I’ve found great blogs to follow and interesting people to know that way.

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