When you’re a blogger, you receive all sorts of blogging advice from people who think they've got all the experience and want to share a thought or two. But actually, not everything you read or hear is as helpful or as you might initially think.
On Saturday, a lot of you commented on my post “Why I won’t tell you what your blog should be about”, saying that you (like me) had fallen into the trap of taking a lot of advice on board and had struggled with knowing what to believe. I can completely relate. But one big barrier to taking on any piece of advice is knowing who you’re getting it from. Just because one thing worked for one person, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
So today, I wanted to share some pieces of blogging advice I’ve seen or been given in the past and thought it best to ignore for good.
#1 | Build it and they will come
While I would agree that a lot of works goes into building a strong foundation for your blog, having the expectation that once it’s up and running people will start flooding your way isn't the best outlook. “Build it and they will come” is outdated advice now, because there are new blogs being started daily. Our community is growing all the time and if we want to be successful, we need to work hard to get people to come and see what we have to offer.
There have been many times when I’ve noticed a drop in everything because I haven’t put as much effort in. But with the strategies I implement on a daily basis that help to grow my blog, people do come my way – and they’ll come your way too.
#2 | You need to spend a fortune on design
The frequently broadcast advice that design is the most important aspect and you need to spend money on good design is bad advice). Yes, it’s important – very important! - and I wouldn't ignore that. But what I will ignore is the fact that you have to spend a fortune on it.
Spending a lot of money on design (especially when you can’t afford to) just because other people have, doesn’t mean that is key to their blogging success. There are pros and cons to everything, and you have to do things based on what’s right for you and your current situation.
I do spend money on my website – I pay a monthly fee for hosting it. The design? I did all that myself. And I recently revamped and redesigned my homepage which I couldn't be happier with. The only thing I am planning to spend money on is a new logo.
Take design advice with a pinch of salt. Do some research and look at the different options first. Then decide what’s right to do for you and your blog.
#3 | Your blog should be all about you
If you run a blog, there is something to be said for putting a limit on how much of yourself you share for the sake of boundaries. If you hope to keep some of your sanity (which I know you do) then creating this line is a key step in making sure you know exactly what you want and don’t want to share.
I took the decision to hardly ever feature my family on my blog, use “we” instead of “me” and create a line so I know what I want to share. My blog isn't all about me – it’s about the things that make me who I am, and my audience too. This means ABOH can develop its own identity based on my own purpose and values.
So yes, your blog should be about you. But should it be all about you? That’s an answer that will be different for all of us.
#4 | YOU'VE got to go full-time to be a successful blogger
Blogging as a job is nothing new now, and a lot of people actually want to make a decent amount of money from their blogs. We can look at the bloggers who do this for a living and think that’s what we need to aim for to be successful. You know I embrace positivity on here - but aiming for this can be risky and could potentially end very badly.
I am a huge believer in only doing things when you’re ready and when you’re in a decent place to support yourself if you want to chase this dream. While I do think, at some point, you have to take the leap, you’ve got to make sure you formulate a plan to help you get there.
But that’s beside the point anyway. You don’t have to go full-time to be a successful blogger. Plus, some of us might not want our blog to be our career. I for one, enjoy my job and take comfort in the stability of a steady pay cheque, knowing as well that I’ve got plenty of room for growth. It might surprise you to hear me say “I don’t want to be a full-time blogger”, because that isn't the norm now. But I know my mind won’t change, and I hope to see more people take this outlook too.
#5 | There are too many blogs out there
People will tell this to bloggers all the time and it’s true – there are a lot of blogs out there and it’s becoming more difficult to get yourself noticed. This piece of advice is often said to put you off and make you come back down to reality. But don’t listen to it. Don’t let it put you off. So what if there are millions of blogs out there? Why should that stop you from starting one? If you work hard at crafting your own voice and creating content you believe in, then you have the potential to succeed. Ten loyal readers are better than hundreds of ignorant ones.
By the end of 2013, there were 152 million blogs. Just think what that number is now. We are literally surrounded by them. And yes, it’s difficult. But the more work I put in and the more my passion grows, I see that in my blog too, because I offer something others don’t – my voice and my experiences. There might be too many blogs out there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed.
#6 | YOU'VE got to be everywhere
It’s time consuming running a blog as it is when you’re just focusing on content. Trying to be everywhere else on top of that can get exhausting. Instead of being on every social platform and not really using them to your advantage, be strategic and choose the ones that are right for you. Choose the ones you enjoy the most, the ones your audience is most active on and the ones that will help you build your blog.
And remember – the purpose of social media comes down to two main things: building relationships and directing people back to your website. You've got to be purposeful with what you’re sharing and think carefully about all your content.
I choose to focus my time on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, because they are the platforms where I can communicate best with my audience. Here’s some more help when you’re thinking about how best to use social media.
#7 | Have big dreams and goals
Not everything has to be the biggest thing you’ve ever done. And not every blog has to be big. You don’t have to set yourself a goal of getting to 1000 subscribers. There is no shame in focusing on smaller milestones first. It’s also OK if you don’t want to be a influencer or a big player in your industry. We all have dreams and goals, but having big ones might not be suited to every single person.
With my blog, I still use the goal of aiming for one subscriber or one piece of interaction per day. That might be small, but it actually helps me reach my bigger goals and see how much progress I’m making in the long run.
There’s a lot of advice floating around at the moment, with a lot of people wanting to share what they know. Listen to it too much and you might feel overwhelmed. Or, you can take it with a pinch of salt and carry on doing your own thing. That’s what makes you, you, anyway.
What are some rules you think should be ignored when it comes to blogging?