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The 5 Blogging Rules That Are Holding You Back

Posted by on 28th Oct 2012 | 30 comments

The rules that hold you backNow, you probably fall into one of two camps on this issue:

  1. There are no rules in blogging. It’s about self-expression and people appreciating you for who you are.
  2. Alternatively, blogging is a process that can be analysed, and following the rules works best.

Neither of those is quite right. (Sorry.)

Here’s how it really works:

Blogging is about conveying useful information in a way that your audience will stick around to read, and letting them know they’re not alone.

With that in mind, let’s take down 5 big blogging rules that have been holding you back.

Rule 1: Content is King

It’s true, content is king. But it’s a quaint fairytale king whose power isn’t what it seems. Content can’t draw an audience to your blog without promotion, and it can’t hold them there without an engaging expression. Words are not enough.

Make sure that for every piece of content you plan, you also create a marketing strategy to help your words find their way to the right people. Otherwise, you’re just shouting into the wind, and that’s a wasted effort.

Rule 2: You Must Blog to a Regular Schedule

Says who? Um, a bunch of experts, actually. But I’m not backing down on this issue.

I see some of the biggest and smartest bloggers posting sporadically, or at frequent but seemingly random intervals. They have thousands of subscribers who hang on their every word, and who don’t care if those words are published at unpredictable times.

There’s no need to add extra stress to your blogging by thinking you must publish a post at 12 noon every Tuesday and Friday.  And never publish a post that isn’t ready for your readers’ eyes. Scheduling is less important than quality.

Rule 3: Blog Posts Must Be Search Engine Optimised

OK, being genuinely search engine friendly is always a good thing. But a lot of bloggers waste an awful lot of time on SEO tasks that don’t bring them any real benefit. Worse, some of the SEO activities you worked so hard on a couple of years ago may be dragging you down the search engine result pages now!

If you’re writing clear, helpful posts then you’re already using some SEO keywords without even trying. If you also use heading tags to format your posts, that gives each post a structure that search engines can understand.

You can just leave it at that. No added SEO is necessary unless you want to go further.

Rule 4: Blog Posts Must be 300 to 500 Words Long

Why did this ever become a blogging rule? More importantly, why assume that this rule applies to your blog? Every post you write should be long enough to get your point across and stick in the reader’s memory; no more, no less.

That could be 100 words plus supporting media, or it could be a 3,000 word epic post. It really depends what you’re writing, and who you’re writing it for. Don’t count words while you write – it’s a time suck and a bad habit for any writer to get into. If you’re curious about your draft’s word count, check it during editing instead.

Rule 5: Your Blog Must Have a Profile on Every Social Network

That would be… exhausting. At least, it would be exhausting to keep them all active and up-to-date.

How many social media profiles have you set up, only to leave them untouched for weeks at a time while you were busy with other tasks? Yeah, me too. There’s no point creating a profile if it looks abandoned when your readers check you out on Pinterest, Facebook, or StumbleUpon.

Stick to the main social media channels you will actually use, and keep things simple enough to leave time for running your blog itself!

Over to You

I’d love to hear from you on this topic. If you’ve broken the blogging rules, how did it work for you? Or is there a big blogging rule you’re afraid to try breaking?

What other blogging rules are holding you back? Let me know in the comments!


Sophie Lizard is a successful freelance blogger on a mission to help bloggers increase their income by blogging for hire. Grab a free copy of her freelance blogger's cheat sheet, The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: 45 Blogs That Will Pay You $50 or More, and take a look at the free "How to Make A Living Blogging" Expert Interview Sessions!

30 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Hamza Sheikh on 28th Oct 2012

    hmm.. bit agreed here with you! These are one of those rules that are declared by so-called SEO experts in the blogging world. As far as I know, Blogging is all just about passion and relation with readers on sharing the valuable tips and tricks.
    Hamza Sheikh recently posted..How To Recover From Google Penguin Using Google Disavow Link ToolMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 29th Oct 2012

      You’re right, Hamza, relating to your readers and showing them that you understand how they feel is one of the best ways to keep them interested in your blog!

  • Posted by Peter Mutiso on 28th Oct 2012

    Hey Sophie,

    I agree with every argument you have enhanced. Why should people follow those rules anyway? Bloggers fail to pass across their ideas because of embarking on the rules and failing to capitalize on their ultimate goal of passing their thoughts to readers
    Peter Mutiso recently posted..Business Plan Template for a BlogMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 29th Oct 2012

      Hi Peter, thanks for your comment. It’s true (and a shame) that bloggers are sometimes so discouraged by the “rules”, they never achieve the objectives that made them start blogging in the first place!

  • Posted by Manoj Rawal on 29th Oct 2012

    Good post Sophie,
    all these are valid point you mentioned here, this is too useful post for beginner blogger. As you consider in 2nd point regular posting is one of the great way to encourage your readers.

    Manoj Rawal

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 29th Oct 2012

      Yep, regular posting can be a way to encourage your readers. And irregular posting is equally encouraging, as long as the posts are helpful and inspiring! Frequency and regularity are less important than your genuine desire to connect with your readers and help them change their world.

  • Posted by Shandi Tan on 29th Oct 2012

    Hi, Sophie. Great post you’ve share here. I agree on the specifics you’ve laid out on how to create a good blog post; except for the last part on promotion.

    Where I’m from, one of the biggest mistakes that brands and businesses make is creating profiles on various social media networks just for the sake of having one. Make one to connect to people, to build relationships and generate more interest. If you’re going to have one, keep it alive. Otherwise, it’s just sad.
    Shandi Tan recently posted..Facebook Chair: Intelligent Branding and Your Social Media Marketing StrategyMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 31st Oct 2012

      I completely agree, Shandi. Believing that you “have to” be on every social network leads to a lot of wasted effort. Better to have one lively social profile than ten neglected ones!

  • Posted by BlackWoods on 30th Oct 2012

    Couldn’t agree more, but sometimes it is hard to blog on a regular basis when you are not a full time blogger.
    The effort used to make it SEO friendly is the reason why many bloggers quit because they get tired of it over time.

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 31st Oct 2012

      Exactly! It’s a big effort, and for a lot of bloggers it isn’t necessary. Irregular blogging works fine for most people who have something genuinely interesting to blog about, and search engine friendliness is much easier to achieve than full-on SEO. Don’t let the rules put you off the game!

  • Posted by Luis Anderson on 30th Oct 2012

    I totally agree with you that content is the king and it must always update the blog because I have noticed some of the blogs are not active. It is not really to update regular basis or you can also post article on your blog two to three times a week.
    Luis Anderson recently posted..Expressly-Yours Yearbooks Homecoming Pinterest Contest – Frequently Asked QuestionsMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Hi Luis, thanks for your comment. I feel bad that I’ve taken this long to reply! I think it’s all about quality and providing what your audience needs, even if you only post once a month.

  • Posted by Bruno Babic on 30th Oct 2012

    Hi Sophie,
    Referring to the paragraph of your post where you say “You Must Blog To a Regular Schedule” I’d like to ask you whether or not I should continue publishing new posts to my blog that I’ve recently started if my goal now is to actually get my first blog’s visitors to comment on exactly that first post and not other posts right now.

    If in your opinion I should carry on with posting new posts on my blog, how I could make sure that my visitors first see my first post when they come to visit my blog for the first time.
    Finally, I have always wanted to learn how I could setup and make sure that, whenever somebody visits any og my blog posts, the old guest comments are well visible below each and every of my blog post. Do you use any specific software or plugin outside the WordPress dashboard, or something inside the WordPress dashboard, in order to make sure that your old guest blogging comments are always visible below a specific post on your blog.

    Thanks a lot.

    Bruno

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Hi Bruno, without actually looking inside your blog’s setup I can’t give you detailed advice about comment display. If you’re using WordPress.org, maybe try searching their Codex for some tips?

      Re. your question about ensuring that people read a specific post first when they visit your blog, I think this has more to do with how you set up and promote your site than how many posts you publish.

      You may have a “Sticky post” facility that lets you pin that post to the top of your blog’s post index page so that it isn’t pushed down the page when new posts are published.

      One very simple way to get people reading your first post is to share links online that point directly to that specific post, rather than to your homepage.

      Hope that helps!

  • Posted by Eduard Hennesey on 30th Oct 2012

    I really agree in your post and you are absolutely right that content is the king. The tips you have given are correct and that is recommended if you are a blogger.
    Eduard Hennesey recently posted..Getting the Best Gutter ProtectionMy Profile

  • Posted by Kaavay on 31st Oct 2012

    heyy sophie. informative content that you have posted. Regarding the social media profiles for my blogs.. i have profiles for my company. is it necessary to have profiles foe each of my blogs as well?

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Hi Kaavey, that partly depends on how your brand positioning aligns for the blogs and your company. If they’re very different, you may want separate profiles, but keeping just one profile will certainly take less effort so don’t add more unless you need them!

  • Posted by Diekha JRS on 31st Oct 2012

    Thank’s for sharing this tips master…

  • Posted by jaykrishna on 2nd Nov 2012

    amazing post also posts must be 500+ words this will really help your blog to grow
    jaykrishna recently posted..Design your Website for Mobile UsersMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      I believe that shorter or longer posts are fine, depending on what they’re about and how detailed they are. Instead of word count, I think about expressing and explaining one key idea.

  • Posted by fabinu ibidapo on 3rd Nov 2012

    Good Post Sophie. i agree with what you said except Rile 4. is it compulsory that a post must be 300-500 words long? am somehow confused here.

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Hi Fabinu, I think that these rules are imaginary and so we should not be limited by them! A post should be however long it needs to be to get your message across.

  • Posted by SI on 6th Nov 2012

    Hi Sophie, interesting post, so many points there that I don’t do… I write a post as long as I want, I decide when it’s done when I believe I have written enough to educate people and get my point across. I update regularly but that doesn’t mean weekly, It might be a month between posts however I make sure they are long well written content. It is important that people get quality content.

    As for getting my blog on every social media network or satellite site, I have a few but as you say it takes a lot of effort to be everywhere and what is the point when you are not delivering quality content.

    Speak Soon
    SI
    SI recently posted..Google AdSense or Private Advertising: Which is Best?My Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Thanks Si, nice to see I’m not the only one who thinks these kinds of rules are there to be tested. Rock on!

  • Posted by Sharon Akinoluwa on 8th Nov 2012

    Hi, I think you’ve said it all in this statement “Blogging is about conveying useful information in a way that your audience will stick around to read, and letting them know they’re not alone.” You know your audience more than any one and also what you want to tell them, therefore no external person or authority should set rules that may not necessarily align with your perceived idea of what your market wants, and the best way to communicate with it. So let no man, let no rules put you in a box!
    Sharon Akinoluwa recently posted..THE KEY TO STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESSMy Profile

    • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

      Sharon, what a great comment! Thank you.

      I absolutely believe that a blogger who gets to know their audience inside-out should never need to worry about rules like these. Guidelines that were originally intended to help bloggers can become a heavy burden when they don’t suit the blog or the audience.

  • Posted by shane knight on 9th Nov 2012

    a great content embed with proper useful information is really a must for getting the blog rules

  • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

    And thank you for your nice comment, Draven Raven.

  • Posted by Sophie Lizard on 11th Nov 2012

    Hi Showrav, thanks for taking the time to comment!

    I agree that SEO is very helpful, and I believe that basic SEO can be achieved by any blogger without SEO training. Search engines do a fair job of understanding what a blog post is about, even if the blogger simply writes and formats a quality post without giving SEO a second thought. Many bloggers would benefit from spending more time improving the quality and marketing impact of their blog, instead of worrying about details of SEO.