Blogging and Writing

Expert Blogging Advice that I Ignore

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I’m a firm believer in blogging the way that works for you, and ignoring all the advice. But I know that sometimes people, especially new bloggers, feel pressured to follow the “expert” advice.

This post includes bits of advice on several different sites claiming to be experts telling you how to “succeed” at blogging. Success seems to be defined as making money, at least in that particular approach to blogging. It doesn’t necessarily translate well to those of us who are writing for the sake of writing, but I’ve seen people get frustrated from getting caught in these not so applicable suggestions, so in case you needed reassurance to ignore them, here it is.

Niche down

Niching down means figuring out exactly what your target audience wants, and giving them that, and only that, until the end of time. Okay, maybe not the end of time bit, but you know what I mean.

I talked about niches recently, and that makes sense if the sole reason for your blog is your business. If I have a business selling guinea pig coats, it doesn’t make sense for me to be blogging about socks for cats, unless they’ve inspired me to create socks for guinea pigs, or if I’ve branched out into cat footwear.

If you’re not selling guinea pig socks, there’s no reason you shouldn’t write about cats, horses, iguanas, and whatever else is in your personal zoo. Unless you really want to niche down because you don’t care about anything other than guinea pig socks, the world is your oyster.

Mailing list

Successful, big-time bloggers will tell you that you must start building up an email list right from day one. This isn’t the WordPress subscribe by email option; it’s getting people to give you their email address so you can add them to your mailing list and bombard them with crap whenever you’re so inclined.

You might have guessed from the bombard them with crap part that I’m not into the whole email marketing thing. Everything I have to say is on my blog, and that’s where people are already going to read what I have to say. Why clog up anybody’s inbox unnecessarily?

Keyword research

This is all about trying to rank well in search engine results, and using the best words to get the best results. I just don’t think it makes any sense to do this as a blogger who’s writing for the sake of writing. I use the Yoast SEO plugin, and after I’ve written a post, and then I’ll have a look at Yoast’s recommendations around how often I used whatever I picked as my keyword. Then I might tweak, or I might ignore. If I’m doing a post about countertransference, there’s really no synonym, so I’m using that word a shit ton of times. Yoast doesn’t like it, but I don’t care. Unless you’re only writing for business, write first, then think about SEO later if you’re so inclined.

Use numbers in your post titles

Based on this recommendation, the name for this post might be The Top 6 Bits of Blogging Advice You Should Ignore. I get a lot of random contacts through my blog of people wanting to guest post about bespoke jacuzzis (apparently that’s a thing) for the sake of getting a backlink. Often, those messages will offer up prospective article titles, and it’s all top 5, 8 best, etc., etc.

That’s fine if it’s done naturally, but done too often, it just seems very contrived. I’m not a fan of contrived.

Modify your approach based on stats

Some expert bloggers say you should adapt how you post based on stats. Personally, I don’t adjust anything based on stats. I can see it if perhaps you’re trying to figure out what posting times work best for your audience, but otherwise, it seems more likely to cause problems than solve them. There are a gazillion different factors that influence your stats, and you won’t have any way of knowing what many of those factors are. If you want to adjust based on stats, feel free, but it’s totally optional.

Be annoying

Okay, fine, so one is recommending that you be annoying, but they’re suggesting things that are annoying. Pop-ups to subscribe to someone’s email list when I first show up to their site are moderately annoying. What really bugs me, and I’ve seen this recommended, is the use of exit intent pop-ups.

What the heck is an exit-intent pop-up? Some sites use what’s called passive event listeners to pay attention to what your mouse is doing on the screen. When you move up to the top of the screen to a place where they think you’re about to leave the page, boom, pop-up. That’s creepy and annoying, and a good way to make sure I will never do whatever it is they’re harassing me to do.

Are there any bits of expert blogging advice that you’ve heard and chosen to ignore?

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47 thoughts on “Expert Blogging Advice that I Ignore”

    1. Oops, hit send too soon. Why is everything in italics today? Another โ€œimprovement?โ€ ๐Ÿคฃ

      Anyway, my advice for non biz bloggers is to write about yourself (assuming you have the sense not to post details about work or kids), or post fiction/poetry. No one wants to read reposts of articles or essays from other sites. I unfollow anyone who does this!

  1. ๐Ÿ™‚ One is entitled to discard the type of blogging advice that does not resonate with them.

    In regards to niches, personal bloggers are not obligated to stick to any of them.

    Business-related bloggers, on the other hand, can benefit greatly by choosing a niche and sticking to it.

    Although I use numbers in some of my titles, they are in no way mandatory.

    I do not do the mailing list thing either (It is not my style).

    Now, I would not discourage anyone from doing keyword research because choosing the right keywords can contribute to the visibility of one’s blog posts in Google’s search engine results pages.

    Anyway, you are smart to let the Yoast SEO plugin choose them for you.

    I hate those pop-up subscription widgets with a passion; I will never use them.

    1. The trap I’ve seen some bloggers fall into with keyword research is that they ended up trying to write based on keywords, and felt frustrated and constrained in their writing as a result. I think it’s like any element of SEO, trying to write for search engines rather than readers can cause problems for people.

  2. Iโ€™m so with you on this. I used to read these posts and feel under pressure to do all the right things to make my blog work. It was messing with my head. Now I write what I want when I want and read what I want when I want. I donโ€™t worry about numbers or stats and I pick whatever keywords I think fit – they may or may not be useful. I started my blog to help me process stuff and to have a place where I felt like I had a voice. Itโ€™s freeing to get back to that.

  3. I suck at following most of the advice. Especially when I’m depressed and mostly want to speed watch disaster movies. I try not to care about the end result, just release it all into the universe to whatever result ensues. It’s a good philosophy. One day I hope to mean it.

  4. I enjoyed this. I was recently directed to a free “course” on how to grow your blog. A lot of the things that said you should do just made me shake my head. Who has the time and energy for that? I just want to write about what’s in my head, and if people like it, cool.

  5. I’m so glad to hear your opinion on niche blogging! I feel like I have SO MANY things to say, and also that sometimes it is hard to just write about one subject for the sake of sticking within a niche. I have multiple interests/passions so why would I only write about one topic? Also I feel like it can get pretty repetitive if I’m constantly writing about one thing

    1. On a personal blog you can write about anything.

      But when it comes to niche blogging you should avoid writing about anything.

      It hurts the blog rank.

  6. I agree with almost everything you have expressed. One should write what one feels like..there should be novelty in blogs, no use repeating somebody else’s work…popups are certainly most irritating…having niche is a choice which depends on what an individual is blogging for..

  7. I hate pop-ups with a passion! I agree with everything in this post. SO many people/posts recommend the newsletter thing that I feel pressured to send one out every now and then, but TBH, I always feel like maybe I’m bugging people with it and I never really see results from it. I think you have to be consistently annoying to a large amount of people to get results, lol. I’d rather just write and enjoy myself. Although I have succumbed to the occasional number in my titles. I didn’t see any huge result in those post vs. non-numbered titles.

    1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the occasional number in post titles. But when it’s every title, it starts to look a bit contrived.

      I agree, consistently annoying is what seems to be necessary to get results, and while that might be good for some people, that’s not how I want to operate.

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