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.
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.
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?
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.
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?