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I’m putting together some notes to give out at my blogging workshops and presentations. This one’s a list of things to avoid doing (assuming your goal is to develop a broad readership).

As always, these are just my opinions, other folks might feel differently, which is fine.

1. Don’t be boring.
Better no post at all than a string of dull entries. Of course, one person’s idea of ‘dull as dishwater’ is another’s interesting read, so deciding what counts as boring is a subjective thing. I’d say a good way to decide is to ask yourself if you think other folks will find your entry useful/interesting or if you’re posting because you feel you ought to. 

2. Don’t tell people what to do.
It’s a good idea to avoid phrases like ‘Go read’ or ‘Discuss.’ It makes you seem bossy.

[Yes, I recognize the irony of telling folks not to tell folks what to do ]

3. Don’t ignore your readers.
If you get loads of comments on your blog entries, people will understand if you don’t respond to every single one of them, but until then, ignoring people who comment on your blog is the equivalent of walking away without a word after someone’s come over to talk to you. It’s your choice, but I’d advise against it. 

4. Don’t make ranting/hateful/insulting posts or comments.
The occasional vent is fine, if it’s about a personal situation, but ranting makes you look like a hater, and nobody needs more haters in their life.

But it’s part of who I am. I have to be true to myself, don’t I?

Being ‘true to ourselves’ is all well and good, but sometimes our ‘self’ can be a real jerk  (I know mine can). Some ‘selves’ should be kept offline, and the hater is one of them.

5. Don’t talk about yourself in third person, unless it’s your bio or you’re doing it to get a laugh.  

6. Don't promote yourself or your work on someone else’s blog (unless you’ve been invited to do so).
Aside from the rudeness factor, pimping yourself or your work on someone else’s blog just doesn’t work. In fact, I’d say it has a negative effect. It makes you look desperate and annoys that blog’s owner and just about anybody who sees your post. If you don’t think that matters, see the note on being ‘true to ourselves.’ Remember, you want people to recognize your name in a favorable way.

7. Never post anything you wouldn’t want the people you most admire to see.
If you’ve any doubts about whether you should put something online, ask yourself how you’d feel if the people you most respect were to see it.

8. Don’t be a potty mouth.
Some people don’t like swearing. If you use a lot of foul language in your posts, those folks will stop reading.

9. Don’t get involved in finger-pointing, group mockery or flame wars.
Every now and then, somebody will say or do something which invites the ridicule/wrath of the online community. However tempted you feel, I’d suggest you avoid jumping on the bandwagon. Leave the righteous indignation to other folks. If you really feel you have to post something about the matter, do it in a way which adds something useful to the debate, and keep in mind suggestion #4.

 10. _________________________

I left #10 blank, what would you put on a ‘Blogging tactics - Don’t do this’ list?


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( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 10th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
10. Don't use your blog solely for self-promotion. Social media is just that--social. People want to be part of the conversation. Let your blog show that. Offer something, be generous, ask questions or do something like leaving #10 up to your readers to fill in.

Oct. 10th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good one, Katherine. I think it's ironic how a high proportion of self-publicity posts, actually yields less self-promotional benefit - especially in the long run, because folks stop reading.

Thanks for sharing :)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 10th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Don't complain constantly. People whose blogs are a stream of complaints quickly get unfollowed.
Oct. 10th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, a little negative is okay (we all have bad days), but just like in real life, if all we ever do is complain, folks won't enjoy being around us.
Oct. 10th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
10. If it starts to become work to post, don't post.
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
You know, I think I'd change that a little. How about: 'If it starts to become work to post, consider posting about different subject(s).'?

What do you think, Brian?
Oct. 10th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
I'd add "Try to post consistently. Even if it's only one time a week, people like to know when to expect something new from you, so don't disappear for months then post every day for three weeks only to disappear again."
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to think how to turn that into a 'Don't'.

How about: 'Don't post twenty times one week, then nothing for a month.'?
(no subject) - slweippert - Oct. 11th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 11th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
Posts about last night's dream or nightmare should be limited to once a year or never.
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
Lol, personally, I'd leave them out altogether, unless they come true :)
(no subject) - paulwoodlin - Oct. 10th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
And don't brag too much about you or your kids.

Good post, btw, Jon.
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
And don't brag too much about you or your kids.

Or grandkids, not that there was ever much chance of that in my family ;)
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Just thought of another one: Avoid TMI. We don't want to hear about your drunken one night stand, hemorrhoids, or yeast infection.
Oct. 10th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
Lol...and ew!

But mostly lol :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 10th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
I think I'd add something along the lines of "Don't make veiled references to things that you're not going to talk about directly, or to people whom you're not mentioning directly."

There have been times when people have referred to Some Editor or Some Writer or Some Controversy, and half their friends list seems instantly, from just the veiled mention, to know precisely what's going on and what's being talked about. I found that frustrating and alienating--it made it clear to me that I wasn't reading in the right places to participate in the conversation. I wished the people had either phrased the thing generally enough so that it truly didn't refer back to a specific person or event, or that they'd gone ahead and talked specifically about whatever-it-was. The veiled references made it feel like gossip, sort of.

I guess if you have a journal that's read primarily by your close personal friends, then it's natural to talk to that inside crowd. That's who you're writing for, and others who are reading along are outsiders until such time as they come to know you well enough to know all the details and whatnot. But if you're writing a public blog, for the public at large, then I think it's better not to have posts that divide readers into insiders and outsiders.
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. I hate it when there's an In-crowd - not least because I'm never allowed to join :(
(no subject) - slweippert - Oct. 11th, 2010 12:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 11th, 2010 10:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
don't just blog twitter posts. I *HATE* twitter posts. I have absolutely no idea what's going on most of the time, since I'm only seeing only part of the conversation, nor do I know who the other conversants are. If I want to read your twitter posts, I'll sign up for twitter and read them there. Otherwise, a blog is a blog. Twitter is inane, IMO. Oh gosh, am I sounding irritated here?
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
Lol, Twitter can have that effect on people :)

Mind you, I always assumed the Twitter cross post was some kind of automatic thing.
(no subject) - musingaloud - Oct. 10th, 2010 11:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC)
I've decided that my writer's blog will be mostly about writing. I've seen what happens to writers who get political on their blog. It gets bloody, and I wish I could see some sort of data on if it lost them readers or not.
Oct. 10th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
I'm seriously considering hiring someone to write a public blog for me.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 10th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
I don't like 'don'ts'. That in itself can feel like holier-than-thou lecturing. How about turning this into a list of dos?

Actually, along with constant self-pity and whinery, that's a thing I don't like in blogs: people who are constantly telling others how to think and how to behave in a very fundamental way.

Most important, I think: offer a variety of things and be yourself.

Second-most important: you can never please everyone. Accept that some people won't like it.
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how telling people what to do is any less like lecturing than telling the what not to do, but if I come across at all like I'm being holier than thou, I apologize, Patty. It certainly wasn't my intention - that's scheduled for next week's post ;)

(no subject) - mikandra - Oct. 10th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 10th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mikandra - Oct. 10th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
While there are points I might argue,
it's much as I've said previously concerning advice in general.
Someone who is successfully doing what they're talking about
is probably giving trustworthy advice.
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Unless it's all part of a cunning plan to get other folks to follow bad advice and therefore lose their readers who'll have nowhere else to turn but me. Mwaahaahaa!
Something like this? - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Something like this? - jongibbs - Oct. 10th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
Don't use a lot of text talk in your blogs. (Sorry, I was scraping the bottom of the idea bowl. Everyone said such great things already.)
Oct. 10th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
You'll be okay here, Tracy. Aside from the lol, out loud one, I really don't know much about txting ;)
Oct. 11th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
re: #3

I agree with this, but have you noticed a difference between bloggers responding to comment at Livejournal versus bloggers responding to comments at other places like Blogspot? It seems like it's less expected for the blog owners at other places to respond to each individual. (I'm not saying all blogspot people ignore comments - most of the ones I follow do respond to readers.)
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:40 am (UTC)
I haven't noticed a big difference between LJ and other journal sites when it comes to a straightforward response to a comment, but the comment thread system here allows for a lot more back and forth between folks.

Any number of people can join in and/or follow what was said without having to sift through loads of unrelated remarks. If you ask me, that and the Friends page are LJ's strongest selling points.

As for bloggers who put in the hard work to of write a great post, only to ignore people who take the time to read and comment on it, I just don't get it, but when all's said and done, it's their blog, I guess.
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:40 am (UTC)
10. Don't be afraid to break the rules sometimes.

I've seen authors break all of your rules above, sometimes very entertainingly so. Whether it's potty-mouth or boring posts, some authors can make all of the above work, especially if they do so in a thoughtful fashion. The caveat is that if you've just started blogging you probably don't have enough experience yet to know when or why to break them, or to have settled into an online persona.
Oct. 11th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
I'm not sure there are rules for blogging, at least, not in the way writing has rules. I think it's more about finding out what works for you and what doesn't (which, as you say, you can't know when you first start blogging).

I can see how pretending to rant or posting a deliberately boring journal entry might be entertaining. Is that what you mean?
(no subject) - jtglover - Oct. 11th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 11th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
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