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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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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?
Oct. 11th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)
(Sorry: please edit "rules" to "tactics" :-) )

Well, I mean a couple things, which in my haste I didn't distinguish.

1) I think readers expect certain things from certain authors. Author X will reliably post about how the writing is going today, Author Y will reliably post something snarky about a book once a week, Author K will reliably post a cuss-laden rant about how the genre is falling apart, etc. If one sets expectations by consistent blogging, that can work to your advantage and not put readers off.

2) The occasional break in routine (e.g. posting a profanity-laden rant about a candy bar you JUST DON'T LIKE) can be a funny comment or take on haters/ranters in general, or on authors whose blogs are catalogs of four letter words. :-)

And maybe the overall point underlying the above is knowing why one is blogging. Is it purely as a tool to attract readers? In order to connect with other writers? A way to attract the attention of Leading Literary Lights? Because you like writing daily, and the blog helps you do that? All of the above are different motivations, each with more or less useful tactics involved in the style of blogging.
Oct. 11th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. It's important to know why you blog and what you're hoping to achieve through blogging.

Thanks for sharing, John :)

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