5 Blogging Rules You MUST Break

Break the rules and you go to prison...break t...

Are you heading for Blogging Prison? (Photo credit: Stefano Mazzone)

There is a reason that the following ideas might be considered blogging rules. I’ve no issue with these rules at all. In fact, I’ve followed them myself to good effect. It’s just that I also think the essence of blogging is self expression. The best thing about it is that you get to do whatever it is you want to do.

In terms of helping to develop your own creativity, your writing skills, or basic communication skills, I’d advocate careful consideration of these rules rather than the unquestioning following of them. And any of the other blog rules you’ll find in any number of ‘blog rules’ posts out there.

While they are all designed to make you a better blogger, pushing the boundaries and experimenting might just make you a better writer!

Rule number 1 – Limit your blog posts to 500 / 1000 words.

It’s easy to understand the logic here. People’s attention spans, especially online attention spans, are notoriously short. Writing reams of pages leaves most people cold. Most people, so the logic goes, don’t even get to the bottom of the shortest blog post.

There’s no doubt this is true. It’s also a great discipline to learn. Being able to express your point in as few a words as possible will always stand you in good stead.

But sometimes only the long form will do.

Say everything you’ve got to say. But make sure it flows. Do a big old idea dump onto the page, and then craft a sensible article from it all.

I want to be a real writer when I grow up (!) and as such, I want to make sure I don’t lose, or at least practice, any long form ability I have.

So long drawn out posts are sometimes worth their while.

I’ve even started a blog for short stories to ensure I get the chance to fully express myself, give it a try.


Does anyone read anymore? (Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360)

Rule 2Write upside down

This is the description the wonderful Mark Schaefer gives for his writing style when it comes to blogging. Simply put, start with the end. And then explain how you got there.

Tell ’em what you are going to tell ’em

Tell ’em

Tell ’em you told ’em!

It gives plenty of opportunity to make your point, with out running the risk of having the reader leaving your blog before finishing your work. The problem then of course, is not having understood what you were trying to say, the reader most likely forgets what the point was in the first place.

Not a good way to build a committed and long term audience. Its great advice. But you should also get into the habit of telling a tale.

A start, a middle and an end.

If like me you have aspirations to write novels or other stories, then you need to develop an ability to take the reader with you.The ability to actually tell a story, to entertain, is essential to the writer.

Rule 3Stick to your topic

This is great general marketing advice. Narrow your focus. Know your blog audience, and give them what they want. This is a marketing blog, so you’d expect to find lots of marketing stuff on here, right?

Well, mostly right!

Some of the most highly regarded posts I’ve written have been a little off topic. I’ve written about my family and what’s important to us. I’ve written about any number of challenges I’ve faced and I’ve written about my new job!

I think your audience is interested in finding out more about you. The person you are. So that’s reason enough to go ‘off the reservation’ on occasion, but there’s another reason too.

Writing about the same stuff all the time can get a bit, well, ‘samey’. And if you’re getting bored, you can bet your audience is getting bored too!

Writing about other stuff, and challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone is a great way to add to your skills.

You’ll also keep the ‘day job’, the stuff your write most about, a lot fresher too. And you never know, you might even find something else to write about that you are equally passionate about.

What is “voice” in writing and how is it creat...

Whats your writing ‘voice’?(Photo credit: DannyGetz)

Rule 4 –  Comment on other blogs

This is about networking yourself around the blogosphere. Becoming known to other bloggers, commenting on their work, and of course sharing their work to your networks, encourages those guys to do the same for you.

But this is very much about building an audience rather than anything else. And is that really what you want for your blogging?

Maybe it is, and that’s fair enough. There’s nothing wrong with this at all.

I count any number of great bloggers out there as my friends, entirely due to the mutually beneficial relationships we have created through commenting and sharing each others work.

But if you are writing to write, to learn how to create, it can become a distraction.

You can spend so much time reading and writing on other people’s blogs that you never get chance to write your own!

Rule 5 – Using keywords and SEO

Again, entirely sensible advice for those bloggers hoping to build large audiences and wanting to become influential in their own right.

The trouble with this approach of course, is you run the risk of being interesting to search engines only, and you might not actually offer much of value to the reader themselves.

And slavish adherence to penguin or whatever other update that Google have just released can have another consequence. Poor content.

If you write with only a search engine in mind, who on earth is going to be interested in reading your work?

My advice is to always write / create the best content you can. If its good, people (via the very search engines we are talking about interestingly enough) will find you.

The last thing you want to do is get a load of people to your blog and then turn them off by filing the headline or the first paragraph of your post with keyword laden nonsense!

So there you are. Reasons why sometimes following the rules isn’t necessarily the best way to go for your blog. What do you think? Do you follow the rules? Or do you carve your own path?

Let me know in the. Comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Bonus links!

Here is a guy you can follow to get real tips about blogging, and making money too Ste Kerwer’s Dukeo website / blog

And here is a blog I follow religiously – Kate Shrewsday breaks all the above rules and still produces the most beautiful at times, whimsical and down right entertaining read of my day.

Enjoy both, and subscribe to both – well worth it

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13 replies
  1. Gina Balarin (@GBalarin)
    Gina Balarin (@GBalarin) says:

    Good blog. At the end of the day, good writing stands for itself. The rules are more like ‘guidelines’ – good to have, helpful to follow, but the best players will know when to break the rules so they stand out. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Mark Harai (@Mark_Harai)
    Mark Harai (@Mark_Harai) says:

    This is an interesting post, Tony – you could go both ways on some of these pointers, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish… Results are key.

    I think some folks get caught up with some of these ‘rules’ and it’s holding them back from making real progress.

    Great food for thought, thank you, sir! : )

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Mark. I was sort of intending that double meaning really – highlighting hte ‘rules’ as such, but hopefully encouraging people to not get too tied up with them 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to comment

  3. seangrey54
    seangrey54 says:

    Hi Tony, I enjoyed reading the blog and found it really helpful, especially the bit about limiting your words. Well done. Inspired I thought it would be a good idea to make a comment on your blog – building the pipeline!

  4. Jenna
    Jenna says:

    “I’ve written about my family and what’s important to us.” I’ve only recently started my own professional blog, and adding a human element to your writing, I’ve discovered, is almost always a well-received component!

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