What You Don’t Know About Blogging Can Hurt You

Filed as Editorial, Features, Guides on March 11, 2008 3:22 pm

Graphic of a to do list for blogs graphic by Lorelle VanFossen copyrightThere are a lot of things you may not know about blogging that can hurt you and your blog.

If you aren’t using keywords to be found, you will not be found.

Your blog is found two ways: search engines and word of mouth. Not link exchanges, advertising, or SEO whizbang gimmicks. If you are not using the words people use to search for your content, you will not be found through search engines.

Avoid pronouns. The “it” will kill you. If you are writing about WordPress, then spell WordPress right and properly, and talk about WordPress Plugins not Plugins, and WordPress Themes not Themes. Find ways of incorporating WordPress into your WordPress blog so it is naturally present. If you are talking about it, and you want people to know about it, then how can they find it if you don’t tell them what it is?

It’s that simple.

If you aren’t writing content worth talking about, you will not be found.

If your content isn’t worth talking about, no one will talk about it.

Write content that is interesting, entertaining, has value, and contributes to the world as a resource or source. Make it timeless. If it is, people will talk about it on their blogs, through social networking services, and recommend it to others as they go about their day online and off.

It’s called word-of-mouth and viral marketing. I call it water cooler power. It’s whatever gets them talking about it the next day around the water cooler.

If you really want to be found, be social.

If you want to get known, be knowable. Get involved with some basic social networking, social site submission services and social bookmarking services by participating as a user. Comment on blogs.

Blog about other bloggers and their work. Attend blog conferences.

If no one knows you, how will you get known? Get sociable.

Blogging is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be.

The first few months of blogging involves a learning curve – not just about blogging. You learn the basics of blogging then get interested in the social site submission services, bookmarking services, gadgets, widgets, bells and whistles, then social networking, and one thing leads to another until you are running WordPress, MySpace, and Facebook blogs, tweeting on Twitter, reading through 200 plus blogs in your feed reader, tracking dozens of blog posts you’ve commented on, and overwhelmed with all blogging seems to involve.

Blogging is hard work, but if you blog smart and efficiently, it doesn’t have to be. Think time savings and centralization.

Use the future posts feature to write your blog posts when you want to write them and have time to write them, and let WordPress work for you to release them over time.

Keep notes and ideas in a single, easily accessible spot for blog post ideas such as a text editor, Google Docs or Notebook, or another online or desktop program. Write your posts within the same text-based program to centralize your blog content activity.

Clean up your feed reader and categorize your feeds so you can go right to the sources of what you need as you write your blog content.

Streamline and centralize all your social networking services. I haven’t found a service that allows tracking all the various social networking services, except through feeds, but one should be coming out soon. Until then, put all of them into a category in your feed reader.

Make your email inbox the center of your communications. Forward different email addresses for your various blogs and contact emails to a single, centralized email like Gmail. Use email notification on WordPress for comments on your blog or on other blogs to track blog conversations. The links within the email allow you to reply, delete, or mark spam, saving time.

There are many ways to blog more efficiently and avoid blog burnout. Power blogging helps you blog with fun, enthusiasm, and energy, which benefits you and your blog readers. They like it when you like what you blog.

A blog can only be about one topic…not.

There is a lot of confusion over the issue of blog focus. It’s true that the best and most popular blogs have a focus, a purpose that defines its mission, but your blog doesn’t have to be about only one topic. It can blend together related or diverse topics as long as there is a connection.

I blog about WordPress and blogging, mutually related topics. I also blog about photography and travel, again, related topics. But what about someone who blogs about dancing and sleeping? Not much of a connection there, unless the purpose is to bring those together with some thread of commonality. Maybe the blogger loves dancing as something that wears them out so they sleep better, overcoming their insomnia, or is a replacement activity in the night when they can’t sleep.

Sometimes you can pull the topics together with that connecting relational thread. Sometimes, you can’t, but that shouldn’t stop you from being the best online expert in two subjects, diverse as they may be. Just don’t become the expert in 48 subjects on your blog as everyone will be confused, including you. Your blog focus means focus.

Keep it simple, but keep it interesting and mixing up two blog subjects in an unusual and entertaining way can attract two different groups of readers who find they have much in common with both subjects.

Plagiarism hurts, not helps.

The myth is that those who rip off your content physically or by machine code benefit your site by linking to it and leading others to your content. The reality is that plagiarism hurts. Unless it is obvious that this is your original content with an invitation to visit the origin, others may find it and link to the plagiarist, not you. You lose.

Incoming links from sites designated by responsible bloggers and webmasters as splogs and scrapers are penalized, and any links to your blog from a lower page rank or penalized site could hurt yours in the great Google mystic algorithm that dominates the web currently. You lose.

If you spot your content being ripped off, or even used under the Copyright Fair Use limitations on a site that is inappropriate or not in line with your blog’s intent and purpose, take action to stop them using your content. It’s your content. It’s your right. Use it. You win.

Duplicate contents hurts, too.

Duplicated content, content that is duplicated on your blog and across the web, may be penalized by Google and some search engines. Duplicate content is described as content copied from site to site as well as duplicated within a single site. This does not include normal duplicate content on your blog created by categories, archives, searches, tags, and other multi-post views of your blog content.

On WordPress blogs, if you want to restrict full duplication, and speed up searching and digging into your blog content by readers, replace the the_content() WordPress template tag with the_excerpt() on multi-post pageview template files.

Duplicate content is a time waster for everyone. Plagiarism is duplicate content. Sploggers use duplicate content stuffed with keywords and links to their junk. Scrapers use your content duplicated across their blogs, hurting your blog by such duplication. Stop yours from being copied without your permission and you save the web from boring redundancies on the web.

If you use feeds on your blog for aggregated content, use only post titles or very short excerpts and designate them clearly as incoming feeds. It is best to get permission before using another blog or site’s feed on your blog as content. Help other bloggers by not duplicating their content, and they will hopefully do the same for you.

Blogging is about writing.

Blogging is about the words. Blogging is about the things you say. Blogging is about writing.

Your blog maybe filled with photographs, video, flash, and graphics, but unless there are words, there is little to help you get found by search engines and word-of-mouth recommendations. There must be some form of words.

You must know how to write or have a passing familiarity with the written language. The words you choose to express yourself reflect upon your integrity and your reputation, as well as your attention to detail. If your blog is your business, the discipline that goes into publishing a blog speaks loudly to potential clients.

Your blog is your resume.

Through the magic of data storage and cache, your blog will be around for a very long time. So will every words you say, picture you show, and comment you make.

Your blog is your resume. It tells people about who you are as a person, worker, friend, and potential partner. It tells people about how you work, live, think, communicate, and express your thoughts and ideas.

It can be your self portrait. Do you like what you see in your blog mirror? You better. It will be with you for a very long time.

Blogging is about giving before receiving.

In order to get, you have to give. In order to make money with your blog, you have to give something. You give advice, information, provide resources, share your thoughts, expertise, and opinions. You give to establish a reputation, a reputation that invites readers and clients.

Giving takes time, but then advertising and marketing takes time and money. What you give needs to establish you as the expert, the source worth knowing and telling others around.

In order to be found, you must write with search terms and keywords. So you give words to help searchers find you. In order to be known, you participate in social networks, giving a little of yourself and expertise through the social process. And in order to be talked about, you must give readers something worth talking about.

Blogging is about storytelling, telling your story, whatever it is, with the world. It’s also about the social. Letting others know you and you knowing others.

Blogging is about sharing. If you aren’t social, sharing, caring, and giving, you are losing out on what blogging really means.

Get a life.

Blogging can consume you. It introduces you to people you would never meet within your community or work. It exposes you to new ideas, information, and ways of thinking.

But honestly, folks, get a life!

Don’t live inside your computer. Take walks. Meet people socially. Have lunches with friends. Call a friend on the phone – remember those? Take classes. Take trips. Chat up people in odd places like on the bus, in stores, and while waiting to cross the street.

Don’t rely upon Google as your sole information source. Try other search engines, directories, and resources. Go to the library. Go to a bookstore. Look for information away from the computer.

There are a million stories waiting to be told on your blog that you can find by walking outside the door of your home or office. Tell them. Don’t rely upon the Internet for inspiration all the time.

Your blog is a part of your life, not a replacement for life. Walk away from the computer. Live life.

Get a life.

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  1. By Jeremy Steele posted on March 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm
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    Great post, but I know one to add to the list. “Everything you say on your blog is stuck in the tubes forever”. Seriously, if you said something really bad and then deleted it later on, chances are it is cached on some internet archive, splog, content aggregator, etc.

    Reply

  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 11, 2008 at 4:40 pm
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    @Jeremy Steele:

    You said it better than I did when I said that everything you say will be held against you…ah, your blog is your resume. :D You’re right.

    Reply

  3. By Debra posted on March 12, 2008 at 7:24 am
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    Great post, with many points to think about.

    One area I am weak in is keywords, so on reading this I’ve decided that when I come up with a subject for a blog post, I’ll try to think how I would search for it and build some of those phrases in.

    Reply

  4. By Louis Liem posted on March 12, 2008 at 10:39 am
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    What a wake up call. I often forget my choices of keywords.
    I agree on blogging doesn’t have to be about one topic, but it better relates one another if any.

    Reply

  5. By Anne Helmond posted on March 12, 2008 at 12:41 pm
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    Great inspirational post. A change of scenery is always always advice because it is easy to get stuck in a certain environment or pattern. Variation is important and often works very motivating.

    @Jeremy Steele: Google has a ‘request for deletion’ policy if you really don’t want that one post to show up in your resume ;) But think before you speak/write is always the best advice.

    Reply

  6. By Joan Hawley, Lazy Girl posted on March 12, 2008 at 6:50 pm
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    I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half and found some great pointers and advice in your post.

    I appreciate your sharing this.

    My best,
    Joan

    Reply

  7. By Elis Castro posted on March 19, 2008 at 11:58 am
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    Thanks, I found this post really useful!. I’ve been blogging for about one month, working hard to pass the learning curve. But I’m really enjoying this period since as you write, it has as opened a complete new world to me.
    Again thanks for your advice. I would only add basic tips to avoid plagiarism by linking correctly your sources.

    Reply

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