12 horrible pieces of blogging advice

Someone told you bloggers should only write short posts and stick to rigid schedule? Beware of these misleading suggestions.


There is nothing more dangerous than a social media expert. For those who are new to blogging, be prepared to read a lot of advice from self-proclaimed experts whose only qualifications are that they’ve read a lot of advice from other self-proclaimed experts.

Here are 12 suggestions you’re likely to run into, and why you should run away from them as quickly as you can:

1. “Keep posts under 300 words.”

Beware of absolutes. This advice stems from the generalization that all blog readers are in a hurry. If your purpose is to provide information or analysis, and you do it well, people will be willing to read five times that word count.

2. “Stick to a rigid publishing schedule.”

Nobody gets to work and thinks, “It’s 7:25 a.m. I better hurry over to Sally’s blog to read her new post.” People are too busy to keep track of when a blogger publishes. If a blog is good, people will read it sooner or later.

3. “Blogs are an SEO shortcut.”

If your definition of a shortcut is doing a lot more work and waiting months or years for results, than yes, this advice is accurate. It’s true, blogs can strongly bolster SEO, but it takes careful planning, consistent execution, and a lot of time.

4. “Bloggers need to be edgy.”

No, they don’t. Bloggers need to be themselves. Blogging is about authenticity, and you’ll fail when you try to be something you’re not. Plus, edgy doesn’t always work. If you work in a straight-laced niche and you push the envelope too far, you’ll take a licking.

5. “Images aren’t important.”

Images draw people in. They arouse curiosity and drive home key points. They clarify complex ideas. Furthermore, if you artfully handle images and captions, you will create SEO and conversion opportunities.

6. “You should monetize your blog.”

It’s a complete waste of time for new bloggers to load up a blog with ads. Advertising is a numbers game, and you need a mighty big audience to make it work. Even then it’s iffy. Unless your blog’s purpose is to create ad revenue, all ads will do is turn off readers.

7. “All it takes to succeed is quality content.”

This is the build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy, and it only works if you already have a humungous reputation. Most of us don’t, so we need to market our content and patiently build a following. Blog marketing can easily consume more time than writing posts, and that’s OK.

8. “Cultivate reciprocal links.”

This is an outdated SEO tactic that does more harm than good if you have links to bad sources. Reciprocal links are OK for audience building only, and only when you are selective in terms of the relevance and quality of your link partners.

9. “You must use a custom design.”

In theory, this sounds good. A fully-customized blog design creates a unique brand. In practice though, I’ve seen too many bloggers succeed with the most vanilla stock templates you can imagine to buy into that theory. It is more important to select a template that delivers an outstanding user experience.

10. “Social media has replaced blogging.”

Social media may have changed blogging, but blogging isn’t going away. In fact, blogging has become so intertwined with firms’ other Web assets that sometimes people don’t even think of it as a separate thing.

11. “You can outsource corporate blog content.”

You can outsource some blog content, but not all. Business blogs become indispensable when they convey insights readers can’t get from outside sources. Nobody knows more about your industry than you, and you lurch toward mediocrity when you withhold that value from readers.

12. “It’s all about subscribers.”

Email and RSS subscribers are a good thing, but readers find blog content in many other ways, too. Social media mentions, bookmarking sites, and Google searches are three of the most significant. Smart bloggers keep a close eye on all traffic sources and continually adjust their marketing and syndication strategies.

This is all bad advice, but we’ve just scratched the surface. What bad blogging advice have you heard?

Brad Shorr is director of content and social media for Straight North, a Chicago marketing agency. A version of this article originally ran on 12 Most. Contact Shorr on Twitter via @BradShorr.

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