Like any other pursuit, blogging has a list of things you should do to be successful, and things you shouldn’t do. Unfortunately, there’s no nice rule book that you get once you decide to become a blogger. So how do you know if you should do something or not? That famous blogger you admire does it, but should you? Some random person on the internet suggested it, but is it a good thing? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here is a list of 10 things bloggers should never do (ever, no matter what).
1. Steal Content
Photos, copy, design, entire posts, even identities (yes, it happens!). Stealing anything is NOT okay.
But if it’s on the internet it’s free right?
NO. Absolutely not. According to copyright law, which does in fact apply on the internet, the creator of the content (be it an image, video, or blog post) retains the copyright of that item from the moment of creation whether or not they have officially registered it with the copyright office.
To your sponsors, to your network of blogger friends, to your readers, to anyone. Blogging is about building a genuine connection with people. Lying is the best way to ensure that never happens and ruin any relationships, reputation and success you may have already earned. Be truthful in all of your blogging dealings.
3. Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO or search engine optimization or SEM search engine marketing that encourages you to do things that search providers like Google tell you not to do (ie. pay for back-links) is black hat. That means if you get caught using these techniques (which will usually claim to get you to the top of the search pages in a short time frame or any other too good to be true results) your blog will be blacklisted and no longer show up in the search results. Obviously this is something you don’t want to happen! So, be careful when using SEO services or hiring SEO professionals. As the old adage goes, if it’s too good to be true it probably is.
4. Spam Tactics
I would include any sort of spam tactics in this section from buying email lists and sending out unsolicited emails to people who have not signed up to get them (this is illegal by the way, it violates anti-spam laws), to sending out unsolicited Tweets to people. You’ve probably seen those accounts, their streams are nothing but “@twitter Look at my cool new product urlhere.” That’s spamming, don’t do it. You’ll get reported and banned.
5. Post Overly Personal Information
This can include things like your address, phone number, or even images that include GPS data. Scammers, thieves and worse can use the information you post online; either your blog or social media sites, to target you and/or your family. PERSEC or personal security is important! As a blogger it can be tough to determine where the line between being open to your readers ends, however, your personal security always should come first.
A note for milspouses and milsos:
Equally important is OPSEC, operational security. In addition to protecting your personal information to stay safe from those who might wish you harm, you must also protect the operational security of the military. That means things like dates and times of deployments, and exercises, troop movements, troop identifying information (ex. last names on name tapes), and anything else that could compromise operational security. Learn more about OPSEC here.
6. Completely Sell Out
There’s a difference between making a living and being a successful, professional blogger and completely selling out. If you are promoting products you don’t believe in, or worse, don’t even like, you might have sold out. Money is more important than the quality of your blog’s content, and the relationships you’ve formed with your readers, you might have sold out. Always remember why you started blogging in the first place. Money certainly might be a part of that, but my guess is that it’s not the only part of it. Don’t loose who you are, what your blog is on your road to success. Monetize in a way that is natural for your blog and in keeping with your brand.
7. Have no Personal Life
Even if blogging is how you earn your income, balancing your blog and your personal life is important! Always take time for yourself! Your blog will only benefit from a well rested, and refreshed you instead of the frazzled, crazy, fed up you! Don’t let your blog consume you, learn to set boundaries and keep them. Schedule time for yourself, family and friends in your planner if you have to.
8. Give up Without Trying
Starting a blog is a simple thing, right? Just start writing and they will come. Except they don’t. You feel like you are talking to yourself. Why even bother? Blogging takes effort. It takes knowledge in many different areas beyond writing. Investing in areas like social media, SEO, and design will only help your blog, but it will take time and effort on your part. Don’t give up without even putting forth your best effort. Don’t give up on Facebook without learning how to use it. Don’t give up on your blog without trying to market yourself on social media, and learning about SEO.
Don’t give up until you know that it’s the best thing you can do. Sometimes you learn that you need to go in another direction, that’s fine. Sometimes you outgrow your blog and know it’s time to move on to other projects. That’s fine, but don’t give up before you’ve given yourself the best chance for success.
9. Stop Learning
Learning is so important when it comes to, well everything, but especially blogging. Just because you took that one class on SEO or watched that webinar years ago on social media doesn’t mean you can stop learning! Everything that involves technology and the internet is constantly evolving and changing. That includes blogging! From technologies and platforms, to SEO, Social Media networks, to web design. There is always something new to learn. Keep your skills up to date, don’t sit back and expect the old techniques to be good enough.
You might not get a blogging rule book as soon as you decide to start a blog, but I hope this is a good starting point. Good bloggers avoid doing these things, they know how much they can damage their brand, blog and even their own personal life.