Thanks to all of your excellent suggestions on my last blog tips post, I now have a nice long list of topics to cover in this series, but before I get to those I wanted to first of all share some of the blog tips I think can sometimes do more harm than good. These are the tips that are repeated so often they’ve become established “facts” within the blogging community: it’s a matter of opinion, obviously (and I should probably have said in my last post that what works for one person may not work for someone else…), but having shared some of the blog tips I DO believe in, I figured I should also share some of the ones I DON’T think should be taken as gospel.
I’m starting off with my number one pet peeve:
01. “Commenting on other blogs is the best way to get traffic”
Look: commenting on other blogs is a good thing. It’s a GREAT thing in fact. One of the things that saddens me most about the current state of blogging is that people don’t really comment any more: I’m not sure WHY that is, exactly, but whatever the reason, people don’t comment nearly as much as they used to. That, of course, makes the comments you DO get even more precious: I think only other bloggers will understand just how important a thoughtful comment can be, or just how crushing it is when you publish something you’ve put a lot of effort into and get little-to-no response, but trust me when I tell you: comments matter. A lot.
So I encourage you to comment on the blogs you read and enjoy, if only to let the blogger know you’re there, you’re reading, and they’re not talking to themselves. While it’s good to comment, though, it’s ONLY good if you comment sincerely. Because of the “excellent” blogging advice given above, there are now tons of new bloggers out there making it their mission to comment on as many blogs as they possibly can, purely because they’ve read that it’s the best way to gain followers. They don’t care what their comment says, or whether it’s relevant – they just care about getting their link onto your comments section, so they can get all the amazing traffic the blog tips articles have told them to expect. The result is a ton of insincere comments, which most bloggers -and, crucially, most blog readers – can spot a mile off.
This is going to sound harsh. I’m going to say it anyway. When I write a 3,000 word post about something that’s really important to me, and you comment like this:
“Love your shoes! Follow my blog!
twitter // facebook // instagram // pinterest // blogloving // linked-in// that weird social network no one uses, but follow me on it anyway!
!!! Enter My Giveway!!!!
…I am not going to be fooled into thinking you actually read my post. In fact, I’m going to suspect that you might not even like my shoes that much – if you even looked at them. No, I’ll think you really just wanted to get me/my readers to click on your links and follow you, and I’m absolutely not going to do that. Because you look desperate. Because you are essentially a spammer. Because I’ve just put a lot of time and effort into creating a blog post, and you’ve tried your best to make that post all about YOU and your giveaway. Because it’s very obvious to me that all my blog is to you is an opportunity to advertise yourself for free, and and I didn’t spend hours writing a post just to provide you with an advertising opportunity.
I never click on comments like that, and I’m going to hazard a guess that my readers don’t either, because they ALSO don’t want to read a blog written by someone who only seems to care about how many followers they have. So those comments AREN’T actually going to help your blog – in fact, they could have the opposite effect.
02. Take every opportunity that comes your way
I’m not sure if this is an actual “tip” people give as it’s just something a lot of new bloggers instinctively believe: that they should grab every opportunity that comes their way, otherwise they might never get another one. It can be quite hard NOT to think like this – to worry that saying “no” to a PR or brand will lead to them never contacting you again, or to be tempted by the lure of freebies. When you start to indiscriminately accept every opportunity or freebie you’re offered, though, you very quickly lose what was special or unique about your blog in the first place (and that leads to you losing readers, which means you end up not being offered anything else anyway), so be picky. Think very carefully about which opportunities you’ll accept and don’t be afraid to say “no” to the ones that aren’t a good fit: your blog will be all the better for it.
03. You need an expensive camera to start a blog
This might sound hypocritical, because the fact is that I DID invest in a decent camera, and I haven’t regretted it for a second: that camera comes everywhere with me, and I use it so often it’s probably paid for itself a few times over by now. There’s a perception, however – particularly in fashion blogging – that you NEED to have a fancy camera if you want your blog to be a success. I honestly don’t think that’s the case. Does it HELP to have a good camera? Well, yes… but a camera alone won’t make your blog a success: the most expensive camera in the world can still take terrible photos if you don’t know how to use it, after all. So while it helps to have decent equipment, I don’t think it’s essential to make huge investments right at the start of your blog: in fact, I’d advise waiting a bit, until you’re absolutely sure blogging is something you’re going to want to keep doing. When you’re just starting out, you can take perfectly good photos with a point-and-shoot, or even with your phone. One of the best things about blogging is that there are so few barriers to entry: why create ones that don’t actually exist?
04. Host lots of giveaways to boost your follower count
Am I the only one who almost always scrolls straight past giveway posts? Especially the ones that require you to follow the person on 111 different forms of social media, just for the chance to win a packet of cornflakes that – whoops! – can’t be shipped to your country anyway? People say they host giveways because they want to give something back to their readers, and that’s all very nice and noble, but the fact is, there’s a good chance your giveaway WON’T be won by one of your regular readers. This is because there are tons of people on the internet who make it their business to enter every competition they can find: they’ll enter yours, and they’ll dutifully follow your blog if that’s what it takes to do it, but there’s a good chance they’ll either unfollow it again immediately afterwards, or remain following, but never actually visit it again – until the next time you decide to host a contest, that is.
Not ALL of the people who follow your blog in order to enter a giveway are like this, obviously. There’s definitely a chance that some of them will follow for the sake of winning something, but will then discover they like your blog on its own merits, and will keep reading it. There’s also a chance that the requirements of the giveway will force some of your regular readers who WEREN’T following you on your chosen form of social media to click the “follow” button. But I think you have to ultimately ask yourself what you’re achieving by essentially bribing people to follow you: and what you’ll gain from having an artificially inflated follower count, which you know perfectly well is made up of people who followed you, but don’t actually visit your site. Yes, high follower numbers look impressive: there is that. My personal feeling, however, as I said in my last post, is that it’s more important to have readers than followers, so while I’m not saying you should NEVER host giveaways, I AM saying that when the giveaways posts start to seem like your only content, it could be time for a re-think.
I’m also saying that if hosting a giveway makes you think it would be a good idea to visit other blogs and leave comments saying “ENTER MY GIVEAWAY!” you should go and sit on the naughty step and think about what you’ve done.
So! Those are the four blog tips I think you can safely avoid. As I said, I’ll be continuing this blog tips series soon: I’ve made a note of the questions and suggestions from my last post, but if you have any burning questions you’d like me to (try to) answer, just let me know!