As usual, the sassy, self-referential and sometimes solipsistic world of blogging is chattering about how to be a blogger, as if all readers of blogs are writers of blogs, which may be mostly true but certainly must bug the bejesus out of folks who prefer reading news and commentary online but still think blog is a type of peat moss found in Scotland.
Furthermore, bloggers are starting to nudge out print journalists and are becoming really quite cocky about the whole ordeal. Or maybe print journalists, who have always been fabulously narcissistic, are getting laid off and turning into bloggers, bringing their lovable egocentricities into the world of social media.
Since I’m failing miserably at this year’s Blogathon challenge and since my wife says I love giving unsolicited advice, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell all of you how not to blog, something I know very well.
Naturally, because bloggers are numerical fetishists, here’s the advice in numbered list format:
1. Don’t choose a niche. I recommend calling your blog something like “Blog Salad” and giving lame excuses about why you can’t be categorized. Guaranteed to attract those Google searches for “general interest” blogs.
2. Don’t deliver on your title’s promise. I recommend using titles like “Tax time tips for Freelancers” or “How to find true love in one week” when blogging about toddler bowel movements or your pet poodle’s latest haircut.
3. Don’t link to anything. Especially not other posts in your blog or posts from famous bloggers—you wouldn’t want folks to keep reading your material or associate you with success, would you?
4. Don’t use images, photos, video, numbered lists or bullet points. Everyone loves a website full of unadulterated text, text, text. Style is for sissies. If you do, however, be sure to use copyrighted material without permission. That’s the good stuff.
3. Publish your posts at random, arbitrary times. One day post at 6:00am, the next at 7:00pm. People love when postal workers, newspaper delivery folks, and cable television shows do this, so I’m sure they’ll love when your blog does the same.
4. Publish identical content on multiple sites at once. Just like a college professor who gets seven identical essays from one class, this rookie maneuver will be lovingly welcomed by the crawler-bots that work for Google.
(UPDATE: Actually, this might not be such a bad idea, if done well. The Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin does it.)
5. Fill 78% of your site with advertising space, especially ads for items that are entirely unrelated to your blog post. You never want to miss out on the opportunity to capitalize on someone’s spontaneous, inexplicable urge to buy heartburn medicine.
6. Don’t edit anything. People want the raw unfiltered you—just as much as they want raw, unfiltered tap water in Malaysia. If your writing looks polished, well-structured or (gasp!) edited, you’ll be shunned as a member of the evil literati.
7. Don’t use keywords, meta descriptions or any search engine optimization techniques. Because it’s not your fault that you’re fabulous and no one knows it. They should look harder—you’re a diamond in the ruff. And besides, SEO sounds so, I don’t know, corporate.
8. Never give useful advice and always blog about current events, especially momentary pop culture trends. Nothing irks readers more than a timeless piece of good writing or advice. Oh, I almost forgot: Happy Mother’s Day Weekend 2011, everybody!
9. Never talk about yourself and never be funny. Maintaining a stolid third-person journalistic tone is working out great for mainstream newspapers. You should definitely follow in their footsteps.
10. Never take advice from more experienced bloggers or attempt to emulate their actions. Except for me, because I totally know what I’m doing. Definitely don’t pay any attention to ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse, Authority Blogger’s Chris Garrett, WordCount’s Michelle Rafter, CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark, BikeSnobNYC, Heather B. Armstrong, Seth Godin, or Gary Vaynerchuk. Those folks don’t even have day jobs—they just write and blog for a living. What are you going to learn from them?