New bloggers, listen up: it’s very important that you know that you don’t need any qualifications to spew blogging advice on the internet.
If you want to write a 4000-word behemoth about how to start a blog, there are no barriers to entry.
All the advice is the same, pretty much. Once you read the same thing over and over again, you start to believe it. I know, because I’ve been there. So take all the advice with a pinch of salt.
Except what you read below. Obviously everything I have to say is 100% perfect and lovely and will propel your blog to a billion page views by next Thursday.
Here are 5 things that will make me leave your site immediately and never return:
And don’t try to fool me by setting it up to pop up when I’m about to click away. Ask me to subscribe to your email list in the article.
Please stop putting your email in pop up boxes. It only encourages people to use them. WE CAN END THEM.
I’ve read dozens of blog posts that say things along the lines of ‘I know pop-ups are annoying, but they do work’ and I want to weep. Who’s still clicking on them? Don’t they realise that if we all ignored pop-ups they’d…go away.
You don’t want to annoy your reader, even if you are getting the odd signup.
2. Opt-ins. Everywhere.
I know, I know. Email lists are the best invention since sliced bread, but come on. Stop trying to sell me crap.
Make me want to receive your emails so badly that I look for a sign-up. Stop begging me to sign up.
Remember how much we hated Justin Bieber for asking us to buy his record? Same thing.
Funny story — after the whole GDPR thing I stopped running email campaigns. It was too much hassle and I didn't want to either pay for a lawyer to write my legal pages or go to prison so I stopped.
I’m subscribed to so many bloggers and I never open their emails. I don’t want to be initiated into yet another sales funnel. If I want to buy an ebook I’ll ask for recommendations on Reddit. And I automatically unsubscribe to anyone selling that bloody ultimate bloggers bundle or whatever the damn thing’s called.
Wow, I didn’t realise how bitter I’d become about emails.
3. Any allusion to us being a family. Or anything cutesy.
Actually, Adriene Mischler does this really well, but it suits her style.
So I’m not saying that this doesn’t work. Just be careful.
As a general rule of thumb, wait until you have a real, engaged audience before collectively addressing them as loves or your darlings or similar.
Or just, you know, call them readers. Or guys. Or don’t address them at all.
Also out are words like army, tribe, gang, squad. They’ve been done to death. I’m quite liking kinfolks, coterie, and clan though if you want to try any of those.
4. A sponsored post completely unrelated to your niche
You already knew this.
It’s exciting though when someone sends you free crap. I get it. But you can’t put a price on integrity.
5. A post that contains a video only
Or the current version of the trend, which is a paragraph and a link to a podcast. Blogs are for reading.
Stick your video on Youtube (by all means add a link to it in your blog post, but add content too), your podcast on, er, wherever podcasts live and leave me to read in peace.
…And 3 that won’t
1. Crap photos
I quite like a crap photo on a blog. It harks back to the old days when blogs weren’t as retouched and magazine-y.
I mean, I love a nice photo as much as the next person, but if your writing is entertaining and your photo is relevant, I don’t care that you took it on your iPhone 6 with flash at 1 am.
If you just need stock images, go to Unsplash. I also don’t care if you use the same pug-in-a-blanket picture that’s on every other blog. It’s cute as hell.
2. A simple text logo
It ASTOUNDS me how many people claim that you need to pay a graphic designer to make you a logo so that your blog looks professional.
What makes you look professional is lots of well-formatted content. That’s…pretty much all I’m looking for.
It’s not advisable to put ads on your website immediately since it hinders user experience in Google’s eyes, but once you have some traffic then a few ads won’t offend anyone.
Don’t chuck them everywhere — you don’t them to obscure your content, but we’re all used to them now. Avoid anything that auto-plays with sound *shudder* and anything that flashes, and no one will mind.
I apologise for the rant. I just hate seeing the same cliched advice being strewn over Pinterest when all new bloggers want to do is a bit of writing and maybe take some pictures.
*edit* controversially, I’m not that bothered by bad spelling and grammar. I used to be, but now if I find the content interesting, I can breeze past missing conjunctions and uncapitalised Is without really noticing.