Dare to Break the Rules

I want to remind you of something you learned when you were just a little munchkin.

Rules are important.Click to Tweet

Using proper etiquette, minding your manners, treating people with respect, and carrying yourself in a way that reflects your values – these are all important things… but only up to a point.

And just like anything else in life, it’s about balance. It’s knowing when to follow the rules, and when to break them. It’s about understanding that sometimes rules can help us, and sometimes, when we get too caught up in all the “supposed to’s,” rules can paralyze us.

“Okay, Ruth… What does this have to do with blogging?” Well, just like there’s a set of rules and social norms for real life, there’s blogging etiquette too. In other words, there’s a set of implied rules of how you should conduct yourself in the blogosphere.


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Bad Rules Versus Good Rules

Of course, in addition to the few GOOD rules, there are also a whole lot of arbitrary rules about the right and wrong way to blog. And so, before we go any further, I want to free you from this idea that you might be doing something wrong.

You see, if you get too caught up in following the rules and doing things “right”, you’ll never get anything done. I’ve seen bloggers get so worried about making a wrong step or upsetting someone that they become paralyzed, and that’s not helpful for anyone, especially YOU!

Now that we’ve got that out of that way…

Blogging Rules You Should Actually Follow

Remember all those rules you learned way back in grade school about how to behave and treat other people? Well, all those rules still apply when it comes to blogging.

Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind when conducting your business in the blogosphere:

Above All Else, Follow the Golden Rule

Just like your teacher told you, the most important rule of all is, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This is likely common sense for you, but it’s worth mentioning.

When you’re interacting with anyone on your blog, on social media, or anywhere in the blogosphere, treat other people the way you’d want them to treat you. Practice kindness and empathy. Don’t troll people’s social media or leave hurtful or derogatory comments on their posts. Treat every person with the same kind of respect and care you’d want them to show you.

Keep the Obnoxious Level to a Minimum

Now, I’m sure you’re not an obnoxious person, but I have to say it anyway. When you’re dealing with people in the blogosphere, it’s important to minimize the obnoxious behavior and keep it to a minimum.

What exactly counts as obnoxious behavior?

Things like overt or mean-spirited sarcasm, calling people out or throwing them under the bus, sending 10 emails a day to your list, … you get the picture.

In general, people are turned off by obnoxious behavior, and if you build your online persona around obnoxiousness, it’s likely to cost you some relationships.

Be Original (And Let Other People Do the Same)

Your blog is your opportunity to express your uniqueness and share your original ideas with the world. Other people’s blogs are their opportunity to do the same. That’s why, if you reference another person’s idea, it’s so important to give them credit.

If you talk about something you read in a post, link to that post so the original author gets the credit they deserve. Never try to pass someone else’s idea off as your own. Blogging is all about sharing the love, and when you’re inspired or moved by someone’s idea, show them a little love. When you inspire someone with your idea, hopefully, they’ll do the same.

Don’t Say Anything Online You Wouldn’t Say in Person

This is a huge problem online. When certain people have a screen between them and the person they’re talking to, they take all kinds of liberties in the things they’ll say (we call these people “trolls”). Because they don’t have to face the person they’re talking to, they aren’t afraid to let loose with verbal assaults and mean-spirited comments.

A good rule of thumb is to never say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Before you write a comment, send an email, or publish a social media post, ask yourself, “If this person was standing in front of me right now, would I feel comfortable saying this to their face?”

If the answer is no, don’t write it.

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Trademark and Copyright — It’s Serious Stuff

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The one rule that I would say you should ALWAYS pay attention to is trademarks and copyrights. Technically, those aren’t rules or suggestions… they’re actual laws.

If you use any trademarked or copyrighted material, make sure to attribute correctly. Before you launch a blog, product, or anything else, do your research and make sure your brand isn’t licensed to anyone else.

Don’t Stress

Finally, don’t stress about etiquette.

Aside from these basic points, most of the blogging etiquette out there doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, blogging is kind of like the Wild, Wild West: there are no real rules, it’s every man for himself, and everyone is a bit of an outlaw and desperado.

I’ve seen so many bloggers question their every move: “Is it okay if I do this? Is this against the rules? If I publish this, will I upset someone?”

They spend so much time trying to adhere to “blogging etiquette” that they never get anything done. They never make any money, they never get their blogs off the ground, and they throw in the towel before they ever get the chance to make things happen.

But that doesn’t have to be true for you! Don’t get paralyzed trying to follow a bunch of rules and do things “right”. Use common sense and treat people with common courtesy. Use these tips as a guideline, but don’t worry about them too much. Be a good person, use your head, and you’ll be fine.

Blogging Rules it’s Okay to Break

So now that you know the few rules you might want to pay attention to, I figured it might also be helpful to know which other rules you might want to think twice about.are some of the most common (and arbitrary) blogging rules I’ve seen floating around. And guess what? It’s OKAY to break them!

Here are some of the most common (and arbitrary) blogging rules I’ve seen floating around. And guess what? It’s OKAY to break them!

  • Page views determine your success.
  • You must pay attention to bounce rate.
  • You’re supposed to have a presence on every social media channel.
  • Pinterest is the only way to grow your platform.
  • You have to apologize for not posting in a while.
  • You have to respond to every blog comment.
  • You can’t delete negative comments or commenters.
  • You have to stick to a rigid posting schedule.
  • You have to have ads on your site.
  • If every other blogger is doing something it must be a good idea.
  • You have to post at least 3 times a week.
  • Sponsored posts are the only way to make money blogging
  • You shouldn’t use too many affiliate links

I could go on and on…..

But at the end of the day, I think what it all comes down to is common sense. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Don’t steal. Be yourself. Follow an idea if it makes sense, but don’t get so caught up in holding yourself to a crazy high set of standards that it keeps you from accomplishing what you’re here to do: to build an incredible blog.

Are there any things you’ve seen that you feel are a no-no in the world of blogging? Or are there any breakable rules we missed? If so, leave them in the comments below!


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