Scared of getting it wrong when it comes to your blog? The rules aren’t as important as you think they are! Here are 5 blogging rules to break right now (& 5 you should follow)!
Here at Ruth Soukup Omnimedia, we have a saying: Rules are for suckers.
Don’t get us wrong: using proper etiquette, minding your manners, treating people with respect, and carrying yourself in a way that reflects your values – these are all important rules to follow… but only up to a point.
It’s important to know when to follow the rules and when to break them, and when to understand that sometimes rules can help us, but sometimes, when we get too caught up in all the “supposed to’s,” rules can actually paralyze us and hold us back.
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“Okay okay, but… 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.
Bad Rules Versus Good Rules: What’s the Difference?
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, we 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 “the right way”, you’ll never get anything done. We’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!
Here are 5 blogging rules you should stop worrying about right now!
5 Blogging Rules to Break Right Now
Here are some of the most common (and arbitrary) blogging rules we’ve seen floating around. And guess what? It’s OKAY to break them!
1. Chasing Page Views
If you want to spend your days as a blogger exhausted and burned out, then by all means, start playing the page view game.
However, when your income is wholly dependent on the number of page views your blog receives, you become a slave.
The saddest part of this strategy, besides being completely exhausting, is that it’s not even very effective. Page (views) ain’t nothin’ but a number! And while getting traffic can be important to getting people to opt in to your list, ultimately, if they’re not opting in and eventually buying something, they’re not really doing you any favors. Remember: You’re a business, not a charity! You provide value and deserve to see return for what you offer.
If you’re guilty of obsessing over page views, don’t fret! We’ve all been there—checking our Google Analytics daily (sometimes even multiple times a day), obsessing over the numbers and willing to do anything to just get them a little bit higher.
The problem is, the page views game tells us that our revenue is wholly dependent on the number of page views that we receive, which means that if we want to earn more money, we’ve got to keep increasing our traffic.
When we are stuck in the page view game, we are playing the short game. It’s a daily struggle, one where the clock resets every night, and we have to start over yet again.
It’s like Groundhog Day. The same thing over and over.
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Chasing page views means that your only interest is in what is going to generate the quick win—salacious headlines, multiple posts per day, click bait, endless pinning on Pinterest, ad-laden page views and slideshows that require more clicks.
When you are chasing page views, you are willing to forgo quality for quantity and sacrifice real relationships for sheer numbers.
And let us tell you, If you want to spend your days as a blogger completely and utterly exhausted by the hustle and on the fast track to burnout, then by all means, keep playing the page view game.
Because when you are playing the page view game, and when you make your income wholly dependent on the number of page views your blog receives, you become a slave. You are basically a crack addict, always needing that next fix.When you make your income wholly dependent on the number of page views your blog receives, you become a slave.
You can’t take the time to focus on big picture strategy or to create real relationships or to generate long-term success because you are hopelessly dependent on getting that next big hit.
And the saddest part of this strategy, besides being completely exhausting, is that it is not even very effective.
Chasing page views in order to eek a few more pennies out of your ad network revenue is the WORST possible way to monetize your blog.Chasing page views in order to eek a few more pennies out of your ad network revenue is the WORST possible way to monetize your blog.
Now don’t get us wrong. There is nothing wrong with having ads on your site. In fact, ad network revenue can be a nice way to round out and supplement your income.
But ad revenue shouldn’t be your ONLY income, and your monetization strategy should not be dependent on a steady stream of traffic to your blog.
It’s really easy to get sucked into the page view game, because it seems like those numbers should matter more than they actually do. We’ve totally been there, and we’ve seen a lot of bloggers get stuck there indefinitely. But it’s a trap, and one you need to avoid at all costs.
Some helpful resources:
- Do It Scared Podcast Episode 96: Ruth gives blogger Shelly Olson, who’s getting plenty of page views but not enough income, some tough love!
- How to Overcome Your Fear of Selling
- When to Monetize Your Blog
- 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Blog Income Overnight
2. Thinking you’ve “made it” when you get accepted into Mediavine or another ad network
See Rule to Break #1. Earning ad revenue can be a nice supplement, but unless you have CNN-level traffic, it probably won’t pay any bills.
Let’s face it: it isn’t 2008 anymore. There may have been a time when Google Ads or another ads network could have paid enough to sit pretty if you were getting 100K views or higher a month, but that’s not the case anymore.
In 2013, Ruth’s blog revenue was almost entirely dependent on ad network revenue. That was the year her blog completely took off, and she averaged just over a million page views per month. That year, which was her first six-figure year as a blogger, about 75% of my revenue came from ad network revenue.
But do you know how much money she made per unique visitor to her blog?
Yep, that’s right. A whopping THREE CENTS.
Now let’s fast forward to 2016.
By 2016, we averaged just about the same amount of page views—actually slightly lower than 2013–but our monetization strategy was completely different.
While we still ran some ad network ads on our site, our revenue from ad networks only accounted for 3% of our total revenue. Product sales, on the other hand, accounted for 90% of our revenue.
And do you know how much money we made per unique visitor in 2016?
If you are good at math, that means our revenue was a whopping 1500% higher in 2016 than 2013….even though we had FEWER page views.
Y’all….that’s crazy. A 1500% growth rate is insane. If we had submitted our numbers to the INC 5000 list for fastest growing companies, we would have ranked #273. OF ALL THE PRIVATE COMPANIES IN THE COUNTRY.
So, if you’re feeling obsessed with being accepted into the hottest ads network that all the other bloggers are talking about, it’s time to just STOP, and change your mindset. Do you have enough content to put out a book, a course, or some other product? Your audience will be so much happier with a product that you have designed for them and their needs over than being bombarded with pesky ads.
- How to Nurture Your Email List | Turn Readers into Subscribers
- Behind the Scenes of a Bestselling Book Launch | How to Launch a Book
- From Blog to Product Launch
- Why Product Launches Fail | How to Launch a Product Successfully
3. You’re supposed to have a presence on every social media channel.
Everyone says you have to have a social media presence, right? We know more than most how easy it is to get sucked into the social media vortex–chasing followers, obsessing over likes and engagement. And, while social media can be a very helpful tool to help bring people into your ecosystem, it’s important to understand that the ultimate goal should be getting those people to opt into your list, not to spend all your time trying to grow your social media channels.
Ultimately, you want OTHER PEOPLE to share your content on social media, so make sure your content is as shareable as possible.
- How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media When You Have No Time
- Growing Your Blog with Social Media
- 7 Genius Time Hacks for Bloggers
4. If every other blogger is doing something, it must be a good idea.
Let’s face it: we get so stuck in comparing ourselves and our lives and our progress and our success to other people. And whether you’re trying to build a business, manage your home, get promoted at work, or simply trying to create a life you LOVE, comparison is a giant trap that will suck you in and not let go.
It can be so easy to get sucked into that trap! You join a community, and someone in a similar niche starts taking off faster than you. Or back to that whole ads network thing–maybe you see that someone posted that they got excited about being accepted into an ads network. Suddenly, you feel like that must be the secret key to success, so you’re now applying to it. But wait, you have to have XX traffic to apply? Now you’re back to playing the traffic game, whereas if you had just kept your head down and focused on building your list, you’d be on your way to success much faster than if you had been focused on what everyone else is doing.
Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail! Figure out what works for you and your audience, and then build upon that thing.
5. You have to keep adding new content, always and forever
While we encourage you to create 2-3 new blog posts or pieces of content a week when you are just getting started with your business, there will come a point where you have enough content.
Once you start digging into your data and finding out what works and what doesn’t, you’ll soon realize that 80% of your visitors probably come from 20% or less of your content.
Instead of always focusing on creating new content, figure out how to leverage those top posts and create supplementary content or products related to what resonates with your audience the most.
And if you’re worried that your blog will rot away and be forgotten about without any new content (it won’t!), you can always create a schedule to optimize your older more popular content and republish it as new. There are even WordPress Plugins that will reshare your old posts as new, if you are not able to republish them yourself.
- Repurpose Your Blog Content Like a Boss
- WP Auto Republish – WordPress plugin
- Become a Content Creating Machine | Write Better Content Faster
Now that we’ve got that out of that way…
5 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:
1. 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.
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.
2. It is better to have an abundance mindset than a scarcity mindset
Y’all, the Internet is literally INFINITE, and your ability to make money is infinite as well. There is no shortage, and the fact that others are doing well is actually just proof of what’s possible. Success begets success, and like ships in a harbor, we all rise together.Success begets success, and like ships in a harbor, we all rise together.
And so, as a blogger—and really as a person—if you truly want to find success and make money, you’ll need to replace your scarcity mindset with an abundance mindset.
According to Steven Covey, “The Abundance Mentality flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.”
Adopting an abundance mentality will mean you start focusing on the long term, and that you act in a way that is generous and positive towards others. Instead of trying to hoard what you have, you share freely, and you begin to believe that the opportunities are infinite….because they are.
But operating from a scarcity mentality is just one of the signs that you might be a bottom feeder. Don’t be a bottom feeder.
- Avoid the Blogger Danger Zone | Blogging Dangers to Avoid
- Why You Can’t Afford NOT To Think Big
- Ep. 89: Use Your Fear to Your Advantage While Staying True to Yourself with Heather Adams –In this episode of the Do It Scared Podcast, Ruth interviews Heather Adams. Heather’s abundance mindset shines! Instead of being fearful and jealously guarding information, she generously shares her wisdom with those around her.
3. 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.
- How to Find Your Voice as a Blogger | Why Perfection is Overrated
- How to Write Killer Blog Posts that Your Readers Love
- How to Find Your Unique Writing Style | Find Your Voice as a Writer
4. Trademark and Copyright — It’s Serious Stuff
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.
Read this post:
5. 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 West: there are no real rules, it’s every man for himself, and everyone is a bit of an outlaw and desperado.
We’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 “the right way”. 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.
But at the end of the day, 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? Are you guilty of following any of those arbitrary rules? If so, let us know which ones in the comments below, and how you plan to break them!