Rules, rules, rules. I get it, many, many rules when it comes to creativity, be it screenwriting to blogging and beyond, are incredibly useful for insight, guidance and inspiration but rules, my friends were made to be broken.
Creative geniuses (that all us lot by the way) break new ground, create art (visual and via the written word) by doing exactly that, going against the grain, thriving under limitations (time, financial, tools) and celebrating their own voice/desires/view on the world and blogging is the perfect way to do just that.
Why? Because you own your platform (get self hosted pronto if not, that’s one rule you shouldn’t break), you are powerful, in control, in charge, your own editor, using a platform to write what you want, when you want, how you want, which leads to opening doors, work opportunities and experiences that in other industries, could and often does, take years to achieve.
And here’s the thing about blogging, you can start a blog one week and be excelling the next. I wrote a post about Be Who You Want to Be that might just fuel your fire.
In this digital age, the work you put in, the talent you have, and hone, the passion, drive, and tenacity is rewarded-ten fold.
Yes you’ll stumble across those jealous, the trolls, the bad eggs, as with any industry (don’t forget healthy competition is good, it keeps you motivated and on your toes) but negativity (and with success that can arise) should be simply brushed off- kill them with kindness as my Mum says and smile.
Now go forth and do whatever you want to do, you rock.
Here are my 5 blogging rules to break-
1. Write For Your Audience
Yep, I get it, I did, as a writer/director and I know now, as a blogger, we have an audience that matters (use Google Analytics to get to grips with your demographic) but don’t get hung up on it.
My audience, in my head, when I write every single post, even now, is exactly the same as day 1: My Mum and immediate family. Yes it’s mental that I’m sometimes stopped in the street in London by randoms who follow my blog (because the majority of my readers in the UK are Londoners) but when I sit down to write, I’m blogging firstly for me (write what you’d like to read yourself) and then the people I know-the ones that get me, love me and want me to shine.
Being YOU is why people come to your site, your regulars, the ones who adore your voice, find you wise/funny/witty or whatever, it’s that feeling they get when they visit your corner of the world that brings the boys/girls/grannies to your yard (Hola to the over 50’s that give me blog love here). Remember that, when the doubt creeps in and you start over thinking your audience.
Blogging attracts like-minded people to your site, the majority via SEO and then of course all those fabulous followers: family, friends, social media likers and people behind their laptops all over the world.
2. Find a Niche and Don’t Deviate
NO, no, no, no! Why? Look I’m a writer, a shaker, a procreator and more…I’m a million different things-I love European cinema as much as reality TV, I adore Michelin starred restaurants and the odd naughty McDonalds, I flip between Margaret Atwood and Adele Parks, gluten free during the week, lots of bread on cheat day-I’m as complex as are you.
And guess what, I write about what I care about. My passions: family life, food, fashion, travel, style, culture, parenting, film and anything I fancy on that day/week/month or year. I evolve and my blog reflects that.
Yes I run my blogs as magazines, I vary my posts and mix things up but they always reflect my personality as your blog represents yours.
By the way, do go ahead and only write in 1 niche if you choose to, but never feel restricted, compartmentalised, pigeon-holed or feel you can’t be free to write anything you like, by yourself or others. You’re interested in something, then get blogging.
3. Don’t Be Too Pushy
Look pushy can be annoying and irritating but the internet is a big place and you want and need to be heard/seen/discovered, so you need PR, to publicise yourself. Yes I might be British but I think like an American.
Don’t bother people or relentlessly tweet urls but equally don’t be afraid to pimp your posts, to reach out to friends/ tweeters with the odd url that might resonate and to contact sites who can help promote your blog.
If you were at a networking party, you’d seek out those who might be able to help you, to offer you work, push you forward. Think the same about the online world. Reach out, email, tweet. The more you do it, the more confident you will feel about it and your work. It’s time to grow a thick skin (more of that later).
I would advise though, not to set up auto DM’s or spammy emails as means of PR, this will irritate and backfire. Do offer guest posts on other cool blogs, contact relevant magazines and sites to write for them or be covered, contact local and national press with ideas and angles for stories relating to you and your blog and check #journorequest on twitter for relevant opportunities. Most importantly start believing in you, so the world will too.
4. Write X Amount of Times A Week
Look, this is your blog, your time, your terms. I personally go live sometimes 5 times a day-my readers know that’s my house style and frankly that’s how I roll.
I balance personal posts with advertorials (still writing engaging paid for posts on products and services I use and would recommend to friends), the latter only sometimes on the homepage, therefore I like to offer several posts, most days.
My blog is a business though, one with 2 employees (IT and design support and my PA/Publicist) and that’s the model that works for me and my job.
You should never feel the pressure or choose to go pro as a blogger if you don’t want to. Blogging is a fun hobby, I know my business started like that. Nor do you have to post to a schedule or a set amount of times a day or week.
Yes, the more you post the better it is for SEO but the more frequently you post, the easier those golden posts can be missed and some of the world’s biggest bloggers only post once a week or less, and guess what, some of the other biggest bloggers in the world, post many times a day.
See, no rules, so do what feels right for you and don’t compare. What works for one blogger, doesn’t for another.
I write quickly, prolifically and I love what I do. Blogging really doesn’t feel like work to me although I work my socks off, because I love it so much. I do blog to my own time and schedule, I have time off in the week, I make deadlines at night, I operate to my own rules which I make, create and break because I’m my own boss.
I should also add, I love writing my style blog Mummy’s Got Style but I know I can only manage 1, 2 posts at best there a week there due to my schedule at Honest Mum and you know what, I still have readers when I post and subscribers, twitter followers etc. Do what you can and want to do. Simple.
5. Always Be On Social Media
I’m paid to tweet and offer social media packages to clients big and small, but I’m not always switched on. I don’t look at my phone much over weekends, I like to switch off for the majority of holidays and evenings, using tweetdeck for when I’m not online to tweet urls of posts. I don’t want to constantly be connected to my computer but I do try and reply to every single comment I receive on my blog and social media accounts, not always immediately but when I can.
Think about what you hope to achieve rather than how much you feel you should be on social media (maybe try and reply to comments on existing posts/tweets above writing lots of new updates) and look at other incredibly fun and fruitful sites like Pinterest and Instagram.
Pinterest is my happy place online, it’s so intimate and creative there, bringing me so much joy and it’s a brilliant traffic driver too. Focus on 3 platforms you love max and dip in and out on others.
So there you have it, rules to break (if you want to).
There are no rules, remember that. Go with what feels good and makes you happy.
There has never been a better time to blog and invent your way as you go. As with all artists, there is no right or wrong way to be a blogger and that’s what’s so damn beautiful about it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and more rules you might break/make.