Recently there has been a an awful lot of different league tables for blogs, I’ve noticed people getting really quite upset about it. I’ve noticed a real rise in competition amongst bloggers for stuff to review, places in league tables, number of comments. I have to admit, some of this stuff used to bother me, however I can honestly say that it really doesn’t these days. Why? Well, I took myself back to the beginnings of my blogging and thought about why I actually started blogging. For me, it was a chance to learn about new software and improve my computer skills, a way of expressing creativity whilst I was on maternity leave and also a record of their lives and how I felt. It is this last one that has actually become the most important for me. Did you know about any of these stupid league tables when you started blogging? Was it your mission to become number one blogger? If you answered ‘no’ to these questions then I hope that you feel the same as me about the tables.
From what I have seen over the years I think that there are a few Golden Rules which can help make a good blog. I should make it clear that I am not saying mine is a good one, as mine is written for myself and my family primarily. I don’t often apply these rules here, but I think they are valid.
As part of my work I have to write or proof-read exhibition panels. This involves often arduous research and agonising over the use of language. It can actually be quite stressful trying to impart difficult concepts or complicated facts in a simple and short manner. Exhibition panels should not be more than 250 words, any longer and people just wander off. I think that this simple rule could be applied to most blog posts, for me, if it’s longer than 2 panels (500 words) I simply will not bother to read it. Unless it is incredibly well written, emotional or funny, then I may stay for a bit. However, if your blog post is about your kids doing something fairly normal. I reckon it should stay short.
I enjoy the blogs that are about family, emotions, products and creativity. The ones that are written sporadically, by one or two people. I do not enjoy those that are full of guest posts by other bloggers. Most blogs are not magazines. It seems to me that guest blogs by other bloggers to fill the gaps during holidays, or to act as self promotion take away the essence of a blog. If I wanted to read someone else’s stuff, which you have recommended, I’ll look at your blog roll. For me, its just a blatant way of getting linkage, moving up charts and so forth. Think about your blog, if you wanted to print it out as a record of family life in the future would you really want the opinions of a Cyberchum on there?
There are certain comment widgets like Discus, which for me are simply too much of a faff to fill in. On some of my favourite blogs they don’t work properly for me, as I am not part of a particular network, on others they crash. Please, keep your comment system simple and don’t write your blogs in order to generate comments. What’s more don’t feel obliged to reply, I am sure it’s not just me that doesn’t go back and check comments.
I am sick to death of reading sycophantic tweets or comments about stuff related to blogging. Don’t say something unless you would say it to that persons face. Whats more, try to remain within legal frameworks. We are not operating in the wild west here. Don’t libel people or commit breach of confidence by publishing emails. Both of these have happened to me in the past (an edited email was amongst the things published). You don’t know who you are dealing with on-line, one of my friends is a lawyer, the other a barrister it would have been very easy for me to start proceedings. Who knows what or whom your blogging nemesis/ chum is in real life. It’s simply not worth it. Keep your arguments and opinions off line unless they really add to your blog. Google caches web pages, even if you remove something, its still there.
If an image isn’t yours, then don’t use it. You can spot a stock photograph a mile off and to be honest, it doesn’t really add to anything. It’s lovely to see photographs taken by the blogger, even if they are the worst quality.
Networking is great. However, it is not a substitute for real life friends. Cliques can develop from networking and these can get quite nasty. This is ridiculous, its a bit like school. Join a network, learn from it, if you don’t like what you see leave. Don’t use the network as promotion for your blog, a substitute for living in the real world or a way of making yourself feel part of the bandwagon. I don’t think the content of your blog will benefit from this.
Choose your platform and your title wisely
If you do a Google search on ‘mummy blogs UK’ you will see that I am top. This is merely a result of what I called my blog and the fact I use Blogger. Blogger is owned by Google, it searches for its own blogs first. WordPress might look lovely, but it isn’t searched first. If you have a mummy blog and the word ‘mummy’ isn’t mentioned as part of the title, its not going to be as visible in the search engines. However, I regret calling this blog what I did as I don’t really see myself as a mummy blogger or as part of that movement.
Luck and Time
I am a firm believer in luck and time. Unless you are a professional journalist, a lot of blogging seems to relate to luck. Having something really funny happen to you, your child being good at something, you being a great photographer and so forth. It also has a lot to do with time, the longer it’s out there, the more links and visibility you will gain.
The Golden Rules
Do not live your life for blogging, don’t sit there and tweet and blog all day. Enjoy your children. Don’t consider each moment a ‘good blog post’ and most of all, if you are worrying about tables and posts and comments consider giving up. It’s not worth it. Go back to basics, why did you start it in the first place?