When the Experts Get It Wrong: Popular Blogging Advice You Can Ignore
I'm in the process of potty training my toddler. This isn't exactly a task that's in my area of expertise, so I turned to the almighty Google for tips. What I got was a long list of confusing and contradictory advice:
- Just use pull-ups.
- Pull-ups are for weak and lazy parents. Let your kid run around naked.
- Use stickers as rewards.
- Your child will be begging for stickers until she's 43 if you use bribery.
- Use a potty chair.
- No, use a child-sized toilet seat insert.
- No, just use the regular toilet.
- No, send your child outside to squat in the bushes.
Okay, so maybe I made that last one up.
The whole thing reminds me of when I first started my business and spent months Googling variations of "How to start and grow a blog." The answers I found were confusing and contradictory. Some advice was even a few years old, which meant it was completely outdated in the fast-paced blogging world.
Doing what works for you and your business is more important than blindly following expert advice.
That's why I pulled together this list of popular blogging advice you can ignore and what to do instead.
Popular Blogging Advice You Can Ignore
1. You have to blog all the time to build your audience.
Not true. Blogging several times a week (or even once a week!) can be unsustainable if you have a full-time job, a busy freelance schedule, hobbies, kids/family/friends, or a social life of any kind.
Most readers don't even have the time to read every single post published by every single blogger they follow! Blogging less often is better in the long run than posting slap-dash content three times a week.
What to do instead: Just because you're not blogging all the time doesn't mean you can't still blog consistently. Figure out a schedule that works for you and stick with it. Don't forget to make the most of your past content by directing readers to valuable posts from the archives.
2. You have to have an ideal client avatar.
It is important to know your audience, but an ideal client avatar isn't the best way to get to know them. That's because your ICA is a fictional person you invented to be your perfect client and blog reader. The problem? Fictional people aren't real.
That's why content marketers use personas instead of ICAs. A persona is a composite based on real people in your audience. Instead of filling out a worksheet with details about someone who doesn't exist, you use real data to learn more about the people who actually are reading your blog.
What to do instead: Get to know your readers. Engage with them on social media. Hang out where they hang out. Keep a running list of common characteristics they share and problems they have. Make note of the type of language they use. Use targeted survey questions to get to the heart of how you can help them.
3. You should write about what's trendy.
I've seen this as advice for new bloggers who are looking to build website traffic quickly. The logic is that blogging about a hot topic is more likely to pop up in searches and possibly go viral.
Writing about what's trendy isn't always a bad idea, but it's not a good foundation for your blog. If every post you write is about what's popular this week, you're going to have one very outdated blog in a year.
What to do instead: Use purposeful pillar content to create a foundation of strong evergreen content for your blog. Once your blog is established, you can post about trending topics here and there if they're relevant to your readers. Just make sure to keep a list of "trendy" posts you've written so you can check back later and keep them up to date!
4. You have to write clickbait headlines.
There's nothing wrong with a catchy headline---especially one that's optimized for SEO---but writing clickbait titles will get you a bad reputation, fast. No one likes clicking on a promising headline only to find a short, poorly written blog post with no original ideas!
People remember which bloggers came through with stellar content and which ones didn't. I often peruse blog promo threads in Facebook groups to find content to fill up my social media queues for the week . . . and it only takes one bad impression for me to never click on a particular blogger's post again.
What to do instead: Put content before headlines. Plan content you know you can follow through on, then come up with a catchy post title (CoSchedule's headline analyzer tool can help). If you have a great idea for a clickable post but can't come up with the content to back it up, enlist the help of guest experts to help you.
5. You need to do XYZ on social media.
This myth came about because many new bloggers make the mistake of assuming that if they publish a post, readers will magically appear. That's obviously not the case. Social media can play a huge part in getting new readers to your site.
The problem is that many business owners hear this advice and focus too hard on promoting their blogs. They spend all day crafting strategies for Pinterest or Instagram and forget that they still need to create strong content (and, you know, serve their clients).
What to do instead: Do what works for you on social media. Promote your content on platforms you and your readers both enjoy. Don't try to be everywhere. Automate what you can. Unless your job is actually being a social media manager, you should not be spending all day on Pinterest.
Moral of the story: You do you
Not all popular blogging advice is bad, but what works for one expert may not work for you. The best way to avoid burnout is to do what works for you and your business and scrap the rest.