1. You must blog daily.
True or untrue?
Depends entirely on your blog, its purpose, and your audience.
Steven Roll founder of the Latin American travel blog, Travelojos, recently polled his readers regarding their opinions of his site. One of the questions was how many times a week readers would like to see new posts. My own answer was 6, but the majority of respondents indicated 3 times a week would make them happy. (I’m glad he’s ignoring their opinion in this regard, planning to post 5 times a week).
2. You must include photos. Preferably engaging, attractive, happy-ish photos with people making direct eye contact with the camera.
No doubt that photos increase many a blog’s visual appeal. Lola’s blog, Uncornered Market, and Forks and Jets are a few that come to mind immediately. But if your writing is engaging, it can stand on its own… especially if your photos are crappy or you’re just swooping the first image you find on Flickr for the sake of having a photo.
3. You must leave comments on other people’s blogs.
It’s the polite thing to do, but necessary? Nope (particularly if you’re just commenting for the sake of etiquette or the motivation of promoting yourself). Truth is, hundreds of bloggers have a substantial following and they don’t comment on anyone else’s blogs.
4. Ads on personal blogs are cheesy and diminish visual appeal.
For the most part, I still hold this particular belief. While I understand they produce some passive income, I find ads to be annoying almost without exception. Same for PayPal buttons asking for donations from readers to help fund your travels.
5. Analytics are everything.
This time last year, I was totally addicted to Google Analytics. Admittedly, it’s fascinating to know what keywords bring people to your blog, how many visitors you have, where they’re from, what they read, and how long they stay. And all of those markers are important if you have specific readership goals for your blog or if your blog is your business. Otherwise, analytics are a form of entertainment that will alternately bolster and bruise your ego.
6. Link love is obligatory.
Link love is nice, but again, is there really anything obligatory? It’s your blog. Do what you want with it. Some of my favorite writers with blogs don’t ever link to anyone else. Why do I like that? Because they’re fully engaged in what they’re writing, not thinking about how they must promote someone else. (Don’t misunderstand me: I think linking is polite and important and useful and appropriate for many pieces and blogs. But obligatory? Not necessarily).
Ultimately, whether these things may (or may not) be true depend entirely on the aims of your blog. I read many types of blogs–from those clearly intended to function as a business to those that are digital journals opened up for public consumption– and over the past year have learned to consider advice about the “must-dos” of blogging with a more critical eye.
What about you? What did you think about blogging a year ago and how have your ideas changed since then?