Few people begin their blog with the intent to turn it into something serious, and even fewer start off thinking “I want to become a professional blogger!” Yet for many, somewhere along the way, blogging goes from being a fun hobby to something more. Something greater. They start to have higher expectations. They begin to think about the future and set aside time to determine where they want their blog to go – what do they want it to become?
When a blogger reaches this point they have to take a step back and evaluate their blog and what they have accomplished to date. Are they already on the right path? Are they producing high quality content? Do they have dedicated followers? Is their traffic increasing? What about SEO? HTML? What changes do they have to make?
It can be completely overwhelming.
It doesn’t help that there are a ton of misconceptions out there about what does and doesn’t work in blogging. A quick Google search on “Blogging Myths” reveals numerous posts that deal with SEO, backlinks, monetizing and more. While most offer useful information, they don’t address some of the more basic blogging myths that I have encountered.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of SEO and the like, let’s start with the basics!
MYTH #1: “I must post Every. Single. Day. or my readers will go POOF”
It happens to all of us: we start blogging in a bubble of sorts where our only concern is your truly when, all of a sudden, we realize we have a follower. Two. Ten. One hundred. There they are – coming back to see what we have to say. On a regular basis! Not just that… we have even more visitors that come to our blog every day! They find us via search engines. Social media. Friends. And they read what we have to say! So what do we do? We force ourselves to post every. single. day. because we just know that if we don’t they will disappear.
That was my mentality when I was first starting out, but you know what? It’s completely wrong. Your readers won’t go anywhere if you miss a day. Or 2. Even 3! I promise.
The bottom line is this: if you want to post every day because you actually have something to say, fine. Do it. I think that is great! However, if you are forcing yourself to create content and publishing posts that aren’t up to par STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.
People want to read what you have to say because they value your thoughts and opinions. I promise you they will notice if your content seems lacking. They will notice if it seems forced. And they will notice if you seem to be posting simply for the sake of posting. So don’t do it.
Figure out schedule that works for you and stick with it. Use an online or print editorial calendar to organize yourself. Your readers will not only stick around – they will keep growing!
Really. Try it.
MYTH #2: “Plain white backgrounds are BORING! I want colors! Psychedelic patterns! Crazyfunbrightstuff!”
How many times have you heard someone say that blogs designed with a plain white background are boring? I have heard it a million times. White = boring. Light grey = boring. Simple = boring!
Guess what? Simple isn’t boring!
The first thing a reader should notice about your blog isn’t your background, it is your header. Personalize that so it fits your aesthetic… make it eye-popping. Make it unforgettable. Once your header hooks them, reel them in with your content – not with your background!
Beautifully Invisible is highly visual – it comes with the territory when you blog about fashion. Instead of coming up with some fabulous textured background, I decided to let the imagery in my posts do the talking. The result is it keeps things clean and professional-looking.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your background to suit you. Pretty Shiny Sparkly has a great chevron background that makes her site pop. The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower has a textured background that works beautifully with her overall theme. Both are simple, clean designs yet they are unique. They add to the overall site design but both are secondary to the header and content!
Don’t get sucked into the idea that you must have a hot pink background and crazy psychedelic patterns all over your blog to make it stand out – sometimes clean is all you need.
MYTH #3: “I heard that community, not content, is actually KING!”
In my opinion this is absolutely 100% WRONG.
This idea seems to be popping up more and more frequently online as of late. The story is that community, not content, is what drives a successful website. While I agree wholeheartedly that community is important, I can guarantee you that you won’t have much of an online community unless people are reading your content!
In some ways this myth is akin to the “what came first, the chicken or the egg” question. What comes first: your followers and community OR your quality content? I say content.
Your content is what draws people in. Community is what keeps those that are most engaged coming back.
But if you have no content you have no voice.
If you have no voice, no one will be listening.
MYTH #4: “I have to respond to all of the comments on my blog AND comment on everyone else’s blog or people will hate me.”
This one is a toughy. In an ideal world, we would be able to respond to every single comment on our blogs and comment on the blogs we follow. In fact, when most of us are starting out we usually try our best to do this because it is one of the best ways to grow our community and get to know other bloggers.
But there comes a point where we simply don’t have enough time. The real world creeps in and we find ourselves having to prioritize. Having to make sacrifices. Commenting is usually one of the first things to be affected by this.
Speaking for myself, I wish I had more time to devote to commenting, both here and on other blogs. But I have had to cut back for the sake of time. And my own sanity. Reading other blogs is what is most important to me. So I make the time to read. I comment on other blogs when I am able. I make a concerted effort to share posts by others. I socialize and interact via social media.
I do little with comments on my own site. I read and appreciate every single one. I respond to direct questions I receive but, unless I happen to find a few extra hours in the day, I don’t stress out about responding.
I used to stress about it and I swear it was giving me an ulcer. No one should stress about commenting. No one will hate you if you can’t respond as long as you make an effort to show them you still appreciate them. Figure out a way to do that (social media! sharing!) and people will still support you.
MYTH #5: “I am an island. My blog is just about me, ME and ME”
This one is directed to the bloggers out there with the “I blog only for me, I don’t care about my readers” mentality. I have come across a few of these types in recent month, especially in response to my “10 Things About Your Blog That Drive me Crazy” post and I have one thing to say to them:
SHAME ON YOU.
If you aren’t serious about blogging this won’t apply to you, but if you are serious and if you want to grow your blog you have to stop being selfish. As soon as you hit publish on your first post, you became a part of something called the blogosphere. This is a community of bloggers. It is a community of readers. You are not an island and you do not blog in a silo.
If you are serious about blogging you have a responsibility to your readers to make the reading experience pleasant for them. To make sharing easy. To provide quality content. To make them feel like your blog is a place they want to visit. They don’t need to be talked TO or made to feel like they are irrelevant. They should feel like they are a part of your blog. A part of your community. If they don’t you aren’t doing it right.
MYTH #6: “Blogging is EASY!”
Excuse me as I laugh hysterically.
Blogging is NOT easy if you are serious about it. It takes hard work, dedication and TIME. The stresses can be equivalent to that of a full time job but most of us don’t get paid for it.
We get burned out. We get frustrated. We feel like throwing in the towel and wonder WHY are we doing this to ourselves?
And then we write something that resonates with our audience.
We get a comment that touches us.
We make a new friend or are presented with a new opportunity.
And we are reminded that it is all worth it.
But it takes hard work, dedication, time… and passion.
Without passion, a blog is just empty words.
MYTH #7: “No one reads long posts!”
Another tricky one because I don’t think this is entirely untrue, but it depends on what your readers are used to.
I am not personal style blogger. My posts tend to be editorial which means they tend to be lengthier than those found on most fashion blogs. Does that hurt my blog? Not significantly. Have I lost a reader or two due to length? Probably… but no more than someone might lose me due to typos or out-of-focus imagery.
Case in point:
I wasn’t able to post much new content the last 30 days because I was ill. One would expect my blog readership to suffer dramatically because of that, yet this doesn’t appear to be the case at all. My blog stats tell me that in the last 30 days over 20,000 unique visitors each spent an average of 3 and a half minutes reading my site with a bounce rate of 40%. That means a large percentage of my visitors stayed because the content captured their attention and kept them here.
The length of my posts didn’t drive them away. If anything, it probably drew a particular type of reader TO my blog.
The lesson here is if you have something to say don’t be afraid to say it!
MYTH #8: “Variety is the spice of life.”
Sometimes the last thing we need is too many options.
When it comes to blogging and content, having a clear and defined focus is key. Are you a fashion blogger? A mommy blogger? A lifestyle blogger? A foodie? A techie? Do you want to niche yourself even further and only cover the latest shoes? Tom Ford?
Figure out your main focus and stick with it. It doesn’t mean you can’t branch out on occasion (I cover fashion and blogging tips!), but knowing what your focus is not only helps dictate your content, it also helps you build a community around your blog.
In an ideal world, your readers will begin to associate you with certain topics. For example, when I hear “Gucci” I think Grit and Glamour. When I hear “Self-Worth” I think By Anika. When I hear “Audrey Hepburn” I think The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower. And that type of association, my friends, is priceless.
MYTH #9: “Why would I want to move to wordpress.org? Everyone knows Blogger is better! And it’s FREE!”
I had to do it.
Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with me here, but I love wordpress.org. Love. Love. Love
Truthfully, I started off on Blogger and thought it would be all I ever needed. It was easy to use. Customizable. Popular. And free. So why would I ever want to switch to a self-hosted wordpress blog? However, as soon as I started to get more serious about my blogging I started to see Blogger’s shortcomings. I won’t go into detail here because I already covered my thoughts earlier on the site, but suffice to say it didn’t take long for me to realize wordpress.org is the best blogging platform out there.
I made the switch with only one regret – that I didn’t do it sooner.
MYTH #10: “The Thesis theme isn’t for me because ALL Thesis blogs looks the same!”
If you aren’t a wordpress.org blogger you can skip this one, but if you are, let’s discuss.
This is another common misconception and you know what? To some extent it is true. But it has nothing to do with Thesis – it has to do with how much customization a blogger takes on.
Thesis is my #1 recommendation for a wordpress theme. There is nothing better or more powerful on the market today and it is worth every penny. This is why so many bloggers use it, and this is why you see so many sites that are obviously powered by Thesis.
Now, let’s make something clear. Just because someone uses Thesis that doesn’t mean the site has to LOOK like it uses Thesis. The theme is fully customizable and let’s the user go-to-town on design as much as they want. The fact of the matter is most people (like myself) choose not to do any major tweaking.
But if you want to make it unrecognizable, you can… so don’t let it’s popularity stop you from using the best theme out there.
I know not everyone will agree on all the points above and that is OK. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject at hand. What are some blogging myths you have found to be untrue? Are there any misconceptions you are battling right now?
Sound off in the comments below!