I think we need to have a chat about blogging etiquette, my most lovely readers.
What? Who does Amy think she is, Emily Effing Post? Nope. I never know which fork to use, and I don’t understand the white-after-Labor-Day rule, so I don’t wear white at all. (That’s actually not that hard, since I only own one white thing, and that’s a white teeshirt, and it has crazy pitstains, so I can only wear it under things now. TMI? Yep. So now you can see I am SO not Emily Post. I don’t even play her on teevee.)
There are a lot of bloggers in the world. How many? Don’t know. This pretty infographic tells us about the state of blogging in Merka:
The most important thing you can learn from this? Other than I couldn’t find one for the world (sorry, world)?
There are a LOT OF BLOGGERS. You are one of MILLIONS.
Also, odds that you’re going to make your fortune as a blogger? Slim to none, sunshine. Sorry to burst your bubble. I have made $25 from blogging in the past year and a half. It’s not something you do because you want to make a lot of money. (Well, it might be, but you’re going to be disappointed pretty damn quickly. Or unable to pay your rent. Or eat. Or feed your cats. Dumbcat disapproves of this plan. He likes to eat quite a bit.)
So, because there are so many bloggers, I think it might be time that we mention some of the general rules of blogging.
I know! You’re all, “What? There are RULES?” and no. No, there aren’t, not really. But there is etiquette. And a lot of people aren’t being polite. And it’s bothersome. You want to be polite, don’t you? Sure you do.
Now, I’m not the queen of polite. I mean, I TRY to be, but I’m sure some people think I’m the rudest person to ever rude it up. I’m cool with that. I do my best. I can sleep at night. But some people…well, I think it’s one of two things. Either you’re new to the blogosphere, so you don’t know the ropes, or you just don’t care. Either way, let’s have a chat, ok? Cool.
Now, remember how up there I said there weren’t really rules to blogging? I lied. There’s one.
Here’s the one, which I will center and make all-caps and bold with stars because it’s just that important:
There. That’s it. That’s the number one rule. That is THE rule. Don’t do it to make money, or to become the most famous blogger EVAH, or for whatever other weird reasons might compel you to blog. Do it because you like writing, and because you have something to say, and it seems like it might be fun. And if it continues to be fun? And if you meet amazing people? Well, good. That means you’re doing it right. And if it stops being fun? Well, it’s something you should stop doing. I mean, listen. Work’s not fun, but if you quit doing it, you couldn’t pay your bills. Paying your bills isn’t fun, but if you quit doing it, you would have no power. Or water. Or home. But if you aren’t having fun blogging – well, why the hell are you still doing it? It’s an extracurricular. So quit it. It might not be your thing. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re broken. I mean, soccer isn’t my thing, but that doesn’t mean I’m broken. Just uncoordinated. You’re still ok. You’ll find something. Promise.
ANYWAY. Let’s talk about etiquette, ok? Because it’s necessary.
Write good posts with actual information in them. So! You’ve started a blog. Great! Now, what to write about? That’s up to you. What do you like? What are you good at? Are you funny? Are you serious? Do you want to talk about your kids? Tell stories? There are a million things you can blog about. Only you can decide what you’d be best at. What not to do? Write one or two sentences (too often – once and a while, sure. Shake things up.) Reblog other people’s posts and do nothing but reblog other people’s posts – again, once and a while is ok, but if it’s all you do, how are you going to develop your own voice? I promise, people want to get to know you, not just see what other people are saying. If they wanted to see what other people were saying, they’d follow them. Just be YOU. Seriously. If you don’t know who you are? Figure it out. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your footing. That’s fine. You’ll find it.
Don’t steal. You saw what happened to Jean Valjean, right? Right. OK, so you’re new to blogging, you’re reading a lot of other blogs, they seem SO COOL…so, they wouldn’t mind if you took their post ideas, right? I mean, they have a lot of followers, and you WANT a lot of followers, so if they’re doing this neat thing like they’re recapping an episode of Game of Thrones using X-Files action figures or something, well, that’s a cool idea! Yank that right off of there! It’s not like stealing from a store, right? WRONG. It’s WORSE. It’s intellectual property. That person worked hard on that. They worked hard on the post; they worked hard on getting those followers. But AMY! What if I steal the idea but TWEAK it a little? NO. Us bloggers, we are a savvy bunch. We know when you’re yanking our ideas. We know when you’re stealing the way we talk, our blog designs, a cool idea we worked weeks on developing. And here’s the thing: a., can you really sleep, knowing your cool idea was just stolen from someone else? and b., any followers you get are eventually going to figure this shit out, you know. You’re not fooling anyone, not for long. (Also, this goes for the big blogs, too. I won’t name names, but there’s a big-name genre blog that steals from the smaller bloggers within that genre ALL. THE. TIME. It’s a shady-ass blog, and it’s getting tons of followers and hits on the hard work that the smaller bloggers are doing. I’ve got my eye on you, big blog. And someday, you’re going to get yours. Seriously. I believe very strongly in karma being a bitch.)
Read and comment on other blogs. Now you have a blog, and you’re writing (hopefully non-stolen) posts that are awesome and full of kitten-rainbows. You want people to read your stuff! And your best bet? Other bloggers. Listen, I just counted, and I am subscribed to 191 blogs. And I add more every day. And I’m SELECTIVE about the ones I subscribe to, mostly because I don’t have time to read the ones I DO read, so I have to be careful about adding new ones. Now, not all of those update daily, but some update MULTIPLE times a day. I read them all. I comment when I am moved to do so and if it’s a WordPress blog, I hit the like button when I’m moved to do so. A lot of bloggers are very engaged with other bloggers, more so than most readers, I’d dare to say. Because we write, and we love to read what others are writing. You need to engage with other bloggers. Follow their blogs; learn from them (but do not, per the last paragraph, STEAL from them. There’s a fine line between inspiration and thievery.) Comment, and comment thoughtfully, if you are moved enough by their post to do so. If you like their blog, RSS it, or get the new posts emailed to you. This is your community now. Dive right into the pool.
BUT, don’t comment with nonsense. NOW! You’ve read a post. This blog has a lot of followers! You know if you comment on it, your name and a link to your blog will be in the comments! THEN ALL THOSE PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW YOU AND YOU WILL BE FAY-MUSS! Well, you might get a click or two from those comments, sure. I’ve gotten some wonderful followers from comments I’ve made, both the bloggers and others who follow that blogger. HOWEVER! Here is a tip. Do not just comment with the following, or a combination of the following: “LOL good post”/”Ha ha this was funny”/”I read this, good”/”Good writing”/”Thank you”. Why would you even comment with such a thing? Please put content of some sort in your comment. I mean, yes, comments are awesome, and bloggers love them? But we don’t know much about what to do with that kind of comment. Do we respond to it? Ignore it? Also, we’re aware you’re here to draw attention to yourself and your blog. YOU ARE NOT FOOLING US, SLAPPY.
And, don’t link-spam. If you’ve commented correctly, your name and a link to your blog will neatly show up in to the left of your comment. You do not need to put a link to your blog IN the comment. That’s overkill. And it’s rude. It’s one of those unspoken rude things. Don’t do that. Also, and I don’t know when this became a thing, and I blame WordPress, but apparently there’s a setting now where you can blanket-spam a bunch of people with a link to your blog. I’ve gotten a ton of these in the past couple of weeks. “Check out my blog!” “Read my blog!” “I follow you, now you follow me back!” And – my personal favorite, and if you’re reading, whoever did this, yes, I’m totally talking about you – “Send this to 21 more people now.” And that was all. IT WAS A BOSSY BLOGSPAM CHAIN LETTER. Let me tell you something. I delete these when I get them. I don’t even click the link. If you’ve commented on my blog, I’ve checked out your blog. I promise. I’m diligent about such things. You don’t need to link-spam me. I might be reading; I might not. As I said, I can’t read every blog in the world. I have to be selective.
Don’t overpublicize. You don’t need to put up links to your most recent post a billion times. Once or twice on Twitter/Facebook/wherever else you publicize your stuff? Cool. Ten times? More? Tweeting it to a bunch of people asking them to read it? Spamming blog comments with it when the post has nothing to do with the post you’re publicizing? (I’m not saying NEVER put a link to your blog in someone’s comments. If you know the person, it’s ok. Or, I’ve put a link to someone ELSE’S blog in someone’s comments before. THAT’S ok. But don’t be a spammer, yo, see the paragraph above. It’s rude.) People are going to get sick of seeing all those links and they’re going to stop paying attention to you. Seriously. Trust me on this.
Be polite. Don’t be rude in people’s comments. That’s not your house. You want to be rude on your blog, cool. That’s your house! Someone else’s blog is not your house. So don’t walk all through there with muddy shoes. AGAIN, there’s an exception – if you know the blogger, and you have one of those jokey sarcastic relationships with them, go to it, jellybean. For example: I like to use SHOUTY ALL-CAPS and be very sarcastic. But I wouldn’t do that on someone’s blog I didn’t know well. I would do it on someone’s blog I’ve known a long time. If I didn’t, they might think I was sick. Otherwise, be polite. Your mom told you to be polite, and she wasn’t kidding about that.
Reply to your comments as much as you can. You have readers now! And they are commenting! Now, once you become a big old huge blogger, you might not have time to respond to all your comments. But are you The Bloggess? Are you Wil Wheaton? No. No, you are not. You are cutting off a dialogue between you and your readers if you don’t talk to them, and where can you talk to them? In your comments. Reply to them. Joke with them. Ask them things. Respond to their questions. And guess what? You might even make FRIENDS with some of them. I know! Shocking! Seriously. Try it.
Use social media, but do not abuse social media. You are a blogger! With followers! And commenters! A good thing to do is make a presence on social media. Twitter and Facebook are good. Some people have luck with Google Plus, Tumblr, things along those lines. Do what you’re comfortable with. Or what you’re NOT comfortable with, maybe. Go outside your comfort zone. It won’t bite you. Probably. Don’t abuse your social media presence, however. Don’t annoy people; don’t harass people; don’t post like a zillion links to weird stuff that isn’t even FUN or GOOD, don’t just retweet things. Think before you post. PAY ATTENTION. I can’t emphasize this one enough. If someone’s not talking about something? Probably don’t needle them about it. If someone seems sad, maybe ask them what’s wrong. If someone’s celebrating, congratulate them. Paying attention shows you’re a good listener, and potentially, someone people want to get to know. Also, don’t beg people to follow you. Ask them, nicely, a few times, but don’t constantly harass them. It makes me crazy when someone’s constantly in my face about following them. If I wanted to be, I would. I’m pretty savvy about the interwebs, dudes and dudettes. (SIDE NOTE! This is a me-thing and not an anyone-else thing, but I don’t use my personal Facebook for blog stuff. So while I appreciate people who have found out my REAL IDENTITY ZOMG and want to be my Facebook friend, odds are very good I will not approve your friend request. I’ve mentioned this in my FAQ’s, I think, but that’s where I keep my family and friends. I don’t invite strangers in there. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, and please feel so, so free to follow my blog Facebook page, or friend me on Twitter, where someday I might actually post shit again. But odds are very good you’re not going to be accepted on Facebook, and I’m sure you’re lovely, and not at all a stabmurderer. But, sorry. I have to have a certain level of knowledge of you, and trust, to let you onto my Facebook page. Thanks ever so for understanding.)
Be patient. Nothing good happens overnight. I know, it’s easy to look at some bloggers who have like 2,000 followers in 6 months, and be all, WHY NOT ME! I AM THE WORST! and freak out. I know. But keep doing what you’re doing. Have fun. Write what you know how to write. Make friends online. And if you get your 2,000 followers? Cool. And if you don’t? You know what? Not at all the end of the world. Don’t compare yourself to others. You’ll never measure up. You know why? You’re not them. And, there’s someone out there attempting to measure up to YOU and failing miserably. Just don’t. Measure your success against how happy you are. Are you happy today? Then you’ve succeeded. Are you sad? Then what are you going to do tomorrow to make it a better day?
OK, this is insanely long, and you know what? It stops being fun for me if I can’t get any sleep. So to bed I go. Have fun is the number one rule. And the number one etiquette rule? Well, it’s simple. Follow the golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated.
Then take that, and your happiness, and go out into the world and CONQUER it. You’re invincible now. And who doesn’t want to be invincible?