When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Knowing the culture of a place is extremely important when you travel the world. Something that is normal for you at home might get you in big trouble overseas.
The same is true for blogging.
Unless you know a bit about blog culture you might find yourself struggling to make inroads with important things like networking, landing guest posts, joint ventures, and much more.
In this post I’m going to show you a rough guide to blog culture and how to get it right.
So, what is blogging culture?
I have no idea really.
Here’s a little video explaining what this post is all about:
What follows is a list of tips that I hope will help some people avoid a few innocent mistakes and make some genuine connections with colleagues and readers alike.
This is all done with the motivation of helping!
1. On your blog…
Some new bloggers are really overwhelmed by the different things you should and shouldn’t do on their new sites. This can even lead to some serious confusion and stress! Specifically on your blog you should do your best to:
- Name your sources
This goes back to school. If you get an idea from someone you need to reference them. If you don’t it’s basically just stealing. You won’t always be able to remember but at least have a look around first.
- Link back to your sources
There is a new trend of mentioning bloggers but not giving a link back to their site. That’s a bit cheap. Always link back to a blog if you borrow from them. Links are blogging currency and chances are if you give them a link they’ll promote your post!
- Don’t call people out
If you have a problem with another blogger don’t call them out publicly. Email them first and try to work it out.
- Don’t copy full articles
It’s okay to take a bit of someone’s article and quote it in your post but don’t copy whole articles and then add a little link down the bottom. It looks lazy and it is really bad for the SEO of both blogs.
- Don’t steal people’s brand
If you can’t come up with an original name or design for your blog then you probably shouldn’t start one in the first place. I’ve seen so many spin offs of Blog Tyrant these past two years, it’s a bit sad.
- Always credit photos
You know how you can post royalty free photos on your blog? Well you still need to credit the photographer. Don’t ever forget this as it can lead to them seeking damages.
- Don’t mislead
If you say that your special deal is expiring in 24 hours so that people hurry up and buy it, don’t then leave it open for a week. It’s actually illegal in some countries.
- Stay on topic
From Chad Haynes: “If you want to know how to change a car tyre, do you want an article called How to Change a Car Tyre to give you the pros and cons of every tyre in the world and every possible way to change it, or do you just want to be told very clearly how to solve your problem?”
- Ask permissions first
If you are going to use a photo or asset of someone that you know you should always ask them first. A few times I’ve seen my photo endorsing someone’s product that I’ve never ever used before.
- Make your interactions meaningful
This one is from Geneviève Germaine Dubois: “The worst is when people come to my blog and they leave a comment that has NOTHING to do with my post, or when people ask a question that I specifically ANSWER in my video – it’s clear they never watched it. I don’t want to call them out, but I mean, why leave a comment if you didn’t watch the video?”
- Try to be consistent
From Monja Wessel: “If a person goes from 3 posts per week to none and then again to 3 or less, that is, in my eyes, a mistake.” I am still at fault of this one but know that it really helps readers to be on time.
- Forgetting to ask
From IMPromocoder: “Expecting your readers/clients leave a positive review/comment/feedback without specifically asking them to do so. I have found that no matter how happy your readers/customers are, and how high is the value they got, they still need to receive a direct request to leave a positive feedback/review if they were satisfied.”
- Not taking action
From Rahul Tilloo: Another and the biggest mistake I see newbies doing is hanging out in black hat forums. Just wasting time consuming content and not taking action. There will always be new courses launching and tools being developed. So all the times goes wasted downloading and consuming this. Taking action in what you learn is the most important thing.
- Make sure your About page is done
Great point from Patrick Baird: “I STILL see people focussing their about page on themselves, instead of making it about the visitor and what they can do for them.” I use a video and text on mine to make sure I’m as personal as possible.
2. Over email…
Emailing will be a huge part of your blogging life – especially if you are trying to grow a mailing list. When emailing subscribers and other bloggers make sure:
- You keep it short
Long emails are annoying. Keep your emails short unless you are testing a specific pitch to your email subscribers.
- You have their consent
Adding someone to your mailing list because they sent you a private email about some unrelated topic is really lame. Don’t email people marketing material unless they opt-in.
- You aren’t publicly CCing them
Sending an email out to 300 people and putting everyone’s email address in the CC section so that spammers can take it and use it for whatever they want is really annoying. Make sure you understand what BCC is.
- You aren’t cold pitching
Sending someone a pitch without knowing their name, website or personal culture is a really good way to burn that bridge forever. Don’t email someone unless you’ve got to know their site a bit first.
- You’re not going against requests
On my contact page I have a clear message that I am not accepting any guest posts from anyone and yet I still get emails from people who say, “Saw your message, thought I’d have a crack anyway.” I just delete these.
- You aren’t just copy pasting content
After a while you can instantly tell when someone is just copying and pasting emails and just changing the name. It’s really disingenuous and you often make mistakes by forgetting to edit out the last recipients name or whatever.
- You’re not being too frequent
Anyone who works online gets a lot of emails. If you email them too often you’ll start to make less of an impact. Try and be a little bit careful with how often you email someone.
- You’re not using cheap gimmicks
Last week my friend Kristi Hines posted about a new email campaign trick that people are using to get higher open rates. This kind of thing is annoying and most people know what you’re doing.
- You make it easy to unsubscribe
It’s law in some countries and manners in others; make sure if you have an email newsletter that people can clearly unsubscribe. It’s in your best interests anyway as you don’t want people to mark you as spam.
- You give people time
If you want someone to participate in a blog post or something similar don’t send them a request the night before. People are busy. Give them at least a fortnight if possible.
3. On social networking sites…
Social networking refers to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Most of this will be common-sense but there are a few things to note:
- Know thy platform
Make sure you read stuff like my guide to social media so you know what each platform does and how to use it properly.
- Don’t have private discussions in public
This is similar to not calling people out in public. Don’t ask people private questions or questions about private business matters over a public Twitter stream.
- Don’t mass email on Google+
Be careful when you publish a post on Google+ as you can email all of your followers. If you do this too much it’s a bit annoying.
- Don’t self promote constantly
A lot of people just use social media to promote their own content. It’s not meant for that. Rather, you should be interacting with people as you would in public. Save the self promotion for about 10% of your social activity.
- Don’t post angry
Platforms like Twitter are extremely fast. And once you Tweet something it is out there forever. If you’re upset at something you see on the news (or a sporting match…) don’t Tweet about it right away. You might negatively impact your brand forever.
- Don’t be biased
Try to be generous with your posting and replying. If you reply to people with large followings and not the “small guys” it comes across as a bit disingenuous.
- Don’t pay for Tweets/Shares/etc.
It seems really tempting when you first start out but paying for these things (unless you’re doing advertising through the site) is really a bit dodgy. It can lead to getting your account banned or suspended and often results in a lot of mess for your followers.
Bloggers with integrity to learn from
I want to finish this post by giving you a list of bloggers who get it.
These are women and men who have, for many years, understood blogging culture and provided a solid example to follow.
Check these people out if you want to see how to do it well.
- Darren Rowse – everyone’s favorite blogger and all-round smashing human being. Helped launch my career with a post series about Adsense, and then gave me guest post spots that really helped me take off. Never heard a bad word about him.
- James Chartrand – for someone who told the biggest fib in blogging 😉 (you’ll have to read this post) James is one of the most genuine bloggers out there. Really pushed me with my writing – for about two bloody years!
- Brian Clark – without Brian there would be no Blog Tyrant. I’m constantly inspired by his ability to create new verticals and never deviate from the “quality first” method of building a business online.
- Rand Fishkin – a huge hero of mine and a legitimately solid human being. He’s been very open about depression and insights into how to be a quality CEO.
- Chris Ducker – founder of companies, international man of mystery, friend who is always willing to help out. Chris is a living example of how to run a personally branded business online.
- Jerod Morris – this guy. Do I need to say more? Answers my emails faster than anyone else and is genuine about being good at what he does.
- Pat Flynn – this guy is the epitome of a guy who takes care of his readers. Constant quality information from a family man that really wants to make a difference. I recommend him all the time.
- Jon Morrow – ever since I read his post on ProBlogger about living your dream life I have been interested in Jon. He knows what works but he’s also dedicated to his craft and never produces anything short of brilliant.
- Chris Garrett – another blogger who has been well respected for longer than I’ve been blogging. Always kind and helpful.
- Kristi Hines – loved by bloggers and online marketers around the globe. Kriti is so prolific with her work but also never waivers from her trademark quality.
- Ana Hoffman – social media savvy and extremely friendly. Always replies to fans and puts a lot of effort into providing new material.
- Leo Babauta – one of the most popular bloggers in the world, all built by helping people become happier.
- Joost de Valk – brilliant technical skills and a great brand. Always associated with quality products and trustworthy information.
- Steve Kamb – legendary nerd and creator of one of the coolest online communities. Always kind, gentle and promotes a lot of healthy and helpful information.
- Jamie Swanson – photography blogger who really gets it. Complete care across her whole brand a lot of dedication to quality blogging.
- Peg Fitzpatrick – social media giant and all-round nice gal! Answers comments and curates content like an absolute champion. A great example of social media etiquette.
- Glen Allsopp – I don’t agree with everything Glen does but he is kind of like some corruption-busting online Batman figure. He understands his space and always tries to be helpful to his customers and readers.
- Caz and Craig – travel bloggers who love their kids, love their website and really take care of their community. Good example of how to run a healthy brand.
What (or who) have I missed?
I’d really like to know what blogging mistakes you think people make when they are first starting out in terms of “blogging culture”. Is there anything that really ticks you off, or on the other hand, something that really impresses you that you think people should know about? What about bloggers with integrity?
Please leave a comment and let me know.