7 Basic Blogging Dos and Don’ts

Successful bloggers are aware of what not to do when creating and publishing posts but if you are new to blogging you may not be in the know.  Here are some basic do’s and don’ts.

oneDo update your site regularly. Don’t expect a growing readership unless you provide new fresh content frequently.

Your blog posts should be directed to a specific audience and interesting enough to encourage them to return to read more. Publishing both short “meaty” posts frequently and long posts occasionally is a successful blogging strategy. What’s critical is that your readers know how frequently you publish and when to expect your next post to be ready to read.  8 Tips for Effective Blogging

twoDo research your subject matter.  Don’t rely on out-dated references.

Readers expect your blog posts to contain up to date and relevant information. If you disappoint them they may not return to your blog. Better blog posts are built on a foundation of comprehensive research. Be sure to use multiple search engines to locate the most current topical content. Then be selective. Limit the sources you refer to and quote from to only the most relevant to your topic.

threeDo create your own original content. Don’t plagiarize.

Citing sources in your post and including quotes is important but it’s critical that you express yourself in your own words. Include two or three of the most relevant quotes from your primary sources being sure to properly attribute authorship.

Writer’s voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author.

A strong, well-defined voice is the bridge between you and your audience: It helps your readers understand who you are, and it helps you engage them and keep them coming back for more. – Understanding voice and Tone in Writing

fourLet your individuality be shown in your content.  Write with confidence and conviction about what you know best and let your audience know what you think. After all, they came to read your blog so be sure that you don’t leave “you” out of it. — 6 Traits of Successful Bloggers

Do use spell checkers and grammar checkers. Don’t allow errors to have a negative impact your reputation.

Compelling error-free content is what people expect when they visit a blog and once they have visited they expect to return and read more regularly.  That’s why successful bloggers improve their language use and writing skills. – Writers Resources for Bloggers

Spelling and grammar count. Misspelled words and improper grammar are jarring and off-putting. Most readers will not return to blogs where glaring spelling and grammar errors are evidenced. Recognize the limitations of machines and wherever possible request feedback on your drafts from knowledgeable colleagues.  See 5 free Grammar Checkers for Bloggers and Writers for brief descriptions of free grammar checkers you can use online to detect and correct errors, before publishing.

fiveDo create an explanatory title for each article.  Don’t make your readers guess what’s in your posts.

Next to content writing effective keyword rich titles that peak interest and draw traffic to your posts are the single most important on-page SEO element. Create an effective title that tells readers exactly what to expect. Place a keyword or keyword phrase as close to the start of the title as possible.

sixDo focus on clarity and brevity. Don’t expect readers not to lose interest if you are too wordy. 

Successful bloggers are powerful and persuasive writers, who have mastered the art of creating engaging posts.  Say what you have to say in as few words as possible, leaving no room for ambiguity.  Use short paragraphs and both ordered lists and bullet pointed lists. Conclude with a quick summary, call to action and/or an invitation to ask questions.

sevenDo format your articles with readbility in mind. Don’t present readers with large blocks of unbroken text.

Nothing decreses readbility as much as being faced with a large uninterrupted block of text. No white space means no rest for the eyes and no time for the mind to consider your content. Short paragraphs with blank lines between them, ordered lists, bullet pointed lists, quotations, bold lettering and italics, images and illustrations can be used to improve readability.

Search terms ie. keywords people type into search engines can result in traffic to your images as well as to your articles. That’s why inserting and optimizing images for Google search is important.

Related posts:
10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts
6 Ways to Make Google Your Blog’s Best Friend
Writing a Blog Post
A Dozen Tips for New Bloggers
12 Tips for Improving Search Queries Ranking Position
Your Personality and Writer’s Voice

73 thoughts on “7 Basic Blogging Dos and Don’ts

  1. hello, obviously your blogs are quit successful seing all of those comments, it was helpful and it really did offer a good amount of dos and donts haha. so i was wondering please if it wouldnt be a trouble follow or subscribe or whatever it is called and be my first im finding it hard to know how to get people to follow me
    . :)

  2. Pingback: Blog Exercises: Awesome by Association « Lorelle on WordPress

  3. Excellent post and very helpful, thank you. Can you clarify this point in #2 for me please?: “Limit the sources you refer to and quote from to only the most relevant to your topic.” I sometimes find myself using multiple credible sources for a particular post because I’m trying to ties some ideas together within the same post. It’s also difficult to make a point in a post while using these sources without having to link to them all–trying to avoid plagiarizing or copyright issues too. Hmm…not sure if I’m making myself clear here.

    • I find out what the width and height of the header images is first. Then I divide the width by three and re-size three images to fit side by side. I line the images up side by side in Paint. Then I save them as a single header image and upload it for use as a header.

  4. I’m so impressed at the engagement and sense of community you’ve built for your blog. I know you work hard at it, because you dug me out of the weeds in my first week on WordPress!

    Realistically how long did it take for you to see growing traffic and active comment threads on your blog. I have five weeks to build buzz for a graduate assignment, and in my wrap up analysis I want to discuss the commitment of time it really takes to build a meaningful blog presence with an engaged readership.

    • Hi there,
      It’s good to hear from you and I hope you are doing well.

      I can’t provide an answer because my memory is poor. If I had the time I would go through my archives and note the number of comments of posts and what developed from 2007 onward.

      Previous to the advent of social media and autoposting I would have accommodated you but now I don’t have the time to, as ones ranking and ability to attract traffic are only as good as ones last post promotion efforts.

      That said, you are free to roam through my archives and determine the information your are looking for as this is a public blog.

      P.S. This spring I will be making some changes. Some bloggers may consider them to be big steps backwards. But other may respond differently. We shall see.

  5. Another useful post. Thanks. I think I’m doing most of these things, but it’s always good to have a reminder. I found the only way to build a following was to be reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. I write two blogs and the only drawback is that when I reply to comments on the second one my username for the first blog still comes up. I didn’t think of that when I started the second blog. I should have created a brand new account with a different username. It’s just a small problem really.

    • Hi there,
      It’s true that we can only link a single blog registered under the same username to our username, regardless of how many we register under it. However, if you want to disassociate your blogs that can be done. See here for how to do it > http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2012/08/14/separate-username-accounts-separate-blogs/

      re: commenting
      You re right on point. The best way to get comments on your own posts is to leave meaningful comments on blogs with similar content. Set a goal of commenting on “X” number of blogs weekly and carry through and it will pay off over time. Reciprocity is alive and well in the blogosphere. Social networking is strictly give to get. It takes months of posting unique content frequently to attract viewers who will actually submit comments. One usually only gets like button clickers these days.

  6. Offering variety within the scope of one’s blog is useful and keeps the blog from being too stale. For instance, I have zero interest in reading another cyclist’s ongoing blog journal about their cycling days /fitness days in their home city/town. I realize it’s a form of motivator for some of these folks, but it’s a turn-off to readers. It gets old and boring.

    Now if it is a trip and the blogger writes about what they are seeing and experiencing along their journey, aside from their cycling performance, even better.

    I’m probably slightly more verbose than others for my blog posts. But I try to break up the text with photos and sub-headers in order to give the reader a choice to look at photos and read some of parts of my post. I have to be realistic: everyone else like myself has a life outside of the blogging and reading other blogs.

    Unless the blogger is a regular fantastic photographer, I don’t derive much joy from pure photography blogs where per day, it’s 1 photo and no other text about the photo. I do provide some text for my photographs, just so anyone has some context for the photo.

    • Hi Jean, I think your first paragraph sums it up. I read a few cycling blogs (including yours) but rarely write about ‘we went down the railway track again and back up the coast road’ on mine. The others I can think of off the top of my head, tend to write about a) new equipment b) news in the cycling world plus local cycling and c) cycling in Australia (where I once lived). But what they all have in common is some personal opinion about the issues.

      I’m also with you on the photography blogs. The ones I follow add text and are also quite humorous/personal.

    • Hi Jean,
      I don’t read many bicycling blogs and those I have noticed I have already sent you links to. I have zero interest in reading bicycling blogs that are fitness journals. Like you, I find they bore me too.

      Your posts are fascinating because you select themes you explore and develop in the text and depict in images. The images are lovely but it’s the text that frames images and provides the context. You know how to write and how to format and do both very well, so even though I’m not a bicyclist I will always read your blog.

      I’m weighing in on the photography blogs with the single image point you made. Everyone, except me it seems has a camera of some kind these days. I don’t feel strongly drawn to most blogs that have only single image posts in them. Granted there may be some fabulously talented photographers with outstanding blogs, but they are the exception and not the rule.

      • I agree top-notch photographers that showcase their work and provide a bit of text are rare.

        After a weird day at work today (where I was at a meeting in which 1 team member was too narrow in focus), it is a lovely surprise to read comments from yourself and roughseas. Am humbly grateful.

  7. “Do research your subject matter. Don’t rely on out-dated references.”

    What about making up your own information and being so adamant it’s correct that people are tricked into believing it? :O)

    Excellent tips TT, and I too have noticed the lack of the 7th!

    • Peter,
      I’m having fun with this post and the comments too. We can both learn laugh at the same time, right? My timing was poor though. This post should have been published at the end of the week.

      What about making up your own information and being so adamant it’s correct that people are tricked into believing it? :O)

      That’s another excellent idea for humor bloggers.

      P.S. What took so long to remind me that 7 was missing hmmm …? Aren’t you on UTC time and didn’t I publish this with that in mind? ;)

      • Haha that you did but my day usually consists of work and sleep with little activity in between; I hate having a job, it cuts into my blogging time! :(

        • “Get used to it young one”, said she, with an evil grin. Perhaps we bloggers would rather be independently wealthy but if we were I wonder how many of us would continue to blog? Maybe the booty would prove to be a crushing burden and protecting it from the taxman would prove to be a colossal time and energy suck resulting in heart attack or stroke.

          • If I were rich I’d just blog about all the awesome things I did that day that no one else could afford to do. Though I imagine less people would take a liking to me haha! But then I suppose I could just buy their love.

          • True love can’t be bought and sold but followers and likes, and tweets can be bought and sold. There’s currently a woman in my Twitter stream who posts many links every day all to a blog that isn’t hers. It’s well a very known Yoga blog with lots of traffic and the articles she posts titles to followed by links are not what the links are linked to. The links are to a subscribe to the blog page. I strongly suspect she’s being paid to tweet though she provided a cagey answer resembling denial when I asked her outright. If she’s not being paid to tweet then I expect she’s trying to impress them so she can become an author on the blog as it’s a multi-author blog.

            Meh … the whole personal development blogging niche is weird. I did a 30 day study of the tweet patterns of the cabal who tweet each others links, nominate each others blogs and/or their own blog for awards,etc. They follow each other on twitter, facebook, google plus, and I expect the same pattern can probably be found in other niches too.

          • I don’t know about the “bad timing” for this blog. Maybe you ought to change your schedule. :) You seem to be getting more replies than ever. About the woman who Tweets for profit. I find there are a lot of internet crooks. The dishonesty is a bit strange, too. Why go through all of WordPress’s newly posteds and click all the “like” buttons? People do it. Out of curiosity, I attempted to count how many of them one woman did. I lost patience after twenty minutes of tracking them.

            I’m hoping to find twelve online friends who frequent my weblog. As I like to say, if I wanted to collect a long list of names, I’d collect telephone books. I once saw someone on Facebook who had over three-thousand three hundred “friends.” How does he keep track of them? Twelve real friends are all I need.

  8. I am new to blogging only 4 months now. The issue I have is when I was attacked and stabbed one wound affected my brain. Even though I had a very successful career for 16 years, I do have this one disability. I was told by Oprah a few years back that i should tell my story and write. I have felt intimidated when I read other blogs which I spend about 6 hours a day doing so. I feel the emotion when i take notes and am ready to write a piece and then when I write the words for my blog I feel like 12 years old. Even trying to understand wordpress is to difficult for me. I feel I have so much content to share with other’s. Any suggestions?

    • Learning how to use the software can’t be done in a day. There’s a learning curve involved and I’m grateful I learned before I suffered a head injury that left me dyslexic and visually challenged. I used to be an excellent speller and had grammar down pat. Not so after my head was bashed but my readers encouraged me to continue to blog and that’s why I am still blogging today.

      My suggestion is to use the step by step tutorial provided by Staff. http://learn.wordpress.com
      These index pages may lead you to useful content:

      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/basic-blogging/

      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/popular-posts/

      Though you are eager to share know that blogs are not built in a day. You can create as many draft posts as you wish and keep them on the back burner for later publication. I tend to do that every time I have an idea for a future post. Write when the muse is on your shoulder and pull those drafts out, flesh them out, edit and publish them when the muse takes a vacation.

      It takes time to build a readership and making friends online is the same as making them offline. I do have a personal blog. I choose not to detail trauma and all the misery I have lived through in my blog but that doesn’t mean you can’t. You can be as personal as you want to be in a blog. Sharing your story can help others. Every layer you strip off will make you feel more vulnerable. Over the long term what you share may set you free and can result in creating a strong and encouraging blog centered community.

      Overcoming the fear of rejection and the unknown is not easy to do but it can be done.
      Overcoming head injuries and their effects can also be done. Due to neuroplasticity retraining your brain is possible right up until the last minute that you draw breath.
      Overcoming cancer can be done and coping with long term pain from chronic illness and injuries is possible too.
      Overcoming the pain and grief that follows being victimized and harmed physically, psychologically and emotionally by insane people, traumatic events, and loss of those we love do shape us but they can all be overcome. Everything bad we have endured can be transformed into goodness, provided we are self-honest, courageous and determined to enjoy every precious moment of life.

      How do I know that? I have overcome those obstacles to blogging and even more besides and you can too.

      Be strong and blog on!

      P.S. I just read your About page and it made me weep. It’s hard to say if I’m weeping for you or for me right now. Been there too, Becki. The recovery road is rocky one but the sun shines right through the clouds – keeping moving towards the light.

  9. They are some good tips but don’t forget you do have to do PR if you want people to come to your blog & comment. That’s one of the most negative thing about blogging. I prefer the writing part way more!

  10. Cannot follow the first point these busy days/months. But interestingly, may be because of the type of content of my blog, the visits are maintained. I hope to get into some good posts soon.

    Point 5 is really very important, because may will simply scroll down the list of thousands of posts, a good heading is what will make the reader stop scrolling and click the link.

    • Hi Phoxis,
      Thanks for the visit and feedback too. I’m glad you agree with 5.

      “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” — David Ogilvy

      Brian Clark provides an illuminating statistic about the true power of titles: On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. more here > http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2012/07/04/targeted-blog-titles-draw-traffic/

  11. It doesn’t seem to matter that I run a spell checker and go through my grammar and proofread. Errors, (mainly typos like missing the “y” in “they”), still seem to get through, and I often find them later. It’s almost as if they sneak in after I’ve hit Publish. So here’s a question. After I hit publish, how long do I have to proofread and correct errors before those who have subscribed to my blog get a copy in their email? Are subscriptions sent out daily at a specific time? They don’t seem to go out instantly, and there appears to be a delay before it hits the reader too (a few minutes).

    By the way, this comment box seems to be fading back and forth between light gray and black. I’d blame my eyesight and lack of sleep, but nothing else on the page seems to be doing it.

    • I hear you! I share your misery about the things that slip through no matter how anal I am and how many checks I run. I keep finding places were I meant to type “you” but typed “your” instead and they slipped by. Right now I’m trying out the grammarly browser add-on for firefox. We shall see if it’s helpful or not.

      I don’t know the answer to your questions about length of time after publication that one has to edit a post in. It’s avaiable immediately in the RSS feed. I frequently find errors and edit after publishing. You’ll have to ask Staff in the forums about when the emails are sent.

      The comment box experience doesn’t sound like a good one at all. I do see a lighter gray font color in it than I do in the published comment, but I have no trouble with readability. If you do you should let Themes Staff know about it.

  12. Timethief, what do you think is the optimum length for a blog post? I know it depends a lot on your subject matter and audience, but I’m wondering what you think? I try to limit my posts to 400-500 words with 2-3 pictures per post, but actually, it’s really difficult to write short articles!

    • Hi there,
      I don’t think there is an optimum post length. I also agree that it’s difficult to provide value in short posts. Though I do think there is value in blog post modeling, and I know brevity is the rule of thumb for writing on the web, I have concerns about developing a collection of cookie cutter posts. If we embrace a short post length and every post we publish resembles the last in length and structure will that not become off-putting to some or all of our readers? Will it not rule out creating and publishing certain kinds of comprehensive posts like pillar posts, bibliographies, best of lists, reviews, interviews, etc.?

      Before you determine length consider the answers to these questions:
      Who is your audience?
      What are their reading habits?
      What is your subject?
      What’s trending in your niche?
      What is no one else blogging about in your niche?
      What can you publish that solves a problem or otherwise helps others in your niche?

      More here:

      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2009/06/04/bloggers-how-long-are-your-posts/

      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2008/09/03/better-blogging-post-length/

  13. I seem to be doing quite a lot of that. I don’t write a “useful” Blog with tips on making cheese or reading books. It’s more a series of ruminations and very short stories. One thing which has jolted me a bit is the inclusion of “visits” within the viewing figures in “STATS”. They were a bit of a reality check. Still, I’ve buckled down and still maker an effort to grow my Blog without the benefit of pictures, or a short tape of myself playing the harmonica.

    • Thanks for your patience while waiting. Somehow I started answering these comments and diverged ending up answering them out of order. I’m not clear on what happened but I do apologize.

      I read some of the blogs you link to. They are terrific blogs and sometimes I feel like closing this one down and joining you all in your niche. To do that I would have to publish what I keep private now and call myself a writer, and I’m not in the place where I feel confident enough to do that.

      Bottom line: Your blog is fabulous. You are a gifted storyteller and writer. Yes I could make suggestions but to what end? You don’t need any blogging tips. You can toss the blogging manual out the window (Oh dear, maybe saying means you won’t come back here.). Forget the blasted stats and keep writing so I can keep reading what you publish please.

  14. I’d probably add don’t use negatives when you can more succinctly say the same in a positive fashion, eg I read the last tip and thought ‘Ah, expect to lose readers if you are wordy.’ (Says she whose last post was 2000+ words) But there is a difference in length of post and a verbose style of writing.

    I think some of these tips include the absolute essentials. My first one would always be short paragraphs. I don’t care how well someone writes, if the paragraphs are endless, I just fall asleep. And click off.

    I don’t know if it is my Britishness, but I hate the questions at the end. It seems like touting for trade. If the writing isn’t good enough to attract comments or provoke thoughts, then a question will make no difference. And if it is good, the question is unnecessary.

    I think ‘regular’ publishing can be over-rated and/or bring down the quality of a blog. By which I mean, if someone feels they have to write something on a Wednesday but have nothing to say, they end up writing garbage. Better to keep quiet than to produce drivel.

    I try and publish 2/3 times a week on roughseas, ie every two or three days. But my last post was Saturday, although I’ll probably do one today. I’ve had a couple of draft posts lined up, but they didn’t feel right.

    I think variety is important, speaking as a reader here, not a writer. Not just in terms of length or style or presentation, but content too. If someone writes the same thing on every post, or shows the same type of photograph, it gets tedious after a while. Back to length again, some of my longer posts attract more discussion, perhaps because sometimes they are about serious topics.

    Good summary. I’d also ask what is a ‘successful’ blogger though? Someone with a lot of traffic/hits, someone who is Freshly Pressed? (ha!), someone who receives 100 comments on the lines of ‘great post’, someone who receives a lot of thoughtful discussion from a smaller number of readers, or someone who makes money from their blog? Or even just someone who gains satisfaction from blogging in itself? For each of us, I suspect the way we measure success is different.

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  16. My previous comment seemed to have vanished. Oh we’ll. Updates and spelling are ideal.

    • Hi there,
      I found it. It seems this theme may not notify commenters that their comments are in moderation. If so, then Themes Staff ought to include that.

    • Hi again Brad,
      I could have made a lengthy laundry list but I tried to keep this down to a minimum and aimed it more towards being bare bones advice. Spelling and frequent updates are right up there on the do list as you have observed. :)

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