Five blogging rules I break every day
A blog post about blogging? It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written one of these. While I know some of you who are reading this have your own blogs, I’ve never wanted this to be a blog about blogging. That’s why this particular blog post today is actually for people who don’t really blog at all. Maybe you just read what you like to read and don’t even realize that there is a whole business side behind this world of blogging, and there are a lot of blogging rules. And you know what? I want you to know that I’m a rule follower in life, but a rule breaker when it comes to blogging. Here are the rules that I break every single day …
Five blogging rules I break every day
1. If you want to grow your blog, “niche down” to only one single topic.
Nope. Not gonna do it. I’ve been told by countless business strategy consultants, heard in various conferences and read in numerous articles that the only way to grow your blog or social media business quickly and successfully is to drop down to one topic only. Of my blogger friends who only do food and recipes, well, they grow fast. Their posts are shared far and wide. They get new readers every single day who want to find out what they’re making each week. And the same goes for Instagram. The most successful Instagrammers have one main topic only, and they post only about that topic and are able to gain tons of new followers very quickly, as they are narrowly focused. (Then, typically, once they get super big and have a loyal audience, they start to branch out a little more.)
I’ve thought long and hard about what would be right for A Lady Goes West. Even though I love to eat, I do NOT want to focus only on food. And as much as fitness is my life, I feel like I want to talk about more than just workouts. So I’ve consciously decided to play the “long game” when it comes to my blog and my business and write about fitness, food and my life. I’m settling for slower growth, and doing it my way. I know this isn’t what a pro marketer would tell me to do. But as I said, I’m a rule breaker.
2. People don’t read blog posts, so tell your story in pictures or videos.
I’m a writer. I’m long-winded, and if people don’t want to read my blog posts, then that is okay with me. I started this blog as a creative outlet to share about my move from Florida to California, and it’s always been based in writing. My loyal readers are SO important to me. I love you guys. I want to please you. But you guys also know that I tend to write long posts.
If you ask the experts, they say that you should keep your posts short and to the point and add some video to tell your story. Well, quite frankly, I’m much more into writing. So writing is what I do. Yes, I share pictures and try to add subheads and bullets to carry the narrative of my posts, but words are my thing! I love words! I really don’t see that changing any day. And if you get bored with me, just skim and keep on coming back anyhow. Okey doke?
3. Be a slightly exaggerated version of yourself to inspire and intrigue people.
The word on the street in the influencer world is that you should play up your personality a bit and try to be something that people strive to be. Just like actors play a role, you should play your role too. Either you’re an incredibly put-together fashionista, or you’re a die-hard vegan chef, or even a super-buff fitness queen and everything you do plays into that. Well … what you see is what you get here, with no labels, especially now that I’ve opened up about my fertility struggles, job changes and much more — I’m not trying to paint the picture that my life is perfect. I don’t have a particular role to play. I also don’t create a fantasy scene in my perfect and whimsically staged photos. That’s just not me.
I definitely get to do some cool things and live in the very desirable San Francisco Bay Area, but that’s about it. I’m a normal gal who writes long blog posts on various topics and has a lot of experience in fitness. That’s all! (But I must say, I really do enjoy the way some bloggers are able to be so perfect all the time. It’s quite intriguing to watch! Have you seen Gal Meets Glam? Dying!)
4. Put your business top of mind every single day, wherever you are.
“They” say that if you want to grow your blog and brand, you have to be on all the time. That means turning everything into potential content. That also means keeping your blogging hat on 24-7. And believe me, this is not going to happen for me. I LOVE my blog. I LOVE sharing my life. But I also like to eat ugly food in my pajamas that will NEVER ever get photographed. I like to go on little adventures without my phone or camera. And most of my friends or people that I hang out with are not bloggers and don’t care about blogs at all — so I’m not constantly networking either. And for me, as much as I care about my blog, I will always take time to disconnect. We all need separation and breaks from what we do.
That phrase that you can sleep when you’re dead is a total lie. You should sleep now, every single night, and for a long time. I turn my phone on airplane mode every single night around 9 p.m., and it doesn’t come off of that until after I’ve taken Rudy for his morning walk the next day. That means, I miss a ton of time to be “on.” Yes, I make money from this blog, and it’s a real business, but no, I’m not going to sell my soul for it. And believe me, you don’t want to see pictures of me when I’m in my casuals spilling ice cream down my shirt as I watch TV with my naturally curly hair undone. Let’s let that part of Ashley of A Lady Goes West remain in private, shall we?
5. Be the first to adopt every new social medium, and move quickly.
I’ve got to be honest, I’m not an early adopter of a lot of things. Did you guys know I was even without Facebook for a few years after college? (After being one of the first people on it, when it was launched at The University of Florida and just three other schools, I took a little breather from all socials for a couple years.) While I’m up to speed on Instagram stories and such, I don’t jump on every bandwagon. In fact, it took me two tries to get into Snapchat, and I’ve since stopped using it again preferring to use Instagram stories.
I want to be good at the things I like doing. And if I don’t like doing something, then I’m not going to do it. I never tried Periscope. I haven’t done a Facebook Live. And I’m still here, and you’re still here reading too. So I guess it’s not the end of the world.
In conclusion …
So I can’t end this post without saying that there are a lot of blogging best practices and blogging rules that I do follow. For instance: I do care about my topics. I do write what I’m passionate about. I do try to create the best content that I can and provide not only entertainment, but educational information as well. I also love to connect with my community (and have really enjoyed the folks who are in the A Lady Goes West Friends group on Facebook) as much as I can. I also know how to work with brands, negotiate and plan out my editorial calendar and do many of the things one must do to keep a blog afloat. And I do take my blog and business seriously. But when it comes down to it, I much prefer playing by my own rules. Because well, that’s way more fun. 🙂
That’ll do it for today, my friends! Thank you for sticking around! For reals!Check out these five #blogging rules that @apstyle breaks every day ... Click To Tweet
(Photo credit: Tamalyn Ann Photography)
Questions of the day
What’s a rule that you don’t play by in your own life?
What’s your favorite thing to read on a blog?
All the social media is enough to make me crazy, lol. I definitely fail at all of these every day!
Hi Heather! It’s so much! And it can take up SO much time to stay current on social media. Definitely worth setting “on” times and “off” times! 🙂
I love reading your blogging posts! I agree about your first point and NOT niching down. I think if you’re 100% passionate about one thing — fly fishing or raw diet for dogs, etc. — it makes sense to niche but sometimes it can backfire. I like reading your site because I know you’ll talk about food, fitness and your life and that’s what I like. With my own site, I was a little too “foreigner in France”-focused at first and I’ve branched out a little. I think it’s been positive. At least for me as the blogger.!
Hi Diane! Totally! You won’t see much talking about fly fishing here hahahah! And yes, we learn and we grow as we write more – so it makes sense that you would branch out a little. But your viewpoint is so VERY unique, it’s cool to read. And I like having variety and reading variety. Thank you so much for reading, friend!! Hope all is well! 🙂
Someone recently told me about that first point and I just can’t do it either. I want to share all food, fitness, desserts, in my life. And I love reading every post, I can’t just pick one topic 😉
Hi Patricia! And you don’t have to pick just one if you don’t want to. Just know that you probably won’t have exponential growth any time soon. But it will happen if you keep at it! I like to blog about what I like to blog about, and I bet you do too! Keep doing you! 🙂
This is great! I hate that people think you have to stick to one niche for blogging. As a blogger and a blog reader, I prefer blogs who cover a variety of topics! Otherwise, it gets repetitive and boring!
Agreeeeed! And while people who do only fitness or food, get SUPER good at doing their fitness and food, that just doesn’t keep me around! Three cheers for variety!! Thank you for reading, Heather! 🙂
I’m with you on a lot of this! One topic… meh???!! I love so many things! New adopter? Bahhh!!!! I’m super slow too!!!
Oh well! Guess we’ll do it our own way.
Hahhahah! Well we are each doing the best that we can, so that’s go to be enough! And who cares if we aren’t the first to new technology. As long as we enjoy what we’re doing! I love your variety too, Julie! Thank you for reading! 🙂
I love your approach! You do you 🙂 I for one find it very refreshing to see someone who isn’t living a picture perfect or staged life. I appreciate how down to earth you come across and like you said, just a normal girl living her life. I also think you’re a very talented writer so I like seeing the long posts. Keep on keepin’ on, you’re doing a wonderful job!
Ashley! You are the sweetest! Thank you SO much for reading, following and for commenting sometimes too. I love to hear from you. I really appreciate that you enjoy the realness, so I’ll keep it coming! 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful day, my friend!
Great post Ashley – I don’t often comment but I had to this time – I for one love your blog as it is. I am very far away in Scotland and love reading about other lives in different parts of the world, and that needs to be a variety of things to keep me interested. I am also a reader, so as much as I enjoy a visual I like having something long to read with a cup of tea on a break in the office. Please don’t change!
ps My only request would be that I need more Rudy! 🙂
Hi IM! Thank you SO much for reading! And I love to know that you’re seeing a dose of SF Bay Area life while you’re in Scotland. I want to know more about YOUR life! Hhaha you know what, I’ve had SO many requests for more Rudy pictures. hahah! Clearly, I need to answer the people! And I like to read blogs with a cup of tea as well. Three cheers for actually reading! Thank you, friend! Have a great day!!
So many tips and tricks out there, but the point of blogging is to do it because you LOVE IT, so do you and do what makes you happy! Once thing I never do is write posts over 500 or 1,000 words. They always recommend that for SEO purposes, but I’m NOT a huge writer, writer, so that’s just not for me!
Hi Carrie! Ha! I’ve never written a post under 500 words I don’t think. They are always over 1,000. That’s just what I do hahaha! And yes, there are a lot of people starting blogs to make money first, before enjoying it, and I think that’s why there are so many new rules and people are niching down so much. I like variety though! 🙂
I literally read this post going yes, yes, and yes. I am exactly the same way. I realize that in order to grow a blog quicker there are certain rules that will get you there faster but I don’t feel I would be as personally satisfied if I did those things. And so to me, it’s more important that I like what I’m doing than to grow my blog quickly and not enjoy it.
Me too, Jen! I’m with ya! We are in this together! As long as we like what we’re writing, we’re going to be successful in our own rights. 🙂 Keep it up, lady! Thank you for reading and saying hi!
I break all these too, ha ha! I never skim blog posts because I know how much thought goes into the writing – but even as I’m editing mine I realize lots of people do. But I think the main blogging rule you definitely do not break is “be authentic.” Every conference or blogging event I’ve ever gone to, that’s the phrase I hear over and over again, and it’s your authenticity that keeps your readers loyal. So I’m glad you break these rules! 🙂
Yes, yes, yes! I think people can see RIGHT through someone who is trying to hard or not being themselves. And I like to read the whole post too, Carly! 🙂 Thank you for reading and saying hi! Here’s to BREAKING all the rules!
Totally agree with breaking all of these “rules.” I don’t want to narrow the focus of my blog, but I’m not interested in just getting “blog famous.” I just want to share what I want to share and be happy and enjoy it!
Blog famous! hahhah! It’s a thing! But I feel like “Instagram famous” is a bigger deal to people these days. And I like to read variety, just as much as I like to write it! Keep up the great work, lady! 🙂
I eschew all of these rules as well! Please, when was the last time I had two posts in a row with the same topic??
Hahahha! Keepin’ it interesting is the name of our blogging games! Love that! You do you, Susie! 🙂 Thank you for reading, friend!
i love to approach to blogging and there are loyal readers (me, obvs). i keep hearing a lot about the importance of niche but its just not my thing. i focus obviously on food but i like little bit of healthy living and just random blah blah 🙂
i absolutely love what you share and please keep doing so 🙂
Hi Dixya! I’m not into niching either. It’s such an annoying word too hahahah! So let’s just write what we want to write. And I truly appreciate your kind words. Thank you for reading! 🙂
This is awesome. I just started blogging and definitely want to do it “my way” – and I pretty much plan to break all the rules you outline here (and probably others). And anyway, all the blogs I love don’t have a niche topic 🙂
Hi Stephanie! I think the best thing you can do is write content that you love, connect with your readers and other bloggers and keep at it! Blogging is VERY rewarding! And even if you don’t grow quickly, if you are proud of your work, it’s all worth it. Thank you for saying hi! Good luck!
I loved this post. My blog has fallen by the wayside (again), but my photography Instagram has become very niche which agreed, great for growth, but it also leaves out a lot of the “other” things I love to photography. I’m refinding the fun and hoping my audience stays.
I need to check out your photography IG! Sounds awesome! So yes, you have experienced the ability to grow when you stick to one thing. And you can always revisit your blog when you feel moved to write. Until then, just do IG! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Breanne!
So much YES! I hate videos — I know I know EVERYONE is talking about video, but I read faster than I “watch” if that makes sense, and I’m usually reading blog posts during random downtime moments like while I’m eating lunch at work. It’s harder to discreetly watch a blog video than read a post, ha.
I actually would RATHER read than watch a video. I’m not into videos either. Agreed, that sometimes I just want to read in quiet and in private heehehe! I’m with ya, Kayla!! Thanks, girl!
I once tried to “niche down” my blog, but nope. My blog is a reflection of ME (I’m also lucky in that it’s a hobby, and not my main source of income, so I can afford to do that!).
“I’m a normal gal who writes long blog posts on various topics and has a lot of experience in fitness” this is EXACTLY how I feel. I’d rather be ME on my blog than a persona. When someone meets me, I don’t want them to feel weird about it, or to feel like I “faked” it.
Wow – this comment gone long, obviously I have lots to say about this, too!
hahaha As a writer who writes long posts, I happen to LOVE long comments. So thank you for writing one. And I have TOTALLY been disappointed when meeting or seeing a blogger in person before. Like they were NOT at all what they looked like or sounded like on their blog or in their photos. So it’s just better to keep it real. Like you said, don’t want anyone thinking you’re faking it. Keep doing you, Ange! 🙂
I love this!! Haha I’m a big rule breaker as well! Hearing all the rules about blogging & growing your blog are SO overwhelming to me and in turn make me over think what I should write! Like you, writing is my outlet and I don’t want stop or following certain guidelines!
Hi Marielle! That’s the thing, it can be scary to think about “the rules” you need to follow. When really, it feels so much better just to do what you feel like doing! 🙂 And three cheers for WRITING! YAY! Thanks for reading, my friend!
Ashley, I want to comment some point of your post.
p.1 blogging theme: One niche or many niches to cover – it depends on you. As for me, if I find an interesting person (or blog) while surfing over google I always read about that person, about other interests, about the life. I like such blogs as yours. It helps me to understand the person better, may be to become friends, to find common interests.
p2 pictures and videos. Yes, sometimes it is interesting to look at pictures (if the blog is about travel). But such posts are really interesting to read if it comes from your heart.
Also, Ashley, I found that you use VigLinks on your blog. Can you tell me if it is worth using or not, and how to use?
Hi Roman! Thanks for stopping by to say hello. I appreciate your thoughts. Yes, I like to learn about the people behind the blog post too and agree that travel lends itself well to lots of images. I have been using Viglink for a couple of years, and have much more success with Amazon and Shopstyle affiliates. Although Viglink does all the work for you manually and links out to products that can be referred to without your action. It’s very easy to use. Just not a huge return.
Thank you, Ashley!
I have one wedding blog, that is now monetized by Adsense Ads and I want to add some income. I live in Russia and an Adsense income of 200-300$ is a good addition to my main salary. I’ll definitely try Viglinks on it.
Also, I have some thoughts about starting my own blog. I have some topics, that potentially can be interesting. Such as my travel to the USA, gardening, my travel to the Olympic Sochi 2014 etc.
Cool! Good luck! 🙂
I love your blog, so if that means breaking the proper blogging rules, then I am all for it! I say “you do you” – that’s what your readers like and are interested in reading every week. Thanks!
Hi Tracy! Thank you so much! You are so sweet! I really appreciate that you read. So I’ll keep it up over here! 🙂
All the YES’S here!!!!! I chose the long and steady, too, and keeping it *mine* vs. “business objective.” Ironically, even when my numbers don’t’ show it, I continue making more money. Keep true, lady! And congrats on the growing little….
Hi Sarah! Thanks! It’s great to hear that things are going well with your blog! Keeping it “yours” is super important! 🙂 Thanks for saying hello, lady!
On 2: Written text>pictures, always. Videos don’t even factor into the equation because they are the worst, at least for this reader. I second the comment above noting that it is far more time consuming to watch a video than to read a post of equivalent content.
On 3: I think a big issue with some bloggers not being “themselves” is that this frequently leads to bloggers contradicting their own stories or image, which damages their credibility to readers. If a blogger is going to be fake, fine, but I better not get a whiff of the fraud. A related irony is I often find that when bloggers try to “get real” or whatever that their “realness” seems contrived. It, of course, depends on the individual blogger and what it is that the blogger is trying get out there as relatable, but sometimes it is just too convenient.
I do not have a blog, nor do I claim to be an expert on blogs. I will say, however, that the thought of bloggers reading other blogs both amuses and terrifies me. I imagine bloggers reading other blogs doing some or all of the following: 1) laughing at how obvious the blogger’s strategies are; 2) being pissed because the blogger stole content (a bitch to prove, I’m sure, and I’m also sure coincidences also happen so that creates its own set of frustrations); 3) stealing content themselves (“stealing” v. “being inspired by”: the contours of that distinction are fascinating); and 4) being annoyed that they can’t call out the other bloggers on (1) and (2) because that would be unprofessional.
To wrap up, even if I disagree with some bloggers’ actions, it’s not as though I don’t understand their motivation. Where a blog is a revenue producing enterprise, sure, it makes sense to want to be as marketable as possible and it’s prudent to use tested strategies to increase visibility and income. With respect to your blog specifically, I have never found you sycophantic or inconsistent [aside to note that I realize that nearly everyone will have *some* inconsistencies over time, so I’m not trying to be a hard ass here or throw shade on any specific blogs that aren’t yours], my two biggest pet peeves. You write a fantastic blog, and I wish you the best of luck.
Hi Julia! A wordy and thorough gal, just like me! I LOVE your comment. And I also love to know that readers are SO much smarter than some bloggers would maybe want to believe. I agree that some bloggers/influencers can come off as fake. And I also agree that there is a lot of competition and stealing among bloggers. But then, there are also a lot of awesome bloggers out there too. Overall, I really appreciate your insight, and I appreciate your kind words about my blog. 🙂
I see I’m not the only video hater in the comments! Reading always wins for me.
And I’m in a career that requires basically “nicheing down”. I love my work, but that stays at work. I do what I want on my blog. 🙂
I’m SO not into video, Hannah! Sounds like a lot of us aren’t heheh. And it’s great that you can do what you want on your blog, to keep it different from your day job. Thank you for reading! Yay for reading! 🙂