I’ve been blogging since dinosaurs ruled the earth, and this is what I’ve learned about blogging over the years. As always, take what you need and leave the rest.

blogging for dummies

Most blogs have about a one year shelf life, which is always sad to see, especially once you’ve really gotten to know a blogger.

There is such a thing as over-posting, but I’m unclear as to what that is.

Blogging takes a ton of work. Really, it does.

Proof-read your posts religiously and make liberal use of spell check.

Go back into your archives and reedit old posts – it may feel like a waste of time, but it’s always nice to know you’re constantly working on improving. Besides, editing is a great way to help you be a better writer.

Omit unnecessary words.

No one likes a Grammar Nazi in the comments, so back off.

The trolls will come and they do not read most of what you say before they chew you out in the comments.

It’s really up to you whether or not you allow the trolls to have their say on your blog. I tend to allow the comments through, but I have a feeling my spam filter catches the trolls.

You don’t have to allow anyone to trash you on your blog. If they don’t like you, that’s really there problem.

Protect your readers from attacks from others.

No one will read a new blog for a couple months. It’s okay. Soldier on. Use the time to hone what you’re doing, and make your blog even better.

If you want people to read you, read other people.

While you’re reading other people, why not make some friends while you’re at it?

Use a full RSS feed in the reader because a partial feed makes a lot of people unsubscribe. Many people read posts in a reader at work where many blogs are blocked.

You may be 1000% certain that you are The New Dooce, but you’re not. Now, you might be as talented as fucking Hemingway, but you’re not going to get the same press that she did. No press = no instant popularity.

Find your own writing style and realize that no matter what you’re blogging about, someone else has probably already done it. That’s okay – try not to get too hung up on “copycats.”

Try to keep your audience in mind when you’re writing because it will help you to focus your post into a more coherent whole, but don’t censor yourself to try and please everyone. You can’t. It’s simply not possible.

There’s more politics than you can imagine in blogging. Try your best not to get wrapped up in it (which, I promise, is easier said than done).

If you want more comments then comment until your fingers bleed.

Get a reader and subscribe to the blogs you like. Comment the shit out of those blogs. People will (eventually) come.

Begging for comments is distasteful.

Nothing – not even the “official” de-lurking day – will coax 97.2% of your readers to comment.

Support each other as best as you can, in good times and in bad. Every comment helps.

Every couple of weeks, some new trend will piss off a number of (especially) mom bloggers and they will become annoyingly polarized.

Resist the urge to chime in about Your Take On This Trend. Seriously.

Every time the Today show features Dooce, there’s a bazillion start up blogs that believe (hehe) that you can $40,000 a month blogging. Maybe if you’re Dooce that’s true, but for the rest of us? Bwahahahahaha! I don’t mean to sound mean, and if you do manage this, pat yourself on your back for me but don’t get your hopes up.

Whenever one of those stupid blog contests gets started, everyone freaks out. It will blow over.

If you’re totally blocked for ideas about a post, describing the boring minutiae of your day is probably not titillating to others. Write it if you must, then delete it. Hopefully that will get your juices flowing and you can write about something more interesting. A turd of a post will always look like a turd no matter how you dress it up.

Talking shit about other people – especially when very thinly veiled – is a bad fucking idea. Password protect those, or better yet, don’t write them at all. Although they may be satisfying, remember, those are the posts that the very same people you talk about may find.

It’s a smaller Internet than you think it is and you’re not as anonymous as you think you are.

Not everyone will agree with you and there are people who will happily tell all of the ways you are wrong. You don’t have to like it, but if you put it out there, you do have to deal with it.

There is something about being able to hide behind “anonymous” that makes people say really dick-ish things that they probably wouldn’t say to your face. It can hurt, I know this, and people will get you all wrong and it will suck, but if you don’t want to deal with it, go private or password protected.
Your feelings will get hurt. I promise you this.

Don’t allow yourself to dwell on the trolls. While it’s very easy to focus on the negative, these people aren’t worth your time.

When you figure this out, let me know how.

Although most of your followers will wish you well, there will always, ALWAYS be a contingent that hopes that you will fail. And fail badly.

Sarcasm doesn’t always translate well through the written word, so be careful when you use it.

Music on blogs is (almos) universally hated. If you want to put it on there, it’s wise to leave the playlist on mute and allow other people to turn it on should they want.

Word verification systems will cause you to lose comments because it’s often very hard and very confusing to use.

A nice clean uncluttered background is preferable to something that makes it hard to focus on the content.

If you write long posts, use larger, not smaller, fonts.

Don’t steal other people’s stuff. Stealing gives you herpes.

Don’t put shit on the Internet you wouldn’t wear on a tee-shirt.

Beware of the donate button. It (oddly) causes many people to be very, very mad.

Meme’s, although a nice tool to get the writing juices flowing, are usually boring to read. If you like doing ‘em, then fuck it and do ‘em anyway.

Edit your posts. Edit them religiously.

Paragraph breaks are a necessity. It’s really hard on the eyes to read anything not broken up by small paragraphs.

The background of your post needs to be something that is appealing to the eyes. Some colors (especially pink, which is a favorite color of mine) although lovely, leave the reader squinty and headachey. Check out what your finished post looks like YOURSELF and see if you can read it without adjusting your monitor.

A black background is very, very hard to read.

If all your tweets on Twitter are links to stuff that people can buy from you or ways to get a zillion followers overnight, you’ve probably pissed off a good portion of your readers.

There is such a thing as over-sharing.

Stuff on the Internet – even the stuff you delete – is never, ever, EVER gone. EVER. So make DAMN sure you want to live with whatever you say.

Remember that your kids may one day read whatever you’ve written, so choose what you share (especially about them) well.

Writer’s Block does end.

Don’t idolize the success of another blogger. Also, don’t hate them for it. In blogging, you often get what you put into it. And the higher you climb, the more pressure there is.

Be kind to other people. You gain nothing by being cruel.

The success of your blog should be determined by how you feel about your blog, not the number of comments or followers, because ultimately you are blogging for you.

Blog for yourself, not for other people.

Remember, it’s all supposed to be fun. Enjoy what you write, take pride in it, and if someone else comes along and tells you that you suck, tell them that Your Aunt Becky will tell them to shove it up their puckered pooper.

Any other advice for new bloggers?

Comments are love, or some bullshit like that. Either way, they make my heart happy. You should leave (or at least THINK about leaving) a comment and SUBSCRIBE to my RSS feed or I will send my Chicago "friends" after you, yo.

65 Responses to Blogging For Dummies

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  • Shallow says:

    this is a really generous list to put together. It must have taken forever, but it is much appreciated!

  • Alexis says:

    This is probably the best blogging tutorial I’ve seen yet, and I’ve read MANY. Thanks for the tactical advice. And may I suggest one more?

    - Don’t talk about your blog to people who don’t blog. They don’t get it, they don’t care, and now they think you are lame.

    • Coco says:

      Laughing at that comment, very true. Most people I roll with dont like to read and certainly don’t give a shit about a blog so that lesson was learned fairly quickly. Good point to make and add for the blogging for dummies list.

  • Great list! Thank you )

  • Amy Vega-Guobadia says:

    My fav is stealing giveS you herpes!!! I love this list!! I must share it.

  • rachel says:

    love this post. thanks for writing it.

  • Emily says:

    “Don’t steal other people’s stuff. Stealing gives you herpes.” hahahaha – this made me actually laugh and choke on the chips I was eating. And then I started to wonder – which type?!

    Thanks for all the handy and useful advice.

  • Debi says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the tips!

  • Dawn says:

    This. Is. Epic. And thanks for rtelling us (and reminding others) just how it should be done.

  • As a very new and uninitiated blogger, this is like some kind of bible or something. Start a blog cult and I may change my name, shave my head, and join you. Long time lurker says thanks.

  • LOVE.

    It’s hard not to to blog about my take on a Mommy Blogger Drama, but it helps to remember that my readers don’t give a shit, don’t use Twitter, and have no clue what I’m referencing.

    Can I say that I’m loving this new layout? Classy, simple, and totally READABLE. Yeah!

  • nicki says:

    I love the ideas! Thank you! Funny, my background is black and hot pink accented! I have deleted posts in hopes they don’t bite me in the ass. Let’s hope it stays that way and the zombies don’t reappear! Thanks for the reminders about the comments (or lack thereof). How is it that someone like me who normally could care less about what others think (or don’t think) of me could get so damn wrapped up in having so few comments on my blog! I will continue to comment til my fingers bleed! =)

  • Takisha says:

    Very informative, especially since I’m finally ready to start my own blog. Thanks for being so open and sharing this list. Hope it’s okay to pay it forward and share this list one day.

    Must find time to read other’s blogs and comment.

    Looking for a blogging mentor (could be in the form of a person, book or site) to provide advice on setting up an actual blog and offer more wonderful tips like these. Would love suggestions.

  • ronetta says:

    you have noooo idea how much this list helped me! i’m so excited about blogging now, lol. thanks again for putting this together. i love your posts.

  • the4ksmom says:

    You’re awesome. Thanks for the tutorial, it is epic in its awesomeness. Really!

  • Hot Mess Mom says:

    Great tips! My second day of blogging, I wrote a post “OMG the pressure” … describing my concern with so many of the points you have listed above… Thanks!

  • Di says:

    I love this. Thank you for writing it. Even after almost 2 years of blogging, I pretty much feel like an ignorant rookie… and now I know I have an Aunt Becky who can teach me stuff.

    But wait… stealing gives me herpes or syphilis?? Or is it BOTH?

  • Karen M says:

    Stealing gives you herpes, but linking to something you want to steal so they get credit and traffic gives you good karma!

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  • Cheryl says:

    Now this is great material – awesome tips delivered in an even more awesome way. Excellent use of “turd” and “puckered pooper” kept me laughing :)

  • Miranda says:

    Great advice, Auntie! (I am loving my new Aunt.)

  • Kelly says:

    Awesome. Thanks. You just saved me a whole lot of time trying to figure some of these things out.

  • Barbara says:

    Love this post. Your blog teaches so well while being so damn funny at the same time. You have a gift.

  • kristin says:

    I love you Becky! I wish you weren’t depressed and I wish I had some magic wand to help you out of it. I would love to tell you that “it will pass” but wtf do I know? Anyhoo…You’re awesome for posting this advice!! Thank You sooo much!! I promise not to post about any dead babies :)

  • This is so great! Thank you so much for taking the time to give us your knowledge and doing it such a way that I want to just keep reading. Really it’s one of the best blogging bibles I have seen in this space. I would like to buy you a martini, shaken, not stirred with 3 olives.

  • Becky,
    I have been wanting to hit “publish” for about 2 weeks now. Although I have been writing information blogs for my health and wellness line, I have been wanting to make it more personal and introduce ME….. I think reading your list of tips might have helped me muster a little more courage. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m closer :)

    Debbie

  • Teresa says:

    “Blog for yourself, not for other people.” Best advice ever!

  • Just found your blog and I love all of this advice! It’s always great to hear tips from bloggers like yourself. Thanks for sharing!

  • Canadian Dad says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa!! So you’re saying I am NOT going to get rich quick with this blogging thing??? Crap, LOL!!

    Great list, I’m glad I found your site, there are so many out there that it’s hard to pick which ones to visit on a regular basis. Yours is definitely on the list now!

    Thanks!

  • HMM says:

    i just sent a few start up bloggers here. AGAIN. and then I read this. AGAIN. and fell in love with you.. .all over…. AGAIN.

  • I’m taking your advice right away by leaving a comment. BTW, I’d like your advice as well. What can I do to improve my blog. You are an expert. I am a rookie.

    Very entertaining and helpful. Keep up the good work.

    Monty

  • Mary says:

    Just brilliant. Thank you.

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  • Michael Rochelle
    Twitter: mikeyllo
    says:

    This should be considerd as The Blogger’s Bible. We bloggers should all be forced to place one hand on it and solemly swear to practice what we’ve learned here or else be subject to a public flogging in the bread aisle of a Walmart on food stamp day.

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  • This is the best guide to blogging that I’ve ever read – mainly because it is so darn straight-forward and honest. I’ve just gone self-hosted, so I can make my blog look more like I want it to look and have been crapping myself that no-one will read it. This has helped me focus on what is important. Thank you.

    Oh and totes agree re blogger’s stupid verification system, the number of times I’ve given up on trying to read squiggly letters and jumping through hoops in order to leave a little comment are too numerous to count.

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  • Theonehandmn says:

    I have read dozens of articles about blogging tips to help me set mine up, and this is the first one which appears to be honest. Well done for that. I am curious to know if you find it hard to lie? That could make for an awesome blog!

  • Sierra says:

    Ha! Love this! Thanks for telling it like it is! :D

  • Mo says:

    A good reminder for those of us who have been blogging for a while. As usual, you rock!

  • Martina says:

    Aww … I was going to write a book on how to get a trillion followers.

    Wonderful advice you have here!!

  • Myfanwy says:

    This is the best blogging advice out there. I come back to it regularly. I even quote it to people.

    I should print out the point on oversharing. There’s just something so deceptively anonymous about typing in front of the computer screen. I lie, it’s a problem in real life too.

  • Katie Mack says:

    I wish you could consolidate all of the snippets of good advice I’ve heard over the past three years into one useful, readable page. OH WAIT, YOU DID THAT!

    Fabulous job. If I had found this post before, I could have saved my eyes from a lot of crap being thrown at them. My eyes thank you and so do I (eye).

  • StrongerMe says:

    New to blogging and currently enjoying the anonymity of not being discovered. Gives me the freedom to speak freely. Of course, that will wear off in a nanosecond and my self-esteem will take a nosedive without comments.
    ANYWHO, I really enjoyed this list. Most of it are things that I thought when reading blogs, even before I started typing. I was muttering “amen sister” to a few of them.
    The only one that scares me is the warning to watch what I say. I’ve been pretty candid on my blog so far. Although, what I type on there is pretty much what I spew out of my mouth DAY AFTER DAY. My friends were tired of hearing about it, and so, I blog.
    Wish me luck that I don’t end up murdered or rocking back and forth in a fit of insecurity!

  • Chatsister says:

    Brutally honest, but deliciously insightful. Thanks for that. As a new blogger I can appreciate good quality advice – especially when I get a few laughs in between!

  • NICOLE says:

    I’m thinking about blogging and somehow stumbled upon your blog after searching ‘how to blog’ and this list, which you have obviously created for dolts like me, and I must praise and thank you for this post. I enjoyed the lesson and your honesty. Thanks.

  • Velvet says:

    I have never commented on a blog although I lurk on several… Thank you for putting it out there- how everyone who has ever wanted to blog feels and the wonderful tips on doing it right. You are very generous for this and I love your writing style!

  • I’m a new blogger (and follower) and have spent an embarrassing number of hours furiously searching the internet for how to have success in blogging. In doing so, I forgot why I’m doing this…for myself. Your list is thorough, well thought-out, and honest. I am going to visit it frequently (like every day) as, yes, my feelings get hurt on at least a weekly basis, and I am jealous of virtually EVERY other blogger that exists. Because they either have a bigger vocabulary, are funnier, have a cooler looking page…you name it. I am my own worst critic and I need to LET IT GO. What’s great is that I’m finding MOST of the other mom-bloggers I’ve connected with to be very responsive and all around awesome. I love that. Anyway…thanks again.

  • If I was the next Dooce, that would be really weird. I don’t have the hair for it :)

  • Kelly says:

    Good words.

  • Michael Joan says:

    Thank you for this.

    I have really (REALLY) been wanting to start a blog but I’ve delayed it because, to be honest, I’m nervous about the feelings-getting-hurt part.

    Your honesty and openness has made reading new posts something that I really look forward to.

    Thanks for the tips (and confidence boost)! I might just start blogging after all. :)

  • Ashley
    Twitter: MosaicAsh
    says:

    Wonderful tips! Thank you for this post.

  • Joules says:

    This should be distributed with the creation of any new blog.

  • Kathryn says:

    OMG…Becky, I am so sorry for that previous post. It was late and I thought I’d be cute. Ha. Never have been cute.

    I genuinely wanted to express my appreciation for all the hard ass work you’ve done on everything.
    I’m brand new to this and really want to fit in…I hate to get any attention, of any kind.

    So I’m drinkin’ my own Kool-Aid and making a blog statement of apology and to hopefully not have everyone hate me before you get to know me.

    Seriously, this really did help me since I don’t know how to blog. There. I said that in front of everyone.

    I was desperate for help since I’m here at my Narcissists house and cut off from anything even close to normal. I’ve been scouring the Internet for help. I am desperate. And then I saw Back Band and thought, “What the hell…Back Band?” So I took a look and was hooked!

    Anyway, everyone has been so gracious and I am feeling less than grateful and it showed and no one deserved that . So, please forgive me for coming off as a moron. I was trying to funny when I don’t feel any joy.

    I think I’m on the right website, that is, if you can tolerate me.

  • Great post, I love the reminder that we blog for ourselves. I totally do!

  • Cathy says:

    Thank you for this post. I just started blogging last week and appreciate the time you put into this.

  • Megan says:

    That was very very informative!!! I have been trying to do some research as to what might be appealing for me and I think this was perfectly stated! Thank you for taking the time out to write this for a newbie like myself!

  • Sharon says:

    Great tips! I am new (duh) so these will help. Now I need to find tips on how to do all of the buttons on the side, links, etc…? Thanks! sharon
    http://perfectlyimperfectsharon.wordpress.com

  • Allison says:

    I am currently considering starting a blog. I’ve been doing research the last couple weeks to decide if it’s something I really want to do and to find good tips on blogging. So, your article has given me a lot of information to support this research on both. Thank you! I will definitely follow you first! Love your candidness!

  • Gayle says:

    Love the list and your openness about blogging. I am going to create a blog for my master’s project. Great tips!

  • I can’t believe I’m still blogging after five years, and still enjoying it. These are all great tips, Becky. I’m glad you’re still here, too. Hugs!

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