But when it comes to blogging, there are a few things that I think people should generally stick to. I don’t necessarily call them guidelines, but more or less things that make reading and interacting with your blog a more pleasant experience for your readers.
Which led me to create this list for Nicole’s Listable Life post this week:
I understand that no one likes to get spam. Really. I get it. I hate opening up my blog and seeing that I’ve gotten comments, only to discover that at least half of them are useless and are linking to not so appropriate websites. These days, however, Spam Filters are top notch and blogging platforms are more geared toward providing the blogger with a better block for this kind of garbage that overflows your inbox. For WordPress bloggers, there is nothing better than the Akismet Plugin. And I’m pretty sure that Blogger has setup a built in Spam Blocker, but there is also the option of using sites like Disqus to control your commenting. Turn off the verification people. It’s a hassle. And when you read 100+ blogs a day, taking that extra three minutes to type in jumbled up, illegible letters can make or break whether or not I will return to a blog.
I am all for great design. I make my living creating websites and blogs for people. And I’ve heard it all when it comes to what kind of pattern or background a blogger thinks will match their site. But, in all truthfulness, nothing is cleaner or easier on the eyes than a white content background with black text. Colored text on any colored background (unless it’s for a larger headline that you want to draw emphasis to), strains the eyes. Your main content should have a white background. Period. Your sites wrapper (the larger background portion of your site) should compliment your site and be easy on the eyes. Otherwise, readers may find themselves straining too hard to read and never return.
I am at my desk for a large portion of the day. While I work, I like to listen to iTunes to
block out the sounds of Mickey Mouse and Team Umizoomi keep my focus on what I’m doing. Imagine my shock when I open a browser and something else is belting out of my speakers. There are some sites where background music is enjoyable and contributes to the experience (perhaps on an occasional photography website…), but otherwise, music players interrupt what your reader has going on. The mother of a newborn doesn’t want to open your site and have music blast through the speakers as her baby is sleeping. If having a music player is a must for you, consider putting it in the sidebar and turning it off. Then, if someone wants to hear the music, they can turn it on themselves.
We all have bad days; heck, sometimes we just have bad weeks. And there is nothing wrong with pouring out your heart on your site (in fact, Shell highly encourages this form of weekly therapy). I do it fairly often. It’s a great release and a great way to let your readers know that you ARE human. However, there is a difference between being real and sharing your struggles and just being a constant black cloud of gloom circling the blogosphere. Share what’s on your heart, but try to find some good in something, somewhere. Likewise, don’t be a constantly critical person. Nothing sends me fleeing from a site quicker than to open a blog where all the author is doing is criticizing the people in their life (especially if it’s their husband). We all have people in our lives that we don’t particularly get along with, but don’t air that kind of dirty laundry all over the internet.
I was actually discussing this with a friend two days ago, and Nicole wrote a great post on Authentic Blogging yesterday. Most of us are doing this blogging thing as a means to get ahead in another area of our lives. Whether we aim to be published authors, professional photographers, designers or business owners; social media is the means of sharing your talents with the world. I don’t know very many bloggers that haven’t accepted opportunities to write Sponsored Content or exchanged ads with other bloggers. These things are okay if they are done properly. I don’t mind reading a Sponsored post or accepting advertising with a business owner, if it is of quality and relates the the general content of your website. I’m a parenting/photography/design/lifestyle blogger. Not a food blogger. Even though I might share the occasional recipe here on my blog, I am not known for being a cooking blog. So, me accepting money to write about Great Cooking Utensils, would be a bit off. These kind of posts discredit you as a writer and devalue the content of your site. Think about your site, your purpose and your readers before you accept advertising or Sponsored opportunities.
What pet peeves would you contribute to this list? Are there certain things in the blogosphere that send you over the edge a bit? Share them in the comments or write your own Listable Life post and link up with Nicole!