TEN RULES OF UNSUCCESSFUL BLOGGING

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Blogging about blogging is an annoying recurring theme in the blogosphere.  It’s arrogant, boring and, frankly, self-fellating.

So.  Here’s my inevitable contribution then.

I waited for years for the Aussie blog scene to arrive so I could fill my feedreader with local content.  It finally started happening in about 2009, ironically about the same time I moved to Hong Kong.  But something went wrong.  People stopped telling stories, and started campaigning for numbers.  Now it’s common for me to open my feedreader and every third post will be an ad for toothpaste or a competition to win a $5 bakery voucher.  Which to be honest would be pretty sweet if I still lived in Oz, because CHEESYMITE SCROLL WITHDRAWALS EVERY DAY, but in the actuality of the web being worldwide, not just activated once one steps within a 1km radius of a Bakers’ Delight, is pretty untargeted marketing.  Even worse than this pointless product placement are the regretful litanies about not having enough sponsors or PR offers or receiving enough comments.  Where it used to be about entertainment, conversation and memory preservation, now it’s all sponsored posts, stats and SEO.

I am shit at all those things.

But instead of using that as a licence to turn this into a failblog, I’ve decided to embrace my mediocrity as a point of difference. The biggest personal bloggers in the world – Dooce, The Spohrs are Multiplying, The Pioneer Woman, Edenland – have lots in common. One of the things they all share is that I never use any of their successful tactics, either through negligence, ignorance, or just not giving a fuck.

But maybe there are some new up-and-coming bloggers out there who can learn a few lessons in failure from my seasoned, progressive descent!  Do YOU want to write a blog that receives three to four embarrassingly under-remunerated PR pitches a month?  How does two comments a post sound?  If these are the sort of wild dreams you are harbouring, look no further than my TEN RULES OF UNSUCCESSFUL BLOGGING.

If it’s your aim to write a blog which doesn’t measure up to any of the modern success benchmarks, I assure you you couldn’t ask for a more accomplished teacher.  And all this advice is FREE!  I gather everything I put online should be monetised, because it’s my “valuable time” and I deserve recompense, but I think that would involve embedding a payment widget and that’s the first rule:

1.  Don’t embed widgets/buttons.  And definitely don’t learn how to make custom ones.  Moving .gifs or anything remotely professional or graphically designed should be strenuously avoided.  On that, whatever you do, don’t get a custom layout.  By all means change the header photo or font if it’s a simple process, but that’s it.  You want the people who open your site to feel the dichotomy of warm familiarity and bleak desertion when they recognise your layout from 2006.

2.  Never reply to PR pitches.  Hand in hand with this is, crucially, don’t have a media kit.  This is good news because really, how would you write one of those things.  Also you’d have to learn how to add a “page” onto your layout, a clear contravention of point 1 above.

3.  Read other blogs on your phone, which makes it really hard to leave worthwhile comments.  Hardly ever commenting on other blogs means you establish few new connections.  This will ensure limited return visits and reciprocal comments.  Who cares though, because you’re only writing for yourself anyway, right?  While we’re talking about limiting new “token” connections, singularly fail to sign up to Alexa, StumbleUpon etc.  Whatever you do, don’t join Twitter.  Don’t join groups like ‘You like me, I’ll like you’ or guest-post on more popular blogs than yours.  All these avenues increase the chance of establishing a readership, which is the anti-aim of any unsuccessful blog.  Don’t even bother to learn what Disqus, Nuffnang etc mean.  I use an obtuse Facebook-only approach of pimping out my blog, and if you’re looking at my stats in that light, it’s with wild success, baby.

4.  Swear a lot.  Even if the subject of a particular post doesn’t call for profanity, sprinkle a few fucks around randomly.  This is a surefire turn-off for potential fuck-knuckles advertisers.

5.  Post late on a Saturday night.  Some guy wrote a book that says it’s the worst time in the whole week for traffic, but if you’re a parent, it’s your only free time – now that you don’t go out any more.  Any readers you do have will miss Saturday night posts because they don’t have kids and they’re out; or they’re also unsuccessful bloggers so they’re crafting their own Saturday-night posts; or they’re asleep, and then busy on Sunday, and then on Monday their feedreaders are so full they just mark everything as read anyway.

6.  If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t post.  Let those tumbleweeds fly down the corridor for a month if you CBF.  Your stats will be abysmal, dropping from 200 to 40 overnight, and then after a week of neglect, shocking numbers of 6 and 3 daily hits will be seen.  This is pure crystallised failblogging.

7.  Don’t finish your post with an open-ended question.  I’m pretty sure the same bozo who wrote the book about not posting on Saturday night is the one to blame for nearly every post in the Aussie blogosphere ending with an idiotic rhetorical question in a desperate bid for comments.  But who are you going to trust: him, or someone like me, with a bona fide 76 “likes” on Facebook?

8.  Don’t watermark your photos or use aliases for your family.  Your shit isn’t that important.  Also think how much time you’re going to waste stuffing around in photo-editing software.  Even I can’t deny, though, that photos are a crucial part of blogging.  But it’s up to you how you approach them.  If you’re trying to build a successful career out of your blog,  sucked in – you’ll now be spending 70% of your spare time orchestrating photo opportunities, uploading, cropping and watermarking.  If you’re going down the failblog route – hurrah!  Take any photo you like with your phone camera, and just upload it as is.  The worse composition and less clarity, the better.  Using the incorrect aspect ratio is fine.  For best failblogging results, you will also upload your photos sideways.

9.  Content is, of course, the most important element.  The problogger will plan their blogging schedule a month in advance, with post topics pre-determined.  They will post things of relevance to their target audience, link in with recent social media happenings, respond to current affairs affecting their readership.  I like to go down the less popular route of talking about things that are either uncomfortable (ie, having a servant) or incredible niche (ie, my job in the very tiny field of stenography).  These topics and others I cover are usually either of little interest to anyone; or else distasteful and ostractising.

10.  Once you’ve found the offensive niche topics in your life that interest you personally enough to ramble on nonsensically about the twice a month you get around to blogging, be sure to expound on them in chunky prose and in interminable sentences.  There are some famous maxims in writing about “less is more” and “don’t be a smartarse with words” etc.  I couldn’t stand in any more strident opposition to both statements.  I stride each one with vigour.  By which I mean, no.  Words are good.  Use any that pop into your head.  Sometimes when I reread my own blog I have to use a ruler to block off parts of sentences to digest individual clauses before moving on.  That’s some good clear enucleation.

Bonus rule:
You can never post enough photos or anecdotes about your kids.  Never.  No limit.

In conclusion: embrace your unmarketable mediocrity.  Flood the blogosphere with awkwardly laid-out and convoluted blogs.  I’ll follow all of y’all.  Next time I get to a PC…

So, what tips would you offer fledgling unsuccessful bloggers?

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. expatlingo says:

    Another possible rule: tell all your relatives about your blog, to ensure a lot of random, non-sensicle, overly personal comments. (Read: I may have shot myself in the foot by “outing” my blog to family during our home leave…)

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Yeah, that’s always the best, when you tell your family about your blog (if by “best” I mean most awkward and censorship-causing).

  2. Astrid says:

    You are better than me. I have not blogged in almost or over year. (could look that up, but that would mean looking at my blog)

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Whoo! That actually makes me feel better! 😉

  3. cinova says:

    Thanks for the advice, I’m already onto it and can boast a facebook following of 4. While I avoid profanity, my posts do include content that challenges people to think critically and reflect on some deep shit. As you know, fearful of all the followers who might have been let down by my infrequent posting, I turned down the reciprocity game of accepting a blog award.Yay me! I confess to experimenting with open-ended questions and changing my theme, to no noticeable effect. Similarly plagued by limited blogging time, I replaced words with images and have unwittingly sucked in a few followers. Now in a last ditch desperate attempt to win a few more unsuspecting fans, I am riding on the former fame of a blogging buddy HK expat. Wish me luck.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Fabulous work, Cinova. I love the Facebook following especially. Have you “invited” your “friends” or whatev? I seem to remember that helping some. I wish you nothing but the best hitching a ride on this very sporadic expat buddy 🙂

  4. Erin says:

    I feel a bit special knowing I’m one of the 76 likes on Facebook.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Each and every one is dear to me. Kind of sad but true! I couldn’t tell you how many “friends” I personally have on FB but I always know how many people allegedly “like” my blog 😉

  5. Toni says:

    You forgot to say, add as many layers of complexity to the commenting process as possible. Captcha is an excellent turn-off for the visually impaired (or just plain old folks like me)

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Captcha can get stuffed! I have forgone commenting on a blog only an hour ago because of it! Disqus is also pretty crappy. Good point there Red.

  6. Belinda says:

    I tend to think of having to read about bloggers waxing lyrical about blogging the same way I think of internet advertising – it’s the cost of all the great free content that’s out there. (this post excepted of course. This i read for fun.)

    One thing you did forget, though – you can never show too many pictures of your cat. Ever. Even if all your cat does is sleep, eat and attempt to prevent you from doing any work hence receiving any income to pay for her food and cat blankets by sitting on the computer keyboard every time you try to do any work. Even then. Cats are the best.

    1. Toni says:

      Even better — LOLCATZ.

    2. jadeluxe says:

      I tend to group cats with kids, and photos of dinner, in this case. You’re so right. There can never be enough. They ARE the best (cats, dinner and kids. I refrain from disclosing in what order of bestness I would place them 😉

  7. mamamzungu says:

    Oy this is gold! Until now I’ve been ambivalent about my unmarketable mediocrity, but now I’m embracing. I think I’ve followed all 10 of your rules, except I’m guilty of adding pages (which blogger makes easy) and redoing my banner. In my defense, work was incredibly slow and they did put me in front of a computer. But rest assured, such ambition leaves me when I’m just busy enough to stay out of trouble.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Oy! I admit I also added pages. It’s about the only easy thing to do in WordPress. Also my banner. But if I remember it took literally nights and nights of frustration to find a picture to steal from offline in the correct resolution. I don’t know why workplaces even have computers. They’re so counter-productive.

  8. Jane says:

    Thanks for sharing this with yeah write! Breaking your own rules, tsk, tsk. I still don’t know what sort of blogger I want to be when I grow up – so my content takes wild swings and I have yet to do the work to figure out how to add pictures. I loved the tone of this – I have thought about the un-advice post lately, and it’s a sneaky way to provide suggestions for improving a blog without sounding preachy. I found it let me read each rule and decide if I agreed with your advice to be “unsuccessful,” or if I’d decide to do the opposite…

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Hi Jane,
      Yes, it’s nice to be back at yeahwrite after about an eight-round break! Sometimes it gets too challenging getting around the grid and then I feel too guilty to submit 😉

  9. Oh. My. Goodness. Even the comments on this post had me nodding my head. Ellen and I think bloggers write about blogging because our friends in real life have no f-ing clue what we are doing or talking about. We giggle openly when they say things like “Well, maybe I’ll write a blog too” (from the friend who has yet to set up a Facebook account).

    Love the part about the photos too. Great post, Erin

    1. jadeluxe says:

      You are so right! Most of my friends don’t even know what a blog is. If not for Facebook I don’t think they’d use their computers at all. It was nice to chuck Disqus in there, gotta say 😉

  10. Mayor Gia says:

    White text on a black background. Please no. Please please please no. AIIIIIEEE MY EYESSSS.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Yeah that’s the worst. Especially for me because my mouse is always running out of batteries so I can’t even block-highlight.

  11. This was so awesome! I hate all of that commercial stuff. I stopped following any blogs that pitch blogger sponsors (really? you are saying they are great b/c they paid you…) or flashy adds and stuff. I’d love it if it all went back to conversations. You are so right about the time sink. Every time I need to do something out of the box, it takes me a week I’m so lame!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      That made me laugh 🙂 I am totally the lamest blogger. But yeah, I pretty much actively unfollow blogs with giveaways of crap I can buy at the supermarket. I just don’t care. It’s like choosing to watch the ads on TV on purpose. No-one does that!

  12. Hmm, I was already doing most of this, but there is always room for improvement. My job is way too accessible and I refuse to post about my kids. I never thought about when I should post. This opens up a world of blog failure. I am very good at not responding to comments, emails and tweets in a timely fashion. Nothing says, “professional networker” like answering a tweet 48 hours after the fact.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Hmm that does sound quite unprofessional. I applaud you. Spread the lackadaisical-ity to the twitterverse! (I’d do it myself but I’m actually too lazy to have opened an account there.)

  13. MgWade says:

    I actually have several blogs. Only one is available to the public and I forget which one it is. I think it was the one that had a long series of cute (really, VERY cute) pics of pigs on it recently.

    I cry into the silent unresponsive blogosphere. So lonely…

  14. Rachel says:

    This ROCKS! I feel ya! I’m still waiting for the whole ‘Brazil is big thus we want to read blog about Brazil’ etc. Ok, they are but hey, I’m not writing a book am I?

    My tip to fledgling unsuccessful bloggers is to own it like you do.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Blogging ain’t bit in Brazil?? *sigh* not HK either 😉

  15. Stephi says:

    Dudette! You so totally just described my blogging style!

    And…people really think blogging is for money or something? I think in 3 or 4, maybe 5 years of having my personal blog on blogger I’ve generated maybe $5 in adsense money. My blog of my artwork I didn’t even bother to add ads to it…ironically it’s about 15x more active than my brain dump blog.

    But, then again, my brain dump blog is mainly just a journal saving device used for future reference for my children to realize that their mother lost her mind LONG before she was diagnosed with dementia or lunacy.

  16. Jean says:

    Blog once a month –that sure drives traffic. I’d like to think that my readers don’t want to be inudated with too many useless posts from me. I recognize they have a life outside of blogosphere.

    Great post!

  17. jadeluxe says:

    Oh yeah, the less one can blog, the better! I only start to panic if a month goes past without a post.

  18. Azara says:

    I am the most successful unsuccessful blogger ever! When I moved my blog to become completely anonymous I had to leave my followers behind and it’s been depressingly difficult to rebuild a readership. In desperation, I joined one or two follow me hops, but the blogs-I-had-no-interest-in-but-followed-anyway-which-I hate-doing didn’t even stick to their own rules and follow me back. But you have inspired me to own my failure blog! I’ll just continue on my mediocre way, generating random content that I like writing and only following people I actually like and read.

    I wanted to say you should make a button for fail blogs to proudly display, but that violates one of the rules, doesn’t it? Shit, this is hard.

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