10 Blogging “Rules” You Don’t Have to Follow

Every blogger knows about that time between finishing the post and sharing it.

Each of us spend it differently. I often find figuratively myself shuffling my feet and overthinking minuscule details from my writing. As I do, my mind wanders and I begin to wonder about aspects of my writing.

I start wondering if it’s too long or too short. Wondering if it’s too informal or too formal. Wondering how it will be received. Wondering if I’ve been clear enough. Wondering if my ideas stand well enough on their own. Wondering if I’m sharing anything that’s actually helpful for others. Wondering how people will receive the new ideas. Wondering if they’re actually new ideas.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not bringing me to a total stand still, but I do have a few ideas that have been brought to a screeching halt because I entertained these wonderings for too long.

Thinking about what we’re sharing is helpful, but there are so many times I’ve dwelled on issues that aren’t important.

It’s as if there are some unspoken rules that blogs must abide by. Except most of the ones I have spent time worrying over aren’t actually rules. But the ideas are out there. And I’m here today to debunk these “rules” for myself and for anyone else who might benefit from hearing someone else say these aren’t rules.

1. Blogs are always about 500 words.

Blogs can be in depth explorations of topics that demand deep discussion over 1000s of words, and they can just as easily be brief reflections with word counts under 200 words. Although 500-800 is common, it’s not a rule.

2. Blogs require storytelling expertise.

I have never seen myself as a good storyteller. I see the value of stories and have even written about their power (“The Power of Story”), but there’s nothing about storytelling that comes easily for me. Storytelling expertise certainly helps, but any apprehension here should not stop you from sharing. In fact, telling stories is one of the best ways to improve your storytelling abilities. 

3. Blogs look a certain way.

How you organize your blog is your business. There is so much that is fair game when writing a blog. Write a poem. Draw a picture. Include a tweet. Share a video. Write a letter. Post a list. There are so, so many ways to capture your reflections and share ideas in a variety of forms. I’m not advocating for a structureless stream of consciousness that might be hard for others to take in. But if you’ve thought about what you have to share and selected a structure that will support that, don’t doubt your choice. 

4. Blogs sound a certain way.

You’re not writing for your high school English teacher anymore. It’s not a dissertation or a thesis. You can use the word “you” in your blog. You can sound like yourself. It’s you sharing your reflection. If it doesn’t sound like you, I think it’s actually loses some of its effectiveness. 

5. Blogs are filled with answers. 

There is room to share what you are learning in your blog. Sometimes that means your reflections include answers you are discovering. I don’t mean to speak ill of this at all, but blogging can be more than sharing the answers we’ve uncovered. A blog can be a great place to share some of the questions you are asking. Questions prompt us to think differently–to reconsider what we’ve understood previously. A great question sticks with me much longer than a great answer. Don’t be afraid to share the questions you are processing in a blog.

6. Blogs make you a bragger. 

Blogging is about you reflecting on your learning and sharing those reflections. Are there some folks who might use their blog as a platform to brag? Probably. But sharing your reflections or your questions isn’t bragging. It’s growth. It’s important. And it’s not the same if it never sees the light of day outside of a journal. If you’re really worried about this, ask a friend who will be honest with you to preview the blog before you post. 

7. Blogs are ready to share when self-doubt has been overcome.

If this were the case, I might not have every published a blog. Seriously. I don’t want to exaggerate this, but there is nearly always an element of self-doubt in play when I hit the publish button. Be sure you’re not doing something that’s unwise. Protect student privacy. Consider what would happen if (when) folks at work read your writing; this will be connected to your name forever (because the internet never forgets). Think through if you’re using your blog as a place to rant instead of a place to process your learning (maybe don’t share the rants). But if you’re wondering about whether or not your blog contains a good enough idea to share, share it.

8. Blogs must be perfected before sharing.

Your blogs will not be perfect. It will be ok. Believe me. I literally wrote a book about not being perfect, and I know what it’s like to want your writing to be excellent in its presentation. Some things need to be perfect. I don’t want to be on an airplane with “good enough” cabin pressure. I don’t want to drive on a bridge that has “good enough” structural integrity. But if my blog has a typo, nobody dies. I can revise and edit forever. When it’s done its job–providing space for you to reflect on an area where you are growing and share that reflection with others–it’s ready to share. For more on this idea, be sure to check out Seth Godin’s writing on the need to ship (just one of many examples linked here).

9. Blogs are entirely original.

Give credit where credit is due, but it’s perfectly fine to bounce off an idea from someone else for inspiration. It doesn’t have to do this. That doesn’t make it better. But it’s an option for you. Don’t believe otherwise.

10. Blogs are always for a wide audience.

Blogging is different from journaling. When you blog, others can benefit from your reflections, but writing in a public place where others can see your reflections doesn’t necessarily mean you are writing for all those who might read your work. When I write about things I consistently need reminders about, I do it for me. I still share it in case others might benefit from it (any I sometimes get ideas from others as a result), but I’m not primarily writing with an audience in mind.

If you’ve ever spent time wondering if you should follow one of these “rules” in the past, know that you are not alone and not held to these rules.

Keep reflecting. Keep writing. Keep sharing. 

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