There's a lot of good advice out there on how to write a successful blog. However, you can probably ignore most of it, if it doesn't work for you.
A blog is a place where you can be yourself and not worry about doing it "right." And nobody really knows what it means to do it right.
1. Blog Every Day
Seth Godin blogs every day. You can count on it. He's consistent. He never skips a post. He's the most well-known business blogger in the world. Maybe you should follow his example.
But maybe you don't need to. Pam Slim, best-selling author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, blogs sporadically. She usually writes something a couple times a week but has sometimes gone almost a month without writing anything. However, her blog subscribers are tremendously loyal and she has built a powerful community.
2. Keep It Short
Seth Godin's posts rarely go over 200 words. Some are as short as 95 words and a longer post is only 400 words.
If you are concise, then focus on brevity. If you like to ramble on and on, don't worry about it.
3. Don't Sell Out
There are no advertisements on Seth's blog, no Google adwords, no banner ads, popups or affiliate links. He only includes links to his own books and he gives the click-through revenue to charity.
However, Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents, is a sales machine. He promotes all kinds of products and services, from camcorders to blog platforms to books. If he believes in it, he'll tell you about it, list it, link to it, and profit from your click or purchase.
If you are hesitant to turn your blog into a checkout register, then keep it pure. If you want your blog to become a passive income fire hose, then give it a try.
4. Stick with Text
Blogging is writing. If you want to be successful, you need to be a good writer. Until recently, Seth's blog was exclusively text. He just started including videos related to his new book, Linchpin.
On the other hand, text is boring. Cutting edge bloggers use video and audio to keep it fresh and interesting. Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuck, author of Crush It!, and many others use video liberally and some bloggers use audio exclusively.
My personal preference is for text. I like to read blogs. I subscribe to them via email and read them on my phone. I'll rarely listen to an audio file or take the time to watch a video. But that is just me.
If you are uncomfortable with technology or just prefer to write, that is fine. If you don't like to write or just enjoy learning and using new technology, then you might want to incorporate more video or audio on your blog.
5. Be Professional
After reading Seth's blog for years and reading every one of his books, I didn't know anything about his personal life. Was he married? Did he have kids? Where did he live? He never said. I found out that he was married and had a couple kids when I met his editor at a conference.
On the other hand, after reading Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog for a few months, I learned that she had been sexually abused as a child, was divorced, recently moved to Madison, Wisconsin, had a couple kids and was currently having sex with a farmer.
If you are a private person, you can maintain your privacy while blogging. If you want to bare your soul, that can work as well.
6. Keep It Clean
Seth doesn't swear. He doesn't use innuendo. He doesn't make off-color remarks. His blog is rated G, or at the very worst, PG.
Naomi Dunford curses like a sailor. In a recent post she used the f-word more than five times and also liberally employed a cornucopia of lesser profanities and obscenities. Her blog is rated R.
If you are formal and proper in your communication, that can be very effective. If you are a potty mouth, that can work too.
7. Interact with Your Readers
Jonathan Fields responds personally to almost every comment on his blog.
Seth doesn't even allow comments.
If you want to create a conversation, blogging is an excellent platform. If you prefer one-way communication, then blogging is good for that as well.
8. Use Keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You need to sprinkle certain keywords liberally throughout your blog posts to increase your Google juice (the potential that your blog will be found by the world's most powerful search engine). You can hire experts to help you with this or to do it for you.
Or you can write whatever you want and trust that people will find you. I know that Seth didn't reach the pinnacle of blogging fame by tweaking his posts to include better keywords.
I may be naive or idealistic but SEO optimization seems slimy to me. I just write stuff and maybe that's why I'm not one of the world's most famous bloggers. You have to decide which approach will work for you.
9. Headlines Are Everything
Some bloggers argue that the headline is the most important part of your post and that you should spend more time on crafting the right headline than on the content of the message.
Others believe that content is king and that you don't need flashy or potentially misleading headlines to attract people to your blog. Focus on substance and your blog will flourish.
If you are great at marketing, use those skills to attract readers. If you excel at writing, then just keep producing great content.
10. Use Lists
People love lists. Blog readers are looking for simple, well-organized content in list form. Top 10 blogs, Best 5 books, 3 Questions, 7 tips, etc. Use lists liberally.
But Seth never uses lists, or at least he doesn't use them very often. In fact, most of the blogs that I read regularly don't create many lists.
I have to admit that I sometimes feel pressure to follow this rule, and this post is a list. But I don't prefer to write lists. However, some of my most popular posts are lists. Again, either approach can be effective.
So there you go. Ten rules for effective blogging and ten examples of how the exact opposite approach can also work.
Don't feel pressure to use strategies that don't fit your skills, interests or preferences. Blogging is a tool that allows you to be yourself and also rewards you for it.