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29 Debates Bloggers Have about Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 6th of February 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Do you want a formula to guarantee the success of your blog?

Yesterday I was interviewed by a journalist about blogging and half way though the interview he asked me what the formula for successful blogging was.

His question was innocent enough and asked without agenda but as I pondered it and pondered the many successful blogs that we see in our medium it became very clear to me that while it might be simpler to have a formula to follow to make our blogs succeed that there are many many different approaches to success in this field.

One of the things that I love about blogging is that there really is no wrong or right way to do what we do and for every ‘rule’ us people who blog about blogging might write – there is always an exception of a blog that has done the opposite and still had good results.

Yes there are some principles that we might see in many successful blogs – but even as I’ve been recently exploring some of these I see examples of blogs that buck the system and succeed despite doing so.

Last year I came up with a list of ‘debates’ in blogging to illustrate some of the diversity of approaches in blogging. Recently – after being accused of being too narrow in my focus – I revisited the list and added a number of ‘debates’ to illustrate the variety of approaches that bloggers take.

All in all I’ve come up with 29 areas that bloggers take different approaches in – yet there would be many many more.

Some of them are debates that might come down to a bloggers ethics, although most are simply different approaches that might be based more upon a bloggers goals, the niche that they’re in and the type of audience that they’re attempting to connect with.

29 Debates Bloggers Have about Blogging

  1. RSS Feeds – Full vs Partial Feeds
  2. Comment Sections – Comments vs No Comments
  3. Post Frequency – Post More vs Post Less
  4. How Many Blogs? – Focus upon One Single Blog vs Having Many Smaller Blogs
  5. Domain Names – long vs short, hyphens vs non hypens, .com vs other extensions (like .net, .org), local vs global domain extensions
  6. Hosting – hosted vs self hosted
  7. Post Titles – descriptive vs keywords
  8. Content – Link content vs Original content
  9. Paid Reviews – Happy to Write Paid Reviews vs Not Doing Paid Reviews
  10. Design – Professional Design vs Templates
  11. Links to External Sources – Should Open in a New Page vs Should Open in the Same Page
  12. Ownership – Use Social Media vs Build Your own properties
  13. Post Length – Long in Depth Posts vs Short, Sharp Posts
  14. Topic – Niche vs Broad Topics
  15. Dating Posts – Dates on Posts vs Non Dated
  16. Blogger Name – Anonymous blogging vs Using Your Name
  17. Subscribers – RSS is Best vs Email is Best
  18. SEO – Writing for Search Engines vs Writing for Humans
  19. Personal Blogging – Sticking to Topic vs Injecting Personality and Personal details
  20. Comment Moderation – Highly Regulated and Moderated vs Anything Goes
  21. Social Media vs Search – focus upon social media rather than search engines as traffic sources
  22. LinkBait – Anything goes (e.g.. Personal Attacks) vs Strong Boundaries Around What is and Isn’t Acceptable
  23. Bloggers Participation in Comments – Respond to Every Single Comment vs Let Readers Talk to Each Other and Don’t Interact
  24. Blog Platforms – WordPress vs ((Insert Other Platforms Here))
  25. Monetization – Blogs Should Be Monetized vs Blogs Should Never Be Monetized
  26. Affiliate Disclosure – Disclose every affiliate link vs Site Wide Disclosure vs No Disclosure
  27. When To Start Monetizing – From Day 1 vs Once You Have an Audience
  28. Text Links – To Sell them vs Not Selling Them
  29. Outsourcing – Outsourcing content (or other aspects of blogging) vs producing your own.

Some of the above debates are over things that some bloggers feel quite strongly about (there are a few that I do) – but in almost every one there are blogs doing a full spectrum of things.

I wanted to share this updated list mainly to celebrate our diversity and variety as bloggers and in the hope that those who might be looking for ‘the formula’ might see that there’s a wonderful array of choice at our finger tips and with that comes a lot of freedom to forge our own paths as individuals.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Yes it is easy to get confused if you are looking for one single formula for blogging success. Different experts give different advice pieces of advice and many contradict one another.

    I think that you really have to find out what is works best for you and your own readers.

  2. Darren, how about putting links to one good article (in your opinion) for each debate you have mentioned. It will be an excellent resource.

  3. Thank you for this list, Darren. :-)
    It’s very interesting to debate this.

    We could even add the “list” debate. ;-)

  4. Oh, and I agree with “free classifieds blog” about adding some links to the list debate.

    I’m guessing you probably have some very interesting post on the subject.

    That’s when the search bar comes in handy, I guess! :-)

  5. A good list, Darren. One item jumped out at me, because I’ve been thinking about it. My blog is currently on Blogspot (my site designer set it up and I just stuck with it), but I’ve been wondering if WordPress is better and whether it’s worth shifting platforms before my audience grows to more than 12, even getting a vanity URL. Recommendations for articles or forums that discuss this?

  6. And then there are bloggers who hate list posts with a passion while the majority swears by it. I love list post myself. It has its uses: it lends itself well to online reading. Fast, snackable digest of the meat of the story. Love to curl up for a long, leisurely read though. I haven’t outgrown that yet. :)

  7. not a blogger says: 02/06/2010 at 1:32 am

    Well, there_’s something to be said for the theory that you should know and understand the rukes before breaking the, that if you go and break them, you should have a reason and – thanks to Granny Weatherwax – that if you break the rules you should break them good and hard.

    Then, I am not so sure if what you list here refers to any rules as such. I’d think there are good reason for the various positions shown, and it might just boil down to: Have good reasons to do what your’e doing.

  8. Wohh would love to hear all the comments and what all have to say ..

  9. Hi Darren,

    Great post. I would have loved to have been able to click on some of the items on the list, to read more about them. Any of them would make a fantastic blog post (hint, hint, etc) :)

  10. Wow, what a list. I’ll definitely get back to this list and check out the items to make sure I know what I’m doing and where I miss more activities.

    I’m specially focused on SEO tips on my blog although I provide SEO services for websites and even blog optimization for bloggers. I believe a blog structure is of a very high importance as whatever content you create later will be another brick in this wall!

  11. What a useful list! Thanks very muchs, I’ll consider these aspects of my blog.

  12. For me, the glaring omission here is the very definition of “success.” What exactly IS a “successful blog”? One that’s popular? One that makes a lot of money? One that get lots of comments, makes people think, makes people laugh? Ask ten different bloggers and I bet you’ll get ten different answers…

  13. These topics are always debatable because everyone in this bologosphere has his own interest and it will all depends on you how you manage all these.
    how many blogs you have
    how many articles in a day you post
    how many blogs you comment daily, etc
    these type of questions are endless and answers depends on the everyone

  14. Fortunately blogging allows for creativity. If we have to stick strictly to one formula for success, that must be the most dreary task in the world.

  15. I think I debate and get confused with most of the things in this list, thats why I keep constantly making changes, it would have been better if you’d have mentioned what you’ll do with your blog.


  16. Great list. I have a big debate with myself at point 16 on that list.

    I suggest one more to that list:

    “To blog or not to blog?”

  17. Whoa! That is quiet a comprehensive list. Thinking about one THE formula, I don’t think there never IS such an formula. It is a mix of various techniques and content that makes a blog successful.

  18. I’ve come into contact with a lot of these topics. When I started out, I looked at many sites all about being successful at blogging, read their posts and looked at their styles. There are definitely a lot of conflicting ideas within these subjects.

    After a while I started to figure it out and began to try to find the style I liked most. Since it seemed that almost everyone has been successful in one way or another, I stooped worrying about these debates.

    I think it’s all about doing what you the blogger enjoys most, it’s your blog, just think of what you like in other blogs, and borrow from their designs/styles/ideas.

    Recently I’ve been visiting many random blogs (usually by clicking links in comment sections like this), reading through some of there posts, then writing down my likes and dislikes. After about an hour I’ll go to my own blog, and look for any dislikes I may have missed and switch them to what I like.

  19. As I go through that list, I can remember a specific incident where I read a blog discussing that specific topic and the points made.

    Its hard for someone to ‘get it’ right when all the readers are different, what works for you doesn’t work for me. Obviously the best and most used answer is test, test and test some more.

    For someone like myself who just blogs to blog with no intentions of profiting from within my blog but rather outside of it, I can feel like I have more freedoms and abilities to risk certain things.

    I don’t think those debates will ever get solved because I think both sides provide proven results within their niche and/or sites for the ways they do things.

  20. Brilliant !
    I get something to write now from your list Darren. Thanks !

  21. Excellent list, some of these points have been on my mind for sometime but I have never got around to putting them down on paper. Some comments:

    2. Comment Sections – Comments vs No Comments
    Comments are half the fun,

    3. Post Frequency – Post More vs Post Less
    Less is more. I follow a number of blogs and one good post a day is enough to get me coming back for more.

    7. Post Titles – descriptive vs keywords
    Descriptive titles are more reader friendly.

    13. Post Length – Long in Depth Posts vs Short, Sharp Posts
    Problogger’s, Mashable;s post length are just about right.

    18. SEO – Writing for Search Engines vs Writing for Humans
    SEO oriented writing is a turn off – lots of text and keywords but no real information.

    23. Bloggers Participation in Comments – Respond to Every Single Comment vs Let Readers Talk to Each Other and Don’t Interact.
    An occasional, incisive comment by the author is always a welcomed interjection.

  22. A 30th debate might be over themes or color schemes (light yellow font on white background would be a loser here).

    Or is there a more fundamental debate, like over what makes money, what wins popularity contests, and how to produce the most influence bang for the time-and-money buck.

  23. I would call the lists as never ending blogging debate. It is because there are no right and wrong, as you said before.

  24. The list does cover such a wide array of different ways to get to a goal that many bloggers wish to achieve. It is a formula in a way, a map with many different side trips and options.

  25. It would be awesome if you could include one article per area, especially since I’m looking for answers to several of the debates.

  26. I’m a free thinker and always have been, there’s nothing I hate more than being told to do something a certain way without being given a decent argument as to why I should. The problem with those points is most of them depend completely on your niche.

    That’s what attracts me to blogging, I love the experimentation. Trying to find the most successful structure and method really keeps me interested and is something I will constantly tinker with. Never leave a stone unturned and all that.

  27. Going through the list (which was actually a pretty fun exercise) here’s what I’d pick, or what I’m currently doing (where applicable):

    1. RSS Feeds – Full
    2. Comment Sections – Comments
    3. Post Frequency – Post More
    4. How Many Blogs? – Having Many Smaller Blogs
    5. Domain Names – Short, Non Hypens, .com, Global Domain Extensions
    6. Hosting – Self Hosted
    7. Post Titles – Descriptive
    8. Content – Original Content
    9. Paid Reviews – Happy to Write Paid Reviews
    10. Design – Professional Design
    11. Links to External Sources – Should Open in the Same Page
    12. Ownership – Use Social Media
    13. Post Length – Long in Depth Posts
    14. Topic – Niche Topics
    15. Dating Posts – Non Dated
    16. Blogger Name – Using Your Name
    17. Subscribers – RSS is Best
    18. SEO – Writing for Humans
    19. Personal Blogging – Injecting Personality and Personal Details
    20. Comment Moderation – Highly Regulated and Moderated
    21. Social Media vs Search – Focus Upon Social Media as Traffic Sources
    22. LinkBait – Strong Boundaries Around What is and Isn’t Acceptable
    23. Bloggers Participation in Comments – Respond to Every Single Comment
    24. Blog Platforms – WordPress
    25. Monetization – Blogs Should Be Monetized
    26. Affiliate Disclosure – Disclose Every Affiliate Link
    27. When To Start Monetizing – From Day 1
    28. Text Links – Not Selling Them
    29. Outsourcing – Producing Your Own

  28. Impressive list. I’ve read about several of those on your site but success is objective.

    The one I’ve seen most debated is the paid review debate. I don’t have a problem with someone being paid for their time to review but I do have a problem with being paid for puff piece.

    I’m always weary of the review that doesn’t list at least one thing wrong or a way to make an improvement.

  29. I think that each one of those is down to a – who you are as a person, b – what sort of blog you’re running, and c – your personal preferences/competencies.

    What I mean by that is if you’re more comfortable going after a certain type of traffic (for example) you’re going to do better there than you will going after another type. Of course this isn’t necessarily a reason to rule out the other option, but you’ll have your own preferences. I think that what makes a blog successful is how true the blogger is to themselves.

    Loved the post Darren, food for thought there!

  30. Been reading Linchpin and I think Seth’s take on this is that it would be pretty boring and unremarkable if we all followed the same map/formula.

  31. Different blogging gurus give different advice and it is really a tough job for a new bloggers to find out what works best. I believe that bloggers should analyse their visitors and their situations to find out what works best. Anyway, a really nice post Darren!

  32. Wow…good collection of debatable topics. Well, actually it’s more or less matter of personal choice. Blog to me is like my baby and I feel about certain things strongly than others. Everybody has different intentions for setting up a blog, some set it up for personal interest in which case they won’t bother to care whether it is self-hosted or not, whether it should be SEOptimized or not for others these might matters of life and death. Whatever, may be the case, one thing is sure, these debates definitely have good potential as individual posts :)

    One more topic I would like to add is Monetization Type i.e. AdSense vs Affiliate programs. Its definitely is a topic which I have seen sparks a lot of debate among bloggers.

    @Eric Brenner,
    Wordpress is definitely better than Blogger, this is what I can say from my personal experience. You get complete control over your blog with WP. Also, about moving the blog to WP, I will suggest you do it as soon as possible. If you wait to create reader base and then switch to WP, it would be difficult for users as well as you will loose your blog ranking in search engines, which means you will have to start from scratch.

  33. I think for each blogger success is based on trial and error. I have changed many things on my blog since I started and though it’s come to a minimum now since I’m happy with almost everything with my blog, I still tweek it up by changing small things you’ve mentioned above. And in the end you finish with what you feel right and comfortable with. But great analysis, because it does show that there isn’t just one path to success.

  34. A lot of interesting areas of debate. I agree with Free Classifieds Blog and Fanie about the links to articles for each of these debates!

    I think it is always important to remember that not every blogger has the same skills, personality or goals and these all play into the way we decide to do things.

    But a good debate of the pros and cons of each is always a good learning experience as we see things from a different perspective and learn about things we may not have seen before.

  35. Harsh, thanks. My husband uses WordPress for his blog and loves it, too, so I will definitely take a look.

    Not a blogger: Granny’s right! Gotta love Granny Weatherwax.

  36. Darren:

    The differences that you have listed just show a wide range of personalities that exist in the blogosphere. Each blogger has their own identity and they are expressing through a different use of above mentioned techniques.

    In the end, it is all about finding out what works for you and the readers who you are targeting. All road lead to Rome, just make sure to find yours :)


  37. I also agree with Robby G that every individual is different and in some areas, you can’t find a one-size-fits-all solution. Yet, there are certain methods that help you monetize your blog. It’s up to the individuals to decide what’s the best strategy for them.

  38. Great subjects, wish I had this experience in blogging.

  39. It seems like that at the end of the day it’s not just one thing that creates success or failure but rather a mix of everything and the talent behind the blog.

  40. This a very good post, now do publish an another post giving your point of view on each section.

  41. This is why Darren makes bank, and the rest of don’t.

    I don’t see any definite answer to any of these questions, which is why they’re debateable (duh), but I’m going through them to answer whY I chose to do what I did on my website.

  42. if i may ask?
    which are your answers on those 29 questions ?

  43. Darren,

    Can you put a poll up so that everyone can vote on each debate. Even thought that would mean creating 29 separate polls, I think you would have a high participation and put some of these arguments to rest as to which is more popular.

    Maybe it could be once in 6th months to see how patterns change. That would be a great trending study. Something more to write about.

  44. It is ok to be a small blogger. It depends on what you want out of the blog. You could be a pro blogger is your own content domain.

  45. For most people i know all these debates start with one fundamental debate, TO BLOG or NOT TO BLOG ?

    Once they’ve decided TO BLOG is the way forward, then their debates compound, and its a never ending debate (or a confusion).

  46. Wow,

    I’ve never thought of some of the things to consider with your debates.

    I’m going to definitely get some of these topics out and debate about them.

    Thank you so much for this.

  47. Thanks Darren….I appreciate the list but realised there are a few topics I had not thought about…let alone wanted to try and debate!

    SO I’ll just keep plodding along, adding, subtracting, posting frequently/infrequently doing ?????????

    (and I’ll keep an ear out for the tips and debate to help form my indecision)


  48. yes your ideas are very nice.you mentioned 29 Debates Bloggers for better blog .above of them i follow 10 only for my http://eblogtutorials.blogspot.com blog.now i found remaining.Thanks for post

  49. Nice list. I think #4 would be the first on my list.

  50. I don’t think bloggers will ever agree on most of those points.

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