Ask anyone on the web for advice on blogging, and you’ll undoubtedly get a response. Survey a hundred people—including readers, amateur writers, experienced professionals, and even industry influencers—and you’ll likely find dozens of common themes emerging between them. That’s because there are certain general “best practices” that everyone knows, or everyone’s heard, as they make their way into the blogging world.
For the most part, this advice is helpful. It can guide you through the ropes as you become more acquainted with the industry and more familiar with your specific blog. But there’s one problem, and it’s a big one: this advice doesn’t always apply.
To explore this, I’m going to focus on seven pieces of advice I hear all the time (and explain why you shouldn’t necessarily follow them):
1. Write a new post every day.
This advice comes from two ideas; one, that if you write a post every day, you’ll stay committed to the project and have a reliable flow of work getting to your blog, and two, that the daily addition of new content will be valuable for your search engine ranks and visitors alike. These are both true, but with one important caveat—the content you write has to be good. If you force yourself to write a post every day, but you don’t have anything valuable or unique to say, you’ll end up spinning your wheels. The proper advice is “try to write a post whenever you have a good idea, and try to have good ideas as often as possible.”
2. Controversy breeds attention.
I’m actually a proponent of this in most cases, but as with the first piece of advice, it only applies to certain situations. Controversial posts tend to take one side of a hotly debated issue. The theory is that this one-sidedness will fire up both sides of the debate, and your post will become a central feature in a bustling comment thread and a flurry of backlinks.
However, if you aren’t careful, you could damage your reputation. Controversy is fine, but only if it’s backed up with objective research, and acknowledgements to both sides of the debate. Otherwise, you’re making bold claims with no backup
3. “Good” content will always become successful.
I see this one a lot from practitioners who claim that if you write “good” content for a long enough period of time, eventually any blog can become successful. There are two problems with this. First, what constitutes “good” content isn’t the same for everyone—it’s a vague term. It could mean informative, or entertaining, or detailed, or enlightening, or any mix of other qualities. Second, good content isn’t always enough. You also have to be socially active enough to promote your blog to new people and committed to your audience enough to retain them once they start reading.
4. Comment on other blogs.
Blog comments do serve several functional purposes. They help you engage with your community. They give you an opportunity to post a backlink to your blog. And most importantly, they give your personal brand more exposure, which creates new opportunities for people to find your blog.
The unfortunate thing is, most blog comments are ignored these days, and link building isn’t as simple as it used to be. Comments can help you, but only if applied to the right posts with the right community and with the right intentions. As a general rule, community participation is good, but self-promotion will only burn you.
5. Find a niche and stick with it.
If you want to stand out in this oversaturated content market, you need to have a strong, unique niche for your blog. That much is true. But sticking with that niche forever is a bad plan for most blogs. Doing so can rob you of future opportunities for great posts by limiting your range, and can make your readers feel bored or irritated by the end of it. Stick with a niche at first, but don’t be afraid to expand.
6. The more content you have, the better.
The more pages your site has, the more Google has to index, and the more posts you have to promote, the more potential readers you’ll have. This thinking leads many to the conclusion that more content is always better. But remember my first point—exhausting yourself trying to make posts for the sake of making posts is going to leave you with inferior content. More content is better only if that content is a consistent and high quality.
7. Write more posts like those that have performed well in the past.
This is advice I follow as a general rule of thumb, but if followed religiously, it can hurt you. Take inspiration from your previous posts. See what factors worked for certain posts and what factors didn’t work for others, then combine them in new applications. Merely revisiting the same topic is going to alienate your readership and possibly compromise the success of your blog. Conjure up new topics based on that information rather than recycling old ones.
To reiterate, I’m not saying any of this advice is explicitly bad, or that following it will ruin your chances at becoming successful. However, you need to be careful which of these you follow and how you follow them. Each blog is inherently unique, so you’ll need a correspondingly unique strategy if you want to make it a success.