I’ve been blogging long enough that I’ve tried almost everything. Not surprisingly, most things have failed. Some however, have succeeded. Here is a list of things I’ve learned the hard way. I hope you can learn something from my experiences:
AVOID Blogging Contests
A few times a month some company launches a “contest” where bloggers have to post something to have a chance of winning some prize. These are totally absurd and should be avoided by all bloggers. The odds of winning are miniscule and the company running the contest gets links from hundreds of bloggers for very little cost. If you are going to write a post promoting someone, at least get paid.
NEVER Take Part In Online ‘Awards’ That Involve Voting
These too are just scams to increase pageviews by whoever is hosting the award. Actually, it is wrong to call them awards because they aren’t awards are all. Awards are awarded. These are nothing more than contests. They aren’t even popularity contests because they tend to attract people who are desperate more than popular. You only have so much social capital you can spend on your audience. Why waste it on meaningless contests??
DO NOT Autofollow People Who Follow You
I used to do this on Twitter. I saw the Robert Scoble’s and Guy Kawasaki’s of the world do this and figured that is just how you do things on Twitter. Two years ago I actually attempted to look at the Twitter stream of people who I followed and it was incomprehensible. An endless stream of crap. I made the decision to unfollow everyone and start from scratch, just following people who I was interested in listening to. I lost about 30,000 ‘followers’ and was better off for it. Since I did that I gained back all 30,000 and plus about 10,000 more. Autofollowing crappy accounts wasn’t necessary at all. Don’t worry about taking a hit in the number of followers, because anyone that unfollows you weren’t really paying attention anyhow.
Every bad thing I mentioned here came from me experimenting. As in science, most experiments fail. However, you can learn some very valuable things if you are willing to see what works. The trick is to be willing to abandon ideas which don’t work quickly. Don’t get attached to any idea unless you have some data to back it up.
DO Put Effort Into Improving Your Craft
When I began traveling I knew nothing about photography. I can’t express just how ignorant I was. I didn’t know what ISO meant. I began a methodological effort to improve the quality of my photography. As the quality of my images has improved, most people view them and share them. You need to start with an honest assessment of your abilities and then seek to improve in every area. It doesn’t matter if it is photography, writing or interviewing.
I found myself engaging in many things which were doing nothing for me. Attending meaningless conferences and getting into arguments online about blogging were two big ones. Now I try to think if something is going to actually do anything for me before I commit to something. I can only do so much, so I want to make sure that what I do advances the cause.