“As long as your headlines are relevant, succinct and not misleading, and as long as you are active in the same social spaces as your target readers, there is still a good chance your post will be seen, read, and shared. Your audience will probably grow organically over time, but you won’t be giving up the day job.”
If you’ve been blogging for long, or ever taken a course in web design and usability, you’re probably already familiar with most of the twenty-eight rules Robin Houghton has singled out here, from “keep the look clean and uncluttered” to “post something every day.” What is unique about this volume is that Houghton digs into the origin of each rule, and assesses the potential risks and rewards of breaking it. Each rule also comes with a short piece from a blogger who supports the practice, and another who is against it, clearly demonstrating that there is success to be found down both paths. The key here is to know thyself—or thy blog, or thy audience, as the case may be—and act accordingly.
The unique format of this book gets at something that many other blogging books lack: nuance and individuality. Houghton acknowledges the many different types of blogs, and motivations for blogging. In particular, she calls out the rules that are based in traditional marketing practices, and which are often more applicable to business blogs than personal ones. Rather than trying to be prescriptive, The Golden Rules of Blogging is written in the spirit of knowing the rules before you break them. Whether you are breaking or following any given rule, this title can help you think about why you are doing it, and whether it is worth reconsidering. The sections are short, and as such you might wish to do more research before making a final decision, but the rules can get you started thinking about the pros and cons, rather than assuming you have to do something.
As bloggers, we probably all have things that we are doing because we were told we should. If you hate doing search engine optimization, can’t bring yourself to write click-bait headlines, or struggle with pushing your posts out through various social media channels, it is worth revisiting the relative value of these activities in relation to your own blogging goals, rather than metrics like clicks or sales (do you even sell anything?) that may have no relationship to your purpose. Thinking about it this way can simultaneously relieve your guilt about not doing the things you’ve always been told you “should” be doing, and also give you a nudge towards the things you want to start doing, or do more.
The Golden Rules of Blogging is best for new bloggers who are struggling to figure out what blogging advice to follow in a sea of opinions, but is also valuable for more experienced bloggers looking to reassess the effectiveness of their current blogging routine.