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9 Ways to Screw Up Your Professional Blog

Today I spent a few hours surfing through this blog’s archives as part of my annual review. One of the many things I noticed is that there are many articles on how to improve your blog and hardly any on how to totally screw it up.

I thought it was time to rectify this and so tonight am proud to present my top 9 ways to screw up your Professional Blogging Career:

1. Ignore Ad Network Rules

Every ad network and most affiliate programs have sort of list of rules, regulations or terms of service that are very helpful for screwing up any hope of making money with them. If I was hell bent on ending my career as a blogger I’d start by flouting these sorts of rules. It’s very difficult to earn a living from blogging if the people who hand out the money boot you out of their networks. Rules like clicking on your own ads, asking others to click on your ads, telling everyone in minute detail all the details of your earnings stats, breaking swearing rules, writing about gambling, explicit content, changing ad codes – all these things and more can quickly ensue your evacuation from ad programs like AdSense, Chitika and YPN. Do this and you’re well on the way to screwing up your ProBlogging Aspirations. PS: an especially good way to kill a few birds with one stone is to run YPN, AdSense and Chitika Contextual Ads all on the one page at once.

2. Make Big Claims that Won’t Follow Through on

Once you’ve pissed off the advertisers it’s time to start messing with the minds with your readers. One great way to get them offside and leaving your blogs in droves is to constantly make massive claims and promises that you never follow up on. Constant announcements about your grand visions and plans that never eventuate, biting off much more than you can chew and generally big noting yourself and your achievements as a blogger when you’ve got nothing more to brag about than the fact that you know how to make words bold or in italics – yep all these things are sure to make your readers not only leave – but do so angrily.

3. Start and Give up On Blog Projects As Quickly As Possible

Lurking around Pro Blogging circles there is a special breed of blogger that we all come across from time to time who is very difficult to track down simply because they don’t stay in any one blog long enough. I’m not sure whether it’s a lack of patience, itchy feet or a fear of sitting still – but this species of blogger cannot help themselves and is capable of starting large numbers of blogs in a short period of time – none of which last more than 6 weeks (and they are the good ones). I’ve watched a number of these bloggers over the past three years and am constantly simultaneously amused and depressed by their blogging strategies (often accompanied with plenty of big claims of what each blog will do and achieve (see point 2). They leave a long trail of blogs projects behind them that are here one day and either gone or lying dormant the next.

4. Game Google

This is brilliant strategy if you think about it. Shut down one of the best sources of potential traffic to your blog by trying to cheat. They’ve made it easy for you to do by creating a page especially for web-masters. All you need to do is do the complete opposite of everything they say you should do and within weeks you should be pretty much banned from Google and you can begin the process again with Yahoo!, MSN and any other search engine that sends you traffic. Another great source of inspiration for how to put Google offside is the blog of one of their engineers Matt Cutts who has a whole category on his blog dedicated to the topic of getting caught cheating by Google. Duplicate content, invisible text, link farms, keyword stuffing – the possibilities are endless!

5. Become Obsessed with One element of Blogging and Ignore the Rest

This is a much more sophisticated way of screwing up your blogging career but quite effective if you ignore point 3 and persist with it. There are plenty of targets of obsession to choose from really. For example develop a blog design tweaking disorder. This is a favorite of many downward spiraling bloggers because there is a never ending array of things you can do to improve the look of your blog. Many who go this route do so by cluttering there blog a myriad of buttons – others become obsessed with swapping between templates or playing with their CSS for hour after hour (usually skipping meals and always forgetting to write content – unless it’s about the latest changes to their design). Another popular obsessive blog disorder is that of perfecting the implementation of different Ad networks like AdSense. These bloggers ignore the fact that they are yet to add content and have no readers in the quest of finding the perfect placement and design for their Ads. Obsession can be taken in any direction with blogs, SEO, building profile, blog tools etc – all can become brilliant distractions from a balanced and holistic approach to blogging.

6. Hide Agendas and Conflicts of Interests from your Readership

We’re back to playing with the minds and patience of readership here by being as two faced and manipulative as possible. Don’t disclose relationships that you have with Advertisers, be totally inconsistent with your arguments, Claim to have read the books you recommend (with affiliate links that you don’t mention wherever possible) etc. If you really want to speed this process up try blogging anonymously, perhaps with as a fictional character while pretending that it’s all legitimate. Play your cards close to your chest and keep your readers on edge and guessing what your motivations are at all times.

7. Quit Your Job and Go Pro Now!

Throw all caution to the wind and just do it. I heard a preacher talk about this once, his catch cry was ‘name it and claim it’. Brilliant advice if you want to crash and burn in blogging. Don’t worry that you won’t have an income for a year or two while you get established. Don’t stress about eating up any savings you might have and risking your family’s well-being – safety nets are for weaklings. Announce to the world that despite the fact that you only have one MySpace blog with 17 posts about your pet cat that you’re going Pro!

8. Plagiarize, Steal and Give as Little Credit to Others as Possible

Once again this is something of a twin pronged attack on killing off your blogging prospects as you will not only piss off other bloggers, but you also could end up being banned by search engines if classified as a Splog and might even end up defending yourself in court in an expensive civil case. What better ways to bring your blogs down! Simply copy complete posts from other people’s blogs, newspapers, magazines etc and paste it into your own blog. Remember to be most effective with this strategy never to give credit with a link or even a name to the original source of the content. If you really want to excel at this you should invest in at least one automated tool to create your Splogs. In fact don’t limit it to one tool – get a few, it’ll screw your finances up even faster! While you’re at it by some comment spamming scripts as well to speed up your downfall.

9. Blend In With the Crowd

Keep in mind that stats show that there is one blog being created every second and as a result there are tens (if not hundreds) of millions of blogs out there. One strategy to ensure your blog remains unsuccessful is to work hard to blend in and be inconspicuous. One great way to do this is to pick a blog template that everyone else uses but you can enhance this by surfing around and choosing the most popular topics to write on and trying not to say anything original.

Of course each of the above tips taken by themselves might not quite get you over the line in killing your blogging prospects (in fact I can think of a few very successful bloggers who break a few of them) but putting them together exponentially increases your chances of doom! I highly recommend that if you are wanting to completely ensure you screw up your blogging that you throw into the mix at least three of the following bonus tips.

Bonus Tips to Take Things Up a Notch

• Always Write When either Angry or Drunk
• Totally ignore any spelling or grammatical skills you might have picked up over the years
• Write about Your Personal Life whenever possible – including intimate details of relationships and family members
• Always use free and untested blogging tools
• Write about anything and everything – the less focus or consistency in your topics the better
• Post 400 times one day and then not for a few months
• Never Backup your Blog
• Work 18 hour days in your Blogging
• Ignore your Readers – never respond to their emails or comments
• Make your blog password your name or something else easy to guess

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Brent says:

    Thanks for the advice.

    I caught myself doing numbers 3 and 5. That cost me being rated a 4 by Google back to a 0.

    I was moving pages around often and giving up or getting bored with websites just as they were taking off. I’ve learned my lesson and stuck with a few ideas.

  2. karli says:

    In response primarily to point 3 above, I’d like to say that I can definately relate. I have made numerous websites over the last few years, but only one has really made it. The one which I persisted and persisted with. It honestly does pay off, but you need plenty of patience, will-power , self dicipline and enjoyment in the topics you are going to cover.

  3. Joe says:

    Timley…

    Maybe 3 & 5 should be 1 & 2. I caught my self wanting to give up then figured tweaking may attract more readers… Wrong.

    I also was falling into at least two of your Bonus Tips.

    Thanks for the advice, it was well worth the read.

    Joe

  4. A.H says:

    I’m actually a bit worried about caluse #5, i’m not that obssesed with one element, but i guess i should take a look at others too =)

    Thanks,
    A.H

  5. Victor says:

    Great, I think I just diagnosed myself as a tweakoholic.

    Vic

  6. Peter Davis says:

    Your post is about a year too late. It should have been “9 Ways to Screw Up Your Blog Network” as any blogger worth his weight in salt is now either owning, starting, or already a part of a blog network. Solo blogging is soooo 2004. ;)

  7. Stephen says:

    I love this post. I have to admit that since my blog is somewhat new, I am probably going to make a few mistakes. It is helpful to know what they are going to be in advance :)

  8. Clark says:

    I hope people don’t confuse tweaking with improving. There is nothing wrong with launching a blog with a strong framework and then plan out improvements over time. If we all tried to launch the site only when it is perfect we might never launch.

  9. Cary says:

    hehe

    This is a classic post…I have fallen into so many of these over the last year it’s not funny…

  10. Very informative and a must read.

  11. Paul -V- says:

    Darren, this is a classic post.

    Here is a subset of rules for political blogs that want to fail:

    1) All posts should be as snarky and ironic as as possible. Remember: Irony = wisdom.

    2) You can’t have too many flags and eagles! Nothing says “I’m secure in my own patriotism” than flags and eagles. (Don’t forget to throw in a few animated gifs yellow ribbons.)

    3) Never admit when you made a mistake and posted false and/or misleading information. Credibility is for wimps.

    4) Be sure to use words like “fascist” and/or “communist” as often as possible when describing people you disagree with.

    5) Be a condescending snot to anyone replies to your posts.

    6) Never read blogs from people of differing political views.

    7) Refuse to help out other bloggers; make sure to ridicule them on your own blog.

  12. Paul Short says:

    Darren, it’s not nice to point out so many of a persons mistakes in a single post :-(

  13. jon says:

    I certainly have fallen into number 2 and at times grabbed content that I havent linked back to.. when I was in a rush to get anything up..

    the whole blogging thing works but it really takes time consistently.
    I think I might have too many blogs on the go.. and Im trying to stay on top of them every day and either they suffer from the content being crap or they dont get touched

  14. adam says:

    Along with #3 is the dreaded “Blogger Burnout.” You know, those people that write for 6-9 months, then say “screw this, I’m outta here.” If that’s so, we must not have cared in the first place.

  15. A corollary to the tweaking thing is to give new adsense changes a little time to work out. You want to see how things go for an entire weekly cycle before making new changes. Check your channel numbers after a week, then make some changes, then test again. I’m not saying this is absolutely what you must do, but sometimes we need to be (well, okay, I need to be) a little patient. Sometimes you know you need to do something immediately. One time I thought I was improving my title tags only have my adsense revenue plummet–I changed it back right away!

  16. Aaron says:

    All I have to say is… Ouch! :)

    Darren, were you reading your archives or mine? :p

  17. Betsy says:

    Good advice Darren, thanks.

    My only concern right now is #6 – hidden agendas.

    What do you and your readers think about how much disclosure is required? How do you tell readers that you have affiliate links? Some of my recommended sites are affiliate links, some are not. Any ideas?

  18. The big problem is that many people don’t know any better because of the amount of bad information out there. An entire central blog should be devoted to myths and facts in web publishing rules unless there already is one.

    Of course, to start up something like that I’d be guilty of #3. I have a bad habit of putting too much on my plate and getting overwhelmed.

  19. Cigar Jack says:

    Should we start a 12 step program to recover from these dreadful faults?
    I’ve found myself guilty of many of these points and make myself sick thinking about it. heh.

  20. Ash Buckles says:

    How about Trackbacks? Don’t trackbacks matter almost more than comments in the overall scheme of blogs? I’m newer to blogs (within the past year), but I prefer to trackback blog posts rather than comment because it perpetuates my blog as well. Furthermore, without trackbacks, it seems, that the blogosphere would eventually die? Please help me understand.

  21. Catnabbit! says:

    We resent the implication that there is fault when writing about cats!

  22. Darren, did you write this when you were angry? The sarcastic tone of the piece isn’t your usual…It’s a good piece, but not the “voice” I’m used to here.

  23. A.B. Dada says:

    If you’re blogging to make money — get out.

    If you’re blogging about something you’re not passionate about — get out.

    If you’re blogging for vanity — get out.

    If you’re blogging for recognition — get out.

    All of my blogs are things I discuss with people in real life — every day. Instead of repeating the same story 50 times a week, I post it. My blogs were originally just for friends and family (I’m a great story teller — fiction and fact), but for some reason others started reading it.

  24. Darren Rowse says:

    Tom – actually I was in an exceptionally good mode when I wrote it and did it as a bit of an experiement to see how people would respond.

    Along the way I felt like a complete scumbag a few times but persisted to see what response it would have.

    While I enjoyed it I don’t think I could sustain a whole blog in this voice…

  25. Hey wait a minute, I frequently spend 18 hour days at this! :-)

  26. Kashif says:

    I have been a victim of #3 by starting http://www.blogspk.com and not putting enough time and efforts for promotion.

  27. The banker says:

    I think the bonus ideas could work as cool ideas for a blog. Especially if you always write when angry or drunk and ignore any spelling or grammatical rules. It might get a cult folowing:)

    I am even thinking about trying it myself, probably because i am a three ;)

  28. James Sweet says:

    I find it most interesting that you specifically mention not making spelling and grammatical errors and yet you have six instances in this very posting.

  29. Dustin says:

    So don’t be boring, follow the rules of those who pay you, and don’t be a jerk. Got it. I think I can remember that.

  30. Gosh very guilty of a few of those :-)

  31. Laurie PK says:

    Hi Darren,

    I have a question about link farms that I’m hoping you can shed some light on!

    In my blog posts, I like to conclude with, “If you found This Article helpful, try:” and link to 3 related articles in bullet form. (here’s an example if that isn’t clear http://theadventurouswriter.com/blog/quipsandtipsforachievinggoals/653).

    Plus I have an automatic “Related Posts” tool, that supplies 5 or so related posts (which aren’t always the same as my own manually generated related articles).

    Does Google count this as a “link farm”? Do you think my Page Rank is negatively affected? I’m a 3 out of 10 right now, and started this blog in July 2008.

    Thanks for your help!

    Laurie

Trackbacks

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