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Beginner Week: My 43 DOs and 25 DON’Ts of Blogging

Theme WeekEleven and a half years ago when I hit publish on my first ever blog post, I had little idea what I was doing and what was going to unfold for me over the coming decade.

As I prepared for a recent mini ProBlogger event event in Perth, I created a little list of some of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of blogging that I wish I’d known back in 2002 when I started. As it’s Beginner Week here on ProBlogger, I thought it might be appropriate to share them here on the blog today:

Note: these are MY dos and don’ts, and reflect my own style of blogging. I am not putting them forward as ‘rules’ that apply to all. I’d love to see your dos and don’ts in comments below.

My 43 DOs of Blogging

  1. Do create a blog that is meaningful to you
  2. Do set yourself some goals and objectives for your blog
  3. Do ‘write’ something every day (note that I didn’t say ‘publish’)
  4. Do as much as you can to get in your readers shoes and understand who they are
  5. Do use surveys and polls to help you understand your reader
  6. Do create content that meets your readers’ needs, answers their questions, and solves their problems
  7. Do write in an engaging voice
  8. Do start an email newsletter
  9. Do pay attention to the design of your blog – first impressions count!
  10. Do communicate clearly what your blog is about into your design
  11. Do spend time ‘off’ your blog engaging in the places where your potential readers gather
  12. Do go to the effort of registering your own domain
  13. Do create visual content
  14. Do model the kind of community that you want your blog to have
  15. Do install analytics and track the results of what you do
  16. Do find some blogging buddies who you can bounce ideas off and have mutual support with
  17. Do make sure you have ‘real life’ friends too – they’ll ground you
  18. Do become hyper-aware of problems (yours and other people’s), and obsessed with solving them
  19. Do create something to sell from your blog
  20. Do think beyond what you’ll write today – develop an editorial calendar
  21. Do set aside time to learn the skills you lack
  22. Do set aside time to brainstorm topics to write about
  23. Do read other people’s blogs – you’ll learn a lot from them
  24. Do share your opinion – it is what often differentiates you
  25. Do share stories – your own and other people’s
  26. Do back up your blog!
  27. Do blog with passion
  28. Do look for ‘win/win/win’ relationships with brands where you, the brand and your reader benefit
  29. Do show your personality – be yourself
  30. Do pay attention to what is energising you and do more of it
  31. Do pay attention to what is energising your readers and do more of it
  32. Do spend time refining and perfecting post headlines
  33. Do think about what ‘action’ you’re calling readers to take in your content
  34. Do make peace with the fact that there will always be more that you can do
  35. Do learn how to prioritise and focus upon activities that take you closer to your goals
  36. Do pay attention to your archives – update and promote them regularly
  37. Do push through bloggers block
  38. Do spend time analysing what types of content are being ‘shared’ in your niche – publish this kind of content semi-regularly
  39. Do use social proof
  40. Do take breaks from blogging – weekends and vacations are important!
  41. Do ask your readers a lot of questions and listen to what they say
  42. Do treat your blog as a business today… if you want it to be one tomorrow
  43. Do create content that Informs, Inspires and Interacts

My 25 DON’Ts of Blogging

  1. Don’t be afraid to hit publish
  2. Don’t feel you have to publish something every day
  3. Don’t publish when angry (or drunk)
  4. Don’t become a comment spammer on other people’s blogs
  5. Don’t publish just for the sake of publishing content
  6. Don’t use other people’s stuff without permission and credit
  7. Don’t focus so much about the readers you don’t have – have a big impact upon the ones you do have
  8. Don’t stretch yourself too thin (too many posts, too much SM) – do what you do really well
  9. Don’t become too promotional
  10. Don’t hit publish without one last proof read
  11. Don’t write purely for search engines
  12. Don’t sell out
  13. Don’t engage in every type of social media – analyse where your readers are and do those mediums well
  14. Don’t look for a ‘blueprint’ for successful blogging – forge your own path
  15. Don’t publish large chunks of text – break it up and make it scannable
  16. Don’t hide your mistakes – be transparent
  17. Don’t feed the trolls – be polite, kind, and firm
  18. Don’t let the negative things people say about you sink in – it’ll pull you down
  19. Don’t let the hyped praise people give you sink in – it’ll over-inflate your ego
  20. Don’t expect to get rich quick
  21. Don’t compare yourself to others – compare yourself to you when you started
  22. Don’t spend all your time ‘learning’ about blogging at the expense of actually blogging
  23. Don’t think there’s just one way to monetize your blog
  24. Don’t become so obsessed with blogging that you forget to have a real life
  25. Don’t give up too quickly – building a blog takes time

Of course I’m scraping the surface in this list but I hope for those of you starting out it gives you a few starting points. Also keep in mind that these are not ‘rules’ and that the do’s don’t guarantee success and the ‘don’ts’ don’t guarantee failure. In fact I’ve written many of the don’ts as a result of my own mistakes but things turned out ok in the end for me despite those failures.

If you’d like to go deeper on some of these themes check out the recording and slides of my webinar – 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging.

Also don’t forget we are having a 50% off sale on the ProBlogger Guide to Your First Week of Blogging during Beginner Week. Simply enter the code BEGINNERWEEK at the checkout.

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. J.T. Smith says:

    Here are my biggest ones.
    1: Do coffee.
    2: Don’t be afraid to offend people.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Can’t believe I missed the coffee tip… it probably needs to be mentioned at least 2-3 times in fact.

    • Geekalogy says:

      As usual and expected high quality content from Darren. I’ve been reading Problogger for quite some time now and many of your articles had finally encouraged me enough to start my own tech news site (geekalogy dot com). I’ve been wondering if i’m heading in the right direction, but I do know something of my personal view:

      DO write in an environment where no one else can disturb you
      DO write at night when everyone else has gone to sleep

      DON’T ever stop
      DON’T doubt the success of your blog before you haven’t even started.

      Thanks Darren for your great content!

  2. Shawn says:

    I would like to add one, if I may: Don’t publish a dual list that ends up being nearly 70 items long. Break it up into 2 blog posts instead…

  3. Ricky Willis says:

    This is a fantastic list of DOs and DON’Ts! I’ve have a few instances where I’ve had ‘Bloggers Block’ and I’ve found writing (not publishing) something completely opposite to what I blog about helps me push through it. Whether it’s a short story or some poetry, it helps me to re-focus.

  4. Abhishek says:

    I have done so many don’ts of blogging and believe that is why still struggling but now will follow this post and I am sure it will do wonders for me.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      I’ve done a few of them too Abhishek – in fact many of the ‘don’ts’ were written out of my own mistakes.

      I guess the key is that when you make a mistake to keep pushing through!

  5. Great list actually, this can definitely help a majority of people out there :)

  6. #22 in the DON’T “Don’t spend all your time ‘learning’ about blogging at the expense of actually blogging” reminds me of when I started writing kids stories, I spent so much time doing what I call “Productive Procrastination”.

    Reading about other writers and their habits. Researching which software would be best to write with. How other authors get over procrastination etc. That I was way too busy to actually write anything!

    In the end I found it best to stay off the computer at writing time and do it the old fashioned way… pen and pad, to get the first draft done, then type it in and revise as I went along.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Thanks for sharing that Steve – I do see a lot of bloggers and online entrepreneurs spending so much time (and money) on ‘learning’ that I wonder when they have the time or energy to actually create something. It’s an easy trap to fall into!

  7. Rob McNelis says:

    And that ladies and gents is why problogger is #1

  8. Ohhh LOVE LOVE LOVE this! This was a fun read :) Ok we would add:

    DO: make blogging fun!

  9. Band Grrl says:

    Don’t become so entranced with Google Analytics that you get nothing done…gah!

  10. R. May says:

    Regarding #9/10 on the DO list, I’d also say:

    Don’t become so obsessed with the theme and design of your blog that you focus on making it perfect before you begin writing, otherwise you may never start.

  11. Sean Hodge says:

    Do have fun, run on intuition when drafting, but then Do connect your argument together on editing.

    Do research. Do add credibility to your points by referencing primary data, quoting a source, or referencing deeper material.

    Don’t think that today defines you, as it’s many todays combined from now that does.

  12. Steven Fogg says:

    Do – Blog from the heart (kudo to you Daz for this. Great insight that has helped me to write what I really care about)

    Do – proofread at least twice and get the auto-checker to check your work too! As a creative person, being grammatically correct is one of my major ongoing challenges.

    Don’t be solely motivated by money. Blog because you love it. The money will flow out of your experience, insights and creativity.

  13. For all the Do’s and Don’t’s, reading your list Darren, a list by a do-er, means so much more.

    #14 on the Don’t is particularly sweet.

  14. An excellent list Darren, thanks so much! #30 and #31 inspire me and give me hope that I CAN do this thing once the website is fully up and running. My mantra for the days ahead…
    Do pay attention to what is energising you and do more of it
    Do pay attention to what is energising your readers and do more of it

  15. Sheree says:

    Great advice Darren!! I have only been blogging a couple of months so found these tips very helpful !! : )

  16. Thank you for this Darren! I am going to print it off and pin it to my ideas wall!

  17. “Don’t compare yourself to others – compare yourself to you when you started.”

    Nailed it. This absolutely is my number one don’t tip. I used to do this a lot in the past. I read all kinds of blog sites and I constantly measured their success to my failure. A big no no. If you want to fail that is definitely one way to do it.

  18. Hey Darren, I must say this this post has boosted my level of wanting to become a successful blogger by more than 500% man.

    I sure love the tips that you have provided in this article and I am going to come back to this post and apply them so that I can become a full time blogger.

    Thanks for the wonderful article pal.

  19. Veera says:

    Do’s
    Do take breaks from blogging – weekends and vacations are important!

    Dont’s
    But not take long breaks and long leave from blogging.

  20. Tracey White says:

    Thanks for the great tips Darren! I think No.16 – find some blogging buddies is excellent advice. I have just joined a bloggers group in my local area and I am looking forward to meeting everyone next week to bounce ideas around and support each other :)

  21. Adam Witmer says:

    Great list Darren. Thanks for the encouragement.

  22. Bruce says:

    Great list! Thank you! Very helpful.

  23. Zeshan Ahmer says:

    Thank you for this Darren! I am going to print & pin it on my board. This post motivate me to write another post on my blog.

  24. joseph101 says:

    I will note down your dos and donts.. This will really help new bloggers like me..

  25. metz says:

    I believe we have our own list of Do and Don’ts in blogging depending on who are our target market and our purpose.

    Surely Darren, this will help all bloggers to shun what should be shunned and do what should be done.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social news site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  26. Zoe says:

    Don’t let a change in your circumstance suddenly change what you blog about.

    I see this happen loads with blogs I read especially when they have a baby, that’s exciting but I read their blog because I want to learn about craft or food or blogging etc not because I want to hear about how many nappies they’ve changed and how well weaning is going. Other life changes too but I see this one a lot.

  27. Abiodun says:

    Well I am just taking blogging more seriously. with the rules above I think I am good to go on. Thanks

  28. Carolyn says:

    One that I’d add is being a fanatic that everything on your site works as it should. No broken links, no weird formatting, no images overlapping the sidebar, etc. If something isn’t working right, remove it until you have time to make it right or find an alternative.

  29. That’s very useful post for me.. and this should be recommended to others/

    Thanks Darren.

  30. Cute Frog says:

    your do and don’t for blogging really good..
    what a nice job man

  31. Deepa Bhatia says:

    Such a wonderful compilation of do’s and don’t. Thank you for sharing your experience Darren. I am so much more on don’t … though learning from my own mistakes and from experience blogger’s like yours.

    Thanks again!!

  32. nice one Darren – thank you for sincerely sharing this,
    what was one learned in 11 years time shared in a simple terms that bring priceless value add to beginners and in the making pro bloggers :) inspired by pro blogger …

  33. Jon says:

    Thanks for the great insight. I built my own blog about a week ago and just got started. I was searching the web and came across a video of you speaking. Before that I was a little shaky. So thanks for sharing your as you always do. So my do is! Just get started and be authentic. I don’t have the don’ts yet lol.

  34. I like #18 on the do list! That can go a long way in helping others – especially if you blog about it. Great list, and something I’ll continue to re-visit. Thanks Darren!

  35. Brian says:

    Lots of good tips in this post. I always fall victim to #10 in the ‘don’t’ section. I don’t know how many times I’ve done a read through and thought that I had fully proofread the post only to find a “the the” or a their instead of they’re. Haha.

  36. Dehradun Diary says:

    Very Great list…….Thank you that’s very encourage.

  37. Excellent Blog Darren. Must appreciate your work.

  38. Akhil K A says:

    Really very useful points. You have covered almost everything!!

  39. What a excellent read Darren, Just what i needed myself.

    I think most people ”do” the DONT’S, more than they ”do” the DO’S (Including myself). Great Post

  40. Shamsudeen says:

    Last week, I published a post titled “5 blogging Myths you’ll need to debunk in 2014″, in that post, I argued that daily posting won’t lead to successful blogging career and in an ideal world, I wouldn’t even advice a blogger without a team of authors and editors to attempt publishing daily.

    Some readers attack my stands on this issue while some were sitting on the fence and in the next post titled “How to become a better writer”, I wrote, to become a better writer, you’ll need to write every day. But not get readers confused I stated, “write every day but don’t publish every day”.

    Thanks Darren for this write up, this is more than a post to me, it is a judgement..

  41. David says:

    My biggest blocker has always been motivation. I like your tip about writing everyday, just not necessarily publishing it.

  42. Ajav Verma says:

    Hello

    Thankyou for sharing the main dos and donts of blogging ,,,But i have a query my friend.

    Which blogging platform is the most effective one these days?

    i mean blogger.com or wordpress.com or livejournal and all the other blogging platforms

  43. Paul says:

    Some great pieces of advice to new bloggers, one thing I’ve been trying to do is the writing everyday task. Even if it’s just for half an hour I’m trying to write something.

  44. Jennifer says:

    Great tips!! I’m guilty of too many of these don’ts and not enough of the do’s. Thanks

  45. Hello Darren,

    Great list.

    I would combine some of your items (Dos: 6,13,18 & 38) into one of Mitch Joel’s 5 Rules of Disruption, Utility Marketing.

    Make great apps/tools/content or ‘stuff’ for people that is valuable. See: http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/12/great-marketing-is-utilitarian/

    Thanks!

  46. I would like to add another: Don’t become obsessed with what search engines think. If you’re not getting traffic from search engines try social media and other venues. Search engines can make a blogger crazy.

  47. NyakundiH says:

    Great tips man. Thanks

  48. Ananya Kiran says:

    SIr, I just cant stop reading your posts !

  49. Joe says:

    While I wouldn’t recommend that you publish drunk, writing or brainstorming after a few beers can sometimes be great for breaking through creative barriers. Just make sure you proofread carefully afterwards.