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Blogging etiquette – what to look out for

Blogging etiquette

© play4sme, 'scuse me! via Flickr

There's always a good way and a bad way to do things. And blogging is no exception.

In fact, because blogging is so open to interpretation, people are always going to make their own rules about it.

Therefore here's my quick guide to blogging etiquette:

Play nicely...

Politeness is an attribute that everyone values. It stands to reason that if someone is polite, respectful and considerate about you, the response is bound to be more favourable. This, of course, applies to other bloggers, their readers and commenters. Everyone is entitled to say what they think, want or are expected to, and we should be obliged to see their point of view as well as our own.

However, trolls are not respectful and abusive bloggers are not polite. It's fairly obvious that this is not tolerated in the blogosphere. There comes a time when these kinds of contributors should not be encouraged or allowed to pollute cyberspace in order to be detrimental towards others.

Swearing doesn't impress

I wrote another post about using swear-words in blogging recently. Twenty-first century speak is peppered with them, they have become a normal way of life. But whether this should encroach upon what you write is another matter. Use of this kind of language withing blogging etiquette is a matter of taste, relevance and emphasis, as careful strategic use of swearing can have the impact that is hoped for.

But it is necessary to be aware of the audience you are writing for, as well as the subject, to make sure both are suitable. If particular words are called for, use them sparingly and appropriately.

Copycats are a cop-out

Duplication is not acceptable, and the search engines come down hard upon bloggers who copy other's work. It's strange that these people think they can get away with it, when the search engine robots can sniff out plagiarism quicker than you can say 'goose'.

Blogging etiquette decrees that there will be occasions when permission is granted, particularly for images and such like. However, copyright is a serious subject, and should not be taken lightly. Not only can this undermine the original author, but the implications of duplicate copy within the blogosphere can bring down both parties involved, innocent or otherwise.

Reciprocation is not mandatory

But it is a nice thing to do. Linking your blog to others creates good traffic flow, for both humans and robots. It shows acknowledgement, good willing and politeness; if I scratch your back, will you scratch mine?

Unfortunately it doesn't always happen. Not every blogger knows what is the right thing to do. The answer is not to get upset about it. Just know in your heart that by following blogging etiquette you've been a good blogosphere citizen and helped someone else to gain a higher footfall.

However, if reciprocation works well, and is done correctly, not only will it help towards gaining valuable and relevant backlinks to each others' blogs, but contribute towards a better online relationship with other bloggers as well.

Comment cheerfully and constructively

There is an art to appropriate commenting that spammers have not acquired, which is how you can learn to spot them a mile off. Make sure you provide something worth while to read in the comment box: relevant, helpful, encouraging and of a reasonable amount. Refer to the post in hand, say more than just a few words, acknowledge or add to the original content, and be positive.

Nowadays getting a comment on a blog is a big event for some bloggers, since so much feedback is delivered with a preference for social media. So if you want your comment to get past the spam filters, think carefully about what you want to say. Make a good impression by repeating this action on many blogs, either in your niche or of interest to you, to draw the right kind of attention to you and your blog.

Be human

Many beginner bloggers are nervous about 'exposing' themselves within the online writing world. It is a daunting experience, and if you are lacking in self-confidence, it's much easier to hide behind a pseudonym or another personality.

However, your readers will want to know all about you, especially if they like what they read. It's worth coming out from behind your stone to reveal who you really are. Not only does this mean you should provide them with a decent About Page, but you need to learn to feel comfortable telling your readers about your foibles, faults and failures.

Readers appreciate a blogger who comes across as being human. They like to know that you are just like them, or everybody else. It's important to enable your readers to relate to you and what you write about. This all helps contribute towards blogging etiquette and the general conversation.

Stay on course

One thing you definitely don't want your readers to do, is to get confused. And this can be overcome by keeping to your subject and not going off at a tangent.

It's much easier to talk about one topic or one point of view per post, than to cram in as much as you can. You may think you need to provide more information to make your post worth while - but believe me, less is more. If you find you have a lot to say, or more than one side of the argument crops up, think about writing a series of posts rather than one stuffed to the gills that your readers will find difficult to read and interpret.

Think about your words

Blogging is about communicating with your readers. The last thing you want to do is to drive them away because they were unable to understand what you have written.

Adding in lots of jargon into your posts is neither clever or wise. Even if the desired audience should comprehend your message, you will be alienating all those who aren't in the know or aren't familiar with your niche or industry.

A successful blog post will use the kind of language its readers expect to see. Simplicity has more power here than academic prowess, and blogging etiquette will certainly help you on your way. Imagine having a conversation with your readers and transcribe this into your post, word for word. Ignore your English lessons and write how you would speak it, complete with repetition and shortened sentences.

Learn to share

Since blogging is part of social networking, sharing content, whether your own or others, is integral towards gaining a reputation and increasing your social status. Blogging etiquette suggests you should get over your selfish desires to only promote what you write, and to recognise quality content elsewhere and relish sharing it with others.

Show altruism through sharing information, positive commenting on other blogs, and recommending your colleagues content by linking back to their work. Revealing a diverse attitude and interest in relevant content in your niche or industry will help towards setting your course for thought-leader status.

Avoid the spamming net

It is by being aware of the little things that can keep you away from the spam police. Write a reasonable amount in your comments. Keep to the relevant subject and don't go on about yourself or your product. Use your main keywords wisely in your content, keeping the frequency down to 2% or under. Don't repeat your promotions endlessly in one platform and all within one day.

Too much enthusiasm can get the better of you. Don't annoy your readers or potential audiences by heavy promotion or continuous repetition, either through keywords or posting to gain attention. Learn to be aware of your readership and what is valuable or important to them. Deliver what your readers want, and set aside your selfish intentions towards your blog.

Is there anything I've missed?

As I said at the beginning of this post, blogging etiquette is as subjective as blog writing itself. Much of it is common sense and decency, but it is worth repeating a few of the rules from time to time to draw attention to it.

If you can think of anything I didn't say, now's your chance to redress the situation. I'm sure you have a few other blogging etiquette examples up your sleeve. If so, why not share them with us through the comment box below?

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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