5 Blogging Myths That Need to Die a Slow and Terrible Death

by Mack Collier

If social media has done anything, it has highlighted the fact that we humans love to jump to conclusions.  And we love to latch onto assumptions that validate and agree with our own worldview.  The same thing with blogging, we cling to many ‘truths’ that are in reality, mostly bunk.  Here’s five of them:

1 – Comments are an indicator of how successful your blog is.  Kevin Hillstrom left a comment here earlier this week, so I want to pick on him for a minute.  Here’s how many comments his blog has received so far this year: 30 comments on 33 posts.  Less than 1 comment per post.  So his blog sucks, right?  Here’s the comment Kevin left:

“70% of my annual consulting revenue comes from my blog. I know this, because I ask every CEO who hires me how they found out about me. They tell me that they heard about me via word of mouth (usually from other blog followers), then they read my content for anywhere between 6 months and 3 years before deciding to hire me.

This trend has held constant for all six of the years I’ve done database marketing work for CEOs.

I used to be a VP at Nordstrom, so one can guess that I earn a reasonable living. Multiply that by 0.7, that’s the fraction the blog is responsible for. The blog works wonders for my business.”

Lesson:  Engagement can be a sign of successful content, but only if that engagement helps you reach your blogging goals.  Now some bloggers like Gini Dietrich claim they get many of their customers from people they connect with after they leave comments on their blog.  I can totally see that, but you shouldn’t assume that simply getting comments means your blog is successful.  More comments is only a sign of success if it is helping you reach your larger goals for your blog.

2 – If you build it, they will come (AKA, Great Content Gets Found).  Not complete bullshit, but it’s close.  Even if you are an amazing writer and create amazing content, that content still has to get found.  Now the ‘Content is King’ proponents will argue that great content always gets found.  And it usually does, what they won’t tell you is that it might take weeks, months or even years for this to happen.  We all have far more information coming at us than we can process.  Go to Twitter right now and you’ll see a steady stream of links being shared back and forth.  How is your amazing content going to stand out in that crowd?

Lesson:  You get out of blogging what you put into it.  If you want your content to be found, then you need to get off your blog and interact with people in their space. Now this isn’t an absolute, because you can always make the argument that blog content can be found via search.  But in general, you can greatly increase the chance of your blog being discovered if you are interacting with your potential readers in their space.  Leave comments on industry blogs, participate in twitter chats about the same topics that your blog covers.  Don’t be lazy and wait to be discovered, get off the couch and in the game.

3 – You Shouldn’t Blog Until You Have Something to Say.  The people telling you this are typically the guys that blog 5 times a year.  They will also tell you that there’s so much noise now that you shouldn’t contribute to it by creating more blogging blather.  My gut feeling is that most of these bloggers aren’t trying to convince you that it’s ok to blog less, they are trying to convince themselves.

Lesson:  As I have been harping on here this year, you become a better blogger by blogging.  The ‘I shouldn’t blog until I have something to say’ line can become an excuse you use to not make the time to blog.  I know from my own experiences that the more I blog, the easier it becomes.  I can blog once a week and spend roughly the same amount of time on that 1 post as I do blogging 4-5 times a week.  Why?  Because when I blog more often, I can more easily spot blogging ideas.  Writing is like anything else, the more you do it and the more frequently you do it, the easier it becomes.

4 – Blogging is dead and social media has killed it.  Ah yes the ‘blogging is dead!’ proclamation.  I think I first started hearing this around 2008 when Twitter started taking off.  This one is easy to fall for, especially if you are a business.  You see that Facebook has 5 billion members and your blog gets 5 visitors a month, and think that’s where you need to be.  But in home-buying terms, with Facebook you are renting, with your blog, you ‘own’ it.  So if the landlord (Facebook) decides to change the rules on you, you can be in big trouble.  But with a blog, you own that space.  You can create the type of content you want, and run promotions and contests.  Plus, the search benefits of blogging speak for themselves.

Lesson: Although blogging is a lot of work, it also has many natural advantages that socnets can’t match.  But you need to decide if blogging is right for your individual needs.  If your customers are using search as a research tool before they make a purchase, then a blog will definitely help you reach potential customers.

5 – If you haven’t started blogging by now, you’ve missed the boat.  Yeah I was hearing this same thing in 2010 and 2008.  The fact is, it’s probably easier for a great writer to stand out now because truly original voices are becoming harder to find.  Even many of the blogging trailblazers are changing their methods to be more like larger websites, more homogenized.  Truly unique voices and approaches will always stand out.

Lesson:  It’s never too late to share your voice.  I started blogging in 2005.  There were already a lot of well-established bloggers by then.  But every year since, a few new bloggers have come ‘out of no where’ and suddenly everyone loves them.  There is always room for smart people with something valuable to say, don’t let a late start keep you from having a start.

What’s the biggest blogging myth that you wish would go away?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean Clanton (@clantsp) January 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm

For someone that is in the process of starting a new blog, this is really encouraging. I am very guilty of using #3 as an excuse, which is why I am l only just now starting. Posts like this are a lot more useful than the very annoying “Do these 3 things and get a gazillion visitors to your blog.” Good stuff as always Mack

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Mack Collier January 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Thank you Sean! And here’s another tip for just starting a new blog: Just jump in. New blogger in general spend way too much time obsessing over those first few posts, making them ‘perfect’. Look it’s a new blog, no one is going to read it yet anyway cause no one knows it’s out there! Just get started, have fun with it and as you go along you’ll get better and that’s what will start to attract readers.

Good luck!

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Ari Herzog February 3, 2013 at 10:19 am

Hi Sean, Mack forgot to include SEO as a factor in that third bullet. The more you write, the more dynamic content you produce, the more frequently search engine robots/spiders come to your site and index you, the more likely someone writing a keyword into a search engine will see you and come and visit and maybe add a comment too.

Frequency matters a heck of a lot.

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Michael D January 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Great post. Thanks for sharing your your thinking & experiences.

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Steve Woodruff January 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm

One thing we need to keep in mind is that people don’t just follow “content,” they follow people-and-their-content. There will always be a place for honest, funny, helpful human voices. Even if the “content” isn’t initially as focused as it may become later.

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Mack Collier January 30, 2013 at 10:53 am

Steve that is a great point! This even applies to brands (and I actually said this once while I was moderating a Dell event at their world headquarters), I don’t advocate for Dell because I think they create a superior product, I am a fan of Dell because I am a fan of the people behind Dell! To your point, we become fans of the content creators as much as we do the content they create!

Fabulous point and new layer to the discussion!

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Scott Schablow January 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The biggest myth I wish would go away is, “Blogging takes so much time, no one in our company could possibly do it.” This popular excuse is uttered by almost all small business owners and many corporate execs. I suspect that it’s to disguise the fear of treading into the unknown, the fear of failure (that people will think my blog or my writing is horrible), and the fear of having to sustain something if it is successful (a very strong de-motivator). I have tried EVERYTHING with clients like this to try to break down their resistance. I finally found the key: singing in the shower. Seriously. Why do people sing in the shower? They sing loud and have fun with it because nobody is listening! Apply a similar twist to their new blog. Start writing and publishing online (not in the shower though) but don’t promote it, don’t tell anyone. Accumulate a little content first, show a friend or two at at time, ask for advice, etc. Usually there is a rush of confidence that he or she gets for the first couple of times s/he shares a sneak peek at the unpublished blog, Soon s/he can’t wait to ‘put it out there.’

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Mack Collier January 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

Scott that’s a good point, I think ALL bloggers have that fear of ‘getting it wrong’ at first or that they won’t create ‘great’ blog posts. I tell companies the same thing I tell individuals; Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ when you first start blogging because no one’s going to read your blog at first anyway! It takes time to build up a readership, and the good news is that also gives you time to improve your blogging. And as you do, it accelerates the growth of your readership.

But it’s beyond silly to obsess over how that first post or two will look on a blog that has no readership. Just jump in and start writing!

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Lisa Barone January 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

[stands up on desk, applauds]

Thank you, sir. Lesson 2 & 3 definitely ring the loudest for me. As someone who produces a heck of a lot of content there’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than (a) being told others will naturally find it and (b) I’m creating a cesspool.

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Mack Collier January 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

Wow a standing desk ovation? Thank you Lisa, that’s a first for me ;)

I think too often we focus on what people say (and more controversial gets more attention, it seems) and don’t stop to consider their motivations for saying what they did.

Yes, if you write more often, the averages are that you will create more ‘less than perfect’ posts. Then again, if you write 300 posts a year, you will write more awesome posts than if you post once a month.

Practice makes (closer to) perfect. It’s not a blogging lesson, it’s a life lesson. We all need to be striving to be a better blogger like Lisa Barone ;)

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Davina K. Brewer January 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

Well said Mack. Let me add to Myth #1, a Subpart B: see also RTs and social shares. And IME it cuts both ways, blogs w/ tons of commons and/or shares don’t necessarily mean success either.

You can control your own blog (#4) so much more than your social personas, and yes that’s the word I choose. Some of us may work for ourselves and clients, so we can do, say, write whatever we want. But plenty of people don’t have that – blogging professionally apart from their personal and professional social profiles can give them freedom to write, to bring their own voices (#3) no matter how ‘late’ (#5) to the game.

As for #2 – Word. I know this from experience and ITA w/ getting out of your own blog. Not just to pimp it on other networks, but to really get out and see what others are writing, sharing; share and discuss elsewhere. One trick I’m going to try this year – find the audience/readers I want, figure out what/where they’re reading – and engage there. FWIW.

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Mack Collier February 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Davina its funny because one time I got like 10 RTs for a post almost immediately at the same time, and I was talking to a friend on the phone about it, and she said ‘Oh I did that, I just RTed you from all my accounts as well as my clients!’. So yeah, even those numbers aren’t always accurate ;)

As for #2, you’re right, I need to do more of this as well this year. Sigh.

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James Nealon January 31, 2013 at 8:10 am

I think a great many people seem to think that a sucessful blog cannot be run out of a owned shop. You know, guys like me who are too damn broke to afford a domain name and hosting, and yes I am well aware of how cheap both are, so we use places like Wordpress.com to get our messages across.

Some of the best material I have ever read was on a free blog.

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Allie January 31, 2013 at 10:29 am

Mack,

What a refreshing and insightful piece. I love how you encourage us by saying “ya, I’ve heard this before”.

I like to compare blogging to hamburger joints. There are 7 within a 2 mile radius of where I live (wow! I never counted until now) and depending in my cravings at the time I may hit Red Robin or I may hit In and Out burger. Blogs are the same way, sometimes you need to read one over the other, even if it’s just your mood that takes you there. There can never be too many blogs because there is one for every personality or need.

Like you said “It’s never too late to share your voice”. I’ll just add, now go out and make friends that want to hear you yack.

~Allie

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Mack Collier February 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Thanks Allie! Anyone can start a blog, but not everyone can commit to it and there will always be room for good bloggers that are committed to creating great content ;)

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Julie January 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

Very encouraging! It isn’t just one thing that makes blogging successful or not.

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Jayme Soulati January 31, 2013 at 10:59 am

I always preach that a blogger needs 12 months before they can start whining. And, I’m just a noob compared to you, Mack. Only hit 400 posts this week, and still drafting authentic content. I love that blogging allows fresh perspective and someone to really create a personality. Yes, it takes tons of work, but it becomes a part of your every day.

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Mack Collier February 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm

LOL I like that rule, 12 months before you can whine ;) There’s SO much to learn in those first 12 months, isn’t there?

And I agree, once you make blogging a daily habit, it becomes much easier and takes MUCH less time.

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Amber-Lee (@AlaskaChickBlog) January 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Nice!! I really like this, Mack. I suppose I really needed to read #1, because it really is a crusher, to a newbie (today is Alaska Chick’s Blog 3rd Birthday!! with 343 posts.) like me.

I know that blogging has not only improved our business and our reach… but seriously, taking everything I have learned since beginning to heart (and dragging the whole team kicking and screaming along with me) it has improved ME. As a Manager, as an Instructor, as a Professional Guide (yes, even that) and as a person, I believe.

AND it does get easier- on some levels- it certainly does get easier to write!

Now. Why was your post such a hit with me this morning? Because I also received this post through another friend this morning. (I hope it is ok to put the link here, it is not mine, nor do I even in a tiny way, support this post. As a matter of fact, I posted the link to all my G+ circles in hopes that someone would help me come up with the appropriate (PG) response…cause I just wanna smack someone. http://www.theoutdoorwire.com/features/227004

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Mack Collier February 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Amber I read that link, sounds like the Silver Bullet Syndrome. Sounds like he wanted to start using social media and see it be some Silver Bullet that immediately rains money down on his business with little or no effort.

From my experience, many of the businesses that use blanket statements like ‘social media doesn’t work’ really mean ‘I couldn’t get social media to work for us’. It’s like the carpenter that builds a house that falls apart due to shoddy craftsmanship, then blames his hammer. In fact a few of his examples (such as #1) directly point to using the social media tool incorrectly. Yes, if you are ‘investing’ in amassing Facebook followers, that’s probably not going to give you much bang for your buck, it’s not very smart to blame Facebook for not giving you the results you wanted. That would be like driving a car into a lake and saying it was a terrible boat when it sunk!

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Steve (JoeBugBuster) Case February 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Your opening line reminded me of an old joke about rock stars. Well, actually country music stars: What happens when you play country music backwards? “Your truck starts runing again, your girlfriend is back in love with you, and your dog comes back.”

Clearly that’s no more accurate than the idea that one picked-up blog will change your life – but I guess it couldn’t hurt. ;-)

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Belinda Summers April 4, 2013 at 1:54 am

Thank you Sean for shedding light as to why many said that blogging is dead. It won’t be. I do agree to you that blogs can do reach potential customers that is why companies take this opportunity but of course let us not be carried away by our own selfish motives (generate money out of it). Let us not forget our customers, our readers. Let us apply the principle of reciprocity here. If we feed them with great contents and beneficial, there is a greater possibility that they’ll gonna share and spread the word. If you give something in return, you’ll have the price in due time. Just keep on blogging and don’t forget to share the best one.

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