August 10, 2015

Five Unwritten Rules Of Blogging

unwritten rules of bloggingI’m sure that these rules (and I use that term loosely) are no longer unwritten.  You can pretty much bet that there are a fair few incarnations of these written down in lots of places – and this is a good thing. I wish that had been the case when I began my venture into getting serious about this business.

So without further ado, I’ll add my musings into the mix and set out my top five unwritten rules of blogging.

Blogging Integrity

Ooh this is such a hot potato and one that has sparked many debates, arguments, attempts at public shaming and in some cases, all out online war! Which by the way is not the way to go…see number two below.

Blogging integrity seems to be very subjective and sadly something that has a “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t” feel to it. List your gifted items as c/o and place two or three sponsored posts a month and you’re a sell out. Don’t declare and you’re deceiving your readers. Well, you kind of are actually!

I’m not telling you what you should do but I’ll tell you what I do based on my understanding of what is required. I have a page here that tells you or any brand who wants to work with me pretty much what they need to know. I also have a comprehensive media kit with advertising and gifting polices that I send on request. Hhmm…media kits. There goes that whole other post thing again!

I declare all gifts. I state I use affiliate links on the blog. I declare ALL sponsored posts and have turned down brands who’ve asked me not to declare. Most importantly I only ever promote products or brands that are relevant and that I or my readers would love. That’s why I turned down a free lawnmower…possibly to the annoyance of Mr OS but he got over it.

I also ignore occasional mutterings from those who bleat on about gifts/being paid to write posts etc. Get over it – it’s what I do for my job. A job I built all by myself and have ploughed blood, sweat, tears and years into. So you do your thing and I’ll just chair dance and shake it off along with Taylor…

five unwritten rules of blogging

Support Your Fellow Bloggers

For the most part this happens and it happens beautifully. I love the community attached to blogging and have met so many people who are now my friends both in and outside of the blog. A lovely and unexpected bonus.

I’ve also witnessed a little blog trampling here and there along the way and trust me, it ain’t pretty. Jealousy can do funny things to people but I’m a firm believer in you’ll get yours.

As in, so you didn’t get invited to that event or to take part in this campaign, but don’t worry, there’ll be another one along in just a minute if you’re the right match! Celebrate each others achievements and be supportive. It gives you far less wrinkles in the long run. And you thought you were just getting blogging tips here…

Compare? Don’t go there!

“Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt and a gazillion Pinterest boards weren’t wrong.  Don’t compare your blog to others, just don’t!

A blog is or should be an individual thing and besides that, we’re all at different stages of the journey. Be inspired by other blogs – without that dose of fellow blogger inspiration I would be thoroughly de-motivated. But leave it there and concentrate on what you and your blog can bring to the table instead. The blogging world is your lobster. Or your oyster. Actually it’s my lobster – we’ve mated for life.

roses on a desk

Don’t play the imitation game

Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to blogging. Both myself and fellow bloggers have had incidences of having content and even elements of blog design pretty much replicated and passed off as the replicator’s own without so much as a doff of the, no doubt stylish, hat. I don’t think flattery was the F word that first popped into my mind if I’m honest!

By all means take inspiration from a great post and spin it your way, crediting the inspired soul who spent hours creating it. They’ll love you for it. I certainly will anyway.

Be a perfectionist

I sometimes berate my inner control freak for this. What I think will be a quick win post ends up taking hours because it’s just not right. Or I haven’t read through it enough times. Or I don’t have enough decent shots to use.

But I’m learning all the time that the quality of imagery, the basics and also the tone in which you choose to address your audience is everything. Check, check and treble check that post for grammar and spelling. Take 10 Instagram snaps to get The One. Take 250 outfit post shots in one shoot to get 10 great ones! Question ALL the time whether a post can be more useful to the reader.

That said, I do all these things and still get it wrong, miss a typo or end up with 240 out of 250 shots where my facial expression as Mr OS succinctly puts it is “Gopping”. Like I said, still learning!

Phew…this was definitely not one of those quick win posts so if you spot any spelling mistakes, drop me a comment and watch me cry quietly in the corner. But I’d also love to know if you have one to add to these unwritten rules of blogging!

UPDATE NOTE: If you’re thinking of starting a blog, click here to download my freebie guide with some practical tips for getting started!

recommend reading and resources

Four Business & Creativity Lessons We Can Learn From Alain De Botton – Jenny Purr. All good – especially number three. I’m embarrassed about so much of my older content despite my last perfectionist point! Evolving is everything!

Bloggers Who Don’t Disclose Are Giving Us All A Bad Name – Forever Amber. I completely share Amber’s frustrations about being tarred with the same brush!

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing – IFB. I told you these guys were good – bookmark ’em!

19 comments on “Five Unwritten Rules Of Blogging”

  1. All great advice, I’m a newbie (well, a returner) so this is an interesting one for me. There is si much advice out there about blogging but some of it is confusing. This makes perfect sense. No hype or fluff!! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post Amanda, I have found it very informative, they are touchy subjects you have raised that normally create totally different opinions from bloggers and readers. You are a blogger I look up to and inspire to be, you are honest and I feel are very selective with what you choose to go on your beautiful blog. With regards to gifting and sponsored posts I have taken leaf out of your book and declare everything, thank you for the wise words and inspiration.

    1. Wow – thanks so much Ann Marie! They are touchy subjects, you’re right and as I hit publish I kind of winced! But I think honesty is the best policy and readers will know when you sell out. It’s a funny business to grow into and am still learning so much all the time. Hope you’re enjoying your blogging journey! x

  3. Hi Amanda
    I just wanted to say that I have read your blog since Forty Not Out and I love the way it has evolved, and that you and your own sense of style has evolved with it! You are justified in feeling incredibly proud of your achievements.
    I’m quite selective about what I read but I have always related to your blog, partly I think because there are some parallels in our lives. We both gave up corporate careers in our late thirties to have a single daughter, and have established freelance careers since. Despite my love of fashion and interiors, I chose to do something much closer to my previous career. You were a brave woman and went for what you loved, and I must admit I do live a little vicariously through your adventures and achievements!
    You have introduced me to a number of brands and other blogs over the years – some have gelled with me, some not. There are also differences in our personal styles. But I love the sense of excitement that really comes through in your writing after an event or invitation – you are clearly living the dream – good for you!
    I hope you are having a good holiday, and I look forward to reading about your future adventures….

    1. Thanks so much Sharon…and am thrilled to know that you’ve been reading since way back!! Isn’t it funny how lives can change and also run in parallel with people we haven’t even met? Am so pleased to have got you on board with other bloggers and brands too. I think blogging is great for that – it seems to give people the confidence to try something new.
      I really hope you’ll continue sticking with me and am always so grateful for such lovely feedback as this.
      I had a fab holiday and just trying to get back into the swing of things now. I’m sure you know how the school summer holiday juggling thing goes!
      Enjoy the rest of the summer Sharon! A xx

  4. Very informative post. I’m just starting out on the blogging journey and really appreciate the insight and tips. Your blog is one of my favourites – and prompted me to give this a go. Love your style and the content of your posts!

    1. So glad you found it useful Michelle and thanks for your sweet words about the blog! The blogging journey is so exciting, especially at the beginning – everything feels limitless. The only downside is when the ideas come and keep you awake at night! Mind you that still happens now *reaches for concealer* xx

  5. Blimey that perfectionist thing’s a killer isn’t it? I read over mine a million times checking grammar, then after I’ve published I’ll see a whopper ugh! It’s worse for my older posts, I just can’t look at them…..
    As I’m so new to it all I haven’t yet decided whether affiliate links are right for me so the IFB article is really helpful. Thanks for sharing that valuable info I can use all the advice I can get right now X
    Btw a funny & informative post, thanks!

    1. Thanks Becky! I don’t know about you but I love being in the position to appreciate how this wonderful blogging thing moves constantly forward bringing some fabulous opportunities with it, all the while never taking it for granted and knowing we built what we have on plain old hard work. It’s a good place to be! xx

  6. I love your website, blog and aesthetic sensibility ! I am only a year into all of this (I’m a personal stylist, columnist and blogger) and haven’t yet made the leap into affiliation/sponsorship etc. Thanks for posting your incredibly useful advice. I’m on the south coast too (Hove) so let me know if you’d like to meet up at some point.

    1. Ah thanks so much Samantha – that’s so kind of you to say! It sounds like you’re loving it – it’s such a journey isn’t it? I love Brighton – have been there a couple of times so will give you a shout next time! Have a great weekend!
      Amanda xx

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