4 Words Of Non-Wisdom Bloggers Give

by on 08/23/2010 • 25 Comments | Blogging

There’s a lot of bad advice on the Web. We know this and we’re all getting pretty good at ignoring it. However, sometimes when I land on bad advice, I can actually feel parts of my brain exploding. And that’s usually when I say something that gets me in trouble.

While in the midst of liveblogging Affiliate Summit East, I noticed a tweet sent out by Ruud Hein promoting a post written by Roko Nastic entitled Four Ways To Become An Authority Blogger . Curious to see if I was “doing it right”, I clicked on Ruud’s link during a slow point in a session [hi speakers!]. I then did what I always do when I want to share an opinion but don’t have time to comment or create a new post – I tweeted.

A couple of people asked why I would tweet something I don’t agree with. Personally, I think it’s important to bring awareness to all sorts of content – whether you agree with it or not. I also was pretty sure this post would get a bunch of RTs since it was coming from an influential circle so I wanted to at least bring the other side of the coin. Of course, being at a conference meant I did a pretty crappy job doing that. Luckily, I have friends who will call me out. :)

Almost immediately after my tweet I received some well-deserved comments from Ruud via a new post and Donna Fontenot that my tweet didn’t do anything to help since the author would never see my comment on Twitter. Totally valid criticism (though he should be tracking Twitter). Now that I’m back I thought I’d touch on the issue a bit more.

Write less

While this gem is being touted a lot more, writing on a less frequent basis does not an authority blogger make. I know it sounds good in theory. That by writing less you’ll have more time to polish, more time to save up ideas, and that when you finally DO have something to say people will be so shocked they’ll stop in their tracks to devour your post. However, that’s not usually the case. While taking time to research your posts will help you to add value, simply writing less for writing less sake doesn’t bring the readers. It loses them.

If you want real numbers to back this up, look no further than Justin Kownacki. Justin recently ended an experiment on his blog where he began blogging weekly instead of daily, allowing himself to focus on creating one truly great piece of content a week.

The results of Justin’s experiment? Everything dropped. Visitors. Views to individual posts. All of it.

While some say that’s a sign you need to blog daily, you need to find what works best for your audience. For me, by cutting out one post during the Monday through Friday workweek it opened up an extra day to focus on longer internal or client projects. Whatever you choose to do remember that consistency is key. If you want people to remember your name and care about your opinion, you need to woo them on a regular basis.

In every post, write more

It makes sense that bloggers who advise infrequent posts also advise bombarding readers with really long ones. Because, I mean, this is the Web. People love to sip a cup of coffee and read a 5,000 word manuscript on what Microsoft did today.

Or not.

To be fair, Roko’s definition of “long” seems to be 600 words. I sneeze 600 words. But, regardless, intentionally trying to write long posts will often encourage bloggers to throw in the whole kitchen sink. It’s when a blogger starts writing EVERYTHING they know about a subject to make the post long and authoritative looking instead of breaking it up into digestible and actionable portions.

Instead, vary your post length. Write longer, in-depth posts and then switch it up with shorter, easier-to-get through posts. Or study what your audience responds best to and stick with that. For myself, my average post tends to sit between 800-1,000 words. It’s not intentional; my brain just seems to be trained to write like that. Viperchill wrote a great post on how long your blog posts should be that I’d encourage everyone to read. Personally, in most cases I’d rather see a longer post split up into a series than sit through the entire thing. Unless you’re Tamar Weinberg or Aaron Wall. Then I will sit there for hours and happily soak up everything you’re putting out.

Don’t comment or speculate, meditate on past events

This is maybe the worst piece of blogging advice ever. Blogging, even if it’s corporate blogging, is about sharing your view of the world. It’s about taking what’s happening in your niche and making it applicable to your small corner of the world. Sure, sometimes that may result in people sharing “unfounded accounts” of history but are you going to let a bunch of morons deter you? I’d hope not. It’s that kind of insight that makes your blog unique, that gives it a voice and that builds interest in your company or product. Removing it would also remove the soul of your blog. It’s why most agency blogs are unreadable and why your CEO sucks at blogging. No one comes to your blog to read about today’s news. They come to hear your take on today’s news and why it matters to them.

Attract high quality guest posters Make it unnecessarily hard for people to find you

Okay, I agree with Roko on that one so I’ll create my own…

Maybe it’s some sort of Catholic guilt, but I hate bothering people. If someone makes it hard for me to contact them, I take it as a sign they’d rather not be contacted. My original hope was to email Roko, apologize for my lame tweet, and dig deeper into this thoughts on bloggers. But…he’s not the easiest person to grab on the Web. I could have used the contact form on his Web site, but I felt a little awkward doing so. His @webmasterformat Twitter handle and business logo also made me feel like perhaps he wasn’t interested in a conversation. [Which could be totally wrong, that's just my perception.] Roko’s blogging on some great outlets so that’s obviously working for him, but it might not work for you if your readers are as neurotic as I am.

I think being an authority blogger means being comfortable putting yourself in that authority position. And part of that means being really accessible on the Web and using consistent branding at every interaction. Don’t make people hunt for an email, wonder if you’re the same person using a different name, or guess if it’s okay to contact you. Authority bloggers are easy to find, get a hold of, and interact with. That’s where their authority comes from – their constant presence and approachability. It helps to build credibility and trust.

But that’s just my take. What makes an authority blogger in your eyes? What takes away authority?

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

25 thoughts on “4 Words Of Non-Wisdom Bloggers Give

  1. Completely agree. I’m a personal blogger, but it still applies. I do think it’s tough sometimes to find the balance between posting enough and posting so much that it overwhelms your readers. It’s a bit of a sweet spot.

    • There’s definitely a sweet spot and it varies based on your topic/how flooded the area is. I think taking off one day per work week has allowed me to re-focus some of my energy elsewhere, while not taking too much away from the community here. Though we do get people who comment about it from time to time. I tried to make up for it by posting on Saturdays. You do have to find what works for you/your community.

  2. Great post. I think being an authority comes from a few things, but one of the most important is having put in your time learning and practicing whatever you are an authority on. Additionally, it’s wonderful when someone I believe to be an authority has unique thoughts to add to the conversation. To me, you’re not an authority if you are repeating something everyone has already said.

    • To me, you’re not an authority if you are repeating something everyone has already said.

      Definitely! And that’s why that third point is so important. Just because there are bloggers who write about their bellybutton lint, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add commentary on the things that really do matter to your audience.

  3. Maybe it’s just me, but I think each of us could write our own version of this, and each of us would probably make valid points, even when we disagree. I could probably write a post in which I countered every one of your points and not be wrong. But it also wouldn’t make you wrong either. Now, if Roko had said, these are the ONLY 4 ways to become an authority blogger, then maybe there’d be a good reason to harp on it. But I honestly think those 4 ways can be used to that very thing. I also honestly think your ways can as well. And there’s probably a multitude of other opposing ways that would work too. I really don’t think he gave bad advice. It just needs to be considered in the same vein that almost every piece of advice about “what works” should be taken – YMMV.

    My general feeling about people who make sweeping dramatic reactions on the web these days is that they are probably baiting. (And I’ve probably been guilty of it myself). So, yeah, I agree. And I don’t. And I think we all probably have equally valid point.

    • That’s pretty valid. I think I just wanted to present the other side because, to be honest, I came away with a bad feeling and disappointed after I stumbled on that post. But your right, it would be easy enough to turn my points around and say the exact same thing.

      At the time, it didn’t look like Roko was responding to comments which is why I didn’t post (a very, very shortened version) this over there. Of course, it seems he was doing something CRAZY and taking a vacation. :) Glad to see he’s back engaging now.

  4. For the sake of argument… why DIDN’T you go back and comment on the post? What stopped you from having the conversation on the original post? I think some will misinterpret this.

    • That’s a valid point. I did go back to the post after the conference was over and found that it was just Donna responding to comments and that Roko was nowhere to be found (apparently he was on vacation at the time, but I wasn’t aware of that). I didn’t see the point of responding on his post only to have Donna respond back since she wasn’t really the person I was addressing. So I wrote this and scheduled it.

  5. And wow, rereading my comment looks like I speak English as a second (or tenth) language.

    “used to that very thing.” s/b” used to accomplish that very thing.”

    “equally valid point” s/b “equally valid points.”

  6. The problem I see is that too many people concentrate on the things that don’t actually matter. Instead of discussing how often, how long or where you should post, let’st identify and debate why in fact your work is worth any value in the first place. Frankly, most dismiss this completely and never really take hard look at themselves – and others who teach & give guidance as well, make gross generalizations as if the high quality and meaningful purpose should be a given.

    Posting 3 times a day versus once a month doesn’t matter if you’re not producing anything worth reading. Writing 300 words versus 2000 doesn’t matter if you’re not saying anything of substance. Guest posting in a million places or nowhere at all doesn’t matter if you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.

    As Rebecca has commented above, authority comes from learning and practicing whatever it is you are an authority on. This *should* be the focus of your time, and not so much in the intangible variables so many do indeed stress over. Only then could you possibly address optimizing your reach, traffic & engagement in the best way it seems fit for your situation.

    And the issue of blame is not only placed on the ‘students’ but the teachers as well. Are we polluting the landfill of “wisdom” with a deluge of superfluous discussion & debate over things that are just hindering others from focusing on finding their true authority? I believe we should be teaching less of how to leverage content effectively… and more on how to achieve mastery in an area so that said content will provide real undisputed value to others.

  7. I guess it’s a good thing I haven’t gotten around to jumping into this writing/blogging gig (as yet); I didn’t realize there were all these rules and practices and word counts and strategies I would have to worry about.

    I figured I would just write when I had something to say, and stop when I finished saying it.

    But then, I wasn’t aiming for authority. I guess that’s the difference.

  8. I read an article a while ago that said each blog entry was a possible point of contact. It really stuck with me. As a blog reader, I love seeing bold text in my feeds list, so I imagine that writing good content a few times a week is a good minimum for keeping your readers interested and coming back. I’m sure there’s a balance between coming up with good content and posting frequently. You’ve probably written about it already; I’m new to your blog and haven’t worked my way through all the past entries!

  9. Writing daily (or almost daily) and having good content that people want to come back to. In my opinion the dry boring straight fact content is hard for people to pick up on, having some fun with your content and sharing personal examples means that people are able to relate and will come back.

  10. I received some well-deserved comments from Ruud via a new post and Donna Fontenot that my tweet didn’t do anything to help

    I think your tweet was just your opinion. Nothing wrong with that. Stating your opinion, as a well known blogger, is helpful enough in my book.

    Seeing your tweet I did realize though that your “no” to Roko’s “yes” was at least as powerful — maybe more so. Sometimes going against the grain is setting yourself up as a person with her own opinion.

  11. Lord, I think I have heard each of these “tips” from one guru or another. I think the best thing to do is what you have described, write frequent posts. Keep them timely and accessable. Don’t weigh your readers down with the Magna Carta. Good tips in all. Your information is always great and I will be checking back.

  12. I agree entirely with writing less, i had used to dedicate tonnes of content to my site, but the web copy had seemed to swamp visitors, if not bore them.

    You need short and sweet powerful statements, the best bloggers have done things this way.

    Great stuff

  13. Sometimes it’s also good to go against the flow especially if you have valid reasons and you know that you are correct. Having your own opinion is something that makes you stand out from the crowd and that’s good. It’s good to have someone stand and voice out her own opinion. It makes life more interesting, adds variety and adds the needed spice to life. Just continue being you, we like it that way.

  14. Great discussion, but in my experience Authority has little to do with posting frequency or word count.

    The only answer that matters is what gets you the best results taking into account blogging is probably not your full time job :)

    Answer WIIFM and you are most of the way there (for your prospects and for you).

    That means working out who you want to attract, how you can give them something awesome, and how that connects to the results you want to get.

    It starts with the intersection of your market/audience and what you have to offer. One size does not fit all. What works for me isn’t going to necessarily work for you. Lisa is going to attract a completely different audience, with a different business strategy in mind. For a start Lisa is a trained journalist and I am some lucky internet dork with a keyboard.

  15. Writing more posts is not going to get you more traffic if they are crappy and mediocre (looks in the direction of some other SEO blogs who publish daily). You need to publish at the interval that allows you to be good or better.

  16. It could be argued that being impossible to find actually makes a person seem like more of an authority.

    Remember when Seth replied to EVERY comment on his blog? (Yeah, me neither.)

    Playing hard to get doesn’t make you conversational, but it does make you rare, and people tend to believe what they’re told by those rarefied intellectuals. (Unless the people are anti-intellectual, in which case, they’re probably not listening to those hard-to-find intellectuals in the first place.)

  17. What makes someone an authority blogger for me? Useful content, coupled with familiarity and consistency. I’ve been reading Sean D’Souza, Marcia Yudkin, and Seth Godin for years. I don’t automatically agree with everything they say, but their marketing ideas are typically interesting and useful.

    They’ve earned my dollars (Sean and Marcia’s ebooks and Seth’s printed books) because they’ve earned my trust — by freely providing valuable information on a consistent basis (weekly from Marcia, daily from Seth, and somewhere in between from Sean).

  18. Heyhey!

    Non-wisdom you say? It sounds offensive. Some of my points are misinterpreted so it makes me wonder if this post is written just for the sake of disagreeing. I also wonder do you really think my words are “non-wisdom” or you just wanted to write the attractive headline. Regarding misinterpreting my advices I would like to invite readers to read the original post and pay attention to few lines (not just the subtitles):
    “Write less.
    …Cut down your posting frequency by 50 percent and double the value of your work…”
    “In every post, write more.
    …and focus on delivering lengthy, high-value posts when possible.”
    No where have I said cut down frequency just for the sake of writing less or write more just to increase the word count.

    Another important thing to note is that I posted those tips as a way how to became authority blogger, but nowhere have I said it’s the only way. It just a way that I found to be very effective and I’m standing behind that. Strongly.

    You said it was hard for you to find me on the Web, I guess you’re right there, I should work on that. I am now following you on Twitter so feel free to contact me anytime you want.

    Since you said you agree with me on the last point, you might consider joining MyBlogGuest, community of guest bloggers. You have a great website so you would be great addition to our community. And, of course, since we have a lot of interesting voices there, joining could easily prove very useful to you too.

    Cheers!

  19. Writing more frequently if your posts aren’t relevant and interesting doesn’t make you an authority blogger, writing thoughtful posts that your followers and others are going to want to read on a daily basis is what is important. Growing and keeping your following by building their trust in your word is what counts. I agree with previous commenter who says you gain trust through providing consistent and valuable information.

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