Okay, so there’s never actually been a set of blogging rules published – thinking about it, that would be pretty crazy and probably cause a swift and abrupt end to blogging as we know it. These blogging ‘rules’ I’m referencing are more like expectations that when we enter the blogging world, are kind of thrust upon us (mostly by ourselves).
They say that rules and meant to be bent/broken. I wholeheartedly agree with this and although you can sometimes put the rules back together when you need a little structure, the real creative magic happens when the pieces are flying, shattered, through the air – don’t you think?
After blogging on and off for the last (I want to say) four years I’m nearly at expert level of breaking rules and I think it’s only fair for me to share a bit of what I’ve learnt along the way. I could have written out a big list of fake rules and expectations for everyone to agree on – but honestly, does that get us anywhere? To take a progressive step forward for myself I’ve decided to, instead, share three of the most talked about, disagreed upon and pressuring ‘rules’ of the blogging world.
I chat a bit about why I don’t like them, what it’s like without the rule and my own personal experience with breaking (or bending) it. Without further ado, here are the three rules of blogging that I’ve learned to break.
The school-like essay structure
Like with most things in life, we learn by doing, and because there’s no right or wrong way to blog, it’s easy to just do it in whatever way feels right. For me, that’s always meant that I would approach it like a school essay. Why? Because the last time a wrote for the sake of it was when I was 13 and wrote a whole book about gemstones or rainbows or something. Ever since writing became synonymous with homework or exams, writing meant essay-structure – to me at least.
You know what it’s like… the introduction and then the thought-through paragraphs followed by the conclusion that reiterates your points and rounds things off neatly. If you go back a year or so on my blog (excuse all the spelling mistakes and boring photography) you’ll find me struggling to write a four-sentence conclusion about why I like soap and glory body butter so much. Honestly, anyone would struggle writing that, because there’s only so much to be said.
It was only at the start of this year that I decided to bin off my piss-poor blogging conclusions. Now I finish my posts when it feels right, maybe asking a question or two and not trying to fob the whole blogging thing off as something really deep and meaningful for us all. Most of the time talking about body butter is about as deep as the tub of body butter itself, right?
The call for ‘professional’ images
If anything draws anyone into a blog post, it’s a polished picture. Whilst I don’t tend to gush over any picture of a lipstick anymore, I can very much appreciate a well-lit, properly edited and well-composed image when it pops up on my Instagram or Twitter feed. The one thing that does grind my gears is when clean, sharp and high-quality images get confused with images that look like they were shot in a photography studio whilst using the lowest aperture technologically possible.
I’m not just a camera-hater needlessly bashing here – I sold cameras for several years and used expensive (and heavy) equipment for several years more – but I genuinely dislike the ‘rule’ that taking a picture with a blurry background and spending an hour importing it, editing it and exporting it means that you have a better picture than the one I just snapped on my iPhone. You might be able to print that DSLR picture out on an A1 canvas, but no-one is necessarily more of a blogger for it.
You probably know that I’m a big advocate for using Instagram snaps as blog photos – and vice versa. When I broke the fake rule of taking fancy-ass pictures every day, I started to enjoy creating my posts ten-times more and fell even more in love with Instagram. So if you want to ditch the DSLR for your phone, then break the ‘rule’. Equally, if you want to take shit photos on your £500 camera, break this ‘rule’ too.
The buy-to-blog habit
Anyone who considers themselves addicted to blog shopping: please be warned that you may find this next fake rule triggering.
If you’re guilty of running out to Boots to buy three new lipstick shades for a blog post then raise your hand. Hand raised? Me too. Even past my beauty blogging days (yes, they existed – I hope no-one ever followed my advice) I remember hunting around town, looking for something to be the focus of my next post. I’m guilty of it even earlier this year when I bought a pile of books (that it’s taken me 6 months to get through just 2 of them) because I knew I could create content around them before, during and after reading them. I’m even guilty of it now! When I’m planning interiors posts and think how perfect it would be if I had that H&M Home basket to really highlight my brown carpets and magnolia bathroom.
Saying all this about product-based blog posts, I do admit that most posts come from some sort of stimuli. Make-up, baskets, plants or even a set of pens that inspire you to write the blog post, “Why We Should Be Taking More Notes” – in the capitalist western world, so much our life is dominated and influenced by product. The habit/fake rule/’rule’ that I am condemning is more the idea that a product/item/thing can produce more value than just writing as if we were speaking can.
Buying (literally) into the idea that to have more means you have more to talk about plays up to our low self-esteem and teaches us that we are more interesting when we have a new coat or bag. Admittedly, some people are boring as bricks and could do with a new winter coat to spice things up – but generally, breaking the rule of buying-to-blog is a breath of fresh air for the reader. As a reader myself, when people are just talking freely about the weather or their frizzy hair, it’s easier to connect. As a blogger, I’m learning that talking about my frizzy hair and the weather over a product makes me more like a blogger – and less like a glossy magazine.
What blogging ‘rules’ do you like to break?
Let’s chat in the comments about blogging rules, expectations and how doing your own thing is really the only sustainable way to go.
Until next time,
P.S. Look! No crappy conclusion!