Disclaimer: Every so often I have to reduce my xanax dosage so that I don’t develop a tolerance and I’m doing that right now and I’m having some withdrawal issues, so if this post seems fuzzier and more shouty than usual it’s because of the drugs. Or the lack thereof.
Whenever I’m on pinterest I find myself interrupted by pins that tell me about the 5 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST KNOW ABOUT BLOGGING or 18 WAYS SEO WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE and I occassionally break down and click on them and then I read a bunch of bullshit I don’t even understand. I’ve been blogging for years and objectively speaking I’m somewhat successful at it, however the one thing I’ve learned about blogging is that there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules that help you succeed at it. It’s mainly luck, luck, some work, more luck, a little talent and assorted bullshit.
If I was good at doing graphic shit I’d make an infographic explaining this, but I’m bad with design and I fucking hate infographics because I realize that they’re really just ads that people want you to post on your blog for free. (Seriously. And it’s okay to post infographics, but be aware that you’re being used as free advertising. Which is fine…if you’re aware of it.)
Anyway, I thought that since everyone else is writing OHHOLYSHITLISTENTOMEBECAUSEIMAGODDAMGURU posts that I should probably contribute, because you aren’t a real blogger until you make a list yelling at other people. Apparently. So here are my 15 Things You Absolutely Must Know About Social Media or Your Face Will Melt Off and Get Eaten By Goats:
1. Every year a ton of places come out with their “best blogs of the year” list and you have to be there. Here’s the trick: Get on one of those lists and you will get on all of those lists. Why? No one knows. But it’s very nice to be able to talk about over dinner when your grandmother asks how you “globbing” is going and asks when you plan on getting a real job. Aside from this, those lists are very encouraging but don’t actually do much. This year I’ve been on Time, Forbes and People and none of them have given me as much blog traffic as I’ve gotten from being on the sidebar of a blog that gets updated once a year. True story.
2. SEO is very important. It stands for Screw Everyone Over. Or something. I don’t actually know, but apparently it’s something you should be paying people for. Or not. I prefer not.
3. Your google page rank can make or break you. Or it can mean fuck-all and no one cares. Last time I checked mine it was a 3 and I was all, “Hey, 3 out of 5 ain’t bad” but then someone told me it went up to eleven and then I realized that I don’t really give a shit. If you google “the bloggess” I totally come up. I say that’s a win.
4. Always use linkbait. Write about totally controversial things that will get people to come scream at you. Then you can write about how you were bullied and then more people will come and read you. You have now created an entire audience of people who either don’t like you at all or who are just reading to mess with you. I have no idea how this is considered a success, but to some people it must be, so fair play to them.
5. Write vicious posts about popular bloggers and then email them to tell them what you did. Inside the post write about how you just know that the popular blogger is going to send all of their minions to attack you for saying it. But before you do this? See if that blogger has ANY HISTORY AT ALL OF EVER DOING THIS because most likely the only comment is going to be from the blogger telling you that you misspelled “punctilious”.
6. Judge everyone. All the time. People are looking to you to tell them what they’re doing wrong. You obviously speak from a position of authority. You’re a blogger.
7. Write rules regarding etiquette of blogging. Break all of them. Get mad when people call you out on them. It’s not your job to follow the rules.
8. A lot of people refer to themselves as social media “gurus”. The phrase is used so often that people forget the main definition refers to a Hindu spiritual guide giving personal religious instruction and not just someone who throws twitter parties for palmolive. Take it up a notch and begin referring to yourself as the Messiah of SEO, or the High-Priestess of Google. Don’t be afraid of offending people. You’re a Messiah. You’re past that.
9. Any article containing more than six words should be made into a 15 page slideshow. That way you can make it look like you’re getting more hits than you really are, plus it wastes everyones time and bandwidth. Bonus points if the “next” arrow is so close to the advertising banner that people accidentally click on it over and over.
10. Get mad about something everyone else is already mad about too. This seems trivial but do not overestimate how many indignant people you can get to comment when you write about how awful it is when people drown kittens or punch babies, or ignore basic human rights. Bonus points if you start out with a particularly brave statement. Example: “I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this but I’m taking a public stand to say that slavery is not cool.”
11. Only talk to important people. If they don’t have at least 10,000 followers they are not worthy of your time. If you accidentally freeze out someone and then later realize that they actually have tons of followers and clout just go back and explain that you didn’t realize they were important. That always works.
12. Beg. Beg for shit like crazy. Passive-agressively tweet to companies about how you want something from them but you can’t afford it. Look as thirsty and desperate as possible. Don’t be afraid to use “Do you know who I am?” There’s a reason that phrase is well-known, and douchebags must be using it for a reason.
14. Call out people on twitter or on your blog. Have a public fight. Sling mud everywhere. It’s not actually good for your brand at all but it’s very entertaining for the rest of us.
15. Write your own post about the things that you TOTALLY have to do in order to be a success even though you know that every single successful person has their own personal story and that luck and timing and support aren’t things that you can just make happen by following a set of rules. Make it seem like the people who aren’t making a living blogging totally would have been millionaires if only they’d followed your rules in spite of the fact that there are no real rules except the ones you make up as you go.
16. There is no 16. There’s not even a 1-15. There are no real rules or magic potions. Blogging success is fleeting, fickle, and largely based on luck (much like everything else in the world). This might seem depressing, but in a way it’s rather freeing. It allows you to write for yourself instead of just following a set of rules someone else made for you. Find your own voice. Find your own rules. Find a way of measuring success that’s more about freedom and fulfillment rather than page-views and analytics. Page-views mean nothing a year later, but the words you’ve put together may stand and affect others for a lifetime.