Almost every blogging advice on the internet today is geared towards helping you become a successful blogger. But very few of them talk about the need to be a courteous blogger of some repute. I know I’ve emphasised this a million times but permit me to stress it again — your relationships with other bloggers matter a great deal.
Your character — the way you comport yourself when addressing or interacting with your readers and fellow bloggers — matters more than you know. You see, your readers might not know you in person, but from your posts and comments, and the way that you behave online, they can paint a picture of the kind of person you are in reality — that is, the kind of person you are offline.
Simply put, the things you do in this virtual space say a lot about your person. They also either build or damage your reputation. Which is why I encourage you, dear blogger, to treat everyone you interact with with the kindness and respect that they deserve. In other words, treat everybody with courtesy and etiquette.
Speaking of etiquette, there are 12 essential rules of blogging etiquette every blogger should know. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Blogging Etiquette 101: the Don’ts of Blogging
1. Don’t end your comment on someone else’s blog with a link to your blog.
You can promote your blog many ways, but one way you should never promote your blog is spamming other bloggers with the link to your blog. Many bloggers are fond of including the link to their blog at the bottom of their comments because they hope that someone would click on their link and visit their blog. This is a spammy behaviour, and nobody appreciates spam.
It’s okay to want more readers for your blog, but you have to attract them the right way. And you know, if you leave genuine and insightful comments on other blogger’s posts, chances are that other people would see your comments and visit your blog, without you even begging them to.
2. Don’t leave spammy or generic comments on other people’s blog.
As I said earlier, nobody appreciates spam. Nobody appreciates a generic comment, either. People love getting insightful comments, and not unspecific ones such as: “Deep”, “Great post”, “Makes sense”, or “I agree”.
Generic comments are unspecific and boring. Instead of commenting “I agree”, why don’t you state which part of the post you agree with and why? And instead of saying just “Thanks for sharing”, why don’t you share how the information that blog post provided has just helped you?
Leaving a generic comment on just one post is one thing; leaving it on several posts just to get a blogger’s attention is spam — and one thing bloggers hate more than spam is a spammer.
3. Don’t ask for follows.
If you’ve been following my blog for quite a while, you would know that I’m a big anti-follow-for-follow advocate. I’m one of those people who believe that you should only follow a blogger because you really want to, and not because you have a selfish motive — like expecting them to follow you back, thus increasing your number of followers.
It’s a two-way principle by the way — I also believe that people should follow you only because they want to, and not because you asked them to. Asking other bloggers to follow you is usually seen as being too forward and can seem rude sometimes. If you ask me to follow your blog, I would most likely visit your blog, and if I eventually follow your blog, you can bet that it’s because I enjoyed reading your posts — not because you asked me to follow your blog.
Unfortunately, not every blogger is like that. Some would ignore your comment if all its says is, “Great post! Follow my blog!”
4. Don’t comment on other people’s posts with a negative intention.
I can’t think of any reason why you would always comment on someone’s post with a negative intent other than jealousy. All the times I’ve seen people behave nastily when commenting on someone’s posts, it’s usually because they are jealous of that person’s success.
Of course, there might be other possible reasons why people leave cruel and bitter comments on other people’s posts every time, but then again, none of them are justifiable. You shouldn’t be mean when commenting on other people’s posts. If you know you can’t comment on people’s posts without making them feel bad about themselves, then you shouldn’t comment at all.
5. NEVER, EVER steal another blogger’s work.
There’s a stark difference between getting inspiration from someone’s post and stealing that person’s post. Although people often confuse the two. Truly, there’s nothing new on the internet today: every topic you can think of has been written about by someone. But does this mean we shouldn’t write about a topic simply because someone else has written about it?
Of course not.
The beauty of the internet is it’s diversity — a million bloggers could view an idea or a topic from several different perspectives and write blog posts that are similar, and yet so different from one another. When you want to write about a topic, it’s okay to read posts already written on that topic so as to gain inspiration. But it’s absolutely wrong to steal those posts.
Even if it’s as little as a paragraph or just a sentence, do not steal it. Do not copy it word-for-word. The best you can do is rephrase that sentence or paragraph in your own words. Plagiarists are usually under impression that when they steal other people’s content, nobody notices it. But the truth is, someone will always notice.
6. Don’t turn every comment into your personal blog post.
Okay, I know I do this occasionally, and I know it’s somewhat wrong, but then again, I do it occasionally, not all the time. People usually write very lengthy comments when they can so much relate to a blog post. For instance, if you make a post about how you celebrated Christmas as a child and I discover that we celebrated our Christmas similarly, there’s a high possibility that I would narrate my personal experience in my comment to show that I truly can relate to your post. There’s also a high chance that my comment will be very long.
This isn’t always wrong, although every blogger has their own preference and limit — some bloggers feel bored to read your comment once it’s longer than two paragraphs. Others, like me, wouldn’t mind. I, for one, don’t mind reading comments that are as long as the first chapter of the Bible, so long as they’re related to the topic. However, I suggest you pay great attention to how lengthy your comments are, just to be on the safe side.
Blogging Etiquette 101: the Dos of Blogging
1. Always reply to comments.
No-one owes it to you to comment on your blog posts. When people comment on your blog posts, they don’t do it because they feel it’s their obligation to you. Rather, it’s either because they could relate to your post, they enjoyed reading it, or it might just be that your post has given them something to think about.
The fact that someone read and commented on your blog post shows how much they value and support your work. So it would be rude and unfair to them to leave their comments unanswered. Even if they leave a generic comment, like “Nice post!”, a simple “Thank you!” reply would suffice.
2. Read and comment on other blogger’s posts.
One of the most essential rules of blogging etiquette and blogging success is the rule of reciprocity. As I always say, if you want other people to read your blog, then you must read other people’s blogs. And if you want honest and insightful comments on your blog, then leave honest and insightful comments on other people’s blogs. In blogging, what you sow is what you reap. Your input will always determine your output.
A blogger of etiquette isn’t a selfish blogger. He cares about other bloggers as much as he cares about himself. Which is why he would always support them at every opportunity. And what easier way to support other bloggers than reading and commenting on their blog posts?
3. Follow up the comments fellow bloggers leave on your blog.
Kayla from KaylaAnn taught me this great way to support fellow bloggers and build friendships with them. It works like this: whenever someone comments on my blog post, I would visit their blog and read one or two posts, and then I would leave a comment on their posts. And if I love the kind of content they create, I would follow them. Even after following you, I would always visit your blog whenever you comment on my blog post.
Of course, there are cases when it would be difficult to comment on your posts. At times like that, I would simply LIKE your post and move on. Following up the comments other bloggers leave on your blog is a nice gesture of courtesy, don’t you agree?
4. Be nice to those who disagree with you.
As a blogger, you must be prepared to face criticism every once in a while. There will be times when people will disagree with you, and some of these people who disagree with you might do so rudely. They might insult you and call you names, simply because they disagree with your opinions, ideas, or principles.
When you’re dealing with these people, tread very carefully. Be nice and polite when addressing them, watch the kind of words you use, and try to help them understand why you stand by your opinion. And while you do this, do not discard their opinions. If you do all this and they still remain their bitter selves, then please, ignore them and refrain from replying to them — for the sake of your peace of mind.
5. Link back when quoting someone or stating an information you got from a case study or research.
When you’re referencing someone or their work (especially when “their work” is a case study or a statistical analysis), you should link back to their work. And if what you’re making reference to isn’t on the internet (maybe it’s something you read in a textbook), cite the source properly. I did something like this in my last post (see photo below).
You’re advised to do this for several reasons, but mainly because the owner of the work deserves some credit, and because using numbers to back up your point when a research was never conducted is rather wrong. If you say, “90 percent of high school kids today suffer from depression and anxiety”, you should back up that “fact” with a statistical analysis or case study. If you can’t find a statistical analysis to support your opinions, then it’s best to reconstruct your sentences. For instance, you could change the above sentence to: “A great number of high school kids today suffer from depression and anxiety.”
6. Be honest and genuine with other bloggers. Always. (Don’t be a dishonest asslicker).
Nobody likes to be told the truth, especially when the truth is bitter and difficult to handle. But does this mean we shouldn’t let our blogger friends know when they’re wrong? I think not.
Granted, to an extent, we are all each other’s asslickers — we are all adoring fans of one other, and we’d hate to hurt our feelings more than anything. This is why we often agree with other bloggers, instead of correcting them, when we know full well that they’re wrong.
But being my friend means correcting me whenever I’m wrong. Being my friend and a person of etiquette means nicely or politely correcting me whenever I’m wrong.
Telling someone they’re right when they aren’t doesn’t show that you care. Massaging your blogger friends’ ego just to save your friendship only shows that you’re their friends for a selfish reason. Perhaps, they have a large following and you feel that it would be a shame to lose a friend that popular. But that’s a faulty mindset. If you really want to be a friend to someone, you would correct them when they’re wrong; and you would be careful to do it nicely, not rudely.
After all, friends are meant to improve each other, aren’t they?
Which blogging etiquette in this list do you follow? Do you have a rule of blogging etiquette you wish to add to the list?