When Not to Blog, Part 1

For your blog to become successful, you’ll need to have discipline when it comes to posting. You’ll need to follow a regular posting schedule to ensure that readers will come back and that your site can offer fresh keyword-rich content for the search engines.

However, there are times when you shouldn’t force yourself to write/publish a blog post. Doing so might hurt your blog’s quality and your reputation as a blogger.

Here are some instances that you might want to avoid:

Parroting another blog post

Have you heard of the echo chamber? The blogosphere is fast becoming one. In the echo chamber, bloggers just quote and link to the content of another blog, without even adding their own thoughts and reactions. The result is a blogosphere filled with duplicate content.

If you’re an A-lister, you can get away with this. However, for the rest of us, you run the risk of turning off readers by filling your blog with parroted content. Also, remember that search engines hate duplicate text, and sites guilty of it are penalized in the rankings.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about what others have already discussed. To avoid the echo chamber, put your own spin to the topic – don’t just quote. Write what’s on your mind, and write it in your own voice and tone. You can even do some Google research so you can add more fodder to your post. Inserting images will also spruce up the post.

Emotional, fired-up moments

Ever heard of the advice that goes something like, “Cool off before you send an emotional letter you’ve written?”

If your blog is open for public viewing (which is probably the case), then your posts are like open letters to the world. You need to make sure that your words 1) don’t damage whatever reputation you’re building for yourself, and 2) don’t needlessly hurt other people’s feelings.

Let’s face it – we sometimes regret the actions we’ve committed in emotional moments. That’s why after you write an emotional post, don’t publish it pronto. Leave it for a while. Let your feelings – seething anger, giddy happiness, deep sorrow – subside for an hour, a day, a week, it’s up to you. Then go back to your post and edit it, armed with a calmer mind.

Let’s go back to the two items we listed above. First, don’t damage whatever reputation you’re building for yourself. One example: if you’re maintaining an online persona that’s deathly serious, a sudden off-character mood swing where you’re spouting “W00t! I am so friggin’ happy! YAY!!!” will leave your regular readers in amazement, or worse, disgust.

Second, don’t needlessly hurt other people’s feelings. If another blogger’s post or a commenter’s opinion affronted you, don’t snap back with an insult. (Obvious trolls are an exception.) As I mentioned in an old Performancing post, you’ll earn more respect by taking a stance and whipping up a response worthy of true statesmen (a witty retort might also do). We’ve got too much hate in the offline world already.

Of course, as with all pieces of advice, there are exceptions to this one. There are times when you just can’t keep out the emotions from seeping into your post. That’s all right. One of my personal maxims is, “Keep everything in moderation.” In blogging, this includes emotions, insults, and praises.

Hasty writing right after an event

So, that big, big event has just wrapped up, and you can’t wait to write a comprehensive blog post about it, covering the event’s start to finish, from speaker A to speaker Z, from the booths to the raffle draws, and complete with a smattering of pics. Just like dozens of other bloggers.

Breathe first before you write. You might be aiming to be the first to get the story out, but really, what are the chances of that happening if it’s a popular event? What’s more, livebloggers have beaten you to the punch. Better to come up with an excellent and complete post. Remember, the excitement over the event will not die down for the next few days and people will still be on the lookout for posts, so you can afford to trade 1-2 hours for a comprehensive article.

Compile and organize the resources at hand – media kits, souvenir programs, brochures, your self-taken photos, notes you jotted down – and sort out the sentences popping inside your mind. Run a quick search on Technorati (Google might not be as updated with blog posts) or go through the blogs of people you saw at the event. If they already have articles on the event, you can link to them and provide summaries, in addition to your own coverage. This will make your blog post a one-stop, everything-is-here shop. A sterling case in point: Basang Panaginip’s round-up for the Philippine Blog Awards.

Tomorrow we follow up with the second and last part of When Not to Blog.