Wednesday, August 29, 2012

unwritten blog etiquette



Every so often I love to write a blog post about being a good blogger. It is a hobby that I love to do and along the way I have made many mistakes and discovered many shortcuts. When you first start a blog it can be hard to know what the unwritten rules of blog etiquette are in relation to linking to other bloggers and sharing ideas that you have found and love on your own blog. I recently received an email from Emma asking me to share what I know about blog etiquette so here is what I have learned over my time as a blogger and my number one tips for finding success in this area.

1. Blog Etiquette For Pictures or Images
One of the most confusing aspects of blog etiquette is in relation to pictures and images. This has become even more difficult to understand since the introduction of Pinterest where it seems like people are taking other people's images from blogs and business' all the time. Basically when it comes to pictures or images you want to share on your blog, all you need is some common sense and respect for those who originally took or created them. 

The best way to share images as a blogger is to simply use your own. It takes a little more effort to take your own pictures but it is worth not getting in trouble with anyone else for! If you want to use an image from another blogger the best way is to firstly check what copyright they have on their blog and to always ask permission first. Some people are happy for you to use their images to help promote what message they are trying to share and other's are fiercely protective of images the have on their blogs. 

Also understand that amongst bloggers there are people who do take images without asking first and just because they are doing it, it does not mean it is the right thing for you to do. If you really have to use an image from someone else, always link back to them and give them credit for the image. But, be prepared to remove the image if they see it and are not happy that you shared it. 

If I use an image that I have found on Pinterest I always try to find the original source and link back to the owner as a thank you for creating it. I use a permalink underneath the image with the direct link to the blog post that it was taken from. You can also include a link in your blog post directing people to the blog to check out an image without taking it and sharing it on your blog.

I always try to keep in mind how I would feel about someone else taking pictures of my children and sharing them on their blog. I would not like it at all and therefore try to be respectful and careful when using images.

2. Blog Etiquette in linking to other blogs
Every blogger I know loves it when other people link to their blogs. One of the questions I am asked the most is if someone can link to my blog or if it is alright to link to other bloggers. The answer to this question every single time is a big fat YES! If you see a blog post that you love and feel ties in well with something that you have written on your blog, by all means link it up in your blog post. Don't be afraid to send people away from your blog to read something new or to discover something or someone else. They will return to you and be thankful for the new information or site that they have discovered because you share it. 

One benefit of sharing a link to another blog in your blog post is that is helps to share blog traffic. Everyone loves to receive more traffic to their blog and sharing links to other blog posts is a great way to do this. If you are known as someone who shares the blog link love, people will more likely share your blog posts and links as well.

Most bloggers are also really busy people and do not get to see every time someone links up to them. There is nothing wrong with sending them a quick message if you want to, to share that you loved what they had to say but don't expect a comment or thank you just because you linked up to them. Do it because you loved what they had to say and not because you are seeking some praise from them. 

One thing I will say on this topic is that please remember to be kind and respectful and only link to another blog because you think what they have to say is worthwhile and good and not because you want to criticise and make fun of them. As I have mentioned already, use common sense and be respectful and have fun linking to other bloggers. We all love to have some link love and extra traffic. You are most welcome to link up one of my blog posts at any time!

3. Linking in Blog Comments
One lesson that I learned early on as a blogger is not to leave my blog address as part of my blog comment when commenting on blog posts. When I first started my blog I saw people do this all the time and thought that it was the way to leave a blog comment. Much to my surprise I stumbled across a blog post written by a respectable blogger about how annoying it is to have people leave comments like this: "Great post! www.sevencherubs.com"

Most bloggers will not click on those links and it can often come across as rude when you do so. It is seen as the only reason you are commenting is to promote yourself and to not really add a kind or thoughtful comment to the blog post at all. If bloggers want to find you or your blog they can simply click on your profile and be directed to your blog from there.

There is nothing wrong with leaving a link in a blog post comment if you have written a blog post similar to the one you are reading. I appreciate it when my readers leave a comment directing me to something they have written very similar to myself as I love to read another take on the same issue. But be careful how often you do this as it can be seen as spamming a blog.

4. Be original with content
My number one tip for blog etiquette is to never, ever, ever copy and paste content from another blogger or blog or website and post it on your blog as your own content. I understand that most of us are just rehashing the same message over and over again as bloggers and there is nothing wrong with being inspired to write about a similar topic but please make sure it is your own words, thoughts and ideas that you are sharing.

There is nothing worse as a writer and blogger than finding out that someone has copied your thoughts, word for word. It is frustrating, seen as the lowest of low as a blogger and if you think you can get away with it, believe me you won't. Bloggers are very protective of content, they read a lot of blogs, learn to know the writing style and voice of other bloggers and they know if someone else has copied another blogger.

Most bloggers write because they have an opinion, they want to be a voice and know they have a voice and an audience. If you are copying someone else's work, be prepared to be attacked and receive the strong opinion and voice of many other bloggers that will not be nice. They will use their voice to put a stop to it and you will regret ever copying that content.

I understand that some times we share blog posts that can be similar at the same time as bloggers and if that happens, simply link up the other blog post and promote them as well. There is a difference between writing about similar topics and similar thinking compared to straight, copy and paste. Readers and bloggers know the difference.


Now that I have shared a few things that I have discovered about blog etiquette, I want to add that I am in no way trying to come down hard or preach how other bloggers should conduct themselves. How you chose to run your blog and conduct yourself as a blogger is up to you. I am simply sharing a few tips I have learned along my blog journey and I would love to hear if you have anything else you would add to what you have seen is unwritten blog etiquette.