I blog for a variety of sites, including Search Engine Land (Link Week column), Search Marketing Gurus (coding and Women’s Marketing Interview series), Search Engine Journal (as a guest blogger discussing link building now and again), and my true love, SEO Chicks (where I say whatever I like, especially the stuff that no one else wants to publish.) This isn’t a “wow, look at how prolific she is!” piece, either; it’s a “here’s what you can learn from blogging on a variety of sites” piece, with some musical references thrown in, naturally. I will, of course, refrain from any Bowie quotes (ch ch ch ch Changes) here because that would be too easy.
“We’re trying different things, variety in society” Guided By Voices’ Driving in the US of A
First of all, I am quite fond of getting to know your audience, your target market, your clientele. Many people think that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to everything that happens in the world, but it’s really never true, is it? The experience that you gain from having to write about different topics, in a voice that will appeal to your audience, is simply invaluable. I kind of learned this the hard way, actually, when I was very nicely asked to please refrain from inserting blackhat references into my posts on a certain site. This was actually the best advice that anyone had ever given me about blogging, because the thing was, I was just not paying close attention to who I was writing for, nor was I properly informed about my audience, to my discredit. It seriously opened my eyes to something I did quite offhandedly, and it’s actually served to make me think about what I do for a living in a completely different light.
I realize that some would call this chameleon-like behavior a fake way to do things, but it’s actually quite necessary. People who read Site X don’t want to read about blackhat techniques: they want to read about whitehat methods. People who read Site Y want something funny and a bit dirty, something full of humor and opinion. People who read Site Z want a middle of the road piece, something with little opinion but chock full of facts. When you think about it, pleasing all of these people really can keep you on your toes. You also have to be prepared to stand by what you’ve written elsewhere, which can get iffy, especially if you tone down your views for one site but let your thoughts run rampant on another one.
All in all, it’s an exercise in professionalism to learn how to address all sorts of people, and to be cautious about what you claim. It’s very easy to run your mouth online, as you don’t see anyone in person and you have time to formulate a response if you’re called out on what you write. However, if it’s online, it’s usually there forever, so it’s always good to make sure that, no matter what, you can defend your position. Otherwise, well, you just look like an idiot later on don’t you?
“You can’t change the world But you can change the facts And when you change the facts You change points of view If you change points of view You may change a vote And when you change a vote
You may change the world” Depeche Mode’s New Dress
I don’t wish to imply that you have to tailor your writing to make sure that it offends no one, of course, because that’s utterly useless. What I do mean is that when you’re forced to think about what you write very, very carefully, and from different angles, you sometimes realize that you’re wrong, or you haven’t thought something through, or maybe you’re onto something but just not there yet. I did SEO for years before I ever wrote a single word about it, and after I started writing, and in particular started writing for a few different sites, I’ve learned so much more about it because it forces me to keep up to date on everything that is happening in the industry and on what’s been published so far. Just because it hasn’t been addressed on SEO Chicks doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been addressed everywhere else and, if I write about something as if no one else has ever touched on the subject, I’ll look like an idiot.
Unfortunately, what blogging for a variety of sites means for you, as the writer, is negative reactions from more than just one sector. That can be difficult to deal with but it allows you to learn how to handle criticism. On one article in particular, I had a few people telling me how they thought my words were actionable and just plain common sense, but then I had a few saying that my ideas were so stupid that I would have been better off not writing anything. You can’t please everyone, certainly, but you can learn a lot from having to respond to negative reactions. I’ve found that it used to be very, very easy to respond to something negative with a snarky comment, intended to make the nasty person look stupid. That’s how I was brought up, you know…now I’ve learned that in many cases, it’s best to respond to criticism in a way that lets you see the other person’s point of view, because maybe, just maybe, you really do deserve it.