I have been blogging a long time. I can’t say that when I first started blogging I had any real idea what I was supposed to be doing. Back then, there weren’t a lot of people talking about the process of blogging. Instead, they talked a lot about the reasons one needed to have a blog if one had a business.
I, of course, had a business, and I still have businesses, and blogging became something that I had to get good at. I think that except for the last point I will get to in this article, I have followed, to a great degree, all the things that I’m going to talk about concerning the topic of blogging integrity.
What do I mean about blogging integrity? I think that everything we do that we then put out to the public shows the kind of integrity we have. The definition of integrity is “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values”.
Bloggers that don’t have integrity are one of three things. One, they have no sense of direction other than to be as anarchistic as they possibly can. Two, they’re not really sure what they want to do so they’re all over the place. Or three, they’re writing hardly any of their content, not reviewing the content they’re putting out there, and therefore don’t really care how they’re being seen.
As someone that has long-term goals as it pertains to being a professional speaker at some point when I grow up, and someone who uses two of my five blogs to help enhance my professional reputation, I feel it works in my favor to show integrity in the way I blog. Even on the one blog I have where most of the posts these days are guest posts, I read every single one of them, edit when I can, and will send some back to the writers when I feel they’re not up to standard. To me, that shows as much integrity as when I write posts all on my own.
Like this one. So without further ado, let’s look at the five steps, as I see them, towards blogging integrity.
5 Steps Towards Blogging Integrity
1. Write what you know. When blogging became something that people could make money off of, a lot of those people decided to write about things they knew nothing about. A lot of it isn’t their fault, because all the gurus at the time used to say to go on the search engines, research keywords to see what people were interested in, and then start writing on those topics.
It all sounds good until you see what a lot of these people have been writing. So many people write the exact same thing, sometimes with almost the exact same words. I don’t know about you but I don’t find that very compelling.
I think there is a way to take one topic and write 200 articles about it in many different ways; on one of my blogs I’ve written around 650 articles on one topic. If you don’t know the topic all that well, then it’s going to show and your blog is going to look fake. And when people think you’re fake, you lose any opportunity you might have had to have any influence on them, and you’re not going to make any money or have many visitors.
2. Write what you feel. When you know a topic, and then you write about it, you not only know that you’re writing what you know but also what you feel. Even if the thing you feel is contempt about politicians or religion or the Internet or even puppies (please don’t hold contempt over puppies), if that’s what you feel then your emotions will come through in your writing. And when your emotions come through in your writing other people feel those emotions and are moved to take some kind of action.
Now, what I will say is that when you write what you feel, you really can’t control the emotions that someone else is going to exhibit. I tend to think that for the most part that’s not your problem. I often like to tell stories when I write, and when I’m telling a story I usually have a point that I’m trying to get across to the readers. Although I hope everyone sees things as I do, I’m not naïve enough to believe that everyone will. What I hope is that even if someone disagrees with what I’ve had to say that they will express themselves in a manner that we will be able to have a stress-free conversation about it. In either case, if you write what you feel, you will often get people to respond. In my mind, that’s a lot of what blogging is all about.
3. Tell the truth. Have you really taken a look at a lot of the comments you might get on your blog posts? Do all of those people sound sincere when they write those comments and they say things like “good job” and “that’s what I was thinking”?
The reality is that sometimes when we write on a subject that we know others might not be ready for we might not say exactly what we feel. On one of my business blogs I’ll often write about the topic of diversity or racism. People in general are uncomfortable with the topic, especially when you throw out truths, with proof, showing that it’s there. What some people will do is sugarcoat the issue or, as soon as they start to write about it start apologizing for it in the same breath.
If you’re not ready to own up to a little controversy when you feel you have something to say and know that everyone isn’t going to be ready for it, then don’t even get into blogging. I have had people say to me that they’re afraid to express their opinions on a blog because someone might not like it. I’m sorry to say this but that’s life.
For me, it turns out that not everybody was a Michael Jackson fan, and not everybody saw the genius of Muhammad Ali, and few people realize the talent and the man that was Roberto Clemente, and that Independence Day for me is actually July 9th. As Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son used to say, “the truth will set you free”.
4. Watch your language. We are in a very strange period in history right now. Most people seem to have no filter when it comes to the language they use in everyday life and online. They don’t care that there may be children around, or their parents and family members, or other adults older or even the same age as them. They don’t seem to care whether it’s their supervisors or managers, or even people that report to them if they’re in leadership positions. They seem to think that they can say pretty much anything they want to say whatever they want to say it.
Unfortunately they can, but the truth is that this concept of freedom of speech, which is an illusion by the way, does come with consequences. If you don’t care about the consequences then go ahead and say whatever you want to say. However, unless you’re already wealthy or in the military, you won’t always get away with it if you have expectations beyond the norm. Some very famous people, and some leaders of industry, have found that a slip of the tongue has sometimes gotten them into more trouble and controversy than they were ready for.
Of course, I could be talking grammar and spelling and diction and all that other stuff, but I tend to think that’s self explanatory. It really comes down to communication skills, your voice, and how you want to be perceived.
I think everyone will forgive a one-time rant if that’s what you have to do if your emotions are so raw that you’re not in a position to control yourself. But if it’s an everyday thing, with every post, and at least one bad word in every single paragraph, you will soon find that either you don’t have a lot of visitors to your blog anymore or those that are visiting aren’t the ones you really want to see.
5. Be consistent in producing content. Ah yes, we finally get to this one. Over the years on one of my blogs I have written about this topic over and over. When all is said and done, the one thing you really want to be known for when it comes to blogging integrity is being someone who can produce content on a regular basis.
I can’t say I did this initially with my first business blog. I really hadn’t paid much attention to the rules at the time, if there were any. Sometimes I would have a blog post that was only one paragraph. Sometimes I might not write a blog post for 4 to 6 weeks. And yet, in that first year and a half that I was writing my first blog I ended up with 150 articles at some point.
But I had almost no visitors, and I had almost no comments. Once I learned that if I wrote even once a week that my traffic went up, I decided that it was time to write even more often. Now, depending on your topic you might be able to sustain an audience if you write something every day, or you might need to write something once every 3 to 4 days. Every once in a while it takes your audience time to absorb what you have to say, especially if it’s a long blog post (like this one).
Overall, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is some kind of consistency that your audience can get used to. This way, they know that you care enough about them to make sure that you put something out on some kind of regular basis. Audiences will be forgiving if you disappear a couple of times, but if you consistently disappear they won’t come back.
Those are my thoughts on blogging integrity. What do you think?
Mitch Mitchell is a prolific blogger and writer with over 2,800 articles online for both himself and others. His main blog is I’m Just Sharing (imjustsharing.com), but he also blogs prominently on his business blog, Mitch’s Blog (ttmitchellconsulting.com/Mitchblog).