Because You Asked: My 5 Basic Blogging Guidelines

When it comes to blogging, I know things.

I have, after all, written a personal blog [most years] since 2004 so I have experience + I have a couple of college degrees about words and ideas and communication and images and branding.

Yes, I know a thing or two about keeping a personal blog, while not losing your mind in the process.

But what I do not have is much of an ego, so over the years I’ve been disinclined to put together any “how to” blogs posts in which I tell everyone what to do.  

I fear being pedantic.

That would never do. 

• • •

However, talking with an acquaintance got me thinking.

The acquaintance confided that she knew the practical aspects of writing and blogging platforms, but she was uncertain about how to envision, then maintain, a personal blog.  She wanted guidance.

From that conversation I got the idea to share my blogging guidelines in a pretty little informative image that sums up my experience on the topic. 

These are not blogging rules, if such a thing exists.  No, these are general guidelines that I’ve learned over the years, and adhered to as a way of centering myself and my thoughts when I sit down to do that bloggy thing that I love to do.

• • •

• • • 

Questions Of The Day

If someone were to ask you for guidance about how to keep a personal blog, what would you tell them?

How have you envisioned your blog? How have you maintained it?

If you were to start over, what would you do differently?

• • • 

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

116 thoughts on “Because You Asked: My 5 Basic Blogging Guidelines”

  1. My answers to my QOTD:

    • The guidance I gave is what I wrote above.

    • I envision my blog as a lifestyle newspaper column in which I use my specific daily experiences to talk about the universal ups and downs of life.

    • I maintain this blog by showing up here at least once a week, by commenting on other blogs whenever I can– and by rearranging or changing the template once in a while.

    • If I were to do one thing differently on this blog I’d have a different name for it. I’m tired of explaining the blog name and typing the word: S-P-E-C-T-A-C-L-E-D.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. If someone were to ask you for guidance about how to keep a personal blog, what would you tell them?
    –Write for yourself, period. Decide what kind of writing YOU want to put out there and stay true to that. If it evolves, fine. So do you. I know I have in 13 years.
    2. How have you envisioned your blog? How have you maintained it?
    –Lots of different ways. I first tried writing three times a week, then realized it was too strict. I experimented with several types of subjects. An early commenter described me as a Cultural Commentator. I like that. Now, I TRY for once a week, but…oh well. Sometimes I get nuts and write every single day until I drop over dead. I also respond to EVERY SINGLE COMMENT ON MY BLOG. I think that is vital. I really dislike it when other bloggers don’t do that, don’t extend the conversation or acknowledge their readers/commenters. And I thoughtfully comment on other blogs, even when they ignore me.
    3. If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
    –I don’t think I’d do anything differently, other than using graphics and formatting much earlier (but I was a newbie, so…). I was never into personal branding and SEO and all that other frantic stuff. I just enjoy the outreach and exchange of ideas.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 1. Excellent point about being true to who you want to be. You’ve been at this longer than I have so I think you know what works!

      2. I like thinking of you as a Cultural Commentator and will do so from now on. I, too, respond to all comments… and even have post in the works on that very topic. Extending the conversation is vital if you want your blog to flourish.

      3. I learned html and formatting along the way, too. I didn’t know a thing about it when I started. Most of us didn’t. I ignore SEO which I find ridiculous– and have let Ally Bean become her own brand organically, not through an organized branding campaign.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Those are great suggestions and a great foundation. Write often and focus on writing the best you can. Some stuff belongs on Facebook and some belongs on a blog. Know the difference. It’s nice if you can write something that encourages comments because as you say it is a social place. Be kind but also be willing to delete if someone’s comment isn’t. As for what I would do differently, it’s the title. Mine is too long but fortunately my url is easier to remember. I always look forward to your posts. They make me laugh and sometimes make me think. Those are good things.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kate, yes, excellent point about knowing the distinction between FB posts and blog posts. I’d even add IG and twitter. NOT ALL THINGS BELONG IN YOUR BLOG.

      Deleting unkindness is another excellent point. I have no trouble doing that now, but in the beginning I worried that I wasn’t being authentic. No mas.

      Thank you for the compliment, Kate. I try. Laughing and thinking are my jams.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Kate, you have got me thinking about FB-style posts on a blog. Intuitively I agree, but the again, I think many non-writers love the community of a good blog and just prefer to hang out on WordPress. And who can blame them?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rachel, there’s a difference between FB and blogging, if only in that FB seems to be a way to stay in touch with people you already know, while blogging is a way to get to know people who you don’t yet know. Both can be good, of course– it’s just knowing what to share where.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s an important distinction, Ally. But I’m fascinated by the people who use a blog like Instagram and blog full length on FB, for example. And it’s the norm for writers and arts people to have followers who are strangers but fans, or friends of friends. The unwritten rules are constantly broken, but it’s so good to be clear about your own goals. You and your friends have got me thinking!

          Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, I’ve noticed the same thing. When someone is seriously ill and is willing to share their journey, blog readers rally around them. I assume it’s the same thing in FB. We all write about what we can, sharing what we must, I suppose.

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Blogging is complicated for me. I know why I started a blog (to leave some sort of record of myself for my kids) but that whole idea met with little interest so…
    I continue because blogging, on the rare occasion that I write, allows me the ability to connect with some wonder folks. Neither of those are really great guidelines to share with a new blogger. I think I actually use blogging as some do facebook or twitter or whatever other social media is big right now. I don’t do the others, so I have my select little group of blogs that give me enjoyment and input and pleasure. There was a time that I would put out posts that were more genre specific, and then there was the time that I chronicled much of my return to college. Then those things leave my life and poof, I am quiet for a time.
    In reality Ally Bean, I probably should not even call myself a blogger, but more of a casual visitor to this arena.
    Would I do all this again? I can’t imagine not reading the blogs I love, but writing my own–probably not something I would start given what I know now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How about using the word “wonderful” in place of wonder in describing folks, and yes, I did not proofread so I now realize that I repeated myself by using “enjoyment” and then “pleasure” to describe the same topic.
      There’s a useful guideline: Organize your thoughts when you write and proofread!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Deb, you bring up a good point that is true, I believe, for all of us. Blogging is complicated. I started my first blog to see if I could do it [a brain challenge] then realized that I could connect with other people who I’d never have the opportunity to know outside of blogging. Like you, for instance.

      I’d call you a blogger, btw. You do your own thing in your own way, what could be more bloggy?

      I agree about following a select group of bloggers who understand you– and are interesting in and of themselves. I’ve found that as my blog has evolved, that group of bloggers has changed, too.

      Interesting how you wouldn’t do this again. Maybe you needed to keep a blog to realize that? At least you gave it a try– and learned what worked for you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I actually will admit to having some idea (a million years ago) that I would write everyday and channel this blog into a prelude to a great novel except that I found structured writing, as an “author” wasn’t my cup of tea.
        Guideline #2: Have a plan, but be willing to abandon that plan if necessary!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Deb, no kidding? That’s an interesting reason for writing a blog. You might still be able to channel your blogging ideas into a great novel. I don’t know how, mind you. But I can see you doing that– you’re clever.

          I agree about having a plan, as a starting point. I am nowhere near where I began as a blogger, so I trusted myself to change my approach as I went. Your second guideline is a good one.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t ever change a name because people can’t spell. 🙂

    I started blogging in 2004 as well, then disappeared for a while when life took some turns that required undivided attention. I’ve been back a few years and if people asked me what to do, I would just point them to this post. No need explaining it again when you’ve done it so well, and in pretty colors!

    I like the newspaper column thinking there. That’s a good way to be. Mine’s more conversational and my attempts to make people laugh. My other one was like a newspaper column, but more opinion-y. I quit writing there for a time though and will do so for the foreseeable future as my mind just kept going to the Clown In Chief and I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about that… … …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tara, you’re another one of us longtime bloggers who know a thing or two! At one point I turned away from blogging for a little over a year– and when I returned I found a whole different blogosphere. That’s how I got onto thinking of my blog as a newspaper column, more than a personal diary/scrapbook.

      I like your conversational tone and you make me laugh– out loud even. I like how you weave your personal experiences into your blog posts so I think you’ve nailed this blogging thing.

      Thank you for your support on my blog’s name. I tire of typing the word, but realize from a marketing pov that it’s unique enough to make this blog memorable– when people finally understand what “spectacled” refers to. 🤓

      Like

  6. Great rules! I try to blog by them too.

    If someone were to ask you for guidance about how to keep a personal blog, what would you tell them? They say that if you love something, set it free. The same can be said about words.

    How have you envisioned your blog? How have you maintained it? I view mine as pretty much an open letter to those I consider pen pals and those who’d like to be considered pen pals. I blog once a week with varying levels of humor or severity.

    If you were to start over, what would you do differently? I’d pick a shorter name to use. I ran out of characters on a few social media handles so I am alliepottswrite on some and alliepottswrites on others. The lack of consistency offends my sense of order. I might have gone with APwrites, but then people might have thought I was with the associated press and that would put all sorts of pressure on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Allie, I like your thinking about setting words free. So smart and true.

      I also like your pen pal approach to writing your blog posts. I remember when I first started blogging that a wise woman with a background in marketing told me to write each of my blog posts as if I was writing to two different friends. That way, she said, I’d be saying something interesting that would appeal to a variety of people. I’d forgotten about that kernel of wisdom, but you nailed it here.

      I have the same problem with the length of my blog title. On some social media there is no “The” on my handle. Bugs me too– for the same reason as you stated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much for this. I’ve been agonizing for awhile now over just what my niche is. So many blog support groups seem to think it’s vital. You have released me from my “agony.” 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Janet, that whole idea that you must be in a niche baffles me. When I started blogging there were no niches to be in, so I pre-date that idea. I find it unnecessarily limiting IF your aim is to write a personal blog that creates friendships. Why must I limit myself? Where’s the fun and learning in that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, Sister! I’ve never been concerned about my stats so I’ve not gotten hooked on that kind of external validation. I agree about shorter, well-edited blog posts. Keep it snappy, keep it simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fourteen years of blogging. I just stop there and say Brava, Ally! I think that makes you an expert, even if you deign not to admit that.

    I can’t think of anything new to add here, except to emphasize PAY ATTENTION: to seasons, holidays, literary stuff I come across ~ and quirks in my family.

    Also, responding to ALL comments, and in a timely fashion. I figure if commenters took the time to read and made the effort to reply, I owe them something. The thing I missed most about leaving the classroom was interaction with students. Blogging has given me a new social circle, people I would actually choose as friends. I started my blog because it was fun. My blog friends have suggested I write my memoir. They’ve changed my life!

    As you suggest, color adds something too, and original artwork from hubs, my in-house photo restorer and line draw-er! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. marian, early on I had a tagline for my blog that said: “Pay Attention. Life is in the Details.” It was my approach to writing and life distilled into one thought. So I agree with you [obviously] when you say PAY ATTENTION.

      I believe the same thing as you do about responding to comments in a timely, and systematic, way. I enjoy the conversations and I won’t be intentionally rude by ignoring comments. Some bloggers do that & I find it off-putting.

      I’m glad you add some color and pizzazz to your blog posts. That’s what gives a good blog a sense of character, I do believe.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I would give exactly the same advice as you! It took me several years to find my voice. At first I thought I should write a certain way, more literary. Now I blog from the heart. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I agree that it takes a while to find your voice, and then even longer to figure out how to present yourself in an authentic way. Ever onward, eh?

      Like

  10. YOH! (as we say here in SA) – that’s some kickass question …
    I fear sounding preachy or pedantic. Spare me from anything that gives advice or how to. I write what I like and love. I am always grateful for comments from amazing people & I always respond. I love the small community that I have. I enjoy other people’s blogs. I like their sense of humour and their gravitas at the same time. I like reading the comments that their followers leave. I love communicating in the small way that I can. I would love to have delicious coffee or chai tea and cookies close by and time on my hands to engage more. I don’t know anything about SEO or formatting or anything … writing is hard for me, but lekker (a South African word that means nice, or great or cool) when I get into it. Thanks Ally Bean – great post! Lekker!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Susan, I’m learning SA words via you. That’s cool– and is one of the reasons that I enjoy keeping a blog. I know how you feel about wishing that we could get together in real life, as I find many bloggers to be much more in step with how I live than the people who I live around. Without blogging, my life would be lonely.

      I am a slow writer. I take forever to figure out which words to use– then what I’m really trying to say. I delete about 60% of what I write, so when I finally have something to post I’m pleased with it. And that, in the end, is what personal blogging should be about. Doing something that pleases you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too delete a lot, re-write, keep on editing – right now my posts are NOT short and pithy – I haven’t mastered that art! And on my side too, life without blogging and reading others’ would make me a lonely cloud ..

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I thought the same thing, John!

      I’ve read the comments (and your post, Ally) with interest. I have been blogging since 2001 and have many thoughts on this subject that are probably too long for the comments section.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Akilah, I didn’t know that you’d been around for such a long time. I bow to your longevity. It’s a whole different blogosphere now than the one we stepped into back then… when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I look forward to what you have to say.

        Like

          1. What matters is that it’s been a good long time and that you’re still here, blogging away. [I had to look up my first post to remember exactly when I started, so don’t feel bad.]

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  11. Hi, Ally – I completely agree with your guidelines. Here are my answers to your ‘Questions of the Day’.

    Q. If someone were to ask you for guidance about how to keep a personal blog, what would you tell them?
    A. I would stress your #4. Connect, connect, connect!

    Q. How have you envisioned your blog? How have you maintained it?
    A. My original vision of my blog was to document my retirement journey. The ‘connecting with others’ piece totally took me by surprise. Is is now what keeps me going.

    Q. If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
    I would not self-host…at least I would not start out that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, you are right, connection is vital IF you want your blog to thrive. However, I have come to realize that some people aren’t into blogging to make friends, so connecting means little to them. I move on from those people [no judgment], but not my kind of peeps.

      Interesting how you didn’t know before you started that blogging is a community experience. That’s why I got into it– to learn about how other people live their lives. And to challenge my brain to learn some new skills.

      I have never considered self-hosting, so I’m going to agree with you! I’m telling you though, plain old WP is not as awful as we sometimes make it out to be. Blogger and Typepad were nightmares for me. Never again.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. These are good guidelines. I just write the thing. I don’t put much thought into the writing bit, but I do fuss over timing and format.
    I really don’t understand why we don’t have newspaper columns at this point… beyond the obvious newspaper part, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joey, thank you. This acquaintance’s question caught me off guard, then got me thinking. I fuss over my writing, but I always did when I was in college. Writing doesn’t come quickly to me, nor am I ever satisfied with my first draft of anything. HOWEVER, once I decide what it is I want to say, I’m golden. I also fuss over timing and format, but that’s like making sure the coffee is fresh and hot before you drink it. Just plain common sense.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Elen, thank you. Plenty of white space is an excellent addition to this list. I tire of trying to read anything that lacks paragraphs and well-placed images. I realize that everyone has their own style, but making it more difficult for readers doesn’t make for easy engagement.

      I agree that you learn by doing, and I think that’s why many of my friends have never tried to keep a blog. They have the ability to do so, but are concerned about making mistakes in public. Fortunately that’s never been a problem for me!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I think your #4 is particularly important. Blogging is a reciprocal process. Of course, that also makes it time-consuming, so another good tip is don’t branch out to more than you can handle. Otherwise you could be reading blog posts all day and never get anything else done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carrie, I hear ‘ya. That’s why I limit how often I post because by the time I converse with my commenters then go comment on other blogs, I’ve put half a day into blogging. I love doing this, but I need to manage my time… and my sanity.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. 1. I’m lazy, so . . . I’d refer them to this post. 😀 And perhaps add:

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

    2. & 3. I’m convinced that happiness is the goal behind all goals ~> we are here to be happy and make others happy. I started Spirit Lights The Way to share thoughts on happiness, freedom, mindfulness, sustainable living, gratitude, health & wellness, etc., with anyone who wanted to pull up a cyber chair.

    The breadth of that template allows me to post on all manner of eclectic topics. Which suits me. Because I hate to be “fenced in.” Or bored.

    4. At the outset, I posted every day because someone told me that you needed to do that to be “seen” by the search engines. Over time, I grew more relaxed about the frequency and timing of posts. Now, I’ve got a laissez-faire approach to blogging ~> if I’ve got nothing to say, I say nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nancy,

      1. Thank you for the theoretical potential referral should you be asked for blogging guidance. Acquaintance’s questions took me by surprise.

      2. & 3. You have a clear thesis statement for your blog, that shines through in all you share there. It’s a brilliant approach to blogging for the very reason you mention, you’ll never be fenced in. I couldn’t stand that feeling either. Wouldn’t make me happy. 😉

      4. I posted daily in the beginning for the same reason. Plus way back then, pre-Twitter and pre-FB, that’s how blogs were. I take a laissez-faire approach to what I’m going to write about, but I am determined to show up at least once a week. Now which day/days of the week… well, that’s up for grabs!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Having a fun tag line to invite comments is a good one…I like being a “cool kid” because I was never one in high school. I started my blog as a way to hopefully direct people to my Etsy shop because of course I was going to make a million dollars overnight selling my cards and mini-albums. Ha! Then I realized that I secretly want to be a writer but I don’t want to have the pressure of conforming to rules so…Now I think that my goal is just to write what I feel like writing and hope to entertain or enlighten. Interestingly, I have (after about 6 years of blogging) made a few sales on my Etsy site from people I’ve met in the blogosphere.

    I would say that participating in challenges occasionally is another good way to keep the blog alive and to meet some new people. I believe I met you through the A to Z a couple of years ago and I know I have added a few new friends along the way each year. Thanks, Ally, for continuing to share your blogging guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, I hadn’t thought about the way in which a blogger invites comments sets the tone for the comments. GOOD POINT. See, you really are one of the cool kids!

      I like your basic premise for your blog– entertain or enlighten. Figuring out your underlying reason for writing a personal blog is tricky, yet once you do it’s like it was meant to be.

      Also a good point about joining online challenges. I’ve done a few of them, and to a one I’ve made bloggy friends who stop by The Spectacled Bean to this day. You are, of course, one of them. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. My one rule is: respect the time that people take out of their busy days to read your blog. It’s a very special gift. Try to leave them with a smile or perhaps something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jan, I feel the same way. No one has to read what I post so I want what I write to add value to someone’s day. In fact, that last idea may be the whole reason I continue on keeping a blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I did start over this is my second blog (with the same title both times, but on different blog formats) when I began blogging the first time back in 2008 Blake was just one and I was pregnant with Colby. My blog was about my sons and about being a mom of little guys. Now my blog is more about me and my life, which being a mom just happens to be part of. I think that if you blog about what you are interested in and keep it real people will enjoy it. My blog is probably a bit more all over the place than most peoples but, hey it works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. teacherturnedmommy, I think lots of us are on our second [or third, even] blogs. I can understand why you started over, writing from a different perspective, about more things in your life. If keeping a blog is what you decide to do then it needs to be who you are NOW. I’m all for variety within personal blogs– keeps the content fresh and allows the blogger to stretch as a writer. Win win.

      Like

      1. I stopped blogging for quite a few years because I felt like it became an expectation that I blog a certain way or share specific things. this time around I blog what I want, when I want, and I not because I feel like anyone expects something. that is the most freeing feeling this time around

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s an interesting conclusion. I know how you feel. When I first started blogging I was focused on pleasing other people, not wanting to disappoint anyone. But at some point I came to realize that if I pleased myself first, the right people would find me and follow me because my blog would be more engaging. Now, like you said, I’m free here.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. I love your list and agree with all 5, plus many of the other points that your commenters have made… so I don’t have much to add (serves me right for showing up late to the party). Engaging with ALL commenters is so important. I have actually had my feelings hurt – the sensitive soul that I am – when my blog comments don’t receive a reply. I feel that there is absolutely no excuse not to reply to all comments. Also, comment generously on other blogs you enjoy… what goes around, comes around. Don’t spend too much time on stats, unless you are monetizing your blog. The fun is in the writing and engagement. Last, don’t make your posts too long and don’t post every day. No one is that interesting and most of us are following a lot of blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I agree whole-heartedly about engaging with ALL commenters. I, too, have had my feelings hurt when my comment has been ignored– watching as the blogger talks with only some commenters, dismissing me and other people. That’s just bad manners. But like you say, what goes around, comes around. Karma, baby.

      I don’t worry about my stats at all, nor do I care about awards. I’ve been overlooked so many times that I now joke about it saying “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”

      Posting every day is a huge commitment that only a few bloggers can handle with aplomb. I’d rather see someone post less frequently, but with more depth/heart– and even then, I’d prefer to read a well-edited post.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’d recommend that they come up with a goal for how often they want to write and try to stick with it. From experience, if I get too off track and miss several days, I kind of fall out of the habit and it’s hard to get back into it.

    I also like the comment of building community with others. Blogging is a great way to connect with new people and especially important if you want to grow your readership.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erika, I agree. GOOD POINT. I’m the same way as you are, without a specific goal I’d just drift away from the blogosphere. I am here once a week, maybe more– but always once [barring vacations, computer woes, and sickness].

      I’m find that bloggers who I follow are cognizant of how important it is to have a community, not necessarily a niche.

      I assume that if you keep a personal public blog then you want readership, but I’ve been proved wrong. Sometimes I stumble over a blogger who only wants attention + comments, never intending to reciprocate interest in other bloggers. I feel sorry for those people, they’re missing the best part of blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For real — I have met so many interesting people through my blog. Between this blog and my other one, I’ve been at it for 3.5 years. So much easier for me to connect with people on here than in real life, being a rather shy introvert!

        Liked by 1 person

  20. On how to keep a personal blog? I WOULD say, that’s personal, but you’d probably expect something like that coming from me. All kidding aside, though, I feel that everyone’s blog is personal to them. So many reasons why we start one. Myself, I knew when I started mine I wanted to aim for the funny bone. Who would have ever thought just how bad that aim would turn out to be? In many respects, I suspect we all aspire to offer posts that bespeak a little about who we are while still providing some unique spin on whatever topic we care to touch on. However, what I originally envisioned for my blog has gradually evolved into something quite different. The look, the style, even the subject matter all took a turn (somewhere out there over the moon) for what has become, the surreal. Have I become unhappy with what I’ve created? Far from it. Instead, I feel the blog has become something beautifully unimaginable and unrecognizable from what I initially dreamed. As with any creation, I think we always look to improve on it any way we can, but with my blog, I tend to resist wholesale changes in favour of tweaking it around the edges. For me, I like playing around with the headings, captions, and phrasings, it always feels like I’m planting flowers—thus delaying the weed infestation on my blog. So, I suppose my guide for a blog might be to say—let it blossom and trim it occasionally. It’s yours, write in it when you feel like it and when you don’t, don’t—it’ll still be there when you have bulbs to plant. Oh, one more thing. I wholeheartedly agree with thanking those who take the time to drop by and comment, by responding to their comments. I can honestly say that that is the best part of my blog—and the most fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In My Cluttered Attic, “I suspect we all aspire to offer posts that bespeak a little about who we are while still providing some unique spin on whatever topic we care to touch on.” Beautifully said. That’s exactly why I started my first blog. I had no idea what I was going to write about, or from what angle, but l knew that I wanted to express myself.

      I also agree with you that the blog I have going on now is NOTHING like the blog I initially imagined. I thought I’d be like Kermit on the Muppet Show tossing silly little snippets of ideas and fun links out there– dealing with wacko people. Instead I feel like I’m Irma Bombeck, observing suburban life, seeing the humor and beauty in it– and within myself.

      I adore your gardening metaphor. That makes perfect sense to me. We all blossom in our own personal blogs, creating a garden that looks good to us.

      Yes, I wonder about bloggers who don’t interact via comments. Are they afraid of being vulnerable? It’s the conversation among people who read your blog that ultimately makes the blog interesting. I figure I’m the catalyst… and y’all just take it away from there!

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      1. Thank you, Ally. I love this, I mean, this, this is what I imagined blogging would be, though, I’ve also come to realize it’s something of a smorgasbord as well. There are so many avenues one could take when first starting to blog. Most blogs encourage commenting, but there are those who don’t and that’s fine too. But, I feel most bloggers go into this because they love to write and express themselves—even if it might happen to be what they do for a living—with the hope of getting feedback and interacting with their readers—I love that. Still, that idea you had about going into this as Kermit the Frog—you must have come to the same conclusion as Kermit, that it’s not easy being green—dealing with wackos (furry or otherwise) is mighty intriguing—not that there’s anything wrong following in the footsteps of Irma Bombeck, but I heard she liked to hop on one foot a lot, so that conjures up another interesting image for me to contemplate—you writing while your hopping. Nevertheless, I feel as you do, that bloggers are missing the funnist part of the blogging experience when they pass on commenting. But, C’est la vie! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I most definitely got the point of “it’s not easy being green” when I kept a blog based on my Muppet Show idea. I ended up feeling like I was constantly doing the Kermie arm wave– instead of saying anything of value. In fact, I dropped out of blogging for a little over a year, then came back with a re-newed sense of purpose and a different approach to interacting with readers. I attempt to inform more now, instead of just entertaining. Less silly, but never too serious.

          I mean I know that my take on life is often considered humorous, but I allow myself to be more well-rounded here on The Spectacled Bean than I did in previous blogs. And because of this more authentic approach to writing, I’ve got gentle readers who comment. Often. And with lots of great insights into what makes them tick. I love it.

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            1. Totally agree. I find that many people are too impatient to let the voice/style process evolve, so they give up on blogging almost before they start. Like Joanne said below, blogging is a lifestyle.

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  21. I think your 5 guidelines are perfect. #5 is my favourite 🙂

    I agree that the community and social aspect of blogging is the best. I don’t always have something to say when I’m reading someone else’s blog, but I try to comment more often than not. I really don’t understand bloggers who don’t – as a minimum – acknowledge a comment. I quickly lose interest and abandon those bloggers. Without the interaction, I just don’t care.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that blogging is a lifestyle, and as such, it requires time and effort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joanne, BRILLIANT OBSERVATION. Blogging is a lifestyle that requires a commitment to it if you are to find it rewarding. Never thought of that.

      I try to comment when I can, but like you I’ll abandon bloggers who don’t respond to my comment– preferably in their blog comment section [not via email like it was when I first started]. Good blogging is about the conversation– and reciprocal interest in someone else’s life. So simple, so profound.

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      1. Now that I think of it, it’s not much different than talking to people in person. We all know ‘those people’ who talk, talk, talk … it’s all about them, they never show any interest in what you’re doing, or what you think.
        For the same reason I avoid those people like the plague, I stop reading blogs of people who don’t engage.

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        1. That’s a good point, too. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but you’re right. In many ways blogging goes beyond writing a letter home to tell everyone how you’re doing to being a chat with a friend over coffee. And like you said, some people just. never. shut. up. about. themselves.

          We’re too sensible for that kind of nonsense; we don’t need those people in our lives, in real life or the blogosphere. 😎

          Liked by 1 person

  22. I wasn’t sure how well I was going to match up with these guidelines since I’m kind of an oddball in the blogosphere… but most of them are pretty close to the way I try to operate as well. Especially the pretty part. There are so many bloggers out there whose posts are literally unreadable because they remind me of reading novels with small print, no pictures, and paragraphs that just go on and on and on and…….. yawn. It is a proven fact that…. well, OK, it’s not a proven fact, but I’m of the belief that well placed photos can make even long posts seem so much more reader friendly. Particularly if they have funny captions. Funny captions should be mandatory…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, I’d say that you adhere to my guidelines to a T. Granted your topic is oddball, but how you keep your blog is spot on to the way in which I keep mine.

      I know what you mean about finding acres of words on a blog, sans pictures and paragraphs, then wondering if reading the post is worth it. I do the same thing. I’ll read a novel, no problem– but blogging is a different medium and as such needs more white space– and color, if possible.

      I like your guideline requiring funny captions. I don’t always do that, but when I do readers comment on the picture. Good point.

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    1. Sarah, I feel the same way. Never would I ever have thought that I’d get to know so many people from all over the globe… while sitting in my jammies drinking coffee every morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Great guidelines, Ally! I am only one year into my blogging journey and am enjoying it, though I spent much of the past year trying to figure out many things. How do I resize photos, add html widgets, use Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I am still working on figuring out how to use each social media platform but feel more comfortable.

    I started my blog in 2012 to share my move to Ecuador journey with family. It sat ignored for a few years. In 2017 I decided to begin “real” blogging and jumped into the A-Z Challenge. LOVED it and continued!

    If someone were to ask you for guidance about how to keep a personal blog, what would you tell them?
    If you have a goal before you begin, great! Start writing toward that goal. If you don’t , that’s okay, just start writing. Your writing style and content will morph as you go along your own journey. Respond to every comment and visit the commenter’s blog if you can find it.

    How have you envisioned your blog? How have you maintained it?
    Few people globally are very familiar with Ecuador. I wanted to help change that.

    After the A-Z last year, I wrote every Monday until December, when I missed a couple of weeks. That snowballed into missing weeks in Jan, Feb, Mar. Hopefully I’ll get back to weekly after A-Z this year but if I miss some weeks, I’m okay with that.

    One thing I envisioned writing about was my day to day life. As it turns out, I don’t write about that at all. Perhaps I will one day but not now.

    If you were to start over, what would you do differently?
    I would have started another blog in 2017 for the A-Z Challenge instead of dusting off my old one. I still have no proper introductory post from the beginning, like a “Hi, I’m Emily and I’ll be blogging about blah, blah, blah.” post. I would start the blog with that and go from there. In fact, I need to rectify that and write one soon.

    Guess I was a bit talkative, Ally Bean. LOL!

    Emily In Ecuador

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emily, finding your comment has made my morning. You have such an interesting blog creation story, one that I think is most unique– and therefore wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

      When you say “just start writing” you’ve hit the nail on the head. When it comes to blogging you have to jump in, be willing to make public mistakes, then trust yourself to know when to change your blog in order for it to reflect who you are now. In other words, make yourself vulnerable.

      For me having a weekly writing goal is vital because as you found out, it’s easy to put off publishing a post… waiting just another week… until *oops!* I forgot about my blog. Been there, done that.

      I firmly believe that it’s never too late to write a proper introductory post, or to re-do the one you have done already. Good blogs are forever evolving as the writer does the same thing in real life. You’ll figure out how to get yours to be what you want it to be. I just know it.

      I like talkative commenters, btw. They make blogging more fun for me.

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  24. “Yes, I know a thing or two about keeping a personal blog, while not losing your mind in the process.”
    Well, you have not lost MY mind. I enjoyed this and read it all the way to the end! I would not presume to critique your writing, but you’re good, you’re good. It’s a rare thing.
    I honestly can’t remember when I started personal blogging, unless you count writing letters to people when I was a kid. I still approach it that way, which might have its downside but of all the things in life that might not absolutely require rules, writing is certainly one of them. Except for punctuation of course. Don’t get me started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Roy, I’m blushing here. Thank you for the compliments. Truth be told I had to find my first blog post to get the exact date on which I started my first blog, so I understand how you might not know your beginning date.

      Like you, in the beginning I thought of each post as a letter home– I was told that was a great way to write a blog. Eventually I morphed more into a pseudo-newspaper columnist, writing about whatever strikes my fancy.

      I agree with you about what is quickly becoming a topic I think of as: The Problem With Punctuation. I like it, but man-oh-man our socially-mediated society has other ideas. 🙄

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  25. Authentic voice – that’s the biggie I think. Of course it helps if you can write as well as that Ally Bean 🙂

    I remember hearing Garrison Keilor’s ‘Lake Wobegon Days’ for the first time a few years (it was serialised on BBC radio here in the UK). I now have it on my iPod and have been known to listen to it at night when I’m struggling to sleep. There’s a restful tone about it, but the bite is there, it’s just tucked away out of sight. I recall laughing myself stupid over one of his observations about Catholics. What my waffling is building up to is that your blog reminds me of that experience. And whilst I wish I could write that way too, we have to be ourselves …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. deb, I’m flattered. Thank you.

      I agree with you 100% that you have to first know who you are and be authentic to it, then let yourself write that way. It took me years to figure out how to communicate in a manner that allowed me to share my own personality within the confines of blogging platforms. I still have troubles some days.

      Also, it took me a while to determine just how much of my life I’d put out here. Ally Bean is genuine, but she has her limits about what she’ll talk about here in the blog.

      I haven’t listened to Garrison Keillor in years. At one time we were faithful listeners, but got out of the habit. I remember how his observations could make me laugh out loud– long before we all LOLed.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. My current blog is very, very different from any I’ve had before. I put more of myself into the past blogs and not putting more of myself in my current one is incredibly hard for me! (And I’ve been trying recently to overcome that.) As for giving advice, I used to do this often and trying to think now of how I’d advise a new blogger… er… I suppose: just write what you want, and what you need, but don’t assume that people are going to read you unless you write something that they enjoy. I see so many new blogs where the blogger is lecturing invisible readers about how to live their lives, or where they are not visiting anyone else’s blog or replying to any comments. I try to reply to all in mine (apart from the occasional few that I miss or forget about. We’re all human.)

    I’ve seen your name around the blogosphere for some years and visit from time to time, but I think this is the first time I’ve commented here, so I’m not exactly taking my own advice! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Val, thank you for reading and deciding to comment. I appreciate that.

      I don’t know if I could not put myself into a blog, but I’m fascinated by your decision to do so. Kind of intrigued, actually.

      You’re onto a good point about writing what you need to write. I hadn’t thought of that angle to blogging, but if you don’t feel that you need to share something then you’d be marking time with a blog.

      Your words, “I see so many new blogs where the blogger is lecturing invisible readers about how to live their lives,” ring true with me. So many authorities anymore… 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get terribly side-tracked when I include too much of myself in a blog post, so when I made my current one I decided to avoid as much of it as possible but, as you can tell from my comments here – it’s hard! 🙂

        Have you noticed how many of the ‘lecturers’ and ‘advisors’ are below 20yrs old?

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Well said, Ally Bean!
    For guidance, I would tell anyone exactly what you said, in your blogging guidelines. In fact I would send them to this post.

    My blog has undergone a few name changes since I started it in 2009 – first it was The Next Year of My Life, then it was Hete Bliksem, then it was Primal of Life (extremely briefly), and now it is the Widow Badass Blog. So, for additional guidance to a new personal blogger, I would say don’t be afraid to change the name or scope if you feel it is needed, as your own life changes. It is pretty damn easy to import your previous posts into your new blog. There’s a plugin for that!

    If I were to start over, I would post more frequently – blogging is cheaper than therapy, after all! 😉

    Deb

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deb, thank you. Anyone who can benefit from my guidelines is welcome to them.

      You make an excellent point about changing the name of your blog as you go along. I’ve a had a few blogs in which I tried different approaches to writing about myself and my life, but this last one seems to be spot on to who I am. I just tire of typing the name. However if I hadn’t started somewhere long gone, I wouldn’t be here now. Of course there were no plug-ins when I was messing around with different blogs, so those posts are long gone. Ok by me.

      I agree that blogging is cheaper than therapy. And it’s more immediate, too. I get the idea/issue sorted out in my head, then slap it down into a blog post, letting other people chime in right now. Gotta love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you for sharing. I’m new to this blogging thing and just started this February. My main purpose for the time being is to improve my writing skills and just simply sharing my thoughts because I have a problem in constructing sentences fast, my lack in vocabulary, and telling someone about what I really want to say. It’s putting me a lot of pressure right now, now that I am a Senior High student and haven’t decided what I want to be in the future. Your guidelines helped me especially number 5. I always take myself too seriously so thank you for reminding me. I’m not yet sure if I should make blogging as part of my life though. We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OneAndOnlyDemoiselle, I’m happy that these guidelines seem useful to you. I’ve enjoyed my years of keeping a blog, but I’m the first to admit that I’ve changed what I write about and how I write about it over the years. Flexibility, as in not taking yourself too seriously, has worked for me. I do my best to write clearly, but if I make a mistake or change my mind down the road I’m cool with letting people know I’ve goofed up or come to a different conclusion.

      I wish you well with your blog and your ability to learn how to express yourself in a way that feels right to you. It takes a while to figure that out. Thanks for taking the time to read this and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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