I like Blogger Brad Shorr‘s list of 12 Most Horrible Pieces of Blogging Advice (no longer available online). It’s a good list, well worth reading, good food for thought. More important, in my opinion, is that it’s also an eloquent reminder of the essential case-by-case rule that applies not only to business blogging but also to all of small business, beyond blogging.
Here’s Brad’s list of 12 pieces of bad advice:
- Keep posts under 300 words
- Stick to a rigid publishing schedule
- Blogs are an SEO shortcut
- Bloggers need to be edgy
- Images aren’t important
- Blogs should be monetized
- All it takes to succeed is quality content
- Cultivate reciprocal links
- You must use a custom design
- Blogging has been replaced by social media
- Corporate blog content can be outsourced
- It’s all about subscribers.
In most of these cases, Brad takes a commonly accepted best practice or general rule and points out the exceptions. He sums up most of this with his very first item, for which he explains:
Beware of absolutes. This advice stems from the generalization that all blog readers are in a hurry. However, if your blog’s purpose is to provide information or analysis, and you’re good at it, people will be willing to read five times that word count.
In other cases, advice that used to be good advice has gone stale. For his #8, on reciprocal links, he explains:
This is an outdated SEO tactic that can now do more harm than good if you have links coming in from bad sources. For audience building only, reciprocal linking is OK, but only when you are selective in terms of the relevance and quality of your link partners.
And that, aside from blogging specifics, is the real nugget in this particular post. Attractive as advice and guidelines are, out here in the real world everything is case by case. The only rule is that there are no rules. Best practices only work when applied carefully with a lot of respect for the specifics of context and a lot of flexibility to use not as directed.
I’m sure that applies for small business too, not just blogging. And maybe for life in general too? What do you think?