Rule number one, there are no rules. Ok, so that’s not technically true (and our SEO guru will attempt to sacrifice me for making such a claim), but hang in there while I explain the importance of my choice of opening line.
You’ve read, or been told, that fortnightly blogging (at a minimum) is marketing 101. Unless you’re a natural wordsmith, chances are you’ve scribbled the word ‘blog’ at the end of the to do list and anything that crops up thereafter, you can’t bring yourself to prioritise beneath it. In fact, every time the word catches your eye you take a short moment to will it to fall off the bottom of the page. The persistent bugger remains.
Among much of the business world, the concept of blogging has somewhere along the way earned itself the hashtag ‘chore’, being something one has to do, rather than something one chooses. Perhaps this can be attributed to the time-poor nature of modern society, or maybe we marketers are to blame for forcing it down throats, rather than nurturing it onto the to do list or letting it occur naturally. Regardless of what the reason, much of the business world has built up a reluctance to blog and when we sit down to write we find ourselves writing words for the sake of words and consulting a rule book.
Back to Basics
What if we took a moment to strip back the concept of blogging to its rawest form? Could we then cut it some slack? Moreover, would rethinking the idea of blogging make us better writers?
Blogging is in essence the technological derivative of journaling, a dynamic alternative to pen and paper. Traditionally, reflective writing was used personally, to make sense out of rich, complex, often confusing learnings and experiences, confronting ideas and interactions. Journals provided a landscape of untouched parchment, ready to be explored – no rules attached. It is pretty safe to say that when Ann Frank lay on her rickety single bed within the walls of her ‘lopsided’ hidden annex, she wasn’t consulting a list of writing rules before sprawling her thoughts and feelings onto the pages of her beloved journal. And, those untamed words are among the most influential of all time.
Park the Rule Book
Take a moment to ask yourself, if you could share absolutely anything with the pages of a journal, what would it be? It’s amazing where the mind can take us when it is given complete and utter freedom.
Unfortunately, technological advances have corrupted the writing landscape somewhat. Search engine algorithms now dictate the structure, length and word choice of our instalments, meaning that business people wanting maximum marketing value from their blogging efforts must adhere to certain guidelines. And there you have it, out of the window goes the empowering feeling of creative freedom and completely untamed self-expression, and in creeps the feeling of disdain traditionally likened to the feeling of having to hoover the house prior to the existence of the Dyson (James, we are forever in your debt).
You’re not alone. Every time I sit down to blog I get halfway through my ramblings (which is approximately now) and remember that I haven’t even considered how I might infuse any valuable keywords amid the content, needed to rank for SEO. Following this thought, comes another thought (approximately now)… I give about zero shits.
So, by this point my SEO Strategist is likely to move ahead with public sacrifice for not only making my previous claim (which to recap was ‘Rule number one, there are no rules’) but for then showing it unwavering support. So I guess for self-preservation reasons, I should get to the point.
Google and its ever-changing algorithms have sucked the life out of blogging. What was once a landscape to explore is now seemingly peppered with preordained hurdles, putting off so many from becoming a regular participant of the blogosphere. Whether you’re a doctor or an engineer, a mechanic or a hairdresser, sitting down to approach blogging with an overwhelming focus on a need to incorporate the word ‘scalpel’, ‘inertia’, ‘piston’ or ‘belayage’ into your prose a minimum of once in the headline, two times in each paragraph and so on, is going to leave you with a handful of words on the page. What’s more, those words are likely to leave your reader’s mouth as dry as eating a packet of water crackers without a sip of water.
I threw caution to the wind a long time ago and decided that the rules can take a royal hike to the very end of the road and that I would decide when and where that road would end. Making the conscious decision to design my own approach to blogging, whereby creative freedom was prioritised, followed by a consideration for the rules at the back end of my blogging experience, changed my world. Writer’s block was no longer a thing.
The Token Takeaway
Well, I won’t be proceeding at this point to list out my tips and tricks for SEO optimisation. Why? Because I’m told I have to write one of these things every week – to increase traffic or some shit – and who the hell has time for that or enough ideas for that matter? I jest. (For those of you who know me will know I’d write daily if they let me and ideas are definitely not something I’m short of).
The real reason is that I want this one to sit with you for a while and sink in. I’m so much more about creative freedom than I am about SEO (OK, now I’m definitely dead), and if I keep those nuggets of gold to myself for a little while longer, one of you might – while waiting with bated breath for my second instalment – have a crack at going old school and letting your imagination go wild, uninfluenced and unrestricted.
So, while I crack on with that. The next time you sit down to approach a blog remember my opening line (rule one, there are no rules). While it may not be technically true and a list of SEO guidelines do exist, should be considered, and will be on their way to you shortly, let the concept of having no restrictions or limitations lead the way. The open-mindedness that stems from complete freedom will uncover a world of words you never knew you could access.