Rules, Rules and More Bloody Rules!

I don’t like rules. They restrict you and suppress your creativity. I don’t think all rules are bad and many obviously have a place in ensuring a more stable society for the majority, but not all rules are good, or even relevant. I definitely followed more rules when I was younger, but I’ve had the good fortune of meeting great people along the way who made me question some of them, and as a result, it helped me to question all of them. Some I stick too, many I’ve let go – it’s a good thing to question the rules you follow I reckon.

Anyway, there’s a new world of rules now, and it’s associated with blogging and social media in general. I started blogging more than a year ago. I didn’t go anywhere or read anything or seek any advice, I just knew it was something I wanted/needed to do and so I did it. As it’s evolved, I’ve learnt a lot, launched another professional blog, and I’m working it out as I go, generally finding that what I write seems to resonate with some pretty respectable folk. Both of the blogs are growing in readership, people are generally positive, and while both are very different, they seem to be achieving good things.

But what’s starting to annoy me is the constant, incessant and never ending “rules” doing the rounds about blogging – well pretty much all social media. I should be clear, I’m not talking about guidance or advice, I’m talking about rules – that’s what’s shitting me. The difference between rules and guidance is “this is what you must do to succeed” versus “this is what has worked for me and I’m passing on that experience.” I read a lot of different takes on this world, take on board some of it, but the reality is, the people who launched this “new world” weren’t following any rules, they created it, but now people want to apply rules to it.

I appreciate that this is a sign of something maturing, but if everyone follows the rules all the time, it’s going to get very very boring and become predictable. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.

This “issue” became more apparent to me recently. One of the ways to extend blog reach beyond your community is Twitter. I finally joined up a little while ago and have two streams – @withoutbollocks and @SAJEIdeas – both are very very different, focused on my two worlds – professional and personal. Since starting, I often sit there and look at the stream, bewildered by all the rules doing the rounds, as I ask myself – why do human beings feel the need to apply rules to everything? What a sure way to kill creativity! I actually find it all a bit depressing. Sharing wisdom is great but constantly being told how to do things, well that’s what gets to me.

If someone asked me for my “guidance” I’d say
  • If you want to blog, for whatever reason, do it and have fun
  • Read and share advice from great people offer it based on experience rather than rules, but I’d make sure that what I/you share is relevant to the person receiving it. While it’s always great to read other’s advice, try not to follow it unless it resonates with you. Only you know what you want to achieve and there may be no rules available to help you do that
  • I’d suggest you write well and if you can’t, work hard at improving – because the biggest turn off is bad writing – but don’t let that stop you. Friends and family especially, can be quite forgiving, and great blogs are always more important than great execution – but it does help
  • Get going, observe your world, write, have fun, listen to your readers, ask for feedback, change tack if you’re not getting the response you want and give it time to build – and it really does take time to build credibility. People can take time to realise that you’re someone worth their effort to follow – especially with a professional blog as you will have attention “competition”
  • Market your blog as widely as you can to get readership beyond your immediate community – if you want that – Google+ and Twitter are great tools for this
  • Grow a thick skin – some people scan the Web looking to be turds and sometimes people you know personally can be turds. If you’re going to be controversial don’t expect everyone to love you for it
  • And finally, DON’T FOLLOW THE RULES unless they work for you

The most important thing is to enjoy it and build something that sits well with you. Some of the advice doing the rounds is great, but some of it is just “air” so beware the eager advice giver, especially when things are positioned as rules. We’ve all got to do things in our own way, and who knows, if you don’t follow the rules, you might start a new revolution – that is how it was started after all? You certainly can’t evolve any medium if you only follow. As with most things, just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it works for you.

Yours, without the bollocks

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