Before you get started blogging, there are three things you must understand. Three things that you can’t ignore.
You Are Writing Publicly
You’re not just writing in your private journal, for your co-workers, or for a controllable semi-private audience. You’re writing for the world. This shouldn’t terrify you and keep you from writing.
It shouldn’t make your writing stiff and formal. It shouldn’t trap you in that black hole of editing and proofing a draft over and over and never having the courage to click publish. But it probably will.
Your job, as a blogger, is to click publish, and keep improving from then on. Performing in front of a huge audience is terrifying, so focus on the real people you actually know and write as if you were writing for them.
Defeat the blank screen and write for the world with real people in mind. Make your content interesting for them all. You are writing publicly.
You Are Responsible
Write responsibly. That doesn’t mean you have to water down your message. But, because you’re writing for the world, you must be aware of the effect your writing will have.
I’m not just talking on how your content affects people on a personal level,but also how it affects you legally. This includes issues such as copyright and trademark infringement, libel, deep linking, paid-for posts or content, privacy, content theft, and even, though you might be blogging in another country, an understanding of U.S. law. Your innocent blogging intentions have legal ramifications.
You can’t steal content, you can’t make up quotes, you can’t falsify information, you can’t lie and say you didn’t, and you need to be able to back up your claims. It’s easy to get a blog; there are free options everywhere. A low barrier to entry doesn’t negate these responsibilities.
You are responsible for the content you create. Understand that.
You Must Be Honest
Usually when people talk about honesty in relation to a creative activity (which writing and blogging is), they tend to point it back towards self. As in “you must be honest with yourself.”
Write honestly so you can live with yourself. Write honestly, but don’t let it be an excuse to be a jerk. So yes, be honest with yourself. But you must be honest with your audience above all.
Don’t let marketing trends ever come before being honest with your readers. Don’t let what a social media marketing guru-ninja-expert-maven tells you to do ever supercede your responsibility to be honest to your audience. Don’t hook, snare, or deceive your reader in any fashion and use them merely as a means to an end.
What you write, how you engage, what you present, and what you promise – it must be done honestly. You must have an audience that trusts you, or you have nothing.
How do you build trust?
There is no app for building trust, no gimmick, no formula. Trust is built over time by being honest.
If you say something will work, it had better work. If it doesn’t work for your reader, you’re a liar to them. If you get paid to review or write a blog post, you had better tell your reader up-front. You do all of these things not because you don’t want trouble with the FCC or other bloggers, but because you care about your audience.
If your first inclination isn’t to be honest with your reader, but to make money off of them or use them as a springboard for personal gain, do everyone a favor and stop blogging.