I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG
I’ve been blogging since 2010. Check that. I have been writing and pressing “publish” on WordPress since 2010. I’ve been doing it wrong. So would a Blogging Code of Conduct have been helpful? Oh hell to the yeah.
Here’s the rub. I can write. I love to write. My boss tells me I’m the best writer in the television station, and since we are a company of journalists and copy writers that’s pretty cool, but…
Blogging is not just writing. Obviously blogging should mean adhering to an ethical standard, and I’ve got no issue there. Real blogging, good blogging, really good blogging also refers to the way the blog conducts itself. A code of conduct. Best practices, if you will.
That’s where my “but” lives. I am all about being ethical but my blogging conduct is whack. My problem is two-fold I haven’t written nor published a clear mission, and I’m not nearly engaging enough. I’m not guest blogging and I’m not doing a great job of engaging my audience. I’m not getting my blog in enough places to grow. I just write. That isn’t a blogging best practice, that’s just…writing. So I’m kinda batting .500.
INTERACTIVITY IN PERSONAL BLOGGING
When you look at a proposed blogger codes of ethics (Kuhn, M. 2007) I’m struck by the importance and value of engaging with your blog audience. The blogs I read and enjoy are the personal blogs. The best personal bloggers have style, voice and a mission but they also interactively engage their audience. Personal bloggers all need a clear mission, adhered to consistently to find their audience. The interactivity translates to growing an audience. But actually engaging with the audience is damn hard, time-consuming business. I guess I could just forego sleep altogether. Big sigh.
KNOW WHO ISN’T DOING IT WRONG?
Let’s look at a blog that I admire and touch on the differences between hers and mine. Parenthetically I’m just flat out jealous but let’s not go there.
I’ve been reading People I want to Punch in the Throat which is available at: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com. (Mann, J. u.d.)
It’s a personal blog written by Jen Mann and unlike my own blog, she is very clear in her mission, which is a must in personal blogging best practices. In a writing style that signals the mission to come, she says two things in the “about” section of her blog which illustrate her mission.
This blog is called People I Want to Punch in the Throat not Rainbows and Unicorns. I’m a funny writer who was once described as “acerbic with a surprising warmth.” I like that description a lot, so I keep using it. I’ve also been described as Erma Bombeck – with f-bombs. Erma would hate that, but I think that’s high fucking praise.
(Mann, J. u.d.) Jen’s blog is earthy, contemporary and usually funnier than hell. Writing about interesting attention-grabbing topics is, I think, one of the personal blog best practices and she does it well. From the Elf on a Shelf Birthing Video to Transvaginal Ultrasound to Mean Moms at the School Concert (Mann, J. u.d.) the blog posts are always colorful, sometimes cringe worthy and unfailingly genuine.
The People I Want To Punch In The Throat blog does three things that constitute best practices in my view:
- articulate and adhere to a clear mission
- be transparent about who you are
- engaging with readers
BTW, did ya see how I refer to the blogger as “Jen”…as though I know her? I don’t but I think I’d like to, and her blog makes me feel like I already do. That’s what real blogging engagement feels like! Put that one in the win column for PIWTPITT. Jen’s blog features a Feedburner email subscription option and widgets that make it easy to follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. On FB alone she has nearly a quarter of a million followers. Mann is doing it so right. Big green jealous sigh.
I have my work cut out for me – cuz I ain’t there yet. I am solid on the ethics side so my blogging isn’t a complete dud. You can find a bit more written about blogging ethics and it all falls into three buckets, honesty/fairness, minimizing harm and accountability. (Kuhn, M. 2007) For those of us who write personal blogs, unless we are complete jerks it’s no biggee to be honest and do no harm. Easy peasy.
Finally, the PIWTPITT blog has found a way to monetize the writing (just shoot me now) and her complete transparency about that is important from both an ethics and a conduct standpoint. Accountability. Jen nails it
I do write sponsored content occasionally, but only for brands I really, really like. I like to work with brands that are a good fit for me and my audience. A couple of the brands I’ve worked with are Responsiblity.org, Hallmark/Shoebox, and Enell. (All of my favorite things: booze, sarcasm, and supportive bras.)
I was poking around and found another blogging code of ethics, put together by cyberjournalist.net and it is available here. http://pcij.org/blog/bloggers-code-of-ethics (Blogger’s Code of Ethics 2007) It’s kinda Ambien-on-a-website if you know what I mean, but the principles are solid. Honesty, sensitivity, corrections, all that good stuff. Like I said earlier, I think the ethics piece is actually easier to achieve and certainly find more written about than the blogging code of conduct.
DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT
Personally I like Jen’s mantra. (Mann, J. undated) When I articulate my own mission it will be keeping it in mind.
If you don’t have a sense of humor and you can’t laugh at yourself, then this isn’t the place for you. Thanks for stopping by, but don’t waste your time leaving in a huff, it just makes me want to hire a band to see you out the door.
Bloggers Code of Ethics. U.D. The PCIJ Blog. Retrieved from: http://pcij.org/blog/bloggers-code-of-ethics
Kuhn, M. (2007). Interactivity and Prioritizing the Human: A Code of Blogging Ethics. Journal Of Mass Media Ethics, 22(1), 18-36. doi:10.1080/08900520701315244 Retrieved from:http://pn8vx3lh2h.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/summon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Interactivity+and+prioritizing+the+human%3A+A+code+of+blogging+ethics&rft.jtitle=Journal+of+Mass+Media+Ethics&rft.au=Kuhn%2C+N&rft.date=2007&rft.eissn=1532-7728&rft.volume=22&rft.issue=1&rft.spage=18&rft.epage=36&rft.externalDBID=n%2Fa&rft.externalDocID=CAX0300060002003¶mdict=en-US
Mann, J. (undated) People I want to Punch in the Throat. Retrieved from: http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com