`Blogging is one of the “newer” forms of media and as such, there are really no set rules on how to do it. It’s more like one of those things that you naturally pick up as you go. More often than not, we rely on our common sense and personal moral compass. However, they may be times where what’s right for us may be wrong for others – and vice versa. This is why a set of rules and ethics commonly agreed upon is necessary. However, for blogging, what are those rules? What are blogging ethics we should know about?
Blogging ethics vary from one blogger to another but here are the ones everyone can probably agree on:
Always put out original content and never plagiarize. This is ethics that apply to anything, especially in creatives, so this should also apply in blogging. As much as possible, write everything down in your own words. If a quote from somewhere particularly resonated with you, you can always directly quote them. Of course, this also means that you should always give where credit is due. If you find yourself using a particular image or artwork, always remember to attribute or link back to the original creator – unless it’s free for use. The work we put out is our pride – that is also the same for others. We expect to be credited if someone uses our words and so, we should also do the same. Of course, before using anything from others, it is always better to ask permission from them. This does not only inform them of our intentions, but it is also a sign of respect.
Accountability is another important aspect of ethics, not just in blogging. Creating and growing a blog is a big responsibility. This means that as bloggers, when we make mistakes, we should take responsibility. Words are a powerful weapon, especially in blogging, so we should be much more careful of the words we write down. Making mistakes is unavoidable, the best thing we can do is to recognize what we’ve done wrong, apologize to those we have offended, and strive to be better. Take note of the mistakes and never repeat them again. Furthermore, our actions should also reflect that we have also learned from our mistakes – not just our words.
Accountability also applies to merchandise you are planning to sell for your blog or business. Many people have lifted designs they just found on Google Images or Instagram or Pinterest, and decide to use that for their merchandise. That’s wrong as that is not only stealing others’ work, but it is also stealing the money that could’ve gone to the original artist. If you are planning to sell merchandise, make sure that it is your own design (see: originality).
Always be mindful of your actions and their consequences.
Honesty doesn’t just mean being totally transparent about what you do that it blurs your personal and blogging life. There are boundaries, but always remember that it is always best to be honest with your audience. Creating a false persona is not only exhausting for you, but it is only setting up false expectations with your audience. This destroys the trust you have carefully built with them.
Honesty is a really big part of blogging. For some blogs, especially those that have a significant following, sponsored posts are already a part of your content. However, just because it’s sponsored or promotional, does not mean that you should be dishonest about the content. The bottom line is: don’t say or write anything down that you yourself don’t believe. This also applies to product reviews – don’t sell anything you wouldn’t use on yourself, and don’t write about it if you have not had first-hand experience with it.
A relationship with your audience is very important, and it always starts with honesty.
Content First, SEO Second
Of course, generating traffic for our blogs is important. However, the most essential part of blogs is their content – not their keywords. For most bloggers, if not all, the main reason why we started blogging is that we wanted to share information. We should never forget about that. SEO is important to stand out among competitors, but focusing too much on it will undoubtedly make the content of our blogs suffer. What use do SEOs and keywords have if the content is boring, bland, or even unreadable? Content is king and it should always be engaging and relatable to the audience. SEOs are just there to make our blogs easily searchable.
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First published in August 2020; updated October 2021