My advice for writers and bloggers

Over the past few years I have been asked by many new and established bloggers what the secret is to blogging successfully. In fact, I’ve been asked so many times that I started thinking about it quite a bit and I’ve come up with the answer.

There is no secret. Stop looking for it because you’re not going to find it.

I’ve seen posts on the Internet that claim to give you the best tips for running a successful blog, but I think it’s all bullshit. If you follow that advice, you’ll spend more time working on the site than doing what’s important — writing content.

Here is the one rule that I follow and have followed for the last 20 years of writing: Be honest.

That’s it. I don’t worry about SEO, or making sure that I have lots of keywords in the headlines or anything but writing the content and believing that what I write is the truth.

The only thing I have to offer my readers is honesty. They deserve that from me.

There is no doubt that I have a lot of fun writing and I take companies like Samsung, RIM and Microsoft to task for some of the silly things they say. I also believe that what I say in those stories is the truth.

I stand behind my opinions on those stories, but honesty doesn’t mean you should be blind. I read a lot of differing opinions and if I’m wrong, then I’ll admit it. You see, honesty goes both ways.

I don’t always go with the popular opinion among my fellow journalists, but I’m comfortable in stepping out on my own and speaking my mind.

I certainly don’t expect everyone will agree with the opinions that I write on The Loop and that’s okay. In fact, it’s great. What a boring world we would live in if everyone agreed with me, all the time.

I enjoy reading articles where the writer has an opinion that they can back up. The stories I hate are the ones that take both sides of an argument so they don’t offend anyone. What’s the point of writing that?

I appreciate all the support my readers give me, whether that’s by becoming a member, subscribing to the RSS, following me on Twitter or reading the site.

I do believe The Loop’s success comes from that one guiding principle — be honest.

  • I thought the one guiding principle was Drink Heineken. Is this the right blog?

  • KSS

    Good post Jim.

    I would add one more thing: write about something that you are passionate about. Don’t write about what you think might be trendy write. I guess this part of being honest. In other words be true to yourself.

    • Indeed

      • Do not just write about something you are passionate about. Write about something you know a lot about. If one it true, the other is not always true as well, but it should. And if not, researching is the best thing to do. Interestingly this something many bloggers and even journalists actually don’t like to do, or just do a poorly at it.

  • Differing opinions is why I like commenting here. I, too, don’t like the cumbaya communities where everyone agrees with everything posted.

    Diversity of positions FTW.

    • gjgustav

      Can’t agree more. It’s no fun if there aren’t disagreements, and you don’t learn anything.

      • Yep, even though a few here have called for my head and a stoppage of my involvement. lol. 🙂

  • Paying too much attention to SEO turns you into one of those awful click-bait sites. Far better to keep writing in your own voice rather than writing “#number #nouns to #verb #noun” posts like “10 ways to gain clicks” or some such.

    • Readability more important than SEO.

    • Really? There are 10 ways? Where do I click??

    • JohnDoey

      SEO is snake oil. The real medicine is great content — that is how you gain readers.

  • Wait, you mean writing countless top 10 list articles isn’t the key to fame and fortune?

  • Great post and it’s a mantra I try to adhere to with my site. I’d also like to add that voice is something more writers should be willing to explore.

    It’s not enough to be just another Daring Fireball and post a link, a quote, and a line of commentary. People can get that from DF. What keeps me coming back to The Loop and few other sites are the voices, the personalities of the people who write for them. There has to be something substantial and personal in order for there to be any kind of value to readers.

    (And I love DF, but there are way too many “me too” clones out there.)

  • I was really disappointed with the way you admitted to being wrong about thinking the smaller iPad form factor was a bad idea. You said in your iPad mini review you were wrong, but then you spent several paragraphs painting a sketchy picture trying to describe why you had been wrong, which basically amounted to “I was actually complaining about something else the whole time.”

    It’s half measures like that that leave a bad taste in my mouth when reading anyone’s blog.

    If you want to admit you were wrong, admit it. Don’t make excuses.

    • Thanks for the feedback Darcy. Sorry the post came off that way.

    • ray

      Explaining why you’re wrong doesn’t mean you’re taking back the admission that you were wrong.

      • True, but my point was that he didn’t explain why he was wrong (which I totally would have embraced), he gave an excuse for it.

        Don’t make excuses.

  • Ro

    Be honest …… And have inside sources at Apple.

    • You make an interesting point. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a successful blogger give the kind of advice Jim is giving here, but what they all tend to leave out is that they didn’t start their blog in a vacuum like most people would. They had connections and established relationships with people pertinent to their blog’s subject matter prior to starting their blog.

      I know Jim isn’t offering his advice as if it were a formula for success – and I appreciate that. But I think it’s worth pointing out that the success of this blog is not solely due to Jim’s personal blogging philosophies. There are other factors involved, assets Jim acquired throughout his career, that just can’t be distilled down into advice for aspiring bloggers.

      • JohnDoey

        Jim lives in Canada, not Silicon Valley. He has sources at Apple because of this blog, which goes back many years to way before Apple was mainstream. So the lesson is not to start with sources, but rather to start somewhere that you are enthusiastic about — even if an unpopular niche like late 1990’s Apple computing, and then stay with it so you develop sources and enjoy success as the niche becomes popular.

        • Are you sure about that? Because I thought Jim worked at Macworld for 10 years and built up a variety of connections, contacts and sources while working there.

          • Peter Cohen

            Jim co-founded MacCentral, which got started well before we worked at Macworld (Macworld acquired MacCentral in 1999).

  • supertino


  • Thanks. Great post. Lov your site.

  • DanielSw

    I quit reading Macworld around the time Jim left it.

  • Colonel Tao

    I was thinking awhile ago it would be enlightening to write a blog, but I could not figured out on witch subject.

    Honesty isn’t a problem for me (Exept for my username!). Passion isn’t the issue either. I think every human is bag full of passion. You just need to open it and find it in the mix of thing composing the bag (a.k.a. Life).

    The only thing missing, I think I figured it out, is the credibility. If you don’t have it, you have to build it, but what for?

    I really enjoy your blog, since it’s refreshing into this fauna and flora of blogs. When I grow up, I would like to be like you 😉


  • Mark

    Jim, I’d like to hear you on macbreak weekly. They’re getting a little cynical and I believe need a healthy dose of Dalrymple. In all honesty I think it would be a good conversation by all.

  • JohnDoey

    Joel Spolsky, who started Stack Exchange among other things, says there is no better path to success than improving your product. I have soon too many people who spend 20% of their time on product and 80% on marketing and promotion. Better to spend 99% on product and 1% telling people about your product and if the product is good, your customers will do the marketing and promotion for you.