Monday, 19 October 2015

Is It Wise To Be Sharing ALL Our Blogging/Design Secrets?

In the last few months, the type of blogs I follow has changed dramatically. I've gone from following 200+ book blogs, to around 40 book blogs and upward of 60 blogging/business blogs. That's half the blogs I used to follow, and the content is so much different too. I'm able to see why my blog works, and what to do when it doesn't. I can check out how to improve and grow my blog, and how to have a functional design that works for me. I get to see how other people create, design, develop and do what it is they do, with even the most intimate and deep details spelled out for me, and as fabulous as that is, is that a good thing?

Is it really that wise to share ALL our secrets?

As bloggers, designers, business people and hobbiest readers, we all have our own little quirks, little secrets that allow us to function and get the most out of what we do, in the best way possible, and rightly so, we've worked hard to strike a balance, we deserve it, but when we share things, they're no longer ours. When a designer shares how they create something, another 20 people could learn how to do the exact same, maybe even better than the original. That designer doesn't look quite as unique now, do they?

Take for example a game of poker. Each player has a 'tell' - something that gives away information about their current cards in play. If one player accidently shares their tell, and the other players are paying attention at the right moment, that one player can give away prized information that can make or break their win. It's exactly the same in blogging terms too. If you give away prized information, such as how you create your blog graphics - that can make or break you, and if you're a business person, this can eventually affect how many customers start coming to your door in favour of going to somebody else who's taken your information and created something bigger and better than you.

Sharing Secrets Doesn't Make Them Ours Anymore, But Is That Bad?

Sure, there are bad things that can come about after sharing secrets. You could, for example, find your content copied elsewhere, word for word. You could, find people creating graphics that are 100% exactly like yours. You could even find yourself in competition with somebody who's taken all your advice, all your tutorials, all your secrets and created an identical blog to yours. Granted, the latter is unlikely to happen, but generally, it's advised that you share your secrets with your readers.

Last week, Ashley shared the secret behind building a successful business through your blog:

Use your knowledge of your audience to create free, valuable content that solves their problems.

Yes, Ashley was talking about creating free content that eventually leads to you creating paid forms of content that people actually want and have an interest in. She was talking about creating a demand for a product you didn't yet have, but the same can be said for blogging on it's lonesome. If you create valuable content that solves problems, answers questions and is of actual help to your readers, they'll keep coming back.

Lauren at Elle and Company has found that the more in depth content she shares about her business, the more people want to utilise her skills. She gives into detail about how she markets, promotes and organises her social media updates and keeps Elle and Company actively online. She's talked about how publishing less content doesn't always result in you losing viewings, in fact, their followers and regular readers come online more to check out whether there had been any new content.

I know from personal experience that sharing your secrets can actually work in favour of your blog. Some of my biggest and most popular post are actually posts in which I've shared some of my secrets in - My Co-Blogging Story and Why I Went Back Solo, How I Create My Blog Graphics | Part One: Picmonkey, How I Create My Blog Graphics | Part Two: Canva, Design Resources I Can't Live Without, 4 Ways Your Blog Can Benefit Your CV - and the truth is, they're the post that keep getting views week after week, way past their publication date.

Sharing is Good, But Should We Share All Our Secrets?

Sharing your secrets of the trade can benefit your blog hugely. Your readers and visitors can build a level of trust through your blog and it's content, through your willingness to teach others your skills and knowledge, but does it come at a price? At what point do we say no to sharing in depth information on how we blog, what we've sacrificed to achieve what we have, the ins and outs of a business that took years in the making? Should we be more careful on the secrets we share, making sure we're still indispensable to our readership while keeping ourselves as skilled up and better at what we do? The choice is yours, but be careful. When you know a secret, you'll want to share it, but once you share it, it's gone.

Do You Think We Should Share All Our Blogging Secrets?

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  1. I love giving away INFORMATION but sometimes there are certain FEATURES or specific IMPLEMENTATIONS that I like to keep unique and original to my site.

    For example:

    For a long time I had a cool "Ask me a question" feature on my blog (which I've recently re-added). I got sooo many people wanting this on their own blogs too. But it felt like something that made my blog different and unique, so I didn't want to share it.

    Or another example, I used to have an area on my homepage that was like a tabbed, featured box at the top. You could see recent posts, popular posts, and upcoming posts in three different tabs. Back when I was doing design work for people, I got A LOT of people saying they wanted that feature on their blogs too. But it was something special to my site, you know? It was a unique thing and I didn't want to just copy it over onto 10 other sites. It was something that made my site original.

    So I love sharing information and I don't really see my information as being a secret. But sometimes there's a design element or feature on my site that I see as being unique to me and I don't necessarily want to give that element away to other people because it's exclusive to my blog.

    Also, particularly in that second case, it always felt a bit too much like copying. I felt like people were coming to me and saying, "I want to copy this unique element on your blog." Where's the line between inspiration and actual legit copying? It just felt super awkward to have people come up to me and tell me, "I like this thing on your site. I want you to create it exactly like that for me." Then I'd always start thinking like, "But it's MINE. It's MY SITE. It's MY THING. I'm not going to copy that exact same thing over to your site."

    I guess I don't really believe in blogging secrets. I think that if someone can't get the information from you, they'll be able to get it from someone else.

    Plus, I think I'm of the belief that information and tools HELPS people, but they don't MAKE people. You're not going to find success because you follow a set of instructions (or a description of a method). You're going to find success because YOU work hard and YOU put something original in your methods.

    The information you share might help people get to that point, but people aren't going to ACTUALLY get there unless they also have the dedication necessary to execute it and get it done well.

    I guess I'm saying the "secrets" only take you so far. Skill, dedication, and hard work are what carry you through in the end.

    Gosh this whole comment just feels like word vomit at this point. SORRY!

    1. I think you've raised some pretty awesome and important points, like that of finding the information elsewhere. I know sometimes I've struggled to find it somewhere and gone looking for hours, sometimes weeks looking for it, and found it eventually.

      I also agree so much with the hard work. Results are everything, and just because you show someone something doesn't mean they're going to do exactly like you, or better, or even do it at all, it's all down to passion and effort, and you're so right!

      Word vomit is good when it's so full of great points, so don't apologise! It made for some pretty cool reading, so thank you all the same for reading and sharing your thoughts :)

  2. This is an interesting discussion Amanda! It depends why we're blogging. I DO share what I've learnt because I believe in creating a more positive community. It's more of a give and take, people love blogging tips and everything, and they'll thank you for it. After all, isn't the highest form of a compliment to have other people replicate or even take your advice? However, my mindset would be really different if it was a business secret, or if I was trying to make money off of it lol (trust me those ads barely pay for a takeaway coffee).

    1. I agree with you there Jeann, I know a few bloggers who've taken my advice and tips and created fabulous things, and it's so rewarding, but if I were making money, I wonder where my selling points were and what I should share, and what I could probably keep to one side, you know? Thank you for checking it out though, much appreciated and glad you enjoyed it!

      Out of interest, why do you continue using the ads if you're not making much from them? Would you consider putting together a little ebook or something of the sorts, sharing your social media experience and advice and maybe selling that for a dollar or two in place of? You'd definitely make enough for a takeaway coffee then ;)

  3. I agree with what Ashley said above. If you've got a feature on your blog that YOU'VE spent time creating and is unique, then I wouldn't want to share that either. It almost seems like the person wanting the feature is a little... lazy. If you like a certain feature, then at the very least code it yourself/put your own spin on it.

    Having said that, however, everybody in the blogging community are lovely and, in my experience, always willing to help out. I think sharing small tips in coding posts or giving coding/blogging advice is fine. I think whenever somebody needs help with something, there's always someone willing to give advice - and that's great!

    My point is, I think if you've got a feature on your blog that's completely unique to YOU, that YOU created and spent time working on, then I can totally get why you wouldn't want to share every aspect of that. However, helping a fellow blogger out with something or sharing advice I think is fine :)

    1. I definitely love sharing my little bits of advice and things I've learnt, and I too find loads of the community lovely and so willing to absorb new information! I'm not sure I have something on Nellie that's unique to me, but I'm definitely working on it, and I think that's a good thing. Thank you for your opinions Harvey! :)

  4. Omg, SUCH A GOOD QUESTION. I struggle with this actually. Like I've seen people create linkups like mine, do graphics like mine, find similar templates like mine...0_0 And I could be just overthinking it and it's all coincidence? But if I know the bloggers and they know then it seems...not. BUT ANYWAY. So I do feel weird about sharing everything. But at the same time I am desperate to learn new things?! Like I would die of happiness if more people did graphic tutorials. (I feel like I rely too heavily on canvas templates. XD) But then I don't even want to share what I do! So I nearly feel contradictory. If that makes sense?

    But then I do think sharing is important because it makes your blog valuable. And, like you said, tutorials are the posts that get a lot of traffic! The post I did on colour accents in photos gets miles of pageviews all the time. o.O So THAT IS NICE. XD

    1. I totally feel you on that Cait! I've had the same feeling and just sort of thought 'wait a second..' but it's out of our hands really. There's a huge demand to learn, but if less people share what they know for free, it'll all be about learning for money, and for us that don't want to pay, bah, it's so tough! Such a fine line, maybe one day we'll figure it out.

      As for graphics, I think that beyond Canva and Picmonkey, it's all about Photoshop and Illustrator, however, I will keep my eyes peeled, and try my hand at whatever I find and see if I can recommend some more! :)

  5. I think sharing is great, but at the same time if you have something that feels like YOU, you should keep it to yourself. I don't really see it as a 'secret' if you simply don't want to share it :) I don't feel like I have something on my blog that I want to keep to myself. I think it's different like with Ashley, who is a designer and likes to design things specifically for her blog. I don't own things, the only thing I have to share are some tips and tricks I use to keep up the blog.

    1. That's an excellent point Mel, if it's something you've done and created, than that's understandable, otherwise, somebody shared it with you, so you could, and probably should, share it with others too! :)

  6. I agree with the others. If you have figured out how to so something that is unique to you, I understand your hesitancy to share; on the other hand, how to create graphics isn't anything that anyone can't learn from about 100 tutorials on the web. No reason not to write 101 if it draws readers.

    1. Definitely a great point, if they won't learn it from you, they'll learn it elsewhere!

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