In this chapter we will discuss the science of blogging itself, and the five absolute rules that accompany such an endeavor, known popularly as “Tenor Dad’s 5 Laws of Blogging,” or simply “the five laws.” These laws were proposed by famous blogger Tenor Dad on December 3rd, 2014, and were quickly adopted by the rest of the internet and blogging community, marking the historic first occasion when everyone online agreed about something. The five laws are as follows:
1) You Cannot Blog About Someone Who Reads Your Blog
This first law is actually the oldest of the five laws, having been theorized by Tenor Dad himself years earlier in a post about one of his colleagues. The law, simply put, states that if someone is actively reading your blog, then any post written about them will be read by them, and must then also carry unintended consequences. Certainly one must not post that one’s family member is annoying if one’s family member is going to read it online the next day, but even good things can be misinterpreted and the tone misread. You may think you are paying someone a great compliment by revealing a beautiful story about them, but the person themselves could be deeply embarrassed by the public sharing of a private tale.
2) Everyone Could Eventually Read Every Post
The second law uses statistics and probability to conclude that, no matter how hard you try to hide your posts or your identity, or how many people you block on Facebook, blogs are public. There is no true anonymity online, though we like to pretend differently, and if someone really wants to find you, they will. And sure, nobody cares about your blog now, but two years from now, when that one post goes viral and you become insanely popular, suddenly your archives will be poured through, and your boss will finally see that one thing you wrote about that conference, even though you were sure you were in the clear. Don’t post anything you don’t want seen. By everyone.
3) Community over Virality
The most important thing in blogging, according to the third law, is building a community base from which to launch your endeavors. Having a post go viral is fantastic, and it feels really good, but most of the people that suddenly subscribe and follow you are not going to stick around forever. Especially if they don’t feel that sense of online community when they arrive. It’s better to have 100 followers that read every post than to have 1000 followers that read one or two posts a year. Sharing and commenting are the bread and butter to a blogger, and if you can get a consistent group of people to do that for you, you will find that the rewards of slowly building a true community far outweigh the temporary rush of a viral post.
4) You Never Know What Some People Will Like
There appears to be a reverse correlation between what a blogger thinks will do well, and what actually does well. The fourth law states that when a blogger writes something that they are really proud of, and put a lot of time and effort into it, this is no guarantee that the readers will respond positively to it. Conversely, when a blogger has no time to write and tosses out a post they wrote in ten minutes that contained no thought or effort, it could be the most well-read article of the month. Why do people respond to certain posts and not others? Well, at least according to the fourth law, you just never know.
5) You Can Only Blog For One Person
The final law confirms that old adage about serving two masters. You can’t do it. You can either write for yourself, or you can write for what you assume is your audience. Certainly there are bloggers who write what they think their readers want to read, and construct their sites to generate the most number of hits, but it is often difficult, per the fourth law, to correctly guess what the internet is looking for, without dumbing down or pandering. While not in the law specifically, it is know that Tenor Dad subscribed to the theory that one must write primarily for oneself. His blog was full of things that he found interesting or amusing, and yet were not widely popular. But, as he once said so famously, “If I’m not writing for me, then why am I writing? The day I start writing for someone else is the day it stops being interesting and compelling for me to write at all.” For his accountant’s well-known response, and his further spiral into irrelevance, please see chapter seven.