5 Essential Blogging Tips from the
Father of Chinese Philosophy

image of Chinese calligraphy

Confucius, the father of Confucianism, died more than 2500 years ago, but his teachings are still relevant — not least when it comes to blogging.

Here are five classic Confucian quotes that are vital to remember if you want a successful blog.

1. The essence of knowledge is having it, to apply it

Information and knowledge sharing are the main driving forces behind the web. If you want people to read your blog and follow it loyally, you can’t be greedy with your knowledge.

You need to give your readers something that will make their lives better — every time they visit your blog. When you feel you’re giving too much away for free, you’re on the right track.

2. Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it

You can’t satisfy everyone with every single blog post. There’s no way of knowing beforehand what the reaction will be.

Some posts you really put effort into and truly believe in might go unnoticed, while other posts you didn’t spend much time on can be the ones that set off an explosion of comments, tweets and links.

3. When anger rises, think of the consequences

Negative comments are a natural part of blogging. Sooner or later some clown is going to fry you, and although your first reaction might be to let the person taste his own medicine, you’ll want to think twice.

You’re much better off giving a rational and careful response. That way you show that you‘re the “adult” and that you aren’t easily provoked.

Moreover, many of your visitors will read your comments, and a crossfire of verbal abuse doesn’t leave a good impression on potential followers.

4. Respect yourself and others will respect you

Your blog is a personal expression of you and your expertise. Your knowledge makes the blog relevant, and your authority “sells” the blog and gives it credibility.

You don’t want to be smug or arrogant, but it’s important to be confident and to show that you know what you’re talking about. Nobody wants to read a half-baked blog post.

5. What you do not want done to yourself, do not to others

The web is a social medium — and we all play an important part in the big picture. Its easy to complain but much more constructive to try and make a difference.

Remember the things that tick you off on other sites, and don’t repeat them. Write every single post like you’re talking to your best friend.

Okay — so those were the five essential blogging tips from Confucius, but I’m just going to give you one for the road, and this might even be the most important:

6. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand

You can get tons of tips and advice along the way, but dedication and hard work are the key components of a successful blog.

Theory only becomes really useful once you get your hands dirty and gain your own experience about what does (and doesn’t) work for you personally.

About the Author: Michael Aagaard is something so rare as a serious Danish online copywriter. In fact, he recently launched the very first Danish blog dedicated to the fine art of online copywriting.

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Comments

  1. What it seems to come down to is sharing the best possible content you can with your visitors, if the content is good people are more likely to keep coming back. It makes sense.

  2. I love Confucius quotes! Thanks for a great post. I think #6 is especially true, and I’d add a related #7 –

    “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”

    Making mistakes is part and parcel of pulling ahead on line. We need to work hard and be willing to fumble, then right ourselves and keep moving.

  3. Thanks for the extra quote Sean – an especially beautiful one if you ask me!

  4. I really enjoyed reading this philosophical inquiry. Thanks a lot.

  5. I like Confucius and that’s what drew me here. Some one who is referring to Confucius knows what s/he is talking about. So you did. I concur with Sean.

    I believe in # 6.

    Good Post. Thank you.

  6. I so needed these words just at this time. Great post, most helpful – balanced my day.

  7. Confucius’s teachings are not exactly a religious text, it is so simple and practical. I guess that is why i like it so much. Most of the principles are somethings we have been through in real life or we are gonna go through.

  8. This is a clever post! I really enjoyed it. I’m a fellow blogger and am always looking for new ways to please my readers. But I know what you mean when you say not everyone will relate to what you say. That doesn’t mean we can’t share the info, though! Great Confucius-inspired guidelines!

  9. In reference to the first point, like I always said, knowledge without application is worthless…unless you’re on JEOPARDY!

  10. I think an underlying theme in these tips is humility: being of service to others and making it about them rather than about you.

    It’s not about always looking out to be #1.

  11. Hey Michael,

    Knowledge is useless without action.

    An idea without results is just that – an idea. By giving your visitors not just ideas but actionable value, you’re not only practicing this guideline but providing them with a guide for achieving results as well.

    Add to that the classic golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated, and you have a powerful, Confucius-worthy combination for genuine, value-giving content.

    I also agree with Sean: embrace mistakes, don’t be afraid of them (we all suck at the beginning, after all). A mistake/failure isn’t the opposite of failure, it’s simply finding out what doesn’t work. The more mistakes you make, the faster you eliminate what doesn’t work to stumble onto what does.

    No, the opposite of success is giving up.

    Nice one tying Confucius into useful blogging tips,
    Oleg

  12. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I like the emphasis on patience and hard work. Work hard and be patient with others, even when they disagree. It’s a good post for blogging and life. And it’s a nice introduction to a Danish Blog for a Missouri blogger.

  13. Thanks for the comments Oleg and Jane – I think the social aspect is what makes the internet such a beautiful thing.

    The blogs I read and follow are the ones that really give me useful quality information – and I know from personal experience, that readers come back when they understand that you’re writing from a genuine desire to help them!

  14. If Confucius was a copyblogger reader, I believe he would write his list this way:

    1. TeachingSells
    2. Thesis Theme
    3. STFU
    4. Authority Rules
    5. Don’t get drunk on your own words
    6. 10 Steps to becoming a better writer
    :)

  15. Good stuff, Michael.

    I particularly liked No. 2.

    I think it’s natural to want to make every blog post something that will go viral and become an Internet sensation. Yet, it almost never fails: when you try hard to create THAT kind of post, it’s almsot always less popular than the ones you don’t “try” to make popular.

    Coach Donnelly

  16. Our blog is for a beautification non-profit in a town of about 3500. Our chances of going viral are pretty slim. We just need to promote our projects and community, get readers, and provide a service of beautification, preservation, and a forum for the community. But your blog entry has some good advice.

  17. Excellent job tying Confucius to modern blogging. The advice is good, but you also have my kudos for relating classic philosophy to modern technology.

    I think the classic Confucian literatus would probably approve of blogging, considering their emphasis on developing artistic and writing skill.

  18. totally excellent blog post. Wish I wrote it.
    XD

  19. Thanks JB!

  20. I don’t agree with ” Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” I mean, have you seen some of the websites out there?

  21. Good point – but obviously your perception of beauty differs from theirs…

  22. There hasn’t been anything yet that I couldn’t find beauty in.

  23. Don’t forget 2 great keys to blogging success is Quality and Consistency. If you write junk posts consistently you won’t get anywhere fast. But if you write quality posts consistently then your blog can do nothing but succeed.

  24. I’m grateful for these replies. It makes me realize like Will Roger said, “I’ve never met a person I didn’t like.” I can say. I’ve never found anything I couldn’t find beauty in. In a recent post of mine I mention to oberve as an infant does. Look at poo the same as diamonds.

    http://jbvadeboncoeur.info/2009/12/05/got-light-by-j-b-vadeboncoeur/

    Beauty is apparent when we are in a state of neutrally observing. If we are judging that filters our view.

  25. Dear Michael:

    Great list. Fortunately, it applies to the rest of the life not only blogging. But I like the application my self.

    The one that could relate to the most was #3. When anger rises, think of the consequences. Why? Because it caused me to remember a story that illustrates this point perfectly.

    I was playing basketball. The game was not going well and out team lost. I was so FRUSTRATED and ANGRY! I was furious. Without even thinking I kicked a padded wall! Guess what happened next? Sharp pain in my foot….

    Yea, common sense right? It is, but when you are angry common sense seems to evaporate into thin air. I wish you were there to stop me and tell to me to think about consequences first!

    Thanks for a great list:)

    Best,
    Tomas

  26. Great story Tomas – it illustrates quote #3 perfectly…

  27. This is great and got me thinking of different ways that I can connect with my target market. I have to think more about who is visiting my site and why. What can I give them to make them want to come back more and more.

    This is the true challenge of blog writing.

    Great and thanks for the inspiration!

  28. Strange many of those sayings sound familiar from other sources especially don’t to others that which you wouldn’t want done to you.

    Clearly a very wise man and it’s amazing how you can apply these ideas today with equal meaning and relevance as the day they were recorded.

  29. One thing I took from a few of these quotes is that it is important to not just give to your audience, but inspire them to take action. Acquiring knowledge is great, but eventually you have to stop reading and start doing.

  30. I struggle with the giving away the best content part, but in my heart I know it is true. So I push forward anyway, great post.

    “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”

    I am loving this line!

  31. Confucius was a great sage,

    a sage is a wise man, far ahead of his time,
    like the ancient Rishis of old,
    we can learn much from them.

    Ancient wisdom and modern blogging
    work well together.

    I got a kick out of reading this article today,
    great post!

  32. Thanks Michael for the inspiration. That’s a killer image you’ve got there.
    I like this
    “When you feel you’re giving too much away for free, you’re on the right track.”
    Mostly I hear
    “I’ve given so much away for free and I’m getting nothing back!”

    Congratulations on your trailblazing copy writing blog.

  33. These are some good words of wisdom. I read a lot of his teaching a few years ago.

    Franck

  34. I like number 2. Truly, the beauty of a post is in the eye of the reader. As long as you think of your customers when writing a post, everything else will follow.

  35. Although “verbal abuse doesn’t leave a good impression on potential followers”, it sure feels good to let loose on a critic once in awhile.

    Of course that feeling is short lived and it will probably hurt your credibility in the long run.

  36. Enjoyed this post Michael. Great Value Add. Another one of Confucius comes to mind “If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life”. Very Apt…

  37. All of this ultimately means that you need to provide valuable content to your readers. I agree with #4 the most. It has happened to me quite a few times when there were extremely annoying comments from people, but the key to gaining the confidence of your readers is to refrain from any heated argument type of responses.

  38. Excellent post. There is a reason why these wise philosophers are still quoted regularly hundred and thousands of years later. At the end of the day, you have to write for yourself first, because you love doing it, while considering your audience and making that connection along the way. Cheers!

  39. Thanks for the great sum up Michael! I am kinda shocked you’ve read about Confucianism, as I am a Chinese.

    By the way, you probably have to configure your tweetmeme plugin. It’s doesn’t show your twitter account properly.

    Here is what it looks like:

    RT @tweetmeme 5 Essential Blogging Tips from the Father of Chinese Philosophy http://bit.ly/80wGCz

  40. Number 3 is the one that I need to learn to live by. It’s real important to provide exciting and controversial content, but as soon as you get in the anger department and make people mad, the magic “unsubscribe” finger likes to push the proverbial button like crazy. Great post.

  41. All very good points! It amazes me how you can apply many proverbs and parables to so many different aspects of your live.

  42. Thanks for the tips. These are timeless! It is nice to have the reminder to work hard, be yourself, and get experience to really learn and grow.

  43. Last time i checked i still could count, and i can see here 6 tips. But your quite right with the tip no.1 Knowledge is essential.

  44. @Frank, thanks, I just tried it and it’s working as we set it up (to RT @copyblogger, not tweetmeme), but they’ve had a few blips lately, so perhaps just a tweetmeme hiccup when you tried it.

    @izdelava, we always strive to deliver more than we promise. :)

  45. Great words of wisdom there Michael. I’m surprised you didn’t cover interaction as one of the core concepts. I know you covered “knowledge sharing,” but what I mean is knowledge interacting, talking not just with your audience, but with that of your fellow peers.

    I’m a writer at heart and some of the posts I’ve worked my hardest for received little or no attention, which tends to break my heart. When I get out there and start being controversial and loud, I get so many more follow ups to my writing.

    This is one of the concepts working as a copywriting that I have the hardest time with. Being social isn’t my strongest attribute and sometimes my writing reflects that.

    When I started copywriting, I had to use a different tone, voice, words all of it (especially seeing as I’m ghost-writing blogs and the person I’m representing isn’t anywhere near as sarcastic and bitter as I am).

    So it’s always stuck me as strange in that the work which I put the least amount of time towards garners me the most attention simply because I’m out reading other people stuff and interacting with them.

    I’ve incorporated the social idea of interacting in my copywriting, but am having a much harder time doing it with my own writing!

    It’s strange, my current blog has had more attention than anything else I’ve ever written but each post only takes me a few minutes to write. It’s all the socialisation I’m being forced to do that’s getting me attention!

  46. the first is definitely my favorite. applying what i have learned has often been a struggle for me

  47. Its amazing how you twist Confucious’ stuff into a blogging related post. :) well done Michael!

  48. Love how you tied this together! #1 really rings true for me. I often feel my blog posts are giving it all away, but, I also know that some people would rather hire someone to do their social media marketing for them than to implement it themselves because “they don’t have time!” And, that’s where giving it all away works.

  49. As always it is beautiful & inspring!

  50. I stumbled across this site while researching on how to start a blog, i must say i am impressed at the information here . I will save this for future reference. Thanks