Mistakes I made when I started blogging

happy blogging birthday

I have now been writing this blog for 5 years. The done thing at times like this seems to be to slap the ugly word ‘blogaversary’ on it and use it as an excuse to party on down.

Ever the belligerent fool, I’m using it as an excuse to look at where it all went wrong.

So these are the mistakes I made when I started blogging. I’m still making some of them. I hope this is useful to anyone who is also starting to blog and wants to know what not to do:

  • Buggered up the site address
    I mean look at it:   http://joannemallon.typepad.com/joanne_the_coach/ it’s an utter, unmemorable mess. Later on I bought JoannetheCoach.com so I have something a bit more elegant to put in my email signature, but it’s all a bit half-assed and still makes for a crap hyperlink. When I started our new blog, I made sure to use the easy, simple address Eljae.com – it cost under £20 to do, and it’s not even difficult to do the mapping across business that covers up the wordpress part of the address.
  • Terrible name
    Joanne the Coach, WTF is that all about? Actually, there was a point to this way back when, in that I used to to write a lot more about my life coaching business. I’m still doing the coaching, it’s just that I found out it was more fun to blog about movies and Doctor Who instead. So now I think it’s better to have a flexible name that will grow with you. Bloggers who blog under Mummy2cutesypie.com say they also find this issue to be a problem, usually around the time Cutesypie starts shoplifting and growing a beard.
  • Didn’t reply to comments
    I never used to appreciate comments at all. I totally took them for granted. Now I feel very embarrassed about being so arrogant and am much more respectful of people who take the time to comment. I aim to reply to them all, even the spammers. Interestingly, some bloggers are now turning off their comment facility. Next thing you know they’ll be turning off the blog altogether and going back to shouting in the corner of a field.
  • No theme, niche or planning
    I still don’t do any of that stuff. If there is a theme, it’s “stuff I am interested in”, and if I can shoehorn in a Doctor Who reference, all the better. I post when I have something to say, so that might mean nothing for a week, then four posts the next week. Apparently that stuff’s important if you are serious about your blogging. Luckily I am just in it for shits and giggles, so that’s OK then.
  • Images? What are they?
    For about the first couple of years, none of the posts had images, mainly because I didn’t know how to create, find or upload them. But the trouble with that is that big wodges of unillustrated text can be hard on the eye and lacking in personality. A big help for me has been using Instagram which makes it easy for anybody to create nice looking original images. So I didn’t really raise my skill levels, it’s just that the technology lowered itself to my level. Rejoice, technodunces, our time is now.
  • No community involvement
    Whilst I am basically a  loner at heart, I like online communities and hanging around with people I’ve never met, so I can pretend to be more confident than I really am. I was flailing around by myself for the first few years until there seemed to be more blogging communities springing up and supporting each other. This is why I started doing more parenting content, so I could hang out with the parenting bloggers. They are always either laying golden eggs or having fights so it’s kind of like hanging out with a bunch of magic chickens. I like that. Blogging is a lot easier and more fun when you find your own magic chickens to hang out with.
  • Too many categories
    Cast a glance down the left sidebar (actually, don’t) and you’ll see masses of the buggers. Nobody ever clicks on them, not even my personal favourite Bizarre Celebrity Encounters. When we started Eljae, the categories were: Rants; Fiction; Random Wisdoms; Stuff We Love; Reviews; Top Tips and Funnies. What else is there to say in a blog?

I don’t believe in regrets – I believe that making mistakes is what makes us human, and learning from mistakes is what makes us intelligent. So, Happy Birthday to you, Blog of Mine. Here’s to the next regeneration.

  • Thank you Ramblings! I don’t think anyone ever gets it 100% right, all blogs are essentially an ongoing work in progress, a bit like kids.

  • Thank you Lisa. There must be lots of Irish parenting bloggers now, so I guess if the community isn’t already there you could always start your own? Quite easy to do with a FB group, Google+ or Ning or whatever.

  • Love this, I’m with you on the name thing. I chose Ramblings Of A Suburban Mummy then realised how long that is as a url so went for something different. Then I had no idea about what to write, how to write it or themes etc. I still fee like I haven’t got it quite right 10mths later but hopefully I’m getting there!

    Congrats on 5yrs, that’s a long time!!

  • I chose Mama.ie for my URL right from the start, and for ages after I started blogging I really limited myself to blogging about parenting topics only. But it’s been about 18 months now, and these days I don’t let the Mama part limit me! I blog about whatever comes to my mind. And some days it’s parenting stuff, and other days it’s boardgames, or books I read, or whatever I just watched on TV. I have been very poor on the community involvement, but that’s partly because there is no real community in Ireland for parenting bloggers. So recently I’ve started joining some of the UK blogging communities and I find the support and camaraderie in them fantastic.

  • Lol love it! I have done some and still stuck with the categories thing. Just cant be arsed to change them for eery single post! I defo recommend anyonw who wanna create a blog to read your list!

    Happy Birthday to your blog!

  • Thank you Angela!

  • Love it. i’m a new blogger and have found it all a MASSIVE learning curve…but a heap of fun too 😉
    Definitely a learn as you go activity….

  • Happy Birthday to your blog – very funny and good advice…

  • LOL my blog name (MY Little Fox Cubs) would not give you a clue about the topic – adoption and attachment disorder, regretting it already!

  • Great list of lessons learned, Joanne. (Fun to read, too.) The great thing about a blog is that it can continue to grow all the time, so you can tinker and put your lessons learned into practice.

    PS – looking forward to your comment to this comment!

  • Thank you @TrulyMyrtle @RecipeJunkie, good luck to you both

    @Gail – Personally I don’t think a slightly random name is such a problem. If you keep blogging for a while, over time the things you blog about will change, as the events and focus of your life evolves. I like your blog name a lot & will definitely check it out.

    @Jennifer – Thank you! I think the worse thing a blogger can do is assume that they know it all (or most of it all). Everything about it changes all the time so you have to regard it as an ongoing learning curve.

  • Hi Dear:

    Thank you for teaching me about the app for pictures. My blog is blabby with no photos, and it is because I am afraid to learn it and it will be wrong.

    Now I will have the courage. Your blog is awesome.

    Take care. I am KK a member of Mumsnet (awesome too) at http://www.getoveryourselfplease.blogspot.com if you are not too busy!

    Cheers!

    KK

  • Thank you KK and good luck with your blog. I think that once you get in to creating your own images you’ll see that it’s very easy and almost addictive.

  • Thanks for this – great post, and I shall try not to make some of these mistakes, though I think perhaps I may have made a few of them already in my short four months of blogging…!