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.