Okay, so my “friend” (another story), offered to redo my webpage, and I thought, why not? He was learning how to design websites and would move my Blogger blog to the more complex platform, WordPress, for free. I agreed, but with trepidation.
Why the clammy feet?
1) I was loosely involved (why dear god, why?!) with the guy and intuitively knew things could get B-A-D (and they did, oh boy, did they ever).
2) I would be switching over from a known to an unknown blogging service.
3) I’d be buying my own URL and thereby paying for my own domain name and hosting services, and (like George Costanza) I don’t like to spend money on something I can get for free.
Time passed, peppered with warning signs like when I asked him to change the font or the logo design and he seemed annoyed. But then *POOF*! I got my own WP blog, hosting, URL, and custom template. But from my first post, I knew something was wrong – my pics had a blue tint or haze over it. I decided to wait to see if it was me, could it be changed, and could I live with it.
Another warning sign was my web designer wouldn’t answer my emails. Oh sure, sometimes he did, but other times he would ignore or forget them. I figured I got all this design stuff for free so I shouldn’t complain, so I did sparingly and well, lived with a blog I wasn’t really happy with.
Mistake #1 Mixing business with pleasure. Remember the saying: Don’t sell your used car to a friend? Well, I’d say that holds true in the service and web design world, too. If I had listened to my intuition, I would have not gone through with the changes. That being said, I’ve learned a great deal about blogging this past year.
Mistake #2 Trusting the other guy completely. Once I got my new site set up, I asked a knowledgeable friend about my blog, but ignored much of his advice because my web designer seem to as well. In fact, the designer seemed unhappy with my friend’s advice. But now that I have switched themes, and have complete control over my site again, I’ve gone back and looked at my friend’s advice with a critical eye.
As Jim Rohn says, “Don’t be lazy in learning.”
I know tech stuff is supposed to be guy stuff, but these days you can google any question and get the answers you need. I hope more women will not fall into the trap door that I did, and don’t depend on one person. If you are serious about blogging then you should put in serious effort and research.
Mistake #3 Alienating your audience. I’ve been blogging consistently since 2009 and since I live in Thailand, I get a lot of questions about being an expat here. So I started to acquire some interesting emails which I thought would be funny to post on my blog (sans names). Well, lo and behold, my readership dropped like a bowling ball into the gutter because I didn’t realize that my audience was mainly old white men (*sigh*), and they didn’t think it was so tee-hee funny that I was sharing their letters. I’ve since taken down that post.
Mistake #4 Not using pictures. If you go back deep into the archives of my other sites, you will find no photos, no pictures, at all. For me, my focus was on my writing and I didn’t want to waste time searching for pictures to stick in my posts even though I knew this was good for SEO or search engine optimization.
I also was really turned off by seeing a cheesy stock photo in the middle of a blog post that was barely relevant to the topic. But then I realized I had a lot of pictures and I should share them. I started a Wordless Wednesday on Tell-Thai Heart (my old blog name), learned a few tricks on Paint and such, and now it’s part of the process I truly enjoy.
Mistake #5 Uploading large pictures. My friend told me that my photos took a very long time to load, so then we figured out I was uploading these gi-normous files. Photoshop has a ‘save for web’ as well as a ‘resize image’ option, both of which I now use for all of my photos. (Reduce your pics to around 900 pixels. If you click on recent photos you’ll see what I reduce them to.) It makes a big difference and you won’t lose quality, my pictures still look good.
Mistake #6 Not making new connections. Oh, did I mention, blogging is work? Yeah, for a while I focused on ‘great content’ because that is what the experts said to do. But all my hard work was just sitting pretty because nobody was finding me.
I went through phases of finding my niche community, getting busy and then letting it lie dormant, but still posting weekly. Now I’m back on the outreach and knowing I can’t really let it go again. If I want readers, I need to work for it.
The great news is, I’m getting better at connecting, using social media and I’m actually now a big fan of Twitter and Google+.
Mistake #7 Ignoring SEO. You know, for the sake of writing, I focus on being creative and pleasing me first because that’s who I ultimately write for, me. So I’m not saying throw your integrity out the car window. I’m saying be smart about it, too. Work on that catchy title, craft those first few sentences as best as you can, turn the competition into helping you be a better writer.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert, I’m just telling you from experience, this has been my ride thus far. And don’t get me started on social media, that’s been a big learning curve ball, too. Soooo, what has been your biggest blogging mistakes? What have you learned?