Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Blog is to Err.

Originally this post was going to be about the mistakes I made as a new blogger and how I'd advise others to avoid making those same mistakes. For instance, I once asked a blogger I barely knew to add me to her blogroll. (In my defense, it did say "If I've left you off this list please let me know." and I wasn't on there! Duh.)

But as I was writing out my list of mistakes I realized they weren't really mistakes - rather, things that happen as a natural course of beginner blogging. Then I began looking around to see what other people had to say on the matter, and, of course, came across approximately thirty million articles titled things like "common blogging mistakes".

The more I read about these so-called blogging mistakes, the more I didn't agree with (all of) them. And maybe they're aimed more at business blogs than parenting blogs, but for me, anyway, they don't all add up.

Here are a few "common blogging mistakes" that I've noticed seem to pop up repeatedly in different places.

Don't post too little or too often.
My view is, as long as you're posting once or twice a week, and not just randomly once every few months (a guaranteed way to lose readers), there's no need to post every single day. Of course, if you want to post every day then by all means, do it. I blog two to three times a week, and that, in itself, is quite a time commitment.

You must go forth and spend wads of cash making your blog pretty or be doomed.
I like a nice looking blog, of course, and I definitely think good design and typography enhances the overall experience, but beauty isn't the principal thing for me - content is. One of my favourite bloggers is Mom 101, and though hers isn't the flashiest, prettiest blog on the block (sorry Liz), it's her thought-provoking content and writing that keeps me coming back for more.

If you're serious about blogging you should ditch Blogger and move to WordPress.

I've been back and forth about this and I'm still undecided. I research things a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and honestly? I've yet to see the true benefit of moving my blog to WordPress. Yes, I understand WordPress provides more flexibility in terms of design, format, typography, etc. And yes, I get that WordPress is superior when it comes to SEO. But is it really better for me? For my little parenting blog? Not convinced.

What do you mean you're not self-hosted?
I do plan on buying my domain name in the near future, but, I don't think it's essential. Sure, if the purpose of your blog is to generate an income, then, yes, a self-hosted domain is probably the way to go. For a parenting blog like mine? While it does look more professional, I'm not sure that having the .blogspot extension is really harming my blog at the moment.

You're not commenting on enough other blogs.
The first year I started blogging, I was determined to get around to every single blog in my reader, whether or not I really enjoyed reading it. It was a tiresome waste of energy. Now? I read the blogs I like, end of story. And oh, it's nice to have finally realized that it's okay to do so.

You need to be more useful to your audience.
Useful schmuseful. There are tons of articles out there on how it's essential bloggers make themselves useful to their audience. I suppose, in a way, it's true. (Another of my favourite bloggers is Design Mom - she finds the most beautifully designed things and writes about them on her blog.) But most of the blogs I read - you know what they offer me? Sweet Fanny Adams. (What? You've never heard that expression?) Nilly noo. (Sorry, I just made that one up). Nothing. I read their amusing, touching, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious stories about their lives. And that is all.

Don't jump on the bandwagon.
Why not? I like jumping on the bandwagon, and I like reading what other bloggers have to say when they jump on the bandwagon too. Opinion posts are often the most interesting and draw passionate discussions. Jump, I say, jump.

You're not selling yourself hard enough.
If I want to sell myself I'll strap a sandwich board to myself and go down to the local market, thank you. I write my blog because I enjoy writing and I like the blogging community I've found myself a part of. Should there be an opportunity to earn money down the line or sample a product I love? I'm not going to say no, (I got bills to pay too y'know) but it's not why I started this thing.

One of the biggest mistakes a blogger can make, in my humble opinion, is spending too much time worrying about all these "mistakes" and trying to figure out the right thing to do rather than just being who they are and doing what feels right to them. Hey, if you want to fill your blog with widgets and ads, I'm not going to desert you. If you want to talk about something that's already been hashed to death? Okay. Fine. If the only thing you offer me is a giggle with my morning coffee? I'm more than good with that.

What about you? What are your thoughts on these blogging"mistakes"?
Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To Reddit Bookmark Twitter


Kristy said...

Hey, there, girly! I love reading people's opinions about blogging "rules" and stuff. Have to make sure I'm doing the right thing!

fiona2107 said...

What a great post!!!

I have been following your blog for a lot longer than I have been commenting on it and I keep coming back because I love what you write. Period.

You make me smile, giggle, think and give my head a break from the crazy stuff that's constantly flying around in there!

My thoughts on blogging what makes you happy :)

Sometimes I blog from a bad place (like yesterday ahem) and possibly drive away readers in droves but I have the opinion that this is me, love me or hate me...

I LOVE your blog!!!

And your first point...Errmmm....i haven't updated my blogroll in AGES! I haven't even added you to it yet! Um - Ah!

James (SeattleDad) said...

Awesome post. I see a lot of similarities in our blogs despite the fact that they are from opposite gender perspectives. I really enjoy your writing. Makes it fun to read instead of a chore.

Sara Louise said...

Great post! Let's see, my takes...

I'm with you about the frequency of posts, I post 3-4 times a week and I think that's plenty (for me).

Blogger vs. Wordpress... I've heard a few people going on about how great Wordpress is but then, I got an email from a blogging friend who had made the switch to WP, she was sad and looking for advice because her readership and comments had declined. Basically she had made the switch, lost almost all of her followers and is starting over.
For that, I'll stay put on blogger for now.

And I'll read new blogs but if I don't feel like I have anything to comment, I won't.
(I've just discovered your blog via Fabulous Pasta Not Included. Read this post. Liked it. Commented,)


Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I like your call better. Obviously the writer of the "tips" has a plan for their blog, and certain outcomes they would like to see as a result. Yep, some of us CAN just blog for fun!

Oh, and I need to add you to my blogroll! I update that thing, oh, every 5 years or so. It's on my list to get better at.

bettyl said...

I hear you. I think it depends on WHY you blog in the first place. 'Mistakes' to one are not the same to another.

I just wanted to tell the folks back home how different it is to move to another country. And then when I realized that blogging was a whole 'nother world, I went with it.

Mom101 said...

My off-center free clip art icon is crying sad, sad tears right now and it's dripping down my off-center self-made banner.

Lady Mama said...

Kristy - I'm always in people's opinions on these things too.

Fiona2107 - Thanks. Whatever you write you're bound to drive people away at times. Part of the course of blogging I think.

SeattleDad - Thanks - I appreciate it.

Sara Louise - I've heard of people losing readers in the move to WordPress too.

Sara - Yes, the people who write these tips for bloggers tend to be quite aggressive, I mean, um, focused in their approach.

Bettyl - Agreed.

Mom101 - Okay, now I feel bad. Give your clip art lady a cookie from me.

Midwest Mommy said...

The only rule I have made up for myself is "I'm all about the visual" I like pictures to be included if possible and appropriate! lol

Elaine A. said...

And this post made me like you even more than I already did which I wasn't sure was possible. LOVE your attitude about it all. :)

WhisperingWriter said...

Yeah, I don't worry a lot.

I write what happens in my life and leave it at that. I figure if someone doesn't like it, they don't have to read. If it's not in the blogging "rules" ahh well.

I did pay someone to do my blog though. HTML makes me cry.

ShannonL said...

Great post! But I'm laughing my butt off at Mom101's comment! :-)

Mwa said...

I think you're absolutely right.

The only things that I think are really mistakes are completely other things like
* tons of typos
* not using paragraphs
* doing sponsored posts but only telling you at the bloody end of the post
* only posting 100 photos of "how cute my child was at playgroup"
- Most other things are fine by me. The more personal a blog, the better, and how personal can it be if we're all following the same strict rules?

LisaDay said...

I agree with everything you say.

I good giggle is all I need.


Anonymous said...

I just added your web page to my favorites. I like reading your posts. Thanks!.