Darren Rowse, the Problogger, has been running an interesting post series in which he asked several tenured and experienced bloggers to share their insights into what they would do differently if they had to start their blogs over from scratch. Their answers are posted Here. Since running this series of “1 Question Interviews”, Darren has opened the inputs to other bloggers, asking for any insights they’ve learned, as a Group Writing Project. Here is what I’ve learned since launching this site just about a month and a half ago.
If I were starting my blog over, based on what I know now, I would:
1) Wait a bit longer until I had more content before launching. I had only about 10 posts or so, before I started trying to delve into learning Search Engine Optimization (SEO) stuff. I have my blog (which is powered by WordPress) set to autoping a whole slew of blog listing services each time i post something. I would see a semi-decent influx of traffic, which would just as quickly die off. The key here, according to a friend of mine, is to make sure that you have enough material in your blog to provide for at least 10 minutes of reading time. Otherwise, your potential loyal readers might move on to a better designed blog.
2) I would use the blog as my main page. When I first launched this site, I had an actual “Main Page”, which was like a landing site. The blog was accessible by clicking on “blog” in my header navbar. My main page had nothing with which to help drive people to the blog’s content. I have since moved my blog to make it be the main page when visitors come in, but this has cost me some valuable writing time, because I had to go through older posts which linked to one another, and change the permalink slightly to avoid broken links. I’m not even sure I got them all yet! 🙂
3) I would use services like digg and reddit as appropriate to get my articles “out there”. I didn’t know about websites such as these, except for slashdot, which, being a tech-related news site, doesn’t really fit the theme of my blog.
4) I wouldn’t go into it from the very beginning with grandiose visions of making the kind of income from thing like adsense, that the more experienced bloggers make. Most people forget, as I did temporarily, that even the most experienced bloggers out there today, had to write their first post or article at one time. I have since remembered to treat this as a farmer must treat the agricultural cycle. The correct order of steps is PLANT/CULTIVATE/HARVEST. Any other sequence just will not work, sustainably, for very long.
5) I would, in the beginning, not even run anything like adsense for a while. Yes, I would make sure that my blog’s layout/theme had the available boxes/space to be able to drop my adsense code in once I’m ready. I think this would have made me focus more on getting quality content put in there, without worrying about things like keywords, and stuff like that.
6) I would, since I am using WordPress, take care and caution to make every page that is on my blog a WordPress “page”. For those who don’t know, in WordPress, a “page” is basically the same as a blog post, but it differs in the fact that it is more geared to recording “timeless” information. Stuff like your “About” and “Contact pages. I have this now. The reasoning behind making all of my pages in my blog WordPress pages (assuming you are or will be using WordPress), is that I use the Phenomenal Google Analytics statistics tracking service. When my blog first came online, my blog’s main landing page was a stand-alone PHP file which contained links TO the blog. This messed with my analytics reporting, in that it showed that I had incoming visits that were REFERRED by my main page.
7) I would learn to let go of trying to do the things that I didn’t know to do well enough. This delayed my site launch by about 2 weeks. I finally outsourced some of the technical stuff I didn’t understand to a friend who is more than adequate for the task. The rub is, I made sure to tell him to teach me what he was doing as he did it. So now, I am more knowledgeable.
I hope this helps anyone thinking of starting out as a blogger. I know just writing it has helped me too!
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