• Sumo

From where I live there is a famous saying that goes, “Regret is always at the end.” (Nasa huli lagi ang pagsisisi. – yup, Filipino) I know it sounds like something Captain Obvious would say but if you think about it a tad bit more, it IS quite profound especially if you are trying to achieve something and you feel a lot anxious to go on.

Before I started this blog – karlmac.com, I already got a hand on creating two blogs. However, these two blogs have failed miserably and are already buried among my lost hopes and dreams haha… But seriously, do I feel any regrets about these failures? At first I thought I did but then as any other experience of failure it turned out to be something rather insightful. This blog is my third try and somehow things are relatively going better (“relatively better” considering that the first two are dead! HAHA). As a blogger that has every intention of sharing his knowledge no matter how trivial it is, I’ve decided to share to you the list of things that I shouldn’t have done when I started any of the blogs that I have handled. I do not claim to be an expert of blogging, SEO, or anything for that matter. What I list here are the some of my personal experiences that, in my humble opinion, sprung some good pointers that I think does me good in blogging. (Hey I’m rambling again!)

The list is in no particular order. You can just read the titles if you feel that it is too long to read. Here goes!

1. I published content from another source and did not gave them proper credit.

Before writing the first item, I didn’t think that this would come out as some kind of a confession! Anyway, yes – being a silly new blogger that I was (“was” – I hope) I let through a blog post that was inadvertently lifted from another source. I was working on my very first blog and it was run by the company that I worked for. My boss then emailed me some text which he said I should post in our blog. I did – blindly. Surprisingly, the post became popular. Visitors were flowing and I was so proud of myself – that is until someone emailed the blog admin (ME!). It was the admin of a wiki site which apparently wrote the content that I’ve just published. Long story short, I was told off by them for not crediting them as source… IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. Wow. For a blogger that is something that is equivalent to being bit*hslapped in front of your audience. I couldn’t save my face and the only right thing to do, I thought, is to apologize to them and finally give them the proper credit (also in the comments section). Did it hurt the pageviews? Yes.

2. I used a WordPress plugin that rotates blog posts, resets the date making it look like a new post.

I won’t mention the plugin because honestly it was something not worth remembering. But, if you come across a similar one – I strongly recommend that you DO NOT use it. For a new visitor to your blog, “meh.” For search engines, it will make you look bad and you should feel bad (sorry can’t help it). I used it here in karlmac.com back in its early stages and I paid the price. During the time I had visitors slowly coming in and then I thought maybe I could fool the search engines and make it look like that I am submitting new content every day. I had the XML Sitemap plugin installed and my sitemap is resubmitted every time my blog posts rotates – every day. The plugin only republishes posts that are not getting enough views. For about a week my pageviews increased daily. And then… my blog’s chart went dead-straight. It’s like it never exists. It wasn’t showing in my searches. If my chart had ever any bump on it, it was because I visited it. Forever alone. Like Patrick in Spongebob, it took me longer than I want to admit to figure out that it was caused by the rotation plugin and that karlmac.com was penalized. The following week was one of the most depressing days that I had as a blogger. Just as my blog was finally picking up (after failing in two others) it felt like I had to start all over. Luckily I didn’t. First, I uninstalled the rotation plugin and shunned its existence forever. Second, I continued posting new content once per day even though it seemed pointless because no views are coming. Third, I patiently waited for my blog to be re-indexed (with brand-spanking new content) and then pageviews slowly began trickling in my blog again. It was about two weeks before my blog reappeared in the search engines.

3. I used black (as in #000000) as my base color for my blog and heavily decorated it with images and other sorts of stuff.

I am not saying that you cannot pull off a successful blog that uses pure, unadulterated black as the base color for the design. It was my first blog. I myself created the theme. Back then I thought it was a work of art. It was glorious. It was bad – really bad. The page loads excruciatingly slow because of all the heavy graphics around the design. Add to that, the theme was gloomy. I designed it such that it looked as if the whole blog is lit only by neon lights surrounded by pitch-black background. The part where the content is is white and it contrasted against the solid black background in a not so good way. It looked crude  and it was horrible. I think people would not have visited it if not for the content. The kind of content that we serve then was targeting local visitors and not too many websites serve such content, thus our traffic. Even with that the number of pageviews was not all too impressive either. The blog then went on to die slowly. What I learned here is that content should be the top of your list when designing a blog. The design must complement the content, not over power it – or drag the pageload time to high heavens!

4. I added one of those widgets that allows your visitors to see the location of other visitors in real time.

I had one a couple of years back in a blogspot blog. Needless to say I did not see any real effect in my traffic because my blog had practically none. I also installed a script in this blog in its early days that allows you to monitor the number of visitors in real time. You can see this script in some sites – usually it looks like a red tab with a number in it representing the live visitors. Though I saw some blogs that have a considerable amount of traffic have this in their sidebars, I think these widgets come off as very unprofessional if you are serious about creating a high-quality and high-traffic blog. You might have also observed that the best blogs around don’t have them. Some of your visitors feel uncomfortable when seeing widgets like these and probably gives them the feeling that they are being watched (though they really are… dundundunnnn! surprise!). I think it is best that we keep this kind of information to us blog admins and not showcase it to the rest of the world.

5. I installed All in One SEO plugin but I did not filled up the fields under each post.

If for some reason you are not filling them out as well, then I highly recommend that you do. It took me a while to knock the idea off my head that the plugin contains magic and after installing it, it would do its thing without any effort. Guess what? I was wrong. What is the point of installing the plugin if I did not use it at all? Yup, this is just another stupid case of neglect. I was too lazy to fill them up. All I thought was to publish, publish, publish. It was already too late when I realized I had to religiously fill the Title, Description, and Keywords fields of All in One SEO. However, this did not stop me from going back EACH post to fill these up. Eventually, I reap the rewards and it IS good.

6. I installed a WordPress plugin that monitors and records visitor statistics on its own and stores its data in the website’s database itself…

The story goes on as something like, “… and it bloated the database comparable only to the size of YO MAMMA jokes. It went on to become a website that stored more data about its visitors than its actual content. The blog did not run. It rolled like a slimy, obese, blog that it is.” All too familiar? Do you have a similar plugin in your blog? I suggest that you turn to other site stats solutions out there. There are better, trust me. Google Analytics anyone?

7. I first published my blog in a subdomain.

Some may argue that this has no bearing to the volume of traffic that a blog can get but in my case, it definitely had. I originally planned this blog to be hosted in http://blog.karlmac.com because I had this idea that I wanted to give myself the grandeur of a personal web page on the root domain. That was me being egocentric. (There is absolutely nothing wrong with personal web pages by the way.) What happened was weeks later after I posted quite a number of posts, it hit me that what I REALLY wanted was a BLOG. I also ran into this problem in Alexa back then where I can’t properly view my rankings of my sub-domain. I then transferred it to the root and I used 301 Redirects to preserve the link juice of the indexed pages in the search engines. I guess what I really wanted to say is that the root domain should contain the “meat” of your website. It would have been an illogical site structure if I were to have a one-pager personal web page and then a multitude of pages for a blog in the sub-domain when my intention really is to gain traffic via my blog, not my online resume.

8. I designed my blog to be too plain and it looked crude.

Please don’t confuse a plain design to a minimalist design. I cannot say that this blog had a minimalist orientation in terms of design. It was just too plain and boring. I experimented on adding a bit more to make it look smoother and more attractive to visitors. Surprisingly, the number of visitors increased and it was my first concrete evidence that design really does have a hand at your blog’s performance. (I have plans on improving further the design of my blog soon!)

9. I chose to create a blog that is remotely related to what the domain could possibly mean.

ASAIMENT.COM was the domain name that I decided to use for a blog that I attempted that was all about web design. If there is anything that I observed among web design blogs is that their domain name had some connection or relevance to their niche be it in proper words or over a pun. This however, no matter how hard I try, does not. To be fair, I decided to use this domain as a compromise to my original plan for a blog about school home works – or to put it simply – Assignments! Now do you see the connection? I know it sounds retarded but at least they rhyme. Just to elaborate on why I abandoned the idea, Wikipedia already had the monopoly on any college, high school or elementary paper. Right? Being a serious blogger, you have to think carefully of a domain that would suit best your blog. Your domain will make your branding.

10. I’ve been idling instead of blogging.

This is probably the nastiest thing that I regret in blogging. It’s not that I can’t find time or I am too busy. I was, well… IDLE! I had all sorts of things going on in my free time when I can blog and expand my content right then and there. I realized that blogging is something that takes time to reap the rewards of. The more posts you publish early on, the better. Your posts are like wine and the search engines, the wine cellar. Wine tastes better with age, as your posts are more useful to you later when indexed by search engines, linked to by people, and read by hundreds. Unless you cannot invest time in blogging, nothing will come of it (as any other business endeavors actually). If you are serious about being a successful blogger, it is best that you treat it as something that needs a slice of your time. Avoid excessive time on facebook, twitter, imgur or any other time wasters. It feels good to be productive; and no, I didn’t say this like a human resource officer would talk an employee into working. You only have yourself to motivate when you want to get your blog earning money.

I hope I didn’t ramble too much up there :). There are more actually (yeah, haha what a failure), but I think that is better left for another time. I sincerely hope by sharing these I helped you in some way.

So did I become an expert at anything after all these? No, definitely not. But what I can tell you is that I learned much from them. I had it coming and it was worth it – each one.

Image credit: svilen001