I first set up WordPress on my website 4 years ago. Since then it has been a long journey trying to post once a week whilst learning all I can about web publishing.
Things haven’t always gone smoothly. So, for the record, here are some of my greatest gaffes:
1. Not creating the whole site in WordPress
When I first started robcubbon.com I had my portfolio site, created in Dreamweaver, with a WordPress blog tacked onto it as an afterthought.
It’s very difficult to create a consistent look when the site is produced in two different ways. It is much more simple to have a whole site governed by the same CMS (Content Management System).
2. Writing blog posts badly
At first, I treated my blog like a collection of self-contained essays; once I’d written on a subject I’d never return to it.
Don’t think a blog is like a book, a newspaper or a newsletter. It is none of these things – it’s a blog. And there isn’t another writing discipline quite like it.
It’s time-based with your latest post given pride of place when visitors arrive. New visitors may not know about posts written a year ago and if more information becomes available it is reasonable to re-cover old ground.
3. Poorly thought out newsletter sign up page
I recently offered an ebook for download as an incentive to join a mailing list. Many successful bloggers speak in glowing terms of the benefits of newsletters and usually wish that they had started one sooner.
In order to do this I chose MailChimp, an online service that sets up and maintain an email list, provide easily customisable email templates, sends mail and provides subscribe forms, etc.
I waited a few months before my list grew to about 500 people and emailed my first newsletter called “How can I help you?” which thanked my subscribers, contained a few links to recent posts and asked for any specific subject people wanted covered in the blog.
Feedback and click throughs were encouraging but a few days later I was abruptly informed by MailChimp that my account had been suspended. It was difficult to find out why but it seems that 2% of recipients unsubscribed following the mailing and 3 people had complained that the message was unsolicited.
According to MailChimp, this put me in the category of a dirty, rotten spammer!
It seems that although 500 people had entered their email address in order to download the ebook, indeed, subscribers had then responded to a confirmation e-mail (a “double opt-in”), 3 of these 500 had seemingly forgotten they had done this.
Lesson learned: make it clear to subscribers that they will receive a newsletter (which they can unsubscribe from at anytime) on the sign up page. I now use VerticalResponse – they are cheaper, simpler to use and easier to work with than MailChimp.
4. Deleting rude messages
Just as in life you will always meet unpleasant people; if you blog you will receive some unpleasant comments. Believe me, you can spend hours researching and writing about a subject you know a lot about and someone (always someone who doesn’t leave an email address or website of their own!) will latch onto one heavy-handed phrase and use it to prove to the world their mastery on the subject.
If this happens you are well in your rights to delete the comment and even straighten out the ill-conceived prose, just in case it confuses any other eager idiots out there. But, I’m afraid, everyone loves controversy and you can use these keyboard terrorists to your advantage. Simply edit out the swear words and politely explain the blindingly obvious. Nothing upsets rude people more than honesty and decency, and this may lead to an entertaining discussion.
5. Not using keyword research
While it’s always a good idea to use keyword research for the main keywords on your site, it’s also advisable to research the titles of your blog posts. For example, I wrote nine articles in the same series entitled How to Market Yourself. I thought this was a great title and would drive hordes of people wanting to know how to publicise themselves and their companies on the web.
If only I had used Google’s Keyword Research Tool to see that only a few people were searching for “marketing yourself” or even “marketing myself”, I would have seen exactly what a stupid title this was. “Small business marketing” would have attracted 10 times more traffic.
A closer look at your blog post titles is always a good idea, after all the title is usually what entices someone to visit your site. I recently wrote My idiot’s guide to keyword research, thinking it would attract attention in the same way as the successful “Dummies” guides. However, disappointing traffic from social media caused me to conclude that people aren’t interested in what “idiots” or “dummies” say – they’re more interested in “expert” advice!
So there are my 5 best boo-boos. I hope this may have helped some of you. Can you think of any mistakes you’ve made whilst blogging?