It is probably visible to only very few (or maybe just myself) that I make changes and tweak this site at least once a month, but usually more often. In the past few weeks I changed the favicon image to a flower that is not completely round and full, but halved, to an imperfect shape, because it matched better my new header flower design. I changed the categories in my navigation list and moved the whole thing to the side, instead of the center. I changed the font of my titles and a little bit of the text from my welcome message. It’s a never-ending project, this website, and I’m not too sad about that. I love to design and redesign this place, as soon as I think that it doesn’t represent me well-enough anymore. Just like I enjoy designing my book covers and would never outsource that job (well, maybe someday, when I’m too busy or too important to make my own covers anymore).
I have been thinking about my website/blog/platform a lot lately, because as I have decided to put some more work into it again, I realized there are many mistakes I have done since creating this site for the first time. And many of those mistakes have cost me a lot and are very hard to reverse.
Today I logged into my WordPress admin interface to start writing this post, and then I only actually started writing three hours later because I was busy deleting a few thousand spam comments still lingering as pending. Because blogging is hard. How many times have I said this? I do so admire those very successful bloggers who seem to do everything right from the beginning and in just a year or two have thousands of readers, advertising deals and all that jazz. They are clearly much smarter than this blogger here. Not that advertising deals have ever been my goal. But I did do everything wrong with this blog. And I am suffering for it, because I’ve lost so many readers. Even blocking spam comments took me many months to figure out on WordPress, giving the spammers time to have a party over here. Because I was used to Blogger, which seems to be much better at blocking all the spam without any effort on the part of the blog’s owner.
So this is a post about what not to do if you are wishing any kind of blogging success.
My first mistake was to create my website on iWeb. It was a really beautiful website (because they offered great templates) but I couldn’t get comments working for the blog part, because that required that I publish on some web platform that also belonged to Apple, and I didn’t want to do that (I already had a hosting service). When I realized that my website had virtually zero visibility, I moved the blog part to Blogger. It was great for a while. I was inspired to write often and I managed to keep the pace with a vibrant online community. However, after a while I realized that I wanted to change the address of my blog. So I did start another blog in Blogger, and deleted the first one. Huge mistake! Someone picked up my old url and is now posting in a fury not quite tasteful content in that place. I guess they were after my followers, who were regaled with unexpected indecent content from my blog, which must have caused them to believe that I must have had a breakdown and lost my marbles. So the lesson here? Never delete a blog entirely. Keep it. Make it private, redirect the url, whatever. Never let someone else grab your url if you care about it.
My journey with Blogger ended when I wanted to drop iWeb altogether and create a WordPress website through my hosted account. I think it was at the time when I had given up on Apple products entirely and was hoping to stick to PCs and Windows and Android (it did not last).
The thing about WordPress is that it’s a good platform, but your website is more visible if you create it on WordPress.com (the free service, which now also offers some paid upgrades that give you your own url). The WordPress.org (self hosted) websites don’t get as much visibility or the advantages of the blogging community on WordPress.com.
So, I guess I should never have put all the effort into a self-hosted site. That was the main mistake. The one that started it all. I’ve always thought it looked more professional to have your own url. That was what I was going for: professional. But invisible was not on my list of goals for my online presence. Well, boohoo. Here I am now. And my journey online is not over yet. I am bound to make even more ridiculous mistakes in the future, so stay tuned. You will be entertained. (And hopefully you’ll learn and know better.)