Tag Archives: blogging lessons

15 Lessons From 1,500 Blog Posts

I originally wrote this article in 2014. This was post #1,500 for I’m Just Sharing; it’s been an interesting ride. It’s more than 3,100 words, and was one of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written. It had nearly 100 comments, so I decided not to kill them all like I’ve done other articles I’ve reposted. Instead, I’ve kept all the comments of active blogs; that seems to be the fair things to do… and maybe it’ll be popular again.

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I started this blog in December 2007 with an idea that maybe I could make some money blogging. My other blog, Mitch’s Blog, is my business blog and has a different purpose.
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My 7th Year Anniversary; This Means 7 Lessons Of Course…

Today is the 7th anniversary of I’m Just Sharing; yay! The very first post was pretty short and lousy and went live just after midnight, but the second post, which I wrote on the same day and launched an hour later, was about credit card debt. It probably would have gotten way more attention if it wasn’t the first real post on a brand new blog but hey, it ended up doing okay long term. Not a bad start to a new blog if you ask me.

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I’ve learned a whole bunch of lessons since those early days, and I figured I’d share a few things, for no other reason than I figure it’s time for another post like this about blogging. It also follows up on the last post I wrote that was about writing list posts; how about that for timing? 🙂

Also, this one kind of follows up on the 15 lessons post from March highlighting 1,500 posts on this blog. This is post #81 since that one, which is strange for me because when I first started writing, I was creating at least 300 posts a year for the first three years. Hey, such is life right?

Do I have 8 different lessons than the 15 from before? Let’s find out:

1. You can’t just throw products onto a blog and expect people are going to buy them. For the first 4 years or so, I would pop products at the end of posts that I’d pull up from Commission Junction, Clickbank, or a host of other places. I never sold anything from those sites from here. Matter of fact, besides selling one of my own books from here, the only product I ever sold was Mailwasher, which I still use, and I sold 3 of them; woo-hoo! Oh wait, that didn’t make me rich; hmmm… lol

2. You can be bypassed by folks who are willing to do more, even if you keep producing content. As some of you know, I’m an independent consultant, which means blogging isn’t close to my regular job. Because of that, there are times when I have to do other stuff that’s more important that blogging; I should be slapped for saying that.

Back in the day, this blog was ranked pretty highly. I was producing lots of content and I still had lots of time to comment on other blogs. This is before things like Facebook, Twitter was new (in those days having 10,000 people following you was a big deal) and nothing was automated.

These days, you can write a blog post and set it up with some software to post that bad boy once every 15 minutes if you so choose. You can also mix in as many old posts as you can, constantly keeping your name out in social media circles. Sure, commenting on other blogs still works great, but if you’re willing to automate you can conquer mountains.

I’ve refused to over-automate, allowing my new posts to go live and to have it tweeted and sent to LinkedIn when it happens, and that’s it; otherwise, if my posts show up again later it means I’m posting it. That’s why I appreciate and talk about my buddy Adrienne so much; she’s doing it the old fashioned way, networking and sharing and commenting; what a kid! Have you checked out her course yet (and remember, I’m not an affiliate, so I get nothing out of this)?

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3. If you write only for ratings you’re not really writing, you’re marketing. Yeah, I know, most people are trying to make some kind of money via blogging. I’m not immune to this; trust me on this one.

I refuse to go out of my way to do a lot of keyword research and the like for each post. I know I’m a dinosaur in this blogging game, thinking that the content should be enough. I mean, I have about 1,580 live posts on this blog, but it’s like the internet keeps saying “what have you done for us lately”.

If you want to write, write; if you don’t, don’t. If you believe you don’t write well enough get better; you do that by writing or taking lessons. If traffic doesn’t come don’t blame it on the writing; at least not initially. Go out and get visitors if you can. How? Are you ready for the work?

4. I really make a lot more work for myself than is needed. I gave you the link to 15 blogging tips above while forgetting that back in September I gave you another 55 tips and ideas about blogging; glutton for punishment I am. Still, I only have 4 more to go, including this one, so let’s push on…

Have you ever heard of a blogging club? It’s not quite like blogging sites where people join, share their posts and other people’s posts, vote on them, and have one overall person trying to promote them to heck. Instead, it’s where you have a number of folks, maybe 5 to 7, who all agree to comment on each other’s blogs as well as share those articles on social media.

At one time they were pretty popular… at least to start with. It’s a great idea and it’s a lot less structured than the other groups. It can work, but there’s a catch. You have to be interested enough in what someone is writing to be able to leave a legitimate comment. Otherwise, some comments look forced or amateurish, almost like spam, and nobody benefits in the long run and the groups fade out.

Instead, it’s better working towards creating a community of people who respect your work enough to at least want to stop by and read it often. Of course you have to be willing to do the same; being selfish never helps anyone.

5. Research before you make changes to your blog. What’s this about? Recently I shut down a business and a blog. One of the things I remembered at the last minute was I hadn’t moved the link to the first product up there on the upper left (which you probably ignore most of the time you visit, if you’ve been here more than once lol). So, in another few days, if you happened to click on the link it would have gone nowhere, and I’d have been none the wiser; that would have been stupid.

Well, there are lots of folks who make changes to their blogs without doing a bit of research first to see what might happen. My buddy Brian of Hot Blog Tips recently changed his commenting process (Why Brian! lol) and discovered that it wiped out all the gravatars on previous posts, and he’s had that blog for years.

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Sometimes people change themes without realizing that all the customization they did on the previous theme doesn’t move along with the change, and they might not know how to do the work, and the new person doesn’t know how to do the work.

Sometimes people change plugins or add new plugins that don’t get along with what they already have. That can cause issues also.

Before you decide to make big changes to your blog, remember that we have these things called search engines; check stuff out before you wreck something.

6. With the good comes some bad. In my case it’s spam. I don’t get the amount of spam that many people say they get because I’ve set up a lot of filters. However, spam is ever changing, and I’ve seen some smart spam as well as irritating spam over the years.

It’s something you have to deal with if you decide to exert your rights to self expression on the web. Don’t fear it and don’t hate it; just recognize that if your blog and your posts mean anything to anyone, that makes it attractive to spammers, or people who write lousy comments. Manage it and move on; don’t let the suckers get you down.

7. Whew, this time it wasn’t easy; I think I’m in holiday mode. Well, that plus the day I’m writing this is also the day I started creating a presentation I’m giving to a medical group, which will happen two days after this post goes live. So I’ve already been doing a lot of writing and creating today and had to change gears for this post.

And I think that’s the last lesson I’m going to throw out there, that I hope I didn’t mention before, though now that I think about it I’ve addressed the topic. Either write what you have to or write what makes you happy but write.

Over the course of 7 years I’ve maintained 36 specific categories of posts, and not all of them about blogging or even internet related stuff. There’s nothing wrong with expanding niches when it suits you, even on a niche blog. For instance, on my finance blog I have 60 categories; I’m betting you didn’t know there could be so many thing about finance to talk about eh?

When all is said and done, unless someone is paying you to do it blogging is supposed to be an enjoyable thing. Even if you’re trying to make money, if people think your posts are forced they’ll feel it and they won’t enjoy them either.

I love blogging; heck, I’d better with all the blogs I have and write for. If you don’t like it, don’t do it; trust me on this one.

That’s it; gotta put this one in the can and move to the next bit of business. Thanks to the few of you who are still here after 7 years; let’s see what other trouble we can get ourselves into. 🙂
 

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5 Blogging Lessons Learned From The Harry Potter Series

For those who have been with this blog for awhile, you know I’m a major league Harry Potter fan, both the books and the movies. One of the earliest posts on this blog was about the series of Harry Potter books, and last year I wrote a review here of the last movie Deathly Hallows Part 2. I’m not sure anyone has read, watched, and studied as much about this stuff as I have, other than J.K. Rowling herself.

Day 216: Macroeconomics for Muggles
Lily Monster via Compfight

I’m a bit strange sometimes. I write about blogging all the time, and often while doing or experiencing something else I wonder how it could relate to blogging or social media. Hey, those are the things on my mind, so I guess it figures. Therefore, I’m going to relate 5 blogging lessons I’ve gleaned from all this stuff concerning Harry Potter, whether it’s in the books, movies, or elsewhere. Here we go.

1. Research can help bring more meaning into what you’re doing. One of the things that I found fascinating about the Harry Potter books were the names. It seems that Ms. Rowling took a lot of time studying the etymology of names that she used for her characters. Almost all of the names used for characters in her books have meanings that fit their personalities in some fashion in the book. While most of us that try to write fiction might pull a name out of our heads that we like, hers had more meaning, and I bet there’s a large audience that was pulled into her writing because of that.

When we blog about topics that we both know or might be on the fringe of our knowledge, a little bit of research can help us stay on point and protect us from making a major mistake. I do that often with my finance blog since I write on a lot of topics that I know something about, but not a lot about. That’s why I’ll sometimes link to a reference on all my blogs if I think someone might want to know more about the topic or the word. It never hurts to try to get it right.

2. Continuity makes people feel comfortable. In this case I’m talking about the cast of the Harry Potter movies. Over the course of 11 years making 8 movies from 7 books, they were able to retain 75% of the actors in the series, which is phenomenal. And not just major characters either, but many secondary or fringe characters both integral to the storyline or not. As I’ve watched the movies over and over I’ve noticed faces in the crowds that my mind recognizes from previous movies; fascinating stuff.

For blogging people call it “niche” writing, which isn’t a bad thing to do when you’re trying to reach a particular market. Of course this blog isn’t niched, but what I hope I’m doing is writing in a fashion where, for the most part, people get comfortable with the overall style. Sure, I change it up from time to time but even the Harry Potter movies had to change Dumbledore’s after the first two movies. 🙂

3. Each book and movie is as long as it needed to be. With each new Harry Potter book the number of pages got higher and higher. Each movie was at least 2 hours, and if you count the last two movies as one movie it reached 5 hours. Yet for all the movies there were things that had to be taken out to keep the movies, well, watchable. Whereas someone like me would have loved watching 6 hour movies each time, the masses would have felt like they were in history class and tuned out.

I see the topic of how long blog posts should be on many blogs. Sometimes a person makes a recommendation, while other times the person will say that it’s up to each individual blogger. What the Harry Potter series shows us is that if you can get people engaged in what you have to say that it won’t matter to them whether it’s 300 words or 3,000 words. Create a compelling story and people will not only read it, they’ll come back for more.

4. Sometimes being the lone voice is lonely, but you might be right. Many times throughout the series Harry Potter speculated on things that others just weren’t ready to believe. Even his best friends sometimes couldn’t see the truth the way he could. He didn’t let that stop him, and invariably he’d end up being correct. However, even with his scrutiny he did get one thing wrong, really wrong, which was planned so he could eventually do the right thing to save lives, and he made up for it by giving his youngest son that man’s middle name.

It takes guts to blog about something you feel you know is correct yet feel others might not agree with. Sometimes it’s in the delivery, sometimes it’s in the research (see #2 above), sometimes it’s a gut feeling based on your perception of the information you have at the time. We all have to be willing to stick to our guns in our beliefs, while at the same time ready to acknowledge when your wrong because of a misperception or a belief in something that turns out not to be true, something I actually addressed in a post on my business blog last week.

5. When the chips are down, or the situation is important enough, if you’ve built up a community they’ll come to your rescue or fight on your side. This is ultimately what happens in the Harry Potter series. With overwhelming fear of being killed many students decided it was worth fighting the bad guys rather than allow known killers to rule their lives going forward. Others came as they could to help out, and a lot of people got killed. Yet in the end what had to be done was completed and everyone ended up better for it.

When you build a community through blogging they’ll always be there to come to your aid if someone decides to challenge you in a very negative way. It’s amazing the good feelings one can earn from people they’ve never met in person by being consistent, fair and friendly. Negative thoughts and feelings can be powerful and hard to overcome, but good feelings bring people together and always seem to win out eventually.

Whew; that was a lot wasn’t it? Good thing I didn’t go for 10! 😉
 

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