Can You Write Too Much?

Although there’s always a little bit of deviation here and there, it’s my goal to write two posts a week on this blog and on my business blog. For all my other blogs, my goal is to write at least one post a week. I try to space them out so that they’re not competing against each other when they go live, as they all initially go onto Twitter.


Creative Commons License Jase Curtis via Compfight

Lately I’ve been going after some of the latest recommendations that I see online, both by folks with sites ranked high and sites ranked low. One of the latest recommendations is that, instead of writing more articles, all of us should concentrate on writing one “epic” post a week, something along the lines of 5,000 to 10,000 words. Supposedly, Google likes those posts better, ranks you better, more people will see and share your stuff and you’ll be the latest golden goose to strike it rich.

Okay, I just added that last part. In any case, I’m here to debunk, or discuss, that and other things as they concern writing one’s blog because that’s what I do. 🙂

First, writing ultra long posts. I touched upon this one in my post on 6 Answers To Questions From New Bloggers where I wrote:

The people who write one really long post a week (sometimes one every 2 weeks) put a lot of time and research into it. Some folks burn out having to write what’s essentially a term paper every 2 weeks. If I had to do that I probably wouldn’t still be blogging after 10 years, which I’m up to right now.

How well did you do in school when you were told to write a 10-page report on… whatever? As much as I like to write, there were times when, because of the subject, I found it really difficult to do. Back in the day, we had to go to the library, look for a lot of books, bring them home and try to put things together. I had lots of encyclopedias that, it turns out, were pretty old, but they were references for some of what I wrote. And I didn’t understand a lot of it.

For most people, even if they know the material, trying to write even 1,000 words on a topic is going to cause a lot of consternation. My last post, on marketing was 2,122 words.

Luckily that was something I know a little bit about but you want to know something? That post, which was released last Thursday, is 9th on my list for the last 30 days at 67 views, which is pretty cool. However, the average length of time anyone has stayed on it… 43 seconds. How many of you can read 2,000 words in 43 seconds? It also only has 2 comments.

So… do long posts really work well? Will they work for everyone? Can everyone do it? I’ll let you answer that one.

Hand Writing
Dave King via Compfight

Second, writing multiple posts a week. In that same article I referenced earlier, the 6 answers, I said this:

A reality is the more you write, the higher your blog will rank. The problem is that high rankings don’t always equate to lots of traffic nor targeted traffic, which you care about if you’re hoping to do any type of business with others.

Trust me, the more you write the more traffic you’ll get and the higher you’ll rank… but it might not bring you what you want. For those of you who know Darren Rowse, aka Problogger, that’s how he got started about a decade ago. He started out writing upwards of 10 posts a day; yup, sure did.

I know because when I was getting going on this blog I went to check out his beginning to see what he did that what’s what I saw; wow! That was astounding; as prolific as I like to consider myself, there was no way I could do that on one blog though, a few years ago, I found there were times when I could write 10 articles in a day when I was getting paid for it, sometimes more.

These days, the only blogs that will survive putting out that kind of content are blogs with multiple writers like Huffington Post, which to many isn’t quite a blog but that’s what it officially is. They can get away with writing that much because they not only have multiple categories, but some big name folks writing for them.

For the rest of us… I’ve found that writing two posts a week on this blog, which is just a blog, has helped its ranking stay pretty consistent over the years, a Google animal notwithstanding. The same goes for my business blog now, because while I was traveling my goal was to only have one article a week and the rankings suffered a little bit.

At the same time, my other 3 blogs have responded well to having at least one article a week because for a long time I wasn’t putting much of anything on any of those sites. That’s where trying to have something once a week can be a major benefit. Depending on what you’re looking for on your blog, you can determine how much you should probably write to either grow or maintain traffic and rankings.

Third, let’s look at the main question: can you write too much? Without thinking, the easy answer is “no”. However, with thinking and contemplation, the answer changes, though maybe not for the reason you think it will.

5/365
Creative Commons License J.B. Hill via Compfight

As I stated above, the more you write the more traffic you’ll get and the higher your site will be ranked. Search engines love content, lots of content and ever changing content; that’s not new.

What also isn’t new is that, overwhelmingly, no one is mentally ready to keep up with it all. You might have all the ideas in the world to write on multiple topics and be able to come up with something new 5 times a day. Heck, to tell you the truth, one of those things I used to do is sit down on a Sunday and write 8 to 10 posts in a day so that, if I wasn’t in the mood to write something specific on a certain day I didn’t have to.

The problem? If some people can burn out after writing 3 or 4 blogs posts in a lifetime, imagine what happens to those of us who are writing so much that it feels like it’s consuming our life.

Over my 10 years of blogging I’ve contemplated quitting a few times. Luckily it’s probably less that 5, but I’ve thought about it. It can get really tiring, especially if you’re not making a lot of money (or any at all), or don’t have tons of traffic or comments, and you’re not generating any business from all the work you’re doing.

Burnout is tough to deal with. Burnout is why I don’t have a newsletter right now. I wrote one for 9 years, the other for 10 years, and I just couldn’t take it any longer. The thing about the newsletters is that I almost never got any feedback. If I wasn’t getting any feedback on my blogs… well, at least on 3 of them, I might give up the ghost, say it wasn’t worth it, and move on with life.

This one is as much a life lesson as it is a writing lesson. We all have to determine what we’re getting out of writing our blogs, or anything else we write. If we’re doing it for our livelihood and it’s not too oppressive, then it’s all good. If writing is a chore and you’re making money, well, it might not be the best job but you’re working for yourself and that’s never bad.

What’s your goal? Truthfully, that’s a question I have to answer at least once a month with my blogs. What am I trying to achieve? How close am I to achieving it? Should I change something, and if so what and how?

If I just wanted traffic and nothing else, I can do that; I’ve done it so I know what’s needed. Targeted traffic… that’s a little harder.

I’m not going to get any deeper on this one because it’s getting close to 1,500 words. Instead, I’ll leave you to consider the questions I’ve asked above, the other information I wrote before that, and ask you to share what you’re hoping to do with your blog and your writing and whether it’s giving you want you need for now.

Hey, homework! At least I’m not asking for a 10-page paper, which is about 2,500 words; ugh! 😉
 

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Five Top 10’s For 2010

The year 2010 was an interesting year for me. I had some successes and some down times, but mainly it was a good year. As I look back on the year I had some things occur that have never happened before, and in some ways I grew a lot.

As I head into the fourth year of writing this blog, I thought it would be interesting to document some things in a top 10 fashion. I’m going to highlight some posts and some people that I felt either made an impact or was something I liked for whatever reason. This isn’t anything overly new. I’ve done something similar to this in the past, and of course every news outlet in the country is doing the same thing. I figure it’s my turn; there will be some surprises and some happy people; let’s see where this takes us. By the way, this one’s going to be long; you’ve been warned.

First, I’m going to start by thanking 10 people who made a big impact on my life in some fashion this year. Some of them have websites, and I’ll link to them if they do. Others don’t, and, well, obviously I won’t be linking to them. Most probably most of these people will never know I thanked them; nothing I can do about that. My top 10 people to thank, in mo particular order, are:

1. My wife, who helped me in more way than anyone could possibly imagine. I guess that makes sense, being married to me. lol And she does have a website, which I wrote about some weeks ago, called Li’l Specs.

2. Mom, who also has helped me out in more ways than I can name this past year. I’m really glad she stayed healthy all year long, and I hope she stays this way for a long time.

3. Beverly Mahone. I don’t even know how many times I was on her Blog Talk Radio program this year, and I was also on her regular radio program as well. Last December her organization named me as one of the Top Baby Boomer Men of 2010, and I got included in her most recent book, Don’t Ask, and I Won’t Have To Lie.

4. Scott Thomas. One of my best friends, definitely my longest. We shared dinner and pizza, movies, and of course you saw that lava lamp a couple of days ago. He comments on this blog as well, and has supported me for years, as I try to support him. He’s got a few websites as well, but I’m going to highlight his photography blog, Views Infinitum.

5. Peter Pellica, aka Sire of Wassup Blog and many other blogs as well. Sire’s been the longest blog friend I’ve had, and we play a lot of chess also. We support each other online, and that’s a great thing indeed.

6. Renée Scherer. Her site is called Presentations Plus, and many of you know that we put on some presentations together this year. She also worked on getting me to networking events, and I probably went to more of them than I might have otherwise.

7. Keith Siddel. Keith was responsible for the majority of my income this past year, and for that I definitely owe him thanks. His company website is HRM, and if you decide to check it out and go to his partners page you’ll see my business listed on it.

8. Jayson Gibson. I did more writing for Jayson this year than for anyone else, and it’s been a pleasure doing it. I can’t link to where I write for him, but maybe he’ll stop by on one of his trips and see it.

9. John… I don’t know his last name, which is a shame because he’s my next door neighbor. What did he do? Earlier this year we awoke to more than 11 inches of snow in the driveway, and it was wet and heavy. My back couldn’t handle it, and my wife couldn’t handle it either. We barely made a dent in it over the course of 30 minutes. He saw our distress and came over with his snow blower and took care of it for us. Then two weeks ago, after going out to shovel, what, 6 days in a row, I awoke to another day of at least 4 or 5 inches in the driveway, and once again my back had started giving up on me. I decided to wait an hour, and in that hour he actually came over and did it again, without my asking. You just don’t always get neighbors like that.

10. Josh Shear, with his blog of the same name. What’s his contribution? Without him I’d have never gone to a tweetup, and not met many of the people that are joining my local sphere of influence.

Next, I’m going to tackle the top 10 posts as far as visitors that were written in 2010. This one took awhile to research because many of my most visited posts are older, but the one at the top, which overwhelmingly blasted all the rest, is quite familiar to all of you at this juncture:

Cleavage – Yes, I’m Going There – 10,247

Webshots – 663

Should Sexting Be Illegal – 541

My Top 19 Favorite Classical Pieces – 365

Are You Obsessed With Numbers? – 242

Images Used By Permission – Copyright Laws – 225

My Hot Tub Adventures – 204

PDF My URL – 204

My Top 10 Fictional Characters – 171

Setting Up Twitter Tools (discontinued 10/12) -155

Next, another switch. Time to thank my top 10 commenters of the year. Some of you will be surprised by the figures, but this is how it’s played out for the entire year, and I thank y’all for visiting:

1. Sire (368)
2. Dennis Edell (154)
3. Carl (multiple websites) (123)
4. Carolee (120)
5. Patricia (109)
6. Val (109)
7. Charles Gulotta (105)
8. Rummuser (67)
9. Kissie (56)
10. John Dilbeck (55)

Next, something slightly different. There’s a plugin you can use that will tell you which of your posts were most popular via social media. It’s called PostRank, and it gives each of your posts a rank based on a number of criteria such as how many times it was retweeted, how many times it was posted on one of the other outlets such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, et al, how many times it was commented upon, and some other factors. The higher the ranking, which is based on a 10 point system, the more buzz that post generated. It doesn’t count page views, so for once the Cleavage post and some others won’t be on this list. Here’s that top ten, with rank:

First Page SEO Basics – 8.6

Would You Be Missed? – 7.8

Sunday Question – What Happened To Modesty? – 7.7

Sunday Question – What Do You Hope To Accomplish In The Last 3rd Of The Year? – 7.6

Twitter Plugin Changes Coming – 7.5

Why I May Not Comment On Your Blog – 7.4

Sunday Question – What Do You Really Think About Blogging? – 7.3

A Networking Meme – 7.1

Don’t “Stink”; Not Quite A Rebuttal – 6.9

And finally, something for myself. I took a look at more than 300 posts of mine and selected what I considered were my top 10 posts of the year, whether they got much attention or not. Here are those posts:

The Ethics of Your Writing

Are You A Lurker Or Participant in Life?

It Takes Guts To Have An Opinion

Expert, Specialist, Professional or Hack?

10 Things That Lead To A Happier, Healthier You

The Business of Blogging

The Myth of Link Building

Does Your Content Stink – Kind of a Rebuttal

Using Social Media To Grow Your Influence (with a picture of me as a kid lol)

SEO Is A Practice Like Medicine, Not A Science

That’s it; yeah, many of you might not care, but hey, it never hurts to take a look back at the past to see what one has done before, and then formulate where we’re going towards the future.

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My MySQL Upgrade Battle; The Short Version

Goodness, what I’ve been going through with my business blog!

It all started when I tried to upgrade it to 2.9. My business blog is my oldest blog, which I began in March 2005. It was created in MySQL 4.0. To use WP 2.9, you have to be on MySQL 5.0. This meant I had to upgrade my blog to the new database.

The first thing I did was to export a file of all my posts. I did it straight up instead of as a zip file; do both, which I eventually did, just to cover yourself. Then I went to my host, 1&1, and I exported my current database to my computer, then created the new database. All good thus far.

They I tried to import the new database, but there was a problem; my file was too big. You can only upload a maximum of 2 MB on most hosts, and my file was 3.5MB; lots of data over 4 1/2 years.

So I had to contact my host to ask them to do it. They were hesitant, and instead walked me through a process of uploading it myself through a special SSH program. That process didn’t work, though they didn’t know why and I did. I had to use the unzipped file to upload and it only allowed a maximum size of 16MB, but my file was 29MB; you’d think they would have known that.

The next step was on their end. They ended up finding a way to get my old database files into the new database, though it took them half a day to get it done. I went in, changed the WP-Config.PHP file to the new database settings, and all was a go.

Nope, not quite; nothing works that easily. All my posts suddenly didn’t work anymore, and that was problematic obviously. Nothing was coming up, but the strange thing is that I could get into my dashboard without any problems, and I could get into the editing area of each post. This was freaking me out.

My blog was down for two days, as tech support looked at it and determined they didn’t know what to do. They told me they had gone as far as they were allowed, and that maybe I should hire someone to fix my database. Hey, this is me!

The first thing I did was go online to see if anyone else had my problem. I couldn’t find that specifically, but I did come across this video called How To Fix WordPress MySQL Crashed Tables, on a blog called WonderHowTo. I thought that might be the issue, so I logged back into my host control panel and went through that process. One of my tables, WP-Options, had a lot of stuff that I had to run the “fix tables” process on, but it worked almost immediately. I went back to the blog; nothing.

I decided to see if upgrading to 2.9 would work. I tried the automatic upgrade, which has never worked before, and viola, it worked! Well, the upgrade worked; now I have at least one blog where that works. I still didn’t have any of my posts, though, and that stunk.

Still thinking, I decided to try deactivating all my plugins to see what happened. Nothing. However, something stuck out in my mind that I had seen while going through my searches. There was a lot of conversation about permalinks and checking the structure of those things. I went there and didn’t see anything out of place, but then remembered that, on that blog, I had a unique plugin called Dean’s Permalink Migration. I had added it to that blog to remove all the dates from my posts, which get in the way of SEO efforts.

I reactivated that plugin and went to check its settings. Then I hit update options, and all my posts were back; whew!

Then I went back to the plugins page and added the most important ones first and tested; all worked perfectly with the dashboard. Then I added the other plugins one at a time; all worked perfectly once more. Then I thought I’d try something and I added the WP Database Backup plugin, which used to shut all my blogs down; works perfectly.

I decided to go one step further. I went and found All In One SEO to see what would happen. And, of course, it loaded, my dashboard works perfectly, and all is right with the world.

At least on that blog. It seems that by upgrading the database that blog works the way it’s supposed to. As for my other two blogs, I’m still confused because they’re already on 5.0, so I shouldn’t be having any problems with anything. For now, I’m not going to worry about it.

What are the important lessons here? First, always make sure you back everything up, just in case. Export whatever you can to your computer for your protection. Second, if you have to, contact customer service and let them handle some stuff, even if they seem somewhat irritating. I’ll be writing a post about that on my business blog. Third, don’t panic if things don’t go correctly. Fourth, verify to see if you have your blog database first. If you can actually access your information in some way, you’re still running good. Five, test and question everything you have, and you’ll probably figure it out.

And if none of that works, go through forums, or, of all things, mention it on Twitter, and you might get a response or an offer of help. I’ve licked this one; whew! Since I probably won’t be posting on Christmas Day, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday!

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