Avoid the Mistakes I Made With My Blog

by francine Hardaway on December 29, 2011

Marcus Nelson asked the question “if you were just starting to blog, what would you do differently”  over on G+ today.   Sub-questions were: how do you start, what platform do you use, and what do you write about. This question put me into orbit.

Start? You start by having so much to say and no one to say it to that when the internet arrives, you burst spontaneously into song. I’ve been blogging since I started an ezine in the 90s on bCentral, moved to YahooGroups, moved to Blogger, moved to Typepad, and am now on WordPress.org. You may call me a platform whore. I just blog on the platform du jour, because my blog is my own. Everyone else gets my content later (Huffpo, Fast Company, Business Insider). So at least it’s all in one place.
If I were starting all over as a blogger, I probably would still use WordPress, self-hosted, because I have the illusion of greater control over the platform. That said, the platform’s not the issue, the content is. Or more accurately, the internet (free, global distribution) is.

But there’s one way in which I would do things very differently if I were starting over. Probably the blog of mine that has the most traction is a little thing I started on Blogger called “Francine’s Hip Replacement.” Why? Because it has ONE subject, and that subject appeals to a large, if niche, audience. I only update it once a year now, because I had that hip replaced five years ago, but it gets incredible traffic (for me) even today. And it has a couple of advertisers:-)

I made a big mistake with my Stealthmode blog: I combined the political with the personal with the business with the tech, so one has a clue what my blog is about, and they can’t make a choice to go there for anything except serendipity. It’s an SEO rathole. And what then is my “brand story?”

And yet I can’t abandon it, because it is a full expression of my interests and personality (barring very private family matters). I wish I were +Marshall Kirkpatrick or +Ben Parr or+MG Siegler and could leave my blog “job” and get a new start. How can you get a new start on this random life?

I don’t think I ever wanted to write about tech except as a user. That’s the missing space, IMHO. The geek bloggers are too experienced, and  create the echo chamber. Somebody needs to defend the poor customer, swept along in the real time stream by an almost constant barrage of updates with features that just make things more complicated. Ever try to teach a newbie Facebook lately? Twitter? “Well, after you start your Twitter account, you download the app to your phone, you list yourself on FollowMe, you find the right people to follow on Twellow, you install an extension on your blog to send your posts to Twitter, ….” I just got finished doing this operetta for a friend of mine from the UK.

In the 90s, I began my ezine to help people like him make sense of email and MSOffice. Maybe that’s what bloggers need to do. Keep translating. Keep helping people.

Thanks, Marcus. Now I’ve blown an hour:-)

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