Now, I'm not talking about writing. That comes easy. I'm talking about the mechanics behind a blog.
So, today I share four mistakes I made as a beginning blogger (I'm sure there are lots more, but I'll cop to these for now). I hope you learn from my errors because if my boo boos can benefit anyone else in the blogosphere, that's a good thing!
- I didn't install Disqus on day one. Although I've always replied to readers' comments, it just isn't as clean and coherent if you don't use a program that threads commenting (for those not familiar with Disqus, it's a blog commenting system which you can learn more about HERE). When I did finally install Disqus, it didn't thread my old comments (there's no way it really could), so the comments on my older posts look different than my newer posts. As a stickler for uniformity, I hate that. However, I love Disqus and am so glad I finally started using it.
- I didn't know the magic piece of code that makes links open in a new window. Fortunately, Anita Nelson (aka @anitanelson) shared the line of HTML that I now use regularly. Here's what you do, look for your link in the HTML, then put target="_blank" after the URL but before the item that you're hyperlinking.
- I was too modest. When I added the tweet button, I had the option of adding "via @wordsdonewrite" in the text of the tweet. I thought it sounded too full of myself to add that, so I didn't. But what I quickly learned was that I didn't know who was tweeting my posts because I didn't see the mention in my Twitter stream. That's important to me because I like to tweet those people to say thanks. I've now added it and it allows me to better interact with those who visit my blog. (And, if you utilize the "reactions" option when you use Disqus, it will also let you know who is tweeting your post and what they're saying!)
- I moderated my comments. Comment moderation is a highly debated issue nowadays and I understand the rationale behind moderation. However, I also understand the benefits of throwing caution to the wind. I recently lifted the moderation on my comments and, although it was scary, I think it allows my blog to have life even in my absence. And, with Disqus, commenters can reply to one another and further the conversation even if I'm not online.
I learned that it's a pain in the but to change feed addresses because you lose all of your subscriber counts :-/ReplyDelete
I learned that it's pretty neat to build your email list (and effective). I wish I'd done that much sooner! But alas, I'm making progress...
I think Disqus rocks and I noticed earlier on when you installed it. I agree with your point about moderating comments. Most times, I find it hurts the blog rather than helps it. And with disqus, you can moderate via email which is great (I do that all the time when I'm hit with spam). Although disqus and akismet does a pretty good job of protecting against it.
All in all, I'd say you're doing a darn pretty good job Amber :-) Happy blogging!
Thanks for chiming in, Ricardo. A blog is always a work in progress, isn't it? As new pluggins become available, I pop them in if they're appropriate. I tinker here and there to make things better.ReplyDelete
The things I've learned, and your feed address and email list examples, are perfect illustrations of how easy it is to make mistakes. Things we would have no way of knowing were it not for doing it wrong!
Personally, my ego can admit to my mistakes. Even the biggies in our space make errors; no one is perfect. And, if more people share good information we're all the better for it, eh?
Thanks again for taking the time to comment, Mr. Bueno.
Good post Amber, I agree so much with your first 3 points, it took me a while to get round to them all but got there eventually and can really see the benefit. I have been moderating but having read your comments I think I will change, when I come to think of it I have probably only removed one 'spammy' comment as Akismet seems to do such a good job!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your thoughts :-)
Another helpful post by you! I'm going to figure out Disqus soon. I have to say, though, that I'm not yet ready to quit with the moderation feature. Am I thin skinned? I don't think so. I just hate to have my respected readers (even though they're few) stop by and see curse words and hate speech. I did post rules, but, you know how people are about rules.ReplyDelete
Tony, thanks for adding to the discussion. I appreciate you sharing your experiences.ReplyDelete
The comment moderation one was simple, but felt huge. I'm not sure why. I guess it's because I had some trouble early on with some very hostile comments. Since I've had Disqus, one spam comment has come through, BUT it was held in the Disqus cue for my review before it was posted.
Thanks again for taking the time to comment, oh Top Ten Blog Guru.
Hi Jean, I understand your hesitancy about blog moderation. It took me awhile to make the leap, too. It kind of takes away the safety net.ReplyDelete
However, since I started my blog I've never had one person curse in a comment. Perhaps it's because I don't use profanity here, so it would seem out of place for a commenter to do so. Oh, and in Disqus there's a section to add blacklisted words. If someone uses the identified word, it will be flagged for moderation before it's posted. That might make you feel better about making the change.
Another nice feature of Disqus is that you can have comments emailed to you. If something is offensive to you, you can reply to the email with "delete" and it comes off your blog. Very hand feature!
Thanks so much for contributing to the dialogue, Jean!
P.S. Did you cancel your Twitter account? Went to send you a tweet and I don't see you anymore. Am I typing something incorrectly, perhaps?ReplyDelete
HAHAHA! I love these! I didn't know about opening in a new window until, oh, about three months ago. I also didn't know you COULD moderate comments. I'm trying to think what else I've learned. I'll think and be back.ReplyDelete
Disqus is amazing. I learned about it early on when I switched my blogging platform from Blogger to Wordpress early this year. I've been doing some form of writing since I was a little girl with a diary. As I grew older it evolved to LiveJournal, then Blogger, and now my almighty WordPress site where everything I've written is all in one place.ReplyDelete
I think one of my mistakes is having content in too many places. I still write on Posterous, CNN, etc and it was overwhelming for me but what I write in those places doesn't necessarily belong on my main blog. I just needed to come to terms with that. Thanks for sharing Amber. You are a constant wealth of information. :)
Hi Gini! Oh, the new window code changed my life! When Anita told it to me, I felt like I was turning into a REAL blogger! ;-) Sometimes when I think back, I realize I don't give myself enough credit for all the hills that I've climbed (without realizing there was an elevator!). We're all in a perpetual state of learning, aren't we?ReplyDelete
Thanks for chiming in and for visiting, Gini!
Hi Sukhraj, thanks for adding your take to the dialogue!ReplyDelete
I knew about Disqus a long time before I transfered over to it. I had heard someone say you could lose comments that were already on your blog and that fear made me hesitant to make the change. Finally, I took the leap and hoped for the best. And, to my delight, every comment transferred over without a problem. The thing that saddens me most, however, is that I didn't get all the "reactions" to my past posts. My fault for waiting, not Disqus' though.
Funny that you mention writing in several places and what belongs where. I completely agree with you. I guess I have several platforms in addition to my blog (e.g. Posterous) because not everything is worthy of a full-fledged post. As with all things social media, I don't think there are set right and wrongs. As long as it works for the individual at hand, it's alright.
Thanks so much for visiting and for the kind words!
I guess i should use this when i start my blog or something.ReplyDelete
Hope it comes in handy!ReplyDelete
Commenting on other blogs is just as important as publishing content on a regular basis.ReplyDelete
I started my blog back in 2001 just as more of a personal diary and it has certainly evolved over the years. I am just now building a community and you would think with 11 years of blogging experience I would be huge, but, not that many people find my life interesting. Like Sukhraj I write in multiple places, but I keep coming back to Blogger and have 18 blogs! Some are dead, but that's a lot of writing :D.
I've noticed that I get my biggest spikes on the days I post #Mamavation and Mouthwatering Monday posts because they are part of a larger audience and there are linky's for them. Other than that, I still have a hard time finding blogs I *want* to comment on. Yours obviously is different because I feel like I spam you, but your writing is so good I can't help myself!
Wow! 18 blogs??? That IS a lot of writing!ReplyDelete
Just my two cents on the matter, but I can't help but to think maybe there's a way for you to repurpose that content somehow. I mean, you've spent the time writing it and if some of the blogs are dead, maybe there's a way to get a bit more mileage out of what you've written. Just a thought.
As for your spikes, parenting and food are good attention getters, aren't they? Lots of people out there interested in those topics. And, great hashtags that people actually follow.
As for commenting HERE, I'm loving all your comments, Annette! Truly! Spam me any day, baby! I always enjoy hearing your perspective on things. :-)