As a blogger there are just so many things that one gets to learn. I’m not talking only about the technical side of things; how to install WordPress on a server is a great thing to know though.
There are many more things that you can learn: how to make a community, how to connect with readers, how to write better, how to write click-bait titles. 😜 But there’s one more thing that I’ve been denying all along. Admitting my mistakes. Learning from them. Let me tell you a story.
I met Jithin in 2010. We instantly became friends, what with our leanings for technology and tinkering around with our PCs. We got the idea of starting a blog looking at how Techcrunch and the others were popular and rich. We started our first “blog” in June of 2011. It was called Javpuk. We started the blog, I wrote a post about how Mashable (yes, kill me!) had written about Google rolling out the +1 button. And that was it. For 1 month and 6 days. The second post was again a condensed version of a Mashable review of a lens add-on for the iPhone. Meanwhile, we were busy promoting the “site” to our friends and peers, who never really got the idea behind a tech blog.
Mistake #1: We did not promote to the right kind of people. Also we did not get these people excited enough. Or tell them how it would help them. Or even try to kindle their curiosity.
We left it at that; no more posts, nothing else happened. But then, in April 2012, we decided to “shut it down”. We treated it as some clandestine Web 2.0 destination which was drawing millions of visitors in daily when we wrote about shutting it down.
Two months after that, both of us teamed up with Nandakishore to start Owarty (BEWARE! The domain has expired and nobody knows where it might lead to now.). We were pretty happy and excited when we began writing; owning the domain name and having a self-hosted WordPress blog was definitely a cool thing. This is where we made the second mistake: we did not list out what we would write about. We simply spent days on end browsing other blogs and then re-writing the articles. The site was minimal, we hoped to buy a custom theme “later…when it gets enough traffic”. With no consistent roster of topics, we just kept posting tech news, geek stuff and comics and Kickstarter projects, all of them, things which had been previously reported to death. One month in, we freaked out over how little traffic we had had and how poorly our content was performing on social media. Yeah, we had an official Twitter account, an account for live blogging, a “team account” for “interacting” with our readers and were even planning to have a weekly Twitter chat. Clearly, something had to be done to increase traffic.
The plan: We asked our friend, a girl, to “join the team” and write about “fashion tips and tricks”, to somehow “lure in more readers”.
I still cannot help but amaze at this monumental stupidity of ours. A “tech” blog with “style tips”? Now that I think about it, it just shows how desperate we were. We were ready to do ANYTHING to get more traffic!
Mistake #2: We did not properly choose and define the topics our blog would be about. We were complacent enough to wait for it to ” get popular” before we finalised our topics.
We split up as high school came to an end and we joined college in different parts of the country. Without an Internet connection it became hard to publish anything new; not that we would anyway, procrastination was a common ailment for us. A post a month was the best we could do. Fast forward to June 2013 and the domain name expired, taking with it everything about the site. Even the few readers who did visit. Did we really lose them? Yes. See, the only way we allowed any potential reader to follow us was through Twitter, Facebook or RSS feeds. We did not have an email list. We were too naïve to know the value of an email list. Nevertheless, we lost all potential leads and a method of informing them of something new.
Mistake #3: No email list. People often talk about the importance of building an email list as the first priority for any web-based business and blog, but that’s an understatement. A blog without an email list is like a ship without a destination, kind of.
After Owarty passed away, we sat low for many months. Then Jithin mailed me saying how much he wanted to start blogging again. He even approached a new method, again, one which showcases our laziness: host it on WordPress.com and then redirect a domain to it, “if it got popular”. Again, you can see the lack of determination we have. We’re ready to get stuff done if they come to us. We aren’t really willing to go out there and get shit done. So we launched what is one in a long list of blogs, 34Three. This blog is still there, but it’s been more than a month since I posted anything.
Mistake #4: Procrastination is probably not a blogger’s best friend. Also, if you don’t go out and persevere to get things done, you probably won’t get them done.
After this whirlwind of a journey, you’d think that I’d have learnt something and made a few changes. Truth is, not much has changed, though I might be seeing some glimmer of hope. A couple of posts down on this blog, I started a bit of creative writing; observing things around me and writing about them, like nature, the soothing sound of silence, among others.
The writing went on well, thanks to notes I took from my daily journal. But my writing transformed into something more negative. I was sharing rants about the world, how society was evil and more. What happened? Turns out, events from your life bleed really well into your journal and though I was writing about things in general, they all had that underlying negativity in them.
And I was copying all that to my blog. Why the negativity in my journal? I was passing through a rough patch of life at that time. So if you need inspiration, it’s good to write down the topics you want to cover, but don’t rely solely on your journal for inspiration.
Mistake #5: Do not rely on only avenue of inspiration. Keep your eyes and mind open; you never know where you’ll get an idea from.
Blogging isn’t easy, it’s hard to be consistent, to spin out fresh content every day. What matters is that you keep doing it. Procrastination, writer’s block, call it anything, but if you really want to improve, the best thing to do is to juststart blogging.
It took a great deal of time for me to finally come to terms with these mistakes I’ve made. And am I working on it? I’m about to. Expect a lot of changes in the next couple of months. I’m about to spin a few things around.
What are your lessons that you’ve learnt from blogging? Share them and let’s learn from each other.