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New Article Series – Blog Struggles

Blogging Tips - book cover, copyright Lorelle VanFossenOver the next few months, I will be publishing an ongoing series, which includes and continues from much of what I started in my book, “Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging”.

I’ve been blogging since 1994, though it barely had a name back then, online journaling is what it soon became. Along the way, I’ve changed domain names twice, moved through four different web hosts on that first site/blog, started many other blogs, closed many blogs, and endured the evolution from website to blog. I’ve watched mailing lists become forums become chats and blogs. I’ve watched search directories become search engines become world domination communication platforms, and also watch them cave into censors as they took their products globally. I’ve endured the scoff and scorn personal blogs developed, and battled comment spammers, sploggers, scammers, and content thieves in increasing numbers every year.

I’ve been bragged about, exclaimed, flamed, humiliated, taken to task, had my words abused and used against me, whether any of these were true or deserving, it matters not. It happens to all of us at one time or another in this new phenomenon known today as web publishing.

I’ve traveled the world and spoke to fellow writers, web network owners and administrators, forum managers and moderators, website hosts, site owners, users, and bloggers. We’ve learned from each other, passing tips back and forth, and grown up through the adolescence of the World Wide Web.

Along the way, I think I learned a few things. I know I have the bruises, callouses, and scars to prove that at least I survived, so I must have learned something along the way.

Blog Struggles – The Series

Blog Struggles Article SeriesThe series is called “Blog Struggles” and will cover how to find and write content, editing blog content, blog writing tips, finding your blogging voice, when to publish – and when not to, how to encourage comments or spurn them, comment spam, trolls and mean folks, splogs and content abusers, reader perceptions, creating an online and/or blogger persona, writing a personal or technical blog, creating a blog working environment, changing your blog topic and concept, getting found, social networking, explaining what blogging is to friends and family, finding time to blog, panning your blog, linking, blog structure, maintaining your blog, blog evolution, web traffic mythology, closing your blog, finding inspiration and motivation to keep blogging, blog branding, blog development, fitting blogging into your life in spite of your life, and the trends, fads, and blog clutter I’ve seen come and go, and then come back to our blogs.

Much of these things I already have covered on this blog, but I want to put them all together in a body of work. I might even add a category, if this continues forward with a popular response.

When I sat down to jot a few ideas onto paper about what I wanted you, my fellow blogger, to know about blogging, the things that aren’t discussed openly but common to all of us, I ran out of paper. I covered pages and pages with tips, ideas, techniques, and resources you need to know to improve your blogging, and strengthen your blogging spirit and energy. I was stunned at how many things you know or need to know about blogging and how to keep blogging, that I wanted to share with you.

This isn’t a series for beginners. It isn’t a series for advanced users or the in between. It is a series for all bloggers, no matter where you are on your blogging path. As I looked through my notes for this series, I realized how much I had learned that I hadn’t put down in words or even understood. Hopefully now, we can openly discuss all these topics and learn and grow together.

Got a Life Plan – Get a Blog Plan

I’ve been teaching sexual assault prevention education to women for many years. I always ask my students if they have health insurance. Life insurance? Auto insurance? Homeowners or renter’s insurance? What about a living will or general will if something happens to you? If you have all these things in order, it means you have sat down and made a plan for your life, just in case you need these things. So why don’t we consider making a plan for being attacked, mugged, robbed, sexually assaulted, harassed, or raped? These should be treated no differently than the other “plans” for “what if” in our lives.

The same goes for blogging. We start out enthused and energized, sometimes thinking that this is the coolest thing on the planet we’ve ever done, but without thinking it through and having some kind of plan, we can flounder, losing interest and enthusiasm, as well as blogging energy.

There is a lot of joy in sharing your knowledge and experiences with others. Unfortunately, you are also making those things public, which means they are open to acclaim, criticism, celebration, and bashing. With your writing and images easily accessible to the public, your content is going to be stolen, ripped off, abused, and used to generate profits for others, not you. You will get comment spam, nasty ugly comments created by machines and humans that have nothing to do with you, but plague your blog.

You will go through great writing spurts, down time, have personal problems interfere with your blogging, get bored, burned out, and just worn out. You will get accused, abused, and battered for what you say, how you say it, why you said it, and when you said it. It happens. It happens to all of us.

We all experience these things so why not be prepared and know what to do and how to react when the “what if” happens on your blog?

My goals in doing this ongoing series on Blog Struggles is to:

  • Share lessons learned to help you prevent my mistakes on your blog.
  • Share lessons learned you may not have considered or anticipated.
  • Open the conversation up to topics rarely covered on the good, bad, and ugly aspects of blogging.
  • Let you know you are not alone. We all go through these at different stages in our blogging life, so let’s go through them together and learn together.

As always, if you have questions or would like me to cover a specific concern or topic that is plaguing your blogging spirit or activities, let me know. We’re all in this blogging boat together.

Blog Struggles Series

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

21 Comments

  1. Posted October 4, 2007 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Wow, Lorelle. That is some powerful stuff. I am really looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll sending my own readers to it, as well.

    One topic I’ve noticed you covering that could also perhaps be included in this is blog security and “hardening” your WordPress blog against attack. I think that counts as a blog struggle issue.

  2. Posted October 4, 2007 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I really enjoy your dedication and depth with which you write your articles. Keep it up!

    Michael, you may want to check out the blogsecurity.net site, we just released a whitepaper on securing your blog.

  3. cerebralmum
    Posted October 4, 2007 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I’m definitely looking forward to this series. I hope there will be a few posts specifically about making a blog plan. I haven’t been blogging very long but the first thing I learned was that there is so much more to blogging well than just writing posts.

    Content is the most important thing (and it was great after only a couple of months to receive a Perfect Post Award) but if you can’t manage your content, and all the responses to it, in a consistent way, it creates an awful mess. It takes a lot of work to get to the point where management is simple.

    And I’m not there yet.

  4. Posted October 4, 2007 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    This sounds so exciting. I’m looking for idiot proof instructions on how to create an RSS feed php to fit your blog needs. Hope you have something on that too!

  5. Posted October 4, 2007 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I am definitely looking forward to it because like I’ve mentioned many times, I’m constantly learning the ropes of blogging, and this sounds like one of the perfect opportunities to learn from scratch! =)

  6. Posted October 4, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, your blog and your book (Blogging Tips) are both incredibly helpful (for me and for others), so I’m looking forward to this new series and I will encourage my readers who are bloggers themselves to pop on over and have a look.

  7. Woli
    Posted October 4, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Very helpful articles. I am inspired.

  8. Posted October 4, 2007 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    “jot… paper” I always suggest new teachers or other bloggers start with an analog blogue. Sometimes email, newspaper, chat room, wiki, or analogue journal (good paper, nice ink pen) is better.

    Of course, I never did that with my initial blogs (plural); better late than never to start.

  9. Posted October 4, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Jo: Yahoo! Pipes is something you may consider, but I assume you are talking about feeds for content ideas, right? Not replacement for blog content. :D

    Barney: Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully, I’ll keep proving them right.

    Pam: “Analog” is still the best way to start getting a feel for putting your thoughts down, and I’m totally in favor of writing out your blog plans on paper. However, while some older folks need paper and pen before their brain engages, a lot of younger and middle aged folks have grown up with the computer so their thoughts flow through the keyboard. I’ll never forget how amazed I was to discover that my “writer’s bump” callous had faded away. It’s been my constant companion since I was 9 or 10 years old, and I hadn’t even noticed it was gone. Odd thing that.

  10. Posted October 4, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Perfect! I can hardly wait. You can be I’ll be watching my feed reader for this one.

  11. Posted October 5, 2007 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    Hi! Very interesting. Nice to know you did not give up. Good to know someone with experience long enough to put forth practicle issues.

  12. Posted October 5, 2007 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I have been blogging for a couple of years. I started blogging because I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and I still find it fun. However, my blog doesn’t really have much of a focus, so it doesn’t have a lot of readership. I would love to be able to focus things a bit so that I could have some regular readers so that I could get some more reader participation. Could you address finding/managing a focus for your blog? This could be helpful for people who are new to blogging or people who have been blogging but no longer feel passionate about the topic of their blog (as well as people like me). Thanks – I love reading your tips, they are very helpful!!!

  13. Posted October 5, 2007 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It’s on my list, Lindsey, you mind reader. It’s a tough subject to cover, but I’ll do my best. By the way, if you want to focus your blog, which direction do you want to focus it in?

  14. Posted October 5, 2007 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I started blogging a couple month ago and I find that the time committment is getting to me. I write about green products and the research is a killer. How do you know when you are spending too much time? How do you learn to balance so that it remains fun? Your writings are very in depth and must take alot of time.

    Sometimes I find that it can take me a couple of days to put together one article (which is 5 page in word.)

    In addition how do you get more people to comment. It is so much fun when people comment.

    I also question how narrow should your blog be? Is there any way to query your readers what they would like to see when there are so many blogs that talk about when you have a decent amount of vistors but litte comments? Thanks again for all of your wonderful posts. I have learned so much from you!

  15. Posted October 6, 2007 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Lorelle,
    I have read this post as a piece of poetry. Because of its inner rhythm and rhyme. Look at this passage: ‘I’ve been bragged about, exclaimed, flamed, humiliated, taken to task, had my words abused and used against me…’.
    BTW, as for me, I have learned not to be afraid of a long sequence of synonyms from the texts of prayers.
    Thanks.

  16. Posted October 7, 2007 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks, David (comment #2). I am already aware of that blog and the great stuff they’re doing, thanks to Lorelle mentioning them in the past.

  17. Posted October 7, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    See that’s the tough part – I don’t know what I want to focus it on! I know what I DON’T want to focus it on, but I don’t know what I DO want to focus it on . . . sigh . . .

  18. Mark
    Posted October 17, 2007 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Lindsey,

    That is a great place to start. Make a list of all the things you currently have in your blog. Then start scratching out the stuff you don’t want. Perhaps, just perhaps when you are done you may have a narrow enough list to be your whole blog focus or niche. At the very least you should have it narrowed down to a few. Most people don’t have a “real” interest in more than 2-3 things outside of natural curiosity. Perhaps it will make sense to have multiple blogs?

  19. Posted December 10, 2007 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Can I nominate a topic? When, why, how and if you should launch a new blog.

    This seems to be a very fuzzy issue- especially for bloggers with an established readership, focus and niche.

  20. Posted December 10, 2007 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    @Tiffany Monhollon:

    Actually, I’m going to have an article on the Blog Herald kinda on that topic in the next few days or so. I think you have to be REALLY desperate to start a “new” blog. I always vote to fix the one you have. It always feels like starting over from scratch – but if that’s what you want to do, close the other neatly and move onto a new site. I’ve kinda covered it in the articles in this series in little bits. I’ll think about covering it more. Thanks.

  21. aminhers
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    cool posting, I like it


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