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Crazy Stuff I’ve Done as a Blogger, and What I’ve Learned From It All

Posted By larrybrooks 2nd of August 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Blogging is like life itself. 

You get from it what you put into it.  You can’t go it alone, success requires contact with, and some degree of acceptance and approval from, the outside world.  Perserevence and maintainance are mandatory.

Every day we are presented with lessons.  Noticing and allowing them to chart the course going forward are part of the Success Equation. 

Do the math.  Nobody gets to reinvent the rules.   

That said, most of us mess it up – both our life and our blog – on a regular basis. 

Thankfully, unless your transgression takes you out of the game altogether, the medium and the masses are forgiving, or at least they are possessed of a short memory.

We try, we stumble (the fall on your face kind), we move on. 

Here then, after fourteen months online with my blog, are a few tries and stumbles of my own, and what became of them.

I allowed my URL to expire.

Not on purpose, of course.  Out of ignorance.  

I first registered with Yahoo, then transferred the whole enchilada to Hostgator.  Neither bother to notify me (insert finger-pointing here) when the 1-year contract expired. 

Ignorance is no excuse.  It was me, not them, who suffered a mild cardiac event when I woke up one morning in Hawaii and my blog was completely off the grid.

I now have a 5-year URL contract.  I just hope somebody gives me a heads up when it nears expiration, since I’ll be older than dirt by then and will undoubtedly forget what “URL” even means.

Come to think of it, I don’t know now.  Only what it feels like to lose one.

I got into an online street fight.

I took a stance on an issue that rubbed somebody the wrong way.  She called me a prick in the ensuing exchange on the Comment thread.

Hey, she started it. 

I hit back – the never-hit-a-girl mantra of our youth is pure horseshit when a whacked-out woman attacks you online – though I never called her anything metaphorically referencing human genitalia.

Pricks are everywhere.  Even online.  I’m just glad I’m not one of them.  Not then, not now.

Came close, though.  Never again.

I wrote a post about typos.

It was right here on Problogger, as a matter of fact.  Thing is, it had two typos in it.

And then, when several dozen readers gleefully pointed this out, I actually offered up another typo in a blushing apology.

I’ve learned never to promise a typo-free post again.  Only to try for one every time.

I dissed another blogger.

There are a couple bloggers out there who, because of outrageous, totally misplaced egos, really piss me off. 

I shant name names.

I tried to once, but my wife saved me from myself.

That’s the lesson.  Keep the wife close at all times.

I wanted to quit.

Don’t we all from time to time?

Resist the urge.  That’s the lesson.  Don’t.

One word in front of the other.  Just like walking through the valley of the shadow of rejection, one foot at a time.

Just try to keep that foot out of your mouth.

I stopped interacting.

Don’t we all from time to time?

Resist the urge.  That’s the lesson.  Don’t.

Redundancy intended, by the way.

I posted jokes.

Seriously.  My site isn’t remotely funny, I write about effective storytelling standards and processes, and how to get it published.

If you haven’t tried that, it’s the antithesis of humor.  It’s a nightmare.

Maybe that’s why the jokes worked.  Every tortured writer needs a laugh now and then.

I got personal.

Just like now.  Depending on the venue, your humanity is as important as your narrative dexterity.

Just pick your times.   Nobody comes to your site for you.

And always chose self-deprecation over self-promotion.  Just sayin’.

I posted a prayer.

Call me crazy.  In fact, that prayer is up on my site as I write this.  It’ll be in second or third position by the time you read this.

The prayer was answered, too.  At least in terms of reader comments.

I find it fascinating how posts imbued with vulnerability, risk-taking, humor and commiseration are the most effective in terms of reader response.

People come for the meat and potatoes.  But they comment for love.

The Sum of These Lessons

Perhaps the biggest lesson of it all is how each of these parts meld together into one big pile of throbbing learning curve.

It’s called blogging.  No matter how or why you do it, it has something to teach us.

Larry Brooks writes at Storyfix.com, an instructional site for novelists, screenwriters, novices and burned out hacks, and those who live with them.  His book, “Story Engineering: Understanding the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing,” comes out in February 2011 from Writers Digest Books.

Comments
  1. I would rate this post as the best read of the week for me. I am sure all bloggers have at least done one of the above mentioned things.

  2. I am happy to follow someone way ahead of me on the learning curve. Thanks for the tips.

  3. I´ve done some realy crazy things on my blog too, but the most stupid was probably in the beginning when I didn´t made a decision about in which nich my blog was going to be.

    Instead I started to write posts about everything I thought of, and that must have been very confusing for my readers… But I gues that´s a thing almost everyone do when they are “new” in the world of blogging.

  4. I did a hard-sell to a top blogger. Looking back, it was a pretty much of a newbie thing I had done. :(

  5. What a great list, Larry!

    I like the fact that you haven’t given up and have made it through the struggles. It sounds as if you’ve either been very courageous or very impetuous by dissing, ranting, praying, and fighting. But, I guess that’s what makes life interesting. Good for you for taking a stand and not backing down. I totally agree with you on the whole ‘ego’ thing and it’s so hard to bite your tongue sometimes. But, then I just let it go because it takes all kinds.

    Great lesson about checking your URL expiry date, too. I just assumed that I would be notified (don’t they want to keep me as a customer?) when mine expires, but I’m off to confirm the actual date. I don’t want an assumption to bring down my site, either.

    Karen

  6. Thanks to all the ones who have gone before us, making the mistakes, sharing the lessons, and patiently nudging us newer bloggers along. Many, many thanks.

  7. Great post! Love it!!! At the end of my varsity days I submitted my thesis and a month later was told I could receive my degree subject to “correcting all the “Tyops””… well I couldn’t for the life of me think what a “tyop” was… eventually on the last day after stealing my nerves I asked… a “tyop” is apparently a the mis spelling of typo… I was frowned upon for being so impertinent… turns out my “tyop” was to misspell the Kerguelen in Kerguelen Islands… corrected, degree granted, never looked back!!!

  8. I stopped interacting too. I think it’s been the single biggest mistake of my blogging career, but one easily put right, I only hope you’re right about the forgiveness bit. :)

    However I do think people come to your site because of you. I’m sure of it. Those people who come back time and time again have invested in you. They come back when you have good days and they come back when you have bad days.

    Granted, that’s not everyone’s motivation but I would like to believe that the secret behind many successful blogs or websites is the personaiity behind the words.

    I’d tease you for letting your URL expire, but as with your typos post, it’s something that could come back to haunt me!! :)

  9. Larry,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post. From the start “You get from it what you put into it.” Simple, clear.

    The content is good, as it compelled me to read it. It’s a breath of fresh air to be direct and uncomplicated.

    Thanks.

  10. Very savvy post with a light writing for an insightful point of view on blogging. Sure will be useful. Regards.

  11. I had a whole discussion today on quitting. Don’t ever quit was what I got out of it!

  12. You are right. I am a health insurance agent in Texas. A troll out in California took exception to something I said on Twitter and called me a name. I learned two things.

    1. On line street fights are just a waste of time and raise the blood pressure for no reason.

    2. As a health insurance agent, it is hard, but I try to keep my political views to myself. My blog is not a political or personal one. People read it for facts and not opinions.

  13. You mean you let your _domain_ registration expire, not your _URL_. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) can refer to the address of a webpage, an image, or any other element which is accessible through the internet. Your domain is your unique prefix for any number of URLs. So “google.com” is a domain, but “server.com/pageOne.htm” is a URL. I guess, technically, when your domain registration expired, then all of your URLs failed as a result, but there is a distinct difference between those two terms.

  14. Good one, Larry. We all – as bloggers – keep doing things that look and sound crazy (or absurd) in hindsight.

    Some of this craziness flies, some bites the dirt. No matter the outcome, as you pointed out, there’s some learning that should come out of it.

    I’m definitely guilty of one from your list – I quit. I should have read your post a few years ago, and what a world of difference that would have made!

  15. Thank you. It is good to see I am not the only one making dumb mistakes.

    I have post some posts that after I read them, I took it down. It was a group of posts that would of have turned me off the blog.

  16. Great post! While I haven’t been blogging that long, I can see the errors of my ways. Thanks!

  17. You’re right, visitors comment for love. This is officially my first comment on ProBlogger. But I’ve been here for a while now!

    The posts with humanity and humility are those I enjoy the most.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and for the chat you offered to the SITS girls. I’m very impressed with how accessible you are despite being one of the big players out there.

    It matters, as we all know.

  18. I absolutely loved the way you write. It was a mix of everything. what you wanted to convey, satire, humor, message blah blah..so very effective and so very nice to read.

    Thanks for sharing.

  19. I was right up there with you until the don’t go personal in your blog part. It is true, no one wants to read a weepy, whiny Dear Diary kind of blog.

    But I frequent many blogs entirely based on the personality behind the letters. The individuality is what gives it color and character. Their take on life, their journey. I dig it.

    I worry that blogs are becoming uniform and vanilla. Drab. Yawn.

    Give me a bad day, give me a laugh. It’s what makes it interesting and real.

    Anyway, not trying to pick a fight. This is a compelling post and I enjoyed the read. So thank you!

  20. I’ve done a few of these myself, but like you, when it came to the fight I didn’t start it, and thus I had no qualms about how I responded. Unlike you, though, I didn’t have my wife to stop me. lol Of course, the main thing I expect you’ve done is written your stuff and enjoyed the comments and sometimes accolades from it. Biggest lessons of all; treat people with respect and most of them will treat you well back.

  21. Anything other than writing for machines, just as you said being personal will always have good benefits. I would appreciate anyone being so. But I remember some relevant post written by other bloggers with images added side to their each personal experience which made me remember till date their awesome presentation. I wouldn’t suggest you being like that but I have expected kind of that work from you ;). Anyways, keep doing the good work!

  22. I cannot remember the last time I laugh so much. I sincerely enjoyed every word of this post – big thanks for bringing it here..

  23. @Patty’d — thanks for the comment. Pls read my post again, though… I’m not suggest “getting personal” as a bad thing at all. I do it all the time. It’s under the “crazy stuff I’ve done and what I’ve learned from it” because it is a little crazy to get personal, and yet, I’ve learned it works. Really well, in fact. Most of my guest blogs here on Problogger are personal in nature.

    No fight, just clarification. I think, if you read it again, you’ll see (though, upon reflection, it certainly could have been clearer) that I advocate getting personal on your blog. L.

  24. Hey Larry

    Typos will be the death of me and my blog I am sure of it!

    I think we are all human and it’s ok to make the odd mistake now and then, most people are forgiving.

    Not quite sure how I would re-act to name calling though, I would love to be the “better person” but suspect anger might just get the better of me!

    Nice post, I enjoyed it, and there was a hint of humor sprinkled through which made me smile, so I certainly don’t think you are a “prick” ha ha.

    Sally :)

  25. @Larry I reread and I get it now.

    Here’s the thing. I keep running into blog tips that suggest that you, well, that you take YOU out your blog (if you get my drift). And, in surfing blogs, so many of them are about as compelling to read as an owners manual.

    I’m likely a little uppity when I sense someone is suggesting that yet again.

    So thanks much for the clarification. Relieved you are keeping it personal! And crazy.

  26. Cool post on trial and error. I would also say kudos for using an informal format that is not often used by many bloggers these days.

  27. I guess I’d have to sum it up into — just be yourself. No, you can’t be overly personal, but yes, people are coming to see you as well as to see your site. But that is what I think you were trying to say anyway. And thanks for the other tips. :)

  28. I LOVED this!! I wish it lasted longer, or you wrote more!

    I’ve made a few mistakes – namely being a white Australian female and being ignorant about the struggles of Black American women, and posting things that made them accuse me of being racist or having a “white slant” on my blog.

    Kind of bad since they make up a large portion of my readership.

    Thanks gain Larry!! :)

  29. Hi Larry,
    Yes, the good old Typo, don’t you just love it! Not! We are all human and make mistakes and I’ve certainly made my share.

    Reading your entry about Typo’s reminded me of a blog I was reading last week. A certain young lady was telling her readers how to get a high Google page ranking and that her methods worked the best.

    My point is I looked up at my rank checker and she didn’t have a page rank… however, there are so called experts out there also making blog mistakes. I guess it’s an ongoing learning curve… which I am happy to endure.

    Great post!
    Sandy Moore

  30. Thank you Larry for sharing these somewhat personal mistakes. I’ve made a few mistakes, I’ve come close to giving up and wanting to quit. Dishing content for people is tough work, and without these mistakes, we wouldn’t have learned jack!

    Great post, and thanks again.

    Brittany

  31. ProBlogger always has something good to teach and a great lesson to be learned. I owe a lot of my growth as a blogger to this blog. Thanks Darren, you always keep us wanting more – never disappointed when I leave. I guess that’s what a great blogger does for his readers.

    Thanks – I am sure I’ll be back tomorrow,

    Brian M. Connole
    i-Blogger

  32. I love the honesty. I think we take for granted that people are more perceptive than we think. The power of words and tone are underestimated. Sincerity is visible on a screen. We are all human after all. There is no hiding from that. Thanks!

  33. Thank you for sharing this, Larry. I really appreciate that you’re willing to open yourself up and talk about your mistakes–and help the rest of us think before we repeat them.

    Guess we’ve all wanted to quit, or to stop interacting at times. Then we get that special comment, or hear how what we’ve said has affected someone else positively…and it’s all on again! :-) Isn’t that what the blogging life is all about?

    More power to your keyboard! :-)

  34. Good post. I hope I remember to not let my domains expire!

  35. Nice experiences for any bloggers. I have my domain registered for 5 years and happy that GoDaddy notify me a month or more before my domain is expired to make renewal. Thanks

  36. Yeas Daniel one of my domain is near to expire on 10th August its my business domain, i requested to transfer and also approved from another host it still require more 5 days :(

  37. Interesting! And a little bit funny, too. :) Yeah, we all mess up sometimes… in all aspects of life. Well, what’s important is that you learned from them, right? And now you’re successful because of them. Cheers!

  38. The craziest thing I have done in the name of blogging was put up a video to try and win a contest. I suggest that all bloggers apply for contests – makes you understand more about tips and tricks for when you want to run your own contest.

  39. Great post! Reading it was a lot of fun. :) Name.com is a good registrar that will send you notifications when your domains are about to expire. Namecheap.com will, too, I think.

  40. Darren, rarely do I disagree with you about anything. However, there was one piece of advice that just didn’t work for me and I had to write about it. http://wp.me/pzutE-2O
    Love your work!

  41. i’m glad to hear you’re human, too :-)

    I won’t even get into some of the mistakes I’ve made!

  42. this site always has been something good to teach and a great lesson to be learned. I owe a lot of my growth as a blogger to this blog. Thanks Darren, you always keep us wanting more – never disappointed when I leave. I guess that’s what a great blogger does for his readers.

  43. Larry, I think it’s a law of nature that every post about typos will contain typos. They sneak in and laugh at you while you’re not looking.

    Also, there was a great post on Copyblogger on how to deal with trolls.

    http://www.copyblogger.com/handling-criticism/

  44. Vulnerability is weird. The posts on my blog that received the most feedback (and support) was when I talked about my having cancer. I just thought of it in the sense of “well, here is what’s happening in my life right now” and there were comments galore — not so many on my blog, but on Twitter and in Forums – so they must have been reading the blog. It is surprising.

  45. Those egotistical bloggers can really push it sometimes. I mean, holy moley.

  46. Really good one and yes I could also tick some boxes.

  47. Hi Darren,
    I agree and disagree about “getting “personal.” My site covers pets and animal welfare. The topics at times can get emotional. Before blogging, I worked as a newspaper/magazine journalist where I NEVER put my personal views into my stories or told personal tales about me.
    Well, one of my most viewed posts was about the cats in my life–how they were rescued, etc. People really responded to that.
    So getting personal really depends on the subject matter. I’m a fan!

  48. I guess the internet calls our personality an avatar, and many people having perfected their image … but to me the best ones are those that show how wonderfully human they are. Great Post. Thanks. .. I can now read 1000 SEO tips for the perfect blog … lol

  49. After about a year and half of reading, ignoring saying its not possible, I am finally understanding the concepts of building trust online, authority and listening rather than speaking.

    Jon, it takes courage to admit mistakes, thank you !

  50. It’s all personal, I believe. I agree with Patty d that there are so many blogs I enjoy primarily because they are personal. The 1st one I ever read was The Pioneer Woman, and you can’t get any more personal than Ree Drummond!

    I liked this post, and it brought to mind something my son used to say when he did stand up comedy… When you laugh at yourself, you beat others to the punch! Very true.

    As for the domain… I’ve been with Network Solutions for years and they never fail to warn me about expirations!
    Thanks for the post!

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