This is part of the project started by Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger asking us little people what we’d do differently if we were to start it all over again. For those of you coming here for the first time because of that, welcome! Feel free to poke around the Blogchives and leave comments.
I’ll admit to you first that my participation in this is a bald grab to increase traffic. Until a day or two ago I genuinely didn;t care about this. With my numbers suddenly rising, I’m interested in seeing how high a score I can get. Which brings me to…
The five things I’d change about this site if I were to do it all over again, in no particular order.
- Focus more on building a high-quality, solid traffic micro-community. When I started out, I used Moveable Type, which remains in my eyes one of the best blogging platforms available. My inherent cheapness, however, kept me from upgrading when they went commercial. As a result, I never got the updates that, apparently, alleviated the comment spam problem, which left my blog without that vital community building tool. I switched to using a PHP-based forum for a while, but the fact that it didn’t directly connect to each individual post meant a conversation never really got started anywhere. In addition, I didn’t participate hardly at all with the rest of the blogging community through blogrools, link sharing, pinging etc. My site has, for the most part, been a little blog island afloat in the sea. I wish I had cared more about the community I was building here and put more effort into it. I’m working on that now.
- Find a niche other than myself. I’m actually still struggling with this. I’m one of those people with interests all over the board, so I tend to not focus on any one thing for too long. This site serves only two purposes for me – be a test bed for some of my weird web ideas and be an outlet for my varied interests. If, instead, I picked one or two topics and stuck to them, I think I’d have a more solid readership. But I’m so unfocused when it comes to this site I still have no clue what I should focus on.
- Either modify an existing design or have someone else design it. I’m a programmer, not a designer, and this site’s design reflects that in spades.
- Figure out a way to monetize my writing. I’ve actually been “blogging” in one form or another since 1994. Back then we just called them “Homepages” or “personal sites”. When Amazon started their affiliate program, I started my “Books Every Human Should Read” page, but left it at that. Being so early on the blogging scene, I had the opportunity to get a little early mover action going on. If I had played my cards right, I may be one of the vaulted full-time bloggers everyone seems to envy these days. Alas, until recently my mindset has never been one that seeks opportunities when present, so I sort of dropped the ball. The good news is that I don’t believe it’s too late, and I have some projects in the works that may make the dream a reality. But I think it’s definitely harder now than before to rise above the rest of the crowd. Not impossible, but certainly more challening.
- Get over my hangups about posting and just post. From reading the responses of other bloggers, it sounds like this one is common. I believe that very few bloggers are blessed with the self confidence that what they have to say is really important. The rest of us write our post, push it live then cut ourselves down a bit by asking ourselves why anyone in their right mind would care what I think. Most blogging is really an exercise in ego gratification, but I think a lot of people doubt their ego is worth gratifying. In truth, the so-called long tail assures that a small group of folks out there will, indeed, care about what we have to say and, more than likely, praise us and pass the link along. I’m amazed at the amount of traffic I receive, even more so the amount of repeat traffic. It’s a very, very small amount compared to most popular blogs, but still surprisingly higher than I would ever have expected. And now I’m working on increasing it.