My Blog Sucks (and what I’m going to do about it)!

by Brenton Russell on

The Simple Things Oct 10

After being away for a period and coming back to my blog with fresh perspective, I have realised that my blog looks like exactly what it is: something created by someone who three months ago barely knew what a blog was.  That”s okay because I have learnt so much. Doesn’t change the fact that my blog sucks!

It seems to me that at a certain point in the blog development cycle, most people reach the point where I am at now.  Perhaps its the disappointment of low subscriber sign ups, the fact that your blog’s key words rank 160 on Google or that after three months ProBlogger still isn’t regularly linking to your posts! Perhaps its just the realisation that blogging success is damned harder than you originally thought.

At this point I have seen a number of developing bloggers lose focus and decide that it is not for them. I feel the opposite!  Creating a presence on the Internet is a project that I find challenging and I intent to apply significant focus to take the next step.

Some of What I’ve Learnt So Far

  • Specificity.  Writing on a whole range of topics that I find interesting will not necessarily result in like-minded people flocking to my website!  Creating and keeping a community of readers for a blog that covers diverse topics requires a highly skillful and entertaining writing style.  I will leave this (for now!) to the more accomplished writers like Chris Guillebeau and the likes!
  • Don’t claim to be a ‘world-class expert’ if you aren’t. I have a significant knowledge of beginner and intermediate homebrewing techniques but I am not world class in the more advanced techniques.  After receiving some pretty blunt feedback from a couple of homebrew forums (who do contain ‘world-class experts’) on the writing style of my homebrew posts, I have learnt to be careful about how you represent yourself and your opinions.
  • The Internet is full of critics.  Like most things in life this is both good and a bad – its about how you use it.  A lot of the feedback I received on my homebrew posts were well considered (if a little damaging to my ego!) and I used these to edit and improve my posts.  A lot of feedback was ill founded, spiteful or overly critical – these I discarded after due consideration.
  • Finding your voice. I originally wanted to write witty and insightful posts to dazzle those that read my blog.  I now realise that I need to significantly develop my writing style and ‘voice’ if I want to create posts like these.  What I am good at is researching and presenting ideas with practical applications in a more instructional style. This is what I am going to concentrate on while I further develop my desired writing style.
  • Have a Go! Most lessons I would never have learnt if I didn’t just have a go and start my blog.  I thought that I would really enjoy writing about travel – I don’t.  I didn’t think that writing about homebrewing would interest many people – it does. I thought that websites would be more interesting if each page had heaps of info and widgets included – not so! No matter how crappy I think my website is at the moment, it is through these lessons that I am now going to develop far better websites that deliver significantly more value for the readers and greater personal satisfaction for myself!
  • Read and research widely – but don’t get information paralysis. I have found it very useful to subscribe to a number of blogs and read widely to educate myself on the art of blogging.  The key is to ensure that appropriate weight is given to actioning what you have learnt.  Tim Ferriss’ idea of a low-information diet is an interesting concept that assists to maintain this balance and for my mind a no-information diet is a road littered with preventable lessons.
  • Track your Stats. One thing that I have done well is in tracking the stats of my website.  I integrated Google Analytics early and also later included Get Clicky (I like them both for different reasons).  I have also experimented with Crazy Egg to see how people interact with my website and regularly check Google Webmaster Tools to understand what key words are bringing people to my blog.  This has greatly enabled me to understand my audience better and determine the effects of my actions.
  • Time and Commitment. Successful blogging (or at least my idea of successful blogging) takes considerably more time and commitment than I ever would have thought before I started!

What I Intent to Do Now

Here’s my plan for improving my blog:

  • Treat blogging like a project. One of my strengths is my ability to analyse a problem and subsequently develop and implement solutions.  I am going to play to this strength by applying more structure to my blogging and website creation.  Amongst other things I am going to incorporate methods like proper planning and appreciation before my next level of development, define time-based goals and milestones, implement an editorial calender/content plan and establish a feedback system to measure my results/effects.
  • Restructure. To increase specificity and provide focussed information for the readers, I am going to create stand alone websites for focussed topics (such as homebrewing) and migrate over relevant posts.    I will restructure this blog to make it ‘cleaner’ and less cluttered and use this site to explore and develop my writing style, ‘voice’ and various topics of interest where I don’t want to create a stand alone site.
  • Further develop my ‘voice’. I am really interested in providing high quality information and helping people solve problems.  To this end, I am going to create informational sites/posts that focus on specific issues while I develop my voice and writing style by writing topics of interest to me on this blog.
  • Explore Affiliate Marketing. The intricacies of marketing and earning a living from the internet fascinates me.  After some reading I am thinking that a great way to further explore this is to experiment with affiliate marketing.  At the moment I don’t want to commit the time to creating my own quality product so I am going to promote some products that I have personally used and truly find useful.  To kickstart my learning and after a fair bit of research I have signed up and paid for Corbett Barr’s Affiliate Marketing for Beginners Course.  Click here for more info on the course if you’re interested.  So far I have found it to be of high quality and I intend on writing a series of posts on my project to create my first affiliate website using Corbett’s course. Stay tuned!
  • Whenever I feel like quitting, I’m going to read this inspiring post again from Naomi Dunford.

Let me know what you think of my plan and be sure to provide any of your own suggestions!

For posterity, the link below is a video screen capture of what The Simple Things looks like today.  I will be sure to do a comparison post in the future once its been revamped!

The Simple Things 18 Oct 10

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