Blogging effectively is a shaky practice. It is hard to not slip up once in a while and totally have a nightmare day. If you’re like me and still learning the ropes, committing these errors are bound to happen sometime. I’ve gone down the dark road a number of times and had to fight my way back. Well, I’m here to advise you on what you should avoid to ensure your pretty group of followers, whether it is 50, 100, 500, 1000, or 10,000, stay with you until, well, until you eventually give up on blogging…or die – and the blog becomes an historical artifact on the internet. I’m no expert with less than 400 followers but I can give some tips based off past experiences:

  1. Too many changes 

People want consistency. They want to have a way to identify you and get used to you. Changing things like the blog title and theme too many times are sure ways to put mistrust into a fellow follower. I’ve changed my look and feel over the past year, trying to find the image that I wanted to convey, which is fun but still with an edge of seriousness. I’ve tried to be content with what I’ve got but some impulse inside always gets me excited about making changes, which is why I’ve shied away a number of bloggers. If you want to change something, think it over carefully before committing. Keep it simple and not too over the top as well. Don’t change the meaning of your blog if you already have posts that fit the meaning, like doing a poetry blog and then all of a sudden making it look all high tech with computer imagery.

2. Too unfocused 

I still suffer from this because I have a dream of making my blog into a buffet of topics, all of them scrupulously crafted and full of detail. But in the land of blogs, niche is king. Having a niche (pronounced like “ditch”) helps bloggers know what to expect instead of the blog being all over the place. They can trust that you know the topic well and will be able to follow up on it. But I think being too niche can restrict your development and creativity, as well as losing out on potential followers.

3. Spamming 

“Check out this site for free lotion!” “Earn $1000 dollars a day by working at home!” “Check out my blog at…where I discuss why I’m so in love with the Kardashians!” Yeah, it’s just a bad practice and can make you look like you only read the blogger’s post to self promote yourself or something, making you look like a business instead of an actual human. It gives you bad rep. If you have something good to say, say it, but don’t force a comment just to link one to your blog.

4. Too restrictive on commenting 

I’ve heard about the “Word Verification” option on WordPress. It’s to check and filter out potentially offensive or suggestive words from comments. Well, having it on can restrict conversations if every word has to be checked before it gets posted. I’ve never seen this been used, supposedly because I never swear in the comment section! Just don’t do it because it causes a delay – like I really know how it works.

5. Too hateful, boring, or depressive

I try to keep my voice consistent and put a little bit of humor into my writing, but there are times when it’s not appropriate to be funny, especially when writing about tragedies. Sometimes I just feel down and unable to write anything funny. It’s ok to write seriously and rant like a fire demon, but doing it too much can really be a turn off.

6. Not posting frequently enough or posting too much 

The people that post the least, sometimes going months without a single post, are the people that I usually end up cutting when it’s time to clean house. I like to have active bloggers in my circle, ones that I can consistently check out and get to know. Not posting makes me lose interest and have no point in following the blog anymore. There are exceptions such as if the blog is really good but the person is just telling us that they have a life… You can get away with posting too much but if none of those posts are effective or interesting, or are just annoying, the unfollow button is like a magnet that will attract the reader. I know because I’ve done it.

I’ve been the victim of losing blog followers in the past. Reasons for the unfollows are not made clear but I can pinpoint a few things that might have prompted someone to hit the unfollow button:

A really crumby post that is totally embarrassing and also pointless. Doing No Shave November last year and other posts about growing beards, with pictures, didn’t exactly capture people’s fancy and I lost a couple of followers.

I always have a fear that most of my followers will give up on me. Either because I can be too depressing, boring, or silly sometimes, or because I’m always so unfocused. I also have the fear that if I ever stopped blogging for a number of days, that some followers would be gone. I’ve got a lot of good content to keep that from happening but nothing lasts forever. I’ve worked so hard to put together my little community. Going backwards now would be devastating.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Must Not Fail.”

What is the one thing at which you are the most afraid of failing?

Success Food

If “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” (Truman Capote), how spicy do you like your success stories?

0504 Dogs

Success is a hotdog? Never thought of it like that. I guess I’ve eaten it many times, hoping to find the best one but they are always disappointing to me – there is always another successful story out there that has or is waiting to be written (or eaten) and surely taste better than mine. The condiment called failure, a nasty but delicious mixture of ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, pepper spray, and other unknown substances, flavors this hotdog or hamburger, or whatever, making it taste better. The more failure applied to the success hotdog, the more appetizing it gets, the more likely it is to break free from the pack of bland hotdogs and win everyone over at the annual hotdog judging contest (if there is such a thing).

So like Charlie said, I like my success spicy but not too spicy. His saying has nothing to do with success but you get the point. Too much failure makes me feel depressed and desperate for something to work again but too little failure will leave me with blinders on both sides of my head, unable to have peripheral vision, to see the world in a broader spectrum. Failure helps me become better, to improve myself. Without failure, I am just a gloating, nothing-can-hurt-me, never taking risks kind of guy. Keeping a good ratio of success and failure in my life is what keeps me honest, keeps me afloat in this roughneck, drag me down world. Some of my failures in life include trying to start a business, get a successful YouTube channel going, learning to drive a car, trying to run for class president, failing on my first word in the Spelling Bee (flashback!), and some others that are undoubtedly hiding in the cobwebs of my magnificent library upstairs. These failures are good because they help me realize nothing is easy and I can learn from them, to become better next time. But I don’t want too much failure or I am left feeling hopeless and vulnerable, and surely would not want to try some things again. Until now, I’ll go back to finding the next hotdog or hamburger that has a nice mix of success and failure in it and will keep me satisfied until the good feeling is gone and I have to look for more success food to eat. Hopefully you understand what I’m talking about.

So pick yourself up
Take a deep breath
Dust yourself off
And start all over again

“Pick Yourself Up” – Nat King Cole

Daily Prompt 11/4/14

P.S. I voted today, not that is going to have much of an effect but as I always say, “At least I have a right to vote for whoever I want and don’t have a gun to my head.”