You would not believe how much I am blowing it as a blogger. Well, wait, that’s not fair, maybe you would. Best practices, you say? I know what that means in theory, but you can’t tell me what to do. I’m crabby about the web, oh so crabby, even while I love it madly, and I pretty much suck at doing all the things anyone with any sense does when they give in and go online. And in all the years I’ve been at it, have I changed my ways? Hardly at all.
How do fail at blogging? Let me count the ways.
- I don’t have a niche topic. Okay, first I was an expat blogger in Austria, that’s how I started. But I mixed in a lot of politics and then, I forayed into food and cooking for a while. I did some hotel reviews and that was kind of fun, but really, that stuff belongs under resources, if you ask me. What’s this blog about, anyway? It’s not travel with kids (don’t have ’em) or round the world long term travel (we travel sporadically, with no real plan for what we’ll do next) and it’s not culinary or luxury or green (though certainly, I like all those things). I guess it’s mostly what gets tagged as “experiential travel” but what the hell kind of niche is that?
- I’m not a team player. I ditched my gig at the monster-sized BlogHer network because I felt penned in, like there was no room to grow my writing. I ran the Uptake bloggers and BootsNAll writer’s programs through my ridiculously critical brain and decided that I didn’t need to associate myself with platforms that drive mad amounts of traffic, never mind that PR and advertisers love big numbers and the perks of being on a popular platform are huge. I never gave Matador a second look — (though if you dig WAY back in the archives of Brave New Traveler, you’ll find me) and they just got a Lowell Thomas Award. Exposure. I mostly — not always — take the attitude that if you can’t pay the plumber with it, it’s not a good deal. I can name people who have had amazing benefits from participating with the aforementioned networks, and none of them are me. I clearly do not understand the value of a big platform.
- I have lousy, lazy web habits. No link exchanges here, hell, I killed my blogroll early on because managing it on the blog was just dumb and I couldn’t deal with random strangers asking me to be on it. I think my URL is in my email signature, but I can’t be sure. I have a Stumble and a Digg account, but can I be bothered to use them, even though they come with handy tool bars? No, no I can not. It’s only in the last six months that I’ve spent any time at all on Facebook — hey, did you know that thing can drive good traffic to your blog? Yeah, I didn’t.
- I don’t pay attention to traffic. Wait, let me rephrase this. I actually do pay some attention to traffic, but for type, not quantity. I’m more interested percentage of repeat visitors than in total numbers. I’m interested in how long people stay on my site. Nowadays, when I look at my overall stats, I view them for yearly growth and I need to do that what, once, twice a year? Yeah, I’ll dig up the stats when someone asks me for them, but I’m way more excited when an actual human — in person or virtually — says “Hey, I love your blog!” (Thank you, Jere Canote! I love what you do, too!) That doesn’t show up in the bar charts and numbers grids.
- My SEO skills suck. Sometimes I remember to fill out the All-in-One SEO form at the bottom of every post, but mostly, I don’t. I can barely remember to fill out the tag field, and it’s right over there, I can see it right now while I write. What, I can’t take two minutes to add a few lines that would help me show up better in Google? Apparently not. I think all my links are Do Follow, which, if I understand correctly, Google hates. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s the other way around, I have no idea. I can’t remember. I don’t care. I hate writing for Google.
- I say no all the time. No, I won’t run your sponsored content. No, that press trip is just a bad fit. No, I won’t promote your product/service/some third thing because seriously, my readers would think I’d been abducted by aliens. I won’t join your Facebook group, “like” your page, vote for you in a social media frenzy, retweet your link just because you asked me to, join that “let’s all promote each other” mailing list, participate in your virtual book tour (not any more), post stuff from your press release, or write about the awesome product/service/some third thing you’re promoting without first seeing it with my own myopic, judgmental vision. I’d probably update the site more often and have more traffic if I said yes to this stuff. But apparently, I’m cranky.
- I don’t respond to all my comments. I never know what to say in response to “nice post” other than a generic thank you that I think is implied. Nine times out of ten, I’m just telling a story that’s a closed loop, it’s not an open ended up for discussion kind of thing. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, it’s just that there’s no conversation there. I finally installed threaded comments (Why’d that take so long? See #3, above) and that helps, but I still don’t get in there and write a neat little response every time. And since I took the Recent Comments code off my sidebar, sometimes I don’t even see the comments until I’m in the guts of things. I should probably fix that.
- I don’t have a plan. Of any kind. Editorial calendar? What, huh? Mix of post types? Uh, really? Scheduled stuff out at least a month in advance? Write some stuff about some things I did, that’s the extent of my plan. Goals? I want people to see that I write well and can take a better than average photograph. But I didn’t get where I am today — where IS that, exactly — by making a plan. Which is kind of dumb. You’d think that at some point along the line I’d have stopped to take a look at what I was doing and/or why I was doing it, but whenever that opportunity came up, I went out in the backyard or down to the beach to eat salmon burgers.
It’s a mystery to me, given my inability to incorporate the most basic of sensible blogging practices into place, that you’re here at all. Do you think I’ll get on attending to any of this in the near future? Probably not. Instead, I’ll just fuss over writing some obscure story about a Hawaiian guy I met in the lobby of an Anchorage hotel.
That, that I’m good at.