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

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.

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Comments

  1. I’ve always worried about my url expiring also…I hope I can stay on top of that!

  2. Larry, as a recovering blogger (stopped too long ago after too short a run), you have given me some necessary inspiration. Not enough yet, but not for lack of your effort or quality, which is exemplary. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for this list! Now I’m really going to make sure that my domain doesn’t expire. I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but then again it would stink if I lost my domain to my forgetfulness.

  4. James says:

    Great “I allowed my URL to expire”, just reminded me to head over to godaddy to renew my expired domains :)
    Thanks !
    Great post by the way.

  5. Sandeep says:

    “No matter how or why you do it, it has something to teach us.”. That’s right. A very nice read.. Interactivity is definitely one of the important virtues of a good blogger.

  6. Been there, done all.

  7. Larry says:

    @Shereese — thanks for your comment. A couple of things, though.

    First, Darren didn’t write this post. I read your responding blog post on the subject, and it’s clear you wrote it with Darren’s feelings in mind. But it wasn’t him. I guest blog here regularly (as shown in the by-line for this post)… you’re not disagreeing with Darren here at all.

    Interestingly, and contrary to what you wrote, you’re not disagreeing with me, either. Read my post again. It was about “crazy stuff I’ve done.” It’s not remotely saying that you shouldn’t respond or engage with folks who disagree with you. It IS, however, about not sinking to the level of a troll that’s giving you a hard time. Which you clearly didn’t in the example you gave. Not sure why you thought I was advocating sticking one’s head in the sand, I wasn’t. I think you’ll see that when you read it again.

    I was advocating professionalism and keeping one’s head, rather than letting the troll get to you. And I’m sure you don’t disagree with that. Thanks, Larry

  8. Amy says:

    Larry,

    I can tell you why people keep coming back to your blog, despite the dreaded typos. It’s your content! I have been a subscriber to your blog from the beginning and I can say that you write one of the most informative blogs for writers I have ever seen.

    Amy

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

    Right on spot. You know why I am commenting here right now. Its because I love this post. Its from the heart.

    All bloggers go though the peaks and the valleys just as mentioned in this post and yes, we come back far more mature and wise.

    And when you read a post about it, you get all nostalgic. Thank God for all experiences and all learning.

    But the one thing to keep in mind is that – you never stop learning. There doesn’t come a point in life at which you can say – I know it all. That’s a dead end.

  10. make money says:

    Love it! At the end of my varsity days I left my job a month later and said I could get my WAS subject can fix "all" Tyops "… well I could not for the life of me what" tyop "is … was finally the last day to steal my nerves, I asked .. ". tyop "is obviously wrong spelling mistake … I was disapproved because it is so cool … my" tyop "was wrong in the Kerguelen Islands Kerguelen … correct degrees granted, and never look back!

  11. Carly says:

    I have completely stopped interacting and after the Problogger conference today I can’t believe stupid that was.
    I’m starting now! This post was great… I’ve done almost all of these things too. Including writing a post about how women should dress over the age of fifty. Problem was I was 19 when I wrote it and referred to some older women’s breasts as ‘saggy wrinkle burgers’. Naturally I got a severe butt kicking and learnt to never give advice aimed at a particular group. Bad.

  12. Great post. Made many of those mistakes myself and many more you haven’t included, but you’re right that people by and large are forgiving. It’s funny, a few years ago there were all those “blogging’s dead” posts, but it seems stronger than ever – I think people are just beginning to get the hang of the medium.

  13. Julian says:

    and also you got passion

  14. make money says:

    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

  15. Anne Galivan says:

    In spite of the fact that there a gazillion comments here already, I have to say…I love this post. One of the few I will come back to again and again.

    And I went to your website to check out your prayer. Loved that too. Then I went to Amazon and read reviews of your book. Impressive.

    Well done, Larry.

  16. Wow.. what a Good post to read this helped me lot in my future project.

  17. I would kind of disagree with “Nobody comes to your site for you.”

    The main reason I read Blogs is because of the people behind them. I want to know their opinions, and about their lives as well.

    Otherwise I might as well hang out on Wikipedia. :)

    -Paul

  18. HU Wyss says:

    “Keep the wife close at all times.”

    Yes that’s very true! They just know this stuff better.

  19. I couldn’t help but smile when I was reading your post, simply because I believe I’ve done most items in your list. Getting personal. Online street fight. Dissing other bloggers.

    CLASSIC.

    Might I add one, I once wrote a blind item when I perfectly knew that my readers, a.k.a. friends, will know who I’m talking about. It was funny then, but it sounds immature now. These honed us to become better “bloggers”.

  20. Rahul says:

    I also did loads of stuffs from my personal blog. It is kind of interesting thing. Even all types of peoples out there. But we should take negative comments as positive.

  21. apostolis says:

    Cool post, thanks.
    I left (unintentionally) my domain expire last year and it felt really bad.
    I was with GoDaddy at the time and I was not happy with their service.

  22. Kristia says:

    This post is so encouraging. I’ve been writing for a year now and sometimes I still feel overwhelmed with learning how to expand my blog, finding blogs that share similar interests, etc. I haven’t felt like quitting, but I often struggle with how to move forward.

  23. Hi Darren,

    You’re truly inspiring. I am happy to learn from you.

    I’ve countless time falls into the quit game only came to my senses, I am always a fighter and always will. I’m not going to quit today!

  24. Hi darren,

    I love the fact that you’re honest and sincere. I almost quitted this industry only to be inspired by you and your blog.

    Please give us more, Darren. In difficult time, you’re my source of guidance. Thanks again for everything.

  25. Hi Darren,

    I lost my cool with name cheap. I got my URL delisted and I believe they never send me any email. Now I do my business with hostgator. No problem whatsoever.

  26. Jonsky says:

    What’s “maintainance”? Just kidding. Thanks the tips. Very important lessons indeed especially the never quitting part. I always have to remind myself of that.

  27. Barry says:

    Howdy Larry,

    Friggin fantastic post, mister. A million thank yous for inventing it.

    I notice you haven’t mentioned anything about authors posting nude images of ourselves in the odd post to kind of add an artsy-fartsy feel to our blogs.

    Surely others must be doing this, too…

  28. Taylor says:

    Love this post. Be real, be risky, I like it. Good advice for all of us bloggers, and some great lessons learned as well!

  29. Very interesting, I knew early on I wouldn’t bash or publicly say things about anyone in the Internet sphere, especially blogging. I have seen controversy both help and hurt other bloggers sites in the past two years. Letting your domain expire, that is a good one, I had the opposite and a domain I want expired renewed without me realizing and I had to pay for a domain I didn’t want anymore.

    I think a great blogger is one who makes a ton of mistakes and learns from them, if you haven’t made any mistakes you either aren’t taking risks and pushing yourself to try new things.

  30. Jeez, this post really inspired me, I don’t think it would be hard to become a fulltime blogger.

  31. Marcus says:

    Hey Larry,
    oh yeah there are quite a few points I experienced myself…especially the online street fight. Well, your conclusion is absolutely right. It’s all contributing to our learning curve.

  32. Ruth says:

    At least you have a sense of humour about any mistakes you’ve made! Some folk online take themselves far too seriously

  33. Lucy says:

    it’s always an enjoyable post to read! thanks :D

  34. Mike says:

    LOL! I laughed the whole way through this Larry! I found myself shaking my head in agreement to nearly all your points as I’ve done most of them on my blog as well. It is definitely a learning process.

  35. nick says:

    While I haven’t been blogging that long, I can see the errors of my ways.I think a great blogger is one who makes a ton of mistakes and learns from them, if you haven’t made any mistakes you either aren’t taking risks and pushing yourself to try new things.You’re truly inspiring. I am happy to learn from you.thanks for sharing..

  36. My biggest lesson from blogging was a biggie – I spread myself too thin. I had so many pots on the stove you couldn’t see the stove.

    I’ve also fallen into the trap of not socializing enough. Twitter, Facebook, blog commenting, e-mail – all of it can take as much time as writing an article! I just don’t know how people make time for all of it!