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What You Can Take From Your Blog’s Worst Day

The fateful day started with a morning that marked a month since the launch of my new blog. A blog that had ten posts and few visits per day.

On that morning I woke up and went on to sit in front of my laptop. This is my usual routine. I check all the updates, reply to comments (if there are any), and so on. Everybody knows how much there is to be done in the initial days of a blog’s life.

Phase 1: disaster!

On that day I started my laptop, clicked on the shortcut, and bang!

I was greeted by a white box on a big red screen, shouting “Warning!” in big, bold letters. A small description indicated that Google had detected counter-WordPress malware on my blog.

Distributing malware? I hadn’t even been distributing ebooks!

That was enough to start the morning. I closed the browser and called my office to inform them that they weren’t going to see me that day.

I took a deep breath and a morning tea with the newspaper. After that, I started googling the malware, and searching for a process to clean it from my site. I found a lot of information on Google, along with a few helpful threads on WordPress support forums. I collected all the information and went about the process of cleaning my blog, which took around seven hours of hard work.

I was able to clean my site and store it to its original state, though I admit a lack of activity on my blog at the time also helped in my case. This was the worst day of my blog in its short life. But it didn’t end there…

Phase 2: giving back

I was feeling pretty angry about what happened, and I had only a handful of posts on my new blog—there were plenty of others who had much more at stake, and were going through the same process.

Once my blog was clean, I dug into it further, to check the source of the attack, and what scripts had been run on my blog. I shared details on the WordPress support forum.

Inspired, I decided to help other people like me. I created a guide explaining the process for removing the malware on my blog. Then I went back to WordPress support forum to help people.

As it happened, that guide ended up ranking number three on Google for some crucial keywords, right after the WordPress support forum threads. It brought a lot of new people to my blog. That guide is still a good source of traffic for me, and varies between third and eighth rank on Google. I’ve also been able to create few other posts to which I drive traffic from that post.

So at the end of the day, because I refused to quit, and showed an urge to help others, I gained a lot from my blog’s worst day:

  1. A post that’s appearing on the first page of Google.
  2. A couple of post to which I am able to drive traffic more deeply into my blog.
  3. A handful of email subscriptions—a good thing for a starter blog!
  4. A few backlinks to my blog from other sources.

And on top of these benefits, I have this post on ProBlogger only because of that day.

So if you keep yourself calm and keep your eyes on opportunities, you can end up converting your worst day to a great day for your blog.

What have you got from your worst day as a blogger? Share with us through the comments.

Sanjeev currently owns two blogs and writes to make the Web world a better place, and help others to use it and get something out of it. You can check his blog Make Web World or get his RSS feed here.

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Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Amazing story because most would have quit and walked away on the worst day. On my worst day as a blogger I took a short break, sought advice from my husband, and came back to what I loved and the reason for my blog in the first place. I am a better blogger because of it and my blog has so much more to offer. May you continue to have success with your blog! ~ Wendy

    • Sanjeev says:

      Thanks Wendy, I agree most would have ended their day once the blog was restored and that’s the point I wanted to convey with this post. We need to go beyond to make an impact and we will get the returns.

  2. Daniel says:

    I hear ya, Sanjeev.

    When I first started Blogging, having already wrote out a number of posts, done plenty of code edits and a ton of research(Blogging, websites, etc) just as I was about to make some major moves….BAM!

    Both my Pc(Desktop) and laptop copped a massive virus attack. It threw a spanner in the works, as the PC had plenty of my Blogging work locked in it on the hard disc, though it was completely unacceptable at that time.

    Did I want to throw it away? You bet! Did I ? No way!

    The next challenge(After sorting out the computers) was an actual virus attack within my blogs.
    I ended up having to delete some of my smaller blogs(luckily not that important, anyway).
    Luckily the virus(Malware) which manipulates your site threw your url, did not get into my main blog.

    Had that had happened, it may have also been deleted.

    I wrote a post explaining how I got my computers back(A particular free software saved the day) and also another post, warning people about the malware that infected my blogs, and how difficult it may be for them to detect.

    • Sanjeev says:

      I think its next to impossible to throw away your hard work, I am really sorry to hear that you had to delete some of your work. We do always learn something in the process.

  3. clea says:

    I fear my worst day yet has yet to come, but thanks for the helpful tips on turning ones mind should that day come along. All the best, Clea

  4. Kristoffer says:

    A backup of the blog would probably have made it quicker to restore the blog to its original state… But that’s not the point. The point is that you got through it without quitting. And that’s a good thing to be able to.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Yes, that was the second lesson learned on that day, Now I keep my backup handy and its a task on my calendar every week.

  5. Mai Ling says:

    I love how you turned a “worst day” into an opportunity to help people! I have not yet “launched” and I think something like this would have me crawling to the nearest web designer for help. You are admirable. Thank you for sharing. ~ Mai Ling

    • Sanjeev says:

      I am glad you like it, Its just how we see our problems and where we end those. I did what I thought was correct at that time.

  6. Milos says:

    Thank you for this inspiring story. This is a great example how to turn lost battle into victory. Do you have any suggestions how to prevent this worst day situation at all? If not, this might be a chance for you to make another Google page one article.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Thanks Milos for the suggestion, I actually did the same. There was lot of people coming for that post and leaving the blog from that article, I create few related article on the tips on preventing these worst days and now they are already getting people.

  7. Ahmed Sharif says:

    it seems that you made hay when the sun wasn’t shining at all!! :)
    great post, learned some important lessons!

  8. James Greg says:

    Getting up early in the morning only to witness a complete disaster would have been the most disturbing experience ever. The article sheds light on the fact that the path to success is not always pleasurable. It is a noble deed to help others and trying to solve their problems once you have understood where the bug exists. Forums are a great source of attracting traffic to your blog and if a person has something worthwhile to share on the internet he/she is destined to be a certain success.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Ohh Yes, It was really most disturbing experience. Though now if I look back I think I have learned something worthwhile.

  9. Ray says:

    I think waking up and finding something like this to deal with would be a major nightmare for most people, not to mention the 7 hours you said it took to fix or clean it up. If you see or hear about some kind of vulnerability it can be worth taking the time to read up on. Unfortunately we usually don’t pay attention or learn about an exploit until it is too late.

    • Sanjeev says:

      It was kind of opposite, I did hear about that vulnerability and updated my theme to patch it up. Just forgot one plugin (which is not supported by its author any more without notice). I learned that without a proper support we should not get anything, Now no plugins on my blog if it is not actively supported even if they are free.

  10. sean davis says:

    Great story. There are cases like that in every area of life. From your online adventures to real life relationships with people.

    Though this is a horrible example, I’m reminded of my truck’s alarm. When I first had my alarm installed, they had to show me how to turn it off if I accidentally set it off. The first thing I was told was to stay calm! Once that was accomplished, take the ignition key, turn it to the run position, then press a button located in a hidden spot in my cab.

    I’ve had to do this several times and I always remember to stay calm first. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend set my alarm off trying to get something out of my truck. She didn’t stay calm! It was quite possibly the funniest thing I had seen in a while watching her freak out and try to stop it. The crazy thing is, she knows how. She just didn’t stay calm and think/work through the issue.

    Great post.

    • Sanjeev says:

      Calmness is really important in these situation, we will able to make correct decisions if we stay calm Great point.

  11. JMom says:

    I just had a day that you described. Actually it was several days as the malware moved from one blog to the next and I am not a programmer or as savvy as some of you are when it comes to back end stuff. But thanks to the WordPress forum and people like you willing to share what they’ve learned, I got through it and got Google to take my blogs off that banned list. You were probably one of the ones who helped me. Thanks!

  12. Nice work turning a bad situation into a great one Sanjeev.

  13. Steve Scott says:

    Sanjeev,

    Great way to make lemonade out of lemons. It is a wonderful exaple of not only cleaning up a nasty issue, but taking your “real-life” experiences both good and bad and using them to help others. This type of “being real is what can really attract others.

    -Steve

    • Sanjeev says:

      Yes, Its always help to be real, It actually create an connection and I have received few good connection and mentions from the fellow bloggers because of this.

  14. I had malware on my company websites. Someone (or someone’s program) was doing what is called an SQL Injection on my site. I had no idea what this is or what to do. Fortunately I found a good website developer who could remove the malware and put in place property protection (not sure what he did, but it worked).

  15. My worst day was back in September 2007 when I looked at my Sitemeter at three in the afternoon to find I had only had one visitor all day. I was like – why am I bothering with this?

    • Sanjeev says:

      Sometime it can be frustrating to see lack of activity, I usually take a break if that happens and come back with a fresh energy. It always helps.

  16. Dan Thorley says:

    Great story. I too have had my fair share of disasters with all my ventures at some point, both on and offline. The main thing is that you try your best, no matter how hard that may feel at the time to take something positive out of the experience. I know this sounds like meaningless drivel, and so many situations can feel completely soul destroying at the time, but like in the post you could use your negative experience to create a course or an e-book. In fact much of the first year of my own e-letter content was made up of my own personal mistakes, disasters, misssed opportunites etc. It actually makes great content that people can connect with.

  17. Josh Jones says:

    Being prepared for the worst is one of the best things you can do.

    Multiple backups in multiple locations is the only way to go!

  18. Fritz Garkow says:

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