// Internet Duct Tape

You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Popular Posts, Technology by engtech on December 20, 2006

I am not a blogging expert (although I play one on the Internet), but I do try to learn as much about blogging as I can. I’ve been blogging for eight months and I have grown to around 3,000-6,000 hits a day and I rank as one of the top 6,000 blogs according to Technorati. I’ve had some blog success, but I am not a successful blogger.

What should I have done differently? This is a list of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

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(photo by striatic)

Names, Credibility, Notability and Image

My blog name sucks.

The awkward “Engineering Technology” became the simpler “engtech”, but it still does not stand out from the great swath of tech blogs. People mispronounce it “enG” instead of “enJ” and there are many different capitalizations (engtech, Engtech, EngTech). I created the blog without creating a brand.

My mascot has nothing to do with my subject matter.

It’s a picture of my cat. It isn’t a funky robot. It isn’t a bug crawling over an integrated circuit. It isn’t some kind of tech-related cartoon. Sure, he’s usually reading over my shoulder as I type (and does most of my proof-reading). But does he deserve to be on every page? (My readers think so.)

I don’t write using my real name.

You immediately gain credibility when posting under your real name (or at least under something that sounds like a real name). I could be a fourteen year old with a pseudonym writing my opinions with no life experience. What’s worse is that I don’t plan to go public with my identity which means that every increase in popularity is met with an equal hope that no one who knows me is reading this.

I don’t post personal information often enough.

One of the greatest strengths of blogging is the bond between reader and author. Over time you can feel like you know someone intimately. This happens through personal anecdotes and sharing information. I don’t do that very often.


(photo by a different perspective)

I’m no one special.

I don’t work for Google, Microsoft, Apple or Intel. I haven’t written an O’Reilly book. I’m not a dotcom millionaire. I don’t live in Silicon Valley. I haven’t made more than $10,000 in a month off of AdSense. It isn’t low self-esteem, it is lack of a notable hook to stand out of the crowd.

I don’t own my own domain name.

Domain names are very cheap. Having your own domain name means you can move hosts without losing any of your backlinks. If I were to move domains I’d see a huge fall in my traffic numbers and would lose all of the time I’ve already invested building connections. If all those links pointed to my domain then I could change hosts with little side effect.

I’m hosted on wordpress.com

I’ve been very happy with WordPress Multi-user software, support and reliability. But wordpress.com restricts customization and restricts my ability to convert this hobby into anything resembling a source of income. It has been a huge boon in attracting an audience, but it does put a limit as to how far you can go (unless you can pay the $250/month VIP service). WordPress.com is great for starting out, but if blogging is a serious passion then you will eventually have to go with self-hosting to have full control.


(photo by chris from vienna)

What you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?

I don’t have a niche.

I suffer from Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder (N.A.D.D.) in a bad way. I rarely write on the same subject for more than a week at a time. Readers would much rather subscribe to a source of information that updates infrequently on one subject instead of someone posting frequently about things they aren’t interested in. You can’t be all things to all people.

I don’t “do” news.

For some reason the tech blogging community falls into three categories: people who create news, people who comment on news, and people who write how-to guides and lists. They all pull slightly different audiences. Thanks to N.A.D.D., I do all three. When I do comment on news I typically write after the news has broken because I was focused on something else at the time it was breaking.

Blogs aren’t the best way to organize information.

Blogs are very good for topical subjects where older information is always pushed to the back. “Evergreen” posts like how-to guides are better organized by subject. Tagging and categories are one way to do it, but that is more of workaround than a solution.


(image by ario_j)

I’m too technical, or not technical enough.

“Hey, I’m on the front page of Digg and Slashdot today!” doesn’t mean anything to the majority of people. Same thing with traffic numbers, RSS, Technorati rank, and just about any technical jargon. Sometimes I forget this. Other times I try to write at such a simple level that I alienate the rest of my audience.

I don’t spend enough time on the title and introduction.

The title is the “book cover” and how you’ll be judged. The introduction is the hook that will keep people reading after you’ve got them through the door.

I don’t proof read often enough.

Sure, I’ll write an article saying that the easiest way to improve your content is to re-read it, but I won’t follow the advice. Having readers point out your errors is an easy way to get comments, but you don’t want to make a habit of it.


(photo by olivander)

I don’t have a strong enough voice.

I am ok at the technical aspects of writing, but I do not have a strong voice. Some people can take the most ordinary of subjects and turn it into something wonderful. I’m a better editor than I am a writer.

I don’t use humour often enough.

One of the things I love most about my life is having a great sense of humour and surrounding myself with very funny people. This doesn’t come across in my writing.

I don’t take a strong enough opinion.

My strongest pieces have always been the ones where I took a definite stance and pissed some people off. The easiest way to create discussion is to write something they can disagree with. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and if you aim for the lowest common denominator you end up with mediocrity.

(photo by gustavog)

The Network Effect

I don’t link to other bloggers enough.

I am notoriously bad at being part of a blogging community. I link to the same “A lister” articles that everyone else does, but I rarely link to people who are not yet “A listers” — aka the people who would appreciate it. This is one area where being on wordpress.com has helped me because there is a community connection with other bloggers who use the same host.

I pay too much attention to metrics.

It is very easy to attach value to numbers. The number of hits is increasing. The number of comments is increasing. I have more subscribers. The numbers mean nothing, yet I attach a significant meaning to them. It’s like focusing on your salary instead of whether or not you enjoy your job.

I treat blogging as a Massive Online Game (not in a good way).

Anyone who has played a MMPORG knows about level grinding (building links), guilds (blog networks), leveling (front page on a social network) and the inevitable obsession with experience points and stats (traffic). They both have the same addictive reward cycles. I have no doubt that if I ever hit the Top 100 I’d immediately quit because I “won”.


(photo by kenji)

I chase traffic.

I’m not quite an ambulance chaser, but I’ve written posts purely for the traffic they would generate. Notice the ten posts about gift suggestions I finished writing in time for Christmas? Yeah, I’m a hit-whore.

I forget about the reader.

Sometimes I write to stroke my own ego, instead of writing for someone else to read it. People are busy, how do I reward their investment of time?

I spent too much time reading RSS feeds.

When I first started writing I found it much easier to bang out a high quality posts in a short period of time because I didn’t procrastinate nearly as much reading RSS feeds. Now if I have 30 minutes free I’ll usually read some feeds instead of work on a larger post. It’s good because by commenting I make connections, but it’s bad because I’m not writing.

I underestimate the amount of time it takes to blog.

Blogging is a 10 to 50 hour a week commitment when you include reading and commenting on other blogs. Blogging takes away from other aspects of your life. Are you prepared to make that kind of commitment? Is anyone?


(photo by mrtruffle — his award, not mine)

Some Things I Did Do Right

  • Always using informative headlines.
  • Writing with SEO in mind.
  • Using mixed media by incorporating images and video.
  • Breaking up text into paragraphs, headings and bullets.
  • Honing my skills at writing viral/linkbait content.
  • Harnessing social bookmarking.
  • Linking back to older posts.

I’ll finish this with this great quote from Kathy Sierra to put things in perspective:

I see lots of comments about things we–the bloggers–should do, but not much talk about the readers. Since they’re the only ones that decide if we have traffic or not, I think respecting their intelligence and time and attention is the most important thing. They have millions of places to put their focus, and it is always a great gift when they give a little to us. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways I can help my readers kick ass, and as little time as possible trying to think of ways that *I* can kick ass (or worse, trying to convince my READERS that I kick ass).

If people visit my blog, I owe them something in return, and I try not to forget that. That focus keeps me from talking too much about myself and MY life–pretty much the two least interesting things I could discuss. : )


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This was written as part of Problogger’s group writing project on looking back or looking forward. This is my second time joining one of his group writing projects.

133 Responses

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  1. Toni said, on December 20, 2006 at 3:25 am

    “wordpress.com restricts [...] my ability to convert this hobby into anything resembling a source of income”

    We’re planning on changing that soon!

  2. jimmycanuck said, on December 20, 2006 at 5:04 am

    This is the single best post I’ve read in any blog this year. Thank you for this! I’ll be passing the link along to everyone I work with at the blogs I write for. Hopefully it can give them as much perspective as it has for me.

  3. Doug Karr said, on December 20, 2006 at 5:31 am

    You forgot that you’re too hard on yourself!

  4. engtech said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:09 am

    @toni: I heard about that one through the grapevine. You guys have a great opportunity to create a vehicle for semi-professional bloggers on wordpress.com, I fully understand the choices you guys have made so far to avoid spammers. I quite enjoy hitting the “report-spam” button.

    @jimmy: Thanks, the best reason to write is to share knowledge.

    @doug: I’m naturally enough of an egoist that it’s a good break to write a post like this. That’s one of the things I liked about the idea for this group blogging project: a chance to reflect.

    I’m usually such an egoist that it’s good to have a post like this to bring it things down to earth.

  5. David said, on December 20, 2006 at 7:38 am

    Great post, and one to be envious of. I wish I was better at looking at myself in such an objective way so that I could air out all my faults and hopefully next year when you look at this list, you will laugh as many of them hopefully will be rectified.

  6. stjarna67 said, on December 20, 2006 at 8:43 am

    You’re absolutely right about the commitment to blog. You can join all the traffic-generating sites (like Blogmad) you want. You may get your 25 second visitors, but that’s it.

    If you want consistant traffic that not only stays, but returns; you have to log some serious time to develop relationships. I have about 200-300 hits a day to my site. I do have many who visit, but many of the things you touched upon; I don’t have either. However, I do have many regulars that I chat with on a fairly regular basis. That’s the cool part.

    However, Working full time, helping my wife raise 3 young children (being an active and functional husband and father), and pursuing other hobbies (writing, playing music, etc.); there is precious little time for anything else. I like blogging but it is a time-commitment.

    Oh, did I mention sleep?!! Speaking of which, it’s time for me to call it a night to begin the insanity all over again.

    Nice blog.

    -sj

  7. will said, on December 20, 2006 at 8:58 am

    what a wonderful post. as a writer, I appreciate, agree with, and identify with your post. I’ve been a metrics kind of person before, but with the low hits I have, I’ve been learning to do without the metrics and to enjoy the craft. It’s been a blast. I’m definitely going to forward your post on to some people, and you’re definitely going on my blogroll, if for no other reason than this post.

    Keep on writing, my friend!

  8. memoryinmotion said, on December 20, 2006 at 9:03 am

    I feel for you man… I mean, I reallllly REALLLLLY FEEEEEEL for you! It’s like, we – here in the blogosphere – we’re like SO misunderstood!

    Peace!

    *tokes*
    *drops a dreamcatcher while choking on the smoke*

    *giggles in amusement*

  9. cuzoogle said, on December 20, 2006 at 9:13 am

    don’t forget that your blog is simply just nice to look at.

    I would love to amp my numbers up and after reading this I have a few ideas.

    Thanks

  10. hellfried said, on December 20, 2006 at 9:20 am

    love the post! i see so much of myself in this post; the obsession with stats (although it is woefully low), the hummingbird-like flitting from subject to subject (well at least on my other blog on beta blogger. i am trying to rectify this in my wordpress blog) and i can go on for days. thanks man!

  11. Steven said, on December 20, 2006 at 9:51 am

    I’m happy… Reading over the list, it looks like my stumbling along has been on the money, if this list is accurate. Now to raise my own Technorati rating… (Only at 116,044)

  12. baredfeetandteeth said, on December 20, 2006 at 9:51 am

    Ok here’s a bizaare idea. What if…someone just blogged for the goodtimeyness they got out of it, and NOT the hits? Eh? ehhh?
    ….or maybe I’m just too lazy to do things like…edit and think consciously about what I’m writing.

  13. smokendrink said, on December 20, 2006 at 10:12 am

    Controversy creates cash :O

  14. renaikan said, on December 20, 2006 at 11:33 am

    I’m a lousy blogger. Thanks… I feel great now.

  15. enkerli said, on December 20, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    ed: READ THIS COMMENT

    I would almost want to repeat renaikan’s comment. But, doing so, I would insist on the point that I’m sincere and not using any irony when I say that I like the fact that I’m not a successful blogger.
    As others have said, this is an impressive post. Those of us who don’t get the kind of traffic you’re getting are likely to be jealous, whether we admit it or not. But I’m personally not sure I know why blogging success should be evaluated.

    I do recognize myself in many of the “errors” you mention. One major difference is that I’m not a gamer. I’m an experimenter. And blogging has been a wonderful experiment for me. It’s been the ideal release from cyclical thoughts. It has helped me improve my writing. It has put me in touch with interesting people. It has allowed me to get some insight into different aspects of digital life. It has landed me a fun interview with a WSJ journalist. It has saved me time in replying to mailing-list messages. And it has convinced me that there was life beyond blogs.

    IMHO, too strong a notion of success takes something away from blogging. Not that it’s not fun being successful. But that it’s fun to do things for which we don’t necessarily evaluate ourselves.
    As you say, WordPress.com currently offers little support for the semi-professional blogger. But it also pushes the idea of blogging success by emphasizing stats and listing top blogs. We’re constantly compared with fellow bloggers. In such a context, it’s extremely easy to get a blogging-induced impostor syndrome. Sad, really.

    But blogging can be about freedom. Low-stakes writing. Being famous to the fifteen people about whom we care the most. Keeping a historical log of cool links. Getting constructive feedback.

    Thanks for a straightforward and insightful post!

  16. [...] My pick of the day (and this is the first time I’ve singled anyone out is engtech’s You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger which I would have linked to in a speedlinking or a post of it’s own because it’s a great post which I’m sure many ProBlogger readers will enjoy. [...]

  17. jhay said, on December 20, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    I knew it, I am not the lone blogger with NADD. ;)

    An excellent piece you wrote here, kudos!

  18. Madhur Kapoor said, on December 20, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Excellent post mate ..i can well identify with it as i have made some mistakes also ..

  19. Tony Brown said, on December 20, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    Not sure I agree with your point “I don’t have a strong enough voice”, this was a great post!

    I recognised a lot of myself in there.

  20. joshmaher said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    One of the best reflections on the last year I’ve seen yet!

    So what are you going to do when blogging is replaced?

    http://joshmaher.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/2007-prediction-blogs-will-be-replaced/

  21. Thejesh GN said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    Wow…its a good read. I agree on most of the points because they are true for my case too.

    I will try to fix…may be I will be successful by 2007 end.

  22. Chris said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips! As a new blogger I really appreciate the info here :-) Great job!

    Chris

    P.s.
    I like the cat ;-)

  23. Yan said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    Man… This is one of the most truthful post I have read. YOu have got a lot of potential dude. Don’t waste it!

  24. Nick O'Neill said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    Great post! I definitely agree with many of your mistakes, I find that I am guilty of many of the mistakes you mentioned, especially spending too much time reading my Google reader.

    I also think that you are being to hard on yourself, and your blog is great! Keep writing the great content.

  25. Jennifer Lynn said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    I feel your pain, man! I hate that I’m stuck at Typepad right now. I can’t afford my own hosting yet. But, hopefully soon *crosses fingers*

    Thanks for the great read.

  26. Roberta said, on December 20, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Great post! I like the cat, too…. very good tips here.

    Thanks :)

  27. Group Writing Project Fun | ear sucker said, on December 20, 2006 at 7:24 pm

    [...] You Can Be a Good Example Or A Horrible Warning – How NOT To Be A Successful Blogger – Engtech [...]

  28. Eliza said, on December 20, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    I feel I can relate to most of your mistakes. I do tend to link to blogs but as another blogger mentioned in their problogger contest entry…I always forget to tell that blogger and only recently did I decide to actually comment on the comments placed on my blog. Sounds like you know what you’ve done wrong this year and will make dramatic improvements for the year to come. Good luck, love your writing style.

  29. Brad Shorr said, on December 20, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    What a fantastic post! I really like your point about focusing on how focusing on metrics is like focusing on salary. How true. Strong content makes up for all sorts of problems.

  30. Mama Duck said, on December 20, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    This is indeed a great post! I think by realizing what you need to do differently, you can “win” at the game of blogging, so to speak. It’s a matter of focus and time management, as you noted, I think you can develop a good blog with all of your above qualities in a 40 hour week, then maintain it 10-15 hours a week and get a decent level of traffic. Not too many people (sans probloggers) can really devote more than that to blogging, especially with a family and a job and such.

    We also participated in this project, stop on by if you get a chance!

  31. Ashish Mohta said, on December 20, 2006 at 8:51 pm

    Damn the best post i have read after 36 blogs.I gues u gonna get something in the darrens project.

    You have given me a lot of ideas of what i shoudl not do and what i have missed.

    I also got entry in darrens project.
    http://technospot.net/blogs/index.php/2006/12/19/predicting-the-evolution-of-techspot-insideout/

    And i am feeding your blog.There wont be another chance to meet so many bloggers

  32. Lord Chatterly said, on December 20, 2006 at 8:59 pm

    Excellent post by a first-rate blogger. You could have a great career as a writer.

  33. [...] Dies ist mein erster Blog, bei dem ich auf Deutsch blogge und nicht so lange darüber nachdenke, über was gebloggt wird. Er bleibt bei WordPress.com, weil ich keine Bastelzeit aufwenden will. Heute habe ich bei engtech folgenden Eintrag gefunden, der sich ausführlich damit auseinander setzt, was “gutes” und “schlechtes” Bloggen ausmacht. Ich mache demnach folgende Fehler: – Der Namen meines Blogs taugt nicht. Stimmt. Er steht auch nicht in unmittelbarer Beziehung zum Inhalt. – Ich schreibe nicht wirklich über persönliche Dinge, um die Identifikationsbereitschaft möglicher Leser zu steigern. – Ich blogge nur sporadisch. Eher so in Haufenform oder wenn ich mich vor der eigentlichen Arbeit drücken will. Am Freitag beginnen die Ferien, das Ende ist absehbar. Ich bin kein Technikguru. Für manche Leute zwar schon, aber mir fehlt es schon von Berufs wegen an Grundvoraussetzungen. – Ich nutze WordPress.com statt meine eigene Domain. Ich hab zwar eine, aber ich bleibe lieber “anonym” [...]

  34. DaniGirl said, on December 20, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Great post! As a predominantly “mommyblogger” (cringe), I guess I’m just about the polar opposite of you in the blog world, but it looks like I’m an equally lousy blogger. (Been reading a while, just wanted to delurk and say I enjoy your blog.)

  35. Andy C said, on December 20, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    Some of what you perceive as shortcomings are precisely why I enjoy your blog.

    You’re not a blogging expert – but talk more sense than most of them.

    You don’t do news – I get news from elsewhere.

    I’m no-one special – Neither am I.

    I don’t have a niche – a massive advantage IMHO. The best compliment (well the only one to be honest) anyone ever paid to my humble blog was ‘You don’t signpost where you’re going’. Hence I subscribe to your feed and every post is a genuine surprise.

    I’m hosted on WordPress – I much prefer the fact your blog isn’t contaminated by ads and spurious, worthless plugins. Sometimes less is more. Also, I used to be on WordPress and you produce a wealth of useful information about how to get the best out of the platform.

    I’m too technical, or not technical enough – Nor am I and I suspect your less technical, easy to understand posts are more popular.

    Keep up the good work. 6,000 hits a day after 8 months shows you’re doing something right :-)

    [ Not sure about Courier font for Comments. I feel like I am using a 1970's typewriter ]

  36. tigerfish said, on December 20, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    I made all the same mistakes, esp. on blog name,mascot,not using my real name, no domain of my own…and what’s worse, I’m hosted on blogger.com !!
    Find me at Problogger project

  37. Joy said, on December 20, 2006 at 11:41 pm

    This is a great post. :) It really helped me look into what I’m doing as a blogger, and how I can better accomplish things. Although, your blog is a great one, so maybe you’re being a teensy bit hard on yourself?

  38. engtech said, on December 21, 2006 at 12:11 am

    @baredfeetandteeth

    Ok here’s a bizaare idea. What if…someone just blogged for the goodtimeyness they got out of it, and NOT the hits? Eh? ehhh?

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a much healthier / satisfying approach.

    @enkerli

    and blogging has been a wonderful experiment for me. It’s been the ideal release from cyclical thoughts. It has helped me improve my writing. It has put me in touch with interesting people. It has allowed me to get some insight into different aspects of digital life.

    That was a wonderful comment. I loved your insight into wordpress.com, I’d never thought of it that way before.

    @joshmaher

    So what are you going to do when blogging is replaced?

    Enjoy the outdoors. :)

    @lord chatterly and others

    Excellent post by a first-rate blogger. You could have a great career as a writer.

    Thank you

    @andy c

    Some of what you perceive as shortcomings are precisely why I enjoy your blog.

    My perceived short-comings were more in relation to traditional advice on “how to be a successful blogger”, but it’s good to know that these are the things that make me stand out. :)

    @all

    This wasn’t intended to be a negative introspective post; what I was aiming for is total objectivity and self-awareness.

  39. engtech said, on December 21, 2006 at 12:13 am

    My girlfriend just pointed out that one of the things I do that prevents me from being a successful blogger is “going to work”.

    :)

  40. George said, on December 21, 2006 at 1:38 am

    Great post. I can see why Darren singled you out. And yes going to work does make it harder to be a great blogger. I have found that to be the case as well.

  41. Rod said, on December 21, 2006 at 1:38 am

    An excellent post. One of the very best that I’ve read all year. Thank you. Makes my post look kind of insignificant.

  42. max said, on December 21, 2006 at 2:01 am

    Clearly you picked the girlfriend and cat right.

  43. [...] How Not to Be a Successful Blogger [...]

  44. nightstorm41 said, on December 21, 2006 at 2:49 am

    Hm How about SOME mystery to who we really are? I think this can be a good thing too. So I wouldn’t say it’s so bad about you not giving out enough personal info. Sure, it might help popularity but might also save a head ache later doing so?

    I’ve read of one who had to remove ALL her blog because of people harrassing her and knowing TOO much. She said she was ticked that some have nothing better to do than harrass others. True. So, can be a negative too, I am sure.

    Good job on your blog! You’re doing better than most of us. cheers and happy holidays.

  45. [...] How NOT to be a successful blogger [...]

  46. [...] EngTech’s “You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger“ [...]

  47. Dave Conrey said, on December 21, 2006 at 3:38 am

    I’m really glad I read this. I’m a new blogger and It seems by sheer luck that I actually hdid some things correctly. I’ve made some mistakes already, but that’s why I’m here on this site as well as others to find out how to do this better. Thanks for the tips.

  48. Bec said, on December 21, 2006 at 4:37 am

    This is fantastic!

  49. Ray Dotson said, on December 21, 2006 at 5:45 am

    What stands out the most to me here is that you do, in fact, have a strong voice. There’s a pervasive sense of identity through this post that makes me feel I know you a bit already. There’s a certain f*ck-it quality to the best writing of any kind, if you get my drift. The best writers write with a certain rawness and abandon that is utterly compelling. I think you’ve captured that quality in this post and given me quite a bit of food for thought for my own blogging in the new year. Anybody can possess the same knowledge as we do, but who has the same personality?

  50. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger – Another hilarious post, satirizing the blogosphere as a whole, and poking fun at the little things bloggers do, that don’t make much sense when you think about them logically [...]

  51. andrew wee said, on December 21, 2006 at 6:10 am

    Hi,
    I like the use of photos and graphics in your post.

    I kinda know that your intent might be lace your ‘shortcomings’ with a hint of irony, but perhaps it hits a little too close to home for the aspiring bloggers…

    a good wake up call and i think i’d appreciate it much more once i’ve recovered from my bout of self-reflexive wincing.

    about you being ‘no one special’ and tagging it to “I don’t work for Google, Microsoft, Apple or Intel.” — are we supposed to be envious of working long hours, even if it involves changing the world?

    i think i’d be happy just creating my own niche on the blogosphere.

    keep up the great work

  52. Alli said, on December 21, 2006 at 7:00 am

    This is a great post and I could have written it, but not as well as you. And as you girlfriend pointed out, I too go to work, which keeps me from being a great blogger.

  53. Rob said, on December 21, 2006 at 7:45 am

    Great post…

    Gave me some serious thought into how I can also blog better..and I appreciate that.. there ya go.. you give value.. so.. chin up.. ;)

    Gained a new reader too.
    Thanks.

    Rob

  54. dazzer said, on December 21, 2006 at 8:54 am

    Haha I shall be taking note of your … points

    - tells himself to stop looking at Blog Stats -

  55. engtech said, on December 21, 2006 at 11:15 am

    @ray dotson

    The best writers write with a certain rawness and abandon that is utterly compelling. I think you’ve captured that quality in this post and given me quite a bit of food for thought for my own blogging in the new year.

    Thank you. Maybe in recognizing my weaknesses while writing this post I surpassed some of them?

    @andrew wee

    about you being ‘no one special’ and tagging it to “I don’t work for Google, Microsoft, Apple or Intel.” — are we supposed to be envious of working long hours, even if it involves changing the world?

    That was more a nod that many popular bloggers do/have worked for a popular company. Some people are drawn to them for that reason, and it becomes an (unconcious) marketing point for their blog. Lots of fans/detractors of popular companies like seeing what life is like on the inside.

  56. paul said, on December 21, 2006 at 11:54 am

    Hey EngTech,

    I have to ask have you bothered looking into WordPress’s domain mapping feature which effectively makes it look as though you are running on your own server and gives you your own domain?

    With that said, this is a killer post, but I can tell you already knew that the second you hit publish.

  57. NY said, on December 21, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    But this post wasn’t written to help you gain traffic?

  58. engtech said, on December 21, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    I have to ask have you bothered looking into WordPress’s domain mapping feature which effectively makes it look as though you are running on your own server and gives you your own domain?

    Hi Paul, thanks for dropping by.

    I wrote a post that talks more about the domain mapping feature here (I use it on another blog I’m part of): http://engtech.wordpress.com/2006/10/27/wordpresscom-domain-registration-from-the-users-point-of-view/

    I’m not entirely sure what the impact is with search engines (I think they’re smart enough to understand the redirect), but Technorati is definitely not able to understand that you can have multiple domain names for one website. Not sure about IceRocket, etc. People I know who switched to domain names had a noticeable loss of traffic and had to go through a “building links” cycle again.

    I think everyone who blogs should own their own domain name from the start so that they have maximum flexibility for the future.

    @NY

    Actually, this wasn’t for traffic. Blog tip posts don’t rank well in search engines and don’t usually do well with digg, stumbleupon, del.icio.us, etc. They’re limited to the much smaller audience of bloggers only, and there is a huge glut because a lot of people write them.

    The idea of a “what I did wrong” post first started forming when I was commenting on this post: http://scobleizer.com/2006/12/07/help-a-san-jose-mercury-news-columnist-blog/

    I never did anything with it, but when Darren came up with his contest it was a natural fit.

  59. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  60. [...] How NOT to be a successful blogger was posted at //engtech, and offers a lot of good insight for those who want to get a lot out of their blogging. [...]

  61. Gary Rodgers said, on December 22, 2006 at 1:02 am

    I found this article through the Group Writing Project. I found this article to be very informative and helpful, so much so I added it to my list of favorites from the Group Writing Project.

    You can check that out here:
    http://www.itsmnm.net/?p=151

    Just wanted to let you know that you have a new reader, keep up the good content!

  62. Tyler Ingram said, on December 22, 2006 at 1:11 am

    Wow I definately hav a lot to work on. Your list of how not to be a successful blogger will put me into that category.

    I post about whatever I can, I have no set topic yet, I guess I’m looking for my niche but there are far too many things that I enjoy leanring/reading/talking about.

    I’ll just keep posting and looking at the numbers to see what I can make of them ;)

    Thanks for the post it gives me alot to think about in my journey of being a noobie blogger!

  63. Rashenbo said, on December 22, 2006 at 2:49 am

    LOL… your link to MMORPG is awesome… as an addicted gamer to multiple consoles and games… I hear you, man. Quest camping sucks. And here we are… on another quest. I really enjoyed this post and I think you shared some great and helpful information! :D

    I found you on Problogger and thought I’d pop over and say “howdy”.

    :D Cheers, you hit-whore. (I’m totally going to steal that.) :P~~

  64. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  65. » Questallia said, on December 22, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    [...] 3. You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  66. [...] Problogger has posted the entire list of submissions for the Reviews and Previews group writing project, and I figured I’d go through all two hundred and ninety-three of them and pick my favorite ones. I hope it provides some interesting reading. These are in no particular order, and I’m going to list all of my favorite ones, instead of narrowing it down to ten or whatever number. Andrew tells us that lawyer blogs contribute to the list of reasons people have to hate lawyers. Sarakastic has an interesting take on Time’s person of the year for this year. Domtan has some very practical New Year’s resolutions for bloggers. Ken sees more monetization in store for blogs and other user-generated content, and expresses some misgivings. Definitely something to ponder. TJP goes through several stupid ways to lose money, and provides accompanying advice. Engtech has a very good post on how to be a not-so-successful blogger. Daniel lists a ton of blogging tips. Another Andrew has a really good post on some internet marketing reality checks. Yoav gives us a list of blogging tools he says we’ll find useful in 2007. And that ends the list. I’ve enjoyed participating in this particular group writing project, and plan to participate in others in future. Everybody enjoy reading. Filed in Technology [...]

  67. Chris said, on December 22, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    Enjoyed the post. I think I pretty much need to improve in all of those areas. You must be doing something right to have some traffic. Keep up the good work.

  68. Knuckle Curve » Reviews and Predictions said, on December 22, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger (engtech). For the bloggers in the house. [...]

  69. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  70. Ben Craigo said, on December 23, 2006 at 2:13 am

    Success is a subjective term. You might rate it a bit differently but thought you should know that I found valuable guidance not only in this post but in others you linked to. Looks like you have a lot of support judging from the comments above. And, if my math is correct, it looks like you get well over a half million views a year.

    I know people that have a hard time getting one person to listen to them let alone 500,000+.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  71. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

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  73. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  74. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  75. [...] How not to be successful blogger by engtech [...]

  76. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  77. Jason Drohn said, on December 23, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    I have to agree with Ben. Success is what you make of it. You have a great site and a ton of pure talent. Blogging is about learning, plain and simple.

    I respect a person who can take a objective view of themselves and see the good and bad points. Knowing your weaknesses is one of the absolute best things someone can realize.

  78. leachim6 said, on December 24, 2006 at 12:30 am

    I think that you are too hard on yourself :) I spent at least 5 minutes just reading this post … I think your blog is great
    Keep up what you are doing and always remember it’s YOUR BLOG it is not your readers blog … readers are important … but it is till Your Blog … if somebody links to you … you don’t have to link them back if you don’t like their content … why .. because it is Your Blog
    I am not making this up…I read it in a book by corey doctorow
    [Here:oreilly.com/catalog/essblogging/\] good luck

    -mikeD

  79. raincoaster said, on December 24, 2006 at 4:02 am

    One of your best posts. But remember, you only have to proof as well as your audience can read. I wouldn’t sweat it too much if I were you. This and Scoble are the only tech blogs I read, because Scoble’s that networked and you are that interesting.

    PS in your hood starting Monday for three weeks.

  80. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  81. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

  82. [...] You Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger by engtech [...]

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  84. Dustin said, on December 28, 2006 at 1:02 am

    You say you don’t use enough humor, yet this entire post is a satire of how to create a good blog. Nice work. I think I will subscribe.

  85. [...] Fundstück [...]

  86. [...] Today I ended up at a great blog called engtech and read a post called “You can be a good example or a horrible warning – how NOT to be a successful blogger.” [...]

  87. Ron Howes said, on January 03, 2007 at 5:32 am

    What a great article. I happened upon it when searching Google for “doing what I do best”, looking for new year ideas for my website. I’ve made a lot of these mistakes as well.

    My son and a friend started a small software company recently, and the first thing they did was to start a blog, so we could follow the progress of the project. ( http://blog.humanstuff.com ) and I am forwarding this to them, and I’m sure they’ll get a lot out of it.

    I’ve featured a link from our homepage today at http://www.global-air.com to this article. (If you are reading this after Wednesday January 3rd, it will be in our “prevous articles” section.

    Thanks!

    Ron Howes
    Global Air Aviation Referral Service
    http://www.global-air.com

  88. Eileen Chadnick said, on January 04, 2007 at 6:59 am

    I am 3 days into blogging (TGIMworklife…a wordpress blog)…am I allowed to list my blog….still figuring this out…as you can see I am an absolute neophyte but having a blast! I loved your post and REALLY LOVE THE CAT (I’m major cat-lover).
    Seriously, great job and thanks for sharing cuz I’m still figuring out what the heck ‘tags’ and ‘pings’ and dingalings and ‘track backs’ are are all about!@!@#

    That said, I love the freedom of blogging and the forum for personal expression and community-building. I’ve got lots to say (and will) but I’m still figuring out how to promote and build community.

    One step at a time…cheers!

  89. engtech said, on January 19, 2007 at 3:03 am

    It’s not spam because I’m posting it on my own blog.

    If any wordpress.com bloggers are interested in having a chance to win some free upgrade credits, read this post:
    http://engtech.wordpress.com/2007/01/18/win-wordpresscom-credits-engtech-contest-1/

  90. Some Fascinating Blogs » Webomatica said, on January 21, 2007 at 6:41 am

    [...] Very solid technology blog. This one post pretty much describes my own adventures with [...]

  91. renaikan said, on January 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    The truth is… it takes too much time to keep up a good blog. I don’t mind being a bad blogger since I am doing other things.. like brushing my teeth :)

  92. stupidtom said, on January 24, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Awesome post and blog. Thank You.

  93. max said, on January 24, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Ignonimous post to save myself from this continued and way too long tie in to my comments.

  94. fadi said, on January 29, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    man you are really successful. you do what you do and people do pass by and feedback.

    yes I am reeding too many rss feeds too, but I will add your feed :)

    chhers fadi

  95. booksden said, on February 02, 2007 at 7:01 am

    This is an excellent post, I could see where I need to implement a few changes into mine in order to bring it to the next level.

    I will link to this article into one of my posts order to help authors make their blogs better. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

    Clary Lopez

  96. John Paul McCarty said, on February 04, 2007 at 3:19 am

    Great post indeed. I definitely found myself identifying with the numbers game and the time commitment. When I started, I thought I shouldn’t care who read my posts. Soon I was obsessed with hits.

    As one of many political bloggers, I find the challenge to remain somewhat relevant and not just a “repeater” a great motivator. I think my major error is generally trying not to be too controversial. I write from a particular point-of-view, but put too much effort into being even-handed. great cat btw.

    john paul

  97. Internet Monkey said, on February 05, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Man, how I can so relate. I did a semi-similar post like this on my blog yesterday, but I just focussed on people who use the “blog this” feature on digg.com

  98. g-man said, on February 06, 2007 at 6:48 am

    “If I were to move domains I’d see a huge fall in my traffic numbers and would lose all of the time I’ve already invested building connections. If all those links pointed to my domain then I could change hosts with little side effect.”

    You can use redirect to a new domain. Even Google will follow it if done right.

  99. engtech said, on February 06, 2007 at 8:57 am

    @g-man: Yup, some search engines do it right. Unfortunately, there are a few that do it wrong.

    Plus I’ve heard of issues with the new domain being in the Google sandbox even with the redirects.

  100. Steven Whitlam said, on February 14, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Well done sir, an excellent post. Emailed to at least 3 people before I’ve even commented on it.

  101. SpyderBlog » Blog Archive » How To Blog said, on February 17, 2007 at 12:30 am

    [...] “Good Example or Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger” EngTech (engineering technology) blog. “EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers” [...]

  102. [...] De cómo no ser un blogger con éxito. Un buen artículo sobre por qué eres, o no eres, un blogger con éxito: How NOT to be a successful blogger. [...]

  103. Mike said, on February 20, 2007 at 9:00 am

    I have to say this is one of the funniest and truthful blogs I’ve read. Now I know I’ll never make enough money from my humble blog to get that HDTV. Oh and I still think the cat is a great spokesman for the site lol.

  104. raincoaster said, on February 28, 2007 at 5:17 am

    I just thought of something: tell people your cat is a robot. Solves the problem of untechie mascot and is intriguing. Also, you can do a whole series of videos of him doing normal cat things, perfectly lifelike! Also, see if you can put him on a skateboard; tranks may be useful for this.

  105. engtech said, on February 28, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    @rc:

    That’s genius.

    I’m covering his legs in tinfoil and duct taping a 9volt battery to him as I type.

  106. max said, on February 28, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Let us know when the wounds heal and you can type again.

  107. engtech said, on February 28, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    i wuygl hte yuo kbyw

  108. reinkefj said, on March 01, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    And, don’t forget that you could “lulu” your blog into a book like I did. http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=638039 Then, you can be the laughing stock of lots of people forever! (But, my Mom was thrilled with it.) At least, becoming a fool didn’t cost me a lot of money. I can’t wait until 2007 is over so I can do it again! ;-)

  109. [...] been a bad blogger. I haven’t been giving back to “the community,” nor have I even found time to [...]

  110. [...] positive that you can start a tech blog from nowhere and get ahead. I’m nowhere near A-list (and never will be) but am somewhere in the B-C list territory. Occasionally, my posts show up on Techmeme and [...]

  111. magicmarketing said, on March 28, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    As everyone says a great post.

    There’s no doubt you do have a great voice.

    And I think the reason it’s struck such a chord with people is that we’re all guilty of one or more of the things that you note. And that includes A-list bloggers too, probably in spades!

    Make sure your cat keeps proofreading properly.

    Jim

  112. Catherine Morgan said, on April 01, 2007 at 3:40 am

    ? what is “viral linkbait”?

    This was a very interesting post. I have only been blogging for about three months, it seems like the “tech-type” blogs are the ones that get a lot of attention/hits….what should I expect with a non-tech blog?

    Thanks for your time.

  113. [...] doing a group writing project on mistakes bloggers make. Four months ago I wrote a post outlining all of the mistakes I’ve made in blogging and there’s one that still sticks with me: not buying my own domain [...]

  114. engtech said, on April 02, 2007 at 9:21 am

    @Catherine: good question :)

    viral linkbait – Is a post that no only do people read themselves but they spread like a virus by linking themselves, but voting/sharing on social networking sites, by submitting to bigger sites, or by emailing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_bait

  115. vishnuvardhan said, on April 02, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    i have come to know about u through matt april prank. i am also a new blogger. after reading through ur article i have learnt a lot of things and i hope i will write better. thankx.

  116. Catherine Morgan said, on April 02, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you so much for getting back to me, and giving me the link about “viral linkbait”.

    One more question….How are people doing this “trackback/pingback” thing? I get them on my site in my comments, but I am not sure how to do it myself, (ie: how could I “pingback” to this article? Is that a good thing to do?)

    Thanks for your time, I know these probably are pretty stupid questions, but I have been blogging for about three months, and I still cant figure it out.

  117. engtech said, on April 02, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    @catherine: You’re on wordpress.com so pingbacks should be automatic unless your one of the people affected by the notorious pingback bug. Try creating a blog post where you link to another one of your blog posts — you should see a pingback automatically created.

    If it doesn’t happen leave a feedback from your dashboard.

  118. Catherine Morgan said, on April 02, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Thanks, I’ll give it a try.

  119. [...] Engtech >> How NOT to be a Successful Blogger [...]

  120. [...] Автор блога пишет об ошибках, подстерегающих на пути к статусу successful blogger. Пост с притягивающим названием “Yoг Can Be a Good Example or a Horrible Warning – How NOT to be a Successful Blogger”. [...]

  121. laketrees said, on April 28, 2007 at 6:33 am

    What a terrific post!!!!.I hope you don’t mind but I have linked your site under your wonderful Technorati post in my RSS reader on my site.Your writing is admirable!!!

  122. Andrew Alliance said, on May 09, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks for this…it really opened my eyes…

  123. Blogging Tips MegaPost at fjetsam said, on May 10, 2007 at 2:37 am

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  124. Derek said, on May 10, 2007 at 3:55 am

    I liked this post very much (even though it was a pretty long one).

    Sometimes I feel similarly easily distracted by whatever may go on around me. Usually my content isn’t exactly original or mind-bending in my mind like the sites that I would choose to read.

    Anyways thanks for your thoughts, and I thought that I’d just let you know that I’ve enjoyed this as well as other posts. I like your honest and coherent writing style, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

  125. Sebastyne said, on May 12, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Comparing to all the things you do do wrong, I would say your success is admirable. You must do SOMETHING right, don’t you think? :p I think the thing you do right is that you do what you do, and that is your own thing. It appeals to people no matter how “wrong” it’s done.

  126. [...]     First off, I want to be perfectly frank with you. I don’t hate InternetDuctTape.  I just hate the original name of the blog- Engineering Technology.  Then again, Eric admits that this is one of the reasons on “how to not be a successful blogger“. [...]

  127. [...] How NOT to be a Successful Blogger — What I Did Wrong [...]

  128. [...] How NOT to be a Successful Blogger [...]

  129. [...] a strong believer that the best way to learn something is to do it wrong. Repeatedly. My categories/tags are a mess, and this is what I’ve learned from [...]

  130. [...] I couldn’t recommend enough. Even the guest writers on his site offer great insight. I read How not to be a successful blogger (and the fantastic quote by Kathy Sierra at the end of the post) at least once a month. Though I [...]

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