Six Months of Hello Pretty Bird: My Blogging Mistakes | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

15 December, 2013

Six Months of Hello Pretty Bird: My Blogging Mistakes

It's happened you guys: I've been updating this website regularly for six whole months. Well, more or less - I deleted my introductory post when I changed the name of the site because it no longer made sense (more on that later). But we're right around the six month mark in any case.

Six months is not enough time for me to claim expertise on all things beauty blogging, but it has been enough time for me to sort of get into my stride and figure out the basics. I haven't had any major problems during my relatively short time in this corner of cyberspace, but of course there have been a few small missteps here and there. Being the self-deprecating fool that I am I thought I'd share those things with you - perhaps if you're a new-ish blogger you can learn from some of my mistakes? Or at the very least you might be able to commiserate and/or laugh at me.


Accidental bad hair selfie: also a mistake.


Mistake #1: Choosing a poor website name

I'm not sure if any of my regular readers have been around long enough to remember this, but when I first started this site it was called "Rebecca Reviews Everything". At the time I just chose the first coherent-sounding name I thought of, and since I had an eye on doing product reviews (and my name is Rebecca) it made sense to me. However, as time went on I realized that my site name was rather limiting, as I wasn't only doing product reviews and didn't necessarily want to be known just for that. I ended up changing the site name in September because I felt like Hello Pretty Bird suited my identity as a blogger well without being too specific. But I did lose a few RSS subscribers as a result of the change - bummer, bro.

Moral of the story? Don't choose a website name that's too limiting (or embarrassing) because you may want to change it later, and the more established your site becomes the harder it is to do.



Mistake #2: Not using social media from the beginning

I have a confession to make: Before I started this blog I was sort of an idiot so far as social media is concerned. I had a personal Facebook page, which I (begrudgingly) used to keep in touch with friends who no longer seemed interested in using the phone or e-mail, but that was it. I did make a Twitter account fairly early on to promote my posts, but I didn't really understand how the whole social aspect of it worked until I literally sat down and googled something like "HOW TWITTER WORKS FOR STUPID PEOPLE". And that happened in like... September. Yeah, I'm that awesome. Figuring out social media (especially Twitter) has helped me connect with other bloggers and boost the traffic on my site a bit, both of which are good things.

Moral of the story? Sign up for an account on at least one of the big social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) and use it to interact with other people for 100% more awesomeness. It doesn't have to be under your "real" name - you can make a "fan page" for your site on Facebook or a handle just for your blog on Twitter.



Mistake #3: Not installing Google Analytics at the start

In case you haven't noticed, Hello Pretty Bird uses the Blogger platform. I really like Blogger because it's so well-integrated with some of the other aspects of Google, however, their built-in stats aren't really accurate and present an inflated number of pageviews. If I'm understanding correctly, that happens because Blogger stats counts pageviews from bots and spiders indexing your site (and yourself, if you don't have self-pageviews turned off). How big of a difference does that make? Just as an example, my Blogger stats from yesterday list 300+ more pageviews than Google Analytics does for the same time period - huge difference!

If you don't keep track of your pageviews then this probably won't matter to you, but I use them to gauge which posts are the most "interesting" so it does matter to me. Also, I'd love to have an accurate count of how many pageviews I've had since the start, but sadly that will never happen because I didn't install Analytics on my site until September.

Moral of the story? If you care at all about your stats, don't rely on Blogger and install Google Analytics NOW. Even if you're not on Blogger, Analytics is the gold standard of stat trackers so you should probably install it anyway.



Mistake #4: Not commenting enough on other blogs


Before I ever started this site, I read other blogs. Sometimes I'd read them and even think things like "Wow, this post is really cool and I have something to say about this topic!" So why didn't I leave comments on those sites expressing my thoughts? I DON'T KNOW. I'm not saying you should spam-bomb every blog you read with "cool post" (since that seems to annoy most people anyway), but if you have something meaningful to say in response to a blog post you should. Not only will the blogger likely appreciate it, but they might check out your site, and if you have stuff in common you may even make yourself a new blogging pal!

Moral of the story? Sharing is caring so share your friendly opinions if you have 'em.



Mistake #5: Not installing a third-party comment system sooner

Perhaps you already noticed, but I installed Disqus on my site yesterday. I have mixed feelings about Disqus: On one hand I don't like that you have to sign up for an account to post a comment, but on the other, it's much more conducive to discussion. Blogger's standard commenting system is totally fine if there isn't a heavy level of conversation going on in the comments, but it doesn't really encourage people to interact with and respond to each other, which I think is a cool thing to be able to do. Anyway, Disqus imported all of my old comments from Blogger successfully, but it arranged them by date, and that's sort confusing because it's hard to tell what's in response to what now. It's not the end of the world, but I wish I'd made the switch sooner (like before I started my Weekly Poll series) because the responses make less sense now.

Moral of the story? If you want your site to be more interactive consider installing a third-party comment system. There are several options, so do some research first!

-----------------

That's it for my "Blogging Mistakes"... for now. I'm sure six months on I'll have even more things to add to the list - groan.


Bloggers, is there anything you'd do differently if you had to start over? And would you be interested in reading about other topics related to blogging in the future?

53 comments:

  1. Those are some good tips and I am happy I started doing most of them early on :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an awesome entry, nice advice :)
    Have a nice holiday btw!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm sure your site is all the better for it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. funfairs&fairydust☺December 15, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    This was a lovely post! My blog name is 'funfairs and fairydust' and the other day it felt limiting, but I think I was just having a blogging down! Do you recommend using labelling?:) Lovely post, lauryn from http://funfairsandfairydust.blogspot.co.uk/ xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Lauryn! Personally I like your blog name, but you should call it what you want of course. When you say labelling, do you mean tags/categories on posts? If so I'd say yes, but it's good to keep them minimal. I probably have too many myself, truthfully. :P But general categories such as "Beauty", "Lifestyle" etc will help people sort through your content easily. If that's not what you meant let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good post! Sometimes I find 'beauty junkie on a budget' limiting, so I've sort of dropped the 'budget' part a little. But at the same time, you'll never see MAC and stuff on my blog, so I find it sort of hard to find my niche. I didn't realise when I started that I'd focus so much on Asian products, either.

    These days, I think to leave most comments on posts I peruse, because I know the work that goes into them. Before, I'd just think 'yeah, good info', then move onto the next review. Haha.

    You seem very established for six months. I sure wasn't. xD

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've just gotten to my 100th post and feel so jaded and yet like I have so much to learn all at the same time!


    Shani x
    http://shedreamsinperfectfrench.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a great post. It has given me a lot to think about for my own blog. Thank you! I am definitely considering getting a comment system like Disqus now.

    http://mattekat.blogspot.ca/

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was thinking of writing a similar post soon, haha - I've definitely learned a lot in my 6 months (public) as well! *-* And me too - I definitely installed Google Analytics a tad bit late. As for the blog name... hem hem. I thought of that for SO long it was embarrassing, and just ended up sticking with a random Junniku. So random, but I like that it's not too long. But it IS a little embarrassing when people in RL ask me what my blog name is, and I'm like ".........Junniku......"


    Okay life story done *-* (and I should definitely add Disqus too, i'm just so lazy! ;n; )

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thankfully your domain doesn't have "on a budget", so it's easier to drop that part. I don't know that you have to definitively state your niche - when I think of your blog I think budget-friendly, but if you posted about more expensive things occasionally I wouldn't be shocked (GASP!) I didn't really know what my niche would be either - I didn't know I was doing a beauty blog until I realized that 90% of what I was writing about was beauty-related, haha.

    If I seem "established" it's probably because I've run websites and blogs in the past, so maybe I have a better understanding of some things from a technical perspective. Maybe. Not Twitter though, lolz. At first I was kind of like "meh whatever" with this site, but as you can see above I got more serious and made lots of changes in September.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, you can still host your Blogger blog for free and have it appear as a dot com! First register the domain name you want (duh). If you haven't already I recommend NameCheap, but there are lots of registrars so choose whoever you want. Go to "Settings" under the Blogger dashboard, and then go to "Publishing" (which is under the "Basic" tab, should be there when you first load the page). There's an option there to point a custom registered domain to your blog, and once you have it all set up properly your .blogspot.com can be whatever domain you want!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Glad to help! I like Disqus because it's better about notifying people when someone has replied to their comment. And it's free, so that doesn't hurt. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Short names are probably the best - at least it's easy to remember, haha! You should install Disqus, because your posts get a lot of comments, right? Makes them more manageable. I can't speak for everyone, but the switch from standard Blogger comments to Disqus was totally painless for me - just a couple of clicks of the mouse, then waiting a couple of hours for the old ones to import.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's awesome!!! So why do I see so many people posting about hosting services and stuff? Is that just like a necessity for when your blog gets huge?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well, a lot of people use self-hosted Wordpress so maybe that's who you see talking about it? I think Wordpress is a lot more customizable than Blogger, however the free version of Wordpress is VERY restrictive. Not just from a design perspective, their TOS prohibits some stuff that a lot of bloggers would want to do (like sponsored posts). I mean ultimately a lot of people do move to self-hosted sites if their blogs get enormous, especially since Google can temporarily disable your blog at random (don't get paranoid - it's rare but it does happen, so back up your blog periodically!) But there are some massive blogs still hosted on Blogger, so I think it boils down to personal preference and your level of technical expertise.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Got it! That totally makes sense! I think I am going to spend my New Years Day moving my site to my .com and setting up google analytics for my new address =)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cool, hope it goes smoothly! Personally I didn't run into any problems with either of those things, but you can find about a billion tutorials on Google if you do. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Four years in and i'm still learning about blogging! If I would change anything it would be my url but I don't have the time or the brain to go around about changing it so it'll do for now!

    ReplyDelete
  19. If you're four years in and the name doesn't make you cringe I'd say stick with it! But as for ongoing learning, it doesn't help that things are constantly changing... I started my first blog almost 15 years ago (gulp) and everything is COMPLETELY different now. Imagine blogging before Twitter and Facebook, my oh my.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulations on hitting the 6 month mark, Rebecca and those are some great insights :) I wish I'd worked it out that quickly in the first year of blogging much less the first 6 months! LOL :D Keep up the good work & enjoy the journey ;)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you very much! :D I'm sure I still have a lot to figure out in this new format. The journey continues...

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm a baby blog just barely at my 1 month mark! I have been researching and I think I'm going to go with Disqus, and definitely install analytics. Thank you for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Glad I could be of some help! It'll be six months for you before you know it. :) PS I was just poking around your site and it seems like the Twitter link in your sidebar isn't pointed at the right place, just FYI.

    ReplyDelete
  24. boooooooooooooo. this is the 2nd issue that i've been notified of today! something is wrong i guess. i'll have to take a look when im off work. thank you Rebecca!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for this post! Very very helpful. I definitely need to do some of these things.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Glad to help! I added you to my blogroll yesterday, btw. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my goodness! I'm honored!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Great post! I think #4 is especially important - not necessarily because it boosts traffic (it doesn't, at least not significantly for me), but because I wind up making friends with people whose blogs I admire. I didn't realize this would be the case before I started blogging, but one of the most valuable things I've gotten out of my blog experiences is the friends I've made (even if they do live inside the internet)!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Agreed. I don't think commenting on other blogs gives me a huge traffic boost either, but it just makes the whole experience... better. Yours was one of the blogs I looked at several times before ever commenting, by the way. :) Not sure what stopped me before!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Caroline Jackson HankinsDecember 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Thank you for this post - I'm going to look into installing Google Analytics! :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hope it goes smoothly for you! It will give you a lot of insights into your traffic besides just pageviews. :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. rebecca this is so me - Mistake #2: Not using social media from the beginning - same thing with twitter as well, actually until now i get confused everytime i open it. facebook i really dont use very much, but instagram i like because i love looking at beautiful photos. im still trying to get more active in other social medias but idk its hard for me ^^ any tips for me? :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Well personally I think Twitter is the most useful social media network, but it can be overwhelming, can't it? If you don't already feel comfortable with it, I would look up "how Twitter works" articles in Google (which is what I did, lol).

    Once you have the hang of the basics, a great way to get more active with Twitter is to participate in chats about blogging or beauty or whatever subjects interest you! One of the most popular ones is #bbloggers (http://bbloggerschat.blogspot.com/) which is a UK-based chat for beauty bloggers taking place on Wednesdays and Sundays. Interacting with other people who share your interests is a great way to make new Twitter contacts. :)

    Lastly, did you know that you can use a Twitter client to schedule updates about your latest posts when you're not around? TweetDeck and HootSuite are two that I have used. I like to tweet updates about my latest posts about 3x per day so people in different time zones might see them. You can tweet updates more often than that, but remember that too much and people will see it as spam. :P

    Hope that helped somewhat!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think ..... all mistakes apply for me XD

    www.gwiyomistyle.net

    ReplyDelete
  35. Heh, well it's never too late to improve!

    ReplyDelete
  36. will take your advice on this rebecca, thanks! :) i want to be more active in twitter and the other social medias but given that its only recently that i really created and used my accounts on these websites, its very overwhelming. btw i didnt know #bbloggers is UK based i thought it was a local community of beauty bloggers from my country, still got lots to learn :D thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  37. It's based in the UK but bloggers from all over the world use it! So I'm sure a lot of your local bloggers use that tag too. If you find the standard Twitter interface too confusing you could also try a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and see if that's easier. Just another suggestion. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I think the mistakes are very common, specially if you started just cause it was fun and then realized these other things as they came; so for being 6 months old, is not bad. I, for example, have had personal blogs for a long time now, but never really thought about doing something that could contribute to others or something, so now that I have a "public" blog, I too catch on to some of the things you mentioned. I'm probably making some mistakes as well lol One from this list is the social media one, just cause I don't want to link my personal profiles to the blogs, but I could create separate accounts, we'll see. Thanks for sharing, and sure, more posts like this :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think you're right, these things probably wouldn't naturally occur to you if you're running a personal blog. But if you are running a public blog now they're at least worth considering! I think creating separate social media accounts is a really good idea. I don't have my personal Facebook page linked to my site for privacy reasons, and it seems that a lot of people have blogging nicknames that don't necessarily give away their real names. Anyway, thanks for reading. :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Oh dear.. it seems like all the mistakes apply to me. Especially choosing a silly name that I'm now currently debating whether or not to change. I've tried installing Disqus onto my blog but it never seems to work, not even when I do it manually! Maybe I'm just doing something wrong? I personally don't like Blogger's standard commenting system since I never know whether or not the person replied.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think if you're not satisfied with your blog name it's easier to change it earlier rather than later. I see in your Disqus profile that you have a .blogspot blog... you can actually buy a .com (or .net or whatever) domain name and set that up to be your blog address in Blogger, and if people type in the old blogspot address it will redirect to the new site if you have it set up correctly. You would still need to update your Bloglovin page though. Just a tip if you do decide to change it at some point and don't want to start from scratch!

    As for Disqus I have no idea why it wouldn't work... thankfully I didn't have problems installing it. But maybe you could try a different commenting system? I think IntenseDebate will work with Blogger.

    ReplyDelete
  42. My blog just hit the six month mark. So glad to see I'm not the only one making mistakes! I have corrected most of the errors you mentioned. Like you, I am still learning!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Yep, I think it's always going to be a learning process because the internet is constantly changing too!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Great post! I still need to do google analytics.... I am thinking about timing it from making the switch to my .com domain. Random question but I have been wanting to ask you - ok so you use blogger but have a .com domain. From the way I understand what I read, blogger offers free hosting even if you switch to your .com? Or do I need to have paid hosting setup before I move my blogger to my .com? Or did you just START on your .com?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I saw one someone's blog that because they had installed Disqus all their old comments had disappeared. Have you heard of this happening to anyone? It does seem good because of being notified when someone replies. Though you can press 'notify me' on google comments but I don't think it's quite the same.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi Amy- I've never heard of anyone's comments completely disappearing, but who knows, maybe it's happened. There are different ways to set up Disqus, and the way I have it set up, all comments are supposed to be backed up to Blogger (my host's) comments system. I do know that some people have trouble importing old comments into Disqus, but I can't offer any advice on that really because I didn't have problems with it.

    Aside from the notifications thing, Disqus has a few other features that make it a bit more dynamic: You can edit comments after they're posted (great if you make a stupid typo), embed video/pictures, upvote or downvote comments, and of course users can make Disqus profiles. I made the switch to Disqus over six months ago now and don't regret it at all.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Well I am glad you mentioned that you got to keep your old comments, because I was thinking that as my blog is new it was would be better to decide now which system to use before any comments I had gotten disappeared. But there's no rush now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think I've gone through a couple of these myself since my blog is pretty new. I've been thinking about installing Disqus but haven't pulled the trigger yet. But I think after reading this post I shall look into it more. I have been looking everywhere and wasn't able to find it so I wanted to ask you. Your affiliate link tab/bought with own money tabs, the ones that are at the top of most posts, how did you create those?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Those are just simple CSS buttons - very easy to create in Blogger! Here's a tutorial I found on Google: http://www.15minutebeauty.com/2013/03/css-buttons-blogger.html

    I skipped the gradient suggested in that post because I don't like the way it looks, but obviously you can customize yours however you like. I hope that helps somewhat!

    ReplyDelete
  50. OMG, thank you so much! I've been looking for them for a long time but apparently not hard enough lol.

    ReplyDelete
  51. No worries - I think it's hard to search accurately if you don't know what exactly you're searching for, lol! Glad it helped. :)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...