Fixing My Blogging Mistakes: No More WordPress.com Hosting!

Photo Credit: Jorge Quinteros

Photo Credit: Jorge Quinteros

I’m prepping to move to BlueHost!

When I first started this blog damn near a year ago (though I only really got into my groove in August 2014), I was a straight up noob/newb/n00b. So much so that I opted for WordPress hosting.

Will someone please think of the children?

It was a hasty move, no doubt. One that killed me the moment I realized installing WordPress plug-ins wasn’t an option. They denied me all Dikembe Mutombo-style.

Did I just show my age there? I totally showed my age there.

Sure, I found it silly that WordPress hosting didn’t allow for the installation of WordPress plug-ins, but I don’t have the time to poo poo my past decisions. “Live and learn” is what a bunch of smarter people who lived before me said. So yeah, I’m going to use that as my mantra here.

Commence learning.

With the move and possible/probable redesign of the blog coming, I want to take the opportunity to also figure out the focus of this blog. Since I started this the focus of my blog has been pretty much like my attention span: unfocused. I wrote about earning money independently, meditation, social issues, religion, veganism, and Ninja Turtles. I’ve posted spoken word pieces, book excerpts, photography, recipes, music, and a ton of podcasts.

ADD is great!

So I have an ambitious plan, one that I’m sure I’ll fail implementing. At least in the beginning. All I can do is keep trying to improve and see where I am another year from now. So here’s my crazy idea: I’m going to have a couple super-focused blogs that will be updated less frequently, but consistently nonetheless. Those posts will be reposted here along with original posts that focus mostly on positive living, creative writing, and my life experiences.

In short, I’m creating a blog network.

I’m fully aware that all signs say I’m going to face plant like a mofo trying to do this, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. Aim high, try hard, and I’ll at least land somewhere between failure and success.

Peace out, party people.

Blogging When (Almost) No One Gives a S*** about What You Have to Say

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I’m a blogger. I kind of feel like that’s the writer version of an attractive woman saying she’s a model. I’ve seen models at church runway shows. On YouTube, of course, because I might just spontaneously combust should I dare step into the lord’s house. Sex before marriage is still a sin, right?

Anywho, I started blogging back in May of last year, but I slacked immensely when it came to effort. I would basically post something once every two weeks, which means I was more of a guy who had a blog as opposed to an actual blogger.

I don’t know what changed, but sometime in August, I went full gusto and began blogging (and in some cases, over-blogging) consistently. I had a schedule. I started podcasting. I had recurring posts. I had… a limited audience.

Well, what in the H, E, double hockey sticks is that about? Don’t get me wrong; I largely do this because I love it. Writing is a passion of mine and I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I can’t lie, it’s a bit disheartening to put a ton of effort into something that only a small number of people enjoy. I’m only peaking at 100 visits per day, for Pete’s sake.

One.

Hundred.

And that ain’t everyday, folks.

I’ve read a ton about how to create a successful blog and, truthfully, some of those tactics work. I know because I used them. However, I prefer writing about the things that I like to write about.

Duh.

So now I’m in a bit of a kerfuffle. How do I get people to pay attention to my posts about achieving world and inner peace as much as my posts about achieving financial freedom and food photography?

Huh? Were you waiting for me to answer my own question? I have no clue how to do it; I’ve only been blogging since August! Jeez, you people have such high expectations.

I believe in doing things smartly in order to grow, but I’m going to keep writing what I want to write. Sure, I want to build an audience, but it’s going to be on my terms. I was already doing this, but it’s time to loosen the shackles a little bit and toy with ideas I never executed due to self-imposed boundaries.

No more, I say, no more!

Whew, now that I have that out of my system, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Dre.

New Blogger Mistakes: 10 Ways to Combat Analytics Ignorance

Photo Credit: EOI Escuela de Organización Industrial

Photo Credit: EOI Escuela de Organización Industrial

How much do you really know about analytics? Are you like me where you think knowing how many views/visitors/referrals you have makes any sort of difference to your growth? Well, the old me thought that way. The new me now realizes these are just numbers and hold little to no weight on their own. After a little self-learnin’ these are some quick and dirty analytics tips to give some new bloggers an idea of how to grow their site. Hell, this is useful in general when it comes to websites.

 

  1. Your number of visitors doesn’t tell you much about how people use your site. All it tells you is how many devices hit your blog. I personally don’t find the number useful unless you’re experiencing some real growth. Not by itself anyway.
  2. Your conversion rate is what you really care about. This is the number of people who perform an action that either makes you money or has some positive effect that leads to growth. A person who reads your blog is one thing. The person who reads and signs up for your mailing list is the real gold mine. What page did he hit before he signed up? Who/what referred her? What trends do I see that lead to successful conversions. These are powerful numbers to know.
  3.  Your goals give your numbers meaning. How do you want people to visit your site? What do you want them to do? What are you trying to achieve? If you don’t aim to answer questions like these, you’ll just look at your numbers simply as “higher equals better.” Good luck making improvements with such a generic idea of growth. Trust me, I’ve made this mistake. No more!
  4. All visitors are not created equal! Man oh man, I was an idiot for not connecting this together earlier, but people interact differently on a website for a host of reasons. For example, if I found your blog because of a web search, chances are I’m just going to view the article if it’s relevant or back out pretty quickly if it doesn’t If I came across it on BlogLovin, maybe I’ll browse a bit more. Each user type might be more prone to some actions versus others. You’ll never know if you treat all visitors the same. The groups of users based on actions or tendencies are known as segments. Defining and tracking segments are CRUCIAL.
  5. Google Analytics is a great place to start, but it doesn’t end there. Clicky, for example lets you view the actions of an individual user on your blog. I might put together a list of services sometime, but here’s a link to a pretty good top 10 list (searchenginejournal.com).
  6. All actions, like visitors, are not created equal! What matters more to you, signing up for a newsletter or sharing a post via social media? Clicking an ad or visiting a link for a product you’re selling? You want to focus on stats that lead to your most valuable actions!
  7. Okay, let’s be honest here: you should be assigning value to everything. Why? Because this is analytics and everything matters. Remember, you want valuable conversions. This means everything that led to that valuable action must have a value. Search terms, types of posts, pages, referrals, and more are all up for grabs.
  8. Your stats should indicate future investments such as targeted marketing campaigns or site modifications.These investments should, of course, enhance strengths and minimize weaknesses. They should always contribute to creating more opportunities for valuable actions.
  9. Analytics also require testing. If you aren’t experimenting, you won’t know what works. See what ignites some valuable conversions and repeat to see if you can pinpoint a trend to exploit.
  10. Make your data as complex as possible. By this, I mean track as many factors and combination of factors as you can. A language can’t tell you much if you only have a few words. Analytics will reveal the language of your blog and what makes it tick. The more data you have, the more it can tell you.

Do you see how powerful this is? It may not be the most fun aspect of blogging (it certainly isn’t for me), but it’s vital for growth. Of course, not all bloggers have growth in mind. If you’re doing this for the art of writing, more power to you. I personally want to make this my living so this is definitely important to my future. I hope I helped some of you on your path.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Not Hosting WordPress Yourself

New Blogger Mistakes: Not Hosting WordPress Yourself

When I first started my blog, I wanted it online as quickly as possible, not taking future growth into consideration. So I signed up for a blog on wordpress.com and forked over $99 just so I could use my own domain.

This is what is classically known as a noob move.

Hosting your blog on wordpress.com is a surefire way to not have your blog grow. Not in the way you’re envisioning anyway. You can’t take advantage of plugins and things like Google Analytics and ad referrals become more nigh impossible.

So my next investment is going to be a hosting plan with a different company and install WordPress myself. I almost jumped at BlueHost, but I read enough negative comments for me to do more research. Anyway, I know this sounds like such an obvious thing, but I bet many people only consider this after they’ve started.

Don’t be me. Host WordPress yourself.

Essay: The Day I Admitted My Feelings for God

god

My parents sent me to Catholic school after I got in trouble for talking too much in class. I suppose I should be grateful; my father wanted to send me to military school instead.

Jamaican parents, amirite?

The other perk of having some old school Jamaican parents was being sent to Baptist Sunday school.

Oddly enough, they never actually baptized me. Maybe I didn’t bear the mark of original sin.

Water conservation FTW.

I remember those Sunday school classes being downright torture. I sat and listened to a woman read the BIBLE. Silence isn’t as boring as that. This isn’t knocking the holy book or anything. All I’m saying is outside of the major stories everyone knows, the Bible is a total snoozefest.

Or bats**t crazy like Deuteronomy.

Back then, I remembered being scared as hell of… er… hell. Fire and brimstone forever? Screw that. I accidentally touched a hot iron back then. I couldn’t imagine that feeling FOREVER. I’d sooner endure an eternity of Sunday school.

But make no mistake about it; I’d have to think long and hard about that one. Continue reading

Blog Growin’ by Dre – Develop a Focus

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I know I’m totally not following my own advice with my main blog as I have numerous areas of interest, but if you have blog, you should also have a focus. It makes sense, right? People want to know what they’re getting into when they visit you. What are you all about? Are you providing useful information or are you all about entertainment?

This blog lacks a hard focus, but I don’t deviate from the areas that I do cover (creative writing, opinion pieces, podcasting, photography, music, and food). Maybe that makes me a lifestyle blog? Who knows? But you don’t have to be like me.

You can try, but it’d be tough because I’m totally a weirdo. Don’t be a weirdo.

A strong focus means easier marketing because you have a specific audience. Many blogs cover the same topics, so all you need is a unique point-of-view to distinguish you from the rest of the crowd vying for people’s attention (way easier said than done).

Here’s a cool little article on types of bloggers and their voice: http://blog.leadpages.net/types-of-blogs. Maybe one of them appeals to you. But at the end of the day, just write. You’ll get much further doing something rather than nothing.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Communication versus Marketing

Blog Growin’ by Dre – Communication versus Marketing

Andre C Griffiths

I used to post a recurring feature called My Journey Toward Financial Freedom, but I decided to replace it because my Lessons from a New Self-Earner posts cover those types of topics and more. So I decided to start writing specifically about growing a blog.

Let me get this out of the way: I AM NOT AN EXPERT. I only started blogging about five months ago, but in that time, I managed to grow in terms of views and visitors. Because I do a lot through trial and error, I figure I may as well share what works for me. So let’s get started!

I love writing, but it’s not always the best way to engage people. Not purely by itself, anyway. As a largely unknown writer and someone new to the game, I have to constantly strive to build an audience and reach people. Everyone in the world preaches about the importance of social media and, for the most part, it’s true. Here’s the thing: marketing works a lot less than genuine communication.

The internet is as cynical as it gets. When folks are bombarded with information, it gets exceedingly easy to see when people are simply trying to sell something. Why do you think companies like McDonald’s fail so miserably at garnering positive attention from social media?

I personally enjoy conversation. Therefore, I’m starting to take a slightly different approach on social media than I did in the past.

1. I’m joining specific social media communities. I live this because I get to communicate with people who have similar interests as me. I comment on other people’s posts and toss in a couple of my own. I try to have thought provoking conversations rather than selling my little blog.

2. Google+ is seriously underrated. I HATE when people act as if Facebook is the be-all, end-all of social media. It has a ton of users, but that means there’s a lot of noise to cut through. Also, I like the conversation on Google+ much better than Facebook. Join a community and give it a try!

3. Just tossing out a link to your blog post is pointless unless you have an established audience. If I need to explain this, you’re in trouble.

4. Inject your personality! If you’re going to converse with others, you should let them know who you are. There was a point when I tried to mask my personality in my writing and on social media, but I came off as dry. Screw all that. Be you! Be genuine!

So that’s it for now, folks! I’m on a mission to grow my blog and become a more established writer. Seeing as how many of my readers are bloggers too, let’s conquer this world together! If you have any advice for me, I’m more than open to it also.

Peace out, party people.

Positivity of the Day: 100th Blog Post!

100th-post

Holy crap, I actually made it to 100 posts! This is coming from the guy who is notorious for abandoning projects for the next new and shiny idea. I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

Oh, would you look at that. Looks like my back needs patting. I’ll take care of that, if you don’t mind.

On this 100th post, I want to leave you all with one simple message: YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

I’m not even kidding. Anyone who has a modicum of interest in blogging should seriously figure out their niche and go for it. The internet has way too many resources to claim ignorance. The technology is too ubiquitous to claim you have a lack of resources. Scheduling posts even allows for less of a focus on time. Everything is at your disposal.

Once again, this is only if you have an interest.

That said, if you have a dream, go for it if possible. Dreams are awesome. They aren’t always attainable, but life is more fun when you’re chasing them. That’s the way I see it at least.

Finally, I’d like to thank anyone who has read, is reading, and will read my blog. You guys rock and are my constant motivation. I’ll always make sure to do my best to continue providing the best content I can.

In the meantime, my back could use a bit more patting so I’ll be busy for the next five minutes or so.

Peace out, party people.

 

5 Silly Mistakes I Made as a New Blogger

New mistakes

I’ve been blogging consistently for about two months now. During this process of trying to expand and grow my audience, I have made some bush league mistakes. Sure, some of it is just a lack of experience, but this is the age of the internet; there’s ton of information out there that I should be using.

Hindsight and all that jazz, I suppose.

So with that being said, here are the top five silly mistakes I made when I first started blogging. Why five? Because the internet loves things in numerical order and five is less things to read than ten!

  1. Not Optimizing Blog for All Viewing Platforms – I primarily use a desktop PC for browsing the interwebz and whatnot.

    Yup, I’m officially old school.

    As such, I gave little thought to how my blog looks on tablets and phones. It took me all of 5 minutes to make adjustments to font sizes and spacing in order to optimize the viewing experience on all platforms.

  2. No Descriptive Site Title – The name of my blog is Andre C Griffiths. Uh… okay. How do people know what this is all about? It’s not like my name is Denzel Washington. If it was my blog would be much more popular.

    Also, I’d make a follow up to The Book of Eli because that movie was awesome.

    But I digress.

    I decided to add a few more descriptors (i.e. writing, art, technology, and social media). These are the areas in which I focus the most (though I may add something about financial independence or dream chasing) so I should make that more apparent. How many people out there are just searching for Andre C Griffiths?

    I mean other than my mom.

  3. Not Blogging Consistently – This isn’t even about just posting every day. I made that mistake way early on. I was having more of an issue with the times in which my blogs were released. My schedule was all over the place and my views reflected this.

    I’m not a person who can get away with posting once a day and expect to grow. I’m doing my best to have a minimum of four posts a day. But if I’m going to do this, I need to have a set schedule of when posts are made public. I generally post between the hours of 11am-3pm ET with each entry coming out at the top of the hour. This is simple enough for readers to follow and, hopefully, becomes part of their daily BS from work schedule.

  4. Not Globalizing Social Media Promotion – I just talked about how I regularly post during a certain time of day. Each time I post, notifications go to Facebook (sometimes), Twitter (many times), and Google+ (always). The only problem with this is not everyone sees my notifications, especially if they’re in another time zone.

    When I was way into posting music on YouTube, I gained a number of fans in Europe. I recently came to the conclusion that I need to take them into consideration. Sure, this means that I’ll be scheduling some tweets, but I feel as if this tactic, when used sparingly, won’t detract from the personal feel I want to put out there.

  5. Caring too Much about Views – My previous boss taught me to be stats driven, but I can’t be so stringent about it when it comes to my blog. Instead of hard numbers, I should be aware of trends. These trends should reach beyond my blog, but also how people use the web in general. If I work smartly, the views will come. Things only stall when I stall.

To all my fellow bloggers, I hope this helps any newcomers out there. There is a lot of info out there for bloggers. I’m well aware of the fact that this info is mostly out there to get people to click on links, but I’ll take it. And, hell, if anyone else has any advice, feel free to share! I’m open to anything and am looking to sharing more as I go along. Until next time…

Peace out, party people.