Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about.
I’m secure enough in my manhood as a content writer, marketer and blogger that I can admit when I did something dumb. Not that manhood has anything to do with content writing, marketing and blogging, although it could have something to do with being dumb.
Fortunately, my blog continues to be my biggest lead generator in terms of direct referral traffic and its impact on my search ranking, which produces steady leads from Google. But I’ve made my share of dumb mistakes.
Like that time about five years ago when I had my website overhauled and didn’t take mobile friendliness into account. That was dumb. And I paid for it, literally, a year later when I had the site redesigned again.
Fortunately, the two mistakes I’ll talk about today were relatively easy to fix. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much money I might have left on the table. So here’s what happened.
Dumb Mistake #1: A Lame Attempt at “Branding” My Blog
When I officially took my business from side job to full-time business, I had dreams – some might say delusions – of branding my blog. People would hear the name of my blog and say, “That’s a blog about content writing and marketing that I read all the time because that guy knows what he’s talking about.”
The first step was to give the blog a name, although giving something a name doesn’t even remotely qualify as branding. So I settled on the McBlog. Insert sarcastic comment here.
I even created a logo for the McBlog, which evolved over the years. When I shared blog posts on social media, the update would start with “New from the McBlog.” I don’t know the exact timeline, but I did this for over year.
Here was the biggest problem with my lame attempt at “branding” my blog… nobody cared. They didn’t care that the blog had a name. They didn’t care that the information I was sharing was associated with something called the McBlog. And they sure as hell didn’t think I was anything spectacular just because I was the publisher of the McBlog.
Like Eddie and the Cruisers, I ain’t great. I’m just some guy from Jersey (watch the movie if you don’t get the reference).
On LinkedIn, where the vast majority of my social media leads come from, engagement eventually dropped as I continued to use the “New from the McBlog” intro.
By starting each update the same way, I turned my posts into a cliché. And I made each post sound like a promotional announcement instead of helpful information.
So I stopped with the tired intro, although I didn’t drop the McBlog name. And guess what?
Engagement ticked up again.
Towards the end of last year, I figured, “If I’m not even promoting the McBlog name, and nobody gives a crap about it anyway, why should I still use it?”
So I got rid of any mentions of the blog – on my website, in email distributions, on social media, in my email signature. Today, my blog is just my blog.
Shockingly, nobody has asked, “What happened to the McBlog?” If something is never missed, it couldn’t have been too important in the first place.
Dumb Mistake #2: Getting Rid of the “Comments” Section
I have to give part of the blame credit for this decision to the folks at Copyblogger, who made the decision to remove blog comments in early 2014. When they did it, my wheels started turning.
Most people who commented on my blog posts did so on LinkedIn. That made sense because that’s usually where they found my posts in the first place.
Also, if people commented on LinkedIn instead of my website, more people would see the comments, which would lead to more discussion and sharing. That didn’t pan out.
Instead, a few people said, “I was going to comment but couldn’t find a ‘comments’ section.”
Early in 2016, Copyblogger brought comments back. I did the same a few months ago. The reason CopyBlogger had for restoring the “comments” section that resonated with me was that it made the blog more welcoming. The sense of community was partially lost when comments were removed. There was no place to discuss, debate and share.
Not that I get a ton of comments on my blog posts, but I won’t get any at all, or make people feel very connected to my blog and each other, if I make it impossible to comment directly on my site. For me, there was nothing to lose and everything to gain by bringing comments back.
The Thing that Punched My Ticket to Dumbville
These two decisions backfired for a few reasons, but there’s one that has me kicking myself.
I focused on myself instead of the needs of the reader. Exactly the opposite of what I always say we should do as business owners and marketers.
There was nothing about branding my blog that helped my readers, except that it would make my blog posts stand out in a list of many.
But the McBlog name made my blog posts stand out because of self-promotion. If anything, it overshadowed headlines that would motivate someone to click and read.
Getting rid of comments was equally self-serving. It did nothing to help the reader.
Just like we provide complete contact information on our websites so visitors can get in touch with us via the channel of their choosing, having a comments section gives readers another option for sharing their feedback.
Think about that for a second. I took a way a platform that allowed readers to engage with me directly, with the hope that they would go back to LinkedIn where their comments would be seen by a wider audience.
Hey, we all make mistakes. Consider these two blogging blunders my own personal “dumb and dumber.” But the mistakes have been corrected, and I hope I’m not the only one who learned from them.
Please leave a comment below to prove that my efforts have not been made in vain. Just don’t mention “McBlog.”