Today’s post on blogging could also be called ‘The recent time I made some big changes to the place and ending up both locking it down and filling it up with pages about BBQs, all in Latin.’
And it’s a true story too. This is why you should go slow and not try and reinvent the blogging wheel all in one go.
You know how the saying goes: A change is as good as a holiday. Well the thing was I was actually on holiday when I woke up late last year and thought ‘Right, everything needs to change here.’ And it wasn’t because anything was broken on this blog, I just figured that after a year and a bit of it looking the way it does, a spruce up was called for and if it could earn a little more money in the process then so much the better.
I mean who doesn’t enjoying making things look better and possibly making a little more coin out of things?
And so I got down to business on both fronts and utter chaos slowly but surely broke out. Go me!
Blogging mistake #1 – Monetising. Once bitten, twice shy.
Over time I’ve tried out a couple of blogging monetising options with limited success. By far and large Adsense has been the main one (still using this today for all my blogs) and even though you’re barely going to make a decent pay day unless people are really into the ads you show (or you’re getting massive numbers through the door meaning more eyes on the ad units), they still have provided the best return long term from what I found.
Once approved too, setting up Adsense is a fairly painless experience.
But oh.. if only this could be said for the other services I’ve tried.
Over at Driveanotherday I tried Ezoic on for size. Well after I took their mandatory course I did and once I’d configured everything under the sun to get it up and running as well, away we went (there’s a bit of back end work involved here). And things went okay for a couple of months, ads appeared, a trickle of revenue came in and things were okay – until the plugin broke a couple of times. Well it’d update, the new update would cause the page to crash, nothing would load until I addressed the issue and I’d have to delve deep into cPanel behind the scenes to clear things up again. By the third time this happened and due to the speed of the page slowing right down, I decided to part ways with things…and then began retracing my steps to get everything back to where it was before. Again, quite the effort to reset things back to base.
And so after that experience, I was hesitant on Adsterra just in case it too needed three PHDs in blogging code and HTML just to get pictures to appear. But no, you generate some ad code and pop it into the widget/your setup and away you go. Easy hey?
Well it is. Right up until you get an email from your ISP asking you about the sudden Malware that seems to be lurking on your blog.
Now I hate to admit this, but I’ve tried Adsterra twice on this page and twice my ISP has sent me a warning about malicious code coming from one of their advertisers. Recently in the second case, because I hadn’t gotten back them in time (on holidays as mentioned above), they actually locked the place down to stop the rogue code from getting out and about and wrecking shop. To regain control I emailed them and explained what was also going on, promising to remove Adsterra from my setup so we all wouldn’t cross this issue again. They let me back in, I cleared out the ad inputs and lo and behold, not a problem or malware alarm tripped since.
Malware isn’t something I enjoy dealing with in any circumstances and it’s not something I’m keen to inflict on anyone coming here for a look around.
(Now it’s interesting to note that Adsterra has a Zero tolerance approach when it comes to scam and malicious advertising which is why I gave them the benefit of the doubt the second time around. Maybe whatever tripped the alarms on my site back in May 2023 was a once off? But no. Installing the ad code in at the start of the year led to lock down, so I’m not trying that a third time. Adsterra is now off my list.)
So until this page garners enough attention for Mediavine monetisation, I’ll be sticking to Google Adsense and occasionally Amazon Associates for the time being.
Blogging mistake #2 – The template that drowned this page in BBQs
AKA I looked for an easy fix and created so much work for myself instead.
Short of hosting costs, my budget for blogging is essentially zero. Which means if I want to make a design change, I never look past the free options that supposedly do a lot of things in the quickest time so I can quickly continue to create potential blogging gold.
And how has that gone for me over time?
Because in short, every free starter template has just created an absolute mess I need to clean up before I can go back to where I started, to right the ship again so to speak.
They look so good in the demo too with everything in it’s place and new features you could only dream off, stuff that’s going to create the ultimate blogging rocket ship really. But then you apply the changes, load up your site and gasp as it now looks like someone tried to stuff Andre the Giant in the confines of a Formula One car.
Once I picked a starter template that looked like a resume page for a designer because I thought ‘That kind of look wouldn’t be half bad for what I’m thinking here…’ only to load it up and suddenly discover, it pretty much was a resume page for said designer. There was his pic now taking up most of my screen and somehow very hard to make go away. There was his contact details in place of mine in case I wanted to hire him (or yell at him possibly), there were a whole heap of categories for my page I never created nor asked for.
My title was gone, my usual stuff was gone and God only knows where the actually blogging part of my blog ran off to, because it certainly wasn’t obvious from the outset. So I reverted to my original theme, broke out the blogging mop and bucket, delved deep to delete everything that had added itself and went back to what I knew.
Now after that (and after the 2nd monetising failure above) you’d think I’d give up on that ‘One stop shop’ type of blogging improvement fix. But no, I found a starter template earlier this year about BBQing of all things that I thought I could fine tune to my needs. ‘Surely there wouldn’t be much to clean up or massage with this completely different starter template hey?’.
Hello, nice to meet you. Allow me to introduce myself, I am the king of Wishful thinking.
The template didn’t fine tune my blog, it literally waltzed in and took over, adding everything from pictures and calendars to contact forms to even more categories I never wanted, all for my blooming BBQ business which I don’t have and am not about to start. It also replaced all my blog entries with it’s own, which hung around after I cleaned things up and I only rediscovered yesterday, hence inspiring today’s cautionary tale.
From exhibit A:
Not that I could use them anyway mind you, as they were all full of what I guess to be Latin. A lot of ipsum, hipsum and Carly Rae Jepsum your honour. I guess the creators wanted me to come back and actually fill the gaps here, like actual content? Nah, I’m good thanks.
(I didn’t think I’d written as many articles/blogging posts as I had here until I looked a bit closer and found these lurking towards the back of things. Into the bin!)
And so my top blogging tips for you today are:
-If you’re considering any form of monetisation for your blogging, for the love of all things digital do some research first. Don’t just go on the reviews on their website (they’re not about to post up the bad ones now are they?) but do an in depth Google search, look on Google reviews and trawl through Reddit to find people’s experiences good and bad (Adsterra pops up there a lot) before you make your mind up.
-And if you’re going to attempt to change your blogging design, back up everything first. Look at the demos so you know everything you might be getting yourself in for and prepare for a lot of work behind the scenes either way. If there is such as thing as a one click fixes everything solution in blogging land, I haven’t found it yet. But if I do I’ll make sure I pop it up here because hey, sharing is caring.
Good luck in your blogging journey!