The Backside of the Blog: How Not to Blow Up Your Blog

How Not to Blow Up Your Blog

If Your Blog Doesn’t Blow Up Every Six Months … well, you are not really trying, or that seems to be the case for me. Let’s see, let me count the ways. And please note that these issues are specific to a self-hosted WordPress blog. You won’t be able to download plugins in free WordPress.com blogs which is good and bad as we shall see …

There was the widows and orphans issue … load speed of your blog is really important. Not only is it frustrating to readers trying to read your post, but Google hates a slow site. And my blog periodically has load speed issues. After calling my host company, and then switching host companies, and then bugging them some more, I resorted to googling how to speed up my blog. WordPress Garage has an excellent post on 38 ways to Optimize and Speed Up Your Blog.

As an idiot-savant, I can only understand a portion of what the post was talking about. Still, this didn’t deter me from madly trying out the plugins mentioned. I think it was the WordPress Clean Options Plugin that I used to get rid of “widows and orphans” of code left behind when you try out and then delete a pile of plugins.

This is what happens. The post looks fine on the back end BUT it looks completely blank when it pulls on your site. I had to go through every single post to fix that little error, just to discover which ones were pulling up as blanks.

Permalinks were my most recent debacle. I absent mindedly tried to change my permalink structure one day in late March, coincidentally, when Google launched some new Panda algorithm thingy. Permalinks are the urls to your posts that identify it. My newest revelation: DON’T MESS WITH THEM. My issue was that my blog default was a permalink with a number system rather than title. It’s fine as a link but Google prefers your post title in the permalink. I guess words are better than numbers. BUT, when you change your permalinks, it’s like all your old posts go into a black hole that Google doesn’t see. Your old links need to be redirected and that, my friend, is a manual process. And I have 850 posts. And did I mention that my blog is  S L O W!!

I’ve also blown up my blog by using plugins that do the same thing. When both are activated, they fight with each other. Just like sibling small children. Word of Warning: DO NOT KEEP SIMILAR PLUGINS ACTIVE ON YOUR BLOG. IN FACT, DELETE THE ONE YOU DON’T USE. NOT DEACTIVATE. DELETE.

This is a simple error easy to make and yet I make it over and over. Do not cut and paste text into your blog from Microsoft Word. The coding for Word is NOT compatible with your blog, and it will make your blog blow up. Instead, Use that box with the T or W in WordPress to insert your text. This box will strip out the bad code. In fact, if your blog blows up and by that, it suddenly loses it formatting, or comes up blank, do the following:

— Turn all your plugins off. Then turn back each plugin one at a time. You can catch the offending plugin that way. Then delete it.

— Check your last post. Are you SURE you didn’t cut and paste in some text from an attachment off your email? Cut and paste the entire post and put into the T or W box. You will lose formatting and links but hey, it might do the trick.

— Getting technical assistance is also helpful. Call your host. Call repeatedly if the first person isn’t helpful. Ask them to stay on the phone while you try their fixes. Email the folks who made your blog if you purchased a template. Are you sure you don’t have their email or their home phone number?! I bet you can get it!

— When all else fails, pay for help. I got a guy for website development and a gal for SEO help. He deals with issues that come up that start with “go to your cPanel and …” Ugh! I don’t know how to deal with my cPanel. I don’t even know how to log into my cPanel for crying out loud. She deals with things like permalink redirects, but even more importantly, she sheds light on that most mysterious thing of all, SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It turns out that I am abusing my All in One SEO plugin by ignoring the character limitations. That I don’t know a good key word tag if it hit me over the head. And that my tags are seriously prolific but messed up.

Blogging is a journey that is similar to raising kids I have found. My 3 blogs are like my 3 kids. I can downstream my learning but each is unique. Parenting and blogging are also labors of love. The learning curve for each is tremendous but gets easier with each new addition. Things change. What worked once may not work again. Adaptation is necessary. Frustration is part of the process. You will cry! But, hopefully, the end result will be worth it. It will just take — oh, I don’t know — a few decades to judge how it’s all turned out. Will it be worth it? Yes, I think it will. It’s the journey, you see. Not the destination.

Do you have questions about blogging or technical issues with your blog? I am no expert but I have done so much trial and error that I am happy to share my limited knowledge. Please ask away!

image from brucemctague

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

23 Comments

  1. vanita

    hahaha loved this post. you’re not alone girl. i’ve been seeing a lot of blogs blow up since november and then again since march (when bloggers thought we had it all figured out)
    vanita recently posted…Why Darren’s Blogging Method Doesn’t Work For MeMy Profile

  2. As I started to say on Twitter, it’s interesting to read about ‘web tech’ from a non-techie perspective. WordPress is scary even to us coders, those of us who care about security and stuff, anyway… I won’t even touch it.

    Good advice to delete plugins, and resist the temptation to add them in the first place. You should really delete 95% of the stuff in your sidebar and footer.

    Don’t expect free help from a $3.95/month hosting company or the author of a $100 template/plugin. I’m just guessing at the amount, but it’s probably safe to say they didn’t charge enough, even if you think it’s steep. If they’re barely making a profit and customers are calling them at home, they’re gonna disconnect the phone and never write another WordPress plugin. Then 10 new kids come along to replace them and make the same mistakes all over again. It’s a race to the bottom. There are a lot of dysfunctional “ecosystems” in our “industry”, and WordPress is #1.

    I wrote my own “engine” for my site. It’s clean and fast, but it’s too geeky for you, and of course there are no plugins whatsoever. I’ve thought about marketing a “for dummies” version… but I’d have to charge $50-100 per MONTH, and that’s with minimal support. So I’m writing little apps and games… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • To Tom,
      I’m a non-techie perspective for sure! I can understand about hosting companies and template companies not being able to afford to give tech support assistance (though I do actually have my template company’s owner’s phone and email! Luckily he has a son who loves to read so we connected on that level!).

      What we mommy bloggers really need is a clean SEO optimized wordpress template. I’d pay for that but, yes, my blog does not make enough money to afford $50 to $100/month of support.

      Thank you for your advice about not using plugins! I’ll try! Let me know if you ever do a for dummies version of a blog template. I’d love to try it out and I’d blog on it!

  3. I don’t have plug in drama because I’m still on Blogger ( I know…I know) but I have made the cut and paste error more than once. It was a headache and half having to go into the code and straighten it out.
    I really liked this post, it was funny AND informative.
    Waning Woman recently posted…How do you dress while losing weight?My Profile

    • To Waning Woman,
      Thank you so much! I have one blog on Blogger (CoffeeShopBloggers.com) which I don’t blog on much. I never really got the hang of Blogger but it’s good that there are less things that can go wrong!

  4. Ooh! I bookmarked this post. I’ll probably need to refer to it! I’ve broken my blog many times, sigh….
    Holly recently posted…Vegetable and chicken bowlMy Profile

    • To Holly,
      I hate that feeling when your blog is broken! So stressful. Just remember to check the last post you did if that happens. It’s often code from Word. Thanks so much for your comments!

  5. Ahh, Blogger… I used that for a few years, and LiveJournal briefly before that. I needed more control over layout, formatting, site organization. I don’t want megacorps like Google to control everything; that’s not what the Internet is all about! WordPress has a huge advantage in that regard because it’s open-source and you can use it with any independent server hosting company, even if it’s technically a P.O.S.

    If you *really* want to be in control, of course, you learn how to program… and it’s still an uphill battle!

    Eventually I think/hope there’ll be simple alternatives to WordPress… right now in 2012, we could move all the template/layout code from server-side PHP to browser-side Javascript, thus reducing the server’s role to “dumb database”. Programmers are trying this stuff and talking about it… problem is, how does one get paid to focus on it full-time? Kickstarter may be the answer.

    But first, we’ve gotta break the blind-leading-the-blind cycle. So when some noob asks you bloggers “how do I get my own WordPress blog”, tell ’em to google “wordpress sucks” and realize it’s NOT the best thing since, uh…. Geocities. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ll write about this on my blog, which is mainly read by programmers. It’s great to have this meeting of the minds between blogger-geeks and programmer-geeks… bridging the code divide.. whatever you wanna call it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. @pragmom PS- I saw your blogspot post about WP plugins. Yeah, you definitely need WP-DB manager and Hyper Cache, or their equivalents. Akismet and CommentLuv – maybe they’re useful in your circles, but a lot of us programmers… we’re *raising* barriers to communication, removing the comments sections from a blogs. In our circles the tone often turns nasty… that’s inevitable when you have a bunch of socially inept geeks pointing out faults in each others’ “babies”!

    • To Tom,
      Thanks so much for reading my orphan blog, CoffeeShopBloggers.com. We mommy bloggers play pretty nicely so it’s nice to get comments to get to know our readers. I haven’t had a single nasty comment yet but my Asian blog sometimes will get a few, JadeLuckClub.com. I don’t mind it though. My Asian blog has more provocative content and is meant to be more controversial from time to time. I’m sorry to hear that the techy crowd does not play nice. Come hang out here in our world instead! We’re nice!

  7. Ann

    Wonderfully informative and entertainingly honest post!

    I do have speed issues big time! I started reducing image sizes and having less images on homepage, got rid of some widgets… Work in progress.

    Thanks for all the little advice nuggets here like not to paste from word (totally guilty of that)!!!
    Ann recently posted…Eat better while saving time and money!My Profile

    • To Ann,
      I worked on load speed last year. This is what I suggest.
      1) Delete all the plugins you don’t need or use.
      2) Install WP-DBManager and optimize your database.
      3) Change the size of your photos in the image gallery. You might be loading large high resolution images but using them as middle sized or thumbnails. Save to the size you actually use.
      4) Delete all the spam comments and trashed posts.

      See if that helps.

    • To Ann,
      Also call Blue Host and see if there is an issue on your “node.” They will run a diagnostic and tell you if the issue is with your plugins. They will tell you which plugin. Yet Another Related Post was my culprit before but now it works fine. I used to use Blue Host but had major issues with blog going down so I switched several times and landed at Stable Host. I got the plan that is the most space for $8/month or so. It seems to be fine. Also, use a caching plugin.

  8. OMG Ann, it takes 15-20 secs to load any page on your blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

    You could try Hyper Cache, but I suspect BlueHost is your main problem. I thought they used to be good, but I googled “bluehost sucks” and everyone says they do now, big-time! Same thing with Aplus – Deluxe Checks bought them out a couple years ago and ruined it.

    What do I use? Webfaction ๐Ÿ™‚

    • To Tom,
      Thanks so much for sharing your expert advice. We can always use a techy!!! Thanks for revealing your host company too. It’s such a mystery to find a good one!

  9. Ann

    Thanks Guys!!! I think I fixed my speed issue!!! I used “plugin performance profiler” to determine the plugin that was the problem and it worked!!! No more “Good Reads” though. I will have to find a different one for my blog role. I did like that one because it listed the most recent post for each of the blogs.
    Ann recently posted…Eat better while saving time and money!My Profile

  10. Beena

    Thank you for the link! Its always good to check out your blog for some great posts!
    Beena recently posted…Chinese New Year 2015 Fifth DayMy Profile

  11. Nice post. Thank you for posting ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep writing and sharing with us ๐Ÿ™‚

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