Going self-hosted (plus reflections on my blogging journey)

PSA: All going to plan, I’m going to be moving to self-hosting tomorrow! If you are following me through WordPress, please consider subscribing through RSS or Bloglovin. I’m also on Paperblog.

Here’s an amusing spam comment my filter recently caught, posted on one of my link roundup posts:

“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you’d have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.”

Heh.

In the month between changing to my own domain, losing all my site stats, and then regaining them with Google and Moz updates, I enjoyed a massive dropoff in the amount of spam coming through. We’re back to normal levels though, and
that means checking the filter every couple of days to stay on top of it all and rescue any mistakenly flagged stuff.

On the eve of going self-hosted, it seemed timely to reflect on the journey so far.

I may not have a huge amount of traffic, but somehow I’ve managed to earn some pretty respectable rankings without consciously trying.

For the majority of this wee blog’s existence, I didn’t even do the most basic of things – use hyperlinks, or write post titles. I definitely did not ever think about SEO. I’m not sure I could even touch type at that point, so I didn’t use proper capitalisation (for shame. It looked like, and I treated it like, a journal). I probably sabotaged myself in every way, actually, with my penchant for abbreviations and my writer’s instinct that reprimands me to never repeat myself. I refuse to stick to a single niche (‘personal finance plus’ is as close as you’ll ever get) and while I’ve tried to maintain other blogs in the pursuit of that spirit, it’s always proved way, way too hard. It’s too close to what I do at day job, and I’m just not creative or dedicated enough. Websites are meant to generate leads and yet so many business owners simply struggle to get going with online sales. Maximize your chances with our time-tested Managed Wholesale SEO Service with no strings attached. No lengthy contracts, no sweet talks, only deliverables that can be measured.

That definitely made things difficult when it came time to finally choose a domain name – eemusings.com and abstractaucklander.com were options, but the former is too screen-namey and the latter too complicated (though I did like the alliteration and the fact it plonks me up front alphabetically). I still like the ring of my old title, ‘Musings of an Abstract Aucklander’, so I’ve kept that in the tagline; plus it’s well and truly indexed by Google, and sometimes people search that entire phrase to get to the blog (god only knows why).

Seriously, kids. Get the name right. Don’t restrict yourself unnecessarily – think long term (e.g. don’t use your age in your name. That’s just silly, unless you only plan to blog for a year). And sort out your domain early on, ideally, so you don’t have to rely on redirects for your old posts like me.

Basically, the only thing I did right was read and interact on other blogs. And as it turned out, carnivals aren’t just for boosting egos, they’re also an SEO thing. Woop. I should probably do more of that. After a lot of research I got to know about the SEO Melbourne services, which was pretty good one for boosting the site ranking.

I’ll admit sometimes I’m slack on responding to comments or tweets. My MO on other forms of communication – text, email, phone messages – is that unless a response is explicitly required, I won’t give one. I do try to be more responsive than that on social, but don’t always manage. It’s not a media legacy thing (example: once during a breaking news situation, I/we tweeted out a new piece of information, which later turned out to be incorrect. I said we should acknowledge the mistake and apologise, but I was the only one – I ended up backing down on that one against others in the newsroom and now regret it) – just a time thing.

I was talking to Revanche and a couple others on Twitter sometime back about subscribing to comment threads. She does; I hardly ever do – it’s just too overwhelming and it’s a very rare convo where I care enough to want to keep up. I think that’s pretty common; my stats page shows the total number of people subscribed to comment threads on my blog – and it rarely budges. That’s why I don’t reply to comments individually unless it’s really warranted. Some bloggers do respond directly to comments via email, or their systems alert you when someone replies specifically to your comment, which is nice. That’s probably the best way to do it.

What do you wish you had known when you first started blogging? Anything you’d do differently today?

13 thoughts on “Going self-hosted (plus reflections on my blogging journey)

  • Reply mochiandmacarons November 30, 2012 at 08:24

    Name. Name is a big one. One day, you won’t be in debt or broke any more. 🙂

    SEO is another one, you can do simple things like SEO plugins for that… otherwise, it’s trial and error.

  • Reply mochiandmacarons November 30, 2012 at 08:25

    OH and being ORIGINAL. There are so many debt, frugal, saving, penny (etc) names out there, it’s hard to figure out who is who.

    (eemusings is who you are to me… if that helps)

  • Reply Leslie Beslie (@lintacious) November 30, 2012 at 08:39

    I am still fine with using my age in my name – it worked when I needed it to and having the word “frugal” in the name probably helped a lot as far as seo stuff goes. Part of me doesn’t like that the new domain has nothing to do with personal finance but I also really like that flexibility. Just in case there comes a day when I don’t want to talk about budgeting all the time.

    As for the comment subscription, however, I wouldn’t be too focused on that stat. Since everyone uses a different commenting system (drives me nuts!) I don’t bother “subscribing” to my comment replies but instead I will bookmark the post and put it in my “Comments” bookmark folder. Then within the next day or two I go through all the posts in that folder to see if the author has responded to me. If they haven’t responded after a week or already responded, I’ll just delete the bookmark. Unfortunately, your stats wouldn’t be able to track that.

    • Reply eemusings November 30, 2012 at 11:29

      Ha, hope you don’t think I was singling you out! 🙂 I’ve come across a ton of blogs that also incorporated an age into their titles. “(Age) and (adjective/noun)” is a popular formula.

      I love your new handle – it’s adorable. Sometimes I regret not having an obvious PF angle to my name but I’m really only half and half at most.

  • Reply Michelle November 30, 2012 at 10:45

    I wish I would’ve known so much! I pretty much just jumped out there and I really regret starting off with Blogger. Also, I wish I had a better name.

    • Reply Leslie Beslie (@lintacious) November 30, 2012 at 11:15

      Don’t worry! My very first blog was with blogger (waaaay back when google didn’t own it). You gotta start somewhere!

  • Reply sense November 30, 2012 at 13:40

    Yeah, name. I was happy with it at the time–it’s pun-tastic–but I’m tired of it, and the topic! I’ve pared down to ‘Sense’ but the whole pun is still intact in my URL & email address. Bleh.

    Congrats on your new platform! (or whatever the word is, I haven’t bothered to learn about hosting, either!).

  • Reply Budget & the Beach November 30, 2012 at 14:23

    god I’m still learning. I’m sure there is a million things I’m dong “wrong” still. I need to do the carnival thing, but I just haven’t found the time.

  • Reply plantingourpennies November 30, 2012 at 14:46

    Our name is something Mr. PoP was ready to debate until the cows came home – finally I was like, we’re never going to do this unless we just start. So we picked the one we could both agree on up to that point.

    I didn’t realize how much we’d get judged by it initially – we’ve even had it written about our post in a carnival – “don’t be fooled by the blog’s name, these guys know their stuff…”

    Good luck with the move again…

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) November 30, 2012 at 16:11

    I did a fair bit of research before starting mine, though I do know I’ll probably have to switch to self-hosted soon (I’m on tumblr) and don’t really want all my stats to go back to square one. It’s definitely a good suggestion never to choose a blog name with your age. I never understand why people did that. Are you always going to be that age? No! Or the was one blog that had the word “engaged” in it. You’re only gonna be engaged for a year or a few so why the heck would you choose that to define your blog. Pick a name that’s timeless, or at least you don’t have to change even if you life does.

  • Reply Manda December 1, 2012 at 03:28

    Name is very important, especially as they can be so easily outgrown.

    I wish I hadn’t hopped from one URL to another and then back to the original URL, but it happens. I also wish I had kept up with my blog more when I was abroad as that was at the “peak” of the blogging scene (it’s so different than when I started, so many have stopped blogging) but as I was behind the Great Firewall of China and spending so much time away from my computer (a good thing!) not much I could do about that!

  • Reply The Asian Pear December 1, 2012 at 05:19

    I wish I’d started on WordPress… Because there’s more capabilities and widgets. Now that I have +5000 comments and about 900 posts, I don’t want to lose any of that. (Plus I’m lazy to move). OH. Also, I wish I had been smarter about where I stored my images so it’s not all over the place.

  • Reply Aloysa @ My Broken Coin December 5, 2012 at 14:46

    Name is important but personality matters more to me. Originality. A personal warm touch with a sense of humour. Good writing. You have all of this and I keep coming back to see what is going on in your life because I am interested. Transitions are scary but worth it.
    Back in a day, I wish I would relax more about blogging and not be so serious about it.

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