This past week I pinched my nose, opened WordPress, and delved into the part of writing that I’d rather not; the guts and bytes of my website. I love how my webmaster designed AuthorJulieClark.com but filling up the gas tank each week is my job, not his, and minor maintenance falls under that category, too. This work includes things I enjoy, such as creating and posting new content (blogs, news, etc.), and other things I don’t, such as checking stats and performing updates. Again, the techie and marketing side is not my heart’s calling.
So, one fine Friday, I navigated over to the Pages page and checked on the little graph icon to see, in the dreaded words of the blogosphere goddesses, “how my pages are performing,” and found one of my diamonds in the rough totally flat-lined. It was still coal, with no pressure to transform it in sight. This made my heart sink as I worked hard on the page and… nothing. This page was created several months ago, too, and despite it being good not great, there should have been at least one random bot willing to give that page a crawl. Then, it clicked. I quickly opened up another window and loaded the homepage. The page in question wasn’t showing up on my website AT ALL; not as a tab, not under any drop down menus. I’ll spare you the tech-speak, but needless to say it’s now fixed.
So, what is this page? This page is my “Work with Me” page.
*bangs head onto desk*
*quietly screams into the ether*
By nature, I’ve always been a bit spastic. I was one of those kids made to choose the right hand when the left hand wanted to learn printing, then cursive. I was almost always picked last for those dreaded games in school, and have a poor sense of space. Don’t believe me? I ran cross-country in high school, with my best meet including running down a hill and slamming into a tree. True story. No, really. This not only happened, it was the only meet I actually placed well enough to help the team win. Sure, I ran across the finish line a bit bloodied, but hey?
Being accident prone spills over into my writing, too. Instead of landing into trees or missing kickballs, I sometimes hit the “D” key instead of the “S” key, have a brain that squees at the word “squirrel,” and rely a bit too much on spelling and grammar checks when I’m in a hurry or tired. Thank the heavens for editors; they do the work of the gods, I swear. But this is my blog and, whelp, I gotta be the one to wear that hat here.
In this spirit, I offer up a handful of blogging mistakes to watch out for, especially for accident prone writers like me.
1. Neglecting disclosing affiliate links.
INSTEAD: Disclose affiliate links as per FTC rules, along with the company you are an affiliate for. This is one I am learning as I go. As most bloggers, I’ve started including affiliate links as a way to gain income in order to keep this website running smoothly. For instance, this particular blog post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a small commission for purchases made via these links, at no additional cost to you. (Disclaimer done. *breathes sigh of relief*)
2. Place cords under your feet and around the wheels on your office chair.
INSTEAD: Take time to move cords out of the way. This is one I remain guilty of. My phone is my radio, and I tend to keep it plugged into the same extension cord as my coffee warmer. There is plenty of slack and it’s simple to push the cords to the back after settling in for the work day. Power strips work well, too. Whatever you use, take a sec after plugging things in and move all cords out of harm’s way.
3. Never look at your homepage.
INSTEAD: If you have your own website, write a list down of the tabs you want visitors to see along with drop-down menus, then log out from your website and see if they show up. See, I thought I did this. I swear I did this. But I didn’t do that, which left me literally swearing
4. Add links on the fly.
INSTEAD: Check all embedded links before you go live. Sometimes copy and paste won’t play nice and that link you think you are adding may be from something else. Like that last website you visited. Ahem.
5. Post whatever you feel like, especially if you have a professional website.
INSTEAD: Remember the impression you’re going for and hold up new pieces to that light. In other words, if you write about coding then do a rant about how penguins are misunderstood, followed by a post on how deep-fried cookies are a health food, ask yourself why. Is it because you want that random feel, or is it because you didn’t like a comment you read on Insta? Or you are trying to justify lunch? As for my blog, I do cover mainly Asperger’s*, but I talk about other things, too. To some, it might appear random, but it isn’t. A while back I took time to cull pieces that didn’t fit as well as create a list of topics allowed into the blogging bucket and I work to stick to that list. For instance, one theme not allowed is politics (unless it applies to, say, autism*). If I find myself pecking out a rant on the evils of whatever, I chalk it up as a personal, private journal entry and do not hit that “publish” button.
6. Allowing all comments to be published.
INSTEAD: Moderate comments with a heavy hand. Does this take time? Sure! But it also is a way to let bad actors know you are invested in keeping your website in good form, that it’s yours, not theirs, to play with. We can get pretty deep in the weeds here, but I don’t like weeds and it’s almost time to figure out dinner, so…
7. Leave proofreading up to the comments section.
INSTEAD: Use the “preview” button and read the piece before you publish it. Okay, I hear you giggling. You’ve looked over my pieces and are thinking I need to heed my own advice. Despite everything, I do reread the pieces before they are live and I often miss a mistake here and there. (And if you catch one, shoot me an email, comment, etc., and I’ll look into it. Really.) It’s a blog not a book, which means an editor isn’t included with this slice of work life. But y’all know what I’m talking about here, so we’ll leave it at that.
*bows down in humility before the word gods*
8. Use a wide mouth or top heavy coffee mug and place it on your planner, right next to the keyboard.
INSTEAD: Use a mug with a lid. Seriously. They are everywhere. Don’t have one? There has to be some sporting event, some give-a-way, or some new venue you can poke your head in that is giving them out like candy. But back to the desk. All it takes is one distraction and that lovely cuppa java or tea is going to baptize your keyboard in the name of the nearest office supply store. Ask my mom; she did this. And, no, a hair dryer isn’t gonna fix it.
There are more mistakes; there are always more. And I’m sure I’ll find them. Blogging accidents will continue to happen, but with a few checks in place for accident prone writers, they’ll become fewer and father between.
And if you make mistakes? Don’t sweat them. Writing mistakes can be easily fixed. Take comments others post in stride. But also remember it’s your writing, your tone, your voice. Be true to yourself and your tone, and enjoy the process!
Have an accident prone writer story to share? Post it below!