Getting Back To Basics: Blog Decluttering

When Web 2.0 first began with Google and Craigslist, one of the “innovations” was simplicity itself – empty, uncluttered designs that allowed users to get what needed to be done with a minimum of design elements.

I feel this basic concept has been forgotten recently, what with widgets, ads, videos, monetization, polls, spam, and splogs. Some blogs are so obscured with extra stuff that the content – the post itself – is nearly impossible to find.

It may be time to get back to basics. This week, I noticed several articles about clutter reduction, enough to say that excesses may be reversing and we’re entering a “clutter-reduction equals increased productivity” trend:

  • Blain at Stock Trading To Go did a guest post at Zenhabits called Getting Productive, and a Clean Desk. He has some good suggestions, namely a daily task list (in order to avoid distractions), waking up earlier, and discipline to avoid procrastination.
  • An article from The Consumerist suggests one way to feel richer is to remove clutter, suggesting that “unnecessary objects steal energy and attention”. This could be a reference to the wasted time cleaning, things, looking for things, or maintaining things – all time that could be spent being productive. Now imagine how visiting a cluttered blog is like entering a cluttered room.
  • Newsweek: The Latte-Era Grinds Down: A sagging economy is goading people to refocus their lifestyles toward the essentials.

Since upgrading to WordPress 2.3 I’ve been on a quest to “declutter” my blog: cleaning it up for the specific purposes of increasing readability, removing distractions, and improving load time. Here’s a short list of what I’ve achieved so far:

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Making A Long-Term Commitment To Blogging… Don’t Break The Chain

As a result of writing for the Blog Herald, I’ve become a regular reader. Last week, Lorelle wrote the article “What Does it Really Take To Blog?” that had me thinking. So this week, I thought I’d offer my own, personal answer to Lorelle’s question.

Q: What does it really take to blog?

A: The ability to make a long-term commitment.

Much blogging advice contains an over-arching theme of preparing for the “long haul.”

Now, what do I mean and what does this have to do with a chain?  Read on.

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Blog For An Audience… Even If You Have None

The beginning blogger tip I have for today involves a bit of fantasy.

Blog as if you have a large and passionate audience – even if you have none.

Not having an audience is a fact for most new bloggers. Once online, even if you write interesting, quality posts, the common reality is: very few people notice.

While this may be discouraging, I suggest pretending you have a huge audience of thousands that hang on your every word, day in and day out.


Because it will vastly improve the quality of your blog.

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Navigating The Five Stages Of Blogging Fatigue

Kent Newsome has a good post outlining five stages of blogging, from creation to abandonment at They are:

  1. Excitement: While setting up a new blog, the blogger is full of great ideas, is inspired, and expectations are high.
  2. Expectation: When starting from zero, little things mean a lot and progress seems exponential.
  3. Frustration: Blogging meet diminishing returns, turns into inefficient work, and the blogger finds it harder and harder to get attention amid the multitude of other blogs.
  4. Alienation: Rejection of the blogosphere.
  5. Abandonment: A dead blog.

I could instantly relate to these stages as I usually oscillate between 2 and 3, while on a really bad day (perhaps after a blogger calls me a moron) I can drop to number 4. After one year, I have yet to give up on blogging completely, but I’ll be honest — I’ve come close.

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Blogging? You’re A Moron

How did that headline make you feel?

By that headline, I don’t mean to say you’re a moron for starting a blog. I just wanted you to experience being called a moron – because if you have open comments on your blog, you will inevitably receive negative comments in response to your posts – some directed at you personally.

Negative comments can be particularly deflating. As bloggers we spend a great deal of time brainstorming posts, writing, proofreading, and rewriting, all with thoughts of what the reaction will be. Clicking “publish” is essentially putting yourself out there for the entire world to enjoy – but also to judge. After spending much time and energy on a post it can be
particularly discouraging if the first comment received trashes your post and you as a blogger.

But I feel that even the worst negativity can be turned positive. Here are strategies I use to deal with negative comments:

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Two Powerful Link Experiences

I was very happy when Tony asked if I’d like to submit an article to The Blog Herald, as I’m a regular reader of both this blog and Tony’s Deep Jive Interests.

I first reviewed several months of The Blog Herald to brainstorm post ideas. One that stood out was Changing Life With a Link by Lorelle VanFossen. It asks the question: Has your life been changed just because of a single link?

I’d like to share two experiences with links that were particularly inspirational to me as a beginning blogger.

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Riding A Blog

Becoming an expert Blogger and ridding a bike have many similarities that extend far beyond the initial learning experience. As with riding a bike, Blogging takes time to master and since bikes are considered a form of transportation you can ride many places just as you can target your Blog to many people. See the similarities?

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The Network Blogger’s Dilemma: Where to Post

Blogging for a blog network–or even multiple networks–can be confusing, especially if you have a lot of blogs to write on. Sometimes you start a draft on one blog, and end up posting it on another blog. Sometimes you start writing about one topic, and end up completely overhauling your line of thought! Sometimes you even get to neglect your own personal blog.

Here’s a bit of insight from my own experience as a network blogger. [Read more…]