I would love to be able to write blog posts or conduct my social media affairs in such a way that I became an overnight sensation, as verified by an astronomical rise in my bank balance.
That’s why I tend to read a lot of adverts that say things like “How I turned my blog into a licence to print money in just three months!”
The trouble is, though, I just can’t bring myself to do it, and the reason, I think, is to do with authenticity.
I always read the adverts, and the blog posts of the person or people behind them, and they all seem to have the same three characteristics.
First, they are extremely formulaic. I don’t have a problem with so-called “linkbait” posts myself, as a general principle, because they can be quite useful. Articles with titles like “5 ways to improve your blog’s appearance” seem OK to me. But when every article is “10 ways to do X” or something similar, then it starts to look very stale. And it’s even worse if there is a formula like:
Title: 8 words, 3 of which are search engine optimised
First paragraph: 27 words, and so on.
There’s a spot on article about this by Seth Godin: Trapped by Linkbait.
Second, they write in short sentences. Very short. It can be irritating. I know. I’ve been irritated by it. And so on. Now, I’m not one of those people who favours complex sentences involving long words just to impress everyone with how erudite I am. But I find that after a minute or two of reading that sort of staccato text I’m virtually catatonic from boredom. Why in heaven’s name would I want to embark on a programme that taught me to write like that, no matter how much money I would (supposedly) make from doing so?
Third, the architects of such schemes always seem to use phrases like “How to write kick-ass prose” and “Why your mailing list sucks”. Well, I don’t use such expressions in my personal life, and I would never ever use them in a professional context, so why would I wish to associate myself with someone who does?
The bottom line, I think, is that I would like my writing to be authentic, and none of that sort of stuff seems authentic to me. Someone else expressed it as resonance:
I was chatting with a few writers this week in a course I am running about developing an email newsletter, and the idea of “list building challenges” came up. One author’s conclusion:
“I signed up twice for list building challenges … the how to build a list of 10,000 type… and took zero steps because it just didn’t resonate.”
That word “resonate” is a powerful driver of action – or inaction. It forces us to consider: are you willing to do what it takes, even when it doesn’t resonate?
(From The Attention You Give; The Experience You Create by Dan Blank on the Writer Unboxed website.)
In fact, that article helped me a lot. Before reading that, I thought there must be something wrong with me, or that I was too bone idle to want to put the effort in when it came to the get-rich-quick schemes.
I wish it were different, because I’d really love to get rich quickly! I feel like the eponymous hero of Portnoy’s Complaint, who said:
I have desires that are repugnant to my conscience,
And a conscience that is repugnant to my desires.
Admittedly, the context is different (he was referring to his sexual fantasies!), but the principle is the same. Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself.
It’s a good idea to keep backups of your day-to-day documents, so it makes sense to back up your blog too. In this short series I’m looking at ways to do that. Last time I covered how to back up your blog if you use Blogger, in the article Backing up your Blogger blog. Today, I’ll take you through the process of backing up a blog if you use Wordpress.
Now, I first have to add a sort of disclaimer. There are two types of Wordpress blog – free (wordpress.com) and paid for (wordpress.org). Moreover, it is possible to activate and use a Wordpress blog from within a website. In other words, there are quite a few variations on a Wordpress blog, so you should regard this article as a general pointer in the right direction rather than the last word on the matter. You will need to see if what I describe fits your situation before acting on it.
My own set-up is that I use the free version from within another website, and that is what I have based these notes on.
The good news is that if what I am about to describe is not suitable for you, then a search on the internet for some such phrase as “Wordpress backup” yields a wealth of suggestions about approaches and plug-ins, ie add-on “widgets” that you can install in Wordpress. They all seem to follow a standard format in which they explain how to carry out the installation. As long as you can gain access to your blog or website as an administrator, you should find the installation process relatively straightforward.
OK, enough of this persiflage! Here’s how it worked for me.
First, log into your Wordpress account, and find the option called Plugins, and click on it.
Search for a plugin.
Click on “New” and then do a search for ”backup”. There are lots of backup plugins, so I chose one that looked like it could be automatically scheduled, and which had a lot of downloads and four or five star reviews.
When you find one you like the look of, install it
Click on Install Now and then on OK
Confirm that you want to install it
Then click on Activate Plugin
Once it has been installed, activate it
If you have a Dropbox account, and the plugin can save your backup to Dropbox, then authorise the plugin to access Dropbox. That way you will be able to store your backups in the cloud if you wish to. Just follow the instructions on the screen:
Link it to Dropbox if you like... ... by following the instructions
The backup plugin I selected saves the backup to my website as well, so what I will probably do from time to time (one=ce a week, say) is download that backup onto my hard drive.
Click on Save changes
Save the changes
Then run the backup plugin:
Now that you've installed the backup plugin, it is time to run it and create your first backup
If you have utilised Dropbox, you will find that a new folder has been created, and a backup file is inside the folder. You will also receive an email telling you that that has happened.
If you have used Dropbox, you will have a new folder... ... containing the backup file... ... and you'll receive an email from Dropbox
And that’s it. Obviously, there will be variations on this theme depending on the plugin you choose and whether or not it uses Dropbox, but as you can see the process in general is fairly straightforward and painless. Certainly, it is less painful than losing all your work!
Next: How to back up your website files.
Ever wondered how to win the Booker Prize? Well, thanks to the Slow Journalism company’s data-crunching, the secret is revealed. Hint: it helps if you are a 50 year-old man working on his fourth novel, apparently!
Here’s the data. You can see it better if you click on the link to the "zoomable" version, and then hover the mouse over the bit you’re especially interested in.
Winning a Booker Prize infographic from Delayed Gratification, the Slow Journalism magazine.
Click here for zoomable version.
What can be worse than losing your beautifully-crafted prose that you’ve published as blog posts? In this short series I’m looking at how you you can try to guard against the inconceivable happening. Today, I’m looking at Blogger. If you have a blog using the Blogger platform, then here’s how to back it up.
First, log into your Blogger account. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a way of saving all your blogs at once if, like me, you have several. So the next thing you’ll need to do is click on the name of the blog you wish to back up first.
In the screenshot below, I’ve clicked on my My Writes blog.
Click on the name of your blog
Next, click on Settings.
Then click on Settings
Then on Other.
Then click on Other...
... and you should see something like this on your screen
Under Blog tools, click on Export blog.
Make sure you click on Export and not Delete!
Then click on Download blog.
Then click on the Download button
Save the XML file that is generated.
Save the file
You can check the file by opening it with your web browser or with a text or XML editor.
Once it has been saved, open the XML file with your web browser by right-clicking on its name and then clicking Open with
As you can see from the screenshot below, there are some strange bits in it. That doesn’t matter, because the whole point of an XML file is to enable you to import your blog posts back into a blog platform should you need to do so. Let’s face it: if the absolute worst came to the worst, you could edit this file yourself. It would be tedious, but probably not as depressing as trying to remember everything you wrote should your whole blog disappear.
With a bit of luck, this is how your XML file will look!
The file will be downloaded into an area on your computer such as the Downloads folder. If I were you I would move it to somewhere more sensible. I’ve created a folder on my hard drive called Website backups, and within that I have folders for various websites and blogs, including one for My Writes.
Move the file somewhere sensible and more memrable
The XML file by default has a pretty nondescript name, the only useful element of which is the date. I suggest changing it to something more useful, as I’ve done here.
And finally, change its name to something more descriptive -- unless that's the only blog you have, of course
And that’s it. If you have more than one Blogger blog, repeat this for each one. It doesn’t take too long.
As an extra precaution, make sure you back up your hard drive too. I’ll be covering that in a future post.
Next: how to save your Wordpress blog.
The word “paranoid” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as
“exhibiting unnecessary or extreme fear; characterized by unreasonable or excessive suspicion of others.”
Well, you know the old joke: Just because you're paranoid i doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!
In a similar sort of way, I don’t think there is anything “unreasonable” in being paranoid about losing the content on your website.
Think about it. A technical glitch could erase the whole lot, and if your web hosting company can’t provide a backup, you’re in trouble.
Or what if the company is taken over by another one, or decides to change the service they offer? I missed (or wasn’t sent) an email from a company where I was maintaining a blog in the form of book reviews. They got rid of their blog service, and the reviews I’d posted disappeared into the trash can of history. Not a pleasant experience, I can assure you.
So these days I try to take backups of my stuff posted online. In a short series of posts I’ll share what I’ve found to work.
The topics I’ll be covering include:
- How to backup your Blogger blog.
- How to backup your Wordpress blog
- How to back up your website
and several other useful topics on this theme.
The first post will be published tomorrow.