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What Can You Learn from a Blog Gone Wrong?


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Since I started blogging over a year ago, two of the five blogs I have started or launched are pretty much dead. One was not so surprising - it was my first rather spammy attempt at creating a product blog (and it was dead on the vine pretty much as soon as this blog took off).

But the second one is a great case study. I really thought this blog would be around for a very long time. In fact, I haven’t written on it in over 2 months.

I’ve felt guilty about it, picked it apart in my head, and I’ve even cried about it. It’s especially difficult because this blog is my namesake at

So What Went Wrong With This Blog?

To be fair, the only way I could have figured out this was the wrong blog for me was by actually doing it. I’m glad I did - and here’s what happened:

Writing about intensely personal subjects is intensely difficult

I started to share the personal stories that weren’t on topic for this blog. I wanted to share what I had been through with my now-recovered alcoholic husband, with my weight issues from many years ago, and to dive more deeply into the law of attraction, which I have studied now for over 10 years.

Digging through my past and dredging up old painful lessons for this blog has already helped thousands of people. But to go to that place and re-live it all again was excruciating.

Lesson Learned :: Pick a blogging topic that you can approach from a lot of different angles so that you don’t get back yourself into a corner.

People came to the site seeking help for intensely personal problems

Although this isn’t surprising, this presented some interesting challenges. Mostly, I found that the keywords that people used to find my site were overwhelmingly heartbreaking:

  • divorcing an alcoholic
  • how to leave my alcoholic husband safely
  • lost it all my husband became an alcoholic

Lesson Learned :: Blog visitors have tremendous influence over the direction of a site. I uncovered a huge need without trying to or realizing it. Although I probably have less than 10 comments on that blog, the keywords have screamed out a need for something different than what is there.

Sometimes you can’t predict which seeds will grow

I never planned on positioning myself as an expert in addiction recovery. But now I have this blog that is going in a direction far different than my own! I’m not even maintaining it and it is growing from search traffic!

Lesson Learned :: Be mindful of the niches that you cover. Write about things you are willing to dedicate lots of time to for the long haul. But if something unexpectedly catches on, come up with a Plan B.

Sometimes a blog isn’t the right solution

I’m surprised at how few comments are left on this site given the amount of traffic it is still receiving. I believe it is because these people need a high level of anonymity as well as a bigger support group for their questions.

Lesson Learned :: Although a community is built around a blog, the people seeking help on this topic need more than just a comment field - they need a full blown forum.

My lessons learned could be your business opportunity

I’ve known for a while that I needed to build a forum, but it doesn’t make sense to build it on that domain. What these people need is a dedicated support group site. And I simply can’t build it for them. I don’t have the expertise, money or time to do so.

If your life has also been touched by alcoholism or addictions, and you want to be involved in setting up a community to help individuals who are seeking help, then please get in touch.

This project needs a volunteer to setup a vBulletin forum and forum moderators. I’d also love to chat with anyone who has some serious forum setup experience.
I’m willing to consult on the setup of the site, forum and marketing, and I’m also willing to help consult on creating revenue streams for the site. I’ll also be sending hundreds of visitors a month to the site from this old blog until the new site is established.

Hopefully this post will reach the right person at the right time. If you can think of someone who might be interested, by all means, please spread the word and please get in touch!

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    On May 7th, 2007 at 3:41 pm, Denise said:

    Great food for thought on many fronts!

    On May 7th, 2007 at 3:58 pm, Garry Conn said:

    You have made some really great points in this article. These points if used correctly can be worth more than gold if used correctly and acted upon. It is so interested in read this, that the readers can pretty much control the direction of a blog. This is so true… when someone creates a new blog, they have a topic in mind that they want to write about. From there with all the posts that are written, there are many sub-topics that briefly get touched on. And I totally have witnessed the most off the wall things that pick up in the SERPs… next thing you know, you have thousands of people coming to your site expecting to see information about purple elephants, or what is the sky blue, etc..

    I too have gained most of my experience and knowledge about blogging through my previous failures. It is so wild to read the post you wrote here because I partially touched on this topic today on my blog! Small world! :)

    On May 7th, 2007 at 4:27 pm, Jason P. said:

    I went through similar issues at my initial attempt at blogging at Yahoo! I just recently moved over to blogger - and its been a change for me.

    On the topic of alcohol, since I understand it personally, I find it difficult to express my feelings on the subject.

    No one really wants to know someone with problems or concerns. We want people to be ideally: sound, without hang ups, stable, socially attractive to a wide array of people, funny, serious at appropriate times, attractive physically and spiritually connected to a higher plane.

    But just about every human being I’ve ran across on the pebble has an achilles heel. If it isn’t drinking, it is something else. Or it is a quirky side they hide (mask) from others.

    What is one’s poison is another’s crutch to get them through a day. But even the crutch has to rot, or change the person.

    Acceptance and support through the cycle of another’s problem is probably the hardest thing any of us can do.

    Anyways, good thoughts and blog. Like the layout too. ;)

    On May 7th, 2007 at 4:30 pm, Amanda said:

    Trust me I understand talking or living through painful memories are tough. I have a very hard time keeping a personal site however I do my best. I thought buying a different one, one that is about me would be different then taking one second hand from someone however it didn’t work. I dont blog there ever. I really only blog at my main two sites.

    On May 7th, 2007 at 6:07 pm, Gayla McCord said:

    Wendy ~ One of the toughest decisions I ever made was pulling back quite a bit from my own niche of dealing some very angry or very depressed people.

    I realized that I couldn’t help lift them up when I was sinking into a depression myself.

    By taking time away and visiting every now and again, I feel I’m able to help more then if I were to stay aboard a sinking ship where I might have been the captain, but I was sinking nonetheless.

    Wise decision — there are people out there who would love to do this sort of thing. I’ll help spread the word.

    On May 7th, 2007 at 7:47 pm, JoLynn Braley said:

    Hi Wendy,

    What’s funny is that before I started my blog and was doing research on picking my domain name, looking at other blogs, etc., I came across your’s at I thought the design was so unique (you sitting on a tack, that image is great!). I only recently connected that you were the same person running emomsathome.

    The greatest lesson that I get out of this post is that you didn’t give up. Just because you moved away a bit from your second blog, you didn’t give up on blogging.

    I can understand based on what you’ve shared here, why you weren’t able to devote as much of your energy to your second blog. I think it’s great that you’re not abandoning it altogether though, as there is a need that you have already recognized. I don’t have any specialized experience in that area, sorry I cannot help. I commend you for putting the word out to others to fill the need.

    Thanks for sharing this today,


    On May 7th, 2007 at 9:06 pm, Jenny said:

    It’s hard for me to open up with a blog given the weirdos out on the net. And I think my recent and new blog is failing hard. My old blog got more attention than this one does. I’m just too…shy I guess.

    On May 7th, 2007 at 9:08 pm, sa said:

    First time commenting on your blog…came over from Problogger the other week and now an rss subscriber.

    I killed my personal blog the other week, partly because of what you wrote about — having to relieve the past with each blog post. While those types of posts are helpful to a lot of readers who can relate, they definitely take an emotional toll on the writer after a while. It is incredibly difficult to build a new future when you are constantly reliving the past. I commend you for finding courage to move on and for passing along a great opportunity to someone out there who might be interested in starting a forum.

    I would love to read a post about quitting your spammy site. People are afraid to quit because of all the stigma. They stick with bad ideas for too long. You would never be where you are today if you were still putting your time and energy into that spammy site. What made you move on to the next thing?
    Did you fear that the next site would fail? If so, how did you overcome the fear of failure?

    Love your blog — Keep up the good work!

    On May 7th, 2007 at 9:28 pm, Wendy Piersall said:

    @ Denise - thanks and welcome! :)

    @ Garry - totally agreed. This site has evolved as well thanks in no small part to reader input. And I have to say that I love failures - they give great lessons!

    @ Amanda - welcome back - I’ve missed you!

    @ Gayla - you are SO right about that one - you’re one smart cookie! ;) I used to think that same way about money - to stay broke to be with the people I wanted to help the most. Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t helping them - I was enabling them and making it ok to never stretch and grow. I’m so glad you brought that up!

    @ JoLynn - a big welcome to you as well! I’m thrilled that you’ve been sharing more of yourself on the site here - it’s been great getting to know you better!

    @ Jenny - you aren’t getting away with that ’round here!! :D Instead of what’s not working, I want to hear about what is going right on your new site - do fill us in!!

    @ Sa - And welcome to you too!!! Thanks for speaking up!!

    I actually started the spammy blog and this site at the same time - the other site was going to be a huge resource center for personal development - but when this site started taking off, it just made sense to focus on what was working.

    So… overcoming fear of failure, eh? I think I have a few posts to share on that one:


    On May 7th, 2007 at 9:46 pm, Wendy Piersall said:

    Whoops - thought I missed someone!

    @ Jason Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts on the subject. It is indeed difficult for many people - not just you. Just the other day I shared some of the things that aren’t so perfect in my life right now. I think it’s important for us to know that each other is human - it helps us to be a little more accepting of ourselves, I think.

    What do you think?

    On May 7th, 2007 at 11:29 pm, Jason P. said:

    I try my best to accept everyone. I am aware of what hurts and what should be better if we listen to others. Some just are not, whether they know it or not is a different story.

    I am so far from perfect- I’m the antonym. But that’s me.

    Thanks again!

    On May 8th, 2007 at 12:08 am, JoLynn Braley said:

    “@ JoLynn - a big welcome to you as well! I’m thrilled that you’ve been sharing more of yourself on the site here - it’s been great getting to know you better!”

    Thanks Wendy! I found you on this site through Problogger, I’m glad that I did!

    …One more thing your post makes me think about…the blog I’ve started is about weight loss but I approach it from more of a whole mind/body view….I apply the knowledge I’ve gained over the years of reading self-help books (now called personal development :) ) that I’ve been reading since I was 10 years old (I know, sounds weird, but I’ve always read a lot). Now I’m questioning whether or not I’m sharing too much personal info., and if I’ll risk burn out.

    I need to think about this…

    BTW, I just came back to this page through CoComment…I am using it per your recommendation (read your post a couple days ago). It’s really a handy little tool, thanks very much for the info on it!

    JoLynn :)

    On May 8th, 2007 at 3:47 am, lee said:

    Wendy, a couple of thoughts. How do you know your personal site was a failure? Are all blogs meant to last for years, or even a year? I thought of this when you mentioned that the site was growing by itself. I read the site. I wonder if just having those few posts there might be enough to help guide those horribly unhappy people who are finding you. I think your site might actually be a roaring success, just not what you want to be doing at the moment. Just as we don’t want to be a slave to failure, we don’t want to be a slave to success either. This post took a lot of courage. Thank you! (It also helped me think of a topic for a future post for my blog! :) )

    On May 8th, 2007 at 7:55 am, Christy Z said:

    Great post Wendy, it’s definitely hard to know exactly what will work and what won’t beforehand. Don’t feel bad about what didn’t work and just keep focusing on how well you are doing!! Everything happens for the best in the end. :)

    On May 8th, 2007 at 7:57 am, Derrich said:

    Amazed at the searches. It’s truly interesting to see what people are actually searching for.

    On May 8th, 2007 at 10:26 am, robinson go said:

    hellooo wendy,

    your first point is right on!

    Sometimes a blog isn’t the right solution

    “I’m surprised at how few comments are left on this site given the amount of traffic it is still receiving. I believe it is because these people need a high level of anonymity as well as a bigger support group for their questions.

    Lesson Learned :: Although a community is built around a blog, the people seeking help on this topic need more than just a comment field - they need a full blown forum.”

    i see that a forum is really the way to go!

    all the best!


    On May 8th, 2007 at 8:14 pm, James said:

    I tried to write about more personal topics. Some are not too hard and I think readers have an easier time relating.
    Other personal topics were simply too hard to write and I was unable to finish the posts. I still have a draft half done on one blog.

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