How Not to Build a Blog

Martha’s House of Cards, 1980. © by Richard Shaw

I have a confession. I am a hopeless perfectionist.

When I got the inspiration to do a blog to book project this past spring, I started with all kinds of ideas of what I would include on the site. Interviews, reviews, original and curated content, videos, downloadable worksheets; you name it. I snatched up the domain name, reserved the Twitter ID, set up a Facebook page, and announced my intentions to the world. The reporter in me planned a podcast. The marketer in me had grandiose ideas of launching with a contest and a private membership area. The parent in me dreamed of adventurous experiments I could involve my kids in. The philanthropist in me geared up to form a nonprofit to give disadvantaged youth the opportunity to learn digital citizenship and internet safety. Yeah, buddy. Go big or go home.

I started following and making contact with folks knowledgeable on the topics of media and digital literacy, internet safety, and educational technology. I was hungry to learn from them, and anxious to start knocking down an avalanche of interviews. Then, I hit a wall. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to schedule interviews while working a full-time day job, looking after a home-based business, and taking care of family priorities. I intended for the interviews to comprise the bulk of my initial research and content, but I just got bogged down. I wanted everything to be perfect. Problem was, nothing was getting accomplished. So, I reset the launch date on the blog (more than once), and just continued to read and research, curate and share.

Weeks passed, and some difficult challenges on the home-front required me to focus my time, attention, and energy where it’s most important – my family. The blog project completely stalled out, and I went into social media hibernation while I determined whether or not I was going to continue. Honestly, I felt short-circuited, stressed, and bummed out.

Finally, I realized, this is just stupid. I’ve psyched myself out thinking that I had to create some sort of mega-treastise on all things digital media, and that just isn’t necessary. I had lost sight of why I wanted to do this project in the first place – to provide a resource for parents who need a little help navigating the changing landscape of media, so they could, in turn, help their kids. I just needed to get over myself and stop being such a perfectionist. Sheesh.

Then, disaster hit. As I was moving the blog from my local development environment to my internet hosting account, something got corrupted in the database structure, and I lost access to much of what I had done. I must have stared at my computer screen, my mouth hanging open in stunned silence, for a full cycle of the moon.

However, it’s amazing how non-fazed one can be by outward adversity when inward angst is made placid. I had already decided I didn’t have to have everything dialed in so completely anyway. After a few late nights (actually, 3 AM mornings), I was able to recover some of the skeletal structure and rebuilt with what I had.

So, here it is. Finally. The first post on MediaSword. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And start is what I should’ve done a long time ago, instead of trying to get so fancy-schmancy when I’ve got a life to live. And that’s the lesson here. Just start. Learn by doing. Experiment. Be adventurous. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.



  1. You tell a story we all can relate to, those of us finding a path for ourselves online. I think perfectionism, the need to study and read and research, and for distractions of all kinds are what stall successful endeavors.

    Thanks for the reminder to get out there and do it, and good luck to you with your new projects!
    Kate Loving Shenk recently posted..Your Daily Prayer For Healing-12/16/2011My Profile

    • I still believe that study, reading, and research are important activities, but I agree that it’s easy to get bogged down in them, and never actually DO anything with what you’ve learned. The internet has certainly opened up a Pandora’s box of distractions, but it’s also made available a vast storehouse of knowledge. I think the key is in learning how to not merely be a consumer of content, but a manager and creator, as well. Thanks for your comments!
      DaveWebb recently posted..How Not to Build a BlogMy Profile

  2. Ha! This is exactly why my own site rumbled around in my brain and notebook for almost a year! Thanks for showing how perfectionism is not productive!

    • I’d go even as far to say that it’s not only not productive, but counterproductive. Striving for excellence is a worthy pursuit, but it doesn’t mean that everything has to be absolutely perfect before you even start. The reality is, it’ll never be perfect, and if you try to make it that way, you’ll never start. I know someone who’s motto is, “You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start to be good.” I think those are good words to live by. Thanks for sharing, Kat!

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