My History With Blogging

Blogging takes tenacity, commitment and experience. I thought I’d write a post about my blogging history to show that none of us get it right at first.

If you read the about page on this website, it briefly mentions some of my blogging history, but I thought it would be good to write a more detailed post about it.

This post is also likely to give you a good laugh at how bad my design skillz were back in the day. So, enjoy…

It Started With A Jing

The very first blog post I published was on 02nd April 2011, which was a review of a Linux operating system. This first fore into blogging was hosted on Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger.

For some reason I had the bright idea to call that first blog Jingi Blog. I have no idea why I did this or what I was thinking. It’s a very silly name.

I recently discovered that Jingi Blog is still alive and kicking on Blogger. If you want to take a look and have a good laugh at my complete lack of both writing and design skills, here’s a link:

Visit Jingi Blog on Blogger

Jing Blog screenshot

THAT FONT! THOSE COLOURS! Ahhhhh, it’s horrible!

If you’re going to design a blog, don’t do it like this, folks. The orange and purple really work together on the menu, I think you will agree! 🙂

I stuck with Jingi Blog for a little over a year, then decided I needed more functionality that Blogger could offer. I went with a WordPress blog and took to opportunity to rebrand away from that awful name.

It’s a Refuge For All Geeks

I rebranded Jingi Blog to Refugeeks. Refugeeks had the tag-line “a refuge for all geeks”, so the name was a mixture between refugee and geek.

At the time, I thought it was really clever, but in hindsight, I’m not so sure. Having said that, the domain was easy to remember and share, so I definitely picked the right one.

Refugeeks version 1.0 was a self-hosted WordPress site. I bought the domain, then began hunting for the cheapest possible hosting I could find. This was another big mistake.

I distinctly remember a reader emailing me saying that my content was good, but my site took 16 seconds to load! According to research done by Neil Patel, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

I was clearly losing lots of readers with my 16 second load time!

Refugeeks version 1
Refugeeks version 1

I was clearly very committed to that font and those beautiful orange and purple shades. I was all about the gradients back then too!

Joking aside, this is a step in the right direction from Jingi Blog. The text is easier to read and I’m starting to add better artwork, but things are still pretty bad.

Refugeeks Version 2

After feedback from my readers, and lots of research in how to speed up a website, I iterated on Refugeeks with a fresh new theme and a better quality host.

Refugeeks version 2
Refugeeks version 2

As you can see, the fonts have finally improved slightly, as did the general design, but the orange and purple persists. 🙁

At this point, I’m really starting to work on the branding of Refugeeks and the site is starting build up some traction. This is the point in which I started to think I could potentially be onto something with blogging.

You’re not going to believe this, folks – I finally decided to get rid of the orange and purple for…

Refugeeks Version 2.5

Refugeeks version 2.5
Refugeeks version 2.5

Same theme design, but a new colour pallet. Blue is my favourite colour, so I decided to go with blue and grey for the new Refugeeks design.

I originally went with orange and purple because they are the colours Ubuntu use, but I needed to make my own brand – not use the colours of another company.

Refugeeks was due to go through one final evolution before the end of my blogging history. I gave it another new theme that was more modern and allowed me to put more content on the home screen.

Refugeeks Version 3

Refugeeks version 3
Refugeeks version 3

After all those iterations of Jingi Blog and Refugeeks. After all those evenings spent researching how to improve my blog, I finally had something I was fairly happy with.

This was now April 2013. I had been blogging and learning for 2 years at this point, but I was only just starting to become satisfied with my blog. So don’t worry if you’re not happy with your blog’s design on day 1 – you can iterate and fix that over time.

From this point on, Refugeeks started to snowball. I was spending all my spare time learning about how to improve my blog and my writing. It was really paying dividends, but it was costing me pretty much all of my spare time.

I had a full time job, a girlfriend (now wife), a dog to look after and a number of other commitments. I just didn’t have the time to spend 20+ hours per week working on my blog too. Something had to give.

Selling Refugeeks

On 28th Novemeber 2013 I published my last post on Refugeeks and sold the site. During those 2.5 years I had learned so much, but it had cost me a lot. Honestly, I was glad to see the back of Refugeeks at that point and I still don’t regret selling the site.

Refugeeks is still live, but since selling it, the new owners have let the site go to rack and ruin unfortunately. For the new owners I think it was just a way to live off the ad revenue for as long as they could with minimal effort. They did publish new content for a while, but Refugeeks has gone unloved since 2015.

After selling Refugeeks I wanted blogging to stay very much in the past for a while. So I took some time out, but after a while I got the itch again and did some guest posting.

My Personal Blog

Throughout my time with Refugeeks, I also maintained a personal blog where I could publish opinion pieces and general updates. Basically anything that I didn’t think was suitable for RefuGeeks. Let’s take a look at that side of my blogging history.

In all honestly, it didn’t get much love because I didn’t have time. In the year and a half I had the site, I published just 17 posts. Pretty pointless really.

Personal blog circa 2013
My personal blog circa 2013

As you can see from the screenshot, the design is pretty cool looking, but it’s just too much. There’s too much going on that detracts from the actual content. Another lesson learned there.

My personal blogging increased after I sold Refugeeks. Like Refugeeks, my personal blog also went through several iterations and in 2017 I completely abolished the old blog and started fresh with a new domain and a new design.

Personal blog circa 2015
My personal blog circa 2015

The 2017 blog is the site I still maintain as my personal blog today.

Current blog
The current version of my personal blog

Conclusion

This blogging history brings us up to today. I’ve learned a lot throughout my 9 years of blogging so far, but I still have a lot to learn.

Do you have any blogging car crashes, like Jingi Blog? If so, why not write about it and let me know via my contact page, or using the IndieWeb.

This post is day 23 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit https://100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Feature photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash.

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