Looking back on 5 years of mediocre blogging
5 years of this blog/website/junkheap seems like a such a long time in the post-blog era we are living in. Starting this website was just a passion project riding the coattails of other awesome blogsites like Branded in the 80’s and Top Hat Sasquatch but slowly picked up some steam and I put more time into it.
I pulled from an early episode the 1987 TMNT cartoon, one where the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang impersonates the turtles to get them into heaps of trouble with assistance from the Shredder. Fun episode and worth checking out.
I just wanted a starting point and something semi-recognizable from the get-go. Sure I could have chosen something more obvious like “ninjaturtlenews.com” or “OMGTMNT.net” but I am happy with my decision.
Fast forward 5 years and it is still a passion project. I still write and report on things that interest me and are fun and hopefully that doesn’t change. I think most of us geek/toy/special interest bloggers are running on good vibes and fun times.
With that said I want to do a little retrospective on things, look back on the Crooked Ninja of old and think about the next 5 years.
Site Design Evolution
Oh boy, the ugly early days (not that Crooked Ninja is necessarily known for its bangin aesthetic). Blogger was the choice platform before jumping to self hosting and migrating to WordPress. I pushed Blogger as far as it could go with every hack and custom code snippet I could find.
The takeaway? If you spend half your time hacking together a site to get it how you want it is time to move to something better. WordPress, our lord and savior.
I estimate I have gone through about 20+ different versions of the header. I still am not happy with it but now I have stripped it down to the bare essentials. Will I ever be happy with it? Maybe for 20 minutes or so.
Some tips for blogging with WordPress:
- Know what you are getting into. WordPress can be your best friend or worst enemy and if things go to hell (white screen of death) you will be on your own for the most part. Know the technology or alternatively opt for the WordPress blogging platform rather than self hosted.
- Plugins are great, too many plugins are not. Keep it under 6 if possible to keep site speed up and general maintenance low.
- Themes are awesome! With that said not all themes are created equal. The simpler the theme the lower the learning curve generally.
- Know the difference between posts and pages. Posts are your blog posts, pages are what is commonly seen in your navigation (contact, about, so and so forth).
- Make sure you have a featured image, your post list will probably look bare without one.
Finding a voice
In the beginning I posted everything even if it didn’t seem to belong. Unrelated toy lines, general ramblings, and random pop culture were prevalent (probably still around in the archives).
The thing I found is that such randomness does not lend itself well to a blog focused on TMNT. Making this about the TMNT universe first and foremost was a good move a year or two ago.
With that said plenty of people are going to hate things you write and poke holes in whatever you put time into. I recall a certain visitor who called me out on the Unreleased TMNT Toys series of posts with claims my facts were wrong and I missed a bunch of stuff.
While he was not completely wrong (I did revise a few things) being a dick online is easy, being cool takes a bit more effort.
If you happen to want to hear about random pop culture and general 80s/90s weirdness head over to my other blog, Copyright 1984.
Quality is Key
I have created some trash posts and have learned that while it may save a little time, the ultimate value is diminished. I would rather now take a few extra hours to put something of quality together.
There are probably 100 other TMNT sites out there that focus on just news, so I want to focus less on that and more on opinion pieces and long form posts. Hate that idea? Let me know.
Basically that’s it. No big promises or setting my sights high just keep having fun and posting things I think people will dig. With the TMNT universe still growing and changing I am excited to see what is to come in the next few years especially with the Nick 2012 series wrapping up and a new series getting introduced.
Thanks for reading.