Your Blog Archives: To Cull or Not to Cull?

Photo courtesy of striatic

They’re questions that most bloggers will face after they’ve been blogging for a little while and perhaps have evolved or consciously changed their writing style: Do you go back through your archives and weed out the posts that no longer fit your blog’s style? Or do you leave them as a way to show your blog’s growth and evolution?

To cull the archives or not to cull?

Reader Roelant asked me this question the other day:

I maintain a personal website that evolved into a blog, have blogged since 1997, which were my late teen-years. In March 2002 — I considered myself adult by then — I decided not to migrate my older posts when installing (new) blog software. I thought of those posts as childish, unprofessional, etc.

And that’s where the pain is: writing evolves, and some of my older posts just hurt my eyes. But that’s how a weblog works: everything gets archived, everything stays online. Even if the person behind it changes or evolves. So I’d love to see a post on how you would deal with older posts. Is every post you ever written (e.g. on Zen Habits) still online, or have you — later on — removed some of the posts and why? When is a good time to trash, when is a good time to move a specific subject into a blog of its own.

This is a tough question, and I won’t be able to provide a definitive answer, because it really depends on your blog’s purpose. What are you trying to do with your blog? What message are you trying to send to your readers? The answers to these questions will determine your course of action.

I can share what I’ve done with Zen Habits, as this is something I did nearly a year into blogging myself. In the early days of Zen Habits (January and February 2007), I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I experimented with different styles. Long posts and short ones, essays and lists, funny and informative, rants and reviews. Eventually I found a style that I liked, that readers seemed to like, and I ditched some of the styles that didn’t work so well: short posts, rants, a daily tip, etc.

When I looked back into my archives, I was actually a bit embarrassed by some of the early mistakes. I also felt that these posts would detract from the overall message of Zen Habits, and so I took them out of the archives. Did I delete them? Some of them I did, and with others I found a compromise: I just marked them as private, so that only I could see them.

The problem with deleting old posts is that if you have other posts that link to the old ones, you have to go and delete or change all those old links. This was a problem for me, as many of my early posts were interlinked — I actually linked them all manually. So I had to manually delete the links, and that took a long time. For awhile I was getting emails from readers letting me know about broken links, and I had to go fix them. So if you do delete old posts, look out for this.

For Zen Habits, I wanted to send a message of simplicity rather than clutter. That means being consistent throughout, if possible, so I deleted posts that people didn’t seem to enjoy and that only caused clutter. It also made it easier for people to find my best posts, which is always a good thing. I thought it best that if they were going to take the trouble to go through my old posts, they would find my best stuff.

However, not every blog has the same purpose as Zen Habits. Some are more personal, more like a journal than the magazine style I tend to lean toward. That was the purpose of the first blogs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If your blog is supposed to be a record of your personal journey, then obviously keeping your early posts would be very important. You wouldn’t want to get rid of those early records.

These are just two examples … there are as many variations as there are blogs. I can’t provide an answer for every blog — only my own.

Instead, I’d like to hear from you guys: What are your thoughts on this topic? Should blog archives be decluttered every now and then, or are old blog posts sacred and never to be deleted? How does your blog’s purpose determine your answer? Share in the comments!

RECENT POSTS

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

Rising Action in a Story (Or, Why Your WIP Might Suck)

Have you ever told somebody that you started a book but you just couldn't get into it? Have you ever picked up a book and struggled through the first page, the first chapter, even the first half, only to stop reading entirely? You may even have a bookshelf dedicated...

Exposition in a Story: Why You Need to Get It Right

Has anyone ever told you that your story was good, but included too much info-dumping?  Or maybe you’ve read a fantasy novel and found yourself unable to get through the first chapter because, no matter how hard you tried to pay attention, you couldn’t get past...

JOIN OVER 2 MILLION READERS

WANT YOUR NEXT BOOK TO BE A BESTSELLER?

Then you need KDP Rocket – the killer advantage of pro authors.

Related Posts

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

About The Author

Mary Jaksch

Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

Latest Posts

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

What Is the Climax of a Story?

What Is the Climax of a Story?

Have you ever noticed that once you get about three-quarters into a book, you have to finish it?  That’s because you’ve likely run into the climax. And when the climax of a book is good, it becomes impossible to put down. Learning to write a compelling climax...

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

Storytelling is a different kind of writing. Often, voice trumps grammar. Of course, your writing needs to be easily understood by the reader, but it’s crucial that the voice of your writing is strong.  Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, both genres employ...

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

Do you want to learn how to find topics to write about? Do you ever sit down to write a blog post, article or chapter,  and nothing, but nothing appears in your mind? This is the dreaded writer's block. The good news is that if you use the following 15 tips, you...

>