It looked very much like my alma mater was about to secure the commitment of a coveted quarterback for its football team. Gerry Bohanon of Earle, Arkansas was scheduled to make his announcement at 3pm EST. He is by all accounts a dynamic young man, an excellent athlete and a great student. He had dozens of scholarship offers. But after months of evaluating all those schools, he’d whittled down his choices to four. And the consensus among the experts is that my school, Baylor University, was the one he was planning to pick. breaking news

I had a little time on my hands, so I figured I’d write a quick post about Bohanon and his imminent choice of Baylor. I had no intention of claiming to have the inside scoop on his commitment. Nor was I trying to beat anyone to the punch. I just wanted for my post to be completed and ready for the moment when the big news became official.

Leading up to his announcement – as I was writing the post – a few indicators gave the impression that Bohanon might not pick Baylor after all. I would’ve been crushed if he’d chosen another school – not because of the time I had wasted writing a post that I couldn’t publish – but simply because we would’ve missed out on this great student athlete. Scrapping the post I had written was the least of my concerns.

But considering that nothing was official yet, I just kept on writing my post. I did a little research and finished all the writing. I added a few pics, optimized the post for search engines and it was ready to go. It was still in draft mode on my website.

Breaking News Before It’s Official

There are a few SEO tasks, however, which cannot be done until after a post is published. I like to make sure my posts will appear correctly when they’re shared on Facebook and Twitter, for example. So therefore I often publish a post and test its live link (URL) on those platforms. Then I can make changes if necessary. I figured there would be no harm if the post was just sitting there published on my website.

And if that’s all I had done, there would’ve been no issues. The mistake I made was submitting the URL of the post to Google. I did this in order to see how well the post was optimized for search engines. Well apparently it was a little too optimized because someone immediately found it on Google and posted the link on SicEm365.com, a major Baylor website / forum. Next thing I know, my usually-dormant website had dozens of hits. A couple hundred people were on my site looking for that post. My heart was racing.

I immediately unpublished the post and put it back in draft mode. Therefore many of those who visited my site were arriving to a “Page Not Found” message on my site. I certainly didn’t like this, but that’s certainly better than having a post which prematurely declared Bohanon’s commitment to Baylor…especially if he had ended up committing elsewhere. That would’ve been a total disaster. I mean…I was already hoping hard that Bohanon would commit to Baylor because he’s a great player. But after this blunder, I was really really hoping and praying that he’d choose Baylor.

Own Your Mistakes

The tricky thing about SicEm365 is that you must have a paid subscription to their website in order to access their forums, which is where I assumed my post had appeared. I’ve had a paid subscription to that website in the past, but as of yesterday I only had an unpaid account. So I hastily paid the $13 to reactivate my subscription and quickly found the forum where someone had posted my link. Here it is:

breaking news

The link to my post was shared on SicEm365.com. It declared the big news that all Baylor fans wanted to hear. Only problem was that it wasn’t official yet.

I replied to the guy who posted my link and tried to explain that he wasn’t supposed to have found my post (which is dumb because he obviously did find it). I briefly explained why I had prematurely published the post and I apologized.

Meanwhile, Gerry Bohanon took his sweet time making his announcement. I mean…I can’t blame the guy. This was his big moment. At first he wanted to be surrounded by his teammates and then he wanted to be surrounded by his family. He arranged a few hats on the table, each of which represented the schools he was considering. At around 3:50pm EST, he finally selected the Baylor hat.

Phew!!

I republished my post and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Not only was this excellent quarterback going to play football for my school, but I had also avoided some real embarrassment. The fact that I unintentionally broke the news a little early was no longer a big deal. Everything worked out in the end. But I tell ya…I really broke a sweat on this one.

I should’ve anticipated that people would be looking for Gerry Bohanon news on Google in those moments. Believe me…I’ve learned my lesson and I will never make this mistake again.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I think it’s important to disclose mistakes. If you follow someone’s work, it’s easy to get the impression that they’ve got everything figured out. Haven’t you ever felt like everyone’s an expert except you? It’s often very discouraging to try and start out in some endeavor because you’re very aware of your own ignorance. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to know what they’re doing.

I’m grateful for all I’ve learned about writing, blogging and building websites. But I’ll be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn. But the surest, quickest way to learn is to simply try and do stuff…even if you have doubts and make mistakes. If you do make mistakes, admit the error and fix it. And if you have any intention of announcing some breaking news, make sure it’s already broken.