Common Mistakes to Avoid as a New Blogger
When you’re just getting started with your blog, you might be surprised to find out that it entails so much more than writing a post and hitting publish.
SEO? HTML? Pinterest friendly images? Facebook debugger?
It’s enough to make your head spin!
I believe in keeping things simple, but there can still be a learning curve involved in getting a blog up and running.
Below are some of the most common mistakes I find new bloggers (and even some not-so-new bloggers!) making. You can avoid these pitfalls if you know what to watch out for.
1. Listening to ALL THE PEOPLE.
You’ve searched on Google or Pinterest for how to get traffic to your blog and before you know it you’ve submitted your email to 10 different people so you could get their free Blog Traffic guide that promises you more traffic than you’ve ever dreamed of. Now your inbox is filled with emails promising to teach you the very best methods for everything from growing your Pinterest following to making millions with a YouTube channel. Soon you’ll be in 10 different Facebook groups for bloggers and you’ll find that blogging advice can be very conflicting.
Many new bloggers make this mistake. In their zeal to learn everything they can about blogging successfully, they listen to anyone and everyone that claims to be an expert.
The problem is that many times these self-proclaimed “experts” only make money by telling others how to blog. You have no idea if they actually know what it takes to start a blog in any niche and make money from it. They can get plenty of commissions from blog hosting and email service providers or from sales of their blogging courses, but many of them are making the majority of their money from teaching others how to blog when they’ve never actually made money blogging before.
I recommend selecting a few trustworthy blogging experts to follow and ignoring the rest.
Following too many people results in the following problems:
- You receive conflicting advice.
- You get too many ideas and don’t know where to begin.
- You might be following people who don’t actually know what it takes to make money blogging other than getting big commissions for blog hosting and email service provider sign ups.
A couple of my favorite people to follow are Ruth Soukup from Elite Blog Academy and Crystal Paine from Your Blogging Mentor. (And of course there is Bite Sized Blogging. 🙂 )
Both of the ladies mentioned started out blogging on a “regular” blog (not a blog that makes money by teaching people how to blog), so they know what it really takes to build a successful blog. I highly recommend getting on the Elite Blog Academy wait list because 1. They regularly send out super informative content for bloggers and 2. You might just decide you want to enroll. (I did in 2014 and it was one of the best things I ever did for my blog!) If you’re still working on getting your blog up and running, you need to check out Crystal’s Blog Start Up 101.
2. Being mediocre at many things instead of great at one thing.
In the midst of listening to all the experts and joining all the Facebook groups, you’ll see post after post describing new traffic strategies or how well someone is doing on a particular social media platform.
It can be very tempting to jump from one thing to another in an effort to keep up with all the new things you’re learning. But your efforts will suffer because you are stretched too thin.
Learn to focus on one thing and do it amazingly well.
3. Not treating your blog as a business.
If you are determined to make money blogging, you need to realize that your blog is a business and it needs to be run like a business.
You can’t do things haphazardly and unprofessionally.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with what you’re doing, but it’s also going to require some good old fashioned work. You’re going to have to show up sometimes when you don’t feel like it.
You’re going to have to put in the work.
And you’re going to need a business strategy. Which brings me to my next mistake often made by new (and not-so-new bloggers):
4. Not having a solid strategy.
Even though you might be putting in the work, if you’re just doing things in no specific order you could be wasting valuable time and getting nowhere.
What you need is a blogging roadmap. A blueprint for success. Someone to tell you what to do and in what order to do it. As I’ve already mentioned, I highly recommend getting on the Elite Blog Academy wait list because a solid strategy is exactly what you will learn from it. You’ll not only learn how to do the necessary blogging tasks, but you’ll learn exactly at what point in your blogging game to do them. While you’re waiting for course enrollment to open up, definitely snatch up this free Blueprint for Blogging Success. It’s a very good map to get you started on your blogging strategy!
5. Unprofessional blog design.
I’m not necessarily saying I think you ought to pay big bucks for a professional blog designer to design your blog. I do think you ought to at least invest in a theme that already looks professional that you can easily customize. Thrive Themes are my absolute favorite and what I use on all my blogs, including this one. (It’s the Minus theme in case you’re wondering.)
Customizing your blog is not terribly complicated, and the themes are simple and clean. (Hint: if you want your blog to look professional on an amateur budget, keep it simple!)
6. Unappealing images and blog post titles.
If you want people to read your blog, you need to put a lot of thought into your blog post titles and put the effort into making sure you have top-notch images.
Images are not an area where you want to skimp on quality. In fact, you images are so important they can make or break the success of your blog.
Bad images = bad traffic
Mediocre images = mediocre traffic
High quality images = high quality traffic
Social media is a very visual place. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest — they are all visually based. If your visuals are not eye-catching, you will have a very difficult time growing your blog.
Many bloggers think that using free images will be good enough, and they can be — for a while. I really would only use free images when you haven’t yet made any money and therefore feel like you have zero budget for any extras. (And if you do use free imgaes, make sure to use the VERY BEST ones you can find. If it makes you say, “Eh, it’ll work” instead of “Ooh! I like that.” it’s not good enough.)
Also, please, PLEASE make sure you are using images that are legal to use. Some people think that just because an image is on Google it’s okay to use. No it’s not. The last thing I want is for you to end up with a lawsuit over an image! I would stick with Canva or Adobe Spark if you want to use free images. Anything there will be safe for you to use. I will be writing another blog post soon with more ideas for finding images.
Along with images, your blog post titles also need to sound exciting so that people will want to click them and read them.
A lot of new bloggers get discouraged when they pour their heart into a blog post, share a link on social media, and then…nothing happens.
Read this post for tips on how to write a blog post title that makes people want to click.
7. Not learning SEO.
As a new blogger, you may be thinking that SEO sounds too complicated and that you’ll just write your posts and hope for the best. But by ignoring SEO you’ll be throwing away massive amounts of traffic! What good is it to offer valuable content to people if no one can find it?
You don’t need to become a guru, but you should at least try to have a basic understanding of SEO.
The best course I ever took, which presented SEO in the least technical, easy-to-understand way I’ve ever seen is Sticky Blogging SEO. My search engine traffic took a major turn for the better when I implemented the things I learned in this course.
8. Trying to appeal to too many people.
It may seem like you can reach more people by posting a greater variety of things, but the reality is that you will not attract a loyal audience that way. If someone subscribes to your blog because you posted an amazing recipe and they want more, but then they get a post about homeschooling and then another with budgeting advice, they are not going to stick around. They won’t feel like sifting through a bunch of irrelevant content to get a few recipes they might like. Any traffic that comes through the door will turn around and go right back out. That’s not a good way to build a blog!
By knowing exactly who your audience is, you’ll know exactly which content to post that will appeal to that audience. When everything you post is a home run for your particular audience, you will continue to attract those exact people, they will share with their friends who also like that type of content, and your blog will grow, grow, grow!
9. Not monitoring your traffic.
Throwing your blog posts out there and hoping for the best is not a good business strategy. If you don’t know where your traffic is coming from, you won’t know the next steps to get more traffic or even to maintain what you have.
Monitoring your traffic shows you what is working so that you can do more of it and continue to build on that momentum.
A couple years ago I did an amazing course called Skyrocket Your Traffic with Google Analytics. It contained 30 mini challenges (one a day for 30 days) to complete within Google Analytics.) The results were immediate. Most of the time I saw traffic come to my blog within minutes of doing the day’s task. The course creators did such a great job of showing you exactly what to look for in Google Analytics so that you can repeat traffic-generating activities over and over and watch the traffic climb higher each time.
10. Ignoring your email list.
Many new bloggers get so caught up with creating content and posting on social media (all of which is time consuming) that they don’t spend time building and nurturing their email list. They’re so busy with all the other things blogging requires that it keeps getting pushed by the wayside.
Can I tell you that by ignoring your email list you are ignoring your blog’s most valuable asset?
It’s so important that if your blog shut down tomorrow, you could literally continue making money just from your email list.
If you do not have a way for people to sign up for your email list, and you do not email your list regularly, you need to get on that stat.
Your email list is where you have access to people any time. You don’t have to hope they’ll stop by your blog to see what’s new (do people even do that anymore?) or that they’ll happen to see your posts within the fickle algorithms of social media. With email, you can tell your readers exactly what you want to tell them, when you want to tell them.
11. Wasting time on the wrong activities.
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Approximately 20 percent of your online activities will generate 80 percent of your revenue.
It only makes sense to spend more of your time on that 20 percent, doesn’t it? The other 80 percent of your time is just fluff.
Why spend an hour tweaking your header image when you could spend an hour writing a post with affiliate links? Why spend an hour scheduling posts for a Facebook page that people may or may not see when you could spend an hour creating your email opt-in and growing your email list?
I’m not saying that social media is 100% wasted time, but many people prioritize it way too much over more important activities. Even those who have built wildly successful, money-making businesses on social media are at risk of losing everything with a simple algorithm change or if they offend the powers-that-be and do something to get their account closed. You own your email list and your website. I recommend building your business on your own property.
Elite Blog Academy has a report with 8 bad blogging habits and how to break them. It includes some more ideas of time-wasting practices and what to do instead.
12. Staying paralyzed.
Sometimes new bloggers (and yes, old bloggers too) get paralyzed. They see posts like this one full of all the mistakes they could potentially make and they’re afraid to move for fear of taking a misstep.
“I’ll study all of these things so I can do them right and then I’ll really get to work.”
Can I tell you something? The world of blogging includes making constant changes to your course. It’s a never-ending evaluation of what you’re doing right and what didn’t go so well and then changing course accordingly. If you wait until you know the perfect way to do something, you’ll never get anything done — because the perfect way to something today could very well change tomorrow anyway.
So what do you do?
You take a crash course in what needs to be done, and then you just jump in with both feet and do it! Learning as you go is not a big deal. Any of the mistakes on this list can be corrected later without any long-term consequences.
The only mistake that will be deadly to your blog is this one – not doing anything.
Are you ready to make a difference (and make some money) with your blog? Then head out there and go for it!