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Starting a blog is easy. Once you choose the perfect name, you could set up your blog in 10 minutes. Easy peasy, right? However, even though starting a blog is pretty straightforward, the act of blogging takes a bit more time and effort. Especially if you have a specific (often monetary) purpose for blogging.
That’s why I thought it would be a good time to talk to you guys and gals about the top 10 new blogger mistakes to avoid. Chances are, if you are reading this, you probably consider yourself a newbie. I urge you to take the time to read this so that you can avoid making these common mistakes. If you see that you have already made a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. I can guarantee that it is not the end of the world. You just need to focus on learning from your mistake and then move forward from there.
New Blogger Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake #1: Not Choosing a Niche
One of the first mistakes that newbie bloggers make is believing that they can blog about everything under the sun. Sure, you can. Totally your prerogative. However, the reality is that when you narrow down your focus, it will be easier for your audience to find you. It also makes it more likely that your audience will browse around and come back for more. I suggest that you really think hard about the purpose of your blog. If you are just blogging for the sake of blogging, it probably won’t be that big of an issue. However, if you have a goal in mind, it is a good idea to have something specific that you talk about on your blog. Having a niche helps you to stay focused on your main goal and helps your ideal reader find your blog.
Homework: Pull out a sheet of paper and answer these questions:
- What topics am I really interested in?
- How popular are these topics?
- What is the level of competition with these topics?
- Is there a fresh spin I can put on the topic or something that I can add to the conversation?
- Is the topic sustainable or is it likely just a current trend?
- Can I make a profit by writing about this topic?
- Will I be able to produce enough content about the topic?
Your goal is to find a topic that you will enjoy writing about long-term (and that readers will want to read about), that leaves room for innovation, and that could viably generate income. Answering these questions should get you moving in the right direction.
Mistake #2: Neglecting Your “About Page”
Speaking of your ideal reader – how will he or she know that they are on the right blog for them? Say they come to your blog and browse around for a little bit. What is one way that you can let them know for sure whether or not your blog is something they should bookmark? The answer: your “About” page. So many bloggers make the mistake that their “About” page is meant to be about them. However, the truth is that it should be about your blog- specifically what your blog is about and who should read it. When you have an effective “About” page, your readers get to know up front whether this is the place for them and what they can expect from you in the future.
Homework: Check out this post about writing an effective “About” page and then get to work creating (or polishing) yours. Feel free to share it in the comments below.
Mistake #3: Blogging Sporadically
Another common blogging mistake is not blogging regularly. Many bloggers will blog twice a week for a couple of months and then not at all for two months. Or they blog if (and only if) they have something to say. Now, I am all for only blogging when you have value to share. However, the key to doing that effectively is to have a plan. That’s why successful bloggers tend to operate based on a blog editorial calendar. Just as newspapers and magazines have a plan for the content they will create throughout the month or year, so should you. Trust me, it makes it so much easier for you when you have a clear plan for what you need to write about and when it needs to be published. It also helps to ensure that your readers have plenty of content to look forward to and enables you to get them excited about what’s to come.
Homework: Create an editorial calendar for at least the next three months. There are several ways to do it, but I recommending checking out the post “Rock Star: Blogging CoSchedule is the Best Editorial Calendar for Bloggers”.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Competition
Ok, so I will be the first to say that “trying to keep up with the Joneses” generally leads to frustration. Living your life by trying to match or outpace other people is not likely to make you happy. However, if you want to be a successful blogger, you should definitely do your research. Know who else is in your niche (or similar niches). Which bloggers are doing well? Are there any bloggers in particular that you look up to? Who has the success that you are pursuing? What are your competitors doing that you are not? What could you do that they are not doing? Is there any room for collaborating and networking with other bloggers in your niche? Knowing your competition doesn’t mean that you want to BE them. Nor does it mean that you have to spend all of your time trying to one-up them. However, it can provide you with some much-needed insight into how you can become a better, more effective blogger.
Homework: Check out some of the top bloggers in your niche. What type of content are they sharing? Do they have an engaged community? Are they leaving space open for you to cover things in a different way? Do they seem to be open to networking? I would also recommend joining some good networking groups for bloggers. There are many to choose from on social media, but my favorite so far is Inspired Bloggers Network. It is a good starting point because it has bloggers from a variety of niches.
Mistake #5: Disabling Comments
There is some debate about whether or not having comments enabled is a necessity. Some would argue that it isn’t. They may cite that not having comments enabled on the blog forces the conversation elsewhere (such as on social media). Some may regale you with horror stories about endless spam (though there are great plugins to fight that). Still others are simply not interested in moderating the comments section.
However, there are some definite benefits to having comments enabled on your blog. The big thing is that it invites your readers to engage in a conversation with you. This allows them to learn more about you. It also allows you the opportunity to learn more about your audience, which is always a good thing. I often find that the comments section of a blog gives great insight into whether readers are enjoying the content, relating to it, hating it, or if they are asking for something more. That type of insight can be invaluable for you as you build your blog and your audience.
Homework: Decide whether you want to enable comments on your blog. If so, invest in a good comments plugin. You might also want to check out spam plugins. And please, for the love of all that is good, don’t use Captcha. It’s annoying.
Mistake #6: Not Understanding Keywords
Trust me, I know that learning about SEO can be scary. But I also know that learning about SEO can truly make a huge difference in getting your blog seen by your target audience. And, let’s face it, getting seen is half the battle when it comes to building your brand and, eventually, monetizing your blog. Have you ever seen the movie, “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner when he kept hearing a voice telling him “If you build it, he will come”? Yeah…that’s not the case with blogging. You can build the most amazing blog known to man, but if you don’t include some road maps for people to find it, they probably won’t. I mean, there’s a chance they may stumble across it by accident, but you don’t want to bank on that. Think of keywords as signs on the information superhighway. They tell people “Hey, you! The one who wants to know about (insert keyword here). Come check this out!”
Homework: For every blog post that you write, figure out the keywords that your ideal client might use to find your article. Then find a way to NATURALLY weave them into your blog post. If possible, include the keyword in the title, in the first paragraph, at least once more in the body of the blog post, and in the meta description. I also urge you to check out this post on how you can optimize your blog images for search engines.
Mistake #7: Being Salesy
I know that many of us are excited about learning how to make money blogging. In fact, a lot of new bloggers get into this industry solely to earn some additional income. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you think that you will earn money with your blog solely by trying to sell to people, I hate to tell you this, but it’s not going to work. Just kidding – I don’t hate telling you. It needs to be said. Not just for your sake, but for the sake of this entire industry.
News flash: Unless you are a big name brand with a huge following, slapping a bunch of promotional posts and ads on your blog isn’t going to create the cash flow that you want. The key to making money as a blogger is to develop relationships and provide value. Do those two things well and you will earn the trust and respect of your readers. That is when they will be more likely to seriously consider buying from you.
Homework: Take some time to think about how you can create content that will naturally lead into your products or services. You can also sign up for Lisa’s free e-course, “Top 3 Ways Bloggers Make Money” to learn more about monetizing your blog. If you are trying to get into affiliate marketing, you should also check out this post, “5 Types of Blog Posts You Can Write With Affiliate Links.”
Mistake #8: Not Promoting Your Content
Since we are talking about being salesy, I feel like we should cover the other end of the spectrum: people who don’t promote their content at all. Remember when I told you to give up on the “Field of Dreams” mentality? You have to promote your content if you want people to find you. Even if your content is excellent, that is no guarantee that your ideal reader will ever see it. If you want to improve the chances that your ideal reader will find you, you have to go to where he or she is and put your content where they can see it. That means sharing your content everywhere you can think of. Not only that, but sharing it consistently. When you create new content, you should be sharing it. No excuses. I’m sure you’re not writing just for the sake of writing. If you were, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this post. So make sure you make your time and effort worth it by letting the world know about what you have been working on.
Homework: Check out this blog post on “30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Post for Free” and get to work!
Mistake #9: Having Poor-Quality Images
Another mistake that newbie bloggers make is not putting effort into creating quality images. “But I’m a writer, not a photographer or graphic designer!” I understand completely. However, humans really are visual creatures. Attractive images capture our attention. We also tend to judge a book by its cover. Your blog post image is the cover. It is well worth it to spend a bit of time learning how to create images that will hook your readers long enough for them to decide if they want to click on the post. After that, it is your words that will get them to stay.
Homework: Check out some of the photo editing and graphic design tools that we recommend in our list of “Recommended Blogging Tools” and play around with creating Pinterest-worthy images.
Mistake #10: Producing Low-Quality Content
Last, but definitely not least, the biggest new blogger mistake to avoid is creating and publishing lackluster content. One thing that I have learned about blogging is that content is king. Readers want content that makes them feel as though they are getting something of value. They are trading their time for something, whether it is entertainment, education, information, inspiration, or something else. If they don’t feel like they are getting something from your blog, they are not likely to return. That’s why I think it’s so important to hone your writing skills and to only hit publish on content that you are proud of. It is much better to write less often, but produce great content than to write constantly, but your content be…blah.
Homework: Study some of your favorite blogs and look at the type of content they create that makes you FEEL. Commit to writing the type of blog that makes others feel and brainstorm how you can do that.
Do Tell: What other new blogger mistakes have you encountered? Have you fallen victim to any of the new blogger mistakes outlined above?
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