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I realized that some of my blogging posts have shifted to some more technical topics, but really it’s the brand new bloggers who need the most help. When you’re just starting out, you don’t know who to turn to for help and what you should be doing with your blog.
So this week’s Wednesday post is especially for new bloggers as everyone is new at some point.
If you’re new to this series, check out some of the previous blogging tips posts:
- Choosing the Best Blog Web Hosting Sites
- How Guest Posting Helps Your Blog
- 10 Recommended WordPress Plugins For Your Blog
- Google PageRank, Not Just About Links
- Blog Link Building – Not All Links Are Created Equal
- Importance of Blog Networking
- Effectively Using Keywords On Your Blog
- Optimal Blog Keyword Research for SEO
Now let’s discuss some common mistakes that many new bloggers repeat time and time again…
Common Mistakes Made By New Bloggers
While it’s usually the newer bloggers overlooking this stuff, there are also some not as new bloggers that still stumble on this stuff.
Having Unrealistic Expectations – Unless you’ve managed a blog before or know someone who did, you are unlikely to really appreciate what goes into running a blog. Most probably assume it is little more than writing a bunch of blog posts. That couldn’t be further from the truth though. There is a whole other side when you are more serious with your blogging. There is so much technical and marketing work that writing is really only half the battle.
It is also tough to understand what a huge commitment it is. You won’t get overnight riches and you don’t just put in a few hours a week. Blogging becomes a very time consuming project when you want it to be something more than just an online diary. You have to be willing to be extremely patient and dedicated to putting in a lot of effort. If you take the right approach that effort pays off down the road, but nothing is guaranteed.
Not Dedicated Enough Time to Marketing – This ties in with the unrealistic expectations. You can’t expect a blog to market itself unless you have the patience to toll away it for years waiting for people to find your blog on your own. I’m not even sure that strategy would even work since it would be so difficult for anyone to stumble across your blog if you’re not actively marketing it.
If you want your blog to earn some side income or lead to better opportunities, marketing needs to be a major priority. I’ve always put more time into marketing than into writing content because I started my blog with a solid marketing background. I had a decent idea of what would be needed to really grow this blog. Now that I accept a lot of guest posts and have a staff writer, a much greater portion of my time goes into marketing tasks.
Getting your blog URL in front of your target audience is a constant process. The same goes with building up search engine rankings. When you’re competing against countless other blogs and websites for rankings, you need a lot of links to show search engines that your posts are more relevant for your target keywords.
Being Shy With Fellow Bloggers – When you are marketing your blog, you have to accept that leveraging other blogs is your best bet. When the people who read blogs are already reading other blogs in your niche, those blogs are the perfect spot to attract readers. You could spend hours every day commenting on those blogs, but that won’t attract a lot of traffic and those links are quite weak for SEO.
Instead of just commenting on blogs, it pays a lot to get in touch with those bloggers and actually discuss ways of helping each other out. You’ll want to build some rapport first, but as you get to know each other, doors will open for various ways you can leverage their traffic. A lot of new bloggers are scared of taking that first step though. If you instigate a conversation with a fellow blogger, it is rare that they straight up ignore you or are rude in their reply.
So get out there and start making connections with fellow bloggers. Although some may be wary of helping someone that can’t help them much back, many others will recall when they were just starting out. They’ll remember other bloggers giving them a helping hand and they’ll pass on the favor.
Not Getting On Social Media Early Enough – This mistake seems to be repeated on the majority of new blogs. They might see that other bloggers are on social media, but they either don’t realize the importance of it or they are a little intimidated of starting something they are unsure how to do. They might already find that blogging is a lot of work and aren’t in a rush to add more work to their plate.
The thing is, you should at least sign up for social media accounts even before you officially launch your blog. You may not be ready to get active on those sites, but at least allow people to start following you so that you have an audience when you do spend more time on those sites. To start you should at least have a Twitter account and Facebook page. Depending on your niche, a profile on Google+ and Pinterest might make sense too.
Just signing up isn’t enough though. Be sure to add some buttons to your blog linking to those profiles. Provide the option for readers to follow your blog on the platform of their choice. I know I have wanted to follow a blog on Twitter, but I just didn’t see profile buttons anywhere on their blog. Don’t assume people will search those sites to find your profile.
Making Social Sharing Too Difficult – Along the same lines of getting on social media, you want to make social media sharing as easy as possible. Many people simply won’t share a page on social media sites if the page doesn’t have a button to make it easier. Those social sharing buttons make it easier to share the pages, but it also acts as a good reminder to share if they like the content.
For some reason I even see some established blogs making this mistake. I assume they are just going for a very clutter-free design, but why give up that extra source of traffic and positive SEO signals? It sure doesn’t make sense to me. When it’s as easy as installing a WordPress plugin, there is no excuse to not have social sharing buttons on your posts.
Using An Ugly Theme Too Long – This mistake is subjective as you can still build up a successful blog with a less attractive design. In my opinion though, a weak design will handicap your efforts. At the very beginning, a weak design might lead to bloggers being more willing to help you out. In the meantime you could be losing visitors due to a negative first impression.
You can overcome the negative aspects of a lousy design, but there is no need to put yourself at a disadvantage. Even if a poor design leads more bloggers to help you, there will be just as many that will overlook working with you. Some bloggers will see less potential benefits down the road. If you had approached those bloggers with a more professional looking design, they might see passed how new your blog is. You might appear to be a strong ally to have down the road.
When your blog looks great you also develop more motivation to work on it. You become more proud to share your blog with others. It shows people that you’re taking the whole blogging thing seriously and that you’re an up and comer.
Using Copyrighted Images – Again this is a mistake that I see bloggers making even after they’ve been around for a while. Usually the excuse is along the lines of ‘but everyone else is doing it’ or ‘it’s not stealing if those images are published online’. Those kinds of excuses don’t justify trying to benefit from other people’s work. Providing a link back to the stolen image’s original location doesn’t cut it either.
There are plenty of free images that you can use on your blog, but they have to be explicitly labeled as such. If they are not, the little copyright note at the bottom of the page includes all images. It is not simply fair game, just like it is not fair game for anyone to directly copy your blog’s content.
I recommend you use a website called CompFight to find images are that legal to use. If not, you might get an e-mail from the image owner’s lawyer requesting that you take down their stolen images asap. They would also have a right to sue you for copyright infringement. Personally I’d rather not risk that.
Ignoring Keyword Usage – Now I wouldn’t say this is something you need to worry about right away. In fact there may be some benefits to ignoring it early on. First of all it would make things a bit easier at the beginning. Secondly your first posts are usually not your best posts. So it’s not such a bad thing if those posts don’t gets direct search engine traffic down the road.
At some point though you should get in the habit of strategically using keywords in your posts, particular in your post titles and urls. To show search engines that your page should be relevant for specific keyword phrases, it mostly comes down to keyword usage on and off your blog. If your main target keyword is in your title & url there is a much greater chance that backlinks will include that keyword.
Choosing effective keywords to target is an art. You also need to know where in your posts to include those keywords. So I suggest you refer to the keyword related posts mentioned at the beginning of this post. I don’t take the time to carefully choose my keywords for every single post, but you can be sure I do for any monetized page.
Using Less Than Ideal URL Structure – Within your WordPress settings you have options on how you want to structure your post url structure. My personal preference is just using the post title and I feel that is the most SEO friendly option.
The worst setup you can use is when the post url just uses the post id number. It’s just a wasted opportunity to put your target keyword in your url. Then if you get any backlinks using the url as link anchor text, you are not building relevance for any specific keywords.
There is also the option to include the date in the url, but I find that unnecessary. Sure it instantly tells you when that post was published for future reference, but with SEO you don’t want long urls. A long url dilutes your important keywords giving them less weight. It is also less likely to fit in a tweet without using a url shortener, resulting in a missed opportunity for some keyword rich links.
Trying to Monetize Too Early – This is actually a piece of advice that I wasn’t too accepting of early on. My thinking was that I might as well get my audience accustomed to there being advertising on my blog. I thought I’d also make at least a bit of income during that time. I was completely wrong.
To do well with ads on your blog you need either a high volume of traffic or you need extremely targeted traffic. Both of those conditions are unlikely for the first several months…possibly the first 6 – 12 months. So putting ads up too early just wastes time and can lead to frustration. You might as well focus on stats that you can realistically improve during the first year.
Other bloggers may be more willing to cooperate with you if your blog is less monetized too. For some reason some bloggers are turned off by advertising on blogs. I don’t quite get it, but it is the way things are sometimes.
So you might as well focus on creating solid content and building up the marketing of your blog. It will turn out to the better route in the long term.
I probably could’ve expanded this list to 20 mistakes, but then it starts to get judgemental. For some things there is no right and wrong way, but people do still think one way is better.
Don’t get discouraged if you are making a lot of these blogging mistakes. It’s only natural as most bloggers jump in with no prior experience and a lack of guidance.
If you’re making any of these mistakes, refer to my previous blogging tips posts for help or post your questions in the comments below. If you see your blogger friends doing this stuff, share this post as a subtle hint.