All of us make mistakes. This is something that can’t be avoided 100% of the time. Though some of these errors we all make can turn into some of your greatest learning experiences. However, one of the best ways to save time and money in your blogging is to learn from the mistakes of others. If you do that – and avoid those same pitfalls yourself – you will already be well ahead of the game.
I can’t prevent you from experiencing some of the mishaps that many bloggers deal with, but I can give you some good solid pointers to help you along the way. If you haven’t already committed a few of the slip-ups I’ll be discussing here, then great! I’m happy to know that you might benefit from some of my past mistakes, as well as the blunders others have made. After all, the blogging space is really a community of like minded people – and we’re all in it together. We all do better when we help each other out; so let’s get started.
Here are my top picks for the 17 blogging mistakes you should avoid at all costs. If you slip up and forget to avoid one or two of them, don’t worry. Consider this a handy guide for doing some damage control before it’s too late.
What kills a blog post?
Here’s a list of 17 sure-fire ways to fail. Ignore these warnings and you’ll have a tough time being successful.
Do you commit any of these?
Blogging Mistake #1: Awful headlines are commonplace.
Your headline is going to appear in many places. At the top of your post… In search engine page results… And email subject lines. The goal of the headline is to stop readers cold and draw them into your post. You can’t do that if you write confusing, or just plain lousy headlines. You can stop reader’s in their tracks however, if you write headlines that are unique, ultra-specific, useful or urgent. As you can see, the below headlines can share multiple qualities. The best ones often do:
Blogging Mistake #2. Never linking to old posts.
In the example above, I have linked to four older posts of mine. I did that for several reasons.Those links drive traffic to those older posts, giving them new life. Those links contain keywords I want to rank highly for. Links are one of the best ways to direct Google spiders through your site. Just because you’ve published a post doesn’t mean you should forget about it. Each post is a valuable asset, so give new life to your old posts with new links.
Blogging Mistake #3: Forgetting to fill out your page title and description fields.
You’ll ruin any chances of your post ranking if you forget to fill out the page title and description fields for each post. That metadata is critical to search engines crawling and indexing your site. And when you use keywords properly, it tells those spiders what the page is all about.To make life easier, use a plug-in like Yoast SEO.
In WordPress you’ll see this form at the bottom of each post. That’s by far been the best plug in I’ve ever used. On top of that, your titles and descriptions have to be social friendly.
Blogging Mistake #4: Wall of text.
If your blog looks like a big, scary wall of text, readers are going to bounce in a nano-second. Even if your ideas are amazing, presentation is half the battle. Try to break up paragraphs by using headings between them to give your reader’s eyes some anchor points. Keep paragraphs to 3 – 5 sentences maximum, and keep sentences under 30 words (if you can help it).
Blogging Mistake #5: Publishing less than one post per month
OK, I understand that you are busy and that turning out one blog post a month is not easy. But the less you post, the less chance your newest post has any chance at gaining any traction. That one blog post every two months is about as good as not blogging at all.
The more frequently you post, the more traffic you’ll get. That traffic eventually slows and then dies when you stop posting. Besides, if Google comes back to your site to check for more content and doesn’t find any, it will back off and it may be a long time before the spiders come back, which isn’t great for your newest post
Blogging Mistake #6: Zero presence on any social media platforms
When blogging was nearly the only game in town all you really had to do was blog. There weren’t other social media sites you could leverage like Twitter, Facebook or Google . That has, of course all changed. Hopefully you are on these sites and hopefully you are being strategic about how you use these social sites to promote your content. Every post you publish needs a boost from your social media presence. I’m onInstagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Quora, Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram andLinkedIn and Google My Business.
If you think that’s exhausting, then you can use Smarter Queue to schedule your posts.
- Email your subscribers
- Share on social networks
Promote your blog on all major social media networks. If you don’t have accounts on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Google, now is the time to do it. Don’t be afraid of marketing via social media; it’s not as complex or as intimidating as you might think. A few basics for success include updating your users regularly; building relationships instead of coming across like you’re selling to people, and providing content that is useful and engaging.
Think about what you’d like to see on your favourite social media site; you probably don’t want to be hit over the head with aggressive advertising, do you? But you probably don’t mind seeing a few links to websites and products/services that you can really use.
Blogging Mistake #7: Never inviting readers to leave comments
A post without comments is like that abandoned house down the end of your street: creepy and not to be trusted. Of course, if you are just launching a blog, it may be a few weeks before you get your first comment. But follow all the steps above and that comment will come. You also have to encourage people to comment. That’s why I end every post I write with a question: I do this now on my blog and every guest post I write.
You will also get comments when you write detailed posts on advanced topics. You may cover a complicated issue that needs a little more explaining, or somebody wants to know how you did something. That’s okay. You want that.In the end, good comments give your post proof that people find what you are writing about valuable. And the more comments the better. It’s social proof in action
Blogging Mistake #8: Not Collecting Emails from Day One
If I could change one major detail that I didn’t know about early on, it would be collecting emails from the very start! Doing this one thing could have spared me so much stress after Google’s first Penguin algorithm update. Don’t let your blog fall victim to another algorithm updates. Do yourself and your other bloggers a huge favour: Start getting those email addresses from your visitors immediately.
If you’re worried that collecting emails will bother your visitors and cause them to leave your site, stop worrying. If you do it the right way, you can get those emails without annoying your users.
Blogging Mistake #9: Popups and Banners
We get it: Popups work. Using them is the best way to convert visitors into subscribers or to sell a product. My website’s newsletter subscription rate soared over 200% when I started using a popup form throughout the site. And this is exactly why you are even seeing the pros over-use popups. When a popup ad can yield so many more clicks than a banner ad, it just makes sense to put your advertising dollars there, right?
That’s why you see popups being used by virtually everyone nowadays, from major consumer brands to content marketing websites. But too much of a good thing will drive your traffic away quickly. Popups should be used in moderation because when they are displayed in excess, they can jeopardise the user experience.
Again, put yourself in the place of the average website visitor. If you’re like millions of other Internet users, you visit websites on a regular basis. When you see one or two popups that are relevant to you, you probably don’t mind – do you? But if you’re bombarded by irrelevant popups, how likely are you to make a quick exit? So do your visitors and yourself a favour now; use popups sparingly, and make sure you’re only using ones that will resonate with your average audience.
Blogging Mistake #10: Writing about a topic nobody cares about
It’s this simple: Your post will fall flat on its face if you do not write about what your audience cares about. The same is true if you try to write about a topic that somebody else is already doing a good job writing about. For example: If you want to write about online copywriting… then you have to do a better job than Copy blogger.
Want to write about social media news? Then you have to compete with Mashable, Social Media Examiner or Socialmedia.biz. Perhaps SEO is up your alley. If that’s the case, then you have to square off with the likes of Search Engine Land or Moz. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done. Every single one of those blogs started small. But it takes a lot of work, which brings me to my next point.
Blogging Mistake #11: You write purely for SEO
Writing exclusively for Google will bore the pants off your readers. If you’re only writing for robots, then you might be wasting human time. Your readers aren’t interested in regurgitated keywords that exist for crawling robots. Don’t allow Google to turn you into a keyword-processing machine. Don’t allow Google to kill your creativity. Always write for your audience first, then optimise for search engines later.
Blogging Mistake #12: You don’t write in plain English
Jargon, gobbledygook, and bombast slow your readers down. Jargon requires your readers to stop and think about the meaning of your words. Gobbledygook takes up their time without adding meaning. Bombastic sentences slow them down because they’re full of unnecessary words. When you cut excess words from your sentences, you’re doing your readers a favour. When you replace long words with simpler words, you’re delighting your readers.
Make your posts as easy to read as possible. Write as if you’re writing for a 10-year old. Show your readers you value their time by writing in plain English.
Blogging Mistake #13: Being Too 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.
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.
Blogging Mistake #14: You edit your posts in less than five minutes
Are you a super-writer who writes almost impeccable posts in one go? Most of us can’t even edit in one go. Consider at least four rounds of editing: Review the flow of the post.
- Can you remove any paragraphs without impacting your story or argument?
- Does each paragraph naturally follow the paragraph before it?
- Take out the funny asides that aren’t funny or aren’t relevant.
- Polish each sentence. Cut overly long sentences in two; replace difficult words with simple ones; and cross out redundant words.
- Correct any grammar or spelling mistakes
The more effort you put into editing, the easier your post becomes to read. Your message becomes clearer, and your readers will be grateful.
Blogging Mistake #15: 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. 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. So make sure you make your time and effort worth it by letting the world know about what you have been working on. Spend more time promoting your blog as you spent writing it.
So if it took you one hour to write a blog post, spend two hours promoting it… minimum! If you don’t promote your blog posts enough, you wasted your time writing it!
Blogging Mistake #16: 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 get it. 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 I recommend in my own list of resources here >>
Canva is one of the most popular photo editing programs with bloggers because it is so easy to use. Canva is free, although power users may wish to upgrade to the subscription-based Canva for Work version, which costs $12.95 per month.
PicMonkey is a fantastic photo editing and design tool that is quite easy for beginners to learn and use. Whether you’re editing the photos you take on your phone or DSLR, or creating collages for your blog posts (and Pinterest), PicMonkey is a great all-around tool. The basic edition of PicMonkey is free, or you can upgrade to the premium version that includes all of the bells and whistles for $4.99 per month (or less if you pre-pay for a year).
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Blogging is a written platform, so it’s important for bloggers to pay special emphasis to things like grammar. I don’t profess to know all of the writing rules, but Grammarly is a massive help on this front. I use the free version, which corrects 250 mistakes (such as spelling, incorrect word usage, comma placement, and grammar) and works on any web-based program, including WordPress, Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter.
Even if you don’t actively use a Pinterest account, that doesn’t mean that your blog readers don’t have one. Without a pin-sized image for each blog post, you’re making it really difficult for your readers to save your blog to their Pinterest boards. So, just get a Pinterest account… You know that Pinterest button you see on tons of sites when you hover your cursor over a picture? Yeah, that button makes it super duper simple to pin an image from your site onto Pinterest.
Blogging Mistake #17: Producing Lackluster 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, without making it great. 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.
Bonus Tip: Giving up
Sadly, most people quit about 12 months in. You need resilience to succeed. Blogging is hard work, and commitments like job, family or other reasons can overtake your blog. That happens. This is why it is so important to count the costs before starting a blog, because in the end giving up on your blog will kill every post you’ve ever written.
None of what I have shared may be new to you. But it’s true. Fortunately, blogging is a level playing field, so anybody can apply the basics and succeed. If you want a blog that grows year after year, you have to start with the basics — namely, writing a killer blog post. And do that non-stop.
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p.s. If you enjoyed this, you might also like:
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