We’ve all been there – that moment when you realize you made a big old blogging mistake. I think that because of the way blogs work – how they instantaneously publish thoughts, perspectives and ideas to the internet – it would be impossible to go through your entire blogging career without a few mistakes. I know that I make them at least once a month. Granted, they’re not always huge – but they’re definitely not the best thing in the world.
My own biggest blogging mistake ever was pretty bad – and it’s also unfortunately a pretty common one. If you read my blog now, you might be surprised by this – because if there’s one thing I preach, it’s blogging consistently. But after my son was born, I became the blogger who didn’t write very frequently. Not only that, I was barely participating on social media. I went from posting about ten to fourteen articles a week to maybe getting three posts live per week.
My audience dwindled and, once I figured out what was wrong, it took me a solid nine months to remedy – all because I stopped making my blog a priority. Thinking back on those days – especially since I’m planning ways to make sure that doesn’t happen when our next little one arrives – got me to thinking: what do other bloggers view as their own biggest mistake of their writing career?
So – we found out. And many of the responses are probably going to prove helpful for preventing your own blogging break down.
1. Importance of SEO
One of the more common things you’ve heard about as a blogger is that you need to focus on your SEO. But do you actually take that advice to heart? Joyce Brewer from the Mommy Talk Show learned this the hard way.
When I started blogging I had no idea what SEO could do for my blog’s traffic. Now I have to go back and optimize my old posts so that they’re easier found on Google. I know my traffic would have grown faster if I’d researched and implemented better SEO faster.
If you haven’t learned how basic SEO updates can improve your site, take Joyce’s comment to heart. Your content will be easier to find through online searches – and your traffic will significantly increase – simply by making a few small changes. And while it might seem like a lot to learn, it’s a necessity for those who want to make a living as a blogger.
2. Newsletter Sign Ups
John Turner, CEO of UsersThink, offers some interesting insight.
Easily the biggest mistake I made blogging on my first blog was not focusing on newsletter sign ups. I though social sharing should be the main focus, and while that’s important and very helpful, email marketing is much more powerful for a number of reasons – but it wasn’t something I learned til later.
John brings up a good point. A newsletter allows you to directly reach the people who want to see content from your site – on a repeated basis. Social media is a great way to push you message out there and reach more people, but your newsletter shouldn’t play second fiddle to that. And with tons of great software out there – much of which is free – you have a variety of tools at your fingertips to create a newsletter list for your blog.
3. Just Be Yourself
According to Michael Satterfield, Directer of The Gentleman Racer, being himself – instead of trying to make his site more corporate – is how he found success.
People want to connect with you as the blogger – and , crazy as it sounds, I have had “fans” recognize me and come up to take a picture. The more myself I interject into it, the better it does.
Finding your voice as a writer is one of the hardest parts of owning a blog – but the reality is that people read your content because they like that voice. It’s something they can’t find somewhere else. Staying true to that is one way to find success as a blogger.
4. Getting Permission to Post
Something that we all probably overlook from time to time is getting permission to post things – you know, before we post them. Personally, I try to ask other parents before posting photos of their kids on my blog, or talk to my husband before posting personal things about our life. But with that being said, it’s not always our first priority as bloggers – sometimes we’re more concerned with getting the word out than the ramifications of what we’re posting.
Paul Cram, an actor, learned this the hard way when he posted a bunch of photos from the set of a television show before the episode aired on television.
The show heard about it, because an insane fan of the show went all nuts and reblogged the pics – so I was contacted and asked to remove it all at least until the episode was available. I learned a lot from that experience about patience and waiting until it’s “all clear” to post items to my blog.
5. Know Your Niche
Targeting your audience – and doing that well – is really dependent on whether you’ve defined your blogging niche. Jessica Rhae, owner of a lifestyle blog that features her miniature Dachshunds, spent a lot of cash figuring out her niche.
I spent a lot of money (over $500) on a fancy logo before I even knew what my blog niche was. It was wasted money because it was no longer relevant to my blog after six months had passed…it’s a mistake not to be clear on what your blog is about, know your niche and have developed your voice. If YOU are not clear on what your blog is about, other people won’t be either.
Jessica’s point is very valid. If your voice and niche aren’t clear, it’s a lot harder for readers to understand why your content will be relevant to them on an ongoing basis – which makes it unlikely they’ll regularly come back for more. And if you can’t establish a regular readership base, it’s going to be very hard to monetize your site in the future.
6. Strong Calls to Action
For bloggers who don’t work in the marketing world on a daily basis, adding a call to action on every piece of content you produce might not seem necessary. But establishing a relationship with your readers starts with getting them engaged on your site – as Lynette Chandler, owner of Tech Based Marketing, once learned.
My biggest blogging mistake is not having enough call to actions [on my site]. By that I mean, not naturally linking to affiliate (or my own) products, not presenting enough opportunities for people to sign up on my list, not asking people to do something – opt-in, follow, share, watch a video, learn more about a subject – that would make them want to stay on the blog longer, say yes to an offer or begin a relationship with me.
Adding share buttons – with a “share this” call to action, asking people to sign up for your newsletter or even just asking them to respond to your post in the comments are all great ways to engage with your audience. And making sure you add a call to action on every single page of your site is how you can best ensure people keep coming back for more.
7. Focus on Promotion
You can have the best content in the world – but no visitors if you don’t promote your site on your own. Harry Campbell, owner of The Rideshare Guy, shares his own site marketing mistakes.
I just expected people to find my stuff. Now I spend about 75 percent of my time marketing and my results have been amazing. I have the most success developing targeted relationships with other bloggers/people in the industry. I don’t just ask for help, though – I develop the relationship first, try to offer them something if I can and then go from there. People tend to be much more responsive with this type of marketing than just asking them for something.
Harry’s give a little to get a little approach is a great tactic for bloggers to implement on their own. Developing a community of bloggers or influencers within your niche is a great way to get natural publicity for your site and expand your audience at the same time.
Learning from other bloggers mistakes is a great way to learn what you might be doing wrong on your own site and grow your own following. But this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the blogging mistakes out there. So tell us in the comments: what has been YOUR biggest mistake as a blogger and what steps have you taken to get back on track?