If you are not serious about blogging, then don’t read this article. Cuz I’m not pulling any punches here, y’all. These mistakes are common, and if you’ve been blogging any length of time you might find yourself in them, and that could be painful. If you are just now starting a blog, then DO read this article, cuz it will help you avoid the mistakes that many others have committed — including myself, lol.
Today is my 2nd blogging anniversary!! Happy anniversary to me! This is the one day in the year when I figure I have a right to write about blogging, even though it’s not my usual topic. So in honor of this occasion, I am going to list some mistakes that new bloggers make. How do I know them so well? Because I have been a new blogger. (Probably still am, lol.) And not only have I made some of these mistakes, I’ve watched other new bloggers make them, also.
Mistakes to Avoid When You are Starting a Blog
I know you think when you start a blog it’s gonna be all about how wonderful a writer you are, but it’s not. Images these days are just as important, if not more so, because they are often what draws someone in to read those amazing words of yours. Many new bloggers don’t take the time to learn how to craft great images.
a) Make your images the right dimensions. Pinterest likes a VERTICAL image, one that has a ratio around 4×6. That is probably the most important one to get right.
b) Add TEXT — in the form of the title of your post — to at least one image on each post. That way when people pin it, others can see right away what the post is about, and they will be more likely to click on it. It’s crazy how many blogs I’ve seen without this crucial element.
c) Make the text large enough to be easily seen and in a font that is easily readable. Some of the fancier fonts just aren’t easy to read, y’all — stick with simple.
d) You can’t just publish photos you get from a Google search. That is illegal. You have to either get permission from the original creator and credit them, or buy permission from a stock photo site and credit the creator, or use a free photo site like Pixabay.com.
d) There is a whole art form to making great images, and I certainly don’t claim to have mastered it. But this should be one of the first things a new blogger starts to learn about. Don’t neglect your images!
This is a personal pet peeve, but it can also make or break your blog. As an editor, I am often amazed by the poor grammar exhibited by otherwise amazing writers (hopefully none of my clients are reading this, lol). If people can’t understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the word choice is. Also, it just looks unprofessional. Punctuation and spelling are the two biggies. If you know you are weak in this area, then find someone to read over your stuff before you publish it, in order to catch anything major. Here are some of the worst offenses:
a) Using an apostrophe for the plural of a word: How to Keep Your Kid’s Happy. (Kids. Please.)
b) Using a comma after a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence: But, we decided to go anyway. Since, we had the money. And, we had a good time. (No comma is needed — just because you would pause when speaking does not mean you can just throw in a comma when writing.)
c) There, their, they’re
d) To, too, two
e) If you’re gonna use slang or casual language, at least spell it right. For example — it’s y’all. Not ya’ll.
Many new bloggers want to write about themselves. After all, that’s what they know best. And that is fine, when done correctly. But if all you’re posting is “what we did this week,” or “what I bought at the store” or “what we had for dinner,” you may not gain a following beyond your own family. Make sure your stories about your life are set in a larger context that will help others. Like “How to Get the Best Deal on Meat” — and THEN tell about your most recent shopping trip. This will help personalize your content, to make it interesting and different than everyone else’s; but you will also appeal to anyone who is interested in learning how to save money while buying meat.
NOTE: Get more help creating killer content and working more productively with this FREE video series by Ruth Soukup. It’s only available for a limited time, so sign up now: Blogging Made Simple.
This is one I am still learning about. If you read Anyone Can Make Money Blogging, my first anniversary post, you will remember that I said (among other things, so go read it; it’s good 🙂 ) that I didn’t want to narrow down my niche. THAT WAS A NEW BLOGGER TALKING. I am realizing now that having multiple niches (or an incredibly wide niche) on one blog may bring traffic but creates a segmented audience. Which means that not all of your audience is interested in everything you write. Which means that they will pick and choose, and if you start writing more about what they aren’t interested in, they will leave. And down the road, when you want to create a product, it will only appeal to a portion of the people you’ve gathered to sell it to.
BUT. This is something that takes time to figure out. So if you are just starting a blog and you can’t seem to come up with a somewhat narrow niche to focus on, then just keep writing about whatever until you begin to discover what resonates with people. What you seem to have a particular talent for. This will come in time.
For me, I’ve been realizing just the last few months that my stuff seems to be more effective among homeschoolers — particularly those homeschooling high school. Many of my other articles on other topics get pinned and read by non-homeschoolers, but they are not my true audience, because they only read the one article they are interested in and leave. My true audience will look around and find more to click on.
So I recently changed my tagline and have started writing more to that specific audience — that narrower niche — and I believe it’s making a difference. It doesn’t mean I’m ONLY writing about the topic of homeschool; it means that whatever I write, I have those homeschool moms in mind as the people I want to serve. This makes my writing more effective and my blog actually more helpful.
Or lack thereof, I should say. Here’s what I mean: some new bloggers are very successful almost from the start. They grab a popular niche, and they write well, and they make great images; and their stuff just goes like gangbusters. And that is GREAT. But here’s the thing: they don’t know any better than to boast and brag about it.
In my two years I’ve already seen this happen a few times, so it is not isolated to just one or two insensitive people.
MOST bloggers take awhile (as in years) to gain traction. It is a long time of slogging in the mud to learn how to blog and what will resonate and how to promote and if anyone cares. There is an unwritten blogging etiquette rule that says you don’t really talk about your page views, you don’t name-drop, you just don’t talk about your success — because other bloggers may not be there yet. And they may have been working at it longer than you, and even be more gifted than you. (I have broken this unwritten rule myself, even being so bad as to share SOMEONE ELSE’s page views (which were quite good and I was proud of her, but still) with a crowd of people. SO not cool, y’all.)
But often, new bloggers with almost instant success don’t understand the frustration of having worked hard over a long period of time and not seeing huge results. They can tend to stomp on some toes as they climb so quickly to the top of the pile. They talk about how they hit their 100K pageview goal or their 4-digit income goal — and don’t realize that others have been working much longer to reach their smaller goals and may not have even met them yet.
It’s just insensitivity; it’s not like these newbies are trying to be mean. They are thrilled with their success, and they should be. But they should be careful when and where and how they discuss it. It’s NOT FUN to be on the listening side when you’ve been working at it longer and wish it was you.
There are two errors to make on this one: spending too little, or spending too much.
a) DO start out by investing in good hosting and self-hosted WordPress. It is a waste of time to start with a free blogging platform, because if you get serious (and that’s why you’re starting a blog in the first place, because you’re serious, hello) then you will just have to switch. Many bloggers will try to sell you on Bluehost, because they make good affiliate money from there. And it’s the cheapest out there, so it might be good for awhile. But most bloggers switch away from there after the first year. I recommend Black Chicken Host. I love their values, and their customer service is top notch.
b) DO invest money to learn your craft. But not too much. Pick one book or course at a time to focus on. Don’t go crazy like a kid in a candy store and sign up for more than you can digest and apply.
This year I have been taking the Elite Blog Academy course, done by Ruth Soukup (she’s the one who does the video series I mentioned above). It has been SO helpful. It talks about ALL aspects of blogging. It is a BIG investment — of both money and time — and I personally would not recommend it for someone just starting a blog. I would wait until you have been blogging at least 3-6 months. I think the course would be very overwhelming if you were starting from square one with your blog — because then you would be trying to learn all about even setting a blog up AND trying to keep up with the rest of the class, as well. The course is self-paced, don’t get me wrong; but there is always benefit from going through it at the same speed as most of the others, so you can bounce ideas off of each other in the forum.
I CAN recommend Ruth’s book, How to Blog for Profit without Selling Your Soul, to anyone — even those still just THINKING about starting a blog. SO MUCH good info in there.
c) Other resources I recommend:
My most recent learning has been from Strategies Worth Sharing, which is a book/workbook about using your Facebook page to grow your blog. Brittany Ann from Equipping Godly Women has written this really excellent guide. In my opinion, spending the extra money for the workbook is absolutely necessary, because the workbook gives you exercises to do that will help you really apply everything for your own specific circumstances.
Oooo, I also want to tell you about a class that I just started — it’s called Pinning Perfect. Wow, this course fills you in completely on how to write pin descriptions and make killer images… and I haven’t even gotten to the strategy part yet! Click here to check it out: Pinning Perfect by Blog Clarity
And now I want to take just a minute to thank all my wonderful readers! This is one of the funnest jobs EVER, and the reason is YOU!! HUGS!!
Whether you are just starting a blog or whether you’ve been doing it for awhile, the mistakes I’ve listed, while common, do not have to be yours! Enjoy the blogging journey! I still say it’s a great way to bring in a little extra in the mula department! 🙂