25 Common Blogging Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Every blogger starts out small and has to toil away to grow their audience. There are many mistakes that beginner bloggers can make that will hinder their performance or even discourage them to the point of wanting to throw in the towel.
But knowing what some of the most common mistakes are and how to avoid them can reduce the learning curve and get you heading in the right direction quicker. Here are 25 of these newbie mistakes for you to avoid:
1. Not defining your audience & strategy
You’re going to face an uphill battle if you don’t have a strategy in place for your blog, and you can’t come up with a plan until you have defined your target audience.
Just like launching any business, you should create an audience persona to distill who it is you are writing for - what do they do, how much do they earn, what are their pain points? Getting as specific as possible will allow you to write in a way that’s going to appeal to your intended audience.
2. Trying to be everything to everyone
This is the inverse of creating your ideal audience persona - writing for an audience that’s too generic means you essentially end up writing for no one - you want to appeal to a specific audience that wants to hear what you have to say, and you want your words to resonate with them.
Writing for no particular audience dilutes this effect, and limits your blog’s appeal, and income potential.
3. Write with your audience in mind - not about yourself
Once you understand who your audience is, and exactly who your writing for - do just that - write for them. Address their concerns, their pain points, their areas of interest.
Teach them things they’re interested in learning about. But don’t make it all about you.
You shouldn’t think of your blog as a vanity project where you share every detail of your life. The purpose of defining your ideal audience is so you create content geared towards them, not about you.
4. Not building an email list from the start
An all-too-common mistake, but one that is easily avoided. Many bloggers don’t see the need or importance of building an opt-in email list right from day one.
Of course, the uptake onto your list is going to start off very slowly, and your subscriber numbers may not seem like the effort and cost are justified, but over time the list will grow to a truly worthwhile number.
All too often, you’ll hear of bloggers, who once they realize the profitability of having an email list and what an asset it is, regret not having started collecting subscribers from the very start.
5. Not creating an editorial calendar and sticking to the schedule
If there’s one surefire way to fail at blogging, it’s not creating and sticking to an editorial calendar.
Planning and scheduling your posts in advance gives you certainty about what you’re going to write and when you’re going to post it, and gets you into the habit of posting to a schedule.
Inconsistent & sporadic posting will lose you traffic and can be the kiss of death for any blog. Posting regularly to a schedule creates certainty for your readers.
6. Don’t focus only on SEO
If there’s one thing that it is easy to become obsessed with as a blogger, yet one thing that you shouldn’t, it’s SEO.
Focus more on writing excellent quality, long-form pieces that provide real insight and value for your readers on a given topic, with a sprinkling of appropriate, well-researched long-tail keywords throughout rather than obsessing over exact-match URLs, stuffing keywords and title tags and the like.
Google is smart these days - really smart, so if you focus on writing great content on a given topic focused toward value to readers, providing you’ve done some keyword research and your on-page SEO is in order, you’ll be fine.
7. Thinking your content alone will bring traffic
On the other hand, content alone will not bring in masses of traffic.
It’s a sporadic blog indeed that can put up a piece of quality content, then sit back and watch the organic search engine traffic roll in, and social shares skyrocket.
Most successful blogs have utilized some form of strategic outreach to build relationships with other bloggers and influencers within their industry or niche.
It is these sorts of connections that amplify the reach of your content, allowing you to reach many more readers through social sharing and linking, than if you rely on search engine traffic alone.
8. Poor copywriting technique
Good copywriting that manages to persuade and influence readers can be a subtle art and hard to detect, but most really great bloggers have learned and do utilize copywriting techniques in their writing.
They can hook readers, hold their attention, and persuade them to take action, all the while remaining SEO friendly.
Good blog copywriting isn’t hard to learn and is one of the ways great blogs are able to really differentiate themselves from the average ones.
9. Publishing multiple short posts, not quality long-form pieces
You may think keeping up with a punishing publishing schedule is necessary to gain any traction with your blog.
Successful sites like The Huffington Post or Buzzfeed can publish dozens or even hundreds of posts per day simply because they have vast numbers of contributing writers.
Trying to post multiple times per day, or even per week on your own will only dilute the quality and length of your posts, and it is unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with such a demanding schedule, and will burn out.
Do your subject matter and your readers justice, and focus on producing those quality long-form pieces talked about earlier. It’ll create a more manageable schedule for you, better content for your readers, and Google will appreciate your efforts.
10. Copyright infringement/improper image attribution
This can be a tricky area for beginner bloggers - using images from third-party sources can be a minefield.
Get it wrong, and you could be looking at a lawsuit and thousands of dollars in fines. Even using the “Labeled for noncommercial reuse” filter in Google can throw up miscategorized images that can still get you into trouble.
The safest bet is to either take photos for your posts yourself, hire a photographer/designer to take care of your image requirements or purchase photos from a stock photo site like Shutterstock.
11. Using a free blogging platform
Using a free blogging platform like Wordpress.com, Weebly or Blogger makes it quick and easy to get set up blogging with basically no technical expertise and cost, but it’s not the right choice in the long run.
Your blog is like a house that you don’t own, built on someone else’s land. Ultimately, you don’t have full control over it.
In essence, it can be shut down if you inadvertently violate the terms & conditions, with no recourse, and you’ll likely have no or very little ability to run ads or build an email list. Always, always self-host.
12. Relying only on AdSense and not creating your own sales funnel
Your blog hands you a ready-made audience of people who you can sell to.
They are there because they like you and what you do, so why not create your own products or services and sales funnel to convert visitors to your blog into paying customers?
Think about it - you get a mere fraction from each AdSense click of what that advertising business sells its products for, so why not be a product seller rather than sending people from your site to buy other people’s stuff?
13. Wrong/poor niche choice
For your blog to be a success, you need to focus on a niche where there’s an overlap between you being able to write in a knowledgeable and engaging way on a subject, and where there is also an audience for it.
Sure, there’s a massive audience for SEO content, but if you don’t know much about SEO or find it boring or a struggle to write about, it’ll show in the quality of your blog.
Likewise, you may be the world’s foremost authority on **[x subject], **but dedicating an entire blog to it isn’t going to attract much of an audience.
14. Sounding too formal
A common mistake for beginner bloggers is writing in the wrong tone and style - often far too ‘formal’ - stiff writing and complex sentences and language are all well and good for a research paper. Still, blog posts should be informal with simple, easy to read, and comprehend sentences.
The most important thing to remember is to write in a conversational tone - imagine you are talking to a reader one-on-one in an informal setting, rather than writing something to be reviewed by a college science professor.
15. Poor structure/formatting
How your blog appeals visually has a big impact on readability.
A wall of text is not nice to look at and can be intimidating to read - readers should be able to scan your posts and gauge what it’s about and what the most important points are.
Use appropriate headings and sub-headings, short paragraphs, and break the text up with images.
16. Neglecting social media and other content marketing methods
As mentioned earlier, successful blogs create relationships through outreach that gets their stuff shared.
A successful blog should cultivate a social following across different platforms, encouraging followers to share the blog’s content and driving traffic.
Your blog’s content should be re-purposed and re-formatted for publication across different mediums as part of an overall content marketing strategy.
17. Not Bothering With SEO
Unfortunately, these days a successful blogger is not going to be someone who’s a just great, entertaining writer. You’re going to need to be relatively well versed in SEO, too, for your blog to gain real traction.
You need to know how to do keyword research, evaluate your competition, how to implement on-page SEO as well as off-page stuff, including getting links to your posts, and keep up with Google algorithm changes.
Becoming au fait with SEO will pay off for you, in the long run, more than merely knowing how to write and publish a compelling blog post.
18. Not using images
As mentioned when talking about formatting, a page of plain text is not attractive to readers.
Images in your blog posts help make your site more visually appealing to readers, help break up long content, and have some SEO value, too. Just remember to source & attribute them correctly!
19. Poor editing/proofreading
While blogs are a lot less formal than other written media, editing and proofreading is not an area where you can afford to be lazy.
Do you like reading something that is riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and other mistakes? No? Neither do your blog readers - While your language and writing style don’t need to be 100% professional, your editing should be.
20. Not using analytics
One of the primary keys to becoming a successful blogger is having a handle on your blog’s metrics.
Not knowing how your content performs, how visitors are interacting with your site, and where they’re coming from means essentially you’re flying blind.
You should set up Google Analytics from the very start and keep tabs regularly on your site’s performance.
21. Not engaging with readers
A blog’s audience is what makes it a success - so it pays to become engaged with them. Be active across social media, and actively monitor comments on your blog and be proactive in replying.
Foster a good relationship with your audience, and it will pay off - engaged readers are loyal readers.
22. Poor choice of web host
Choosing a bad web host for your blog can really backfire on you - slow site loading speed, security issues, and too much downtime are all detrimental to your site, and can all happen as a result of trying to go super-budget for hosting.
There’s no excuse anyway - as reputable and reliable web hosting is not expensive - for instance, you can always find discounts on Hostgator plans, and all major hosting companies have specialized WordPress hosting; perfect for bloggers.
23. Not posting at the right time
This is one reason for keeping on top of your analytics. The timing of your posts does have a bearing on your traffic, and you may be doing yourself a disservice by posting when it’s convenient for you only.
Studying your site’s analytics will allow you to experiment and see what times and days perform the best, as well as showing you where the majority of your visitors are coming from, so you can schedule your posts to coincide with particular time zones.
24. Not interlinking posts internally
You’re missing out on SEO benefits as well as increased page views and visitor time on site by not linking from your blog posts to other relevant posts on your blog.
Internal linking helps search engines crawl your site and establishes information hierarchy, spreads link authority (increasing the ranking power of individual post pages), and is useful to readers, directing them to relevant, related information.
Neil Patel’s primer on internal linking is a good place to get a handle on this super important technique.
25. Aiming for perfection
Nothing is going to paralyze you and hinder your performance as a blogger more than fearing imperfection - while preparation and organization are essential to being a successful blogger, the most important thing is the old Nike cliche - just do it.
Not even the most widely read bloggers in the world are perfect - no one is. In fact, I don’t think anyone could actually tell you definitively what makes the perfect blog.
The only way to tell if you’re on the right track and doing things right is by actually publishing.
Let the performance of your published work guide your actions - not the fear of getting it wrong!
Getting into blogging with the aim of becoming well established, either as a part-time hobby or full-time profession, is an educational experience in of itself.
In essence, there is a pretty big learning curve if you’re starting fresh with no or little prior knowledge. The key is sticking with it and learning from other sources as well as your mistakes.
Every blogger that’s ever started their own site will have made more than one of these mistakes in their time - so take heart in that fact, and hopefully knowing how to avoid some of the more common mistakes will put you on a faster track to success.