My colleague, Kerry Russell, introduced me to Triberr earlier this year. Less than 4 months later, I have a strong group of online colleagues that share all of my posts on social media.
I wanted to take this time to thank all of them for their support.
I also wanted to take advantage of their expertise and asked them each to answer this question for my readers: “What was the biggest mistake you made when you were a new blogger?
Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media
“That would be building my profile on a site that I didn’t own. It took me 6 weeks to realize I didn’t own my content on other sites, and I went straight to WordPress self-hosted. When you don’t own your own platform, the size of it doesn’t matter, you are dependent on someone else’s profit and loss sheet. Look at how Facebook page reach has changed, if you’d built a following there, you’d now have to pay to get access to the audience you’d built.
And what if you breach the rules by mistake? You could be banned before you realize it. Affiliate marketing to earn a little extra? That may not be allowed. Search engine dislikes them? Goodbye traffic.
When you own the platform, it’s a gift, you continually earn the respect or displeasure of your readers. Your readers are the boss and not the platform.”
Brittany Bullen of BrittanyBullen.com
“One of the first things I read about marketing your blog was that you need influencers to share your posts. So I did a quick Google search to find out who the most popular bloggers in my niche were and I sent them my post on twitter and asked them to share it. I had never even commented on their blogs before– nor even read them, for that matter!
I heard back from one of them something like, “Do you even follow me?” which, as it turned out, I didn't. I was mortified! But I'm glad I had that experience because it taught me a really valuable lesson. You can never expect anyone to share your content if you don't first establish a relationship with them first. You'd better believe I won't be making that mistake again!”
Rick Ramos of RickRamos.com
“I think the biggest mistake I did when I was starting off is only promoting my content a single time. These days I’ll promote older content that drives additional traffic to my site. I might change the headline and republish it on a new platform like TSU or LinkedIn. I sometimes Tweet older evergreen content on the weekends to expose it to a new audience. I’ll even go back to an older article and refresh it to make it up to date and republish it. It takes a long time to write content, don’t just use it for a single burst of exposure.”
Jim Dougherty of Leaderswest
“I think my biggest mistake starting out was not to understand my audience's needs. A lot of blogs are very personal and mine was to start out. I related a lot of stories that we're simultaneously irrelevant to most people and not useful to most people. People who care about you or like you may humor your rants or non-sequiturs, but most people will ignore stuff that has no direct relevance to them.
I've been reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book Fooled by Randomness, and one of his insights is that journalists are entertainers. To some extent bloggers should understand that they are entertainers as well. In order to get bigger readership and distribution, it's important for readers to solve problems that a lot of their readers have (a great example is this post). If you can't create that value for people, then you will probably have a small audience that reads your stuff not because it's useful, but because they like you.
When I look back at my old posts, I see how generous some people were to me despite what I was writing about. I'm thankful to know people who are so kind and generous with their time, but I aspire to have more of an impact than that, and I think most bloggers do.”
Marc Andre of Profit Blitz
“My biggest mistake was not focusing on building an email list. At the time when I started blogging everyone was saying that RSS was going to replace the need for email marketing, so I didn't even have an email list aside from allowing people to subscribe to blog updates by email through FeedBurner. It was a few years before I set up the email list, and by that point there had been a few million visitors at the blog. If I had built an email list from the start I could have easily had a pretty large list and had the benefits of more engagement, more traffic and the ability to promote products (both my own and affiliate products) to my list.”
Carol Amato of CarolAmato.com
My own perfectionist tendencies/not wanting to “put something out there” until it was great. Not implementing deadlines for projects as if I had a boss breathing down my neck – we all know that the task at hand will expand to fill the time given it…
If no deadline is set, the task never gets done.
I've become very good at finishing things.”
Fabrizio Van Marciano of Magnet 4 Blogging
“When I started blogging back in 2010, the biggest mistake that I made was to invest almost all of my time and effort writing for search engines, mainly for Google. Instead of building an audience and establishing relationships first, and writing for my readers.
Writing for search engines is perfectly fine from time to time, organic search engine traffic does bring sales of course it does, but the mistake I made was to put all of my eggs in one basket and focus on nothing else but SEO, and in 2012 when Google unleashed the algorithm updates we've come to know well today, my blog took a huge hit, as a result, and after many hours of work trying to fix things, I was forced to start all over again.”
Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard
When I first started my blog, I was embroiled in the hype of social media. I thought it was the most important thing to my blog. I ended up with like boxes, Twitter feeds, follow icons and all the usual stuff.
But as time went on I began to notice that it wasn't as effective as I had hoped. It wasn't helping me grow my blog as fast as I hoped and this was before organic reach on Facebook nose-dived.
I switched my focus from social media to building an email list and everything changed. I was able to promote each blog post more effectively and that was just the beginning.
I'm not saying social media is a waste of time, it can work but the return on investment is nowhere near what you'll get from building an engaged email list. When you're running a small blog you need to prioritize your efforts – you can't do everything and you shouldn't try to.
It's still important to let people know how to get to your social media accounts but using the likes of Twitter feeds is just pointless. The purpose of social media is to promote our blog, not to send traffic back to social media sites.
Now I just have my social profiles listed in the footer of my blog, it's still accessible but the focus is where it should be – on my email list.”
Ryan Biddulph of Blogging From Paradise
“The biggest mistake I made as a new blogger was blogging from a cyber cave. I didn't network. At all. I'd publish posts, and share them on social sites, then I'd go eat a snack. Or maybe I'd play some ball at the park. Seriously. Funny, right?
Looking back on my career it’s a hoot to see what I did, and how it affected my level of blogging success. More importantly, it's intriguing to see how fear inspired my actions. As a new blogger I feared being criticized. I still do, on some level, yet laugh and agree with many critics these days because I'm humbling myself, and am always learning more about my foibles.
I feared being successful too. Goodness knows, if I network, I'd be shackled with responsibility. Perish the thought! I'd also need to set time aside to help people, in an organized way, which means establishing service-based businesses. I couldn't be bothered with that.
As a new guy on the blogging block I wanted to publish posts and collect checks. I was lazy, on one level, but terrified out of my mind on a deeper level, to network, because doing so would open me to so many suggestions, criticisms, fears and all types of resistance, as well as freeing situations, that I'd grow like a freaking weed after doing the networking bit.
I addressed the fear and corrected the mistake by deciding that I was delusional, by not networking, and that I wanted to free me, and I wanted to free my audience too. I wanted to do a zillion cool things and wished for my audience to experience these things too, so I went forward and networked through blog commenting, through email, and through other channels.
And I never looked back :)”
Akshay Hallur of Go Blogging Tips
#1 Using automated tools without initial configuration
Automated tools can be dangerous, that too if used with the default configuration. I used automated ALT tags plugin, which stuffed the keywords in ALT tags. It ruined my 6 months of blogging career.
One day, when my bandwidth was slow, an image in my site was broken. There I realized that all the ALT tags of images were stuffed. You can read the entire story here: A Mistake in SEO Friendly Images Plugin Crushed my Organic Traffic
Takeaway: Immediately after activating any plugin, make sure to go through the default configuration settings.
#2 Starting with a dropped domain
At the beginning of my blogging career, I was very paranoid about domain names. I started my blogging on a dropped (not because someone told me). Later, I realized I made a hasty decision starting with a dropped domain. The blog posts were not ranking even on the 50th SERPs position for my targeted keywords!
I was totally devastated. I wasted another 6 months of my blogging career. I investigated the issue. Later I realized that the domain I acquired was previously used for spam.
- Never be too paranoid on domain names, all that matters at last is, not your domain name, the content in it.
- Never start up your serious blogging career on a dropped domain. If Wayback Machine has not crawled the content on that dropped domain before, there's no way to determine whether the dropped or expired domain was used for spam or not.”
Dennis Seymour of Leapfroggr Marketing
I started blogging around 2004. Adsense was new so I just started blogging about random things I encountered. Much like a diary, which was the concept back then. I got some traffic, got engagement going and I made a few cents. Biggest mistake? I didn't take advantage of it. I quit right in the middle because I thought it wouldn't lead to bigger things.
BIG MISTAKE #1 – Didn't see the potential of blogging because I was blinded by low “AdSense” income.
I got back into the internet marketing world around 2007 and started to take it seriously with SEO. While I was building niche sites and honing my craft, I started a new blog to document that journey, so officially, it's my second try to blogging. The problem? I was using an alias. 20k followers later, I realized that I would've really benefited from it if it was really me. Using an alias put a LOT of limitations on what I could do. I stopped with it completely because of time constraints. Another BIG Mistake.
BIG MISTAKE #1.1 – Used an Alias which limits your potential and growth.
I started my latest blogging adventure again mid this year. I hope this is the final one as I'm taking it seriously this time. LOL. I expected that I could churn out high quality content regularly. I had to learn it the hard way – to cram to reach my blogging targets while balancing client work. I learned it the hard way. No matter what the topic is, producing high quality content will always take time and a lot of care.
BIG MISTAKE #1.2 – I thought blogging about something I loved would be easy and would require little work.”
Ileane Smith of Basic Blog Tips
“Great question. When I started blogging it was purely by accident so I didn't have any goals in mind. I didn't know much about social media either so I just fumbled my way around trying to figure out how to use WordPress. It took a few months for me to realize that having a blog is a big responsibility.
My audience grew quickly and I could see that the people who visited my blog or watched my YouTube videos were getting a lot of value out of the content I was producing. I was making an impact on my community and people started turning to me for answers when they needed to solve their problems with blogging and social media management. After about 2 years or more it dawned on me.
I was making the same mistake that many of the top bloggers and content creators make when they start out – I wasn't building an email list!
Oh well, you know what they say. Live and learn. If anyone want to subscribe to my list now they can head over to Basic Blog Tips and grab a free social media traffic report along with some other exclusive goodies. They will find that I'm still the go-to blogger when they need a helping hand!”
Ron Sela of RonSela.com
“When I was a new blogger I made a lot of mistakes. I really didn't have anyone to show me the ropes, so I sort of just dove in and started doing it on my own. I thought that I had it all figured out until I realized that I was spending a tremendous amount of time trying to sort through everything, almost to the point that virtually nothing else was getting done. Eventually, I became frustrated and disheartened at the whole project. I decided that I was going to have to figure out what I was doing wrong and then fix the situation if I was going to be able to keep doing this.
As it turns out, my biggest mistake was that I was trying to do everything and be everywhere at one time. When I first started out, I thought that the more places I could be and the more sites that I could have a voice on, the more people would be aware of the information that I was trying to convey with my blog. The problem is, this caused me to spend virtually every waking moment doing this and only this. To make matters worse, I really wasn't getting that much feedback from a lot of the sites that I was trying to be heard on.
I finally figured out that the real key to being a successful blogger is to have a voice on the platforms that are actually relevant to the subject matter. It doesn't do any good to try to be everywhere. Unless people are interested in what I am conveying, they are not going to take the time to look at it anyway. However, when I make sure that my voice is heard among people who are interested in the information that I have to offer, it makes it easier for me to get my point across. In addition, it helps me build relationships with my audience. The long-term relationships that I now have with many of them is something that should never be underestimated. Now I have the opportunity to spend less time blogging and I am more successful at it than I ever was when I was trying to do it all.”
Nathan Ambrose of NathanAmbrose.com
Work-wise, I have helped several clients to get organized and get things done, often working as a personal assistant and bookkeeper. However, when I took a fresh look at things a few weeks ago, I realized why it was difficult to write for the correct audience. My experience with my best clients involved not only being a bookkeeper or personal assistant, but also a consultant to bounce ideas off, validate ideas, and seek ways to grow the business.
However, the focus of my planned articles was simply on getting things done and organized. So now, it’s like I’m starting again.
This taught me an important lesson that all bloggers, regardless of experience need to consider – do my readers know what my brand represents?
For that reason, I have worked hard behind the scenes in recent weeks to plan for change. Hopefully I’m learning from my mistake that I should never have made.”
Corinne Kerston of CorinneKerston.com
“Oh,there were many mistakes I made when I started blogging. I’m going to cheat and give you the top 2 since they are so different. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was not researching my audience enough. I mean, I did do some research, but I also assumed that there was an interested audience for my topic. I wish I had researched more; where my audience hangs out online, what they want to know about, what other sites they are reading. It would have better prepared me and helped me know exactly what I was getting into.
And my second big mistake was putting my passions aside. I got caught up in blogging, and what blogging could do. I enjoyed my niche, but the truth is my passion lies in writing. I went back to freelance writing and meshed my marketing blog with my writer website so I could continue writing a blog I loved and writing for clients. I've never been happier.”
Steven J. Wilson at High Powered SEO
“The biggest mistake I made as a new blogger was only focusing on the money. I came across a really interesting mommy blogger who was helping others make money blogging through sponsored posts. I was looking for something else and it seemed easy enough, so I dived in.
Only focusing on the money at the beginning put me a huge disadvantage. My blogging career ended quickly the first two attempts.
I should have put my efforts into finding a topic I’m passionate about or at least very interested in. Then continued to study and get better at presenting my craft and learning what it is my readers really want. That would have allowed me to write better and learn to connect with my readers while providing them with a valuable post,that will help them leave with more understanding in which they came.
From there, I could have figure out the best way to convert my readers into customers.”
Brian D. Hawkins at Hot Blog Tips
“There were so many mistakes in the past, and I'm sure more will continue with the regularity I've come to expect, that it’s actually pretty tough to choose the “biggest”. One mistake really stands out causing a serious delay in earning a profit and that was the “Everything for free” attitude.
I believe many bloggers face this very issue and that’s tiring to build an online business without investing in the success of that business. Free hosting, free email management, plugins, etc. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of my extreme bootstrapping mentality. I didn't go to events, seek coaching, outsource, or even join group masterminds.
It takes an investment of both time and resources to launch and run a business. Outsourcing and utilizing the proper tools can make the difference between success and failure when measured by profit.”
Devesh Sharma at WPKube
“It may very well be not building email list from day one, but it is not. I think my biggest mistake was not building relationship with other bloggers, early on.
Building connections can go a long way, it can help you generate traffic, links, and social shares, without much effort. Although, you will have to heavily invest yourself in social media and blog outreach. But that doesn't require as much efforts as it will for you to write free guest posts on other sites :).”
Jennifer Hanford at JPlusSocial
“I know I made many mistakes as a new blogger and still cannot even look at my first posts. haha! My *biggest* mistake as a new blogger though was using two spaces after my punctuation. I learned to type the “old-fashioned” way, and didn't know about only needing to use one space in the digital world until I was already several months in. “
Stuart Davidson of StuartJDavidson.com
“There were many mistakes I made when I first started blogging. The biggest mistake was probably a lack of promotion – I thought that simply publishing articles and tweeting about them was enough – until I realized that no one was reading…
A worthy contender to the throne was also doing no measurement or testing. As soon as I started split testing my resources, I was able to take actions that were data-led instead of simply guessing what would work. It put me down the path of continual improvement by understanding how people reacted to different content, design and experience.”
Reginald Chan of School of Content
“The biggest mistake I have done as a new blogger is not starting a mailing list during the early days. For new bloggers, it is not necessarily to start a mailing list right on the first day but it is always recommended to start after you have published a few couple of posts (my personal favorite is 5 posts or more).
Email marketing isn't entirely free but there are both paid and free email marketing. For example, MailChimp is a free email marketing (up to 2,000 subscribers) and it is awesome for brand new bloggers.
In short, it is never too late to start a mailing list. Start one right after publishing several posts or when your blog is like a few weeks old.”
Kathi Kruse of Kruse Control Inc.
“My biggest mistake is that I didn't start with a content strategy. I started my blog (naively) as a “journal” to tell stories about my years managing car dealerships. While those stories are pretty compelling, I underestimated the power of blogging once I started. I quickly decided to turn my blog into an information source for my customers and prospects. I still get to tell the stories but I also get to inform, solve and show my expertise. Having a content plan, thinking things through methodically, would have saved a whole bunch of time!”
Catherine Holt of Smart Party Planning and Blogging Tips 101
“This is a hard question to answer as I made LOTS of mistakes as a beginner blogger (and still do!). However I think the one thing that really stands out to me is ‘building connections with those in my niche‘. Sure, I was connecting on social media, and sharing the odd post or two, but the real in-depth connection on other blogs via blog commenting and on social media was lacking.
I thought I was building connections, but they were surface deep. I guess it's like having acquaintances and friends. They were not meaningful connections and as such I was not establishing myself enough.
This is hard of course because as a new blogger there are so many new things to learn. I was caught up with trying to learn SEO, format my posts, how to earn an online income, yet all the time I was missing the foundation and that was growing my presence through building connections.
It is also hard because you have to make the time for this, and time is something we all struggle with. It can be increasingly difficult because it can look like you are not being productive. For instance, you can’t ‘see’ new posts being written, it is all behind the scenes work, but incredibly important work.
I think this is something that all bloggers struggle with, whether they are new or established. However it is easier to look back and see where improvements could have been made. I feel that focusing more on this area at the very beginning would have sped up my progress.”
Stacey Corrin of StaceyCorrin.co.uk
I would have to say that my biggest mistake was rushing head-first into a world I wasn't familiar with.
I'm the type of person where if I have an idea, I'll run with it until I've worn it out. This is what I did with my first ever blog and it resulted in a poorly patched together blog, broken links, 404 errors and a whole lot of overwhelm.
I didn't consider doing any research. If I'd just stopped for a day or two before embarking on this brave new world, I would have realized that actually maintaining a blog, as well as growing it is really hard work. It doesn't happen overnight and you need to be able to see a goal that's so far away in the future that it's almost non-existent.
If I'd known that to be the case, I would have done things differently and really planned things out. So the best possible advice I could give, would be research and plan – offer yourself a framework that lets you push on in to the future. Without it, you're running blind!”
Harleena Singh of Aha! Now
So, I guess that's the first mistake you make as you enter the world of blogging. You need to have a purpose, plan, and a definite reason to take up blogging, especially if you want to take it up as a career. It took me some time to realize that blogging is my calling.
But this wasn't such a grave mistake as I compensated and got it covered up with time to reach where I am today. I happened to do all the right things as I was a quick learner, but the one thing that I faltered upon was creating my list.
I never considered the importance of having subscribers and maintaining a list initially. I made no efforts to develop it, though have been working on it lately.
Ah, the other thing was not choosing a definite niche and a domain name that complemented it. Though I got lucky to make it in spite of that as I have a multi-niche, I'd suggest the new bloggers not to make this mistake.
I hope I'm able to help someone with my blogging experiences. Thank you Sue for giving me this opportunity. :)”
Enstine Muki of EnstineMuki.com
“Oh,yeah Sue, I can vividly remember those early days when nothing seemed clear. It was like throwing your feet in the dark, not knowing what’s ahead. I committed so many errors and I think this was because I did not go through any formal kind of training. So I learned everything alone as I walked the street of blogging.
The biggest mistake?
I think not starting list building early enough was the most foolish and dump thing I ever did when I started blogging. SEO, Social Media and other platforms I rely on can change anytime without my consent. My list is the only asset that’s fully mine.
Every subscriber on my list now represents 2 things for me;
1.Source of income
2.Source of traffic
So the bigger my list, the more traffic I can get and the bigger the money I can earn too. So If I understood this in the very beginning, my list would have been bigger. Yes! I lost so many opportunities to grab my visitors’ email addresses.
So if you are reading this post as a newbie who hasn't got a list, my recommendation is to start building one as soon as now. If you don’t understand the reason now, you will sometime in the future.”
Chris Hodgeman of MavSocial
“The biggest mistake we made initially was producing lots of content however we should have focused on producing more in-depth and longer (1500 words) content less frequently. A great piece of content requires lot of research and that is pretty hard to do if you are trying to write 4 or 5 posts per week. Once we reduced the amount of content we were producing but increased its quality then we found the overall traffic to our blog increased and we got better SEO results as well.”
Kelli Cooper of Live Life Made To Order
If I had to name the biggest mistake I made, it was getting out of alignment energetically with my goal of building a successful blog. As someone who has studied the law of attraction and the mental aspect of success pretty extensively, I have seen firsthand the core of creation lies in what we think, feel and believe, and not in what actions we take.
Because this blog was so important to me, and I was using it as a platform to eventually launch my life coaching services—which I have actually done at this point—that knowledge kind of flew out the window for a bit, and I often took action from a place of force or fear. I felt that I had to take certain actions, lest I could not grow my traffic, gain readers, and what have you. And, this didn't make me feel that great, and the results reflected this.
The more I focused on doing things that felt good to me, and working on directing my mental energy on my success and shifting limiting beliefs, the more ‘movement’ I saw in my external experience. Surely actions will be taken to build our blogs, but success will come in the easiest and most joyful way when we take actions that feel good to us, that resonate with us.
There is a lot of value in learning about what other bloggers did to become successful, but don’t adopt strategies that don’t feel good to you. When we do this, we get in the way of what we hope to create, and slow things down. When we act from a place of inspiration and resonance, we get so much more while doing a lot less! It is pretty amazing.”
Andrew M. Warner of Shade of Info
Sure, I could say that I didn't focus on an email list or that I tried to monetize my blog BEFORE I had a following. But, knowing what I truly know now, my biggest mistake is not guest blogging from the very second I started. And like many new bloggers, I was (1) scared and (2) afraid of giving away my best content to someone else's blog. But down the road, I learned those lessons.
But the reason I chose not guest blogging as my mistake was because guest blogging provides you so much opportunity than if you were to just blog regularly.
Need traffic? No problem. Just write a great guest post.
Want some subscribers? Sure thing. Write a great guest post and have a compelling offer, in your by-line, for them to go to your sign-up page.
Looking to building a brand? Write awesome guest posts and you'll have to look no further.
All can be achieved from guest blogging, because who knows how long it'll take by trying to blog on your own.
The last point I want to make is this. The thing I figured out the most was that , when you guest blog and have a successful post published on their site, they'll be eager to get you in front of their audience again. Which means more exposure for you and certainly more subscribers and traffic as well.”
Randy Hilarski of High Impact Media Group Panama
“The biggest mistake I made when I was a new blogger was not spending enough time on the distribution of my posts. Social is my SEO, so I need to distribute the content far and wide.”
Kerry Russell of The Blog Mechanic
Richard Adams of Frugality Magazine and Tech Toucan
“I think the biggest mistake I made when I started blogging was assuming that all I needed to do was to keep on posting content, and not really putting as much effort into *promoting* my posts.
I was writing constantly, publishing what I thought were great posts and really getting nowhere. One article after another would be added to my blog but my traffic stats would remain almost the same. In short, I discovered that putting out content on a regular basis – even when it’s really good – wasn't enough to really see the growth I was hoping for.
After that realization I started to investigate ways of actually promoting my posts – from using social media, to building an email list, to reaching out to influential bloggers. And it was this “missing link” that really helped to take my results to the next level.
It might sound like a cliché, but the experts are right; invest as much time in promoting your posts as you do writing them and you’ll notice a significant difference in your results.”
Jaha Knight of JahaKnight.com
“The biggest mistake I made as a new blogger was the ‘throw-it-all-against-the-wall' approach to blogging. I didn't know who I was talking to although I knew my overarching message. It helped me develop my voice, though so I wouldn't trade those two years for anything.”