I'm over on Unsettle today with my post on “Traffic Demystified” and Sarah Peterson has taken over Successful Blogging. Let's see how many of you can read and comment on both posts today!
It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
Getting the hang of this whole blogging thing.
You open Google Analytics to see that only a handful of people had visited your blog. Your comments section is as empty as the Chinese buffet on Christmas. You’re working overtime and haven’t earned a single cent.
And you wonder..
Should you throw in the towel? Give up this blogging thing entirely?
But I have good news.
You right just be making a handful of new blogger blunders that are preventing you from gaining traction, readers, and profit. And most of them are completely fixable.
Here are nine mistakes new bloggers make and how they hurt your bottom line.
1. They Think Blogging is About Writing
Blogging is a simple concept, right?
You load WordPress, find a host, and publish an article. At its core, blogging is writing, isn’t it? Putting fingers to keys and producing content?
Well, not quite.
Writing is actually only a tiny part of blogging. Maybe 15%. As a blogger, there are many more important hats you have to wear:
- First, blogging is about providing value. It’s about reaching your target audience through content to solve a pain.
- Then, blogging is about marketing. You should be spending 80% of your time promoting your articles, and only 20% writing.
- After marketing, blogging is about relationships. Relationships with your readers, other bloggers, influencers, and the media.
- Next, blogging is about community. Bringing people together around a central theme, topic, or set of beliefs.
- And finally, blogging is about writing.
As a successful blogger, you’re a marketer first. You’re a community builder second, and you’re a content creator third.
Don’t fall into this common new-blogger trap of assuming blogging is about writing.
How this hurts your bottom line: If you focus your time and effort on writing and ignore everything else, nobody will read your articles, subscribe to your email list and buy your products.
2. They Care About The Wrong Stats
It’s addictive, isn’t it?
You hardly even notice your mouse dragging across your screen to your stats tab until you’re looking at your daily visitor count.
After all, visitors, page views, bounce rate… that’s a blogger’s bread and butter, right?
But I have a secret:
It doesn’t matter if you have 3 million page views per month if they don’t convert.
What is really important is whether you’re turning those visitors into email subscribers. Because you can’t build a relationship with a page view.
If you’re obsessing over the wrong stats, you can miss opportunities to increase the meaningful number: the number of email subscribers you have.
How this hurts your bottom line: Page views aren't going to pay the bills, and the casual search engine visitors won't be the people who buy your product, engage with you and become true fans.
So remember: traffic does not matter unless it converts.
3. They Sell Out for a Quick Buck
I know the feeling…
You spend hours writing articles, answering comments, and promoting your posts.
It feels like you’re working overtime for free.
Then, one day, you open your inbox and see a message from some company offering you $100 or $200 to including a link in an article. Cha-ching! You can finally get paid to do what you love, right?
Not so fast.
Jumping at these opportunities without weighing the consequences of advertising is a huge mistake that new bloggers often make, but consider this:
Especially on a new blog, ads weaken the trust of your readers. Especially when they stumble across a sponsored post with a link to a company that is not relevant, that you’ve never used before, and that doesn’t help them.
Focus on your audience first. Provide relentless value to them. Then, let them tell you what they want. Create a product or service to help them with a common pain point they have.
This will enable you to keep their trust, build a deeper relationship with them and help you make far more money in the long run.
How this hurts your bottom line: Your income is directly linked to the strength of your readership. The strongest bonds are built on trust. If your readers trust you, they are far more likely to buy your products, use your affiliate links and find ways to support you. A thousand people spending $200 on a course you built nets you more than 10 sponsored posts.
4. They Have Blogging Amnesia
It starts innocently enough.
You’re scouring the web, learning about becoming a successful blogger, and BAM! You’re hit with a case of blogging amnesia.
You forget why you started your blog. You forget who your target audience is. You forget what niche you’re in.
And it’s easy to catch this deadly blogging disease! You’re up to your knees in information about marketing, copywriting, and conversions. Your mind is being invaded.
Slowly, these topics show up in your writing.
- A post about blogging pops up on your food blog.
- An article about online income crops up on your crafting site.
- A mention of your favorite marketing guru appears on social media.
Fight the disease! Before you publish, ask yourself: “will this help my audience?”.
How this hurts your bottom line: When you forget who your audience is, you disengage your readers from your brand. You earn money by providing value to your audience, not serving yourself.
5. They Write for Their Own Blogs
One silly mistake new bloggers make is that they write…
For their own blogs.
You may think I’ve gone nuts. Maybe I’ve succumbed to the creative madness of working alone as a solopreneur. Isn’t writing on your blog what blogging is all about?
But hear me out:
How many readers do you have right now? If you’re a new blogger, you have less than 1,000 readers.
Writing for a small audience (like you inevitably have) is a waste of your time. It’s like delivering a speech to your family in your living room when there is a hall full of people eager to hear your words a block away.
To reach a larger audience, you need to focus on guest blogging.
Guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to grow your audience rapidly. So instead of focusing on writing on your own blog, focus on reaching broader audiences elsewhere.
How this hurts your bottom line: How much money you can make blogging is directly tied to the size and strength of your audience. As a beginner blogger, you don’t have much of an audience. Without an audience, who will buy your products and use your affiliate links?
6. They Lack Professionalism
Have you ever said that your blog is a hobby?
If so, you’re not alone. This is a common new-blogger blunder. But if you want to turn your blog into a lifestyle business, you must banish the hobby mentality and begin treating your blog like a business.
This is a mindset shift that is absolutely crucial to the growth of your blog.
Once you make this mental shift, you’ll take your blog more seriously. When you begin to take your blog seriously, others will, too.
Your blog is a business. You need to focus on marketing, investing wisely, and outsourcing.
How this hurts your bottom line: If you don’t take your blog seriously and treat it like a business, nobody will! Do you spend your money with businesses or on other people’s hobbies?
7. They Don’t Invest
Blogging can be a cheap startup business.
For under $100, you can have your own self-hosted blog, and many assume that because a blog is cheap to start, it should be cheap to run.
New bloggers hesitate to spend more than $100/year on their blogs, but successful bloggers invest in their blogs.
After all, their blog is their business. Investing in your blog accelerates growth and keeps you accountable to your goals.
If you hire a coach or pay for a nice new blog design, not only will you see the cost come back to you (often 10x over), but you’ll be more accountable because you’ll want to get your money’s worth.
Think of investing in your blog in these terms:
If you went to college, you spent up to $50,000 on a degree to maybe land you a job you might not like. Wouldn’t it be silly to shy away from investing $1,000 into your blog to build a career you know you’ll love?
How this hurts your bottom line: You have to spend money to make money. Bloggers who hire a coach or invest in a program to enjoy faster growth and fewer hours wasted on trying to do it alone. You could spend $400 on coaching, and made $1,000 from your blog three months sooner or you can flounder in information overload and delay making an income even further.
8. They Wait for Inspiration to Strike
You don’t want your blog to become a chore, right?
So you wait until inspiration strikes to write. You joke about how infrequently you post on your blog, but what you don’t know is just how much that inconsistency is holding you back.
When a visitor lands on your website, you have less than 10 seconds to convince them to stick around.
And if they see that you haven’t updated in two months, they’re won’t stick around.
So instead of relying on a strike of inspiration to post, focus on consistency and habit-building.
Write every single day. Even if it’s only 100 non-publishable words. Get you in the habit of writing, and you’ll train your brain to be inspired every day when you sit down to write.
Set a posting schedule so readers know what to expect from you. This builds trust. Stick to the schedule no matter what.
How this hurts your bottom line: You can’t become a pro blogger if you don’t consistently create content and show up for your readers. That’s your whole job as a blogger, and as with a 9-5, if you don’t show up you don’t get paid.
9. They Choose Their Topic Based Solely on Income
It’s the dream:
Becoming a professional blogger. Doing what you love. Working from anywhere.
And blogging has become a viable business option.
But choosing your blog topic based only on income potential is like choosing a vehicle based on fuel efficiency without considering other needs.
When you’re car shopping, it doesn't make sense to buy the car with the best fuel efficiency regardless of any other factor, right?
You’d probably end up with a Smart Car. Or maybe a scooter.
If you have a six-person family that enjoys road-tripping with equipment in the summer, the most fuel-efficient car on the market wouldn’t make sense. Fuel efficiency should be considered, but not at the exclusion of other factors.
Businesses need to earn money, otherwise it’s not a business, but you have to also make sure the business matches your skill set, your interests, and provides value to others.
Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll be able to sustain it.
Instead of choosing your topic based only on income potential, weigh all factors. Are you passionate about the topic? Do your skills match up? Choose the best fit for you.
How this hurts your bottom line: If you don’t love what you do, it will show through to readers. Are you more likely to buy a photography from somebody who is passionate and excited to teach photography, or somebody who is clearly in it for the money?
Stop Making These Silly Mistakes
Blogs are like grass. Drought and damage “kill” grass. The dries up, becoming brown and crunchy. But with a bit of TLC and water, grass can bounce back. So can your blog.
You work hard on your blog.
The value you provide to your audience. Your relentless dedication to solving their problems. The endless hours you spend in front of your screen.
You deserve to earn an income for all of your sweat equity.
So stop making these income-hindering new blogger mistakes. And start giving your blog the TLC it needs to bounce back.
Sarah Peterson is the author of Unsettle.org, where she encourages people to never settle for careers they don’t love. Want to start a blog but don’t know what to blog about? Find the perfect blog topic idea that’s guaranteed to be profitable with her free course, so you can gain flexibility and freedom and do work you love.