You've just thought of the best idea for a blog. You're excited.
You think you're going to become the next 6-figure earner.
But it turns out blogging isn't exactly what you thought it would be.
Not even close.
You're making mistakes left and right.
But which ones are costing you? Which ones are killing your chances at blogging success?
I'll tell you.
In this post, I'll show you the top 10 mistakes you have to stop making.
Let's get started.
1. NOT Making Any Blogger Friends
Building relationships with bloggers and influencers in your industry is an absolute must, these days.
You can't do it alone. Especially now that there's a lot of competition (practically in every industry).
Instead of trying to beat them, which could take months (if not years), help them, so that they can help you.
You see, that's the key to these relationships…
You help them out, and then down the line, they help you. This can be through sharing content, guest posting, backlinks, product promotions, etc.
So what do you do? How exactly do you build a relationship with some blogger you don't know…and that doesn't know you?
Blogger outreach is basically targeting a blogger with an audience, helping him out in any way you can, and asking him if he can help you. Basically being a buddy.
Most of the time there's no money involved.
You help them by:
- sharing his content
- giving him backlinks
- promoting his products
And a while after you've done your part, you can shoot him an email asking if he can _____. This can be a backlink, a guest post, a social share, or even to participate in an expert roundup.
Another strong way to becoming buds with bloggers is to take action on a particular piece of advice they shared on their blog.
For instance, a strategy that is designed to get you a lot of free traffic from Quora in 10 days.
You do it, 10 days later you see a massive spike in traffic.
You'd then show him your amazing results, and bam. You're on his good side, possibly forever.
You might even become a case study. Or maybe even a regular contributor in his blog.
So, if you think you can become a success all on your own, think again.
Blogger outreach is the way to go.
For a more detailed guide on blogger outreach, check out RazorSocial's guide.
2. Relying on Google for Traffic
There is a lot of competition these days. Pretty much in every niche. Right?
And there are only so many available spots on the Google SERPs. 10 to be exact. And 3 if you want the most traffic.
So, what do you do?
You look into other ways to drive traffic.
Like what I'm doing here, which is guest blogging.
Becoming a guest contributor, especially on a reputable blog, can drive hundreds of new visitors.
See my guide at Blogging Aid for more info.
Another way is to put together an epic expert roundup.
Robbie Richards published one that featured 58 experts and got over 1800 shares and 10000's of views.
Not bad for a blog with only 20 blog posts.
Another way? An ego=bait list post.
This is basically a “top blogs to follow” post. But with a small twist…
Instead of “to follow” you go with some solution like “become a better blogger”. Plus, you'll have to write a short summary for each blog or expert you feature.
I used this to drive 2000 views to my 1-month old blog last month.
The last way I'll share with you is through blog commenting.
Sue is a pro at this.
She comments on dozens of blog posts every week. And especially if she's one of the first ones, she sees dozens of visitors come her way.
Adrienne Smith is another pro at blog commenting. Which is why I'll leave this with a link to her post – What You Need to Know About Blog Commenting.
3. NOT Getting Into List Building
An email list…
It's one of the most important assets you could ever have online.
It's actually a key factor to whether you make 3 figures or 6.
According to a source, by the end of 2016, it's expected to be at 4.3 billion email accounts worldwide.
And if you're not building that list, you're making a huge mistake.
So, what do you do?
You start building that list, today.
Start by signing up for an email marketing service, like Mailchimp (free for your first 2000 subscribers), Aweber, and GetResponse.
Then you'll need opt-in forms. I recommend SumoMe's apps. They're free.
And last, you'll need to create a lead magnet (something to offer your visitors in exchange for their email addresses).
I suggest you check out Hectorpreneur's guide to list building. It has everything you need to get started.
4. NOT Using a Lead Magnet
Ok, so if you are building your mailing list, then cool.
What's not cool is if you're doing it the old “sign up for free updates” way.
You're not going to get anywhere with that.
Sure, you might manage to gain a couple of subscribers here and there. But you'd still be wasting tons of traffic.
So, what do you do?
You create a lead magnet and offer it to your visitors in exchange for their email addresses.
A lead magnet could be a number of things. It could be a:
- cheat sheet
- special report
- case study
- and more
Sue wrote a post at Blogging Wizard that'll help you out with this.
5. Writing WEAK Blog Content
Here's the deal:
Your content is the lifeblood of your blog. If it's not great, then your blog won't last very long.
It's got to be relevant.
Nobody wants to read about puppies on a travel blog. No matter how cute they are.
It's got to focus on the readers needs.
If you're blogging for women who want to lose fat after pregnancy, your content should only be stuff that would help the women lose their belly fat.
Your content also has to well-formatted. Short paragraphs, proper usage of subheads, images etc.
Kevin Duncan has everything you need to know about writing content in his 10,000-word guide at Be a Better Blogger.
6. Publishing and Praying
It's when you publish a post and hope it gets ranked, shares, and traffic.
But, like I said, waiting for Google to send you traffic is not a good deal.
The same goes for social media and other traffic sources.
If you don't put your post out there, meaning if you don't promote it like a madman (everywhere you can), you won't see any traffic.
So, what do you do?
Promote your content.
A lot of pros recommend the 80/20 rule. 80% for promoting your content, 20% for creating your content.
You can start by sharing your posts on social media. But that won't do much if you don't have much followers/friends.
If that's the case, your best shot is to start linking out to resources, bloggers. and influencers. And then let them know about it (via email or social media).
Another thing you could do is become an active member of online communities and forums.
LinkedIn groups, Google+ Communities, Reddit, Quora, Inbound.org, and GrowthHackers.com are just some of the many sites you could go to.
Plus send it out to your list, whatever size it is. aWeber email marketing or Mailchimp are great for beginning bloggers.
Pro tip: If you don't know much about what I'm talking about, I'd suggest you only pick one or two new traffic sources (for now).
Robbie Richards shares his 16 content promotion strategies on his blog. Check it out.
And Tamas Torok at Momentum wrote 50 tips to skyrocket your content.
7. NOT Following a Schedule
I'll be honest:
When I started blogging, I never had a schedule. I just did things. You know?
I spend 10 hours one day, 8 hours the next, and maybe 4-6 hours the day after.
And you know what? I regret it.
I wish I used my time better.
I wish I was more organized.
I would've gotten so much more done.
Because you know, there are only 24 hours today, 6-8 of them you won't be conscious, so that only leaves you about 16 hours of playtime per day.
How will you use them?
Here's an idea:
- Spend 2 hours reading and learning about your industry.
- Spend 5 hours on your blog content + research and promotion (don't have to publish).
- Spend 2 hours on connecting with bloggers and influencers.
- Spend 1 hour looking for guest posting opportunities (and pitching).
- Spend 1 hour researching other traffic sources.
- Spend 1 hour engaging with 1-3 online communities and forums.
- Spend 4 hours in breaks. 4 1-hour breaks (ex: 12pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm).
But, what if you have a 9-5 job?
Well, that would only leave you with about 4-6 hours, wouldn't it?
If that's the case, I'd recommend spending your time on connecting with bloggers and influencers. This will lead to greater opportunities.
You'll be able to:
- land guest posts
- get them to promote/share your content
- get them to link out to you in their content
- and more
All this will lead to more blog traffic, and eventually clients and customers.
8. Not Following a Posting Schedule
Your content schedule is also very important.
If you don't have one, I suggest you get one.
A content schedule will keep you on track. It'll keep you consistent, which will lead to a quality, content-rich blog.
So, what do you do?
First of all, you'll have to find out the best times you're readers visit…Monday? Tuesday? Friday?
Now, since you probably have little to no traffic, it's going to be quite difficult to find this out, isn't it?
If that's the case, then I would recommend figuring out what days you would work best on.
Also, think about the spread. Would you be committed to posting every 3 days or 7? You know what I mean?
But if you do have some traffic, maybe around a few hundred to a couple thousand hits per month, you can look through your analytics and find which days you get the most traffic on.
Then you could use a tool like CoSchedule or even a simple excel or Google doc for writing out your plan.
The CoShedule blog published an awesome guide on planning a blog schedule. Check it out.
9. Having an Ugly/Annoying Blog Design
If you think all sorts of pretty colors and neat features are going to make your blog look cool, think again. They can actually be annoying and distracting.
Also, a bunch of ads all over your blog isn't doing anybody any good. Especially you.
Ads are a waste of time and space when you don't have a lot of traffic. You'd need at least 100K monthly visits to make $100 per month. Seriously.
Even then, it's not worth it. They make your whole site look unprofessional.
Other blog design problems are:
- content not properly formatted
- poorly or non-optimized images
- no clear navigation
- unprofessional logo
- use of unnecessary plugins
- cluttered up your sidebar and/or footer
- use of multiple sidebars
- use of popup ads (the only popup you should be using is one for lead capture)
Another thing is using all of your theme's features. Like sliders, sidebar widgets, multiple blog columns and menus, and all that other cool stuff.
Sure, they can make your blog look awesome.
But you know what?
Every single one of those features can distract the visitor from your most important content.
It could also get pretty overwhelming.
So what do you do?
You keep your design professional.
This means no cool features (like sliders and widgets), a clean navigation menu, and 2-3 colors max.
You might even consider removing your sidebar altogether.
Here are some things to think about:
- professional logo – if you're not a designer, hire someone.
- clean header – only your logo and menu should be here.
- clean sidebar – no unnecessary widgets (or maybe just let it go).
- clean footer – a secondary menu, social links, a mini about me section, and an opt-in form are all footer stuff.
- blog page – all your featured images should be the same width.
- homepage – this could be your blog page. But you could do something like Blogging Wizard's homepage.
Blogger Sidekick's blog design guide has some great tips if you'd like to learn more about this topic.
10. Not Caring About Your Headlines
Headlines are extremely important.
They're the main reason people click on your post in the search engines, social media, and even on your blog.
Sure, I could have included this in #5 of this list. But not spending enough time on your headlines is a big enough problem to get its own spot on this list.
So, what is a bad headline?
A bad headline is the one that doesn't tell the user what the post is about.
A bad headline is the one that is misleading.
A bad headline is the one that looks and sounds unfinished.
Let me show you some examples.
Post topic – weight loss tips for women:
- Bad headline – Weight Loss Tips For Women
- Good headline – 101 Simple Weight Loss Tips For Women of All Ages
Post topic – make money online:
- Bad headline – Ways to Make Money Online
- Good headline – Make Money Online: 17 Ways That Actually Work
Post topic: start a blog
- Bad headline – Start a Blog Today
- Good headline – How to Start a Blog Today: A Step-by-Step Guide
Post topic: free email opt-in forms
- Bad headline: The Best Optin Plugins of All-time
- Good headline – Top 5 Email Optin Plugins You Can Use For Free
If you have trouble creating headlines, there is a lot of info out there that could help.
A couple I'd check out are from Sue and Buffer. Here:
- How to Write Hypnotic Headlines That Drive People to Your Blog
- 30+ Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, and Emails
Mistakes, you'll always make them. Some can cost you more than others.
The 10 I showed you above, they're biggies. So, if you know, or at least, you think you're making them, then you have some work to do.
Visit the resources I recommend under each point. And you'll be on your way to a better and healthier blog.
If you have any questions, I'll see you in the comments below.
Julian's been blogging for 2 years. He's the owner of Blogging Aid, where he shares advice on how you can become a better blogger. You can also find him Twitter.