This is my presentation on the topic of blogging mistakes. With this I hope to help beginners avoid the common pitfalls and get them start off on the right foot.
Blogging is not easy and why you should manage your expectations
A lot of us have heard stories about some very successful bloggers. Someone who ends up having a lucrative book contract, someone who sells tons of books through self publishing or stories about people who travel the world thanks to their sites. You have to understand that blogging is not going to get you rich quick. You have to manage your expectations in order not to be disappointed. Big things are possible and you should dream about reaching them but do not expect it to happen to you overnight.
Blogging is not easy and not all the blogs become hits. Not all the talented writers get an audience. Sometimes even the most promising project fails. There are many reasons for why this happens, but most bloggers and other entrepreneurs blame themselves for not succeeding. Writing is a difficult path to take in terms of earning money and making a living with one’s work. Only a few bloggers actually end up with a successful site, only a few budding writers actually end up publishing and selling any books, even less people actually become popular and rich from doing it.
Having a low barrier to enter and a high barrier to succeed results in a lot of people starting blogs and giving up shortly after because they are not prepared to do the work and put in the effort that is needed to succeed. Many stop even before publishing their first piece of content. Just being a prolific Twitter or Facebook user will never allow you to shape public opinion. Instead you need to be the one that is creating the story that other people are consuming, talking about and sharing.
Failures are hidden deep beneath all the positive buzz and the success stories that are drawing people in. We never hear much about all the failures – most sites become inactive within few weeks of the launch, most never get any readers, not to talk about making money. For anyone wanting to start blogging this is important point to realize.
Failing is normal. Everyone fails all the time. Everyone fails much more than they succeed. Most books are failures, most sites are flops, but this should definitely not discourage you from trying. Understand this and make sure you have realistic expectations when starting in order to give yourself good chances of success. Move past your failures and don’t let them hold you back. Don’t be scared because of a failure. Don’t let failure stop you from trying to do more in the future. Keep believing in yourself, in your skills and your ideas. Instead of giving up and blaming yourself learn from your failures.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — John Powell
The people that eventually do succeed, they always learn something from their failures. Make sure to learn from your failure so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. How do you keep track of your learnings? The best way is to keep a note of all the learnings you have had. This way you can open the document any time you are working on a project and use it as a checklist in order to make sure you tick the boxes you might not have been able to do in your former projects. If you do this a few times it will become natural and you will memorize all the steps you need to take. Then it will become a much easier and efficient process.
Something that goes hand in hand with unrealistic expectations is impatience. If you have huge expectations and expect results to come quickly you are bound to be disappointed. Your first post will suck. You will not have any visitors. You must put in the time and the effort in order to learn, improve and get experience. These will enable you to become better. Blogging is a marathon, it is not a sprint.
If you are working hard to make your site successful, there might be chances that you won’t get good results soon or you might face few ups and downs. But that’s the part of blogging, you need to keep patience, analyze the problems and keep moving ahead. The day that you lose patience you won’t able to work with same passion.
If you don’t have anyone commenting on your site at all, it can be a long and lonely process that requires a lot of commitment, patience and persistence on your end. I will also go as far as saying that not everyone is a blogger. Not everyone can write just because they are told they write well, or have good ideas. I am not saying this because of the substance of the blogger, but rather because aside from good quality content, blogging also requires many intangible characteristics to succeed. The day I received my first legitimate comment from a guest was a key milestone for me. It is then when I realized that loneliness can vanish immediately when you have guests interacting with you and amongst each other through your site, thus developing a community.
Stuck in the planning phase
Some newbies fall into the perfectionist trap. They think, plan, dream, design and prepare their projects for a very long time. They sometimes never even go live as there is always something to change, fix and improve before they are ready to go. This is a mistake. You should go live as soon as possible, get feedback from real people, and fix and improve things as you go along. In most cases the plan you have in mind will not survive contact with the real world so it is valuable time that you waste by not getting it out to the real people.
Not being professional
It is important to have a professional mindset about your project. There are many other sites that you are competing against so it is necessary to be a pro in order to break through. Figure out a cool brand that sets you apart, get a domain name and use a nice looking design.
Not having a strategy
In order to succeed you need to have a strategy. You need to figure out why you are doing what you are doing. You need to know what your goals and objectives are with this project. When you know the goals and objectives you should keep them in mind at all times and they will lead you towards taking the right choices and making the right decisions.
Having no purpose
When you know your goals you also know what steps you need to take in order to achieve them. This means that you need to strategically focus your content and your site. You need to know what your niche is. What is it that you are covering on your site? You need to know who your target audience is. Who is it that you are creating the content for? You need to clearly state what your site is offering to your audience. You need to encourage users to take action that helps them solve their problems and that contributes to you reaching your goals.
Being inactive and inconsistent
Inactivity and inconsistency are your enemies. Try to avoid them. If you are inconsistent and regularly inactive you will have a hard time building and growing an audience. Figure out a content calendar for your site. What type of content do you plan to be publishing? Then set a publication rate and schedule and stick to it as much as you can. I used to post three times a week for more than a year after I started.
Not creating for the web
Some things work better online than other things. Simplicity works for example. Keep your site as simple as possible. Don’t clutter your sidebar, don’t have too many graphics and sounds. Keep your design clean. Introduce a lot of white space, split your content in paragraphs, add bullet points and numbered lists, mix in multimedia with text and always create irresistible headlines.
Not having a high-quality quality control
Another mistake that can be easy to make is not double checking and controlling your work. Take 5-10 minutes to go through each post before publishing. Look for typos, spelling mistakes, sentences that don’t read well, pixelated imagery and broken links. Making sure these are all fine will mean so much to the user experience. Whenever you have a chance try and get someone else to have a read through your material.
Expecting visitors to just come
You created a piece of content that you are very proud of and you just published it. You expect tons of visitors to start coming in straight away but they never do. Great content makes no difference if nobody knows about it. Get out there and tell people about it. Spend at least 50% of your time promoting your content.
Looking for easy SEO tricks
Another mistake to make is to rely on Google and think that doing some SEO tricks can help you get tons of search traffic. Search engine traffic is a long term project and there are no shortcuts. Focus on your content and focus on building your loyal audience and search traffic will come.
Not looking at the data
One of the first things to do after starting is installing a web analytics tool. This will allow you to get a wealth of data about your visitors. You should analyse the data and use it to learn, improve and make strategic changes in your approach to everything from design and content creation to marketing.
Wasting too much time on useless tasks
We are all busy people so it is vital to use your time efficiently and be more productive. There is no reason for you to spend hours being “busy” browsing through Twitter and Facebook. That will not make a big difference for your site. You should work smart focusing on tasks that contribute the most to your results, and not work hard by spending a lot of time on useless tasks. Figure out 20% of the tasks that contribute 80% of your results and do more of them.
Creating new content is one of the main things you can do as a newbie blogger. Without new content there will be no traffic, no subscribers, and no blog. Realize this fact and make sure you ship new content regularly.
Being too serious
Blogging is a great activity and a great way of spending your time. It helps you learn, helps you write better, helps you get better at communicating, helps you learn more about marketing, gets you out networking and so much more. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, don’t stress yourself too much. Enjoy the ride!
Here are the complete slides: