If you're new to the blogging world, starting a blog may seem like a tough task.
There are so many moving parts to it and for a beginner, it may seem a bit complicated.
Well, I am not going to lie to you – starting and growing a blog requires a lot of know-how.
But that doesn't mean you need to know it all from the very first day. You can easily start a blog and learn on the way.
However, there are a few things you should avoid from the very beginning. These are common mistakes I see a lot of new bloggers make (and most of these I did myself when I started blogging 5 years ago).
Here is a list of 10 common blogging mistakes that you should avoid.
Not Knowing Your Reader Personna
For the first few years of my blogging career, I have been quite dismissive about creating a user persona.
I thought I knew what my readers want, and I was completely wrong.
Before even writing your first blog post, spend a few hours researching about your readers that you want to serve with your blog. If you know someone who can be a good fit as your blog reader, talk to him/her.
If you don't know anyone, you can do your research online. You can create a reader persona on your own, to begin with, and can refine it later.
For example, here is a short user persona I created for my Excel blog:
Elizabeth is a 42-year-old old woman who lives with her husband and 2 daughters in California. She is working with a law firm as a contractor and her work involves managing and working with a lot of data. She is a graduate (computer science) and earns $58K per year. As a part of her work, she works with Excel a lot (1.5-2.5 hours per day). She would love to complete her work faster so that she can get to spend more time with her kids. She is looking to progress in her career and want to improve her efficiency.
Note that I have been quite specific with the persona here.
Doing this allowed me to create content that would serve this user. Once I had this clarity, I was able to create all my content that appealed to my target audience.
Creating a user persona is not an exercise to use your imagination and create a fictional character. You need to create it based on data, facts, research and your experience in the niche.
Here is a great guide on how to create a user persona.
SIDE NOTE: Creating a user persona is a huge exercise in itself. Big companies spend a lot of time and money in getting the user persona's made. When starting a blog, you don't need to go too deep into this. Start with a basic user persona (similar to an example I have shared above).
Aiming for the Perfect Website Design
If you're not a designer, you're likely to struggle in getting the right design from the very beginning.
And that's fine!
Aim for a decent looking website.
It's better to have an average looking blog with readers than to have an awesome looking blog with no one to read it.
You would notice that most of the popular websites keep tweaking their designs. It's an on-going process, and you should focus on it when the time comes.
When starting out, aim for a reasonably good looking website, and get on with it.
The focus should be to create valuable content and getting readers to your blog. Once you have the traffic, you can continue to tinker with the website design. Once you start making money from your blog, you can also outsource this and let a professional designer take care of it.
Not Investing in the Right Tools
If you're starting a self-hosted blog, it's important to have the basic infrastructure right.
I often come across a lot of new bloggers looking for cheap hosting and free themes. While these will get you started, if you're really serious about growing your blog, I recommend you consider investing in reliable tools and services.
Once you have the right tools, it will be a lot easier for you to scale your blog when you start getting readers.
Not Sticking to One Niche
As a blogger, you may have a thousand different things to write about, but if you don't niche down and write about a specific topic, you'll end up serving no one.
For example, if you're in the health niche and write about Paleo diet, you'll get readers that are interested in Paleo Diet.
Now if suddenly you also start writing about marketing, your Paleo diet readers are not going to find it useful.
It's better to niche down and write about one specific topic only. This will help you attract the right kind of audience and build a following.
And if you're looking to get your readers from search engines, here is another compelling reason to stick to a niche – ‘topical relevancy'.
When you write about a specific topic, search engines start seeing your site as a credible source of information about that specific topic. This will help you get better search engine rankings.
But if you start writing about diverse topics, your site would not be able to build topical relevancy and can suffer in search engine rankings.
Spending Too Much Time on a Blog Post
‘Perfection is the enemy of good'
I see a lot of new blogger taking forever to publish articles.
Now, I am not saying you should be churning out articles one after the other, but don't sit on it for a long time.
Remember, you always have an option to come back and edit the blog post later.
So, if you think your blog post is good enough, hit the publish button.
Not Promoting Your New Blog Posts
Unless you're already an authority site and the search engine Gods love you, you're not going to get traffic just by hitting the publish button.
Once you have published a new blog post, promote it like crazy (and by crazy I don't mean turning yourself into a spammer).
Find relevant online communities (Facebook groups, Reddit communities, Pinterest Boards, etc) where you can promote your articles (without breaking any rules).
Email the influencers in your niche and tell them about your articles. If you already have an email list or social media following, promote it to them.
A lot of new bloggers wait until they have some articles on your blog before they start promoting their content.
That's a mistake.
You should promote it from the very first day itself.
Not Spending Enough Time on the Headline
A headline has a purpose – to make a person curious enough to consider reading your article.
If your headline doesn't stand out, you may not get the traction your awesome blog post deserves.
Once you have the article ready, spend some time coming up with different headlines. Write down all the variations and compare these to see which one looks best.
If you can't decide yourself, ask a friend to have a look.
Personally, I spend 15-20 minutes just to come up with a good headline.
There are a few tools that you can use when working on a headline:
- Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer: This analyzes your headline and gives it a score. It also gives a few suggestions to make your headline better.
- Portent: This one can be off-the-mark sometimes, but it can help you get some great ideas while working on the headline.
Remember, your headline is the first thing people will see when you share your articles on social media or when it appears in search engines results.
Not Creating an Email List
I wish I knew this when I started my first blog.
Having your own email list is the best thing you can do when running a blog or an online business.
With an email list, you get an extremely high rate of engagement. It also opens up a lot of ways for you to make money with your blog.
Nowadays, when billions of emails are being sent every day, it's a privilege to get the permission to send someone an email.
Your email list is an asset of which you have full control (unlike social media or search engines where the algorithm keeps changing).
To get started with email lists, you need an email automation tool (No – you can't do this in a spreadsheet).
I recommend using Seva (formerly ConevrtKit) as it's user-friendly, reliable and made for bloggers.
Investing in Fancy Tools and Services
I know I know.
Just a few paragraphs above I advised in investing in the right tools.
But there are only a handful of those “right” tools that you need when starting out.
However, as you learn more about the world of blogging, you may get bombarded with hundreds of options and variations.
And to make it worse, there are thousands of bloggers and online influencers promoting these in an effort to earn affiliate commission.
Bottom line – don't buy a tool unless it's absolutely needed.
When starting a new blog, your aim is to grow it and make it an authority (with possibilities of making money in the near future). Unless you have already started making money from your blog, avoid investing in tools that you don't need immediately.
Even if you see other influencers using these tools and recommending it, I suggest you wait until you make some money and can clearly see how using a tool or a service will help you make more money.
Not Learning About the Blogging World
Blogging has come a long way since I started five years ago.
As I continue to learn about the blogging world, I can't wonder but imagine how fast new technologies are coming in and how quickly things become obsolete.
No matter which niche you blog about, keep a track of what's working and how you can use it to grow your blog.
Since it can get overwhelming to learn about so many things, I recommend you start with the influencers in your niche. For example, if you're in the Paleo diet space, see whats working for bloggers in this space. If they are getting a lot of traffic from social media, you should try and learn about it and make it work for you too.
These are just some of the mistakes I see new bloggers make.
What do you think? Did I miss out on any important ones? Let me know in the comments section.
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