We’ve all been there. You are learning the craft and art of blogging. On my second anniversary as a blogger, I’m sharing 10 mistakes you’re making as a new blogger. These are some of my own lessons that I’ve had to learn along the way.
I can’t believe that this October marks two years of writing on this blog. There are lots of reasons to celebrate this year. This is the first year that I am not just in the black but made a nice profit. My subscribers tripled doubled from last year and I feel like I’ve found my groove. It has taken immense commitment, hours of writing, editing, and promoting, and some 173,499 words, but I finally feel like my blog is successful. Today, in honor of my blog-aversary, I’ve decided to share 10 mistakes you are making as a new blogger.
10 Mistakes You Are Making as a New Blogger
You Are Relying on Friends and Family to Help Drive Traffic
I get it. I did the same thing. You are so excited to launch your new blog. You may even have friends and family who have encouraged you to start it. In the beginning, those friends may even give you a couple of shares. But I can tell you that your friends and family will not drive your traffic or your sales. My friends and family rarely share my posts. Only a handful actually subscribe to my blog and I can only think of one friend who has purchased something through my blog. Many friends and family read my blog when I post links, but few actually commit and subscribe. If you go into blogging expecting that you’re friends and family will share every post and buy every product, you’ll be disappointed maybe even resentful. I have thousands of subscribers and nearly all are strangers.
Your friends and family will likely not be your audience. I will also tell you, don’t take this personally. It doesn’t mean they don’t love your work or support you. It’s just the way it is. You will need to increase your traffic organically through hardcore sharing on social media platforms. It will come with lots of content creation, potentially paid ads on platforms, building your email list, and scheduling your promotion at peak times.
Not Building Your E-mail List From Day One
When I first became a blogger, I really underestimated how important it was to build your email list. With all the writing and behind-the-scenes work you do, building an email list often gets put on the back burner by beginner bloggers. Think of your email subscribers as repeat customers! They are your captive audience. Your fans. Treat them like it. These are readers who want to hear from you so reach out to them regularly but don’t flood their inbox with emails. I’ve unsubscribed to people who send me emails every couple of days. It’s spammy and it’s a turn-off. You need to find a balance between reminding them you are still here and not annoying them with spammy correspondence. You also want to entice them with reasons to return to your site.
Some bloggers avoid email lists in the beginning because it can cost money. I know money is tight with all budding bloggers, but investing in your email list is something that is necessary if you want to grow and succeed. These days, there are FREE options to get started like Mail Chimp.
Make sure you offer your loyal readers something other readers don’t get and remind them they are only receiving it because they are loyal subscribers. It can be anything. Printables, advice, ebooks, special blog posts, resources, anything at all, but make them feel valued. You need to ask your readers to subscribe every chance you have. Which leads me to my next topic.
You Assume Your Readers Know What to Do
This was by far my biggest mistake in the beginning. I’m going to be honest with you. I feel totally awkward asking for things. I feel weird and self-conscious asking people to buy things. So in the beginning, I didn’t want to come off needy and desperate. In the beginning I got almost no shares, no comments, and no subscribers and it really boiled down to one simple thing. I assumed that my readers knew I wanted them to do those things. They don’t!
That is where a “call to action” comes in. A call to action is a prompt for your readers to take action. You need to tell your readers to subscribe to your blog at some point within every blog post. You also need to encourage them to pin the post for later and encourage them to share it on social media. If you have a shop linked to your blog, make sure you promote your products in every relevant blog post. Also, guide them to past blog posts for more information. Keep them on your site for as long as possible.
You can’t be modest or shy. You need to directly ask your readers to engage, stay, subscribe, and buy. The same goes for your posts on social media. At the end of every post, invite your readers to engage. You can do this by asking a question, ask for their opinion, advice, or ask them to share or like the post. You can ask them to follow a link but always request that they take action after reading.
Not Offering Quality Content
Okay, let’s talk about content. I have seen lots of beginner blogs and one thing that I see often in young writers is the lack of quality in content. Many new bloggers treat their blog like a diary. Now don’t be offended by this. Hear me out. Your blog posts should offer readers something in exchange for reading. You need to solve a problem, teach them something, give them a resource and you need to do it better than your competition. Ask yourself what your readers will gain from your post. Why should they read your post and why should they read it when there are other posts like yours out there? What makes yours different?
“But shouldn’t I be making a personal connection with my readers?”
Absolutely! You can absolutely give updates on your life, anecdotes, funny stories, relatable moments, etc. You absolutely need to be personal, candid, and vulnerable. But these should be nestled into your posts. Diaries and journals are for you. Blogs are for your readers. Entertain them. Educate them. But offer them something they didn’t have before reading your post. Additionally, you need to present quality photos (original when you can) and incentives and teasers for returning.
You’re Not Monetizing Every Post
Blogs make money with passive income. Passive income just means it’s money you earn with little effort. Affiliates are a form of passive income. As soon as you launch your blog you need to have multiple affiliate networks that will monetize links. Every time people purchase something through a link, you earn cents on the dollar. Even as a relatively new blogger, there are affiliate networks that will accept you. Amazon, Share a Sale and Viglink will accept fairly new bloggers. With Amazon you will need to make some sales within the first six months or so of starting your affiliate account or you will be dropped. You need to sign up for as many as you can and then you need to monetize every post you create.
You can also monetize your posts by creating printables, ebooks, courses, and other digital products. These are awesome money makers because you create them once and then sell them over and over again. You also never need to worry about carrying physical stock and maintaining an inventory. You can also promote them in countless ways in your posts. But you always need to monetize to fully maximize your income potential.
You’re Not Scheduling Your Posts
This was another big mistake of mine. The first few months I blogged, I didn’t want to spend any money on a scheduler like Tailwind. With all the startup costs of a new blog, I totally understand the need to be choosy about expenditures. I’ll be the first one to tell that you need to be picky about expenses and premium services, premium plug-ins, etc. Let me tell you, it is absolutely worth it to invest in a scheduler like Tailwind.
Let me be honest. Writing is not going to be your main time burglar. The majority of your time will not be spent writing and editing. It will be promoting your posts! In fact, many six-figure bloggers will advise you should spend 20% of your time creating your post and 80% of your time promoting it. Pinterest is going to be your main driver of traffic and scheduling pins at peak times is going to maximize your exposure. Trying to do this manually is such a big headache.
With Tailwind you can also set your posts to pin regularly in a perpetual loop, thus saving you tons of time. You can set it to pin certain posts during a time period or your evergreen posts all year long. With Tailwind, in about a year, I went from 10,000 monthly viewers to 240,000.
The Focus isn’t on Evergreen Content
Seasonal posts are so fun to write and it is easy to get inspired into writing them, but the problem with seasonal posts is that they typically only drive traffic at a certain time of year. That’s why your main focus needs to be on evergreen content. Evergreen content is, simply put, non-seasonal posts. These posts can drive consistent traffic all year round.
I love seasonal posts, but it’s important to know that they probably won’t drive much traffic during most of the year. My Christmas posts, although super fun to put together, literally drive no traffic except for at Christmastime. You’re also going to have to promote again them every season. Obviously, this doesn’t mean can’t write them. It just means that your focus should be on things that bring traffic all year round.
Not Taking Time to Learn
Many blogs fail in the first few years. There are lots of reasons for this, but one overlooked reason is that some bloggers don’t invest enough into learning about the profession and industry. Blogging is a serious business. You don’t have to invest in an expensive blog course, although I think they do save you a lot of time and foot work. I think lots of new fledgling bloggers, cram with all the basics of starting a blog and then sit back and focus on content creation. I will tell you, you need to dedicate yourself to constant learning.
You will also find that like in any industry, the blogging world constantly evolves. Just about the time you have algorithms figured out, social media platforms will change them. For example, I finally felt like I had learned Pinterest algorithms. Then Pinterest announced, it would prioritize fresh pins and stale pins may not drive as much traffic. It is their way of keeping Pinterest feeds fresh for users. However, for bloggers like me, this means that I had to recreate fresh pins for all my old content. We are talking about 200 pins! Then Google also refreshed their search engine optimization (SEO). It’s not the first time this has happened in my two years of blogging. Both Facebook and Instagram have also changed their algorithms as well. There is a constant learning curve and you need to be willing to invest regular time into learning, improving, and evolving.
I dedicate about an hour a week for continuing education. Back when I was an insurance adjuster, I had to have CE to keep my state license. But the truth is, if you want to be good at what you do, if you want growth and improvement, you will have to invest time to learning continually. This isn’t something you learn once in the beginning and just stop. Prioritize time for goal-making, learning, and reading up on the blogging industry every week. It doesn’t have to be hours, but you do need to prioritize it, so it becomes a consistent habit.
You Don’t Refresh Old Posts
It is amazing to me how much I have evolved since I first began this blog over two years ago. I look at some of my early posts and they are almost embarrassing. The photography, the writing, the editing. Yikes. Those early posts weren’t monetized. The SEO was really poor. What’s the old saying? “You don’t know what you don’t know.” After two years of blogging, I can look back at those early posts and see all my mistakes and shortcomings. It happens to everyone. The key is to go back and refresh old posts.
Update the SEO. Play around with better blog post titles. Update photos and graphics. Create fresh pins for Pinterest. Add new information. Link to other, newer related posts. Add freebies like printables and digital downloads. Check for dead or missing links. Link or promote products in your shop. Updating these things will help broaden your exposure, audience, and revenue. My advice is to try to set aside an hour or so a week to refreshing old posts.
You May Not Be Protecting Yourself
When I think that I had a blog for six months before putting in a privacy statement and disclosures, I could kick myself. These days people will sue over anything and everything. When something bad happens, they look for someone to blame. When someone’s identity is stolen, people will blame companies with access to their credit card information. If a product injures someone, people will look to blame the manufacture, the company that sold it, and the one who recommended or endorsed it. Liabilities are everywhere and the blogging world is no exception to it.
Even seemingly harmless posts, like where I shared about my son’s speech delay, need a disclosure that I’m not a medical doctor and that my advice in my post shouldn’t replace medical advice or treatment from a medical professional. I swear you’ve got to put a lot of disclosures in your blog and on your posts. If you’ve received a free product to review, you need to disclose it. The same goes for any links with which you may earn a commission.
You Blog Is a Work in Progress
In case I didn’t mention it, I’m super excited for you. Blogging is hard work, but it’s also a very fun, rewarding job. Like any career, it takes a while to learn the ropes and it’s a never-ending journey. So don’t be hard on yourself if you have been making any of these mistakes. I’ve made every single one them, which is why I decided to share this with you today.
Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe and PIN this post for later or share it with a friend who is also new to blogging. You may even be interested in reading some of my other blog-related posts such as What I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging, My 100th Blog Post, and The Ugly Side of Blogging. In the comments below, I’d love for you to share your blog links. Tell me a little about your blog and why you started writing.
Thanks for reading, friend.