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10 Blogging Mistakes for the Beginners

Today is Bucket List Journey's three year Blogiversary. Woot! Woot! Fireworks are going off in my head and an imaginary bottle of champagne has been popped open. I even drank a glass. Or two. Though, It hasn't been all roses and butterflies along the way. I have made several blogging mistakes, or rather, had many learning experiences.

1. Free Hosting
Not the biggest blogging mistake ever, but I started my blog with a freebie WordPress website. I didn't want to waste the cash if I realized that this blogging thing was not my cup of tea. But, there came a time when I wanted more flexibility, to look more professional and actually "own" my blog. When that time came, the "switch over" was not as painful as the loss in readership and having to build up my backlinks again.
Free WordPress site

2. A Difficult URL
This may have been the biggest of my blogging mistakes and I didn't even realize it until I was doing a radio interview about bucket lists. The interviewer simply asked "what's your blogs address?"

"www.bucketlistjourney.net. That is ms like m-s not m-r-s. And list ologist. List o-l-o-g-i-s-t. Dot com." Now, that wasn't confusing at all for the radio listeners.

3. Different Name vs. URL
Not only did I make my web address too difficult, but I also named my blog something different than my address. So, my url is bucketlistjourney.net and then the name of my blog Bucket List Journey. Brilliant. 

Of course, bucketlistjourney.com is no longer available. Are you listening bucketlistjourney.com? I want your url when you are done with it. Please.

4. Not Responding to Comments
For some foolish reason, in the beginning, I never responded to comments…and then…it happened to me. I commented on an extremely popular blog and…crickets. My feelings got hurt. I'm sensitive.

Now, I try to respond to every comment. If I don't respond, I usually go to their blog and comment on one of their posts. I apologize to all of you for my previous behavior.
No comments respond Blogging Mistakes

5. No Networking
Speaking of comments, I didn't realize how much leaving them would start to build my own blogging community and following. As a beginner, I believed that people would just do a search and find my blog and…POOF… followers galore.

One of my biggest lessons was learning that I needed to network through several different social medias in order to build a following.

The bonus is that it has been so enjoyable getting to know my audience. I have been invited on a cruise, offered a room on my Seattle vacation and was asked over for Thanksgiving dinner in San Antonio by 50plusandontherun.com. The generosity touches my heart.

6. No Blog Reading Options
Don't people just bookmark the blogs they want to read? Nope. Every reader has their own preference when it comes to how they track and view blog posts. Another one of the bigger blogging mistakes is that In the beginning, I gave them one. Bookmark it. Now all my posts can go to an RSS feed or be subscribed by email. I also list new posts on Facebook and Twitter

I mainly follow blogs through subscribing to their RSS feed. My second choice is an email subscription, but I honestly don't read them as often as I would if they were on my RSS feed.
My google reader

7. Not Stalking Others
It has been very important in my progression to find the blogs that I admire most and stalk them. Not to copy, but to learn. I always follow bloggers that can push me to the next level. Not necessarily to the top tier, just the next level. This is because when I read blogs that are substantially better than mine I get discouraged, whereas, someone at the next level seems obtainable.

8. Didn't Identify with a Niche
I started strictly as a bucket list blogger, which in itself is a niche…sort of. But, when you are using a site, such as StumbleUpon, "bucket list" is not a category option. I felt the need to belong somewhere while still creating my own path. Everybody needs a little support. I believe in bucket lists, so I tried to find a niche within that realm. I started to break down my posts to see what I wrote about most. Travel and Food. Niche problem solved.

Find a niche, but don't make blogging mistakes by sacrificing yourself. I am a Bucket List blogger who travels and eats…a lot.

9. Not Sharing the Love 
"Why should I promote my competition?" Because they will do the same for you. I first shared my love by writing a post called "46 Inspiring Bucket Lists That I Stalk". Since then, there have been links, retweets and Facebook shares.

10. Obsessed with Alexa & Other Stats (Note that this is one of the blogging mistakes that is an actual addiction and still a work in progress.)
I quickly became obsessed with checking my stats…about 25 times a day. Just writing about it makes me want to check again. I will refrain.

Then there is Alexa. Damn Alexa.

Alexa is a website ranking system that is my nemesis. It is also a ranking number that most tourism boards and PR representatives will ask for. The lower the better. I have spent the last six months lowering my Alexa ranking which started at 1.2 million. I installed both the Alexa toolbar and widget. And my ranking quickly went down. I am now at 218,000, but covet being in the hundred thousands which has been a bit of a struggle. I am giving up on the obsession, but not giving up.
Alexa snapshot

This only touches upon all the valuable lessons I have learned in three years. But, the most valuable of them all is that I am passionate about blogging. That is the best lesson learned.

What blogging mistakes have you made?

57 Comments

  1. Great read for those who are interested in getting started in this whole blogging game…I made almost every single one of those mistakes on previous blogs I've run, my current blog is the first one I've actually designed with these things in mind.

  2. I’m happy to hear that I’m not alone with all the mistakes ;)

  3. Congrats on the anniversary! 3 years of hard work and well earned benefits. I wish you luck with the next three.
    P.S. Feel free to reach out to me via email if you need SEO help. Happy to help another bucket lister.

  4. Thanks! I might have to take you up on that offer :)

  5. Congrats on 3 years and thanks for the tips. I'm just trying to get my blog started and these were very helpful!

  6. I hope it helps. I just subscribed to your blog, so I will be able to follow your bucket list journey :)

  7. Annette, that made for fascinating reading, and I’m glad I managed not to make all of those same mistakes-though I’ve definitely made other different ones… I still hope to get added to the bucket list blogs that you stalk ;-)

    I need to make the move to .org next…

    And as you say, connecting with the blogosphere is ├╝ber important

  8. Happy you didn’t make all my mistakes!
    …and I just added you to my stalking list, because I do stalk you :)

  9. Oh, some of these sound so familiar :) Congrats on three years!

  10. Thanks, it seems like just yesterday…

  11. Wow….after reading this I definitely suck as a blogger!  I had no idea Alexa even existed, you can even see your home address on there!  Attention stalkers…do not stalk Annette!

  12. That part is kind of creepy. I don’t know how to have the address removed :(

    Oh. And you DO NOT suck as a blogger! Your blog is one I truly always enjoy reading. You are always having unique and fun experiences that makes me jealous. Keep it up…please :)

  13. Ok, now I feel stupid :D I've already made so many mistakes!! :D

  14. You haven’t made mistakes, you’ve learned lessons ;)

  15. This is a great post and is really helpful as I've recently picked up the virtual pen and begun my blog afresh (after a blog vacation – yeah, they exist ;-) – These are such great pointers, thanks for sharing – And congrats on the anniversary!
     
    P x

  16. Blogging vacations are sometimes needed (and well deserved)! Happy to hear you are back at it!

  17. A fantastic post – I so appreciate all you've said – Thank you for sharing the lessons you're learnt :-)
    Lizzy x

  18. Your VERY welcome :)

  19. Three years – good for you!!  I am still such a newbie – I will hit 6 months this week!  So excited!  Great tips in your list – I have made my fair share of mistakes.  Luckily – my url worked out for me – traveldestinationbucketlist – my intent had always been focussed on the travel aspect along with the bucketlist.  Networking and SEO are my next projects to learn!  Keep up the good work – love following your adventures!

  20. You did do good with your URL, it’s so easy to remember! SEO is a whole other beast, that I am still making my fair share of mistakes with :)

  21. Such great tips and Happy Anniversary!!! :)

  22. Thanks much dear.

  23. Happy blogiversary! And here's to many more years and adventures!!

  24. Thanks much :)

  25. Good tips! And happy blog-versary!

  26. Thank you!

  27. This was very informative…thank you.  The biggest thing I have struggled with on my blog was whether or not to find my "niche"…still working on that one.  Happy Anniversary too!

  28. Finding a niche was really hard for me too, because I felt like I didn’t fit anywhere :(
    But, now I do feel like I have selected a niche and still haven’t compromised what I want to write about.

  29. I cracked up at #5…..I thought the exact same thing! I distinctly remember being VERY disappointed when after posting my first blog, there was not a rush of comments, readers, and loyal followers. I was like whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???
    I also made the same mistake of calling my blog something different than my URL. dumb!! Thanks for stopping by my site ;)

  30. LOL! Yep, that’s exactly how I felt…whaaaaaaatttt??

  31. Congratulations on your blogiversary! Every year of blogging is surely something to celebrate about. I've been blogging for over a year and I still do make the same mistakes! Here's for an even better year!

  32. Thanks much!! I do hope that this year will bring many more amazing adventures to blog about :)

  33. I think the "not replying to comments" thing is a big one a lot of bloggers don't do. And I don't understand why not! Isn't the point of blogging to actually engage in conversation? And spreading the love/stalking others is a biggie for me; I love our little "community" and think that's the best part of blogging!

  34. I have had some of the best experiences because of our “community”, it is wonderful!!

  35. Great article, Annette! I just experienced No.1 and am still thinking about No.3 :-) My blog has the same URL and Name but the Blog is on a sub-domain which I am wondering since a while if it would be better to change this. Alexa doesn't track sub-domains and I wonder how important Alexa is for me. An how much would change if I changed it to the main domain.
    Congratulations to your successful 3 years!! 

  36. The reason that Alexa is important to me is because it is a stat advertisers and pr peeps ask me for. Though, this may change because there are several other ways to gage a blogs traffic too and technology changes so rapidly.
    Thanks for the congrats :)

  37. Annette this is a fab post – I think it's a must-read for not only people who are new bloggers, but established bloggers too!! I read a few of my first posts the other days and was actually laughing at them because they were so awful – and I'm sure I'll continue to do so over the years lol x

  38. I have done the same thing! I sometimes want to delete the old, terrible ones, but I like to look back and see how far I’ve come :)

  39. Fully enjoyed reading this post. I've had a food blog for a while (hosted on wordpress so I haven't been able to do much with it – http://avocaodpesto.wordpress.com) but since my boyfriend and I recently started our travel blog it's great to read a post like this and hopefully learn from your mistakes! 

  40. thank you! Blogging is definitely a neverending learning experience :)

  41. At least you realized your mistakes, a lot of bloggers never do. The most important part about most blogs (other than your content), is interaction with your audience. If your readers feel like they have some sort of personal connection with you, they will keep coming back.

  42. I do agree with that. It is so important to make connections and network.

  43. Hi Annette!
    I really enjoyed this post for two reasons: 1) I am struggling as a beginner blogger desperately trying to get people to read and follow my blog and 2) you have given me several tips I hadn't already thought of to use! I especially realize I NEED to start commenting on fellow travel blogger's posts so that people will actually see my name out there.
    I've been using Twitter to connect with bloggers (you're one of them actually!), but I'm not sure how useful it has been in drawing people to my blog. What specifically have you done with social media? What platforms have you been most successful in getting a strong following for your blog? And how long did it take you to start seeing an increasing success of your blog?
    Thanks!
    Megan
    (@thetomkidtravels)

  44. Hey Megan!
    Firstly, thanks for following me & kudos to you for starting a blog :)
    Secondly, to answer your questions, the social media outlets I use are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The best for referral traffic has been my Facebook Fanpage, followed by Twitter. I don’t really use Twitter for referrals as much as for networking with companies and other bloggers (I am following you now). Commenting on the leading blogs in your niche is a GREAT way to get noticed! Also, look for opportunities to contribute to travel blogger posts. There are several Facebook blogging groups you could join that randomly ask for blogger contibutions and these groups are also an incredible source for learning.
    Lastly, I have been blogging for 3 1/2 years and just starting seeing a level of success within the last year. With that said, I was not actively seeking out help in the first couple of years. It does take a lot of dedication and passion. At this point, if I could recommend one thing it would be that you are passionate about what you are writing about in your blog.
    Hope that helps!

  45. Hi Annette,
    Thanks for the great tips. I'm still at the free hosted site stage at the moment, and slowly losing patience with how little flexibility I have with it. Somehow I don't think it will be long before I move over to my own site! One thing I love though is the journey and networking that blogging takes you on. It's such a great community to be involved in. Did you switch to self-hosted by yourself or did you get help? I'm tossing up between these at the moment.
    Cheers!

  46. Hello Sammy!
    I agree with you about the community and networking opportunities. Now, everywhere I travel I meet up with someone I met through blogging. Pretty amazing!

    I switched to self hosting myself. I did it pretty early on, so it wasn’t too terribly hard. But, I went from free WordPress to self-hosted WordPress. I am not sure how the transition would be from Blogger to WordPress. I can’t imagine it would be much different if they have the ‘export’ feature in blogger. It is worth it, if you plan on progressing to the next level. Good Luck!

  47. Just bought my domain name. Now I'm one step closer!

  48. YAY!!! Hope the transition will be easie-peasie :)

  49. Thanks for sharing your personal blogging blunders. I sure have made many of my own! It's all so overwhelming and when you think you know everything there's always so much more. I'm going to go check my Alexa now :-)

  50. I am pretty sure blogging will be a neverending learning experience. That is probably why I am addicted to it ;)

  51. Yowsers! I am clearly a complete novice! Just checked my Alexa score and its in the 4 millions! YIKES! How the heck do you reduce it?  
    I am having my blog redesigned at the moment, but did at least start with a custom URL, and am just switching to self hosted… 
    I am really baffled by a lot of the SEO stuff though to be honest

  52. The easiest way to begin to reduce your Alexa is by installing the Alexa toolbar. SEO is a whole other beast! But, it would be beneficial to do a bit of reading on it or else you will have to go back through all your old posts to properly SEO them, just like I spent the last month doing! Ugh!

  53. Can you give me any useful pointers for a reading list?  Also just checked my Google Page Rank, lol I'm definitely a NOOB

  54. Looks like Alexa don't have a toolbar for Safari… Grrr

  55. This is an article I read on SEO (about a dozen times). It’s great for the beginner.
    http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo
    But, I’d also make sure to use the Yoast plugin, it makes things so much easier! I didn’t realize that the Alexa toolbar doesn’t work with Safari. I use Internet Explorer. Google page rank is tough to increase, but as you get more people linking to your site it will go up. Good Luck!

  56. Thanks for directing me to this post. I know making mistakes is the best way to learn. I am bad with technology. A friend who is a lot better at it told me to get a domain name, but I went with WordPress. I hope to be building something. I know it takes time. I am following you on Twitter and here because I admire your site and how you call it Bucket List. I hope to go through every item on mine. Thanks again.

  57. I definitely believe that a free WordPress site is the perfect way to start. And once you are sure that you are passionate about blogging, you can switch over. I love that you said “I hope to be building something”. You are building something and the funny thing is that the thing that you think you are building in the beginning may evolve into something equal, or even better, in the future.

    Best wishes on checking off your bucket list!

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