I have been blogging for almost a decade (wowza!), and Bucket List Journey has come a LONG way in that time. As a beginner, there was so much excitement about creating the site that I forgot to do the necessary research in order to make it successful from the start, or at least a lot quicker.
Over the years there have been many blogging mistakes made (or rather-learning experiences) and here are the top 10 to avoid falling into as a beginner blogger.
Blogging 101 Tips: 10 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid
(& How to Fix Them)
1. Starting with a Free Blog
In the beginning, I did not want to spend my money until it was clear that this blogging thing was gonna be for me, so I started with a freebie blog. This is not that bad of a mistake (or even one at all) if you are just a hobby blogger or someone who simply wants to share your vacation stories with family and friends.
It may not be until you start to grow that you realize how limiting free hosting can be (this is especially true when it comes to making money through advertising!). But, if your intention is to look and be more professional, it’s easier to do it the right way from the get-go.
Some of the drawbacks for me were:
- Limited Advertising Opportunities: Most of the free hosting sites will limit your amount and type of advertising that can be placed on your site.
- No Selling Allowed: At this point, my blog has a substantial monetary value and can be sold just like any other tangible business. This would not be the case if it were a free blog.
- Lack of Customer Support: My current host offers 24-hour phone support. Most free blogs will have limited support that is usually through forums or email.
- Slower Loading: With so many blogs on the same server load times can be significantly slower (which results in a higher bounce rate!).
- Limited Design Choices: Many free websites only have a handful of themes available and limited tools, which can make your blog look unprofessional.
A couple years after beginning my site I wanted better flexibility, a more professional look and to actually own my blog. The switchover was done by a professional blog technician, so not only did it cost me some money (probably as much as I would have spent for hosting in the beginning), but also resulted in a temporary loss in readership.
SOLUTION: Buy your own domain name (a unique url) and pay a legit hosting company for your blog to be online. Domains average around $9.99 per year and hosting can cost as little as $3.95 per month. Though you don’t have to buy both from the same company, I purchase all my domain names and monthly hosting for this blog at GoDaddy. Due to the higher traffic on my blog my hosting plan is their Business Managed WordPress and currently costs about $20 per month.
Two other hosting companies that are popular amongst my blogger friends are Blue Host (starting at just $3.95/month!) and SiteGround.
2. Choosing a Difficult Domain Name
This may have been the biggest of all my blogging mistakes and it wasn’t even realized until I was doing a radio interview about bucket lists. The host simply said “tell us how to find your blog.”
“You can find it online at www.mslistologist.net. That is M S, not M R S. And list-ol-o-gist. List O L O G I S T dot com.” How many people do you think visited my blog after that interview? Zilch.
Again, just like when my blog was switched from a freebie to paid, I had to hire a computer tech to change the domain name of my blog to www.bucketlistjourney.net. And again my blog took a dip in traffic which took about four months to recover from.
SOLUTION: There are so many blogs in the world that your first, second and third choice for a domain name may already be taken. But, don’t give up on finding something easy to say and spell! At GoDaddy you can search names easily and purchase one that’s available. Don’t be afraid if you don’t get the .com because there are many more extensions that have been added to websites like .net, .co, .biz or .info.
3. Naming the Blog Different Than the Domain Name
Prior to changing my domain name, not only was the web address too difficult, but I also named my blog something entirely different than the url address. My domain was www.mslistologist.net and the name of my blog Bucket List Journey. Brilliant.
Why is this a mistake? First, it’s hard enough for people to remember one name, much less two. Secondly, and most importantly, my main keyword is ‘bucket list’, so having that term both in my domain name and title is extremely important for SEO (search engine optimization-getting traffic from Google). After both were aligned for a few months my traffic grew significantly and continues to do so.
SOLUTION: Choose a blog and domain name that are the same. If they are not exactly the same, at least make sure they are close. For example, www.annettetravels.com for the domain and Annette Travels the World for the blog name. It is also smart to have your main keyword(s) in your title and domain.
4. Not Responding to Reader Comments
As a beginner blogger I never responded to comments. What a mistake! It shouldn’t take a genius to realize that if you want readers to stick around and leave more valuable comments, you need to engage with them. If you don’t ever respond, what is the incentive for them leaving their opinion?
Here’s a few other reasons to respond to EVERY legit comment:
- It helps to build credibility as an authority in your niche.
- It encourages others to comment too and more often.
- Comment can add quality to your post. Many times people will leave tips, ideas and helpful suggestions related to the post.
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.
SOLUTION: Set aside an hour or two each week that is dedicated solely to responding to comments. Make sure your words are valuable and relatable instead of just a simple “thank you!”. If you want to go one step further (which I recommend, especially for the beginning blogger) head over to their blog if they left a link and comment on that too!
5. Not Networking with Other Bloggers in my Niche
With changing algorithms, challenges of producing quality content and serious competition starting sites everyday, the blogging world can be difficult to navigate on your own. And a little lonely. It’s always nice to have a few virtual friends who understand what you are going through. Here are some reasons why building relationships are so important:
- You can bounce ideas off each other.
- You can troubleshoot problems together and learn from each others mistakes.
- You can share each others work on social media.
- You can be each others cheerleader!
I am a really reserved person, so in the beginning putting myself out there to network with others was scary. But, I learned that it wasn’t necessary for me to have a HUGE network of other bloggers, just a handful of very close ones.
SOLUTION: Find ways and take opportunities to connect with other bloggers in your niche. An easy way to start doing this is by joining Facebook groups for bloggers (there are a ton!), attending a conference or getting in touch through social media.
6. Not Offering Reading Options
Don’t people just bookmark the blogs they want to read and then randomly check back to see when new articles are posted? Nope and nope. Every reader has their own preference when it comes to how they track and view blog posts. Another one of the beginner blogging mistakes I made was to give readers only once choice. Bookmark it.
SOLUTION: Give your readers easy options. Now all my posts can go to an RSS feed or be subscribed to by email (see the right sidebar to sign up!). New articles are also listed on the Bucket List Journey Facebook and Twitter. Make sure there’s no excuse to miss a post 🙂
7. Not Learning From Other Blogs
You don’t want to copy what other successful blogs are doing, but you do want to learn from them. I always follow a handful of blogs (who are not in my ‘friend’ network-see #5) that can push me to the next level. Take note that I said “next level”. This does not mean to follow the “biggest and best blogger” out there. When you are comparing yourself to a top tier blog it is very easy to get discouraged, so select blogs that you consider a step or two above yours.
SOLUTION: Choose five blogs you admire that are doing something a just a little better than you are (this could be in regards to design, article content or photography). Then analyze each of them to learn what you could do better. For example, I found a blog whose theme I loved and was able to finally find and get the same one.
8. Didn’t Identify with the Proper Niche
In the beginning, I identified myself as a bucket list blog, which in itself is a niche…sort of. Though it could technically be considered a niche, 99% of the sharing and listing websites, like StumbleUpon, do not have a “bucket list” category (hopefully that will change soon!). With that said, saying that Bucket List Journey is just a travel blog was way too broad since there are literally thousands of them out there and it would be hard to compete. Also focusing on bucket lists has been key to my success.
SOLUTION: Identify yourself with a common niche (like lifestyle, travel or food), but also pick a smaller sub-niche that will make it easier to rank and be recognized for.
9. Not Sharing the Love
What? You may be asking, “why should I promote my competition?”. The answer is simple. Because they will do the same for you. Many people in the industry will return the favor if you share one of their articles. Even more so, if a mention of their blog is included in one of your articles, they are definitely more likely to share (aka: brag) that article with their readership.
SOLUTION: Be generous with your shares/mentions of others people’s work while still keeping your brand in tact (ie: only share things that fit within your own branding and niche).
10. Being too Obsessed With Stats
After installing Google Analytics on my site, the standard program used for tracking stats for blogs, I became obsessed-checking my visitor count dozens of times per day. It is very important to know how many hits you get to your site and the demographics of those visitors, especially when it comes to monetizing and forming partnerships. But, checking your analytics 20 times per day is just a waste of time and can be discouraging for the beginner blogger.
SOLUTION: Though 20 times per day is way too much, you do want to check your stats on a regular basis to make sure that your blogging technique is on track for gaining readership and to confirm that your Google Analytics is installed properly and continuously tracking (sometimes updating or installing new plugins can affect GA). Set a schedule for when you will analyze your stats and update your marketing materials related to them. Start with agreeing to check them only one time per day (preferably at the same time each day) and update your marketing materials on the 1st of each month.
7 More Common Beginner Blogging Mistakes
- Creating Mediocre Posts
- Neglecting SEO from the Beginning
- Not Using Quality Images
- Not Promoting Your Blog Content
- Not Collecting Emails
- Not Staying on Brand
- Not Optimizing Photos
Are you a blogger? What beginner blogging mistakes did you make?