Blogging can be an incredibly rewarding way to make an online living. You get to build a community of people who listen to you and love what you say. You create a community of people who discuss your ideas. You make a lot of money. You get invited to speak at conferences. Your traffic goes up organically and you don’t have to spend anything on advertising.
That’s the dream, of course. Many bloggers live this dream today and more still will live this dream in the years to come. Unfortunately, not everyone makes it to the dream life.
Many bloggers get started – Then simply never reach the finish line. Some stop before they build a real follower base. Others build a follower base, then make a mistake and alienate their readers. Still others manage to reach a certain level of success, then hit a wall that they just can’t break through.
This happens mostly because bloggers make one of these ten mistakes. These ten mistakes are common blog-killing mistakes that bloggers all over the internet make. If you’re starting a blog (or already run a blog,) avoid these mistakes at all costs.
Mistake #1: Blogging Irregularly
Blogging is all about building a loyal base of followers that want and expect to hear from you. Once you have a successful blog following going, you’ll literally have thousands of people who would get angry or worried if you don’t post on time.
In order to build that kind of supportive audience, you absolutely need to blog regularly. Regularly simply means you post on a set schedule that you don’t change. It could be once a week, it could be twice a month, it could be every single day.
Your audience needs to be able to rely on you to produce content. When you’re beginning your blog, start off with a manageable load like once a week. If you’re sure after a couple months that you can handle a higher workload, then go ahead and increase it. Don’t start off trying to blog every day, or you’ll most likely burn yourself out.
Regularity is more important than post frequency. Set a regular schedule and stuck to it.
Mistake #2: Writing for Search Engines
It’s not hard to spot a blog post written for search engines. Their keywords tend to be in the title tag or bolded in the subheads. The author bends his flow to fit the exact phrase of the keyword in the text. They might publish several similar articles with similar content because they wanted to target several similar keywords, each with its individual page.
The difference might seem subtle, but it actually makes a huge difference. Your readers can tell that you’re not flowing naturally when you write for search engines, even if your content is good.
The irony is that it’s the websites that consistently and regularly publish high quality content written for real human beings that actually end up ranking in the search engines. It might seem like optimizing your content for search engines is a wise idea, when in reality you’ll end up alienating both the search engines and human beings.
Write for people, not search engines.
Mistake #3: Not Carefully Analyzing Your Blog Analytics
Your analytics data can tell you a lot about your audience and about how to better run your blog. Yet many blog owners don’t look at their analytics at all, or only give it a cursory glance.
Here are some of the important things your analytics can tell you:
- Where your traffic is coming from. Is it from search? Is it from referring sites? Is it something else entirely?
- What keywords people type in to find your blog. They might be completely different than the keywords you were deliberately targeting.
- Who’s linking to you and who’s sending you traffic. If someone went out of their way to link to you, there may be other opportunities for partnership there.
- Your best posts and your worst posts. What kind of topics did people like and what did they not like? Which posts get people to stay the longest?
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your analytics data can give you all kinds of insights into how your audience operates and where you should take your blog next. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this treasure trove of information.
Mistake #4: Not Having Reserve Posts
If you’re writing every blog post as you go, at some point that’s going to come back to haunt you. Life will get in the way. It could be a car accident. Or perhaps you get sick. Maybe something in your romantic life happens that throws things out of balance. Or perhaps an employee stole your money and you have to spend all week dealing with the fallout.
Whatever the case may be, there are going to be times when you just won’t have the time to write new content. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” If you don’t have backup posts for these times, then you’re going to be late on posts or miss posts completely.
Don’t let that happen. Have at least three, preferably five backup blog posts you can turn to whenever you need a quick break. Whenever you use one of these backups, make sure you replenish it within the next few weeks.
In addition to helping you in a pinch, knowing you have a backup plan can also help you relax around your blog upkeep.
Mistake #5: Doing Your Own Design or Using Templates
Doing your own design or using a pre-set template is perfectly fine for the first few months of your blog. If your blog is less than 6 months old, it absolutely makes sense to save the money and use a template.
But once you’re ready to take your blog to the professional level, that’s when you should scrap your old design and go straight to having a designer do a custom design for you.
Why is this important?
First, unless you’re a fantastic designer, chances are you just won’t be able to create a design that’s all that great. Even if you use templates, you’re still not going to have a design that truly reflects your core brand.
Having a great designer re-do your website isn’t cheap, but it’s not horribly expensive either. It makes a big different on how people perceive you and your website. If you’re blogging seriously and professionally while having a site that looks unprofessional, you may not keep your audience’s attention.
Mistake #6: Not Moderating Comments Quickly
There are a couple considerations that tie into this mistake.
First, not moderating comments at all is a mistake. If you let your comment stream get filled up with spam, people aren’t going to take the time to read the comments or to respond to them. Even with spam filters like Askimet, you should take the time to moderate comments by hand.
The second and more common mistake is taking too long to moderate comments. If you don’t get someone’s comment up and online within 12 hours, chances are they’re just going to lose interest. When someone responds to their comment, they’re not going to come back to participate. They also likely won’t comment on your content again in the future.
The answer is to moderate comments, but make sure you do so in an efficient and timely manner.
Mistake #7: Not Responding to Comments
If you want to cultivate a community of avid readers, you must respond to your comments. The type of person who takes the time to respond to your post in comment form is also the type of person who’ll share your content on social media or backlink to you from their own websites.
Furthermore, people respect bloggers who take the time to respond to comments. When someone scrolls down and sees that you actually answer your commenters, they feel like you actually care about them. They’re more likely to read and more likely to comment as well.
Get in the habit of responding to every single comment on your site. This is what builds audiences and followers.
Mistake #8: Ignoring Social Media
Having social-media-phobia is no longer an option for bloggers. Just a few years ago, it was possible to succeed using just blogging. Today, the internet is intimately tied to Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools.
In the past, backlinks were built through blogosphere relationships. Today, often time’s backlinks are built through social media relationships and tools.
Readers also expect to be able to relate to you through social media. They want to be able to easily share your posts or like your fan page. They want to be able to interact with you regularly through Twitter. If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on links, traffic and reader connection.
Mistake #9: Not Using Multimedia
Just as the world is getting more social, the world is also getting more multi-media. If you’re only presenting your content in text media, you’re going to miss out on a lot of viral opportunities.
For example, creating an infographic is a fantastic way to take advantage of social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon or Digg.
Creating videos is also a great way to gain more traction. Videos can help you get more visitors through YouTube, as well as get more shares on Facebook.
Podcasting allows you to gain access to iTunes’ massive user base. Audio also allows you to get your content into the hands (and ears) of people who don’t have time to read blogs, but enjoy having an audiobook to learn from when they’re on the go.
Don’t just use text media. Use multiple kinds of media to really engage your user base.
Mistake #10: Not Building a Mailing List
Head over to the site of any successful blog and you’ll almost invariably find an email signup box. Successful bloggers are meticulous about collecting email. It’s one of their secrets to success.
Having someone’s email allows you to get them to come back to your website over and over and over again. If you don’t collect their emails, the majority of your readers are just going to read your content once, then leave and never return.
Start building a list now, even if your site gets less than 100 visitors a month. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of building a high traffic site.
These are the ten most common mistakes that bloggers make. Avoid these mistakes like the plague. If you post high quality content on a regular basis and don’t make any of these mistakes, there’s a good chance your blog could be the next leading resource in your industry.