While creating a blog might seem simple on the surface, creating a successful blog is much more difficult. Many people are under the impression that simply building a blog and regularly posting content is enough to build an audience. However, many new bloggers commit crucial mistakes that could be easily avoided. Before you create a blog, here are five crucial blogging mistakes many beginners make and how to avoid them yourself.
Not Knowing their Goal
One of the most common blogging mistakes bloggers make is assuming that if they write, the audience will come, and that they can write anything and generate views and revenue. This hurts you in several respects. First, if you don’t have a goal in mind for the blog, it risks becoming a diary online and losing the interest of almost anyone except your immediate social circle. Second, if you don’t have a set goal in mind, even a vaguely focused blog will suffer periodic posts that undermine its focus.
Know why you are blogging. Are you writing about a technical area you know well to promote your consulting? Then you need to write exclusively about the technical topic and not throw in posts about your personal life or politics. Are you blogging in the hope of converting website visitors into buyers or signups for a newsletter? Then all of your content on the blog needs to include calls to action to sign up for the newsletter or reference the content they can buy, as well as reference why that content is better than the free sample available online. Are you writing about being a mom and hoping to earn money from doing so? Then keep the discussion focused on kids and parenting.
Not Knowing their Niche
Writing about too many topics in an effort to appeal to as wide an audience as possible is a mistake too many new bloggers make. There are literally a million other outlets large and small competing with your blog for an audience. You need to know not only your goal but your niche before you create a blog. You need to pick a niche that you can write about in volume and in depth but not repeat what everyone else is saying.
If you are a blogging parent, do you have expertise on raising multiples or a child with a specific handicap? You’ll stand out from a million other moms telling generic funny stories about what their children did today. If you are blogging about food, find a niche like a type of ethnic cooking or cooking for someone with specific dietary restrictions. You’ll capture an audience eager to read about good meals they can actually enjoy.
Why do you need to know your niche before you start blogging? The focus of your blog will determine how search engines categorize it and the audience it will start to attract. It is easier to select a unique niche that suits your long term goals from the start than to write a generic, unfocused blog and try to bring it into focus later. And when you know the blog’s focus, it is easier to create titles and content rich in the key search terms the audience will be using to find blogs like yours.
Not Knowing their Audience
One common mistake bloggers make is writing for themselves and not their audience. Understand who is going to be reading your blog and write content for that audience. Mommy blog readers want to know how to simplify their lives, raise better children and save money in the process. Someone seeking technical advice needs content that answers their questions, though the blog may state that for more complex issues or their particular situation, the reader should consult with an expert, you. Understand the problems they face so that you can write about solutions they care about and will read about. You need to understand your audience so that you don’t make posts too complex or too simple.
Understanding your audience helps you pick topics for the blog that they find relevant and interesting, as well. For example, a mommy blogger can review baby products or minivans, whereas a review of wine glasses or gag gifts will fall flat. Financial advice blogs could review insurance products, recommend credit cards or financial books. A financial guru recommending personal care products will lose their audience quickly.
Conversely, you should not be writing your blog to vent frustrations of the moment. If the content isn’t of value to the audience, they’ll stop reading it after several posts like this. The only exception would be parenting frustrations that can be spun into something entertaining, such as messes toddlers made or crafts they tried to create.
Not Being Consistent
An estimated 95% of all blogs have been abandoned. Most bloggers start a blog with gusto and then peter out. One of the most important things you do after starting a blog is to continue to post. It is more important to post content regularly, such as on a weekly basis, than put out a large volume of posts at the onset.
What do you do if you’re running out of ideas? Look at the subjects you’ve already covered and find ones ready for an update, such as when you reviewed version 2.0 of a product and version 3.0 just came out. If you still need help, consider guest bloggers who write on the same topics you do or offer complimentary content. Or read through the comments your readers posted and expound upon them in a new blog entry.
Your blog must also be of high quality to rank well with search engines; grammar and spelling mistakes will hurt you as will repetitive phrases and filler words.
It is better to put out one good blog post per week than three lousy ones. So while you need to maintain a publication schedule, it is better to post fewer, better articles than a greater quantity of poorer quality content. Remember that search engines grade your blog based on the quality of the content, so hurriedly drafted content posted on the site hurts your blog’s ranking.
Not Knowing How to Monetize the Blog
Many bloggers start writing in the hope of making money from the effort. They often make mistakes when they try to monetize the blog. Before you do product reviews in return for pay, understand the FTC’s rules for disclosing that fact. Learn how the blogging platform you use treats Amazon affiliate links before you put too many links on the blog and get hit with spam penalties. Think about what your audience would find valuable before you start asking them to join your latest affiliate sales program. If you are using the blog to promote your writing, include links to where they can buy your book or sign up for a subscription newsletter. If you plan on running Google ads on your blog, learn what subjects the blog can’t address without being demonetized.
Understand how to connect the blog to your business, if the blog is used to promote the business. For example, an appliance repair blog should discuss maintenance and do it yourself repairs for the average homeowner, as well as clear references as to when to call in a pro like your business.
Before you start a blog, know your reason for blogging and your unique niche. Understand your audience and create quality content that they will be interested in. A blog is not the right place to vent your personal grievances or maintain a diary. Understand the rules before you try to monetize your blog, and know the right way to promote a product or service if that is the purpose of your blog.
header image courtesy of Jeremy Booth