7 Blogging Mistakes I Made In My First Year
We all make mistakes, it’s perfectly normal. And I’ve made my fair share that’s for sure. One of the exciting things about blogging is that there is no ‘right’ way to do it. There’s ways that have worked for other people, methods that work generally speaking and there’s new things being discovered all the time. But there is no concrete ‘right’ way.
Which means there’s a lot of room for mistakes. And there’s no shame in making mistakes, that’s why I’m sharing the blogging mistakes I made in my first year with you – so hopefully some of these will click with you and you’ll go ‘oh yeah – I get that’ and maybe look at a different approach.
So here’s some of the big ones…
1 – Choose the right name.
This is so ridiculously important. This name is not only going to represent your blog but it is also going to represent you. It needs to be something you’re proud of – not something you hide from. Also ensure it’s not too long – 3 words is perfect. Any longer makes URL’s difficult to read and also makes logo design difficult.
But… chances are you’re going to go through a few names before you find one that you absolutely love. Which is okay.
I started my blog with the name ‘Perfect Enough For Us’ (see… 4 words, made logo design very difficult). While I liked it when I started blogging, I quickly outgrew it. I found what I was passionate about (women in business) and it no longer was representative of my blog or audience.
It really clicked for me when I went to a blogging conference and I was actually a little ashamed of introducing myself because I felt my blog name was a little ‘immature’ for what I was talking about. But I still didn’t change it…
Then a few months later I took a blogging course and realise it really was no longer ‘Perfect Enough’ and needed to change. I wished I had done it right back when I first felt it needed to change. There’s so much involved, from the redirects of old content through to the banding changes (you’ll soon realise just how much branding work you’ve done when you have to go back and change it.)
I lost a chunk of traffic after doing this, my blog was growing quickly and making a decent income. All of which stopped when the name changed. But is now recovering as my rankings all start coming back up and traffic starts flowing through.
2 – Make sure all of your social media handles reflect this name.
A lot of bloggers, just like myself, change our social media profiles over to our blog profiles when we start blogging. Which is fine! Our Pinterest account becomes our blog account, our Instagram and Twitter too…
But the one thing you must do is make sure all of your handles are changed over. Including Pinterest. This is a big one I missed. My Pinterest handle was https://www.dailyfemme.com/pinterest.com/alexsmumma’ for over two years which frustrated me so much.
The process of changing it over, with all of the links back to that web address, was a massive task. Huge. I can’t redirect from the ‘alexsmumma’ account to a ‘dailyfemme’ account because I don’t own the domain. It would mean manually going through and changing hundreds of links. Everywhere I have linked to one of my Pinterest Boards or Pinterest account… which is a lot of places (I kinda like Pinterest…).
Twitter and Instagram aren’t quite as big of a task, however, you still need to make sure your links to your social media accounts are updated when you change the name.
And making sure they are all the same is so important. It is all part of unity within your brand. And makes it easier for your readers to find you. If your name is @awesomebizchick on twitter and @themostamazingbiz on Instagram then your readers are going to have to do some more work to find you. And people don’t like having to work hard to find you… make it easy.
3 – Create a mail list on day one.
Actually, do it prior to day one. Have a ‘coming soon’ and a mailing list subscription form before you site even goes live. I had no idea how important you list was until recently…
When I started out over on Blogger, there was an automatic set up for RSS feeds with Feedburner. Keep in mind I really had no idea what I was doing… and this was back when I thought if I just posted something, somehow people would magically find it and read it. Uh huh…
So, anyway, that was my only subscription service. Bad idea.
Then after a few months I realised that I should send out newsletters, so I had a free account with Mailchimp and started getting a handful of subscribers each month… but I had no idea what to send them.
Over time I’ve refined my approach, asked my readers what they wanted, created a free opt in course, used mailing lists to help launch products and have set up automation series.
Mailing lists are constant work, and work that pays off. The reason they are so important is because it is the only contact medium you have with your readers (other than your blog) that you own.
If Facebook shut down tomorrow, if Pinterest went blank, if Twitter’s tweets stopped tweeting and if Instagram packed up and went home… how would you get in contact with your readers?
Your mailing list.
It’s that simple and so incredibly important.
4 – Don’t be afraid to invest.
I started blogging on a free platform, created my own logo, used a free template and was determined to do it all for free. At this stage it was just a hobby right?
Tell me… how many hobbies of yours are completely free? (I’m looking at you all you scrapbookers and knitters out there…) Hardly any hobbies are 100% free so why should blogging be the same?
And it goes so much further beyond that if you are blogging for business.
It took me 9 months to invest in my first blogging course. A course that would have done so much more for me if I had taken it 6 months earlier.
Investing in your education and in your time is essential. Invest in eBooks and courses, invest in programs that allow you to free up time, like social media scheduling tools (Buffer and BoardBooster), invest in a professional look, invest in outsourcing tasks that can be done better and faster by someone else.
You don’t have to invest in it all, just the smaller things to start off with. But don’t be afraid to invest. You’d be amazed at what you can buy for your blog or business by simply giving up on a take away coffee every now and then.
5 – Ask questions.
Don’t just assume. This is a big one. We tend to make a lot of guesses. For the most part they are at least educated guesses but they are still assumptions nonetheless.
I assumed I knew what topics my audience wanted me to write about. I assumed that if they came to my site then they would at least look to see who I was. I assumed that they wanted me to talk about more ‘Mummy’ based topics. I assumed my site was easy to use. I assumed and assumed…
And I was wrong. A lot of the time.
I stopped assuming and started asking questions and I have had so much more clarity for my brand ever since.
Asking your audience questions is one of the most valuable things you could ever do. I use Facebook and Twitter to ask the occasional question but a few months ago I put together a survey and sent it out to my readers. Not all of them responded – which was fine.
But the ones who did respond deserve the most amount of attention. They are the ones who loved my brand enough that they wanted to let me know what they thought, let me know what they wanted and let me know what they thought could be improved. They took time out to help me and for that I am always grateful.
But don’t just stop at your readers. As questions of other bloggers, as questions of friends and family. Never be afraid to ask questions because you will always be learning if you do.
6 – Don’t create content you aren’t passionate about just because you think it will trend well.
This is a big one for me, and to be honest, it’s now something that will make me leave another blog. You can tell when someone is passionate about a topic, it radiates through their writing. You can almost tell how fast they typed because they were just so excited to share the information with you.
And you can tell when someone is writing something because they think they should…
While I think there is merit in keyword searches and finding trending topics to inspire blog posts, I think this should be done in conjunction with finding topics you are passionate about.
Perhaps homeschooling is your passion. Awesome. You can use keyword searches to find what topics are trending in homeschooling. But… if you find that one of the topics trending is about how to clean your kitchen, and you never write about housekeeping (and you even hire a cleaner) then don’t write about it.
While the spikes in page views may look pretty on your analytics, they don’t convert, you aren’t being authentic and you’re not passionate about what you’re writing. I know because I’ve done it…
The same goes for sponsored posts. Just about any topic of a sponsored post can be manipulated in a way to make it fit within your demographic. However, that doesn’t mean you should. If you have to actually spend time working out how this topic can fit your audience then maybe you need to rethink it.
When you have a topic for a sponsored post pitched to you, you should immediately go ‘oh I know exactly how to share that with my audience’. That’s how you know you’ll be writing something you’re passionate about.
7 – Break the rules.
Any of them. All of them. Even the ones I’ve written above (to a degree… maybe… they were just my mistakes after all).
The most wonderful thing about blogging is that something that doesn’t work for someone else will work brilliantly for you.
There are certain elements that are found in the majority of successful blogs. They are well written posts, connections with an audience, and identifiable niche, an easy to navigate website… but… not all of them have this.
How many times have you read a post that’s gone ‘viral’ and the way it’s written is just woeful? Just look at the reaction to the book ’50 Shades of Grey’. Literates hung their heads in shame while that book continued to sell millions and millions of copies. (Confession: I just triple checked that the word ‘literates’ was the correct word to use here – considering the topic and all…).
My point is, success comes in many forms. While I don’t advocate poorly written posts, don’t let that stop you from doing what you love. Take classes and learn. Find your writing style. Mine is different to many others and that’s okay.
And the same goes for all of the other rules. I tried many plugins because someone I respected was using them. They were horrible. But I thought I would be doing the wrong thing if I changed them (thankfully I have now).
Find what works for you and go with it. Try and test and then try and test some more. Make it your own.
The positive spin on all of this is that while mistakes were made, lessons were certainly learnt. I sit back and thing about the amount of knowledge I have gained over the last 12 months and it is incredible. I’ve learned more about business and blogging than I ever would have sitting in a classroom.
Getting out and taking imperfect action, trialling and measuring errors and areas for growth are what truly moves our businesses and our blogs forward.
What are some mistakes you’ve made in blogging and what did you learn from them?
Still feel like you’re making more mistakes than most and that you’re completely alone? Check out this post of blogging experts sharing the mistakes they believe bloggers need to avoid (I’m part of the post too!!).