The Internet has an insatiable appetite for content, and starting a blog is a great way to tap into that marketplace. However, to get your blog off the ground and keep it going strong, you’ll need to avoid making some mistakes along the way. Here are 15 common pitfalls to avoid when you’re starting a blog:
1. Not having a plan for your blog’s content
Have an idea of what kind of content your blog will include before you even start it. For example, if you plan to post product reviews, make sure you have the means and time to get those products reviewed ahead of time. Your content should be relevant and timely.
2. Not setting any goals or limits for yourself
Do you want more people clicking on links in your email inbox? Or do you want to land more clients for your business? Maybe there’s a promotion coming up at work that would require a specific skill set—do you need a blog to help secure that promotion? Think hard about what exactly you want from your blog and how frequently, with whom, and in what format you want it delivered. You may not reach all of your goals, but having them will help you know if things are on track or not.
3. Engaging with the wrong audience
Blogs can be shortcuts to establishing relationships and having conversations with people who share similar interests. Still, if you try to talk to everyone about everything, no one will care what you have to say. Know your intended audience and engage them in a way that’s meaningful to them—not just because it’s a blog post, but because they’re asking for it from you as well.
4. Not being able to take criticism or negative feedback
Not everyone is going to like what you write. Some people will hate what you write! Your best defense against these kinds of comments is to get in the habit of ignoring them, even if it means deleting comments that you find offensive. If someone is willing to be crass or slanderous, assume they’re not worth your time at all.
5. Hiding behind a fake persona
Don’t create a blog because you think a certain image will look good on your résumé in five years. Blogs are meant to be shared honestly and have significant meaning for both you and your readers. Like anything else in life, sometimes being transparent takes more courage than being anonymous, but real connections with people are much more valuable in the long run.
6. Not accepting any outside help when needed
You don’t have to do everything yourself from start to finish—especially if you’re just getting started blogging. You can offer incentives to people in exchange for sharing your content with their own audiences and collaborating on projects together. Just be sure to let them know what kind of help you need or want first.
7. Not giving your visitors a way to find you
Your blog posts should not exist in isolation; make sure there is some call-to-action (whether it’s as simple as adding social media share buttons or as complex as designing an email newsletter) at the end of every post so readers can follow, connect with and engage more deeply with you and your business after reading your blogs.
8. Being afraid to talk about yourself
You don’t have to be all work and no play. People like seeing the human behind the keyboard; it makes you more approachable and relatable. Plus, if you’re willing to be yourself, then your readers will feel like they know you—and that’s not something they get from every other blog on the block.
9. Not knowing how to drive traffic
It’s great that you have a new blog up online with helpful information for your audience or potential customers. Still, without some sort of strategy for getting those people to read what you’ve written, all of your efforts are moot. Spending time building relationships on popular social media networks, guest posting on other blogs related to your niche market, and investing in content marketing are just a few of many possible ways to bring people to your blog.
10. Not understanding that blogging is a business, not a hobby
Blogging can be both, but if you’re thinking about starting a blog as a way to pass the time or procrastinate from other tasks, then it’s probably the wrong place to start. Blogging should take up part of your day and should involve some cost: buying equipment and software (even if it’s just free social media tools), spending time marketing yourself, and paying for web hosting are all perfectly valid things when you’re blogging professionally.
11. Acting unprofessionally online
People will judge you by the company you keep on the Internet, so make sure those people know where you stand and how you want others to see you. Your blog post comments, forum posts, and social media profiles are visible to anyone who cares to look, so choose your friends wisely.
12. Not being patient
Blogging takes time—even if it’s infrequent—and you have to respect that fact for it to work in your favor later on. If you don’t have time for blogging on top of everything else, then put the idea aside until you do or risk wasting a lot of valuable resources.
13. Relying on search engines alone
It’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture when blogging: building relationships with other blogs and people in your industry is just as (if not more) important than what shows up in Google search engine results. It’s a long-term process, but one that pays off.
14. Not having a plan for monetizing your blog
People will enjoy your blog more if you’re up-front about what you want from them as well as how the money side of things works. In addition to selling advertising on your site, affiliate programs and sponsored posts are some other ways to make money blogging. You can also try advertising with Google AdSense or MaxBounty, finding freelance gigs, or asking for tips from your loyal readers.
15. Not being real
When it comes down to it, people can tell when they’re being sold to and when someone actually cares about what they have to say—and that goes double for blogs. You don’t always have to be selling something or trying to make a buck; sometimes, it’s better to just talk about what you love.
Closing thoughts on starting a blog
Don’t be discouraged if you’ve made some of the mistakes on this list before. Everyone starts somewhere, and now that you know what to watch out for, your blog will be off to a better start than ever before. Just keep plugging away at it, and before you know it, you’ll have a loyal readership of people looking to you for advice.