We all make mistakes… that’s for sure. The less used to something we are, the more we’ll slip up.
As a new blogger, I know I stepped on plenty of banana skins in the early days… and the truth is, I still step on them sometimes. Making mistakes is one way we learn, and it’s important to accept this in order to develop a growth mindset…
… but it can be painful and sometimes it’s unnecessary.
Why do I say it’s an unnecessary way to learn?
Sometimes learning from the mistakes of others can help to accelerate your learning and leapfrog you into a far better position than trial and error ever could.
Of course, some things you need to find out for yourself because what might work for others won’t work for you: you only find that out by trial and error.
Nonetheless… in this post I’m going to highlight 12 common technical and commercial blogging mistakes that beginner bloggers make. In actual fact, I see plenty of seasoned bloggers slipping up on a few of them too.
These are perhaps the most simple mistakes to avoid, as long as you’re aware of them in advance.
But even though they’re simple to avoid, some of them will make a massive difference to how quickly your blog progresses, so they shouldn’t be sniffed at.
So let’s get to it.
12 of the Most Common Technical & Commercial Blogging Mistakes
1. Using a Free Blogging Platform
Starting a free blog is very tempting… it doesn’t cost you a penny so why wouldn’t you?
I get this… truly I do.
However, there are many reasons why free blogs will hold you back. Although they won’t cost you upfront money, you will get what you pay for!
Many free blogs put ads onto your content that you can’t switch off. The same applies to branding, where free blogs often slap their logo on your blog.
On top of this, your options for customizing the look, feel and functionality will be far more limited than running your own blog on a host you pay for. For me, I hate the idea of being unable to control what appears on my blog, how it looks and how it functions.
Often you can’t extend the functionality of free blogging tools. This might not seem like a big deal in the beginning but you can be sure it will after a few months when you see something on someone else’s blog that you’d like to have on yours… but can’t.
Free blogs are often not built optimally for search engine friendliness (SEO). If you don’t see that as a problem, you’ll probably find it hard to grow visits from Google and Bing searches (for reasons why, see point 9 in this post on neglecting SEO).
… but apart from this, why else are free blogs a problem?
Most free blogging platforms will only ever offer you limited storage and bandwidth. Again, at the beginning this might not be such a problem. However, if you’re serious about blogging, you’ll need to think long term… and over time you’ll run out of space and bandwidth and end up paying over the odds for it.
Free blogging systems have a reputation for changing functions and features with little warning. There’s nothing worse than waking up one day to find features and functions you were using have disappeared.
Other free blogs make it difficult to migrate your content out if you decide to use another blogging system, and some won’t even let you export it at all!
The only benefit of free blogs is cost.
But the cost of free blogs to your potential growth is high. If you want to know why, read my detailed post detailing the reasons why you should choose a self-hosted blog.
2. Using an Inferior Web Hosting Service
So you’ve decided not to use a free blog and instead opt for a self-hosted solution. That’s great news.
However, it’s not sufficient to choose any old host because some are way better than others.
You should choose a host that offers fast server speeds and plenty of storage and in my experience it’s always worth paying for. That’s not to say it needs to cost you the earth.
A fast web host is important since it determines how quickly your blog loads. Page load speed is important as search engines tend to reward faster loading blogs with higher positions in search results.
As importantly, nobody will stay on your blog if your pages don’t load quickly.
I use SiteGround hosting for the SideGains blog and I have no problems recommending it to anyone… especially new bloggers. Don’t make the same mistake I made and choose an inferior host to begin with.
Read my SiteGround review to find out why I feel it’s one of the best self-hosting options available.
Want to Really See a Difference in Your Page Load Speed?
SiteGround took my mobile page load speed from 77 to 93 in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool… read how in my SiteGround review.
3. Not Using Google Analytics
How do you know how people are finding your blog? What about understanding which pages your visitors look at when they arrive? Do you have a clear idea of which posts your visitors like the most?
A common mistake that many new bloggers make is not setting up Google analytics to monitor their blog traffic.
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools you could hope to come across… and it’s completely free! It’s a tool that provides all sorts of useful insights into how people find and interact with your blog and it can help you troubleshoot problems too.
I would say if you could only ever choose one tool to use for your blog, the tool you should choose would be GA… it’s that useful.
4. Not Using Google Search Console
Another free tool, Google Search Console provides a slightly different set of analysis tools to help you understand technical problems with your blog as far as Google sees them.
Where Google Analytics presents you a visitor-centric view, Search Console shows you a more search-centric picture.
Alongside it’s reports on keywords people use to find your blog, the number of times they search them and the position in which your pages appear in Google search results, GSC also provides tools to help you submit your pages to its index and troubleshoot potential problems.
You can even connect Google Search Console to Google Analytics so you can import your GSC data into GA to view it all in one place.
GSC is another tool that should be a default for any new blogger and setting it up is pretty straightforward. Read my post on how to set up a Google Search Console account to find out more.
5. Choosing Style Over Substance
If you’re prioritizing the look and feel of your blog over your content, you’re missing the point of blogging entirely.
Sure it’s important to have a nice looking blog with a strong design and a user-friendly aspect. But people come to your blog to be enlightened, educated and entertained. They don’t come just to just stare at it and wonder at the prettiness of it all.
I’m not advocating your blog should be ugly and that you shouldn’t care at all about how it looks. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t get hung up about look and feel to the detriment of the content you publish.
Blog design mistakes and flaws can always be corrected relatively simply, as long as you’re not running a free blog. Correcting poorly written content can be a much harder problem to fix down the line when you have 300 posts.
6. Not Having a Plan
When most of us start a blog we may not have some super-duper all encompassing plan for where our blogs will go. However it’s important to have some sort of plan in place, even if it’s rudimentary to begin with.
Without a plan you may find it difficult to make progress with your blog and you’ll find it near impossible to set targets and objectives.
But I don’t want something so rigorous Paul, I hear you say. I want to be a blogger so I can avoid all the pomp of a job.
Believe me, I’m with you. But although it seems over the top, I can assure you it’s not. Setting a plan and identifying some blogging goals will give you focus and help you plot out how you’ll get from where your blog is today, to where you want it to be in the future.
7. Not Treating Your Blog as a Business
Leading on from the point above, if you want to make money blogging you’ll need to treat it like a business.
I’ll tell you now… blogging is hard work and there are many people out there competing against you making it even harder every day.
You cannot expect to make any sort of gain without being disciplined, committed and business-like in your approach to blogging.
If you want to simply have a blog as a creative outlet, that’s fine.
But if you actually want to make money blogging, you’ll need to put in the work and run it as you might expect to work on a business.
Don’t make the same mistake as the thousands of new bloggers that enter the fray in every niche every single day. If you want to make money from your blog, it’s vital you don’t treat it casually and approach it with a commercial head.
8. Doing Everything Yourself
If you want to grow your blog into a business you’ll need help. Running your blog as a business will require extra hands at some point… there’s simply too much to do on your own.
Of course, there’s always a cost when you require help, but there’s a cost in trying to do everything on your own too: time.
It takes a huge amount of time to write content, create images, manage social media, build links, manage your blog admin… the list goes on.
A mistake many beginner bloggers make is to hold on to every little task for fear of spending money. While I understand this completely, it’s an attitude that will hold you back at some point and slow down your ability to scale.
You are not scalable. There are only so many hours available to you each day, so paying for extra help will result in more output.
Whether you have people write for you or someone creating images for your Pinterest account, outsourcing will increase your productivity in ways you wouldn’t believe.
If you’re concerned about investment, start small. Outsource one piece of content creation and see how it works out.
9. Neglecting SEO
You can’t hide from Search Engine Optimization. You don’t need to become an SEO guru overnight but you should at least arm yourself with a basic understanding as soon as you can.
SEO plays a huge role in getting you traffic from search engines. If you’re not writing in a search friendly way or striving to attract links to your blog you’ll struggle to see your visitor base growing.
You don’t need to pay a fortune to learn about SEO and neither do you need to throw yourself into an intensive course for the next two months, since there’s plenty of free and valuable information online.
The following resources can help you get a solid footing on a variety of SEO topics that will help you feel more confident in this area:
You’ll need tools to help with search engine optimization. Read about the 6 free SEO tools I use every day.
10. Getting Distracted
This is a mistake we can all succumb to easily. Though it can pull all of us away from what’s important, beginner bloggers are more likely to fall into distractions more easily.
When you start a blog you’ll desire fast progress and this can lead you to taking on too many things.
You’ll probably feel you should be all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, on top of working on your blog, building links, blog commenting… the list goes on.
There are substantial dangers with distractions:
- You’ll spread yourself too thin
- You probably won’t see dramatic growth
- You risk blogger burnout.
While you’re developing your blogging chops you’ll probably come across new ideas or “the next big thing” and jump from one approach to another.
This is a mistake.
I’ll refer you back to point 6 in this list… not having a plan. It’s very easy to get distracted if you don’t have a plan you’re working towards. A plan will keep you focused on what’s important and help steer you away from distractions.
Of course, it’s important to be adaptable in your plans if you learn you’re doing something wrong. Or your plan might evolve as a consequence of environmental changes online.
However, a plan can help you to focus on what’s important and avoid shiny object distractions that will ultimately lead to poor growth and burnout.
Social media can be a huge distraction but equally it can help support your efforts to grow, but don’t be distracted by it. In my experience, social media will not drive the same volume of targeted traffic as search engines will… so get things into perspective.
Pinterest may be a little different, as many people are able to drive massive traffic from the platform to their blogs. However, this too takes a lot of work and Pinterest is not without it’s foibles:
- Pinterest suspends accounts for spam frequently… even legitimate ones!
- Pinterests impressions go down suddenly and without apparent reason.
Always remember you’re trying to grow traffic to your blog first and foremost and not generate likes and followers as some kind of popularity contest. Focus all your efforts on growing traffic, since that’s what’ll make or break your blog.
11. Not Building a Subscriber List from Day One
Why would you waste time trying to capture subscribers in an email list when you have a new blog and don’t have much content?
I understand why you might ask this question. There’s not much to see on your blog and you don’t have all the things in place you’d need to benefit fully from a subscriber list.
The reason I advise new bloggers to work on this from the outset is subscribers should be a part of your long term plan. If you don’t think about a subscriber list from day one, it’ll catch you out believe me.
Your content plan must take email subscribers into account, since you’ll have to produce content specifically for subscribers in the form of:
- Lead magnets (freebies you can give away to people who sign up to your newsletter)
- Landing pages to encourage sign ups
- Content that drives people to your sign up landing pages.
This type of content requires proper planning:
- What are you going to give away as lead magnets?
- How are you going to funnel people through your blog to your sign up pages?
- What will your newsletter content be?
I know there’s a heap of stuff to get a handle on when you start a blog, and heck, you may be just starting a blog for fun.
But if you’re serious about making money from your blog, you need to build an email list of subscribers with whom you can build trust.
Traditionally, email lists are one of the highest converting sources of traffic (i.e. your subscribers will by more from you than anyone else). Hence, it’s important you strive to grow your subscribers list and develop a relationship with them.
You can set up an account with a number of email marketing services completely free of charge and you’ll only pay when your account hits certain subscriber thresholds. Some service you might consider are:
Avoid one of the cardinal blogging mistakes and set up a subscriber list now. You’ll kick yourself in 6 months time if you don’t.
12. Quitting Too Soon
A sad fact of blogging life is that blogs often fail. Sometimes they fail because of circumstances beyond our control. Other times they fail through repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Most often many blogs fail because people quit.
Many bloggers have a very high expectation about what’s going to happen when they start blogging. They imagine they’ll start publishing posts and people will flock to their blogs: if you build it, they will come, right?
Some of this is down to the over enthusiasm on the part of existing bloggers promoting a dream. The media too has played a part over-hyping the apparent get-rich-quick possibilities that working online offers.
Be under no illusion… it’s a mistake to imagine it won’t take time to make your blog successful.
Search engines won’t give you much love in the beginning… indeed some people believe Google has a sandbox for new bloggers, in which you remain until Google decides you’re trustworthy.
It’ll also take time to build your credibility with your visitors, social media and the blogging community in general. This doesn’t happen overnight and requires long-term and consistent effort.
You’ll also need to work on SEO, in particular acquiring external links, which takes time.
Sadly some new bloggers aren’t prepared for this challenging reality and quit blogging before their blogs have a chance to fly.
In general, blogging for most niches will require around a year of committed effort before you’ll begin to see any significant signals that your efforts are bearing fruit.
Some niches will require even more time than this.
If you quit blogging within the first year, you’ve probably not given it a fair chance to work. I understand why bloggers do quit early, because it’s a tough gig and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Be prepared to commit to your blog for at least a year, minimum, and throughout this time pay your blog as much attention as you can and provide it with high-quality content continuously.
Starting a blog is easy… so too is making mistakes that affect how commercial your blog will be.
In this post I’ve shown you the following 12 mistakes:
- Using a free blogging platform
- Using an inferior web hosting service
- Not using google analytics
- Not using google search console
- Choosing style over substance
- Not having a plan
- Not treating your blog as a business
- Doing everything yourself
- Neglecting SEO
- Getting distracted
- Not building a subscriber list
- Quitting too soon
While avoiding these common banana skins won’t guarantee your blog will be successful, they’ll put you on the right path.
That’s it for now.
What’s your experience of blogging mistakes that have impacted the commerciality of your blog? Drop me a comment below if you feel like sharing!