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When you’re just getting your blog up and running, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of just launching a blog and rush to get going – so much so, that you make terrible blogging mistakes along the way.
I know from personal experience how easy it is to screw things up with a blog – or even just miss opportunities I could have taken advantage of. So – to help you get started on the right foot (or get back on track if you’ve run off course) here are the 8 most common (and biggest!) mistakes I see new bloggers making:
Many new bloggers are tempted to use a free hosting service, even though paid hosting can be cheap and reliable, such as HostGator, my personal choice.
Only after you invest a lot of time (and money) in free hosting, you discover the numerous disadvantages. They’re totally not worth the little perceived savings they offer:
- Speed and Bandwidth limited – your site is going to be painfully slow, causing visitors to escape even before they read a single line.
- No Personalized Domain – you don’t have your own domain. For example, your address might look like this: mywebsite.wordpress.com
- Poor Customer Support – when you run into any issues, usually you’ve got no one to talk to. Can be painful especially if you’re new to this
- No Advertisements – you’ll be very limited in the future, should you want to make money with your blog
In conclusion, it’s a BAD idea to use a free hosting service. Use a paid service with budget-friendly plans (starting at well under $3 per month!) such as HostGator.
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Here are 8 blogging mistakes you must avoid
1. Setting an unrealistic publishing schedule
When you first start blogging, you are full of ideas. It’s all new and fresh, so it’s easy to publish like a madman and get all your ideas out. At first, you’re going to think that publishing every day won’t be tough at all – but I can PROMISE you, you WILL slow down, and it will get harder.
That said, some bloggers don’t set any blogging schedule at all, so they get lazy and don’t update for months at a time. Both of these are problems because your audience needs to have some predictability; they want to know when they can expect you to publish.
When you publish too frequently (or infrequently), you create an unpredictable pattern that can frustrate your readers and cost you an audience.
My advice: Be honest with yourself and start conservatively. Commit to publishing on a schedule that makes sense for your real life and other obligations.
Space out your posts (don’t publish five all at once!) so that you have a steady stream of content to keep people coming back.
2. Not using headers or whitespace
If your blog looks like a big, scary wall of text, readers are going to bounce in a hot minute! Even if your ideas are amazing, presentation is half the battle.
Try to break up paragraphs by using headings between them to give your reader’s eyes some anchor points. Keep paragraphs to 3 – 5 sentences maximum, and keep sentences under 30 words (if you can help it).
(Psst… want more tips on readability? This piece from Conversion Review is pretty amazing, even talking about the impacts of different fonts!)
3. Using “click here” links instead of real keywords
All of us have clicked on a link before – and as a blogger, you’ll want to use links to help ferry people through your site, show them your sources and get them to look at other pieces of content.
But a lot of new bloggers seem to believe that the following is the best or only way to link:
“Need some tips on how to start a blog? CLICK HERE.”
Why do bloggers embed links with text like that? I mean, other than as a cheeky example.
Maybe they believe it adds intrigue (it doesn’t) or maybe they’re just uncertain what tag they’re supposed to link to. Either way, adding “CLICK HERE” is a mistake. Why? Four reasons:
- It’s overly wordy: Your links should be concise and focused
- It’s unnecessary: Your title already contains all the clickbait you need; “CLICK HERE” adds nothing
- It adds uncertainty: Have you ever visited a site that wanted you to “click here, here, and here” to learn more information? The problem with these is that users can’t differentiate those links from one another, nor can they glean any information on where they’re likely to wind up. Your links should be descriptive of what comes after the user clicks so that there’s no mystery
- It costs you trust: This is the internet age, and the average consumer is wary of ambiguous calls to “CLICK HERE,” which might be sheltering (at best) spam and (at worst) a virus. You work so hard to earn your customer’s loyalty—don’t throw it away on awful gimmicks
How should you embed links in your blog posts?
- DON’T find a new placeholder. Killing “CLICK HERE” from your syntax is not an excuse to start using “CHECK IT OUT” or linking to the work “link.”
- DO inform your reader where they’re going when they click the link. A reader should have all the context they need, just by reading the embedded line.
- DON’T anchor links to verbs, pronouns, prepositions, etc. These words are not concrete, and give readers a harder time gauging where they are going.
- DO anchor links to appropriate nouns, or even small sentences including both nouns and verbs. This makes it so much easier for your visitor.
- DON’T jam links into the middle of a sentence. While not the gravest blogging mistake, it does dissuade readers from taking immediate action. A possible exception to this is when you’re just linking for the sake of sourcing.
- DO end sentences or paragraphs on a link – especially your own links. Links are actionable! Your reader has finished their thought and will now be more compelled to explore additional content.
Need an example? Why don’t we clean up that earlier plug: “Even amateurs can blog like pros after reading How to Start a Blog—A Complete Beginner’s Guide.“ Ah! Now that’s linking that clicks.
4. Not using images
Wait, you expect people to sit down and read words? I joke, of course – but surprisingly, we’ve known since 2008 that your average visitor will read less than 20% of your text content.
I hope that figure didn’t depress you bright-eyed new bloggers too much.
I suppose the good news is that I didn’t bum out too many people – in fact, studies show just 10% of my readers (and yours, too!) bounce without even bothering to scroll down.
It’s sad but true. According to a recent study by Chartbeat, most of your readers will only read about 50% of your post. This is where including some images might save your bacon.
Charts, infographics, and even clipart help break up your monotonous wall of words. You can also use them to share information visually, allowing you to streamline your sentences and cut right to the heart of your content.
Whether you’re using a place to get free images for websites or producing your own photos, make sure your readers know who to thank for their lovely visual diversion.
There’s a price to pay when you infringe on someone else’s copyright, as Josh Ostrovsky—an instagrammer who calls himself “The Fat Jew”—found out the hard way.
5. Not answering your comments (yes, all of them!)
When someone has taken the time to comment, the biggest mistake you could make is to ignore that audience. Someone made the effort to talk to you – and now, you’re brushing them off? That’s bad mojo – and no way to grow an audience!
Here are four reasons why you should always try to stay engaged with your commenters, whether they’re being positive, negative or just asking a question:
- Encourage more comments: Nobody likes to feel like they’re talking to a wall—we all crave a real, tangible exchange of information. When someone comments on your post, they’re opening a dialogue with you, and only by responding can you continue that conversation. Seeing this exchange, you may entice more people into commenting too.
- Build your credibility and establish your authority: Many times, people taking to the comments will pose questions and expect you to have the answers. Other times, they might disagree with you, and raise some counterpoints. In both of these cases, responding is a great way to establish your expertise on the subject and share some knowledge.
- Social proof: Simply put, readers are lured to blogs with bigger followings. These blogs have a fanbase, which gives them more attention, which in turn lures more readers, etc. By commenting on your comments, you’ll augment your comment count, and maybe even entice some new visitors to stay and check you out.
- New material: If you notice people asking the same question repeatedly, or if someone raises a great counterpoint that you hadn’t considered, guess what? You’ve found your next blog post!
Don’t underestimate the extra value that comments instill in your blog posts. Sometimes, a reader that’s skimmed your post might skip right down to the comments to see what others found useful, before jumping back up to the body of your material.
Also, be polite and professional when responding to your comment section—even if it’s to a less-than-courteous comment. You never know when you might be making first contact with a new client, guest blogger, or even a potential business partner.
The only comments to ignore are the spam comments that are obviously fake. Send those down the “delete” drain, never to be heard from again (and make sure you use a comment filtering plugin like Akismet to help you avoid spammers).
6. Not adding social media sharing
It’s great that your mom regularly reads your material, but eventually, you want to reach a wider audience with your blog posts – right? That’s why you need to make yourself as engaging, as clickable, and as shareable as possible.
Obviously, you start with great content and an eye-catching title, but how do you ensure that you’re reaching as wide a demographic as possible? Social media is key.
You should advertise yourself, of course—Garrett Moon, founder of CoSchedule found that you can double your traffic by alerting your readers to new content across social media. But the truth is, we can do even better, just by adding a little convenience for your readers.
Instead of forcing them to copy and paste your URL, blogger Joshua Benton found that you might gain as much as 20% more Twitter traffic through Tweet buttons. This applies across all platforms, from old favorites like Facebook and Twitter to new trends like Pinterest.
Just be sure that you don’t overload your page with sharing options, or you may actually drive users away. And, believe it or not, but there’s actually a science to button placement. Slapping social media buttons on the bottom of your blog and calling it a day isn’t good enough—studies show that most visitors will click the top, and left side of your blog most often.
Display your social media icons prominently so that your users don’t have to hunt. When you make sharing easy, people are more likely to respond. So what are you waiting for? Adding social media buttons is easy and the ROI might be huge.
7. Not using analytics
Without analytics data, you’re throwing darts in the dark – and there’s no reason for that! Installing Google Analytics is fast and easy and will give you tons of insights, including:
- Which posts are the most popular
- How people are finding your blog (Google, social, links, etc.)
- How long people are staying on your site
- How high your bounce rate is (people who visit one page and immediately leave)
- How users are navigating through your site
Make sure you’ve installed Google Analytics and spend a bit of time learning the basics so that you can make your blog even better.
8. Not showing recent/popular posts
Sometimes, new visitors just want to see what’s most recently published – other times, they’ll want to read your most popular pieces to know whether or not you’re worth following.
You need to give your audience an easy way to find your newest and best stuff so that they don’t have to comb through an ocean of posts to find where the gold is.
Be sure to put this in your sidebar or on your homepage so that it’s front and center where your audience will actually find it. (Pssst… not sure how to do this? Here’s a killer, easy-to-install plugin that can take care of it all for you!)
One final tip: readers respond to short roundups that summarize your important points at the end of every post. This isn’t a widespread technique, but it can be quite helpful in capturing the attention of a user that skipped to the bottom of your blog for your point but didn’t want to wade through the content. So, to summarize, DON’T:
- Set an unrealistic publishing schedule
- Cram too many words together (use headers instead!)
- Disguise links behind “CLICK HERE” anchors.
- Forget to interrupt your text with some images.
- Ignore your commenters
- Neglect social media buttons
- Forget to install Google Analytics
- Show recent & popular posts
If you really want to snag your reader’s attention from the outset, you can also do something not showcased in this post: you can direct them to your conclusion from the get-go.
For example, I could have capped my intro with the line: “For a snapshot of the most important points I cover in this post, skip to the bottom.” It’s important to give your readers a “So what?” as early in the post as possible to hook them; don’t save it all for a “big reveal”.
Show them you understand their problems and have an answer they are looking for! Have any more blogging fails that the big lists fail to mention, but that we could all do without? Let me know in the comments below!
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34 thoughts on “8 Big Blogging Mistakes to Avoid: New To Blogging? Never Do This!”
It’s definitely doable!
But it indeed requires some work. Success will not come overnight 🙂
Hey Karen. Thanks a TON for the tips – makes my life much easier.
Karen, I can tell that you are going to be invaluable! I started a blog a long time ago and have decided to resurrect it and I’m excited. Thank you for all of your information!
Great post! The answering your comments is an important one – that drives me crazy about the “big guys” that don’t answer their comments. Love the tips on analytics also.
I find the toughest part of blogging is CONSISTENCY. It’s very time consuming and also makes me weary.
I agree with you. Consistency is super-important!
I’ve wasted a lot of years doing the wrong thing 🙁 I hope it’s not too late to start doing the right thing! I can at least try!
Good stuff…I am on track except I have used click here before, oops!
No worries, we’ve all done that 😀
Have look at this: https://startbloggingonline.com/blog-post-ideas/
No problem 🙂
I use “PeoplePerHour.com” to find people who can do those infographics for me 🙂 You can try it too.
What a wonderful infographic! Another idea to post regularly and keep oneself motivated is to participate in writing challenges, like NaNoWriMo, there is also NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), wherein you have to post an article daily on your blog. The good part is that there is no word limit and no consistent theme. However, if one does want to follow a theme then, he/she will end up with 30 odd articles at the end of the challenge.
I tried the challenge this year myself and it brought me back on track. I wrote a few articles regularly and then due to work and family engagements, the schedule fell apart. Nonetheless, it stayed at the back of my mind to write ‘something’ on my blog, even if I don’t publish it. And hence, I now have a bank full of ideas and some half-baked topics that I can easily publish for the coming year.
I suggest people a bit serious about blogging to give themselves one such challenge at least once a year.
And yes, I’ll be republishing this infographic on my blog.
Emma, you can also use these free tools –
canva (by far the best with customizable templates)
Excellent advice, well-put. Thank you.
When you are starting out a new blog, you need to make sure you have enough content to write on that topic. Additionally, do not stop until you have written 100 posts of at least 1200 words with good quality content.
Once you have 100 posts, you will see the magic happening.
Hey, great article! I hope that I can avoid these all, but I suppose we’ll see how much I retain haha. I’d leave my blog address, but I haven’t started it yet! Also, your “don’t list” in the text has an error. Should have been another negative for #8! (Don’t show recent and popular blog posts? I thought we were supposed to!)
#8 is “Not Showing Recent/Popular Posts”. If you read on I am advising that you do show those posts making it easy for your reader to get the latest information.
Thanks Karen , I love the aspect of intrusive Google ads, keep it up… I think we still have some mistakes like color combination, wrong Niche etc and more
Another major mistake to make for a new blogger is not having a USP.
There are so many new blogs and blogposts going online everyday, we need to think about what can set us apart from the millions published posts.
One usp can be more comprehensive content. To achieve this, just google a keyword our article will be targeting, and make sure our post is more comprehensive, and more attractive looking.
Regarding mistake 4 ‘not using images’, I go by these rules:
1. add colourful image at the beginning
2. scroll down the page until the image just goes out of sight.
3. add another image at proximity to step 2.
Nice infographic by the way.
I’ve been thinking of starting a blog since forever. But never really got a chance to implement it. I really found your posts helpful. Thanks for the help. I hope to start blogging soon.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my blogging mistakes alongside my fellow bloggers. I love the way you included the Key Takeaways and the Top 5 Takeaways – this really helps your readers focus and gain some quick advice!
These tips are really amazing I am new to blogging and I like your tip on scedual publishing I was also excited to publish so many post but then I started delaying posting now I came back and I promise myself to post regularly. BTW thanks for sharing this.
Hi Karen, I really like how well-thought and well-researched your posts are. May I ask how many hours or days do you spend writing a single blog post?
Wow! Karen, you have put so much work into this, and share it so generously… Thank You! Really well thought out and well presented. A gift. Again, Thank you.
Warmest best wishes,
Wow, this is really great information. I am just starting out, so this post is very helpful.
Great job here and thanks for sharing this wonderful tips.
Its was great also working with you as guest post on the tips to validating your start up ideas on my website
I will share this for my readers too and do feel free to contact me again for any guest posting ideas you may want to bounce around.
Making a mistake is okay. It will be your stepping stone so that you’ll know what happens next time.
Perfectly said Ivan!
Would love to hear if you have any mistakes you did that could be added here too! Thanks!
NIce article karen. thanks for share it.
All topics are very important for all bloggers. I am following this post and my visitors are increasing day by day. Thank you for sharing this post.
You really saved my blogging career…because i do many mistakes while writing post. I read this post every time because it help me to prevent mistakes. Thanks for sharing this…dude !
sir, thanx for sharing this information it is very useful for us.
Before i talk about this excellent resource i must appreciate Karen for writing this article.
Yes, i completely agree with the mistakes that you’ve mentioned most of the bloggers do in initial days.
Writing short content articles, inconsistency, buying bad backlinks, not networking with fellow bloggers, not using multiple promotional tactics are also some of the common ones that every newbie bloggers do, even i did the same in my initial days. But, i realized very soon that all those were mistakes i needed to stop.
This article is truly eye opener for such bloggers. Many thanks for the Karen again…
Hey Karen, I really liked the two info-graphics!
I’d like to add that another mistake (one that I made) was focusing a lot of energy and time sharing my own content on social media. Promoting is super important, but you have to do it the right way.
Reaching out to other bloggers and sharing on sites like reddit and online forums should be your main focus when it comes to promotion.
I spent way too many hours finding the “right hashtags” for Twitter and it really never drove any significant amount of traffic. For me it was much more productive to focus on creating great content and good SEO. I wish I knew this when I started. New bloggers give too much importance to their social media accounts and not enough to how helpful they’re being to their audience.