This is a guest contribution from Iniobong Eyo.
You’re slaving at your blog. You’re working hard. Real hard.
But things are not just going your way. You’re hardly getting any traffic to your blog, let alone comments or shares on your post.
You’ve been around for a while, but you still can’t make money from blogging. Now you’re wondering: does this even work?
You try guest posting. You can’t get published on a blog worse than yours. You can’t help but think: “Are these bloggers always this wicked or is it just me?”
You’re not doing it right. You’re wasting precious time. You’re wasting money. And you look amateur – even to your cat.
Because unknowingly you’re sabotaging your blog and your blogging career. You’re making mistakes.
I’m a content strategist, who recently started his blog. Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t from client work. Don’t feel intimidated, I still make some of these mistakes on my blog.
You know the best part?
It’s not too late to correct them.
Measure yourself against any of these mistakes below, and see how you fare. And even if you feel you’re making no mistakes, there’s always room for improvement.
1. You write and wait for the audience to come
This has been around for God-knows-how-long.
Just keep posting on your blog and eventually, the world will discover you and your blog. Content is king, right?
It’s simply misleading. Terrific content alone will not make your blog an overnight success. To put things in perspective, tons of blog posts have gone live already today.
You’d be hard-pressed to find and read even 500 posts out of the lot.
If nobody’s reading and sharing your posts, what use is it? Spending your whole time creating content on your blog is folly.
Blogging isn’t just writing epic content. There’s got to be time for other small things too. And they add up.
But more on that later.
2. You believe you know what good content is
No you don’t. Your audience decides if your content is good or worth reading.
It’s the reason why you may spend days on a post, fully expecting it to go viral once you hit publish, but it doesn’t.
Your post hasn’t provoked emotions in your readers, provided a detailed guide to carry out a task, or given insanely useful advice.
When you have lots of eyeballs on your blog and there’s no engagement in the form of comments or social shares on your post (if you allow comments), you need to write terrific content. Your readers’ version of it that is.
3. You fixate on your posts’ lengths
Does it really matter how long your posts are?
It does, and it doesn’t.
You should consider the content of your post. If you can say it in 500 words, you may do so. If you can say it in 5000 words, it’s okay too. Don’t waffle on and on.
But research has shown that longer posts do better on search engines. Longer posts get shared more. Longer posts have stronger keyword potential.
So ideally, aim around 1500 words and above for your posts. In most blogging niches, with some research, you can consistently hit that mark with every post.
But that’s not possible if…
4. You believe you need to post everyday
This isn’t very popular anymore, but it deserves mention.
It takes time to create quality content. Think hours, days, or weeks.
By continually replacing the latest post, you destroy social proof. The longer a post stays on your blog as your latest post, the more exposure and interaction it gets. Few people will spend their time on yesterday’s conversation when there’s a new one today.
When you post everyday, you have less time to promote your posts, less time to plan your posts, and less time to create assets for your online business.
Spend time to plan and create your posts. Don’t post everyday. Well, except if you’re Seth Godin.
5. You hold back good stuff on your blog
You feel your ideas are invaluable and you’d rather write an e-book out of them, start a coaching course, or create a flagship product. Right?
If you’re not offering any real value on your blog, you’ll never have the loyal readers you crave. You’ll never be taken seriously. You’ll hold on to your “invaluable” ideas forever.
So how do you give your best?
Write every post as though you’re paid at least $200 for it. When your post is so valuable, people can’t help but talk about it.
You’ll think of what to sell later.
6. You do your best writing only on your blog
It’s true that many influencers do not write guest posts anymore. But some still do.
They use it to market new products, get new readers/subscribers to their blogs, and even get new clients.
If you’re just starting out, or you don’t have enough readers/subscribers yet, posting your best content on your blog is plain silly.
Jon Morrow calls it “speaking to an empty classroom.” It can be the best article ever written on the topic, but is it any use if nobody sees it?
“Write guest posts for someone else’s audience, impress the hell out of them, and siphon a portion of their readership to your own.”
– Jon Morrow
Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs have built their blogs and businesses through guest blogging. I could write a book about them.
They could never have done it if they reserved their best writing for their blogs.
It still works now, and you should guest post more than you write on your blog.
So maybe if I ever get to write that book, I’ll feature your story too.
7. You believe making empty promises with your headline is a headline hack
It’s sad but true. But not surprising. Generally, humans have and will always love shortcuts.
“Hack” posts are popular for a reason. And that’s the problem. Imagine seeing a post with the headline:
“How to Legally Make $10 000 in Five Minutes or Less.”
To their credit, some people will find the headline outrageous and see it for what it is – a click bait. But the allure is great. That’s why they’ll click on it still.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it’s easier to read this post in less than five minutes than it is to make $10,000 in less than five minutes. Or I have a higher chance of getting a new client here that pays an hourly rate of $5000 for my services than making $10,000 in less than five minutes.
You get the point.
Please don’t create curiosity in your headline when you can’t deliver on its promise. Don’t use such headlines unless you’re absolutely sure it’s something 95% of your readers can do in five minutes…or less. Or most will never take you seriously again.
Give them real advice they can execute in five minutes, or whatever length of time your headline says. Only then are you delivering on your promise.
8. You try too hard to be funny in your posts
You’re likely familiar with this saying:
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
– William Shakespeare
The big question is: can anyone become funny? To answer the question, let me rephrase Shakespeare’s quote:
“Some are born funny, some achieve funniness, and some have funniness thrust upon them.”
I’ll go ahead and say it.
I don’t believe anyone can become funny.
Similarly, I don’t believe anyone can become a good artist, a good writer, or a good mathematician. Because nature plays a big part.
But I believe everyone can get better at whatever they do. Sounding funny may not be your strength, but you can actually get better at being funny.
Study the works (whatever that is) of funny people you admire, practice it in day to day conversation, where you’ll often get instant feedback. Over time, being witty may come more naturally to you.
It takes a great writer to express sarcasm or wit. If you try too hard, you may be viewed as insensitive, or plain rude.
No matter what, don’t forget you don’t need to be funny to inspire people, to encourage them, or to change their lives with your posts.
9. You think trying to be clever is best
There’s a wide range of actions this applies to. But let’s focus on writing.
If you’re using 20 words to convey ideas that can be conveyed in 10 words, it’s not clever.
If you’re displaying your command of English by using “gargantuan” instead of “big” or “massive”, it’s not clever.
If you’re making empty promises with your headline, its not clever.
Please, always strive for clarity. Don’t let your audience pause to think about the meaning of your words. It’s frustrating.
Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, sums it up best:
“You should use use instead of utilizing utilize.”
10. You believe you’re just a blogger
No. You’re not just a blogger. You’re an expert, a writer, an entrepreneur. Your blog is simply a platform for all that.
Almost all bloggers making good income have books, courses, software, or a writing career. That’s how they make money. Their blog is just a “giveaway” to attract clients or customers.
Darren has got books, courses, paid job listings, is a keynote speaker, etc. I am a content strategist.
What do you have? What do you do?
11. Being an expert means you’re always right or you always have the final say
So you’ve just written “201 Ways of Doing A and B” and you feel there’s no 202nd or probably a 250th way of doing A and B? You’re wrong.
You’ve just written “The Ultimate Guide to Achieving X Results.” A “lowly commenter” adds a step you missed in your guide or adds a completely different way of achieving X. Do you thank him or do you try to discredit him?
Nobody knows it all. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we’re all humans.
On your blog, you may be the mentor, teacher or expert. Does that make you any more human than anybody else? No.
When you make mistakes, own up to them. When a reader mentions a point you missed or probably didn’t think of, acknowledge it. When you write posts, realize you may not always completely cover every aspect of a topic.
All the above don’t destroy your expert status. It only reaffirms it and bonds you with your readers.
12. You only write when you’re in a good mood
That’s what many think when they start their blog. It is wrong…on many counts.
This has been my biggest hindrance – at least for writing on my blog. But over time, I’ve realized the truth in this lyrics of the Westlife song Angel:
“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough.”
A good mood is relative. You’ll never absolutely feel good. So stop procrastinating writing with this excuse.
Because good writers write. It doesn’t matter if they have a failed relationship. It doesn’t matter if they work long hours. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick. It doesn’t matter if their day job is sucking the creativity right out of them.
Be a good writer.
13. You believe when you’re writing about a topic you love, you’ll have no writer’s block
It happens to the best of writers.
Maybe you feel it’s not the best time to write. Maybe you’re afraid of putting out your ideas to the world. Maybe you’re a perfectionist and everything must be right before you touch a pen or keyboard.
Or maybe you’re just stuck creatively. No new ideas.
There are many suggestions on overcoming writer’s block or what Darren calls “bloggers’ block” which you can apply personally. And never feel that because you’re writing about something you love, you won’t have writers block.
Keep a notebook where you can write down ideas as they come to you. Or you may use an app on your phone to record ideas. (I use Jotterpad when I don’t have my notes with me). Over time, you’ll have more ideas than you can finish in a lifetime.
Trust me. Or just ask international freelance journalist Mridu Khullar Relph. According to her, she has three notebooks with ideas she can never finish in her lifetime. So her problem isn’t writer’s block, but picking ideas from her massive collection.
If writing ideas on your phone or notebook don’t help, forget it. Just write. After all, writer’s block stops you from writing. Overcome it by writing.
No excuses or justifications. Write.
14. You believe promoting your blog is something you do when you have time
For you, once you find time to write a post, the sense of accomplishment you feel is so great you forget something else.
You’ve likely heard about the 80/20 principle of blog post promotion. That is: spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting it.
Literally, it would mean if you use two hours to write a post, use eight hours to promote it. Or if you use two days to write a post, use eight days to promote it.
I’m sorry. It doesn’t always work that way. What if creating a post took you a week, would that literally mean spend 28 days promoting it?
Or what if you run a news blog and publish several posts daily?
There’s no rule set in stone. I believe that if you’re writing a post in 12 hours, you should spend at least 12 hours promoting it.
Bottom line is: If you make time to write, make time for promoting what you write.
15. You need profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn to successfully promote your blog
This is tempting.
I know you have just 24 hours in a day. Everybody does. So how do you build your following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and at the same time churn out great content consistently? It’s not possible.
Social media is important. But you can’t spend time on all of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and expect to do well on any of them. Because concentration is even more important.
Pick one, at most two to three social media networks. Concentrate on them. Don’t divide your attention between all social networks under heaven.
Or you’ll never do well on any of them.
16. You need an avalanche of traffic to make money from your blog
You don’t need thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors to make money. With the right promotion and strategy, your very first visitor can mean your first bucks online.
I had a grand total of 122 visitors to my blog when I made my first dollar online.
Making money from a measly visitor count is possible too, except….
17. You think blog ads are the easiest way to make money online
Blog ads pay you peanuts. Earning money through ads is a painfully slow process. Without enough traffic, and I mean hundreds of thousands of visitors to your blog, the amount involved is so small it’s humiliating.
When you’re starting out, the fastest way of making money is by offering services.
Offer a coaching service. Offer consultancy. Offer to write for pay.
That’s the fastest way of making money from your blog. I offered writing services. That’s how I made my first dollar online.
When you do have enough traffic or enough subscribers, you can create and sell your own products, or do affiliate marketing.
Don’t think blog ads. At least not yet. Please.
18. You think making money from blogging is easy
Making money from blogging is everything but easy. Not trying to discourage you, but from these stats, 81% of bloggers never make $100 from blogging, let alone make enough to support themselves or a family.
Even if you’re trying to promote your blog or services on your blog through guest posting, you’ll never know how many rejections you’ll get before you get one post published on a top blog.
And even if your post is accepted and will potentially result in leads for your business, you don’t know how long it will take before it gets to your turn on the host blog’s content schedule.
If you’re using Facebook ads, you don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll spend before you start getting some traction to your blog.
I could say same or worse about every other promotion strategies out there.
Blogging is not easy. But hardly anything worthwhile is.
19. You think blogging is easier than a 9 – 5 job
It actually depends on you and what kind of person you are.
The truth is: blogging is not for everyone.
With a day job, all you’ve got to do is be nice to your boss and do your work no matter how mind-numbing it is, and you’ll get paid your expected salary.
You’ll be paid the same amount whether you put in 70% effort or 150% effort in your job.
As a blogger, you’ve got to hustle. Hustle hard. The amount of effort you put in especially in the beginning is directly proportional to your ROI.
At a 9 – 5 job, your boss likely decides what you will or will not do.
In blogging, you may consume tons of information on what to do, but it’s solely your choice to decide what you will or will not do. And you won’t always make the right decisions.
I can go on and on.
Blogging is guts and perseverance. Blogging is falling and picking yourself up. Blogging is hard work.
It’s everything but easy.
20. You treat your blog like a hobby
Is blogging something you do because you’re bored to death and can’t think of nothing else?
Blogging is a business. Blogging is a job. Blogging is a profession.
You wake by 4am or earlier to start writing a blog post.
Let’s pretend playing cards is your hobby. I don’t believe you’ll wake by 3am just to play cards.
Your hard work and sacrifices from day to day and night to night is proof that blogging isn’t just a hobby.
So the next time someone asks you:
“What’s your job?”
Hold your head high and say:
“I’m a blogger.”
That’s why you need to start making money to show for it.
21. You think you should have (insert visitor or subscriber count here) before you start selling
You need to start selling from the day you launch your blog. Yes, you saw right.
You see, the earlier you start selling, the earlier you start making money, and the earlier you can hire needed help to handle parts of the business you suck at. Because let’s face it, you can’t do everything.
Money can be a good motivation to keep going even when you’re not getting traction to your blog. It’s easier to quit and give up when you’re making no money.
You may be a very good writer, but you’re terrible at handling technical stuff. The earlier you start making money, the earlier you’ll be able to outsource so you can focus on other parts of your business. And the faster you’ll grow your blog.
Start selling. Just don’t turn your blog into a massive sales pitch. And don’t be pushy. Because if you’re offering something your audience wants and needs, they will purchase it.
22. You don’t invest in your blog and yourself
Blogging isn’t necessarily cheap. You pay for hosting, you pay for email marketing services, you pay for plugins, you pay for software, you pay for custom design. Those costs add up.
As a blogger, it’s a good idea to invest in yourself. When was the last time you bought a book on how to improve your writing or blogging skills? When was the last time you took a blogging course? When was the last time you attended a blogging webinar?
See why you need to make money now?
23. You have no blogging goals
Which blogs are you planning to guest post on?
What must you achieve this month to feel you’re making progress with your blog?
Where do you see your blog six months from now?
If you’re scratching your head right now, then you need to start setting goals for your blogging.
Write down specific goals you have for your blogging. Qualify and quantify them.
Don’t settle for your existing conditions.
24. You don’t measure the value of what you do
Facebook ads or guest posting? Twitter and Facebook or Google + and Pinterest? Writing or hiring writers?
Do you know which of the above gives you more ROI? You should.
What’s the point?
If Facebook ads brings you more subscribers or customers as compared with guest posting on other blogs, concentrate on it. It doesn’t mean guest posting is bad or produces poor ROI. Maybe you just suck at it. Hire someone to help you write guest posts then.
Same applies to the other questions above.
Don’t waste time doing stuff you’re just not good at or stuff that bring you low ROI.
It’s best to start measuring your time in this way. Not just for increase in customers or clients, but for subscriber growth and traffic.
25. You don’t measure success financially
How do you define success?
Is it getting a guest post published on ProBlogger? Is it gaining new subscribers or customers? Is it getting emails from readers who have been moved by your post?
“Success” is an ambiguous term. All three questions asked above may define “success” to you. But don’t fail to think of “financial success.”
After all, that’s the dream right? Working full-time as a blogger, and getting paid to change the world.
You can’t do that if you have no financial goals. You can’t do it if you have no money. You can’t do it if you can’t afford to invest in your blog.
So start thinking: what financial goals do you have for your blogging? How much should you earn from your blog to be successful financially?
26. You try too hard to be original
Almost all topics in every blogging niche have been done bazillion times. If you’re insisting on originality, you’ll hardly get anything published.
Find ways to approach tried and tested topics from new angles. You won’t go wrong with that.
Or are you trying to invent an original marketing technique because available ones are not working for you?
Let me tell you the truth.
If they’re not working, you’re doing it wrong. Just keep practicing until you get it right. Then maybe you can add your own “style” to it.
Don’t be disheartened. Making mistakes is not the end of the world. Learn from each mistake you make. I still make some of these mistakes personally.
Seek the story of any popular blogger out there, you’ll find they made mistakes too, again and again and again.
But they learned. Because life is a teacher. The more you live, the more you learn.
And more importantly, the more you practice and put yourself out there, the more you’ll realize what works and what doesn’t.
Falling by making mistakes is part of life. Getting back up is living.And you should live.
Remember those naysayers who ask you jeeringly: “Does anyone make money blogging?” Remember your friends who believe dreaming of a career online is insanity? Remember how frustrated you’ve felt at your blogging efforts that you just let the tears flow?
You’ve come a long way.
You can do it.
Don’t give up.
What blogging mistakes have you made or learnt from? Which has hit you or your blogging hardest? Let me know in the comments section below.
Iniobong Eyo is a content marketing strategist who helps businesses grow by planning, developing and managing their content. He writes at The Refinement Blog.
Great post that has inspired me to write even more.
Iniobong has some valid points here. Money can not define success and you definitely have to pay attention to the finest things in life, even for the new experiences that you’ll have to write about on your blog :)
Time to start a new article!
This is an excellent article. Was hoping to not here the same old thing, and while no groundbreakingly new points were made (shout out to #26!) it’s still a very good article at summing up where many bloggers go wrong.
One of the most annoying ones I see is when people don’t invest their own time and funds into blogging like they would if they were starting up any venture. Yes, blogging is great in that it doesn’t have much in terms of upfront costs, and if you are sure about every investment, you can actually go about blogging quite cheaply while still being able to be a full-time blogger – but at least recognize that somethings will really help you if you buy them in your blogging journey.
Some people seriously need to invest in a better camera for taking pictures for their blog, for instance. It’s a huge investment, but it’s also a one-time one that honestly should be made if you’re taking blogging seriously at all and are planning on using your own original photography.
Anyway, like I said, great article. Liked it a lot.
I wondered where do you find options for paid to write?
I really enjoyed this post. I have had my blog for about 6 months now and this post has given me lots to think about. I have been questioning myself lately about if I should keep saving my best work for my blog or share on another. You answered my question. To get more readers I should be sharing my best on websites with more readers to attract them to mine. Thank you!
True, we all make many mistakes in beginning, but blogs are still active and we learn more and making money from it. Yes, it is really helpful, meaningful article and filled with truths, logic and practical conclusions. Thanks! we all beginners need these type of articles…
Great post. Now I have to review my blog post style. Great content is always a winner.
Thanks so much for your great post. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. I’m new at blogging so I’m grateful to have found your article. I just wish I were a faster reader because I know it took me more than 5 minutes to read this post
Thanks so much for your great post. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. I’m new at blogging so I’m grateful to have found your article. I just wish I were a faster reader because I know it took me more than 5 minutes to read this post.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom. To paraphrase F. Bacon:
“Some blogs should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
Yours, in my estimate, is among the latter and will join my Evernote file.
And thanks for the permission to ease off of the social media outlets too!
I wondered if it was a fatal mistake, when I moved my blog to another host. I lost the audience that had built up over time. But it is turning a corner now, and I love the greater flexibility with my new platform.
Very interesting post.
I was somewhat surprised by #21. You think you should have (insert visitor or subscriber count here) before you start selling. You need to start selling from the day you launch your blog. Yes, you saw right.
I thought of doing that early on but everything said “No, not to do it.” It does make sense though. Many of us would probably be much further along if we had done that.
Thanks for the great read.
The most valuable post about blogging I’ve read in a long while. 6 months in, I feel like I’m suffering a bit of existential crisis over whether I’m achieving the success I want (BTW what do I want?) and this has really given me food for thought. I’m going to give some more thought to setting some goals and posting less frequently. I feel like your conclusion was written directly to me, after experiencing a bit of naysaying recently – thanks for the encouragement!
This list will definitely help to keep people on the right track. I think the biggest mistake that I’ve done so far was to attempt to write everyday. I did it for about 2 weeks, but the quality of my posts were horrible. Plus I didn’t have that much time to promote and network as you mentioned here. Having a full time job didn’t help either.
Number 23 is also a big one. I had a couple of blogging goals, but I had to create mini goals because I kept running into obstacles. So in this case, it was one resolution at a time to achieve the bigger goals.
Thanks for sharing! Have a great rest of the week!
Such a comprehensive article will nevertheless be indispensable to read for every blogger. The accentuation on content is very important. I think, we need to leave trashy ”copy and paste’ for mediocre bloggers with the lack of originality and limited imagination. What everybody calls ”free access to the information” is just a plagiarism, hence you need to care about the uniqueness of your content. It isn’t difficult now to upload your document to plagiarism checker like Unplag and scan your content for similarity on the Web.
I am in search of finding myself where I am heading in my 6 months of blogging and what mistakes I am doing and how to not to them again or overcome and all. This huge list in this article has saved my day and tons of hours in front now, believe me. I have bookmarked this article in important topics to read “Daily” and it is like a “Self Help Diary” to me. I just love almost every article in Problogger.net and this is no less than them. Thanks to the Guest author for sharing this awesome piece of content…:) Have a great day!!
Well… that was tough and inspiring to read. Great points. I tried couple of times to become a blogger… I thought this is not for me…. Then I tried again… Apparently there was something missing in the picture. You opened my eyes. Thanks :)
I would must say that you just rocked in this article. :D
It doesn’t matter, In which field you are working. You would definitely make mistakes and these mistakes will help you to learn something new. So we should never afraid of doing mistakes.
In this article, the blogging mistakes which you have mentioned above are very much common which most of the bloggers or webmasters make when they start their blogging career.
When bloggers like me do mistakes then It is obvious that they can’t generate that result which they want because of that mistake. When It happens, they again start doing all the things and tries to find what they did wrong in previous turn and then they find their mistakes and learn from that mistake.
So some how, mistakes helped us to learn new things. Right? :D
Most of the people think that doing mistakes will give them failures which they never want but they should understand that every successful person makes mistake at their initial stages and learn from them.
Every successful blogger copied others article once in their blogging journey but later they learned and started writing by themselves.
I would like to give a great Thanks to you for covering these amazing blogging mistakes which people can use to learn from them. :D
My mistake would be that I’ve been taking it as a hobby. Though, that’s really what it started as. I’m using it now as a platform for a writing career, and I’m trying to learn all I can about successful blogging. Thank you for an amazing article.