Everybody makes mistakes. This is something that can’t be avoided all of the time. In fact, some of those errors can turn into some of your greatest learning experiences. However, one of the best ways to save time and money in your blogging is to learn from the mistakes of others. If you do that – and avoid those same pitfalls yourself – you will already be ahead of the game.
I can’t prevent you from experiencing some of the mishaps that bloggers deal with, but I can give you some pointers to help you along the way.
If you haven’t already committed a few of the slip-ups I’ll be discussing here, then great! I’m happy to know that you might benefit from my past mistakes, as well as the blunders others have made. After all, the blogosphere is really a community – and we’re all in it together. We all do better when we help each other out; so let’s get started.
Here are my top picks for the seven blogging mistakes you should avoid in the year ahead. And, hey! If you slip up and forget to avoid one or two of them, don’t worry. Consider this a handy guide for doing some damage control before it’s too late.
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Your Target Audience
I reckon more than 50% of the bloggers I’ve spoken with have no idea who they are blogging for. If you do not know who your target audience is – how do you produce the right content?
How do you figure out who you should be blogging to? No, you don’t need to be a psychic to identify your audience! You do need to be resourceful, though – and by that, I mean make use of the resources available to you on the web.
What kinds of resources, you say? Here are a few you can explore:
Web Analytic / SEO Tools
Alexa to understand your competitor sites better; you can cull information on where their visitors live, which websites have a similar audience, and how they rank globally. Exploring the audience of a competitor can give you a fresh perspective on your blog.
And don’t forget to check your own blog. Seeing your own statistics is always useful. The Alexa site offers a free trial, and you can utilize tools such as a competitor overlap function, in addition to taking a look at your competitors’ performance and other data.
Xtensio to create a user persona, so all writers on your blog understand your target audience and goals clearly. You and your writers need to be on the same page in terms of who you’re speaking to; this site will help you do that. You can use the software to create various personas that represent your average site users. Xtensio offers both free and upgraded memberships.
Mistake #2: Not Collecting Emails from Day One
If I could change one major detail that I didn’t know about early on, it would be collecting emails from the very start!
Doing this one thing could have spared me so much stress after Google’s first Penguin algorithm update. I’d been cruising along successfully for a decade when this one update changed everything for my website. In one day, I lost more than 70% of my traffic (and consequently, my revenue totals tanked, too). Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR), which is my blog, literally went from 80,000 monthly visitors to less than 500 per day. I had no idea it was going to happen. Ouch.
The lesson I learned (the hard way) from that experience? Had I been sending out emails to visitors, I could have salvaged at least half of the traffic to the blog.
Don’t let your blog fall victim to another algorithm update the way that mine did. Do yourself and your other bloggers a huge favor: Start getting those email addresses from your visitors immediately.
If you’re worried that collecting emails will bother your visitors and cause them to leave your site, stop worrying. If you do it the right way, you can get those emails without annoying your users.
The following are a few pointers.
Freebies / Content Upgrades
Offer freebies or content upgrades that people can only get via your email newsletter. That could include e-books, podcasts, and email courses.
One technique is to provide a great blog post that addresses the needs of your target audience. At the end of the post, offer more in-depth content in whatever form you choose (such as an e-book). Make sure your readers understand that the e-book will provide more detailed information than the blogpost; and then, let them know that you’re offering the e-book for free to your email subscribers.
Real life examples:
Effective Call-to-Action (CTA)
Use the right call-to-action (CTAs) in the right place.
People respond better to certain types of CTAs: They should be clear and to the point, and they should tell the reader what your email subscription has to offer. Be direct and simple, use compelling language, and create a sense of urgency whenever it’s possible.
Some real-life examples:
Once you have your CTA ready, be sure to place it where it will get the most results.
Yes, you can place it at the end of a blog post, but that might not be as effective as you may think. Since a lot of readers scan articles and many don’t even make it to the end of a blog post, you may want to insert your CTA on the side of the page – or even in the middle of a post: “Get new tips weekly and my free email course now.”
Provide content that gets your readers excited about seeing more from you. Good blog posts certainly provide value to your overall content, but the average reader wants to see more than text on a page.
Images break up content and keep people on the page, especially when you use them in a strategic way.
Real life examples:
Mistake #3 Not Promoting Your Blogposts Proactively
Good content is a must for a successful blog. But remember that just because you write an epic blogpost, it doesn’t mean that traffic will automatically come your way.
Some fundamental must-do when you publish a new post include:
Email your subscribers
I hope by now, you realize that collecting emails is vital….right? Well, now you can announce your blogposts in the emails you send to your subscribers.
Ping your guests
If your posts link to other blogs or contain quotes from other bloggers, you should ping them and ask for a share. Usually, when people are featured in your posts, they are happy to share them with their own audience. Everybody wins.
Share on social networks
Promote your blog on all major social media networks. If you don’t have accounts on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+, now is the time to do it. Don’t be afraid of marketing via social media; it’s not as complex or as intimidating as you might think.
A few basics for success include updating your users regularly, building relationships instead of coming across like you’re selling to people, and providing content that is useful and engaging. Think about what you’d like to see on your favorite social media site; you probably don’t want to be hit over the head with aggressive advertising, do you? But you probably don’t mind seeing a few links to websites and products/services that you can really use.
Advertise on Facebook
Personally, my favorite way to drive paid traffic is with Facebook advertising. Why? Because it’s: easy to get started with, effective in almost any niche, and phenomenal for both specific and broad targeting. I wrote about FB marketing strategies some time ago, and those strategies are still applicable today (like promoting benefits instead of products, offering rewards, and keeping your content simple as opposed to complicated and confusing).
Mistake #4: Having Too Many Popups and Banners
We get it: Popups work! Using them is the best way to convert visitors into subscribers or to sell a product. My website’s newsletter subscription rate soared over 400% when I started using a popup form throughout the site.
And this is exactly why you are even seeing the pros over-use popups. When a popup ad can yield so many more clicks than a banner ad, it just makes sense to put your advertising dollars there, right? That’s why you see popups being used by virtually everyone nowadays, from major consumer brands to content marketing websites.
But too much of a good thing will drive your traffic away quickly. Popups should be used in moderation because when they are displayed in excess, they can jeopardize the user experience. Again, put yourself in the place of the average website visitor. If you’re like millions of other internet users, you visit websites on a regular basis. When you see one or two popups that are relevant to you, you probably don’t mind – do you? But if you’re bombarded by irrelevant popups, how likely are you to make a quick exit?
If your answer was highly likely, you’re in good company. 70% of Americans get most annoyed when irrelevant popups block the site they are viewing.
And here’s another point worth pondering: Google announced that it will begin cracking down on intrusive interstitials (read: popups) in January 2017. So do your visitors and yourself a favor now; use popups sparingly, and make sure you’re only using ones that will resonate with your average audience.
Mistake #5: Doing Everything Alone
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all to succeed as a blogger!
Everything is easier when you have good friends and great resources. If you try to do everything without help, you will likely face burnout and limit your blog’s growth.
Whether you’re an employee, manager, sole proprietor, or entrepreneur, putting in too many hours and failing to delegate/outsource various tasks could cause you to become less effective and efficient over time.
You can (and should) outsource some of your tasks to freelancers. These are a few sites that will help you do that.
Writers / bloggers
Blog Developers / Programmers
My fav: Content Runner & Problogger Job Board
Problogger Job Board needs no introduction. More than half of the writers in my team were found on Problogger Job Board.
Content Runner is one of the best sources on the web for putting clients and writers together – a great place to find talented and experienced writers. You can commission writers there to provide the content necessary for all bloggers, such as blog posts and social media posts. Best of all, you can reach out to writers who make a good fit, instead of being limited in direct communication the way you would be at many content marketing sites. Another benefit is that you can name your own price instead of paying a one-size-fits-all fee; this means that you can post jobs according to your own budget, and you can pay more to writers in certain pools who have already proven their capabilities.
Mistake #6: Not Developing Your Blog After Launch
Ever visit a blog repeatedly, only to lose interest in it because it never seems to go anywhere?
Yeah, we’ve all seen those websites – the ones that look like they haven’t been touched since the day they went live. Even if the business behind such a blog is the best in its industry, you might start to think: “Hey, if this company/blogger doesn’t keep the website updated and relevant, maybe their products or services aren’t so relevant, either.”
When I first utilized a content delivery network (CDN) on my site few years ago, the bounce rate plunged and the conversion rate (in term of sales and subscription) shot up more than 30% almost instantly.
In December 2016, we did a total revamp on our site and we are already seeing great improvements after the launch. Search traffic improved by at least 25% to date (and still growing) as the new site now loads faster and provides better/easier site navigation. This was the third major revamp since I started WHSR in the past eight years – it’s important that we keep up with the latest technology (we switched to PHP 7 finally) and make sure that the site is compatible with new trends.
Long answer short: Blog development is an ongoing process. You must keep developing your blog and make sure it’s up to current web standards.
And, don’t just take my word for it, though. Here are examples of other industry leaders who know the value of website development:
Darren Rowse redesigned Problogger in April 2016, introducing new features – such as portals – to enhance the user experience.
Syed Balkhi did a site redesign at WP Beginner just two months ago (Nov 2016 and that’s the 5th redesign in 8 years).
The key lesson is this: Don’t underestimate the importance of your blog development. There is always something you can do to load your site faster, to present your content better, as well as to improve your overall user experience.
Mistake #7: Starting a Blog Without a Monetization Plan
Every blog should be able to stand on its own financially.
Even if your goals for your blog don’t include turning a profit with it, you still need to generate enough money to keep the website afloat (and continuously evolving). And even if the sole purpose of your blog is to draw attention to your business, why not make some money from the blog, too? You can always use extra income, right? Well, a blog is an excellent means of generating more income.
Here are a few proven ways to monetize your blog:
- Sell informational products, like e-books and educational courses. These are not as difficult to produce as you might think; just write about what you know (which you already do on your blog).
- Let people benefit from your expertise, and do it beyond the scope of your blog. You can do this by offering consulting services and private coaching sessions.
- Promote affiliate products in your blogposts and emails.
- Sell ad space via AdSense. Another strategy for finding advertisers is to take a look at who’s advertising on your competitors’ sites. Then, contact those businesses directly to discuss selling them ad space.
- Ask for donations. If your visitors spend a lot of time on your website or come back to it frequently, they probably consider it a valued resource. A carefully worded request for donations in your sidebar could be met with much success.
- Offer a job board. This is a great strategy for generating more traffic (people may find your website when they’re looking for jobs). By providing the information for a reasonable fee, you can maximize that new traffic – along with providing a valuable service that may interest your current email subscribers, too.
Now, you’re ready to hit the ground running!
Avoid some of the classic mistakes that bloggers make, so you can waste less time and make the most of your resources. I wish I’d known some of these things when I started my blog; but hey – I did learn some valuable lessons. I hope you will benefit from my experience and put some of these tips to good use.