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My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of April 2014 General 0 Comments

w__darrenrowse-_66.jpgI recently issued a group of bloggers with a challenge to complete this week on their blogs. The challenge was simple – to write a ‘top 5’ post on any topic they wanted.

This is my own contribution to the challenge!

My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger

I’ve been blogging 11 and a half years now, and while I pinch myself everyday at where blogging has taken me, that time has been littered with mistakes and failures along the way.

While we often talk about the good times here on ProBlogger, today I thought I’d share 5 mistakes I made (or to put a more positive spin on it… 5 lessons I learned the hard way).

1. Choosing Profit over Passion

My first blog was a personal blog and an extension of who I was. I only wrote about what I was interested in and profit was not on the radar as nobody made money blogging back then.

My second blog was an extension of my first, and a blog on a topic that I was interested in (cameras/photography) – but which also became profitable.

After I saw that my second blog started to make money I began to dream about ‘going pro’ as a blogger. One of the routes I saw I could take to achieve this dream was to start more blogs.

I thought if my camera/photography blog could make money, then I could replicate the model with other niches and topics. At the time, I took two approaches in researching what topics to create these new blogs on:

  1. Popular topics which could potentially attract a lot of traffic
  2. High-value topics – which I could earn good money on through AdSense (some niches of ads were paying higher rates than others)

I started 30 blogs in that next year, and each fit into one of the above categories.

For example in category one was a blog which I started with a friend on the Athens Olympic Games. We knew there’d be a heap of people searching for information on the topic (particularly people wanting the results of events), so we created a blog with hundreds of posts on every single event in the games. We had all these posts live and indexed by Google weeks before the games happened so that when each event happened and people typed in ‘event name gold medal’ or ‘event name results’, we’d come up.

As each event happened we added the results to the event.

Fitting into the second category (profitable high value topics) was a blog I started on ‘printers’. My research revealed at the time that some of the highest paying ads going around were for print cartridges. So I started a blog on the topic of printers. I reviewed printers and I posted about new ones on the market.

I had absolutely no interest in the topic of printers – and it showed in my content.

Both of the above blogs made money but neither were topics I was particularly passionate about (although the Olympics is something I have an interest in the content we were producing wasn’t that stimulating to create).

I got away with the Olympics one because it was a short-term project and it was quite a buzz to do on some levels, however the discovery I made about almost all of the other blogs I created in that period was that it was both mind-numbing and spirit-sucking work to sustain a blog on topics you had no interest in at all.

That year almost ended my blogging dreams because while I made enough money to call it a full time job – it left me very uninspired.

Luckily at this time I also started ProBlogger – a blog I’m passionate about – and later started Digital Photography School and found that it was a heap more enjoyable to create blogs that you actually enjoyed writing for. I abandoned the other blogs soon after and a weight was lifted from my shoulders!

2. Being Slow to….

I’m going to roll a number of regrets and mistakes into one here and put them all under the ‘being too slow’ banner.

I’m not a fast-paced person. It takes me a while to make decisions and to jump into new things. I watched everyone else jump into Twitter for six months before I did. The same happened with Facebook, the same with investing time into starting an email newsletter.

While I did jump on some thing pretty quickly (like blogging itself – which I started doing two hours after reading my first blog), I sometimes wonder where I’d be if I’d acted faster in some areas, particularly at adopting new technologies.

On the flip side of this though is that I feel like by being a little ‘slow’ I probably jumped in with more information and having watched what others were doing – which hopefully meant I started things ‘right’ from the start.

3. The Wrong Domains

I’ve made almost every mistake you can with domains. For starters I didn’t get my own domain when I began, later I got an Aussie domain for a blog with a global audience, then I got a .net domain instead of a .com, then I ran a whole heap of different topic blogs on the one domain and then I got a domain with hyphens! I wrote more about all these mistakes (and more here!)

4. Business Regrets

A number of years ago I started blogging network by the name of b5media with three other bloggers. While the experience was amazing on many levels and I learned SO much, I have many regrets about some aspects of the experience also.

I won’t rehash them all but if I could go into that business venture again I’d have spent more time at the beginning as a partnership working out goals, expectations, roles and thinking about the model. I’d probably have wanted to ‘meet’ my partners before starting the business too :-)

I’d also have avoided going down the path of giving up equity in the business in order to take on capital. My experience with venture capital was not overly positive. While it does enable you to grow and expand – it means less control. In my case it meant I ended up with nothing at all after several years of work. It works for some, but I’d avoid it in future.

I learned a lot from that business and bear no grudge to any of my partners in it, but wouldn’t do it the same way again!

5. Trying to Do it All Myself

It’s only really been the last three or so years that I’ve begun to develop a team of people to help me run my businesses.

The 3-4 years preceding bringing on team members almost killed me. I stretched myself way too thin and it impacted my health, relationships, and the business itself.

While expanding the team means changing my role (which brings challenges), it also has led to many new opportunities and a lot more enjoyment! The business has grown as a result and I hope has helped me provide a better experience for those whom I serve also.

What Are Your Biggest Blogging Mistakes?

There you have it – my biggest mistakes as a blogger (note: I didn’t say my ‘only’ mistakes). I’ve shown you mine… how about telling us some of yours?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I think I may be doing the (kind of) reverse of mistake number one.

    I am so passionate about my subject, I have allowed it to waylay any attempt to monetize my blog.

    Still, I know that the ‘money is in the list’ – and due to the great content I’ve got on my website – my subscribers list is building… so maybe it is something I can work on in the near future… ! :)

  2. My Biggest mistake has also been no.5. I have also tried to do all the work by myself .That’s why my work was never complete .This is very useful post specially for the blogger who are new. They should also take advice from this article. Nice Work

  3. I’ve been struggling with #1 lately because I’ve recently become interested in buying websites. On one hand I want a site that I’m passionate about and on the other I want to make a lot of money. I already decided that I won’t buy a site just to make profit because the content would suck after a while and this just made me realize I’m making the right choice. Thanks.

  4. Almost all five of these mistakes were made by me in my starting days and later some guidance of pro-bloggers like helped me to get rid of it.Another great yet helpful post from you Darren Sir.Hope you’ll going to share many more such helpful post in near future for us.Thanks for this.

  5. My biggest mistake has been getting distracted with and changing themes and platforms and commenting systems and domain names too many times, instead of just writing. In doing so I lost the small amount of momentum I had, and probably some readers with it. My focus now is on writing and connecting with my readers.

    • This is my issue as well! I have to always rake a step back and remind myself it doesnt need to be perfect and there are other more important things that matter.

  6. Yeah this is right thing we do many mistakes during blogging.But I want to say that if we are concentrating on how we go high that it better and for this analysis all these mistake and make a note and never do it again.Social media marketing is best way to promote website if we follow this with and effective way then we really get good number of visitor in our blog.

  7. Darren, like you being too slow to get moving on things is a big one, and then procrastinating after I have made the decision to do something. And registering Aussie domains.

    Plus like Chris, I have just wasted the last month trying to decide on a new theme, because I’ve been unhappy with the old one for a while.

  8. Oh, these sound familiar, don’t they? I guess I might add a few more, but these “mistakes” are the main ones.

  9. Very touching, open and honest Darren…I’ve been with you on your blog since your first couple of years out my friend. As far back as you visiting NYC for a blog meet back in the day if I remember correctly on Lexington Avenue. (could be mistaken). =)

    My story is that I created a site called Monologue Blogger because I needed a place to express myself. I had notebooks of writing monologues/material and decided to transfer it to a blog. I reached a level of followers that I began thinking I can charge for my content, which, I never wanted to do regardless but I ran into some financial trouble that brought me down to my knees and made the choice to try a paywall site.

    Needless to say the money earned did help me financially but I didn’t feel good about it inside myself and simply wasn’t happy. I felt like I went against what I believed in for my audience. I ended up shutting down the site completely once the final paying members admission expired. I did this to regroup and to take a break, immerse myself in other creative projects I was passionate about.

    A little over 1 year later, Monologue Blogger is literally back up this past week, free again and it appears as though my readers have never left me. I feel good again, that my passions are contributing to humanity in some small way and there is no amount of money that can be better than that feeling of giving. I’m not saying someone can’t or shouldn’t charge, to each his own I guess. For me, it works by simply giving and having the opportunity to express.

    Anyway, out of respect for your post I wanted to share something from my own heart and experience to hopefully add to the conversation. Wishing you all well!!

  10. I’m all #5 – waited way too long to outsource so many things!

    You’re making me feel good that I at least snagged a half-decent URL for the blog I wanted to build. ;-)

  11. I can totally agree about the “Being slow to…” It has hit me so many times.

  12. hi Darren – I love your blog as always. this is a great post. I think my biggest mistake (but it’s also been a very positive thing that’s attracted me readers) is giving away so much of my knowledge. I write very detailed tutorials for every piece of furniture that i paint and post them on my blog for free but i think it’s time I wrote an ebook or video to sell. I already make money (via my blog with the furniture but some passive income would be good also). I remember at one of your webinars you talked about having your own products on your sidebar to sell. I used to only have a for sale tab but now i also have my furniture on the sidebar and i think it’s really helped – so thanks for that.

  13. When I started, I didn’t secure my site adequately and it was hacked. Fortunately no damage was done but it was terrifying!

    I didn’t know much about promotion at the beginning so I didn’t do any of it. Once I started figuring it out and writing more create promos and sharing them various places, I started getting more traffic.

    My current mistake is writing boring titles. I need to learn to write more creative titles that still let the reader know what the post is about. I’m not good at this or I would have been doing it already.

  14. Great tips thanks Darren. I find these Top 5 posts great as they are so easy to digest.

    For me, the biggest blogging mistakes would be to believe in myself and my own voice when starting out, and to maintain regular blogging from the start. I worked out recently I started blogging 3 years ago, but it has been very stop-start (but then some major events happened in my life which I’m completely grateful for) – I just wonder where I would have got to if I had posted on topic right from the start.

  15. I cannot believe I’ve gotten this far in blogging doing it all myself. Aside from contracted developers and designers, it’s been all me.

    It getting more difficult not to hire. Yet somehow, it gets more difficult to hire.

    Darren, What can you share about your first “real” team member?

  16. My biggest mistake was waiting so long to start a blog! I do not know why I waited so long, but I could have started years ago and been way ahead at this point. Any way, why worry about it. I am just going to keep going forward from here.

  17. I’m so encouraged to see I’m not the only one who has has the SLOW challenge. But I mean there is so much information out there that it probably isn’t such a bad idea just to let the information sink in a bit before deciding which route you should take!

  18. I would love to hear more about this: “While expanding the team means changing my role (which brings challenges)”

    I’m thinking of expanding my team beyond myself and am very interested in your observations!

  19. well i’m fairly new to blogging so i haven’t made that many mistakes but good looking out. I know mistakes are inevitable but at least i know a few i can hopefully avoid

  20. My biggest mistake is giving in to fear. In some ways this is wrapped up with your “Choosing profit over passion” because I keep thinking that each post has to be ultra-amazing instead of just trying to help people. My fear keeps me from moving forward.

  21. But while they have been mistakes… look where the lessons have got you. I have made mistakes and at the moment I am trying to sort one out now which I will eventually share in a blog post but can quite write about it now but it was an issue brought up at the Problogger Conference last year.
    Passion is so important when it comes to blogging and I feel my biggest mistake wasn’t starting a blog earlier.

  22. Great post – I read your problogger book before I started my blog – I’m writing in my passion and so far great results in just 3 months. My following on some social media is small and I guess it’s because Facebook for one doesn’t share my content and I’m not in the position to pay for promoting things I say. I do write with passion, knowledge and completely from the heart. I do want to work with others as things evolve, I’ve contacted some and when I didn’t hear back I got a little frustrated and stopped doing that for awhile. Because I’m new I find some bloggers extremely friendly and others not so much. It seems I’m in a competitive nitch where the drive for recognition is a little creepy. I seem to be failing in the social media aspect as far as connecting but my blog itself is blossoming. I’m a doer and not someone who wants to be plugged in all day.

  23. It’s very reassuring to learn that the expert made mistakes along the way, it’s so easy to feel dwarfed by someone else’s success while forgetting that they too are human. I apparently made a grievous error in my most recent domain choice….it has a hyphen because the non-hyphenated version has a squatter on it… I would like to know what post you meant to link to on the topic of domain mistakes. The existing link goes to an unrelated guest post. Thanks.

  24. Thanks so much for sharing this Darren, I always admire and respect your humility with your blogging journey and incredible expertise! I don’t know where to even start with the blogging mistakes I have made over the years but I definitely relate to the domain one!!

  25. All of them are my mistakes.

  26. Great insight, Darren. Mistakes can be frustrating, but we learn so much from them. I appreciate your post because it’s easier to learn from other people’s mistakes than our own.

    One blogging mistake I’ve made is not being consistent. My day job keeps me incredibly busy, leaving me to balance what little time I have left with family and blogging. It’s a mistake I’m currently working on and doing my best to correct. It’s extremely important to be consistent when you blog so your readers keep coming back. If your posts are hit and miss, here a post, there a post, your readers can’t count on you and they may not come back. I appreciate you asking such a thoughtful question! Thanks for the insightful post!

  27. Few years back i had blog about scholarships. I earned pretty good amount of money from that blog. But when I started my higher studies I was forced to stop working on that due to busy schedule with studies.. But my blogging passion is still alive and I I have two blog now http://www.howcancerkills.com and http://www.notesformedicalstudents.com , frankly speaking I have no enough time to write posts on these blogs.So, I dont belive its a mistake of my blogging carrier. I have a hope that one day I can be a pro blogger like you. :)

  28. Hey There

    You are absolutely correct. Many people only join blogging because they think they can get rich over night but it is not like that. You have to give your 100% and if you are not passionate about you it you can’t do pretty much with it.

    My friend made the same mistake and now he is off blogging. Well if you are passionate about it you don’t have to worry about the money. There is a saying that work for perfection not for success. If you are really good in something success will come to you. And if it can be done with blogging you dont have to worry about the money at all.


  29. Probably my biggest mistake was not to define the core purpose of the blog from scratch. This resulted in writing about diverse topics without having a theme the blog was focused on.

  30. My biggest mistake blogging was thinking that every blog had to have a community, and was a failure without it. I didn’t realise that every niche was different and that some niches absorbed the information and then emailed you. I thought this meant my blog wasn’t good enough despite it earning 6 figures.

    My second biggest mistake was realising that traffic isn’t everything.

  31. I have been doing everything on one domain. Should I choose different domains for different subjects? Like for ‘coding’ and ‘computer softwares’?

  32. HI Darren,
    At first many many thanks for you.I am a blogger and your advice is very important for me.Write more about this.I will waiting for your next post……….

  33. Few months ago, someone said to me that it is okay to make mistakes, we all make mistakes, we just have to learn from it and do our best to bring out the best thing we can do. That inspires me, I feel ashamed and I see to it to be more careful.

    Nice share Dareen, good reminder for all of us. Thanks for the share.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  34. This is a really interesting post. As a complete novice to the blogging arena, I wonder if I have missed the boat completely. All the big names seemed to have made it when they started blogging 5+ years ago. However, I have taken advice and registered a .com name and have decided to focus (for now) on the one blog (whereas before I had many wordpress.com blogs with not much content). My big challenge is monetising my blog since it doesn’t really have a niche focus (more a generalised lifestyle blog). I’m hoping to learn that down the track! Great post, thanks. Sarah x

  35. I have made all these mistakes myself,
    from starting 10 blogs at once to doing everything on my own.
    to keep changing the themes and not giving time to actually create content.
    It was only after 3 years that I started blogging seriously,
    I am a full time blogger now, but I think if I had been serious about it from the very start, I would have been in a better position than I am today.
    But that doesn’t makes me sad, it makes me work harder to keep up.

  36. I think one of my main mistakes is that i have taken very long to monetize my blog and promote it effectively in the early stages.. But never too late, I have learnt and have been promoting my blog successfully albeit a bit slow owing to the niche nature of my blog/industry..

  37. Thanks for sharing your insight, Darren! I appreciate you being honest and upfront about your mistakes because I think there’s a ton of value to be gained. Your mistake about “being slow” resonated with me. i tend to spend too much time “figuring things out” in my head before I’m able to force myself out there and see how it plays out in the real world. When I plow forward and get my knees dirty, I learn so much more. And last time I checked, you can’t think or plan your way to success!

  38. I am also guilty of being too slow to take action on ideas, which is just really unproductive and actually gives me anxiety, true story.

    I also have realised I can’t do everything on my own. I am trying to tackle all the jobs myself, but really I am running fast and getting no where. Sometimes it’s hard to put trust in someone else, but if you want to grow your blog then you need to be willing to work with other people.

  39. Well said Darren, thanks. Well in the past I’ve committed enough mistakes on my blog to learn a few lessons.
    1. Giving more importance to the aesthetics than readable content.
    2. Worrying and reading about SEO all the time and not focusing on building content.
    3. Being lazy (I haven’t corrected it yet. ;) )

    Anyway, looking forward to reading more posts from you Darren.

  40. My biggest mistake was not having a product ready before I produced my blog. It took me a couple of years to write my first book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. As soon as I put up the sales page, I had INSTANT sales. Why oh why didn’t I do this sooner?

  41. I found out about your site today while reading a magazine in the airport. Earlier this week I attended an introduction to WordPress for blogging class and found out many thing I have been doing wrong for the past 2years. Then reading your article I realized that except for no.4 you have succinctly summarized what I learned and what I need to do. Thanks a whole bunch. I will be a regular subscriber from now on.

  42. Great stuff! I am going to keep this in mind :)

  43. great Article, well my mistake was not updating content regularly. Come to know new issue can come forward in this article.

  44. Thank you for posting this!

    It’s good to hear other people make mistakes as well – I worry that my blogging about something I’m passionate about might make me less buisiness-orientated.

    Also, blogging in an area where there’s a glut of blogs it something I’m concious of as well.

  45. Good information for bloggers

  46. Great list of mistakes.

    One of my biggest mistakes is not building and sticking with my own blogging project, even if that was a side project. When I became a professional blog editor five years ago, I had a growing design blog, but shut it down. If I had kept it going, it would be a significant source of income by now. Also, I’d be a better creator if I had stuck to regular output over the long term.

    So, I’m investing a good chunk of my evenings and weekends to creating a blog now, turning it into a regular workflow. It is a little tough after planning and editing blog content full time, to turn around and blog, but it’s also rewarding to improve my writing and connect with people at that special, early stage of getting a project off the ground.

    Also, I really enjoyed the first challenge in the forums. It drove lot’s of engagement between bloggers.


  47. Hi Darren

    My 2 biggest mistakes one of which you have already mentioned

    1. Stretching too much
    2. Selecting a wrong team-which ruined my 2 years efforts

  48. I also made mistakes like these and i got stuck at the 3rd point because it is the biggest i made in my blogging journey.I only focus on technology blogs and name them with some tech prefix.After that i realized tech doesn’t give much brand to my blog.Now i start blog perfect and catchy domain name.

  49. Hi Darren,

    I learned NOT to keep switching between WordPress Themes. Pick one, and stick with it.

    In my case, I have an extremely tight budget. So I grew a brain, and I stuck with the FREE Twenty Eleven theme.

    I self taught myself how to manipulate the code, with the helpful tool in Firefox, called Firebug, and tweaked my site to load fast.

    I would research how to create a particular look on my sites, like my footer signature.

    It shows the year, which the .php code will automatically change for you year to year. That was a great gold nugget find I found online from a coder.

    I noticed that I when I did made a mistake, I learned from it, not do that again and put that one in my toolbelt.

    I have learned how important it is to economize and use as much free tools as possible. Free is always the best price, so I use those when I can. This has helped me a lot.

  50. My biggest mistake is No.3. Well this is the great article for newest Blogger members..

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