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How to Transform an Embarrassing Mistake Into an Opportunity to Increase Your Blog Readership

Today’s episode is about how to write a blog post about a mistake you have made. Across my blogs, the most popular posts ever have been the ones that include ‘mistake’ in the title. Writing a confessional post about a mistake you have made gives your readers the opportunity to learn from your experience, but will also increase your blog traffic if you set it up well. I share how to write a ‘mistake’ post to make sure you get the most blog traffic possible and to deepen the relationship you already have with existing readers.

Guilty dog by David Moore on

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why ‘mistake’ blog posts work
  • 6 tips for writing a powerful confessional ‘mistake’ blog post
  • Examples of ‘mistake’ blog posts that have got a lot of traffic
  • Why it’s much most effective to write a ‘mistake’ blog post using the first person
  • How to use your ‘mistake’ blog post to increase reader engagement
  • The opportunity to write and share a link to your own ‘mistake’ blog post to increase your blog traffic

Further Reading and Resources for How to Transform an Embarrassing Mistake Into an Opportunity to Increase Your Blog Readership

The most popular ‘mistake’ post on my blogs:

More examples of my most popular ‘mistake’ blog posts:

The ProBlogger podcast example of a ‘mistake’ post that I mention:

Examples of popular ‘mistake’ blog posts by other bloggers:

Participate in More ProBlogger Writing Challenges

Previous blog writing challenges, full of tips on how to write different styles of posts (you could use one or more of these formats to help you write your own ‘mistake’ blog post):

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there. This is Darren from ProBlogger. Welcome to episode 63 of the ProBlogger podcast, where today, I want to give you a writing challenge. We’ve done a number of these in the past and I’ll give you some links to some of those in today’s show notes at

For those of you who don’t know, a writing challenge is where I give you a type of post to give away and write in your own blog. You have the opportunity to come over to our show notes, leave a link to it, and check out some of the other posts that other listeners have put together, hopefully, getting us all a little bit more traffic and improving our writing. 

As I mentioned, we’ve previously done some writing challenges that have been the lists posts, link posts, opinion posts, call-to-action posts, review posts, how-I-do-it posts, and today, I want to challenge you to write a mistakes posts. This idea came as I was surfing through Google Analytics of my blogs today, and I noticed a recurring theme in some of the most-read posts on my own blogs over the last year. The word “mistake” came up time and time again in the headlines of the posts that have been the most-read on my blogs—ProBlogger and Digital Photography School—mistakes posts.

Let me give you an example. The most read post with the word “mistakes” on Digital Photography School this year was a post called Top 10 Mistakes that Cause Blurry Photos. This post went crazy. We’ve […] published it a few times on our Facebook page and every time I promote it on social media, it gets a whole heap of click-throughs to the site. I’ll give you a link to it in today’s show notes along with some others that have done well. There have been quite a few.

We’ve published a post called 10 Common Mistakes in Long Exposure Photography, 7 Landscapes Photography Mistakes to Avoid, 4 Mistakes New Photographer Makes and How to Avoid them, and the list goes on. In fact, in the top 200 or so posts on the site this year, in terms of traffic, 10 have been mistakes posts and the same trend is the case over on ProBlogger.

In fact, one of our recent podcasts here was a podcast that I wrote. I put together episode 46 which was titled, Do You Recognize These 21 Blogging Mistakes? That particular podcast was listened to a whole heap more than other podcasts on either side of it in terms of the order. It seems that “mistakes” is a word that triggers people to want to read your post, particularly, if you want to use it in your headline. 

There are a number of reasons I think why mistakes posts work. Firstly, they make people curious about if they’re making those mistakes. Particularly, that podcast—one that I just gave you the example of—by having the title of that post, Do You Recognize These 21 Blogging Mistakes, I guess that builds some curiosity. The subheading of that particular podcast was How To Avoid Making 21 Blogging Mistakes. Again, there’s a promise there to help you to improve in some of these areas as well. 

I think there are a number of other reasons there why they work. Firstly, they help people in quite practical ways to either avoid falling into common traps or potentially save them time and money. It’s actually a question that I get asked all the time in podcast interviews as well. “What mistakes did you make? What mistakes did you see other people are making?” People ask that because they want to shortcut success in different ways. 

Mistake posts also cause really good discussion many times. Sometimes, debate and sometimes they can even potentially polarize people if you’re not careful in the way that you write them. But, I find that they do cause discussion. People want to chime in with their opinion on whether it’s a mistake or not or whether they’ve made that mistake, and they’d often tell stories as well.

The other good thing about mistakes posts is that they give you, as a blogger, an opportunity to be vulnerable, to share your own failings or mistakes. What I find is that when you do share your own mistakes, that people respond very well to that. It makes you more human, more relatable, and it will stimulate discussion where people feel more able to share their own mistakes if you take the lead in that.

Mistakes touch on pain points as well. Often, if you start a post by sharing a mistake that you made, people are then in a much better state to read your solution to that. If you’re offering a solution or a way to avoid that mistake. Starting with a mistake can really bring out pain in your reader, and can prime them for a solution. 

The other reason that I find mistakes posts really work well is that they simply just give you an opportunity to solve a problem and to bring about change in your readers. Readers will be grateful for that. There’s a number of reasons why mistakes posts work and why I think you should try one for your own blog. 

Before you go away and write that post, let me give you a few tips. Firstly, don’t just give them mistakes. Give some solutions, some ways to overcome the mistakes, to avoid the mistakes, or alternatives if it’s about a choice that the reader might be making. Some of the posts that we’ve written include that in the title. One that I’ve mentioned before, 7 Landscape Photography Mistakes to Avoid, signals that there are some hints there as to how to avoid those things. These are many of the posts that we’ve written that have taken that approach. Here are some mistakes that you can avoid and how to overcome those mistakes.

Another tip is to not only write mistakes posts for your whole nation, for your whole topic. I gave you some examples there before, some quite general ones. Mistakes that New Photographers Can Make, but you could actually drill down and to write these types of mistakes for different categories on your blog.

As you heard before, we wrote one on mistakes that can cause blurry photos, mistakes that can impact your long exposure photography, we’ve written mistakes post on travel photography, on photographing kids, and the list goes on. You can really do these types of posts multiple times on your blog as long as they are different from one another. 

The next tip I’ll give you on this is to not go overboard. You don’t want seven days in a row just mistakes posts. Your readers will get annoyed with that and they don’t, every post in the same format and using those same keywords all the time will get a little bit boring for people. Now, become a little bit blind to them. It’s the type of post you might want to share once a month or even every couple of months. 

Another quick tip is to try to make it personal. A post that’s titled Five Mistakes That I Have Made as a Photographer could get more cut-through than Five Mistakes Photographers Make. I’ve certainly seen that in a number of posts I’ve written on ProBlogger over the years, where I make it really clear that these are the things that I’ve done wrong. People, as I have said before, really relate to you being vulnerable and you sharing the things that you’ve done. It makes you a little bit relatable. 

A couple of other quick tips, particularly in how you’re sharing these posts on social media. One of the things that I quite often do when I’m sharing a mistakes post on Facebook will be to include a question like, which of these mistakes have you made? Then, share the link. This invites a discussion which will help you to get more reach with your post because people are leaving comments and it also gets people to think about their own situation a little bit more, which could help them to bring about some change.

Another one that you might want to try, what other mistakes have you made that you would add to this post? If you have a list of five mistakes, invite your readers to come up with another five. This could actually make a really good follow up post so you might have a second post a week or two later, a month later, another five mistakes that photographers make, which again, gives you a chance to link back to that first one you did. It also gives you a chance to highlight perhaps some of the comments from your readers on the previous post, which makes them a little bit famous and puts their name in the spotlight, but also gives you a second piece of content on a topic that does often work quite well.

Again, my challenge for you today is to go away and to write a mistakes post and I’d love to see it. If you could go to, you’ll find some examples of mistakes posts that we’ve published on Digital Photography School, on ProBlogger, and a couple of other sites, but there’s also an opportunity there for you to leave a comment and to check out the post that other listeners of this podcast are submitting as well.

I’d love it if you just make those links that you share there new posts. This is all about writing something new, not just highlighting stuff you’ve already written in your archives. If you do want to talk there about posts that have worked well for you in the past, that’s okay, but I’d really prefer it if you’d go away and write something new as well. I want to stimulate action with this podcast rather than just celebrate our archives.

I really look forward to reading your mistakes posts, be it a little bit vulnerable, remember? It does help. I will check out those posts and share a few of them if they’re relevant to my audiences on my social accounts as well.

Thanks for listening today and I’ll talk with you in episode 64 of the ProBlogger podcast.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What did you learn from today’s episode? Do you have other tips that have worked for you? What will you try next?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, with a link to the ‘mistakes’ blog post you write.

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