One of the most common reasons why people avoid starting a blog is that they’re worried about potential mistakes and pitfalls they might encounter. When you’re starting something totally fresh and without any significant experience, it can be hard to know what works and what doesn’t.
Being aware of common mistakes in terms of blogging is the best way to avoid them, and our guide to the biggest mistakes to avoid is here to help.
What Should a Blog Look Like?
If you’ve never run a website before, you may not quite know what makes for a good one, and what makes for a subpar one.
You’ll likely be asking yourself “what should a blog look like?” Well, the answer is, it depends. Good content websites look appropriate to their niche –
So if you’re writing about business, you’ll want something clean and professional, but if you’re writing personal content, something more fun and unique could work.
There are some ideas for a successful blog which apply across the board though. What you want is an intuitive format which makes it easy for your target audience to find their way around your website. You want all your posts and articles to be easy to find, and for appropriate links to help guide people around your content. Easy access to things like an email list and opt-in forms are always extremely useful.
Common Mistake 1: Poor Website Design
Although the design of your website is somewhat subjective, there are some things which are pretty much universally hated. Having music auto-play is a huge no-no, as most people will just close the tab rather than try to stop the song. Another design feature which the vast majority of potential visitors will dislike is a dark background with light text. It is hard to read and gives an extreme “amateur vibe.”
Solution: When In Doubt, Keep It Simple
Look at the websites you enjoy reading, and you’ll likely find they all have fairly simple website designs. This is great news, particularly if you’re just getting started out in blogging, as you can find and employ these templates for a very low cost (sometimes even for free). Choose clear, easy to read fonts, a minimal color scheme and clear formatting between one post and the next.
Common Mistake 2: Low-Quality Content
While there are many things which can affect a blog’s success, it’s incredibly unlikely your site will get off the ground if the content isn’t up to scratch. The biggest issues with content tend to be lack of originality and lack of usefulness.
Solution: Take Calculated Risks
If your content isn’t offering anything new to the world, people will have no reason to visit it over other, similar sites. Keep a list around of fun and original ideas, as inspiration can strike at any point. Each of your posts should be saying something, and contributing information to the world. When working on each post, keep this in mind. Give your target audience a reason to read your content.
Common Mistake 3: Unengaging Headlines
Even if your post quality is there, you need to be using headlines to hook your reader in. Many times in a list of search engine results on the topic, all that will show up is your headline. If it’s dull and doesn’t seem engaging, or doesn’t adequately sum up the content of your post, you’re going to miss out on readers.
Solution: Give Headlines Enough Attention
Don’t write your headlines as an afterthought to your posts. Keep the title in mind throughout your writing process, and make sure it properly represents what your post is about. Consider looking into search engine analytics to see what exactly people are searching regarding the topic, in order to help direct more traffic to your articles. Look at successful blogs, and consider what their headlines have in common, then try to emulate the formula for yourself.
Common Mistake 4: Lack Of An Editorial Calendar
Many bloggers want to feel free to post as and when inspiration strikes. But this can actually be a huge mistake. Your readers will want to know when to check back for fresh content. Plus, if you don’t have a schedule to stick too, it’s all too easy to end up neglecting your posting all together.
Solution: Create A Realistic Schedule
While some people will advise publishing a post a day, that can lead to low quality, rushed content, and burnout. It’s far better to write one or two high-quality pieces of content per week. It’s a great idea to have these posts scheduled to go live at the same day and time so your readers can rely on your regular updates.
Common Mistake 5: Being Impatient
Growing a blog is a slow, slow process. Sure, you can do certain things to speed the growth up somewhat, but there’s no magic formula for instant success. Assuming your website will have an instant readership and lead to an overnight phenomenon is unrealistic and will inevitably leave you feeling disappointed.
Solution: Making Realistic Goals
While not finding overnight success can be disheartening, it’s important that you notice and celebrate every little part of your blog’s growth. Set goals you can realistically achieve, then feel proud of yourself as you achieve them. Remember that content publishing is a marathon and not a sprint.
Common Mistake 6: Not Finding Your Niche
A super common mistake is trying to do everything at once. Although finding and claiming your niche can seem restricting, it’s by far the best way to find like-minded people and connect with your target audience.
Solution: Set Yourself (Flexible) Boundaries
If you know you want publish content on business, then firmly establish yourself within that sphere. However, if you want to go a little off-piste, once in a while, then that’s ok, too. Just make sure the vast majority of your content is catering to your particular niche, so your readers can know what to expect from your website as a whole.
Common Mistake 7: Separating From The Blogging Community
While the act of writing and publishing articles is fairly solitary, you should never think of running a content website as a totally solo endeavor. A blog which seems to exist in a vacuum will never be as engaging (or authoritative) as one which seems to be a part of the wider online community.
Solution: Get Involved
Make sure you’re interacting with other bloggers within your niche to establish yourself as a part of the community. Reach out to those whose content you admire, and consider introducing interviews or guest posting to help widen the scope of your own website.
Common Mistake 8: Missing Your Target Audience
Having the best website design and highest quality content in the world can seem a little bit pointless if you just aren’t getting the readership you want. If you’re writing good content about topics which people care about, your audience is out there – it’s just about finding them.
Solution: Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is super important. Why? When it comes to growing your readership, more traffic means more readers. Put simply; you need to be using keywords to draw people towards your articles. Use Google Analytics to find out what people are searching for relating to your content.
By using these terms in your article headlines and posts, your content will be favored by search engines and appear higher up in the list of results. By making your site easier to find, you’ll increase your traffic and grow your loyal audience, too.
Common Mistake 9: Not Using Social Media
Another big mistake new bloggers can make is ignoring their social media presence. No matter how objectively good your website is, it will never succeed as a standalone corner of the internet. Lack of social media presence can limit your potential reach, plus make it more difficult to make connections within your industry.
Solution: Dedicate The Time
Some people advise that you should spend as much time promoting your posts and you do writing them. While this may be an extreme formula, it’s certainly true that you need to be putting significant time into social media promotion – particularly if you’re just starting out.
You want your social media presence to have as wide a reach as possible, to create profiles (with the same name) on as all social media platforms you can think of. Make sure you’re active on social media, too – simply having an account is not enough.
Common Mistake 10: No Encouragement For Interaction
Even if your blog has a reasonable readership, you want the audience to be engaged and excited by your content. Don’t miss out on opportunities to interact with readers. This can be a huge mistake.
Solution: Utilise Engagement Strategies
A simple way to encourage interactions from your readers is by adding “call to actions” to your posts. These are ways of encouraging the reader to contribute their opinions and ideas on the topic. Want to go even further?
Try introducing competitions and giveaways or even opening a forum section on your website where conversations can happen. Encouraging interaction from your readers shows them that you care about their opinions, and makes your blog feel like more fun, collaborative space for sharing ideas.
Common Mistake 11: Not Using Intuitive Links
Another potential mistake relates to not keeping people reading your content. You want people to visit your website, and stay for a while, reading a variety of different posts while they’re there. If you make your posts difficult to find or have a confusing method of organizing your content, you’ll discourage readers from sticking around to learn more.
Solution: Make Your Blog Easy To Navigate
Organize your posts into categories. That way, when a reader finishes one post, it is much easier for them to find another piece in a similar genre. Use the text within your posts to create links to other posts to encourage readers to stick around for longer and read more of your content. Make sure to add links at the bottom of every post, pre-emptively answering your reader’s “what next” question.
Common Mistake 12: Not Optimizing For Mobile
A huge amount of web browsing is now done on people’s mobile phones. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website looks on a conventional computer screen – if it’s unreadable on the phone, you’ll be missing out on a huge chunk of potential readership.
Solution: Take Phone Browsing Into Consideration
Contrary to what you may think, a successful blog doesn’t have to break the bank. You don’t even need a designer for your mobile version; you just have to make sure you can read and access your website content across a wide range of devices. There are enough potential roadblocks to finding and growing your readership, so don’t let something as simple as mobile optimization be another one.
Common Mistake 13: Not Paying Attention To Your Industry
There’s nothing worse than reading a blog which just feels out of touch. Whether it’s the same, regurgitated opinions, topics which are totally off-trend, or ignoring the greater world, this is the sort of content which can end up killing a website.
Solution: Look Around You
In today’s fast-paced and accessible world, there’s always something new to be inspired by. Keep abreast of the news, particularly in relation to your chosen topic or niche. Engage with other, similar content writers in your niche to find out what people are talking about at the moment.
Try to look at things with a critical eye and offer a fresh, unique perspective wherever you can. Combining topics which people already care about with the inimitable magic that makes your blog special is an excellent formula for success.
Common Mistake 14: Doing It For The Money
It’s no secret that some bloggers have turned their passion into a lucrative business. Many people want in on the action, seeing content publishing as a shortcut to professional and financial success. Yes, it’s true that there are growing opportunities to make money from content websites, but it takes extremely hard work and a good amount of time before this even becomes a realistic prospect.
Solution: Do It Out Of Passion
The primary reason you should want to start and run a blog is your passion for the topic. You’ll be putting in a lot of work and many hours, so if you’re just doing it to chase dollars, you’ll end up burning out way before you can start to turn a profit. While blogging can be a business, it should be a passion project first and foremost – and if you put in the work, money can eventually follow.
What do you think of these solutions? What are your biggest blogging no-nos? Let us know in the comments below!