Starting a blog completely changed my life. In March 2010, I randomly started this blog. I was in business school at the time and also working a full-time job. The decision was made because of a group MBA project where I was assigned to come up with a plan to sell baby clothes on mom blogs online. I saw other women blogging and thought I could do it too. I had a week off of school for spring break and I started this blog for fun. It was just a hobby at that time and I had no idea that I even wanted to be an entrepreneur back then. We’ve sure come a long way!
Starting a blog helped me discover my passion and gave me the confidence to network and meet new people. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Going through this whole process and realizing that I could turn my blog into a business is what I want to cover today in-depth today in this post. Over the last 6 years, I have made a lot of mistakes and I don’t want you to make the same ones. My passion is teaching so this post shares it all.
Note: I also put this entire post into a “starting a blog” checklist with 9 blog resources I can’t live without. I think you’ll love it too.
15 Major Blogging Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake #1: Trying To Be Perfect
I am a perfectionist. I want my blog posts to be perfect. What I have learned though is that I will never move forward in life and in my business if I try to make everything perfect. You need to be aware of this too. Done is better than perfect. I usually make my posts go live and look at them again as they go live on my site.
If your content is going to help someone and if you don’t hit that publish button, it can’t help people. That is your purpose. My posts from 2010 are definitely not perfect. If I had never started in 2010, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I would not have learned so much. Blogging is a journey of personal growth and learning.
Mistake #2: Not Planning Ahead
When I started blogging, I was very busy working a full-time job, getting my MBA and traveling for work. But, I still kept very consistent and this is important because people will come to your site and always want to see something new. If you can plan ahead at least 2-3 weeks in advance with ideas and topics, you’ll be amazed at the content that you can get out and blogging will actually be fun!
Your content doesn’t need to be completely done weeks ahead though. The topics are there. You should know the draft titles for a month ahead and schedule them in advance when they are ready to go. We use WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin so we can schedule posts in advance. When I was blogging my first year, I would go to work and my posts would go live while I was sitting in my cubicle. I had automated social media going out too and was getting a ton of engagement just during my client meetings.
You don’t want to blog last minute or you won’t produce very good content. You also don’t want to be stressed with trying to produce content. I would wake up in the morning and know exactly what I was going to blog about when I had a month of ideas ready to go.
Mistake #3: No Email List or Way For People To Sign-up
You must collect emails on your blog. There was a whole year that I never collected emails back in 2010. There were so many people that I could have connected with at that time that I missed out on. What a bummer! They were enjoying what I was writing and I never built that relationship with them.
I have learned a lot since putting together a little networking guide and starting my first email list. Now I give away a free 90-day planner and you can see on every blog post here on the sidebar I give away something for free. Create a simple PDF, ebook or cheat sheet or even a copy of the blog post you have already written. Just turn it into a PDF.
For instance, if you’d like my free Start a Blog Checklist, you can get an example of what we give away.
Mistake #4: Treating Your Blog As a Hobby Instead of a Business
Treat yourself as a CEO of your own career and your own life. Hint: You must know that there are SO MANY opportunities with blogging. I get so many emails every day with potential opportunities. That is why I hired my first VA to help me with all the email opportunities!
Even if you don’t want to make a business out if it, think of your blog as a business instead of a hobby. Just by having a blog and posting consistently over a long period of time, there are people who would like to pay you to post about their product or service on your site or your social media. They will pay you to post a giveaway or to go on a trip and stay in a nice, fancy hotel. I wish I would have known earlier to treat my blog as a business and myself as a CEO!
Mistake #5: Too Much Comparing
When you are so consumed so much with other people that you can’t create yourself, you are in trouble. Blogging is all about creating, being yourself and putting yourself out there. It’s about being unique and telling stories about yourself. You have to think back to big stories of your life and weave those stories into what you sell.
In case you haven’t noticed, there is so much noise out there. It’s very noisy online right now. You might be saying, “I wish I had her site design.” This is when it’s important to put those blinders on because you have a mission and you have a purpose. If you are alway looking at what others are doing and you can’t get the real you out to create the thing that is really great for you, you have to stop comparing.
Now when I blog it’s really all me. I am constantly unsubscribing and hiding people from social media. I even hide Facebook ads. I have people I really trust like mentors and mastermind mama bosses I LOVE but my guidance needs to stay limited and extremely positive! I have people I can’t follow because I wouldn’t be able to write this post and create what I am capable of if I was wondering what other people are writing too.
Make your own runway. Don’t compare. Be unique.
Mistake #6: Bad Blog Titles
I picked some really bad titles when I started. Titles are so important because they are the first thing people see. Pinterest is one of my main traffic sources. That’s where I go to get ideas for great titles. I usually come up with 4-5 titles, narrow them down and get other people’s feedback to come up with my best title. It really has to capture attention.
Mistake #7: No Images
Pictures are everything. Since Pinterest is our #1 source of traffic, all of my attention is on beautiful images now. There are so many free image sites like picjumbo.com and pexels.com where you can download great pictures for free. This was not an option when I started blogging. You can also try flickr.com for their creative commons licensed photos.
Even better, we take our own pictures now. You most likely also have a phone with a great camera now. So no excuses!
Images are what people are drawn to especially if you are blogging to women. Don’t forget about the power of Pinterest. It’s amazing. We use picmonkey.com.
Mistake #8: Paying Too Much For Your Website
Many people ask me who our website designer is and who my branding person is. It’s us. What you are looking at did not come from thousands of dollars from a website designer. We have had our site for 6 years updating and designing it ourselves.
Some people may need a designer to get started but you don’t need to spend that much money. You might need some technical support. You can get our blog checklist which has all the tools we use blogging. I just don’t want you paying that much. I know that it isn’t that difficult to build a site (but I don’t want to get all my designers mad at me:).
If you are just starting out you don’t need to spend that much money when you are starting out. Start slowly. Don’t go too fancy on your website.
Mistake #9: Too Much Thinking, Not Enough Doing
Maybe you have wanted to blog for years but you aren’t taking action and doing it. Just start. Do it this weekend. Hit publish. Build your website. Don’t think too much and start doing more than you are thinking about it. Stop saying you are going to do it and just actually do it.
Mistake #10: Not Monitoring Your Traffic
Please download google analytics. It’s an easy plugin you can use so you can track where your traffic is coming. That is the #1 way you can see where people are coming and who is referring people to your blog. Most importantly, you’ll be able to find out what social media platform is the best for you. Previously, I spent too much time on Instagram and then realized that Pinterest was driving way more traffic to our site. What I teach now is figuring out what works for your content and utilizing that as much as possible.
Mistake #11: Not Having a Reader Avatar
You have to know who you are writing your blog for. Every time you write, think about who you are writing to. If I can imagine a real live person than I am way more myself in my posts and videos. Pretend like you are writing to a client or potential client or create your ideal client Avatar. What’s her name and her age? Learn more about her or him, how much money she makes and the TV shows she watches.
This will help you figure out what you should blog about. Surveying will help you figure out your ideal reader’s fears, frustrations, goals and desires which will help you be a better listener and blogger.
Mistake #12: Not Being Real and 100% You
You have to be real. You have to put yourself out there. There’s a lot of fears that come with this. It’s not easy. Something could go wrong. You could mess up. You have to put yourself out there. Be yourself. Share stories. Try journaling and put yourself back into the position of your clients.
Mistake #13: Not Using Keywords and SEO
I love the plugin for WordPress, Yoast SEO. I highly recommend it. For every post you create, there should be a keyword that you are writing the post to. Yoast SEO will tell you whether you have hit the greenlight SEO benchmark or not. If you have all green lights, you are set to go! All this stuff, I didn’t think about when I started. I am glad I got out there, wrote blogs and wasn’t perfect but I sure wish Yoast SEO was around when I started. I would have used it from the beginning and wouldn’t be updating old 2010 posts now. 🙁
As far as SEO, Google wants to see at least 300 words in each article. We try to aim for 700 words at least but some, like this one, are way more. I have heard that articles that go to 2,000 words get the best traffic numbers because they have great content and value. Make sure you give as much value as you can in each post. If people are coming to your site, give them great content. If you are just getting, I would go with longer posts with great information.
Mistake #14: Not Having Categories
Every time we create a blog post, we put what category that article falls into. This will make it easier for people to be able to find the content they want on your site. It will even more important later on when you have a lot of articles. It will be easier to sort and it will help Google identify what your content and articles are all about.
Mistake #15: Not Having a Blog Ideas List
When I first started, I had at least 30 topics that I wanted to blog about. If you can’t come up with a long list, maybe it’s not right for you to be blogging about it. You have to want to do it. You have to be passionate about it. You want to have a ton of ideas and a running list of what to write about it when you get inspired to write. You can use excel first. Now we use Asana.com for organizing our tasks and we have a project on Asana with all of our blog content ideas. If you don’t write it down, you are going to forget about that idea. You can also use Evernote.
If I Was Starting a Blog Today, Here’s What I Would Do
I may start a blog again soon (in a different industry) so this was a good exercise for me. 🙂 This advice is mine personally. I know there are other ways to start a blog. But the tried and trusted way I tell all my clients is below…. I love the DIY aspect. I love teaching you how to do this very affordably as well and when you have limited time working a day job too.
Here’s what I would do first:
1. Use Bluehost.com to purchase domain name (Cost: $10/year) and hosting ($150/year).
2. Download WordPress.org through Bluehost (Cost: Free). Find a free WordPress theme or search for a theme under $50.
3. Design my logo myself in picmonkey.com. (Cost: Free)
4. Go to Target and spend $25 on the prettiest office supplies, notebooks, straws and pink staplers I can find. Check out the $1 section for some great deals. You can also get a white posterboard at Target as well for $1 and use your iPhone or phone camera! (Cost: $25)
5. Create Pinterest images on picmonkey.com. (Cost: Free)
6. Use Yoast SEO plugin. (Cost: Free)
7. Create a personalized Leadbox on every article using Leadpages to collect emails. I would give away a checklist or cheat sheet on every blog post that is directly related to the content of that article. (Cost: $29/month)
8. I would write one incredible article once per week with a ton of great info (just like this one!). I would stay very consistent. (Cost: Free)
9. Promote my blog everywhere all week long. Over and over again. Use quotes from the article and different images from the same blog post all throughout the week. Make it a great post. Have a great lead magnet for that post with a cheat sheet that went along with that blog post. Schedule this all using a great social media scheduler called ViralTag. (Cost: Free)
10. Create a video for every blog post. Embed it onto the site and upload the video to YouTube and Facebook separately. Also, share 1-minute sections of the video on Instagram. Video on mobile is so popular right now and it’s only going to grow over the next few months. You can reach so many more people when you upload videos on Facebook right now than just posting a quote. (Cost: Free)
11. Partner with other writers and share each other’s content. Ask them to share their articles on social media so it drives traffic to your site. Your readers will love reading different voices on your site as long as the writer is sticking with the categories of your site.
The more often you post, the more you can share on social media and the better rankings on Google. I think this is a better strategy than guest posting since it drives traffic to your site rather than you driving traffic to other people’s sites. I love this strategy because I love creating communities and sharing other people’s advice because I feel like it creates better content and more value for the reader. (Cost: Free)
Total cost is way less than $500 to start. Just go for it, ok!?
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