12 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make

12 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make

Blogging’s a great way to grow awareness of you and/or your brand and, with bloggers now getting book deals and media contracts, it can also be a lucrative one.

Unfortunately, many bloggers shoot themselves in the foot by making some basic errors that holds their blog back from its true potential.

Knowing how to avoid these mistakes can mean the difference between just another blog online, and one that stands out as the kind people take notice of.

1. Not owning your own domain

Having your own domain – as in, blogname.com – certainly isn’t a must-have for all bloggers. But if you want to be taken seriously, having a professional domain makes that much more likely. The great news is you can even buy a premium domain and use it on free blog services like WordPress.com and Blogger.com.

2. Not owning your online property

For anyone serious about blogging, a self-hosted option is the only way to go. Not only does it give you more options for styling and customization, it shows you’re in this for the long haul, which can be an attractive proposition for brands looking to sponsor blogs.

3. Not optimizing your blog’s permalinks

Usually, a new blog’s permalinks are set to blogname.com/?p=123. Pretty ugly, eh? It’s not very search engine friendly either. As soon as you set your blog up, change your permalink settings so they just show the post or page name after the main URL. So something likeblogname.com/posttitle or blogname.com/pagetitle.

4. Forgetting to change your favicon

When you have a browser tab open, there’s a little icon on it that shows which site you’re on (Gmail has a red envelope, for example). This helps your site stand out when multiple tabs are open. Use a favicon generator like favicon.cc to make your own.

5. Having a generic logo

While you don’t need to go all out and custom design your complete blog as soon as you start, at the very least get your own personalized logo. This is one of the first things new visitors see and can say a lot about your blog.

6. Not using a web-friendly font

A lot of bloggers want their blog to stand out, so go for a font that looks cool. Unfortunately, on the web, it might be painful to read. Stick to a sans-serif font for all your main body content, and try not to use too many different fonts on one page or post.

7. Not submitting your blog to the search engines

While a blog is incredibly search engine friendly as it is, because you’re offering fresh, new content, they need to know you exist. You can speed this up by submitting your blog to search engines when live. Google makes it really easy to submit your blog.

8. Not learning SEO

Many bloggers will tell you content is king. It’s a good point – but if content is king, SEO is blogging’s queen. If you want people to find your blog, understand how SEO works – there are many free resources as well as paid options.

9. Not taking the time to format posts

Web pages that have nothing but lines of continuous text are horrible to read. Make your blog jump from the page by using short sentences, bullet points, headlines and great images. Even long posts can seem shorter with great formatting.

10. Not offering more than one subscription method

Many bloggers offer just an RSS subscription feed for their blogs. But email subscription is hugely popular for those that prefer it, while services like Odiogo offer another great option for the visibly impaired. Make sure you offer more than one option.

11. Not offering social sharing options

For many bloggers, social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are big drivers of traffic. Make sure you offer the most popular social networks as sharing options on all your posts, and make them prominent.

12. Wanting to be someone else

Perhaps the biggest mistake new bloggers make is to want to be someone else. But the other bloggers you want to be like already have that audience – so be you, be cool with making mistakes, and grow your style naturally.

These are 12 of the most common mistakes I see new bloggers make. While they may not all be crucial to where you want to go with your blog, they will play a big part in how soon you get there (if at all).

Blogging is fun. It can also be hugely rewarding. By making sure you don’t make these 12 most common new blog mistakes, it’ll be more fun and rewarding for you too.

A version of this post originally appeared on 12 Most.

image: chrisinplymouth

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Comments

  1. says

    I think you should add not cultivating relationships with other people to this list.

    I have gotten to know so many amazing people through blogging and it is that connection that I think makes me the happiest about blogging.

    Great list.

    • says

      @newdaynewlesson Ooh, great addition Susie, and completely agree on the relationship building part – so many great friends I’ve met in the last three years or so on here (your good self included).

      Cheers!

  2. says

    Let us not forget el grande mistake-o numero uno: not being able to explain WHY they started a blog.

    HINT: “to make money” is the worst possible reason.

    Are you online simply “to spend money?” Neither are the people who might eventually be willing to spend a couple bucks on your latest “information product.”

    You gotta know WHY you’re blogging in the first place. That’s what leads you to HOW you blog and, ultimately, what you’re after, objective-wise.

    • says

      @Brian Driggs Very true, sir, and like you say, one of the biggest mistakes many bloggers (new or otherwise) make.

      Do you build a business not knowing who your customers are or what your success metrics need to be to consider it a win? So why do the same on your blog? 😉

    • says

      @Brian Driggs Exactly. I’d expand on that by saying “writing about too many topics.” If you’re all over the place, your readers will have to sift through content instead of regularly finding information they are interested in reading.

      • says

        @randyzwitch Too many topics, indeed. I like to think of my digital properties as evolutionary. As easy as it is to start a new blog these days, there’s no reason to limit what one wants to share – just do a spin-off site.

  3. benbarden says

    You raise good points, but I found this post a bit difficult to follow. You start by listing 3 things that bloggers should do, then you list 9 things they shouldn’t do. Considering the title of the post, it’s the first 3 points that don’t quite gel for me. Just some feedback :)

    • says

      @benbarden Hi Ben,

      I guess it might be the way they’re structured? All points are showing mistakes that bloggers make – so, Do becomes Don’t and Don’t becomes Do, if you like.

      “Do” get your own domain; “Don’t” have a standard blog.wordpress.com one, etc.

      Cheers! :)

  4. markaylward says

    Hey Danny. This might sound stupid, but what’s the best/easiest way to allow folks to subscribe via e-mail? A plug-in?

    I think I have everything else covered. I just need to post more frequently

    Thanks

    Mark

  5. says

    Yes great points. One of the best things that I have found for helping people with wordpress blogs to understand what to do in order to have “On Page” SEO is a plugin called SEO pressor. It checks every page and tells you what you are missing. Then when you make a change. eg add an alt tag to an image. You get a big green tick. It gives you a list of about 10 things needed and as you add them to the page you get a tick. I find it really helpful as I often think I have done something, then update the post and find I didn’t do it right. It’s a great double checker. Can’t remember if it is free or paid plugin but well worth it if it is paid.

  6. says

    I’m a new blogger – and I’ve already made my share of mistakes. But every mistake made presents an opportunity to learn and grow. A few doozies – not backing up my blog from day one; not having clarity about my niche market; not taking the time to read up about certain fundamental plugins and widgets; not paying for a theme…I could go on and on. Hopefully, most of the big ones are behind me.

    • says

      @Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog Oh, don’t talk to me about backing up, Ruth – I once lost a huge chunk of posts due to not backing up, and was fortunate enough to save the rest thanks to my host’s own internal backup.

      Lesson most definitely learned!

  7. says

    Great points, @DannyBrown I know I was especially guilty of point #12. For the first few months I was blogging, I was constantly comparing myself to all the A and B list bloggers. This only leads to continual disappointment and frustration for inevitably not being able to live up to their incredibly high standards. Once I realized I wanted to blog for myself and to reach out and build my own audience, blogging become a lot easier and more fun.

    I’d also add to the list, not commenting frequently with other bloggers in your niche. Writing intelligent comments on other blogs frequently and replying to comments on your blog is how you get know and build street cred.

    • says

      @jessicamalnik It’s surprising how easily we get swept up by the “Try and be like Blogger X” syndrome, isn’t it, Jessica? I know my early posts tried too hard to be something they weren’t. Thankfully, most people realize that’s not sustainable – and you can soon tell those that are happy to continue being a second-rate version of someone else, as opposed to a first-rate version of themselves. 😉

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. says

    G’morning @DannyBrown – useful post as always. I too found the first two items a tad confusing to the new blogger – saying that you can buy your own domain on wp & blogger in #1, then saying self-hosted its the way to go. (also agree with the dos/dont’s & the mistakes title beig a bit confusing). The rest of the post is great!

    BTW – for new bloggers, a “self-hosted blog,” means purchasing a domain name and website hosting, then loading the wordpress software onto your own domain (which your web host can help a new blogger do – just ask the webhost if they support WordPress.org blogs).

    I think trying out blogging to see if you like it via yoursite@wordpress.com or blogger.com for a month or so is fine, but too many bloggers stay there too long, and miss out on all of the opportunities that a self-hosted site brings: better tools to make your blog look and work better, better SEO, and a much more professional online presence etc.

    People THINK it’s expensive to blog – the traffic on the keyword blog for free is 1.2 million monthly searches, but the costs to run a blog are around $10 a year for a domain name, and website hosting – some sites let you pay $8 a month (instead of all in advance) – that’s not a lot of money. Yes a premium blog theme may cost $40 – $90 – but that can be step 2 or 3, not done immediately.

    3. Not Optimizing your blog’s permalinks – I agree – is the other key mistake I see most new bloggers making. changing your permalinks (the permanent URL to each blog post and page) is KEY for SEO. For wordpress blogs – it is under dashboard, settings, permalinks. I suggest the month/postname (or year/postname, or day/postname) – as the WordPress documentation says those permalinks that do not start with an numeric tag, take longer to load, and add extra junk into your database – which over time makes your site load more slowly. http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks for more info. Sorry to get a bit geeky, but it is not hard to change

    • says

      @CathyWebSavvyPR Hey there miss,

      Just changed the prefixes to numbers 1-3, as @benbarden mentioned similar thoughts (as did my wife in an email, hehe). It may be the way I read it as making sense, but I can see why it doesn’t, so edited it is. :)

      The only problem with changing your Permalinks halfway through is that they can mess up internal links as well as social sharing traffic. Yes, you can use a Redirect plugin, but often they cause as many problems as they offer fixes.

      Now, if someone could come up with a foolproof way to change Permalinks two years down the line of your first post… 😉

      Cheers, Cathy, always a pleasure!

      • says

        @DannyBrown@benbarden Thanks for bowing to pressure for post/title clarity with good humor! as to the permalinks question – thanks for further clarification of the issue – you are correct – if you change permalink structure after your posts have been retweeted or linked to from other sites etc – then all of those links get broken and don’t work. That’s why I said this is BIGGEST mistake I see – it really messes with SEO. I agree with your last statement too – about the foolproof way to change them!! Cheers!

  9. Susanfand says

    I am a new blogger myself – and hopefully having a print out of this list will help me avoid the mistakes I didnt make yet. [yes I am a new newbie]

    Thanks Danny

  10. mattsanti4 says

    Mistake #13: Copying and paste content from someone else’s blog, video, article, whatever it is and not giving an ounce of insight or analysis. Even if content is allowed to be republished (say take an ezinearticles.com) your site won’t get any benefit from that content unless you are able to wrap in some of your own thoughts as well. Matt Santi

    • says

      @mattsanti4 For sure, Matt. Though with Google’s Panda giving even less credence to the content farms like Ezine, hopefully we’ll see less of this practice.

      Plus, Google has advised that if it’s your own content and you give credence to the originatin site, and your authorship can be tied back into the reprint (so a do-follow blog would be better for you), then they’ll be less likely to penalize, while they go after the real plagiarists.

      About time, too.

  11. says

    I’m happy to say that I’ve recently been able to acquire most of the things on the list, and glad to see they’re the essentials I hoped they were (I always wondered if a favicon wasn’t a little vain and superfluous). One point I wanted to note: I did some research and ended up writing a blog post about the fact that studies have not actually proven sans serif is more readable than serif font, in print or online. But because everyone thinks it is, that’s what we see and read online most of the time, so it may be a good idea to use it anyway to avoid having to repeatedly explain oneself…

    • says

      @ShakirahDawud I think it’s more to do with cross browser compatibility than anything else, Shakirah. The great thing with a Sans Serif font is that it’s pretty much readable on any browser and platform (desktop or mobile).

      Now, Copperplate, on the other hand… 😉

      • says

        @DannyBrown

        True–a point I forgot in favor of sans serif. Another caveat is Courier, because the spacing between letters is so wide. But that’s another readability issue, whether online or off.

  12. says

    SEO has been one tasks that I continuously try to study and research. Even though I do outsource most of my seo and backlinking I try to understand as much as possible because it helps you out a lot. I finally got a favicon for my blog. It only took 6 months but no one is counting.

    I would have to add that not having a downloadable product for your readers could be a mistake. You would want to build your email list as well so that down the line either you could present your product, service, or a company that you will be creating. If I were to do that back in 2009 I would of saved myself the headache this past year.

    Great post Danny.

    • says

      @Justicewordlaw That’s a good tip about product, mate. Even if you mix it up with free and premium, you’re gathering an audience and that’s never a bad thing.

      Cheers, mate!

  13. says

    Hi Danny

    “free resources as well as paid options.” – Bingo!

    SeoMoz is exactly where I learnt my SEO – Rand Fishkin’s free reports are brilliant.

    Learn your SEO and lots of the other things fall into place.

    I started out with static html sites, which have more obvious title tags, h1 tags etc so SEO makes more sense when you deal with a static site.

    A great primer and a useful reminder for the old campaigners who are getting lazy – no names, no pack drill.

    • says

      @easyP It’s amazing how many resources are around, Keith, and ones that have excellent pedigree too. Yet many folks would have you believe that you need to pay for everything – wonder why… 😉

  14. says

    Yeah, I wanted to be someone else; I wanted to be tall, dark and handsome, but that didn’t work out so well so I ended up just being me…………

    I hear what you are saying and I guess I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a serious blogger or not. I think I have about 4 of your 12 covered but would certainly recommend your steps for the serious blogger. I commented on erica mcarthur allison post about Klout and being able to locate resources if and when I get serious and now I know to come straight to the top.

    Good steps to follow indeed or you might end up like me just drifting aimlessly in this vast social media pond. Better than a sharp poke in the eye however………..:)

    • says

      @bdorman264 Oh, I think you give yourself far less credit than you should, mister. I’ve seen your posts, and the comments / community around them and how you look after your readers.

      I know many “proper bloggers” that would give their right hand to have that. So, please, keep it up – for if they lose their right hand, they’re closer to giving up blogging. Which would be nice. 😉

      PS – I jest (about the hand). Well. Mostly.

  15. says

    Danny, I see three I can implement immediately! Thanks for putting it out there! I’m learning how to just let “me” come out… and I tell you it’s so much easier being me than trying to be someone else! Me come so naturally! 😉

  16. rodricus.kirby says

    Hey, Danny, I’m a small business coach, and I see clients that definitely try to be like others bloggers when they first start out. It amazes me how much people try to be like others, but the fact is, God has separate blessings for us. Thanks for the great post!

  17. rodricus.kirby says

    By, the way, I love your “loved it? share it!” space after your post. Is that a customized plugin of sorts, a part of your theme, or just some code ninjary going on?

  18. MichaelAKnight says

    Great article. It solidifies that I do know a little something about what I”m doing as a blogger and helps me realize I need to just go for it, stop doubting, and have fun with it!

  19. says

    Great post, Danny! I really liked Susie’s suggestion about cultivating relationships with other bloggers, as it’s a great way to build a network to share your posts as well as get the support to keep up with great posts. I’d also recommend setting up a Gravatar so other bloggers become familiar with your identity – rather than just always having the shadow or question mark next to your comments!

    • says

      @Brittany at Sprout Social Damn, knew there was something really obvious I was missing in the post – a GRAVATAR! Gah, thanks for the reminder, Brittany, and yep, makes a big difference! :)

  20. says

    Totally bro, and there are some pretty reputable, popular peeps who you would think know better, that haven’t messed with permalinks! Nice to be back here on your blog man, I’ve been wrapped up over the last few. Hope things are well.

  21. says

    Thanks for the list Danny! I am off to work on SEO.

    On the blog directory thing… I didn’t see many referrals coming my way from these directories… I put my blog on aobut 10 different directories and then stopped. A good friend did a review of my site and suggested I list it more… SIGH, ok!

    This friend has SEO expertise. He sent me SEO tips for my site which I will promptly devour!

    Best,Rajka

    • says

      @ExpatDoctorMom Hi Rajka,

      The blog directories are much less useful than they used to be a couple of years back. Primarily because there are so many blogs on them, most get lost.

      If you are going to go with directories, try something like BlogEngage, or Networked Blogs (the added benefit of Networked Blogs is that you can drive traffic to your blog from Facebook, since they integrate well with each other).

      Hope that helps!

  22. says

    Great List Danny. You always got some good stuff cooking over here. number 12 is extremely important. I’d rather always see originality instead of the generic posts I see some blogger write. Sometimes you can actually tell who they have patterned themselve after. ~AL

  23. AllSupply says

    Very good list. Im certainly guilty of the favicon ommission. I just never thought it was that important, but I will take your advice on it.

  24. says

    A great list Danny, thank you for reminding me of some things I needed to do. Being busy seems to cause me to fall into the grove of taking the easy way to accomplish tasks, and in doing so, I forgot those tid-bits you shared.

    Be Well,

    Bruce

  25. says

    I like your list, Danny. I think that #12 is the hardest to overcome, particularly at first, because a lot of us jump in trying to do it just like someone else we’ve seen who writes a blog we like. It takes a while to get comfortable in your own voice, but it sure makes it a lot more fun once you figure out what that voice is!

    • says

      @patricksplace I hear you on that, mate. I look back at some of the earlier posts on here, and it’s clear to see I was “influenced” by others. Then the trick is getting out of that habit – but like you say, mate, it does make it more fun. :)

  26. SEOInLeeds says

    Great article – another good tip is to vary the media of the posts so some written, some video, some pictures

  27. QuanTechResume says

    That is an extremely useful article – thanks! You’ve distilled down some critical information – information that would take a good deal of time to collect from web. I’m launching my blog shortly – and this will be a great reference!

  28. says

    What a great post! As a new blogger myself, i was not sure how to get started and was intimidated by the other very popular blogs discussing the same topics i want to discuss. Your last tip resonated the most with me. Being true to myself and cultivating my own voice will take me far. i am inspired by your blog and always find it entertaining and informative.

  29. says

    That was really gold mine article. SEO have been a part of the online media community and utilizing one would mean a great margin for blog/site efficiency. Learn from others mistakes and develop a strategy to combat and avoid any of that. Must share post.

  30. says

    This is a great post that all bloggers need to read as well as an example of the type of posts needed in this niche of ours…I gave you a digg and subscribed.
    Keep it up
     

  31. says

    Hey Danny, it’s good to be here on your blog. I’m already liking this blog already.

    Speaking this mistakes, you really nailed it trust me!

    A lot of bloggers, especially newbie bloggers tend to make this blogging mistakes….and seeing that you highlighted well really lifted my spirit.

    I would be compiling the 30 blogging mistakes I see bloggers make and how to avoid it. I’ve been it now it’s been 2 months but when I’m done writing I’d let u know.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise with us bro. Its much appreciated!

    Sam

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