There are some people that take to blogging and smash it out of the park straight away, getting lots of followers and views in a very short time… But like most of us, I wasn’t one of those people. When I started out writing on my blog, I actually began to lose traffic as time went on, and all because I was making a lot of the mistakes below…
I am still far from the blogging pro, but I’ve learned a massive amount in this time about what’s worked and what hasn’t that I wanted to share. So in this post I’m going to take you through the 10 biggest mistakes I made in my first year of blogging, and what I’ve learnt.
1 – Not putting my readers first
This is definitely the biggest problem I had, and probably the biggest problem for most blogs out there… Putting readers first. I’ve spoken about this elsewhere on my blog, but my first posts were more of a travel journal for myself rather than a travel guide for others. Added onto this, the posts weren’t really that well formatted or easy to read. This meant that people other than close friends and family soon got fed up with reading my posts.
What I’ve learnt is to always try and write content that is useful for other people. Unless you’re a celebrity or already have a following, people aren’t that interested in people just talking about themselves. This is especially the case when they’re stuck in an office on a rainy Monday, and you’re telling them about the amazing time you’re having in the sunshine. People subconsciously will be thinking, ‘what’s in it for me’, in reading your material, so always try and bear that in mind. What will make someone want to read what you’re writing?
2 – Not posting regularly enough
Whilst I was on the road I posted what I was up to as and when it happened, usually when I could with internet access. Which was fine. The problem was when I came back, this was just over 6 months into blogging, and I only posted a post every few weeks maybe, without any real schedule or plan of how frequently I wanted to post.
You need to stick at it! Posting regularly is the only way to build momentum for your blog, and it’s much better to post less often, but with regularity, than to post every day for a week but then not again for a month for example.
3 – Not posting in a quality format
As most of my original posts were from the road and posted from my phone they looked horrible! You’ll still be able to find a lot of them in the archives, and I’m planning to have a big sort through my old posts to bring them up to scratch. But they had different sized pictures, unclear fonts and layouts, and generally just looked very messy and not great.
Now I’ve found a format that I quite like to post in, with clear subheadings and ways of writing. A great way to find formats you’ll like to post in, is to go on other people’s blogs and see what you do and don’t like. There’s no better way, especially if you’re not that hot on design like myself, than seeing someone else successfully creating good formats for posts and then replicating that formula yourself.
4 – Not making posts scannable and easy to read
This is a big one, especially for someone like me who likes to write in a conversational style. Often I’ll write very long paragraphs without subheadings that aren’t scannable or easy to read, and often this puts people off actually reading them.
In today’s world of content everywhere, when no-one has time for anything, it’s important that you can clearly and quickly convey what you’re trying to say to your audience. Otherwise often they’ll just think ‘TLDR’ (too long didn’t read), and move on.
5 – Not making maximum use of initial momentum
When I first posted about my upcoming travels and shared it on Facebook, I got SO much traffic. I was thinking to myself, ‘this blogging lark is easy’. But gradually over time, mainly because of the reasons in the post and not knowing what I was doing, people became less and less interested in what I was writing in relation to my trip.
So my advice on this is to try and educate yourself slightly BEFORE you start blogging. I am an advocate of learning by doing however, so I don’t want to advise over researching and no action. But if I’d known what I do now about blogging, I would have no doubt been able to maximise that initial excitement more and gained more traffic in the long run.
6 – Not doing research on blogging before blogging
Following on from the above. I just jumped into blogging knowing nothing other than how to start a basic WordPress blog. I signed up, picked a basic theme, and off I went. I didn’t do ANY research on what kind of content to produce, titles, post formats, images, etc etc. I just wrote about my travels, stuck a few pictures in there and got on with it.
My advice on this side is to do some research on blogging, and it will set you up for success. The best way is to be learning whilst your posting. So for example there is a great podcast I listen to by Darren Rowse called the ‘Pro Blogger Podcast’ which starts off with a feature ’31 days to build a better blog’. He basically takes you through EVERYTHING you’d need when starting a blog, and it will really set you up to do well in the future, it’s great for new and experienced bloggers alike.
7 – Not engaging with other people
I’m very ashamed to admit that I didn’t go on anyone else’s blog at all in my first month of blogging. In my defence, I was travelling, but also wasn’t really taking blogging as seriously as I should have (which I’ll talk about below) so just stuck to writing my own thing and having a ‘if you build it, they will come’ mindset.
Especially when you start out, engaging with other bloggers is so important. I didn’t realise until I started engaging more with other people that that’s what blogging should be about. It should be about community and people, not writing about yourself and hoping someone will listen. It’s a way of helping, educating and making a difference. Not to mention when you go on other people’s blogs you can learn so much about how you want to run your own blog.
8 – Not having a list of post ideas in advance
This has really step-changed my blogging and made a massive difference in how frequently I post. When I started I’d just post things as they happened, or I’d sit down and think to myself, ‘hmm, what should I write about today’. This meant that often I’d spend far too much time thinking of ideas, thus dragging out writing and posting. It resulted in blogging seeming like much more of a pain and meant that I posted less as a result.
Now however, I have a document with probably over 50 ideas of future posts I want to write. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas of things to write on my blog and noting them down, and it’s made such a difference and saved me so much time. Not to mention, I’ve found a big benefit in having different options, because depending on my mood that day I’ll feel like writing about different things. It’s like having a menu in a restaurant that you can scan through and see what you feel like picking that day. A big benefit is also being able to assess ideas for posts in hindsight, you may think something would be great at the time, but then realise a few days later it’s actually a terrible idea, and you can only get this hindsight with planning.
9 – Not taking it seriously
You can probably guess by the content in this post, that I am now taking blogging a lot more seriously these days than when I started. If you have a mindset that blogging isn’t a priority and just ‘do it on the side’, then that will show through in your blog and you won’t get results.
The best approach is to try to always learn and improve. This might be because I’m a natural perfectionist, but I’m always now looking to do things better and look for ways to improve what I’m writing and the success of my blog. I listen to podcasts, read articles and follow influencers in the blogging and digital marketing space, as well as getting on other people’s travel blogs to engage and learn from others. We’re so lucky now that the internet just has a wealth of incredible information and ways to receive it, so get out there and take it all in.
10 – Taking a lack of immediate results personally
Blogging is a very personal thing for a lot of people, or in my opinion anyway, I think it should be. Whenever you share something personal with strangers it naturally means putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable to failure. The image above is taken from when I started my blog, and you can clearly see from my first posts in the first month of May last year, I started to see my traffic drop and drop as my travels went on significantly, even though I was still posting. This did affect me and put me off blogging slightly, because I was putting all this time and effort into writing posts (although yes making the mistakes above to different extents), and people didn’t seem to be that bothered.
What I’ve now learnt is to not take this personally. Most of the time if people aren’t reading your blog, either you’re just starting out so it’s completely normal, or there are simple mistakes your making and changes you can make that will turn things around. Overall though, it takes time to get people reading your blog and a lot of hard work, so don’t expect immediate results, and especially don’t be put off if your blog doesn’t go viral within a few months.
I hope you’ve found these points useful and can learn from the mistakes I’ve made in my time blogging. There’s no better way to learn than by making mistakes and fixing them. I’m by no means perfect, and am still trying to find ways to improve and not repeat previous blogging mistakes.
Unfortunately these days, and especially with blogging, it’s so easy to see successful blogs and expect quick results when we see other people being successful. But we don’t see all the mistakes, first drafts, failed posts, and time and effort, that have gone in over often years to make successful blogs. Most of all, if you enjoy it and are passionate about what you write about, that will shine through on your blog and you’ll care enough to want to make something of it even when it gets tough.
Thanks for taking an interest in my blog, it’s a pleasure to have you! If you’ve enjoyed my blog then you can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, or you can listen to my podcast all about blogging.