The Most Common Blogging Mistakes: 12 Month Blogging Recap
My blog recently celebrated its first birthday so I’ve been reflecting on my progress. This post is about the biggest blogging mistakes I’ve made in my first 12 months as a travel blogger. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re also a blogger or an aspiring blogger. Then pay close attention because these are common blogging mistakes that new bloggers make. They have cost me money, time, sleep, and unnecessary stress. In no particular order, here are the worst blogging mistakes to avoid, based on my experiences over the past year.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links
Blogging Mistake #1: Not having any clue about my target audience
In the beginning, this blog was all about me and my adventures. I went here, ate this, saw that, and it was so much fun! I didn’t give any thought to the types of readers I wanted to attract. In January 2018, I got a total of 746 page views. Yup, no one was interested in reading my long stories about traveling solo and discovering myself.
Honestly, figuring out my target audience has been one of the hardest parts of blogging. Who would be interested in what I have to say? Female travelers? Black travelers? Travel bloggers? All of them? Naturally, I wrote about female solo travel and Spain because that’s what I knew the most about. But my posts didn’t have any purpose or strategy. I was just writing for the sake of publishing new blog posts.
Last month, I attended Travel Con in Austin, Texas, where I got to hear successful bloggers speak. A common theme in their speeches was the importance of their relationship with their audience. One of my greatest inspirations, Oneika the Traveller, said you must know your core audience – what delights them, makes them think, makes them laugh, makes them listen, makes them act, and makes them react.
I’ve taken some time to reflect and research who I want to serve: female travelers of color and aspiring female travel bloggers. Gaining clarity has made everything from posts to opt-ins much easier.
Blogging Mistake #2: Buying every course under the sun
I’ve taken more than 20 blogging courses, covering everything from affiliate marketing to SEO to email list building. You name it, I’ve probably taken it. Learning is crucial for any blogger, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. I became a course addict because I was looking for that magic formula that would transform my blog. It doesn’t exist. Paul Scrivens, the creator of the Billionaire Blog Club, sent me an interesting article about learning. The idea is that we assume learning is always good, but it can actually be harmful. “Junk learning‘ can lead to changes in the brain tantamount to brain damage!
Blogging Mistake #3: Not setting a budget
I spent thousands of dollars on courses, freelancers, logos, blog audits, Pinterest schedulers, consultants, and other products/services. Eager to get to the next level fast, I basically gave myself a blank check. As I look back, I’ve realized that so many of those purchases were unnecessary. I didn’t need to hire a professional graphic designer to make my longer. I didn’t need to pay a programmer $300 to fix my website. I didn’t need half the courses I bought.
Now, I’ve put a cap on buying and focused more on using what I already have, which is a lot. Before I make any purchase, I thoroughly evaluate whether I need the product, what free alternatives there are, and what the ROI is. A business is supposed to put money in your wallet, not take from it.
Blogging Mistake #4: Using Bluehost for web hosting
Even thinking about Bluehost makes me so mad. My one year with this web hosting service was marked by problems and frustration. The biggest issues were unhelpful customer service and slow loading times. I could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll refer you to my Bluehost review to see why it’s such a terrible web host.
I switched to Siteground and couldn’t be happier. I love that the customer service actually wants to help you. I can get connected with a rep instantly when I have a question or problem, and they walk me through a solution. I love Siteground so much I would promote it for free, but I’m not that rich (yet)
Blogging Mistake #5: Using AWeber to manage my email list
In a nutshell, I now use Convertkit to manage my subscribers because AWeber wasn’t user-friendly. The interface looks like the first version of AOL. The biggest problem, though, was that my confirmation emails always ended up in subscribers’ spam folders. I haven’t had that problem with Convertkit. The best thing about Convertkit is that it’s specifically designed for bloggers. The platform seamlessly integrates with WordPress, which makes it ridiculously easy to insert opt-in forms.
Blogging Mistake #6: Ignoring SEO
I think Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the hardest topic in blogging. I learned about it in the very first blogging course I ever took, The Business of Travel Blogging. Because it seemed so complex, I pushed it to the back burner and went for the sexier tasks, like growing my Instagram. Such a bad idea. SEO is crucial because organic traffic from Google is the best traffic. Pinterest is amazing, but I think it should be a short-term strategy. With Pinterest, you constantly have to make pins, schedule pins, join group boards, and a laundry list of other things. With SEO, you do the grunt work up front and reap the rewards in the long term. Optimize your posts for unique keywords, and Google will send you traffic til kingdom come.
Last month, I started using SEMRush, which is by far the best SEO tool I’ve used so far. I’ve also used Ubersuggest, KWFinder, Google Adwords, and don’t come close to SEMRush. Yes, SEMRush is expensive, but you can do a 7-day free trial, learn what you need to know and cancel the subscription.
Blogging Mistake #7: Not joining any blogging communities
Blogging can be a lonely journey. People outside the blogging world don’t get so you can’t complain to them about how your Pinterest traffic just tanked. Billionaire Blog Club community is the best I’ve found so far. I’ve learned so much from the members and can always count on them for support. The great thing about this group is that it’s not another facebook group where people post share threads. This group, hosted on a platform called Slack, is far more sophisticated than Facebook groups. You can message individual members, participate in challenges, earn points by helping other members, and so much more.
Blogging Mistake #8: Writing whenever I felt like it
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Treat your blog like a business or it will never take off. Part of that means being consistent with writing. I made the mistake of treating my blog as a hobby rather than a job. Because of that, I wrote blog posts whenever I had the motivation. Imagine if you showed up to an office job whenever you felt like it. How long would you last?
Nowadays, I use an editorial calendar to plan my posts. First, I write down all my ideas for future posts in an ideas bank. Then I decide on posts for the month based on how timely they are and how well they fit with previous content. It has helped me stay consistent, and my page views have climbed as a result.
You may also like: 4 Big Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging
Blogging Mistake #9: Not setting monthly goals
At the beginning of the month, write down a list of things you want to accomplish. It can look something like this:
- Grow traffic to 5,000 page views
- Add 100 subscribers to my email list
- Watch SEO training for beginners
Even if it’s just one thing, still write it down. I made the mistake of not having any specific goals in my first few months. With no goals, well, I was directionless. Also, keeping your goals in your head is a losing strategy. And I’m sure you’ve heard that you’re far more likely to achieve goals you write down.
Blogging Mistake #10: Spending all my time on Instagram
In the beginning, I was chasing after Instagram followers. I thought that in order to be a successful blogger, I had to be an Instagram influencer with at least 25k followers. What was I smoking? That is so far from the truth! You can actually succeed as a blogger without being on Instagram at all. You don’t need to spend your time on follow and comment threads. The ROI is so abysmal you’d be better off taking a nap. Remember one thing: likes don’t pay the bills!
Blogging Mistake #11: Constantly learning without implementing
At a certain point, you’ll have to put all the things you’ve learned into action. In my first couple of months of blogging, I would jump from course to course. What I should have done was implement the things I learned first. You’re not going to become a better blogger by learning nonstop. Actual experience is the best teacher. Case in point: I was struggling to grow my traffic and jumped from one Pinterest course to another. Then, I decided to implement Carly Campbell’s manual pinning strategy for 2 months. The strategy didn’t work for me, but in the process, I finally learned how Pinterest works. I finally understood the Pinterest algorithm, the role of keywords, the types of images to use, and so much more. That paved the way for the 1,500% increase in traffic I experienced between February 2018-May 2018.
Blogging Mistake #12: Neglecting my email list
This is a very common mistake for new bloggers, and one of the worst. Building a list seems intimidating or complicated so you put it off. I was afraid of intruding in people’s inboxes because I thought they would get annoyed and unsubscribe. You know what? If someone unsubscribes, they are doing you a favor! You only want people who are interested in what you have to say to be on your email list, anyway. So start building that list today! Even if you have no clue what to say. You’ll figure out how to communicate with your list based on their background and needs. Share some nuggets of wisdom, your latest project, a video tutorial, or even an announcement for a sale. If you’re looking for how to create your first email sequence, this post by Meera Kothand is a great resource.
Which of these blogging sins have you committed? Comment below.
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