Maintaining a blog is a great way to promote your business, express yourself or establish yourself as an expert in a field. However, blogging seems daunting since it requires knowledge and skills in diverse areas such as writing, technology and marketing. Don’t worry – over time, you will find what works for you and improve your blogging skills. To help you start your blog on the right track, I’ve put together a list of seven crucial mistakes that new bloggers make.
1. Creating a Bad User Experience
Readers will exit your blog and never return if their experience is too unpleasant. An example of such a blunder is auto-playing music or video. Users frequently browse the web at public places such as work, school or a cafe. In these settings, audio that plays unexpectedly when a page loads is disruptive and annoying. Many readers will instantly mute their computers and avoid visiting your blog in the future.
Another example of creating a bad user experience is using colors and fonts that make the blog difficult to read. I recommend choosing simple fonts for long blocks of text; do not use fancy fonts such as script or comic book typefaces. You can’t go wrong with black text on a white background for readability. Finally, make sure the text size is large enough to read without straining your eyes.
How does your blog look on a smartphone? Two out of three Americans now own smartphones, and many people use their phones to read during idle times such as riding the bus. To give your readers a good mobile experience, ensure that all of the text fits the screen and doesn’t require pinching and zooming. Your blog should load quickly since users frequently browse the web on slower cellular networks.
2. Not Building Your Brand
The second beginner’s mistake you can make is not building your brand. Readers should be able to quickly understand what your blog is about. Examples of clear blog themes include personal development, food or your business. Minimize the number of off-topic posts. When readers understand what to expect from your writing, they will know whether they will like future posts and are more likely to subscribe to your blog.
On a related note, I recommend that your blog has its own carefully chosen domain name. A domain such as “paulshealthymeals.com” exhibits stronger branding than the domain “paulstuff.blogspot.com.” In addition, having your own domain name simply looks more professional. Choose a blog domain and name that can evolve with you. If you call your blog “Paul’s Steak Recipes” but later want to cover seafood, you may have trouble pivoting.
3. Bad or Inappropriate Writing
Your blog will never get read if the writing is bad. Simple English errors undermine your credibility, so make sure to check the grammar and spelling of each post. This should go without saying, but don’t plagiarize content from other sites. Besides violating copyright law, posting duplicate content will hurt your blog’s ranking on search engine results pages.
Know your target audience, and create content that is tailored to them. Keep in mind that readers on the web have short attention spans. Walls of text are daunting to read, so be sure to break your content up into short, coherent paragraphs. I suggest organizing your posts with easily-skimmed subheadings and bullet lists. Above all, write content that is interesting and valuable so that users keep coming back for more.
4. Not Marketing Your Blog
It is not enough to write content and hope the readers will come. The web is teeming with blogs, and you need to market yours so that your audience will find it among the masses. However, you do not need to spend a fortune buying ads. Using social media and putting effort into search engine optimization are two free or inexpensive ways to market your blog. These methods will be discussed in more detail below.
One way to keep readers coming back to your blog is to start an email list. Add an email subscription box to your blog’s sidebar so that users can easily subscribe to your posts. At the bottom of every blog post, include a call to action encouraging readers to sign up for email updates. Whenever you publish a post, send an email to these subscribers to let them know of the new material.
5. Not Taking Advantage of Social Media
According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Internet users use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is not hard to imagine that leveraging social media can help build your blog’s audience.
To promote your blog on social media, first choose one or two social networks on which you will focus. Think of your blog’s target audience and identify the social networking site they are most likely to use. For example, a recipe blog that displays tantalizing images of food may attract users of a photo sharing site such as Pinterest. Create a profile on that social site using the same or a similar name as your blog to maintain consistent branding. Whenever you publish a blog post, share it on your target social media site.
Let your readers promote your posts for you. Make your content easy to share by putting social media sharing buttons, such as Facebook’s “Like” or Twitter’s “Tweet” buttons, on your blog. You can use one of the many WordPress plugins that automatically add social media buttons to the top or bottom of every blog post.
6. Neglecting SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your blog so that users searching on Google can find your posts. SEO is an immense and complicated subject, but bloggers should at least understand some basics. First, think of keywords that potential readers might type into a search engine. Sprinkle the text with these keywords, and use your main keyword in the title of the post. Each post should have a keyword-rich URL similar to “http://www.paulshealthymeals.com/nutritious-bean-soup” instead of “http://www.paulshealthymeals.com/?=postid345.” As I mentioned above, your blog should have its own domain name. I suggest identifying a couple of main keywords for your blog and using those in the domain.
Earlier, I suggested that you provide a good experience for mobile users as well as desktop readers. In fact, catering to the mobile audience is also good SEO. Google now takes into account a website’s “mobile friendliness” when assigning search rankings. On a smartphone, websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will not rank as high as mobile-friendly sites.
7. Quitting Too Soon
Many once-hopeful bloggers simply give up too early. Blogging isn’t a venture that hands out instant results. It takes time to grow an audience. You need to produce quality content and post consistently to keep readers coming back. Create appealing posts and proofread your work, but don’t get stuck trying to produce the perfect post. At some point, you will have to deliver your work to the public.
I suggest posting on your blog two times a week. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but the schedule is frequent enough to allow you to build an archive of posts without burning your audience out. You may churn out mediocre fluff when attempting to blog every day, but posting twice a week allows you enough time to focus on noteworthy material.
Keep going. Keep producing remarkable content and honing your writing skill. Cultivate your audience. Continue to learn about SEO and marketing. By avoiding the seven mistakes new bloggers make, you are off to a great start in your blogging career.