As I get older and “allegedly” wiser I often find myself looking backwards in order to find my way forward. I like to reflect on the things that I have done that have been both successful and not so successful. There are valuable lessons to be learned if you are self aware enough to find them.
I find these periods of reflection to have a lot of value to me as they remind me to stay on plan. I try really hard not to be a naked blogger but it’s easy to wander off track. A side benefit is that reflection can often produce some very good posting material.
If you’ve been blogging for more than 90 days consistently then I would challenge you to do the same. I am listing the Top 12 mistakes I made when I started out. I hope that you didn’t make the same mistakes but I’d like to hear from you in the comments if you did.
My Top 12 Blogging Mistakes
Theme – When I first started out I couldn’t find a theme that I liked. I knew nothing about html or CSS sheets so I needed a template that looked good right out of the box. I searched endlessly and probably had about 20 different themes in my first 30 days. When I did find a theme I liked, I became engrossed in tweaking it to the point that wasn’t writing any content.
Branding – Starting out I didn’t realize how many blogs existed on the internet and nor did I realize how many of them looked almost exactly alike. If you are using a popular theme then you don’t stand a chance of building a recognizable brand without heavy modification. Your brand needs to be recognizable, if you want a good example then John Cow’s blog is a great one. If you’ve been there once, you remember it.
Pictures – Images are an incredibly powerful addition to your blog posts. They can turn mediocre content into a much more powerful piece. It’s amazing what the simple addition of a few well placed pictures can do for the readability of your posts. Pay attention to the blogs you read regularly, compare posts with and without pictures, tell me which read better.
Writing Style – My early posts were very “wordy” and written more like a dissertation. Writing for a blog is much different than writing say, a college paper. You need to be careful not to write a dissertation but rather write like you talk. It’s called conversational blogging, without it you might bore your readers to death. Pretty sure that’s a bad thing.
Recycled Posts – New bloggers often struggle to find their own voice. It is pretty easy to get post ideas from other blogs and make them your own, everyone does it, but if you’re going to do it then “own” them. Put your own spin or point of view into the post so that yours adds value to any others out there that might be on the same topic.
Posting Frequency – When I first started blogging I was under the impression that I had to post every day. I would feverishly produce some very mediocre content all in the name of posting frequency. If you take one thing from my mistakes then take this, you are far better off to produce 3 quality posts a week as opposed to 7 mediocre ones.
Permalinks – What’s a permalink? I had no idea when I first started. WordPress was a mystery to me but fortunately I learned quickly. If you need a permalink primer or want to see an example of one of my early posts on SEO then check out “WordPress SEO for Complete Idiots Like Me” on my blog. Needless to say you want to get your permalink structure right EARLY, before you have 200 pages of content on your blog.
SEO PlugIn – Make sure you install a quality SEO plugin right from the start and USE it. It will help you rank in the SERPS and bring traffic to your site. Ranking well may not seem that important to you in the beginning but I assure you that it is. Search engine traffic brings quality, targeted visitors and you definitely want as much of it as you can.
Title Tags – Title tags can easily be changed via your SEO plugin but few new bloggers realize how important this is. If you allow every page to have the same title tag then you are missing out on a variety of relevant keyword possibilities. Use a unique title for every page and make sure your keywords are in it.
Time Commitment – I underestimated the amount of time it would take to write and maintain a blog. I honestly thought it would be easy and that I could generate a quality blog post in less than an hour. Holy Mackerel was that the mother of all miscalculations. I hope I am not alone but it takes me far longer than an hour to write most of my posts.
Networking – In the beginning I was so swamped with information that one thing I neglected was networking. On the surface networking might not seem important in the blogging world but in reality it is critical and can dramatically ramp up your progress.
The simplest form of networking is to simply visit other blogs and comment on their content. This will start the foundation of a relationship that can pay off for both of you down the road. Networking always needs to be an equal relationship where you both give and take from the relationship. I know I would do anything to help my regular readers, simply because I want them to keep coming back.
Social Media – I was fortunate to discover Social Media early but I must admit it was by accident. One of my very early posts was a WordPress Plugin Resource list. This was the 4th post I had ever written and it was stumbled. Wow….2k visitors in 2 hours and I was hooked. My personal favorite is StumbleUpon, simply because it is so easy to use and can bring hordes of visitors in minutes.
There you have it, my most embarassing mistakes that I made when I started out blogging and occasionally still do today. I love these reflection posts as they remind me to focus on the basics and stick to my plan.
A successful blog is made up of hundreds of small components, cogs in the machine if you will. The time I spend checking up on myself keeps all of the cogs in the machine turning in the right direction, which keeps me moving forward.
It works for me, how about you? Do you revisit or run from your mistakes? What was the single biggest mistake you made during your first 90 days? Cheer me up and let me know I am not alone.
If you enjoyed reading this post then make sure to check out my blog at The Blog Entrepreneur. I will be posting here every Friday so impress the boss and check out my posts.