When you’re just starting, one big mistake probably won’t take down your entire blog, but it can slow down your growth. My blogging for beginners series is all about helping newbies discover the secrets to making money online with a blog. This post will shed some light on the common blogging mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
It’s important to find plenty of tips to help move you along in your blogging journey. Equally important, is understanding the mistakes you could be making and avoiding them. Here’s a look at 21 of the most common blogging mistakes beginners often make.
Common Blogging Mistakes: The Basics
#1 – No Target Audience
As a beginner, I am not going to tell you that you need to have your target audience so well defined that you know exactly who you’re after. That’s quite a bit of pressure for a beginner and, while a well-defined target audience is important, you can develop your specific definition over time.
When you first start out, however, you do need to know who your target audience is. If you don’t have any idea who your target audience is, how will you ever solve their issues and answer their questions?
Maybe you want to start a blog about your favorite hobby, gardening. There are several types of gardening with some more specialized than others. As a beginning blogger, you want to know at least which sub-niche within gardening you want to target and what that audience looks like.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Take the time to narrow your niche down to the sub-niche you want to target. Then, put yourself in the shoes of a reader/customer within that sub-niche. This will give you an idea of who your target audience is and make you a better blogger.
#2 – No Consistency with Writing
Blogging requires consistency. Whether you have time to create one great blog post a week or one great blog post a day, you have to be consistent. Since blogging takes time to build up, the more often you post, the better, as long as your posts contain quality information.
According to Neil Patel, “The more you blog, the more traffic you get, and the more customers you acquire. It’s pretty simple. Producing more content means you’ll be delivering more value. The more value you give away, the more leads and customers you’ll attract.”
Neil says he blogs daily because he knows it means more inbound traffic for his business. While this may seem like more than you can handle right now, consistency is key. Find time every single week to write blog posts and be consistent.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Look at your schedule and find a few pockets of time to work on writing for your blog. Block out times of the week that work best for you and make sure you’re consistently posting new content to your blog at least once a week, ideally multiple times per week.
#3 – Caring Too Much About Word Count
New bloggers make this common blogging mistake all the time. They read in a forum or on someone else’s blog all about how many words are needed for a high-quality post. Then, they worry about writing and hitting a specific number of words.
Word count does matter, but it’s far less important compared to creating a great blog post filled with good information. When you create a blog post, don’t worry so much about how many words you write or hitting a specific mark. Instead, cover the topic fully, answer all the questions you are posing, and give your audience great information.
#4 – Not Caring About Word Count Enough
While you can certainly care about word count too much, you can make the common blogging mistake of not caring about it enough. While you shouldn’t let a specific number of words be your measure for quality, you should always have a minimum.
Most good blog posts will be at least 1,000 words. Does this mean you should never publish a 500-word blog post? No. It means most of your blog posts should be longer than 1,000 words.
Caring about word count is important and you should have an idea of your goal with every post. If you fall a little bit short, that’s fine, but make sure you’ve fully covered the topic before you call it a day with your writing.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Create a minimum word count for all your blog posts. Maybe your minimum is 500 words. Personally, I don’t like to publish blog posts under 1,000 words and prefer to top the 2,000-word mark with most of my posts.
#5 – Making Things Too Difficult
Sometimes, beginning bloggers will make the very common blogging mistake of making things too difficult. They will spend so much time working on the design or working on every single post to make it perfect.
Perfection is the enemy of most bloggers and the successful don’t worry so much about perfection. When you make things too difficult, it’s actually a form of procrastination. This goes for perfectionism, as well.
Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
This is true with blogging and you want to keep things simple. From the design to the actual writing, keep it simple.
#6 – Publishing just to Publish
While consistency with blogging matters and some do publish daily, you don’t want to fall victim of publishing just to publish. When you hit the publish button, you want to make sure what you’re putting out on your blog will benefit those reading your blog.
If you’re just publishing blog content to publish, you’ll struggle to grow. It’s more likely you’ll actually annoy people instead of helping them.
According to Henneke in a post on CopyBlogger.com, “When you publish blog posts without adding any value to conversations, you end up wasting space. You waste precious pixels.”
Make sure you always publish quality information giving your readers what they are searching for.
#7 – Writing Like You’re in College
Writing for a college class is much different than writing for your blog. You learned quite a bit about writing in college and maybe also in high school. When it comes to blogging, forget most of what you learned.
Nobody really wants to read a college research paper online. If they wanted to, they would look up the many research articles and studies out there, which are incredibly boring to read.
Put your personality into your blog posts and make sure you write conversationally. Write like you’re talking to a friend and you’ll gain more attention than treating your blog like a place to publish your college research papers.
#8 – Using Large, Bulky Paragraphs
Another common blogging mistake many make is the way they format their content. Large, bulky paragraphs may have been fine on printed pages in college, but they are not fine on a computer screen.
You have to write for an online audience and make your content very easy to read. It needs to be skimmable and shouldn’t look hard to ready.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Make it a rule to never create paragraphs with more than 3 sentences. You can take this a step further and keep all your paragraphs at three lines or less on a computer screen. In addition, use plenty of headers, sub-headers, and bullet lists to split up your content.
#9 – Copying Other Bloggers
Too often, new bloggers will just rewrite content from another blog and claim it as their own. While you should certainly use sources and you should cite them or even quote them, you don’t want just to rewrite other people’s content.
Creating unique content is vital to the success of your blog. It’s important to make sure to give credit where credit is due and don’t steal content from others.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Use a minimum of three good sources for every blog post and cite them. With multiple sources, you will be less likely to copy someone’s work or ideas accidentally. You must also make sure the entire post, minus any direct quotes, is written in your own words.
#10 – No Call-To-Action
As a new blogger, you have a ton of things to learn. You may forget something here and there, and the call-to-action is one of those common blogging mistakes many beginners make.
You need strong CTA phrases to tell your audience what to do. Whether you want them to subscribe to a newsletter, buy a product or simply follow you on social media (Follow me over on Instagram @lifeinspiredbyben and @onequicktip).
Without a good CTA, you won’t be getting nearly as much out of your blog as you’d hoped. Use call-to-action phrases within your content, at the end of your content, and anywhere else that makes sense.
Common Blogging Mistakes: With Social Media
#11 – Not Using Social Media At All
As a blogger, you need to use social media. It’s like pouring gasoline on the tiny spark that is your new blog post. Even just sharing a post on your channels could be enough to give you some traffic.
New bloggers get so overwhelmed with the writing; they might just forget to use social media. This is a huge mistake and one you should certainly avoid.
#12 – Trying to Use Every Social Media Site Under the Sun
While you certainly want to use social media, you don’t want to make this common blogging mistake. Many new bloggers try to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and a dozen other social channels. Just because you have a profile doesn’t mean you should be using it to promote your blog.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Focus on one or two social channels until you’ve mastered them. Sure, you can still share your blog posts on a few others, but only focus on growing one or two channels at a time.
#13 – Trying to Game the System
I see it on Instagram all the time and I covered this in the first blog post in the Blogging for Beginners series called Using Instagram for Your Blog. Many new bloggers want to grow overnight and they buy into systems or tools that cause more harm than good.
When someone promises you’ll gain a huge following in less than a week, they are selling you snake oil. The numbers matter with social media, but the engagement matters more. I’d rather have 100 active, engaging followers on social media than 10,000 followers that rarely or never engage with my posts.
It’s best to avoid anything that seems even a slight bit sketchy. At first, you should be the one doing all the work for your social channels. This will give you a better understanding of what it takes and what works. Then, when you decide to outsource to a virtual assistant, you’ll know what needs to be done and how long it should take.
#14 – Not Resizing Pictures
Did you know, every social media channel requires a different size picture for your posts? If you try to share the same size picture from Twitter on Instagram, it won’t fit properly.
While you may be able to post the same picture to multiple social networks, it looks far better when you resize the images to fit each network. This can easily be done with a tool, such as Canva or just about any other good image editor/creator.
#15 – Scared of Hashtags
Hashtags shouldn’t be scary and you shouldn’t limit yourself too much on the usage of hashtags. These little guys make it easy for others to find your content and they give you a much larger reach on some of the social channels.
If you’re using Twitter or Instagram, you need to use hashtags generously. These two social channels make it very easy for users to search based on the hashtags you use. Make sure you’re taking advantage of this.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Use hashtags in every post or nearly every post. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, but it’s best to focus on about 10 to 15. Twitter only caps your hashtags by the 280 character limit. Use 1 to 5 per post with Twitter and you’ll be good.
Common Blogging Mistakes: Complete Blog Killers
#16 – No Commitment
I remember way back when, well a decade or so ago, when I was using article marketing on Ezine Articles and other sites. My brother was interested and I told him, you have to write like a mad man or it won’t work. He created 2 articles and made no money as he gave up.
Me, I went on to put myself through 16 months of a trade school on the income I made from writing thousands of articles specifically for article marketing.
Of course, those same tactics don’t work today, but the point is, I was committed to the process and my brother wasn’t. If you think you’ll write a few blog posts and all the sudden become a successful blogger, keep your day job.
However, if you make a commitment to the process and you commit to blogging once a week, twice a week, or even daily for a year, you’ll see some results, even if you don’t get everything right.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Set a goal for the next year and make a commitment to your blog. When you fail at your goal, start again and keep fighting. Don’t stop until you see success with your blog and remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
#17 – Quantity Over Quality
I know, I have talked about consistency and posting daily a few times in this post. However, I have also made it clear, each post has to be high-quality. A common blogging mistake that can kill your blog completely is posting low-quality content.
Dag is completely correct. I happen to be a professional writer with more than a decade of experience, so this happens much faster for me than it will likely happen for you.
Focus on quality first and quantity second. Make sure every post provides great information for your audience, backed up by solid research. Even if you only post once a week, if it’s quality, you’ll still have 52 quality blog posts after just one year of work!
#18 – Too Much Promotion
Blog posts are not meant to be promotional. Unless you’re a company introducing a new product or service, your blog shouldn’t be about selling readers on what you have to offer. Instead, it should be about providing useful information for your audience.
Make sure you’re not using your blog as a place to write sales letters. Find out what your target audience needs and give it to them. Whether they need tips on how to create the perfect flower bed or they need an answer to a burning question, give it to them.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Give away your knowledge regularly on your blog. While you should monetize some of the best knowledge you have, you also want to give away plenty of free knowledge on your blog without selling.
#19 – Being a Ghost
The worst feeling in the world is being ghosted by someone you thought you had a connection with. Obviously, when you meet someone in person and they ghost you, it’s far worse than when it happens online and you didn’t know the person. However, as a blogger, you want to avoid being a ghost.
When someone comments on your blog, respond. If you don’t respond or you leave a generic response, you’ll look like you don’t care. Don’t ghost your readers. Instead, engage with them in the comments section and on social media.
#20 – Forgetting the Images
Images are so necessary for the visual impact of your blog and making your content easier to read. Pictures are worth 1,000 words and you should be using at least 2 for every 1,000 words written, if not more.
You can get free to use images from a number of websites or you can buy the license to use pictures from a company, such as Deposit Photos.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Use images in every blog post. I prefer to use a featured image, along with a minimum of 3 additional images, often more. You can also use the ALT tag of your images to add in keywords you are targeting for better SEO.
#21 – Your Blog is Cluttered with Ads
Yes, we all know you want to make money from your blog, but cluttering it up with ads isn’t the way to go about it. Did you know, the average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day in today’s world, according to Forbes?
This number used to be much less and we have started to become immune to advertisements online. Most marketers are switching to inbound marketing strategies, which don’t include advertising with banner ads because of how ineffective these ads have become.
For your blog, cluttering it up with ads just makes it look spammy and shady. You don’t want to do this. If you must use ads, keep it to a minimum and try to work them into the design as best as you can.
Common Blogging Mistakes: Bonus Mistakes to Avoid!
#22 – No Promotion At All
You are the writer, designer, and marketer of your blog when you first start out. Maybe you paid someone to do the design, but you’ll likely be in charge of the marketing. You cannot just write and expect people to show up.
Figure out how you want to market your blog and get to it. There should be a plan with every post, whether it’s content syndication, social media, or another marketing method. Get the word out and let others know you’ve posted something worthwhile.
#23 – Expecting Your Posts to Go Viral
Very few posts go viral and you cannot worry about hitting it big with a viral blog post. My wife and I love the show Shark Tank. Whenever someone pitches their business and the sharks find out they got their sales from a viral spike, they become a bit hesitant to invest.
The reason for this is simple. Viral content is not something you can just create. It requires others to find it amazing and share it like crazy. Then, you get a huge spike in traffic, but that spike ends and you’re left with normal marketing.
Very few people, if any, can duplicate viral content over and over again, so stop trying or expecting it. Instead, create more great content and you’ll build up a community of incredible readers hanging on your every word.
#24 – You Only Use Spelling/Grammar Check for Editing
Many new bloggers only use a simple spelling/grammar check from a program, such as Microsoft Word. This is good, but only the beginning of the editing process. You need more than just a simple check to catch the mistakes.
It’s not necessary to make your content perfect, but the wrong typo can change the entire meaning of a sentence or paragraph. Make sure you take the time to edit your content before publishing properly.
Blogging for Beginners Action Step: Use my three phase editing process to ensure you catch more mistakes. I start with the Spelling/Grammar check from Microsoft Word. Then, I move on to Grammarly, which I use the premium version, but the free version is great, too. Finally, I read over my content once before publishing.
You won’t catch every mistake in the world, but you’ll get more of them with this process than simply using a spelling/grammar check.
#25 – Not Using Any SEO At All
I will never advocate for writing specifically for SEO or for Google. However, you should have keyword phrases you are targeting and you should be working them into your content naturally. This is one of the most common blogging mistakes I see and it can kill your chances for good organic traffic from the search engines.
Use keyword phrases, but use them naturally. I like to target three to five keywords per post, sometimes more. Then, I use variations of these phrases when they make sense in the content. It has to read naturally, or it’s not worth using the keyword phrase.
If you get the SEO part of your content right and you’re patient, you’ll start to see traffic from the search engines.
Now you have a total of 25 common blogging mistakes you should be avoiding. If you’re making any of these mistakes, make sure you stop or it could be causing you issues you’re not even aware of with your blog.
Make sure you subscribe to my blog above in the sidebar so that you can read the next installment of Blogging for Beginners coming soon!!