Amateur blogging is like amateur photography. The marks of an ‘amateur’ could really be avoided if you just learn and/or make a habit of certain techniques. And then you think, “I wish I’d done this from the beginning!”
If you’re already a ‘pro’ blogger, check if you’ve neglected one of these. Or let me know in the comments which of these you still see in other blogs and wish you didn’t!
Mistakes on blogging as a whole
- Thinking of blogging as an ‘extra’ rather than an essential part of business. This mindset is already defeatist. It means you wouldn’t be giving your blog the attention it deserves. It depends on your niche, of course, but even the toughest categories benefit from a blog. Content is king, and you widen your net of opportunity when you offer valuable content to your potential clients/customers.
- Spotlighting the blog instead of the business. On the reverse of the above, there’s having a blog instead of a functioning, valuable website. Forgetting the business and getting obsessed with the blog is just as big a mistake. Make sure your site visitors are magnetized about what you do or offer, not gobsmacked with all your blog posts.
- Quitting too soon. Blogging is rewarding if you stick to it. You need to stick to it, refine it, see it through. Overnight successes are rare for us small fish.
- Blogging for money. Trying hard in a money-niche. If you have no genuine passion, it shows. You become sloppy. Your vision is narrow and your focus stilted. While there are countless books and guides about how to blog for money, money is a bonus of blogging, not the goal.
- Blogging for the sake of blogging, without any real purpose or goal. Why did you start this blog? What will each blog post revolve around and aim for? Do you have business goals for this blog or this post? That helps with everything– from your keyword research, headline and blog format/template, to your marketing and promotion.
Mistakes on blog design
- NOT making your blog look like a big deal. Some free templates do look professional, but upgrade soon for all the perks that would make blog visitors proud to share your blog to their friends.
- NOT checking your blog’s speed. A site’s slow loading time risks 7% loss in conversion. Use Pingdom and Web Page Test to check your page speed.
- NOT integrating with your main site. If you have separate hosts or platforms for your blog and your main site, think of integration or at least unify the design, so that visitors aren’t confused. “Where did I go?”
- NOT branding your blog with an avatar, fonts and color scheme. Speaking of unifying the blog design, decide on fonts and colors, and make sure you have an avatar or logo so readers can picture you in their minds. Gorgeous and effective blog design helps with your branding recognition and awareness.
- Poor formatting, poor navigation, clutter. Organize and simplify. Find the happy medium between minimalist and style, fewer buttons but smart navigation. Everything you want to show off should be there, but your reader shouldn’t get dizzy deciding where to look.
Forgetting the importance of a landing page or a nav bar where first-time visitors can find out who you are, what your blog offers, why you can be trusted, and how to contact you. Show them what you’ve got. Have you been featured or published somewhere? What’s your expertise? In a nutshell, introduce and sell yourself.
Mistakes on blog writing and posting
- Writing for yourself. Even if it’s your personal blog, write for your readers. You’re publishing this online, so it’s no longer for you, is it? You can have your own private journal elsewhere. Talk to them, ask them questions, invite them to share with you!
- Not specializing. You need a focus, a niche, something your readers will identify with you. I know bloggers who have a gardening blog AND a cooking blog. Each blog gains its own set of followers. Cross-promotion happens, you can bet, and no reader who’s squeamish about fertilizer but fanatical about oysters is turned off.
- Not voicing your own opinions, not personalizing. A blog may be for business, but they are still personal. Think of it as the lounge where you rub elbows with your fellow bloggers, the influencers, and your clients and customers. Your voice, your soul and your heart should be detected, or people won’t warm up to you.
- Not regularly updating. Regular updates give your audience a reason to come back again and again. It also lets them know you’re active, and therefore good to trust, contact, link to, etc.
- Lazy headlines. If you still struggle with post titles, learn the formulas of headlines that work. You’ll soon find it’s a breeze to choose the right words to hook and entice. Lazy, lifeless headlines means you don’t know what works, you didn’t give it an effort = amateur.
- Not backing up your facts with stats and your stats with sources. Notice that my stat above is linked to a source. Pros like their facts verifiable. They always look things up, since the Internet is so full of false information!
- Not varying your input: think curation, infographics, interviews, guest posts, slideshows, videos, reader submissions. These add flavor to a blog. A magazine isn’t full of ONE person doing all the talking. Make your blog worthy of subscription.
- Not responding or reacting too much to comments. Always reply to those who comment, but don’t always engage when there’s no need to. There would be trolls, there would be nitpickers. Respond but do not react. It’s only amateurs who “fight fire with fire.”
Grammar and mechanics
Are your posts long enough that you entertain your readers and express yourself, but not too long that your reader quits because you refused to get to the point?
Make it conversational and easy to read. Small paragraphs. The reader glides through the post smoothly, not distracted, confused or completely turned off by bad punctuation, poor word choices, and awkward phrasing. Editing is gold. Read your post aloud and see if it reads well.
If writing isn’t your forte, outsource your blog to a writer.
If you’re stuck, try blog post templates that are easy to write and easy to sell— readers love them!
Mistakes on blogging SEO
- Backlink obsession. It’s not the way to climb SERPS. Backlinks should be organic and natural. Populate your blog first. I’ve seen how common it is for amateurs to scrabble for backlinks when their blog is in its infancy. Get backlinks when you have enough content to wow visitors, and you do get backlinks anyway when you wow visitors!
- Forgetting social media. OR overloading on social media. Minimize the buttons and make sure the platform matches your niche. For example, LinkedIn isn’t a match if your blog or post is about fishing.
- Forgetting lead magnets for itself as a valuable freebie and ‘loyalty bribe’ to visitors, and for list building. This list is your audience. Build it. To build it, you need to give something to your visitors that would make them forget they’re giving their email to you. In their mind, they’re getting something they want/need instead!
- NOT getting a domain name. Establish yourself from the beginning as a pro, and your audience (and Google) will see you that way. Only amateurs retain the “wordpress.com” address.
- Forgetting internal and external links. Link to other blog posts and to your own. This shows the reader you know your stuff and makes the reader stay and explore more.
- Neglecting keyword research and Google Analytics. Analytics lets you know how your blog’s doing, whether you’re getting traffic, in which post and from what demographics. These are valuable information you can use to optimize and/or fix things.
- Not testing. What you find out from Analytics should lead to actions– you promote, you share on social media, you offer this or that freebie, you change this or that design… Did they work? Amateur bloggers waste money on guess work and assumptions. Pros test.
Mistakes on blog marketing
- NOT marketing and promoting, either your blog posts or your products/services. Talk about your blog somewhere your readers gather. Facebook groups and communities. Guest post when you can. Do talk about what you offer. Don’t be shy. You can have it in your bio, as a subtle widget on the side, or a simple CTA at the bottom or in the middle of a post, when it’s relevant!
- TOO MUCH marketing– every post aims for a sale. Only amateurs make their blog posts sound like a sales pitch. Focus on valuable content and giving something nice and carefully crafted to your audience.
- Not curating. Sharing is caring. Link to other blog posts rather than fearing you’re just leading readers to them instead of to you. You can make curating work for your blog.
- NOT optimizing for mobile. Depending on your audience demographic, a huge chunk of your readers would be browsing and reading from their devices. How does your blog look on a 4 to 6-inch screen?
- NOT schmoozing with other bloggers. I’ve seen amateurs who only comment to link to their own posts. The comment may be pertinent, too, but that link just ruins it. Don’t self-serve. Be generous. You’ll reap what you sow.
- Premature ads. Establish yourself first. And even then, aim for subtlety and relevance in the ads you include in your blog.
The ultimate mistake? Presenting shoddy work. When your heart and your hard work are both in it, everything falls into place. Everything in your blog should show your keen eye for detail and high quality work.
Did you spot something you need to work on in your blog? Perhaps something to turn into your project in the first quarter of the year? Which of these amateur stamps have you seen most often? Chime in the comments!