Blogging is wonderful, adventurous, and worth spending time and money on. But it is equally dangerous, mind-boggling and senseless, if not done properly. It may eat all of your money if you make some amateur blogging mistakes, like what I did.
I have been blogging for the last 12 years now and I am all ready to give advice to those who are just starting.
This blog post is a summary of all my experiences on what I did wrong with my blogs and what I learned from those blogging mistakes. It is worth reading for all newbie bloggers, and to some extent — the intermediates and will help them to better run a blog.
The Most Amateur Blogging Mistakes
I didn’t plan the way things went until 2013. I just followed the regular blogging pattern — started a blog, wrote whatever I wanted and built no links.
The result? No revenue.
Almost everyone does that.
We start a blog first and then think about how to take it forward.
That is probably the worst thing to do. Make a plan first. Plan about what you are going to do with your blog.
Had I had any earlier plans for gauravtiwari.org, things could have been different.
I feel that I had lost nearly $50k in hosting, ads, time and effort during the three years of 2010-2013. All because I did not plan things. Not knowing internet marketing and link building hurt even more.
I expect you won’t do the same mistake. If you are starting a new blog, then be sure to make a mindmap and work along with that.
In your mindmap, be sure to take care of the following points. I guarantee that these are going to be your greatest help in future.
Do not start with WordPress.com or Blogspot.com subdomains
WordPress.com and blogger (viz. Blogspot.com) both are quite good for beginner bloggers. You should try those if you are not capable of buying a custom web-hosting. They are good in all manners. But! DO NOT use usual .wordpress.com and .blogspot.com subdomains. They hurt. They spoil your hard-work and may even break your branding in near years.
Even though I suggest starting on your hosting, trying WordPress.com and Blogspot — is not bad as well. But only thing that you need to make sure is that you use your own domain, like gauravtiwari.org, yourname.com etc.
There are many sites that allow creating sites for free — do that if you are low on money but always choose a domain name that does not spell like yourname.wix.com etc.
At a cost of just $5-$15 per year, you can buy and use your own domains on sites like blogspot.com, tumblr.com, wordpress.com etc. These sites allow you to mask your own domains with their free and fully-featured webhosting.
Blogger.com or Blogspot.com and tumblr are much cheaper, as they charge no parking fee and you can mask your domain name to existing blogger blogs at no extra charge.
Here’s my experience with free domains.
- I started with wpgaurav.wordpress.com on WordPress.com. Which, in just one year, reached whopping SEO matrices like Page Rank 4, Alexa 40k.
- But once I switched to gauravtiwari.org (which I had to), everything soiled.
- I had to start with Page Rank 0 and unlisted Alexa rank. I had to re-index each and every page on Google, Yahoo! and Bing-like search engines.
- It took around two more years to build the mentioned statistics. These could have been the best two years of my blogging life. I could use in earning money with my blog, instead of just rebuilding it.
Brand Properly! Do not change your blog name, ever!
I was lame enough to ignore all those articles that have been written about branding & company naming. I started with Gaurav Happy Tiwari –Technically Mad blog name – which literally had no meaning at all. And then after a while, after being inspired (?) by a blog post by a scientist – I renamed it to MY DIGITAL NOTEBOOK. Both the names took place way before I had bought the domain name gauravtiwari.org.
After I owned gauravtiwari.org, the need to change the blog title to something ‘relevant’ came to mind and stuck into it. Well, who does keep their website’s title way different than the domain’s name? I did. And I kept the MY DIGITAL NOTEBOOK title until I decided to make this blog into a portfolio website to showcase my online works. So, ultimately – I was nearly brand-less for more than three years.
And believe me, still I think that choosing my name as the primary domain to my main blog – wasn’t a good idea. Despite all of my best tries, Gauravtiwari.org still doesn’t look like a brand at all.
I suggest choosing a great brand name and stick to that. Before making any brand name official, make sure of the following points:
- Is your brand name unique?
- Will it be everlasting?
- Is the domain name for the brand name available?
- Do you own or can own usernames matching your brand name on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.?
- Will your brand name look great in logos and other designs?
Don’t write study-notes…
Education is the highest paid blogging niche. But if you slide even a little from suggesting students to teaching students – you will fall big on revenue. Writing study notes on your blog is more or less like writing essays or supporting essay writing, which in terms of earning makes a great impact as Google Adsense doesn’t allow essay affiliates sites to their network.
If you are willing to write about the education niche, understand the gap to which your Adsense candidacy may fall. If you don’t care about Adsense, you can do whatever you want.
Experiment with your blog design but not a lot!
As mentioned, I was using wordpress.com at first and it did come with plenty of cool templates and themes. I enjoyed shuffling between the various themes and customizing them.
I spent more time on altering those than writing blog posts. That was not a good thing to do. Changing themes and templates is a good way to catch the latest web design trends but you shouldn’t waste a lot of time on the same. Switching one theme from the other doesn’t just take a lot of time but also spoils the look of internal content.
If you know CSS & PHP, you can enjoy tweaking theme files for a customized look. But are you changing themes regularly? Think about the time you are wasting.
Math blogger? Avoid import-export tools
WordPress’ import tool totally destroyed my $ \LaTeX $ content that I had already published on wordpress.com website before switching to WordPress.org self-host. (Read about the incident here and here!)
If you are a math/science blogger and want to move from one self-host to the other, try moving databases instead of using .xml file importers. If you’re blogging about math on wordpress.com and want to switch to another wordpress.com or wordpress.org website, don’t do. Life can be so cruel to you!
Build external backlinks: They are so important
Backlinking is the backbone of all SEO strategies. From the you start blogging, focus more on backlinking instead of just blogging and letting go. There are several backlinking strategies that can help you build more engagement and traffic.
Link internal pages well
Just like Wikipedia, make sure to internally link all important articles and pages to each other. They don’t just increase engagement and traffic but also help your readers to follow-up the related articles.
Give proper copyright credits
When we start, we don’t really care about copyright things. But fair use of copyrighted content is important. Give sufficient credit to the people who originally crafted the content.
Make your blog responsive and fast
The world is fast paced and is accompanied by millions of internet users manipulating mobile phones and tablets to browse the internet on the go. Your website should perform its major capabilities across multiple devices and almost any screen size.
The two options are creating an entirely different mobile website or making your current site responsive so that it has the ability to move and adjust in proportion to the browser width. In addition to displaying on mobile devices, it should be compatible with the top 4 internet browsers. If your site does not pass this basic test, you are undoubtedly losing potential opportunities through a reduction in your web traffic.
Don’t keep the content outdated
Your website should grow as your business grows and therefore your content should be updated regularly. This includes pictures, information, links, and pages. Make sure that your content is informative. Ask yourself this question – what do you offer on your website to encourage your visitors to return? Would you revisit the website which seems to offer the same products for sale each time? Probably not. You should apply that same rule to your website, no matter what you are offering.
Search Engines are always on the lookout for fresh content, not text that has been there since the launch of the website. Content updates continue to have a very strong relevance when it comes to performance on search engine searches. This is still often missed by website owners.
Make it a priority to sit down and write a new and engaging homepage. Or you could consider an active blog. Think of this as an act of contribution. When you share your ideas or stories with others, you are enabling your website to reach people with your message. What a powerful marketing tool!!
Don’t Miss The Point
Always make your website design and content appeal to the individuals that are most likely to buy your services. If you are a babysitting service, don’t make a website that will sell to a baby, make one that sells to their parents. When deciding to start a blog, write posts relevant to your clients, not your competitors. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for advice on what they think of your content. Constructive criticism from your customers can be used as a valuable business asset.
Don’t overdo content
The average user spends 20 seconds on a website – so spend some time analyzing your home page. Make sure that your content matches your customer’s wants and needs. We need to offer independent value to those reading your content. Remember that a bad message amplified in volume is still a bad message…. there is just more of it to read.
Use call to action and buttons as much as possible
Think about whether your marketing message is motivating your customers to take action. You can start off by analyzing your website’s performance through your Google Analytics account. Compare the visitor numbers you have and how many leads are generated.
Do not procrastinate. Read, write and publish more.
After blogging for couple of years, usually it happens that you know very well about the hot topics and trends in your niche, you know even that posting frequently on your blog can definitely increase traffic and ranking of it but still can’t keep phase with it and stop posting quality posts on your blog.
Most of the time you give this attitude of yours a name – “Procrastination”.
But let me tell you there is something more to it.
It may happen that you would be losing your passion, love and interest in blogging but you are not willing to accept it.
You convince yourself that you still love blogging but it is just a matter of time that you are not writing and updating regularly on your blog.
You give yourself some excuses like, you are spending more time on social media sites and expanding your social network and do not have enough time to update your blog regularly. But most of the time it is due to the lack of passion about blogging.
In simple words you doesn’t love blogging as much as you used to in the beginning of your blogging quest.
This is possibly one of the biggest blogging mistakes and it can make your whole work go down. Don’t do it. Keep trying new things with your blog. Whatever you do, keep writing.
Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.
Here’s how you can beat this biggest amateur blogging mistake.
- Get involved in group discussions
- Attend blogging meets seminars, meet new bloggers and talk to peer bloggers.
- Read your own old posts from archives and appreciate that you have worked so hard in the past and you can’t let it go easily.
- Prepare a list, schedule and strategies for your blog posting
- Go up hills, get some fresh air.
This is an updated version of my old article on How to & How not to run a blog? – Gaurav Tiwari. Feedback and questions are welcome in comments.