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Though you put in time and effort to become a master at what you do, there are some bumps along the way you’re bound to run into. To help save you some money, I’ve compiled a list of mistakes made by bloggers who are both experienced and new to the field. Use these as guidelines; every blog is different and requires something unique that only you can create. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t common problems all bloggers face.
With that, one of the first mistakes one can make is…
1. Treating Your Blog Like a Hobby
Now, I should preface this by saying that for some of you, blogging truly is a hobby. It’s just something you do to share how you’re feeling about something. But as you’re reading this, you probably want something financial from your blog. And that’s great! Your blog isn’t just a hobby—it’s your business.
One of the greatest mistakes anyone makes with handling their blog (or any other financially driven activity) is not seriously treating it like a business. Businesses exist, with few exceptions, for one purpose: to make you money. That means every bit of effort you put into your blog should be toward generating revenue. Never forget that there needs to be a bottom line.
That also means your blog needs your attention. It’s okay not to inundate your readers with content every moment of every day, but you do need compelling and interesting content fairly regularly. This can come in the form of your own posts or even guest posts on topics that are related to your blog’s scope.
It also means you need to get out there. One of my favorite quotes goes like this: “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.” Readers aren’t going to just go flying into your blog like a hungry crowd does to a food truck. Your business is digital, which means you need to reach out as much as possible. And that’s hard work.
This leads us to our next area…
2. Not Knowing Your Audience
One of the great things about running a blog is having the opportunity to interact directly with your viewers either through comment sections or email contacts. You may even reach out from your blog with social media. But just because you’re reaching out doesn’t mean you’re grasping who your audience is and what they’re interested in.
It can be a real killer to author content you believe is interesting only to have your readers totally disinterested. It hurts you twice over; readers stop visiting (leaving you less customers to monetize with), but they also take away future potential customers. Word of mouth is one of the strongest forms of advertising, but you won’t get it if you’re not producing content for your target audience.
Get to know the people who read your content as best you can. If you can have people sign up for mailing lists, follow you on Facebook, or reveal bits of information about themselves, it lets you understand what they’re interested in. Use polls to your advantage; people like to vote and will if they believe it will improve their sources of information and entertainment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback either. Just remember that the most telling feedback is silence. Conversely, there’s another side to this story…
3. Don’t Be a People Pleaser
Some say you can’t make everyone happy—and they’re right. If you try to please everyone and expand your target audience to everyone, you’ll end up with overly general posts that aren’t much help to anyone. If there’s something you want to write about, remember that while you may be writing for your audience, it’s still your blog.
While there are times it may be best to go with the flow, the most interesting and engaging blogs are willing to ask the hard questions and create some controversy. This may not apply if your blog is on say, DYI home projects, but plenty of topics have two sides to them. Being overly moderate can come across as both boring and pandering.
Not everyone who visits your blog is good for it either. There may be people whose comments need to be removed because they’re actually contributing to a hostile environment in your blog. Since you’re the boss, it means you might need to play bouncer now and then to get the riffraff out.
Another angle to consider is…
4. Writing for the Machine
There’s a dangerous mistake bloggers are making as non-advertisers become more aware of how SEO works, and that’s authoring content primarily targeted at promoting keywords, links and products. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be selling with your blog. On the contrary, what you’re trying to sell should be your blog before you start asking for someone to buy this or click that.
That means your content needs to be focused and useful to users before you start looking at what angle you’ll be able to use to squeeze that affiliate link in. Search engines, through a mixture of algorithm and actual people, can tell when you’re writing content genuinely useful for your users compared to when you’re just trying to move up on the Google search index.
And if you think that’s bad, imagine your readers. They are the recipients of marketing schemes all day, every day. They’re bombarded constantly with advertisements, flyers, spam and whatever else the marketing world can come up with. If your content is just a sneaky way to sell a product, you’ll have two major problems:
- They might not buy because the context isn’t good enough.
- They likely won’t come back because the content is low quality.
Keep it in your head that anything you write needs to be tailored to offer the most utility to your readers. High quality content of this nature will keep readers coming back and help grow your audience as word spreads both because engines will rank you higher and because your viewers will reciprocate by telling others about your blog.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can stop advertising. That’s still a big job you can’t neglect. But advertising has some risks associated with it…
5. Not Minimizing Risk
Large and successful businesses do well because they have great product, but they also know how to minimize their risks. As a blogger, you face several daunting risks that can easily destroy your reputation, ruin your blog, run your customers off or land you in court:
- Taking digital security too lightly
Digital security is a big one that gets ignored far too frequently. The cost isn’t always readily apparent because by the time it happens, it’s too late. You go to access your blog, and suddenly you can’t login; the password’s been changed, and you have no idea what went wrong.
Files can be stolen and computers can be hacked, but these risks can be minimized with a mixture of software and education. It’s worth investing extra in security software such as an anti-virus, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a backup service. Free services aren’t necessarily the best route to go, as their service is sometimes much more limited.
Take the former two: paid anti-virus software typically comes with extras, with the main thing being support. The best VPNs come with unlimited bandwidth, more login locations to choose from (which you can use for regional SEO) and usually 24/7 support. Both services keep you safe from malware and hackers through a combination (respectively) of malware removal and encryption of your internet data.
A backup service is something you want if and when something happens to your blog. Being able to restore everything in just a few minutes instead of having to rebuild it can go a very long way.
- Using photos you don’t own or aren’t public domain
This one can really kill you if the wrong person decides to file suit against your blog. The more successful you are, the more likely it is to happen. Remember that something you find on Google isn’t necessarily free use. If the right license doesn’t exist for that image, you can be sued for its unauthorized use.
Take your own photos, have someone do image editing for you, or stick with free use images.
- Relying on too many ads
Lastly, don’t put too much emphasis on ad revenue. It may be extra money for you in the short run, but ads can also distract viewers from the main content, and in the worst case scenario, they can take them to another website, never to return. Choose your ads carefully and discretely.
Have you made any mistakes on your blog? You wouldn’t be the first, so tell us a little about it in the comments!
This is a guest post by Cassie from CultureCoverage.com. Cassie is a technology and blogging enthusiast. She has learned a lot during her time as a blogger and hopes to help others by sharing her experiences.