Build a better blog by avoiding these common mistakes…
1. No Focus
More is not always better — especially when it comes to topics on a blog.
I know it may be tempting to target everyone with multiple subjects, but when you do this, you end up alienating everyone because your focus is unclear.
Find one topic you enjoy talking about and stick to it. Avoid creating a blog flea market.
Note: Personal blogs can get away with this, but if you are trying to make money from a blog, it’s best to choose a niche.
2. Expecting Too Much Too Soon
If you check Technorati (a site that ranks blogs), you’ll find that the top ranked blogs are at least 3 years old (on average).
Most bloggers don’t see much traffic or revenue in their first 6 months to a year, so don’t panic if things are slow-going right now. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful blog.
Even though blogs are easier to launch (compared to a website), it still takes time to build traffic so keep your expectations in check.
3. Social Bookmarking Icon Overload
Unless you know your audience is familiar with multiple social bookmarking sites, there is no need to waste space on your blog with 4,346 social networking icons splattered across your template.
Even today, the average person doesn’t know what most of those icons mean, and those that do, don’t use them anyway.
Ask 10 people in your friend or family circle if they know what Reddit is, and patiently await the blank stares. 🙂
It’s OK to display the more popular icons (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.) but taking up valuable space with a string of icons, is more of a distraction than a useful add-on to your blog.
If you feel the need to display them, use ShareThis. At least they consolidate the icons behind a compact button and don’t create a confusing sea of icons that most people will ignore anyway.
4. Too Many Ads
One surefire way to spot a desperate blogger is to look at the ratio of ads to content. My favorite is the blog that makes you scroll through half a page of ads before you get to the main content. 🙂
The steps to making money online have always been the same and will never change…
1) Build useful content
2) Attract targeted traffic
3) Monetize the traffic with ads, affiliate programs, etc.
Notice the order of the list. That’s the ONLY way it will ever work. Unfortunately too many people follow those steps in reverse order. They start with #3, then work on #2 and finally put the least amount of effort into #1.
If making money becomes more of a priority than building quality content, then your blog will become evident of that, and will hurt your credibility tremendously.
Limit your ads — especially in the early stages.
5. No Domain Name
Domain names are too cheap for you not to have one. If you want your visitors and other bloggers to take you seriously, secure your own piece of real estate on the Web. Period.
6. No Design Customization
You don’t have to be a technical genius to customize your blog. Yes, it takes a bit of work and there is a learning curve, but you should give your blog a fresh look to help establish its own brand and identity.
If developing a custom design feels overwhelming, just start with customizing your header and then go from there.
If you need assistance developing a design for your blog, you may want to hire someone from a site like RentaCoder. Or you can post a request in popular Webmaster forums like Digital Point or ABestWeb.
Someone told me the other day that they immediately devalue any blog that is using a standard, non-customized Blogger or WordPress template.
We all know there are some good blogs out there that use the standard templates, but I would be naive if I believed he is the only person who does that. First impressions are huge.
Note: WordPress users may be able to get away with using non-customized standard templates because there are many more to choose from (compared to Blogger). However, you should still take the time to customize some elements no matter which platform you choose.
7. Blogging For the Sake of Blogging
When I first started blogging in 2006, I was guilty of this. I didn’t really take blogging seriously at the time, and would post something just because it had been a while since my last entry.
The post was usually a re-write of something already on my website or some topic that had been covered numerous times by other blogs or websites. I would just re-write it in my own words.
Yes, it’s important to maintain a consistent blogging schedule, but that doesn’t mean to publish low-quality content just because it’s been too long since your last post.
It’s much better to wait until you have something useful to say, rather than wasting your reader’s time with a thoughtless post.
Before publishing a new post, ask yourself the following questions…
1) What’s the purpose of this post? (Sell a Product? Build credibility? Educate? Entertain? Offer a unique perspective on something?)
2) Based on what I know about my audience, how will this post benefit them specifically?
3) Has this topic been overdone by too many other bloggers, and if so, what can I add to make it more unique and fresh?
8. Ignoring Post Stats & Feedback
Not only do I watch traffic levels for individual posts, but I also keep a close eye on the kinds of posts that generate the most feedback. This helps me learn what kind of topics my visitors enjoy reading about.
As your blog grows, pay attention to the quantity and contents of the comments you receive. It will help you develop more relevant, useful content for your audience over time.
For example, even though this blog is derived from a site that is mainly about website development, the posts on building traffic, blogging and making money tend to yield the most visitors and responses.
Comments and feedback have taught me what subjects my audience likes reading about, so I tend to focus a larger percentage of my posts on these topics.
9. No Conversational Tone
Many blogs talk AT their readers rather than to them. I want my audience to feel as if they’re sitting in the room with me when they’re reading my content. This is something I’ve really had to work on.
For the most part, web writing tends to be more relaxed. Help improve the flow of your copy by using transitional words, shorter sentences and don’t be afraid to lighten up. Also, make a habit of using the words “I” and “you” on a regular basis.
Take time to allow your personality to shine from time to time. It will help your readers connect with you and give your blog some personality and warmth.
10. Bad Headlines
It amazes me how many bloggers put little or no thought into their headlines. Remember, many people use RSS functionality to read blogs so your headline is the first thing they see.
This is your one chance to get the click so make it count!
I could have titled this post, “10 Blogging Mistakes” but how overdone and boring is the phrase “blogging mistakes”? So I used “awful” instead.
That word is a bit more dramatic, but that’s why I chose it. It catches the eye since it’s not used as much as the word “mistake.”
Now, if you look at the title bar of the browser notice I used the phrase “Blogging Mistakes”. Even though it’s not as eye-catching, it’s a better title from an SEO standpoint because it’s searched more than than “awful blogging practices.”
If you use WordPress, take advantage of the All in One SEO plug-in. You can craft two different titles: one for your blog’s title (the one published in your RSS feed) and a more practical one for the <title> tag — which of course is the one the search engines display.
Taking a few extra minutes to compose a catchy title can make all the different in the world when it comes to generating traffic to your blog.