I started blogging when I was 13-years-old about super cool stuff like my love for NSYNC, the Delia’s catalog (seriously, so cool.), and how much I hated practicing the flute. Fast forward to 2008 and my most recent blogging incarnation and I still hadn’t really figured out how to get it right. I jumped straight in and like most bloggers tried to do everything I saw popular bloggers doing as fast as possible to gain traffic and get more comments.
Seven years (on this blog), one freelance business, over 1.5 million pageviews, and almost 9,000 comments later I have finally got it figured out, so here are five of my beginner blogging mistakes and how I should have gone about things differently. That way you can skip all this stuff and get straight to being a blogging badass :)
Focused too much on my design
I’m a designer, so I half forgive myself for this one, but, like most bloggers, I loved to tweak my design, try new colors and fonts, and test out different themes every week. And while I’m all for creating a beautiful, functional, personality-filled, user-friendly design…if your content is sparse or just plain lame, the most gorgeous design in the world isn’t going to make people stick around. I really should have chosen a simple theme, added a fun header image, and spent more of my time on content.
Tried to blog every single day
This my friends, is the best way to run out of post ideas real fast. Yes, the more content you create and the more often you post, the more traffic you’ll receive and the faster your blog will grow. BUT this is not a great plan if it’s at the expense of quality or your sanity. When the Badass Babes ask me how often they should be posting I always respond with, “How often can you write a valuable post?” If that’s three times a week that’s great and if it’s once a week, that’s great too.
Just because you went to a super fun event doesn’t mean you need to post about it the next day. I highly recommend spacing out content in an editorial calendar so you have a little ‘just in case’ stockpile. Plus posts are better when you let them marinate a little.
Blogged about everything
For a while I tried to be a lifestyle blogger, but I mostly chose this direction to get away with writing about everything, but still feeling like I had a niche. Writing about a lot of stuff can totally work, but there still needs to be a thread that connects everything. I had no niche and no thread and was posting every day with reckless abandon, which is why it took me almost five years to get my shit together.
Blogged without goals or a plan
When I first started blogging again in 2008 I was just writing to write. When I started freelancing a few years later, I got more focused and serious about what I was posting, but I didn’t have an overall plan for what I was hoping to accomplish. Which again, slowed my progress. It’s immensely helpful to make some sort of plan about the intention of your blog and set some goals, whether that’s income-wise, traffic-wise, or internet friends and happy vibes-wise. Be intentional!
Tried to make a quick buck
Everyone was doing it, so I jumped on the sponsorship bandwagon too. I think I made a total of like 100 bucks and spent a ton of time creating graphics, and planning sponsorship packages, and organizing spreadsheets, and creating sponsor spotlight posts, and panicking a little toward the end of each month when only one person had purchased ad space.
It just wasn’t worth it. Not for me, not for my sponsors. It was stressful trying to make sure they got their money’s worth and it didn’t really add anything to my blog.
Plus—I make a whole lot more money when blogging is my marketing tool and not my actual business!
The bottom line…
Most of the things I was doing to become a successful blogger were actually taking time and focus away from the most important blog-building strategies.
1. Writing high quality content that my readers found valuable
2. Promoting those high-quality valuable posts on social media
3. Connect with other people. Reading their blogs, sharing their posts, chatting about wine and ice cream on Twitter