It’s now been well over a year that I’ve been blogging, and I’ve learned quite a few things since. When I started, I knew nothing about writing a blog, so the amount of information out there was quite overwhelming at first. Hopefully this article will help give some guidance to others who are just beginning their blogging ventures.
Although the list of things I’ve been doing wrong is quite long, I’ve looked at the 3 most significant mistakes. The fact that these wrong doings are considered “mistakes” is based from my research on blogging over the last year – much of which includes reading other successful blogs to see what they do differently than me.
Not Having A Post Schedule
This is an area that I’ve done both well at, and terrible at too. I’ve gone long sprints on this blog where I posted consistently every Thursday, and other stretches where I don’t post for weeks.
Out of everything I’ve read, this could be the most important thing to get right. The only strategy that may have higher precedence is getting a subscribers list – which will be a post in and of itself one day.
The deal is, a large amount of site traffic on successful blogs is from repeat visitors – people who have already been to your blog before. Frequent readers expect frequent updates, even if they are only weekly, or even monthly (so long as the quality is there). If they can’t predict when new posts will come out, they might stop coming back to check up on you.
Many bloggers who see a lot of success doing this have stated that the most important factor in gaining subscribers is having a post schedule. I mistakenly interpreted this as being some sort of minimal goal to hit. For example, my goal was a minimum of one post per week, every Thursday. However if I had written more content that was ready to be published, I would post it too. Sometimes this meant I would post as many as 10 articles in a single month – whereas other months I only posted 4… or even sometimes less.
This inconsistency makes the blog unpredictable, and difficult for repeat visitors to follow.
What I should have been doing on those weeks that I wrote a ton of content, was push them to a later release date that landed somewhere on my post schedule. This way, during periods that I’m busy and can’t write as much as I normally do, I have that content to fall back on. This would have allowed me to post more consistently, which based on the knowledge I’ve gained over the last year would have helped my blog more than I can probably imagine.
The other advantage a schedule offers is strict deadlines. By creating a post schedule and marking it in a calendar, you give your self a psychological advantage by enforcing the idea that your blogging “hobby” is really a job. You’re more likely to stay motivated if you can trick yourself into believing that – even if you don’t get paid for it yet 😉
So to fix this issue of mine, I plan to hold off on releasing content that is ready before my deadlines. From personal experience, this is harder than you might think. It feels really good to publish something, especially when it takes so much work to write it. But resist the temptation to break your schedule. Take it from me – you’re going to need that content soon enough. There are always periods when you either don’t have time to sit and write, or you just simply have writers block. That’s when all of those posts you’ve been waiting eagerly to publish will save you! And it’ll help your readers understand your posting pattern too.
So the mistake to avoid is; don’t over publish!
Stick to your post schedule even when articles back up, they will come in handy later down the road when you’re short on content – that way, you don’t under publish either.
No Return On Investment
Your blog may not cost any money to visit, but the truth is, people are still paying a price. They are paying with their most precious commodity too – their time; don’t waste it.
It’s very important that as a blogger, you respect the fact that most people value their time, and if they are going to give it to you by reading an article you wrote, they expect something back in return.
This is something I’ve also done well (in my unbiased opinion), but also have faltered in many occasions. One of my most popular topics on this platform, is my student journal entries from my learning experiences at University of the People. I get a lot of feedback from many of those posts, because people find motivation, and encouragement as they work through their own struggles as online students.
One important factor that I’ve noticed though, is that the posts which get the most attention, are posts that give some value back to the reader. It’s either an explanation of how I overcame a challenge, or accomplished some task. Sometimes it’s simply inspiration through stories like landing my first job as a programmer. In either case, these posts are worth peoples time, because there is something to be gained from reading them. Other posts of mine, are not so great.
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog writing about myself and my own personal struggles, which may have some value if structured properly, but a lot of my posts tend to carry on too long. You should avoid this mistake yourself if you can help. In the early beginnings however, I’d argue that it’s best to simply write and post as often as you can – although there are some who would disagree with this strategy.
There is a great deal of articles out there containing blog tips, and a popular subject is to avoid writing too much about yourself. Although I think it’s true most of the time, I don’t think you should avoid writing about yourself completely.
I’ve managed to connect on a very human level with many readers here, and it’s largely due to the fact that I’m so personal in my flavour of writing. I got that way, by writing a lot, and posting everything I wrote, whether it was junk or not. Even so, moving forward, I think the journal entries, should only be shared when there is some sort of lesson, or interesting perspective that is of real value. And another important consideration is the length of those posts.
Looking back at some of the more personal posts, I think there is a lot of fluff that could be cut out. This would help readers ingest what’s important about the material, rather than consuming a bunch of unnecessary words – and probably being full, before reaching the good stuff.
Cut the fat; leave the meat.
To fix this problem, review posts and cut out all of the details that either don’t add any value or subtract value from the overall message. Don’t post articles that lack meaning to anyone besides yourself, and don’t let them get too long if there isn’t anything to be gained from reading. Long articles are OK, as long as there is valuable information contained within.
Like looking through a rainy pane of glass, this blog is like… looking through a rainy pane of glass. The contents are out of focus, and difficult to know exactly what everything is about.
It may seem like a cool idea, at first, to cover as many areas as possible (I thought it was 😎 ). However, one thing I’ve definitely learned is that the secret ingredient to a good blog, is a laser focused vision on one domain. It can be flowers, gaming, sky-diving, bird watching, hooking (yes that’s a thing, and it’s not what you think it is…), seriously anything – so long as there is a clear subject in mind, any blog can do well with a disciplined focus. This is one of the main aspects that separates a little hitter like me, and the real sluggers. The most successful blogs (and really most other businesses when you think about it) are geared towards one demographic, a single domain, or a niche audience.
Focus is what allows your blog to establish a brand, an image and an expectation from visitors. Going back to having a post schedule, the schedule doesn’t offer much predictability, if the content posted each week, is always changing.
This is a major point for me, because I still don’t know what to focus on. It’s something I’m going to have to spend some time thinking about a lot, because I do want to see this part-time hobby become something more successful one day. It’s easy enough to understand that a blog should have a focus on a particular domain, but the challenge is actually choosing a focus.
Regrettably, I don’t have much advice on this matter yet. I simply recognize that it is a recurring mistake of mine, and that it needs to be addressed. This is something that will take me some time. Once I do figure it all out, you can rest assured I’ll be sharing that knowledge here with you guys.
If I could give one tip, it’s that if you have just one interest that you are passionate about, then stick with writing about that one thing. If you feel like you need to cover more topics than you already do, don’t fret. It’s definitely a blessing to feel like you don’t have enough interests than too many as a blogger. Focus, and consistency is key.
Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions on topics you’d like to see discussed more often on this blog. And share the experiences you’ve had so far with your own blog if you have one. I’d love to hear what challenges you’ve faced and what you’re doing to improve the quality of your work. Do you have your own top 3 list? What is it? Share!