Starting a blog for your brand or business can be a great way to connect with your audience, drive email signups and convert potential leads.
It seems like a total win-win, but blogging is also a lot of work.
Before you start publishing content at a rapid fire, use this list of common blogger mistakes as a guide for what not to do.
1. Giving up too soon
Think about the blogs you love and read regularly. They offer great content (obviously, since you’re reading them!) and likely have a large readership. Maybe they have a post you know of that went viral, a popular YouTube video with millions of hits or thousands of followers on Instagram who seem to hang on their every word.
Here’s a big secret: That success definitely didn’t happen overnight.
Building a community for your blog takes time and a lot of hard work. Don’t abandon ship too early into the process because you’re not seeing the growth you expected. If you dedicate yourself to publishing quality content regularly and building up an audience that actually cares about what you have to write, it will be worth it in the long run.
Take it from someone who has been there: I started my current blog five years ago (but have been blogging in general for 10 years), and I’m still not completely satisfied with my blog’s progress. I’d love to be further along, have more email subscribers and better conversions, but I’m continuing to be patient, and I’m still plugging away at my blog week after week.
Remember: Slow progress is still progress. Be patient!
2. Ignoring the importance of SEO
For many newbie bloggers, the focus of all their attention goes to coming up with a list of topics to fill their editorial calendar and actually drafting the content. (Definitely a good first step, but not the only step.)
How people will actually find the blog becomes an afterthought…but it shouldn’t be! Consider that one of the biggest ways new readers will find your blog is through organic search.
So how can you make sure that you show up when someone searches for your topic? You can learn and implement some SEO basics. Here are two suggestions to consider.
Write keyword-focused headlines and permalinks
Including relevant keywords in your blog’s headline is a great way to tell search engines exactly what your post is about and when they should display it in search results.
When you’re setting up the content and headline for your blog post, do some research to determine some of the top-ranking search terms for your topic. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner if you already have a Google AdWords account, a paid service like Spyfu or a free service like SEOBook.
Narrow down your list of the top keywords for your topic to decide which will be the focus in your headline. Note: it’s not enough to just cram a bunch of keywords into your headline. Search engines like Google are extremely sophisticated and will actually penalize you for doing that. Write a headline that has a focus keyword but still makes sense to readers for optimum results.
Then, use that same focus keyword and headline copy in the URL for your page so it is easy for both search engines and users to find and understand.
Use meta descriptions
A meta description is a 160-character blurb of content that describes what is on a webpage. It’s the first thing users will see below your headline when they find your blog linked on a search engine results page.
While the general consensus among the SEO community is that meta descriptions don’t improve your SEO the way that on-page content and headlines do, it does make it easier for users to see what your blog is about, making them more likely to click through.
We recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress to make implementing SEO-friendly headlines and meta descriptions super simple.
3. Focusing on quantity over quality
Starting a new blog can be exciting, and you may feel the desire to publish as many posts as possible in a short amount of time to get things rolling.
Fight that urge. Seriously.
When your blog is new (and even when it’s not), it’s more important to promote the content you’ve already crafted rather than continuing to churn out new content just for the sake of doing so.
As an example, here on this blog, we publish a new post about once a week. In between posts, we share this content on social media and through our email newsletter. That way, we make sure our readers have seen this post before we spend time writing another one.
Don’t publish content just to publish it. Spend the extra time and energy crafting something of quality that readers will love. Think about how you can solve your readers’ problems or help them in some way and create content that will resonate.
4. Not connecting with your community
It’s important to think about your readers and what they’ll want when crafting the content for your blogs, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your personal touch.
The best blogs become communities of sorts. A place where readers go for a specific purpose or connection.
Your blog is still an extension of your brand, whether it’s personal or professional. Make sure that every post you publish has a little piece of you in it, whether it’s through your voice, style or formatting.
While your audience may click to read the first time because of the topic or high-quality of the content published, they’ll keep coming back if they feel personally connected to you.
5. Not building an email distribution list
Although SEO for your blog posts is extremely important, as indicated in point #2, it’s not the only way for people to find you.
An email distribution list gives you even better control over the way people find and interact with your content. Plus, someone who voluntarily subscribes to your email list is already engaging with your brand. They’ve made it clear that they’re interested in your content and might be interested in whatever it is you’re selling.
You might be wondering why you need to create an email list when you’ve just started your blog. Here’s a great example why: When I started my personal blog in 2011, I didn’t include an opt-in on my site. A year into blogging, I finally added the form and my list slowly began to grow. Who knows? If I had started right away, my list could be double the size it is now!
Whether you’re a brand new blogger or you’ve been plugging away for years, we all can fall prey to these silly mistakes. The key is knowing what the mistakes are and how to avoid them in the future.
What advice would you offer to someone just getting started with their blog? Let us know on Twitter.