Five mistakes newbie bloggers make

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Some blogging mistakes can block your path. (Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/589399)

I’ve been blogging for about 10 years now. Along the way I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also made a lot of mistakes. A lot.

So, if you’re new to blogging and determined to be successful at it, here are five mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not sticking with it.

Some bloggers see a lot of success relatively quickly, but there is no such thing as an overnight success. Even those bloggers who brag about how they took a new blog from zero to 10,000 subscribers in three months, or whatever, didn’t really go from zero to hero overnight. Chances are they put in years of work before they ever launched that “overnight success” blog, developing skills and acquiring tools to make a big splash quickly.

Whatever your goals are as a blogger, you’ve got to stick with it to see success. A good rule of thumb would be six  months of steady blogging before you begin to see significant traffic, readership or (if it’s a goal) revenue.

Mistake #2: Not focusing on content.

Great design, cool widgets and useful plug-ins are all good things to have on your blog. But you can waste hours on these things without adding the one thing that makes the biggest difference: new content. If you want to fiddle with  your design, write a new post first. If you want to add a new plug-in to the back-end of your WordPress admin panel, write a new post first. If you want to add a cool new widget or explore a new social media site, write a new post first.

Readers come to blogs, and come back, for one thing and one thing only: content. Make that the No. 1 focus and you will be much more successful.

Mistake #3: Not being consistent.

One of my biggest mistakes as a blogger has been inconsistency. Being consistent means regularly creating and publishing new content. You don’t have to publish a new post every day. And you certainly don’t have to do what the big, commercial blogs such as Mashable and Lifehacker do — publish many, many posts every day. But you do need to publish consistently.

Pick a frequency that you think you can maintain (once a week is probably a minimum for most of us) and start with that. If you want, and can, then increase your frequency down the road. But don’t decrease it. Pick a goal for how often you want to publish and stick to that.

Mistake #4: Not writing for your readers.

The biggest misconception that blogging and social media suffer from among those who are not enthusiasts is the idea that we all sit around and write about what we ate for breakfast or that we’re all writing poorly thought out, uninformed reactions to the news of the day. This isn’t true, of course, but there are some bloggers and social media aficionados who do those things. And that’s fine, but it’s probably not going to get them a ton of readers, bring in torrents of new business or job offers, or result in highly profitable online information businesses.

The key is to write for your readers. What information and content do your readers need and would find helpful? What are they looking for online in your niche or your industry? What would you want to read if you were one of your readers? It’s fine, from time to time, to write about things that may be more meaningful to you than some of your readers (like this post of mine from last week on global poverty and educating girls). But overall, concentrate on content that’s of value to others. Give value, and over time you will receive value in return.

Mistake #5: Not blogging because you’re afraid of failing.

Everyone is afraid of something, and lots of people hesitate to start something (or continue it) because they’re afraid of failure. That little voice inside that warns you that maybe you shouldn’t because you’ll fail, because something bad will happen? That voice was really useful thousands of years ago when human beings had to worry about getting eaten by a prowling sabretooth or a hungry bear. That voice isn’t so useful now, but it still won’t shut up. So ignore it.

Listen, you may fail (however you define that). But even if you don’t achieve what you set out to achieve, even if you fall short of some goal or promise or commitment, it will be OK. Chances are, most people won’t even notice (the Internet is a noisy place, after all; it’s hard to keep track of who’s gone silent). Even if you fail, you will still learn something in the process and you will still be a better human being for having tried it. Don’t let fear stop you.

What other mistakes have you (or other bloggers) made? Don’t keep them a secret. Please share in the comments below.

8 responses to “Five mistakes newbie bloggers make”

  1. Sarah Findle says:

    Thanks for the tips! I recently took the leap and created my own blog with the goal of writing 40 posts in 40 days for lent to get things started. I will definitely keep these tips in mind as I set out into the wild frontier of the blog world!

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by treehousei: “Five mistakes newbie bloggers make” via @marktzk http://bit.ly/agLRzD Consistency has to be the toughest one….

  3. Mistake #1! dead on Mark, not realizing it’s an organic process that takes time. And believe me, I’m preaching to myself on this one, not anyone else. Tip of the hat to all the newbies (and old-bies, and do it again-bies) out there, stick with it!

  4. Leslie says:

    As far as consistency is concerned, do you believe it is important to have a set schedule? For example say every Mon, Wed, and Fri vs. simply three posts a week.

    • Mark Tosczak says:

      I think if you’re blogging in a structured environment (like for a company) a set schedule might work. If you’re talking about a personal blog, then it’s whichever way is actually going to produce the desired result – 3 days a week. Some of us respond better to specific deadlines, some work fine with a broader goal (3 posts/week). The one advantage of 3 posts/week vs. Mon/Wed/Fri approach is that the former allows you to spontaneously respond to something that’s happened.

      So, bottom line, I’m not sure it matters that much. Consistency is important (and for all of us running personal blogs, probably the biggest challenge).

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