I’ve made quite a few mistakes since starting my blog. Here are my top seven. Hopefully they’ll help you avoid making the same ones.
Mistake #1 — not using a self-hosted blog
The first mistake I made was to begin blogging using WordPress.com, as opposed to WordPress.org. The former involves hosting your blog on the WordPress website, rather than self-hosting your blog for full control. My first ever blog post was on October 8th 2006, and I’ve kept my WordPress.com blog alive at this address: Web and Graphic Design.
The problem with hosting a blog through WordPress.com is that you don’t have full control over customisation. WordPress owned and stored my content. I was also showing my blog’s web address as being www.wordpress.davidairey.com rather than www.davidairey.com.
In Jakob Neilsen’s 2005 article on the top 10 blog mistakes, he had this as number 10:
“Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naive beginner who shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
It can be a mistake, but I disagree that the author shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Some of my favourite blogs use services: these three on TypePad, for instance:
There’s also Lorelle on WordPress.com, who’s a guru on everything WordPress-related.
Douglas Karr of The Marketing Technology Blog has this to add about self-hosting your blog:
“I personally like to host my own blog because of the flexibility it provides me in design changes, adding other features, modifying the code myself, etc.
“I wouldn’t discourage anyone — even a corporation — from using a hosted solution like Vox, Typepad, Blogger or WordPress just to start out and experiment.”
Mistake #2 — expecting people to visit
It’s the interaction on blogs that keeps me going. When I started out, I had no idea how to attract visitors and comments. I thought that if I published new content I’d automatically find readers in my niche.
It takes time and effort, and reaching out to fellow bloggers. In fact, there’s a whole psychology behind blog publishing that changed my way of thinking. Now if I see or hear something of interest, I wonder if I can use it for my blog.
Mistake #3 — not writing as if I’m talking
My first blog on WordPress.com included posts that are more like lectures. No one wants to read a lecture. I want people to get involved in chat. I want to show people something they haven’t seen or tell them something they don’t know. I want to learn from my readers.
At the start I was killing the conversation, rather of making use of the comment threads.
It’s good practice to join the chat on related blogs. I regularly leave comments that add to the conversation on other blogs. It takes time, obviously, but people appreciate comments on their blogs, and they’re more likely to comment on yours.
The way you write, the words you use, your tone of voice, how you respond to comments, your blog design, the topics you cover… all show who you are.
Mistake #4 — changing the location of my blog
When I moved my blog’s location, from davidairey.com/blog to davidairey.com, I knocked my Google Page Rank from 5 to 4. The mistake was not moving sooner, or not starting out with my blog in the root directory.
Daniel at Daily Blog Tips has this to say on the subject:
“Unless your blog is a secondary part of an existing website you should always install WordPress on the root directory. When I created my first blog I used an automatic WordPress instalation that my web hosting company offered, but the standard installation was done on “www.domain.com/blog”.
“I wasn’t sure how this would affect the blog so I decided to leave things as they were. A couple of months later when I started studying SEO I realized that this was a bad move.”
When I launched my first website about two years ago, I wanted my portfolio to be its primary purpose, and the blog a secondary aspect. Then last year I discovered blogs. It didn’t take long to realise the number of clients I could attract first through my blog content, and then directing them to my portfolio. It’s generally the content I publish that attracts visitors, rather than the work in my design portfolio.
Mistake #5 — neglecting my article headlines
Most people new to blog publishing will spend all their time writing the article, and not thinking too much about the headline. Here’s the thing, if your headline doesn’t catch my attention, the chances are I won’t click through to the article.
It’s not easy coming up with headline after headline, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. If you’re pushed for time, Lyndon at Cornwall SEO offers a killer headline writing service that’s worth considering.
Mistake #6 — not linking to others as I’d like them to link to me
I see it every day, people linking to others using the anchor text ‘here’ or ‘click here’. You wouldn’t be linking to people unless you thought they had something worth saying, so give them a link they’ll really appreciate. I touch upon the subject here: Graphic design Edinburgh and keyword search ranking.
Andy Beard says it better than I can: linking mistakes frequently encountered on blogs.
Mistake #7 — underestimating the time commitment
I’d no idea how much time publishing posts would take. There are many hats to blogging — something I think many people don’t appreciate when taking the first step. I jumped right into it without doing any research (hence this trial-and-error post), and you can see the results through my dead WordPress.com blog linked to above.
What blog mistakes have you made?
Share yours below. Maybe you can stop us from making them.
Header photo by Becca Fatora