I’ve made quite a few mistakes since I started authoring a blog. By giving you a look at my errors hopefully you can avoid doing the same. Here are my top 7 blog mistakes.
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 reader interaction around blogs that keeps me authoring a blog on a fairly consistent basis. When I started out, I had no idea how to attract new readers and commentators. I had the impression that if I published new content I’d automatically find readers in my niche.
Successful blogging involves time, effort, and reaching out to fellow bloggers / publishers / authors (whatever you prefer to call them). In fact, there’s a whole psychology behind blog publishing that changed my way of thinking. Nowadays, if I see or hear something of interest, I wonder how I can incorporate it into a blog article.
Mistake #3 — not writing as if I’m talking
My first blog on WordPress.com included articles that are more like lectures. Who wants to read a one-way lecture? I want readers to become involved in a discussion. I want to teach folk something they don’t know. I want learn from what my blog readers have to teach.
At the beginning I was killing the blog conversation, instead of making use of my comment section.
It’s vital to get involved with related blogs in your niche. I regularly visit a host of other blogs and leave comments that add to the conversation. This takes time, but keeps the interaction flowing. People appreciate comments on their blogs.
You have to find your personal brand and deliver it. The way you write, the words you use, your tone of voice, how you respond to comments, the design of your blog, the topics you cover… it all shows 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 graphic 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 still 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 truly appreciate. I touch upon the subject in this article: 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 had no idea how much time authoring a blog would take. There are many hats to blogging — something I think a lot of us don’t appreciate when we take that first step. I jumped right into blogging without doing any research (hence this trial-and-error post), and you can see the results through my relatively dead WordPress.com blog mentioned above.
What blog mistakes have you made?
Share your mistakes in a comment. Hopefully you can prevent others from making them, too.
Header photo by Becca Fatora