Image by Becca Fatora
#1 — not using a self-hosted blog
I began blogging using the WordPress.com platform instead of WordPress.org. The former involves hosting your blog on the WordPress website, rather than self-hosting.
The problem with using WordPress.com is that you don't have full control over customisation. Essentially, WordPress owned and stored my content. It also meant I was showing my blog's address as davidairey.wordpress.com rather than davidairey.com.
In Jakob Neilsen's 2005 article on blog mistakes, he had this at 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."
I get the point, but that takes it a bit far. Some of my favourite blogs are on TypePad:
There's also lorelle.wordpress.com — 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."
#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.
#3 — not writing as if I'm talking
My first ever posts were more like lectures. Who wants to read a lecture? I want to make things engaging, and show people something they haven't seen before, or tell them something they don't know. When you write like you talk, people are more likely to comment on what you're saying. When people comment, they share their knowledge. I want to learn from my readers.
At the start I was killing the conversation rather than making use of comment threads.
You might find it helpful to leave comments on other blogs, adding to the conversation. It takes time, obviously, but blog owners appreciate it, making them more likely to visit and comment on yours.
The way you write, the words you use, your tone of voice, how you reply to comments, your blog design, the topics you cover... they all show a little bit of who you are.
#4 — changing blog location
When I moved my blog's location from davidairey.com/blog to davidairey.com it dented my Page Rank. The mistake was not moving sooner, or not starting with my blog in the root directory.
Daniel at Daily Blog Tips has this to say:
"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 realised this was a bad move."
When I launched my first website about two years ago I wanted my portfolio to be the main purpose, with the blog a secondary aspect. But it didn't take long to realise the number of clients I could attract through my blog content, then direct them to the portfolio. It's generally the content I publish that brings visitors rather than the static pages in my portfolio.
#5 — neglecting my article headlines
Most people new to blogs will spend all their time writing the post, not thinking too much about the headline. But if your headline in a feed reader or on social media doesn't catch attention, the chances of a click through are greatly decreased.
This is something Brian Clark gives advice on. Another good read is Ben's piece on writing headlines.
#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 don't link to other sites unless you think it helps your visitors, so give those site owners a link they'll really appreciate.
I touch on the subject here: Graphic design Edinburgh and keyword search ranking. Andy Beard says it better: linking mistakes frequently encountered on blogs.
#7 — underestimating the time commitment
I'd no idea how much time a blog 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 the dead WordPress.com blog that started me off).
What blog mistakes have you made? Feel free to join the chat below.