When it comes to blogging there is nothing more stressful than the actual idea of starting one. You’re probably worried that it’s too late, that the market is saturated or that you’re not good enough. Trust me, I have been there. During your first months of blogging you’re bound to make a few mistakes here and there. That’s why I decided to write this post: as a guideline for you. These are the 9 mistakes that I made in my first year of blogging, why and how I do things differently now.
1. Choose the right blogging platform
When I first started out 2 years ago I didn’t have the slightest clue about designing a website or writing a blog. I wanted something simple and easy, or at least something that looked simple and easy.
The first mistake I made, and boy it’s a BIG one, was to choose WIX over WordPress. While WIX promised me an easy way out, it actually gave me a lot of headaches. And a lot of features that are included in WordPress simply weren’t available. For instance: you wouldn’t be able to comment underneath a blog post of mine without registering at WIX… And if I ever wanted a more unique look or more special plugin, it came at an additional cost.
This isn’t the case with WordPress. So far I haven’t downloaded a single plugin that cost me any money for the sake of the layout of my website.
When choosing WordPress you’ll need to find a good host for your website. And while the customer service of WIX never really does much things are entirely different with Siteground.
They honestly have the BEST customer service. When I switched from WIX to WordPress a few months ago I had about a million questions. Well, they answered every single one of them and helped me through the entire process. This was super important not to loose any content or the ranking I had already established on Google!
2. Not focussing on building an audience
I used to be one of those girls who thought: if my content is good enough I am sure people will subscribe!
Well, I was wrong. And this goes for every single blog out there. I love reading through other bloggers articles but for me to subscribe there has to be a certain level of trust and usually a free bonus that provides me additional info that I need. If this isn’t the case I might still return to their website but it won’t turn me into one of their most loyal readers and subscribers.
So what’s the best way to avoid this mistake and to grow a proper email list?
The easiest way to grow a good email list and to have complete control over it is by using Convertkit. It allows you to create landing pages and opt-in forms where you can offer your readers a reason to subscribe.
What are good ideas for an opt-in?
Think about the questions that your audience often asks you and go from there. For instance I often get questions on how I grew my Instagram and how I am able to stay at hotels for free. To help my readers I provided them with a free PDF-guide on how I grew my Instagram and the exact email templates that I use to pitch to hotels and brands.
3. Writing about one topic
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first year of blogging is not branching out into different niches. I used to stick to only travel cause that’s the only thing I thought I was: a travel blogger. While in fact I am a whole lot more than just that.
And while a blog shouldn’t be a personal diary of every single thing that happens in your life it is good to get personal from time to time. Write what you are passionate about. For instance I love writing about the obstacles that I had to overcome during my first year of blogging and content creation. I choose to bare my soul and lay it all out on the table in a post about my top travel moments from 2018 and what made them so special or heartbreaking.
So when you are just starting out don’t limit yourself to just one single topic. Write down 4 to 5 topics that resonate with you and that you feel passionate about.
To give you an example here are some of the topics that I love to dig into on my own blog:
4. Not focussing on the design of your blog
Ever clicked on a website that is filled with text and ads? Now, did it intrigue you to keep on clicking or did you get the hell out of there?
I guess you said yes to the second one.
While there are many free WordPress designs, these also won’t make you stand out from the crowd. On the contrary they will only make you blend in with all the other aspiring bloggers out there. Since basically everyone is using the same 5 themes.
I love the look of 17thavenuedesigns for instance, it’s clean, feminine and includes a full tutorial on how to install the theme.
5. Waiting to start a newsletter
Once you start growing your email list you have to keep your subscribers interested in you and your website! This is where sending out a regular newsletter becomes super important!
Convertkit makes it super easy to do this and keeps track of the percentage of subscribers that opens your newsletter. To get feedback like this can help you a great deal along the way! It will teach you which type of content your readers are most interested in and what you should be focussing more on in the future.
6. Focussing too much on Instagram
While Instagram is an amazing tool to build an audience and to connect with them. It shouldn’t be your main focus point. In case you haven’t noticed, the algorithm is screwing it up for all of us big time. During my first year of blogging all of my energy went into creating as much content as possible for Instagram and traveling all over the world. While this is a lot of fun it also takes away precious time that you could otherwise dedicate to your blog.
Over the past months I really started to shift my focus from my Instagram towards my blog. And the fun part? There is no algorithm controlling how many people actually get to see my blog post.
And did you know you can actually charge more for sponsored content if you also own a blog and have a newsletter?
7. Not promoting blog posts properly
To be fair the only promo I did for my blog during my first year of writing was mentioning it once in a while in my Instagram stories.
Let me tell you, that is not enough to make a blog post rank on the first page of Google! Besides a specific strategy to promote your blog posts on Instagram, you should also focus on Facebook and Pinterest.
There are a ton of Facebook groups out there for bloggers. My favourite one is Wandering Women Travel Bloggers, where there are weekly threads to promote your own blog post and engage with other writers.
When it comes to Pinterest, you have to treat it like a search engine. My friend Christine wrote an amazing blog post on how to properly use Pinterest for driving more traffic to your blog.
8. Write a good About Me page
Did you know your “About Me” page is often the second most-clicked page on your entire blog? People want to know more about you, they want to feel some form of connection to you to stay engaged with your website and keep on reading.
It’s a great way to show the person behind the blog and to explain what you are most passionate about. Plus you can tell people where to go next on your website.
9. Start focussing on monetising your blog
If you want to make a career out of blogging then this is a very important step! I am not saying that your first blog post should be filled with a ton of affiliate links… hell NO! This will just put people off from ever visiting your website ever again!
What you do have to do is find the perfect balance between providing VALUABLE information and earning money from said information.
What you never should do is promote a product or service that you haven’t tested yourself. While it may sometimes seem very tempting this will also upset your readers. And the most important part is that they will keep on trusting you.
When you’re just starting out focus on 2 to 3 affiliate programs to not overwhelm yourself or your readers. A few good ones to start are: Booking, Amazon and ReWardStyle.
So if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by starting up your own blog or by changing it up. Know that you are not alone in this! Every single one of us is still learning every single day. If you have any more questions feel free to drop them below!