Blogs have long been a staple of the online experience.
Before forums, social media, and message boards gained traction; amateur bloggers were busy churning out content for like-minded individuals.
But are they still relevant in 2020?
Practically everyone reads blogs still ─ 77% of internet users to be precise ─ whether it’s to stay up-to-date, learn new things, or be entertained.
Yet, the blogosphere has become increasingly over-saturated with content.
Add to the mix the rise of multimedia platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and you get an extremely competitive blogging environment for newcomers.
But the industry is not dead. It’s evolving.
Long gone are the days when writing content was enough. In its place, a new breed of bloggers has emerged.
In this post, we’ll review common mistakes that amateur bloggers make and provide you with strategies and tips to ensure you can build a solid following.
10 Mistakes Amateur Bloggers Should Avoid At All Costs
1. Relying entirely on platforms like Wix
It’s a fact that most bloggers are not technical gurus.
They might be experts in their field and be able to write well, but they cannot create a functional web page without help.
Enter third-party solutions.
Platforms such as Wix, WordPress, and SquareSpace have gained traction because they provide hosting solutions and allow anyone to create a blog using a drag-and-drop interface.
No code required!
Sounds great, right?
When using free blogging platforms, you are not allowed to own a unique domain name, which is extremely bad for SEO and your blog (you’ll learn why this is important later).
You don’t want your website to look unprofessional with a domain name like xyz.wordpress.com.
If you’re serious about blogging, pay for a unique URL so that you can build a brand identity.
Also, make sure to pay for your own hosting, so you have complete control over your blog.
This also gives you the freedom to customize your site as you see fit.
By being in control of your destiny, you can avoid future headaches if a third-party platform decides to shut you down.
Fortunately, it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg to get a domain name or hosting.
2. If you build it, they will not come
Many new amateur bloggers wrongly assume that if they write content, readers will magically appear on their doorstep and get links on other sites pointing to their blog.
Sadly, this is no longer true (unless you can find a way to time travel back to the 90s).
The hard truth is that no one cares if you have started a blog, and more importantly, most people will never even know about it without any promotion from your end.
You have to get word the out and distribute your content (more on this later).
Below are some examples of common distribution channels.
With almost 5 billion internet users, the chances are that at least some people will be interested in what you have to say regardless of what niche you choose or how narrow your focus is.
It’s your job to find and reach out to these readers.
“It’s not enough to just produce good content. In the early days of your blog, you need to focus heavily on content promotion too, both on social and search,” shared Donald Chan, founder at MarTech Wise.
3. You don’t post content regularly
Amateur bloggers are prone to being inconsistent.
After the initial excitement of a new project starts to wear off, many either hit writers’ block or lose their motivation if they don’t enjoy quick success.
Fresh content dries up, and blogs become graveyards.
Remember, patience and perseverance are critical to success in this business.
To maintain a loyal fan base, establish a content calendar and post content regularly so that your readers remain engaged and keep coming back to your site.
There is no right or wrong formula for how often you should post.
When starting, experiment with posting frequency and choose what works best for you, whether it be once a day/week or several times per month.
4. Failing to promote your blog
Getting the word out about your blog is as essential as creating great content.
But what is content promotion exactly?
It’s a marketing tactic meant to help build awareness, engage leads, and convert traffic into loyal followers of your brand.
While it is a time-consuming process, failing to share your content is a sin.
Here are some tips on how to distribute your content:
- Share on social media
Sharing your content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is a great way to increase your reach.
Be careful, though.
When posting on different social platforms, make sure you know the ideal dimension of images that accompany your post to maximize reach.
Pro-tip: If you don’t have many followers, use hashtags to reach a broader audience.
- Build an email list
Your blog has to be more than well…just a blog.
But what exactly is an email list?
Think of it as a database of your readers’ contact information who have voluntarily given you their emails to stay up-to-date with your latest content.
By reaching your fans in their inbox, you will be able to build valuable long-term relationships.
- Write guest posts
Guest blogging is a common content marketing strategy.
It requires you to write content for other sites.
Here is an example of a blogger and business owner doing just that.
But wait ㅡ why would you promote someone else’s site?
Think of it as a mutually beneficial relationship. In exchange for helping someone else with content, you get access to their traffic and increase your brand awareness.
It’s a small price to pay to attract traffic back to your own blog.
Remember that this is a two-way street so you can also invite others in your niche to write guest posts for your blog.
5. Not using Google search console
Besides content promotion, there is another way to get your blog in front of readers.
By ranking favorably on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
Search engines act as gatekeepers of information online. On Google alone, users carry out 5.6 billion searches every day to find relevant information.
In SEO (search engine optimization) language, these inputs are referred to as keywords.
For example, “wordpress themes” and “free responsive themes for wordpress blogs” are both keywords.
Naturally, sites that rank high on SERPs for these keyword inputs will receive the bulk of traffic.
Here’s a graph of click-through-rates (CTRs) plotted against Google rankings.
However, many amateur bloggers either don’t know about keyword research or shy away from it, fearing it to be a technical process.
Instead, they create content blindly and hope people search for it.
However, you should be doing the opposite. Look for relevant keywords that readers in your niche are searching for and create content around it.
How do you do keyword research?
You can use a free tool like Google keyword planner to get data about the number of average monthly searches carried out for a keyword and how difficult it is to rank for.
As a beginner, it will be hard to compete for high-volume keywords since you will be taking on authoritative sites that have been around for years.
Your goal is to create content that balances between search volume and competition.
6. Ignoring best SEO practices
Unlike humans, search engines need help understanding your content.
Google can’t read or ‘crawl’ and understand what your blog post is about. It needs to be told what the content is about and why it should rank high on SERPs.
To do this, you absolutely cannot ignore SEO.
Fortunately, the process is quite straightforward!
Here are some tips you can implement within seconds:
- Label your images
If you have images accompanying your post 一 which you should 一 you will need to set the “alt-text” for each image.
The alt-text simply describes what an image on the page is about.
Since search engines can’t read images, adding the alt-text is a helpful signal and provides you with a leg up when it comes to Google understanding your content.
- Update your meta description
Meta descriptions are snippets of text information that appear on SERPs.
About 155 characters long, this short copy appears below the link of each result and is meant to encourage readers to view the content on your page.
While it’s not necessary to include them, doing so will increase click-through-rates to your blog, which is an SEO ranking factor.
How can you write a great meta description?
- Accurately describe your page’s content to ensure consistent user experience.
- Don’t give everything away. Make readers want to click through to your content.
- Include your main keyword in the text.
- Create a unique description for each link. No copy-pasting!
7. Not creating internal links to other posts on your blog
Amateur bloggers often don’t know the powerful effect of internal linking in their blog posts.
Internal links are hyperlinks that take users from one page to another on your site.
From an SEO standpoint, these links are important for two main reasons.
First, they encourage readers to stay on your site rather than go somewhere else.
In doing so, you help provide positive reinforcement to search engines about why your site is a reputable and trustworthy source of information which boosts your rankings.
Second, internal links help search engines better crawl your website.
When Google attempts to index new pages on the Internet, it may initially land on the only page of your site.
This means that as far as search engines are concerned, any other pages you have don’t exist.
It does not matter how great that content might be or how precise your keyword targeting was, these pages will not show up on SERPs.
However, internal links can help search engines find all your pages.
But remember that internal links must be relevant.
For example, if your internal link keyword is ‘best antivirus software’, you don’t want to send users to a post about ‘best wordpress plugins’.
That’s just bad user experience.
A good internal linking strategy targets related keywords to your primary keyword.
For example, you might create a post about ‘best TV models of 2020’ in which you mention products like Samsung Q90R QLED TV and Vizio P-Series Quantum X.
From here, you can then create standalone content for each of these products and interlink the pages with your primary keyword.
8. Not connecting with other bloggers
When it comes to blogging, befriending your competition is key for survival.
One word: Backlinks.
A backlink is when one web page links to an external page outside that domain.
These links act as ‘votes’, so if your blog post has a lot of external backlinks pointing to it, Google will believe this content is valuable, leading to a higher ranking.
In an ideal world, great content should attract backlinks organically.
And that does happen.
However, you don’t want to leave it to chance. To increase your odds of acquiring these valuable assets, connect with other bloggers in your niche.
Participate in discussions on social media or community-based sites like Reddit to get your brand out there.
You can also engage in cold email outreach and ask for backlinks.
While this is usually a hit-and-miss process, make sure to personalize your message.
It’s what separates spammers whose emails get deleted and the pros who are able to earn backlinks from sites with high domain authorities.
9. Ignoring page load speed
A fast-loading website provides a better user experience, which translates to higher rankings.
Yet, amateur bloggers often ignore site speed in favor of bad design practices.
They load up their pages with large images, infographics, and video or use design templates that take long to load.
But today’s online users expect their pages to load almost immediately.
Too much of a delay and they will likely leave to go somewhere else which is bad for SEO.
Every second count.
Here are some tips on how to improve your site speed:
- Optimize your images
You can reduce the size of your images by compressing them using tools like Pixlr.
Other services you may want to explore include Gimp, TinyPNG, and Smush.
- Use a content delivery network (CDNs)
CDNs allow you to host your files across a large network of servers around the world.
How does this help reduce page load speed time?
Having your site spread across many servers helps reduce the load on any single server and also protects it from traffic spikes that can slow download times.
10. Not updating your old articles
Old is gold as the saying goes.
But when it comes to online content, anything old is undesirable. Outdated content is hard to rank because search engines penalize it.
This is why bloggers spend hours creating new content.
But there’s a way to “cheat”.
Updating your old content can provide enough of a freshness boost for ranking purposes.
Spend some time going through your old posts and look for opportunities where you can make changes to your content.
Some things to look out for include: outdated data, missing internal links, and new developments in your niche that you need to add to provide better value to readers.
For example, Brian Dean is known to consistently update blog posts on his site.
In today’s online environment, amateur bloggers have to be more than just writers.
You have to know how to sell and market yourself.
However, with some determination and knowledge of what it takes to build a long-term following, blogging remains a lucrative opportunity for anyone willing to put in the hard work.