Blogging can be very profitable if you do it right. A lot of people jump into blogging without knowing what it takes to be successful at blogging.
Although I am a newbie blogger as well who is yet to make any money, I read and follow the top bloggers in the industry.
In this post, I would like to highlight the top mistakes that newbie bloggers make.
1. Not Building An Email List
“The money is in the list.”
If you haven’t heard that line before, you have not blogged long enough. Whatever your blogging goals are, building your email list should be your top priority.
If you are blogging to make money, you would soon notice that your blogging income will be directly proportional to the number of email subscribers.
Making an growing, an email will ensure that you have a steady stream of visitors as soon as a publish a new post.
You could also segment your visitors and send them targeted emails or drip campaigns. This way you would successfully make sales if you created your own products.
Having a growing subscriber base will also Google Proof your website. You can still get a good number of visitors on your blog if you regularly email your readers.
How do you start making an email list
After you have signed up for a provider, integrate their subscription form into blog design and start collecting emails. Make sure to test and measure from which areas your users subscribe more.
Also, make sure to segment your email list. Send all your segments targeted emails. Keep an eye on key stats like open rates, click through rates.
Test your subject lines and send times to maximize these numbers.
If you have a product of your product that you sell (ebook, tool, consulting, training), make sure to set up a separate drip for new subscribers and see how they respond to your emails. There are hundreds of great email marketing training’s available, make sure you learn and keep improving.
2. Not Building A Relationship With Your Readers
The most successful bloggers create long lasting relationships with their readers.
It’s not because of what they write is great (which it is), it’s because the readers know the man behind the blog.
Even ShoutMeLoud falls into that category. Almost all the regular readers know Harsh and all the forum members too.
John Chow even built and grew his blog even after getting a penalty from Google just on the basis of his relationships with his audience. That is how powerful relationships with your readers are.
Building a great relationship with your audience has many benefits.
- You develop a loyal following
- You can make friends for life
- It makes your blog trustworthy to first-time visitors
- Since your audience will trust you, they will easily buy from you
- You will have more engagement on your blog in the form of comments, which will boost your traffic
- One of your readers may be a blog owner, and that will open new avenues for you
Its clear that having a meaningful relationship with your readers is beneficial.
Here’s how to start building a relationship with your readers.
1. Write in a conversational tone
This one is easy. Just notice how I am writing this post right now. Its like I am talking to a friend.
Nobody wants to read a boring blog filled with jargon. Its like reading a school textbook that puts you to sleep.
2. Learn the art of Storytelling
“Let me tell you about the old friend. He started a blog a while back but noticed that he was getting no visitors. He then followed the most successful bloggers and started following what they did. Soon enough, he was blogging, and his traffic was up.”
See what I did there? There is no friend. I just told you a story.
The best marketers are the best storytellers. If you want to blog and grow and successfully, you have so started learning how to tell a good story.
I recommend you sign up for a copywriting course or read some good books on copy writing to improve your skills.
3. Encourage users to comment and respond to them
This is a no brainer. You should always encourage your readers to leave comments.
Have you noticed how does a classroom feel when the teacher finished an important lesson the class just sits there?
Its pretty weird. The students are either not interested, sleeping or too afraid to ask questions.
That’s exactly how a blog without comments feels like. New visitors who land on your website will be un-sure whether or not they should comment. They would also not trust your website that easily.
On the other hand, a blog with the engaging community feels fresh, trustworthy and lively. Just like a classroom room of beaming children and an interactive teacher.
Coming back to comments.
Its important that your readers leave comments. Its also important that you respond to all the comments (or most of them). When a reader comments on your post, they feel like they are talking face to face with an individual. You wouldn’t ignore a person if they were talking to you face to face would you? Then you shouldn’t ignore readers who take the time to read the content you wrote and took the time to comment. That’s just rude.
If you have a low engagement/comments on your blog, here is how to fix it.
- Make is easy for readers to comment
- Respond to comments on your blog
- Ask questions in you posts and emails
Have a look at Derek Halpern. In all of his videos that he posts, he regularly asks his audience questions and encourages them to answer in the comments.
3. Not Selling From Day 1
“If you don’t tell it won’t sell.”
You may be blogging for ad income, to establish yourself as the thought leader, personal branding, affiliate sales or any more reason.
Whatever your goals are, you have to sell!
Selling does not mean taking your products and pushing them in your readers faces; it means gently reminding them that you have something for sale.
Even if you create tons of great content, and your readers love you, you won’t make any money if you don’t make a sale.
Remember, you are not running a blog, you are running a business.
A business makes sales and profits.
There are many benefits to selling from day 1.
- You know which forms of monetization works best for you blog
- You understand your readers better as you will be able to see analytics about different types of posts
- You gain more experience in selling
- It will boost your confidence. The feeling of the first $$$ is un-matched (I am still waiting for that to happen to me).
- If sets expectations from your readers. If you have ads or products to sell on your blog to sell for too long, your readers will become used to it. Suddenly adding a product for sale could surprise your readers and be counter-productive
Here’s what to do to sell from Day 1
- If you have your products to sell, make sure to add great value to the product
- If you plan to advertise, put up ads quickly so, your readers get used to them
- Set up your affiliate links and disclaimers as necessary
- Add relevant call to actions for your products
- Email your subscribers about your products
4. Not diversifying your income/traffic sources
This is a tricky one. If you are successfully monetizing your blog, you should try to diversify your sources of income.
Your income should consist of a healthy mix of advertisement income, affiliate income, consulting, selling your products and many other sources.
This has many advantages.
- If you don’t try different monetization techniques, how would you know which one is the best?
- If your blog is relatively new, you can still much more money from multiple sources than through a single source
- It teaches you different monetization techniques that can help with consulting or any other blog that you start in the future
- It safeguards you from unexpected events. If for some reason one of your income goes down, you will still have cash flow to survive
- Even ShoutMeLoud was hit with a Google penalty in the past. If such a successful blog is not immune, then how can you be immune
It serves different types of readers.
This is a tricky one to explain. Your blog will have a variety of readers. Some read for fun, some for learning, some read it casually, and some consider you an expert. Different types of readers will read your blog differently.
Personally, I save all the long articles to the pocket app and read them later. If a blog depends on ads for income, they lost impressions even if I am a regular reader. If you have ads on the sidebars, readers on mobile won’t see them.
Some people like to use text to speech software to listen to the audio of a post. If you depended on affiliate clicks, your income goes down.
By using different ways of monetization, you will ensure that all your readers gain value and also add to your bottom line.
Diversifying your traffic will also save you from the wrath of the Google Gods.
5. Not Choosing A Good Design
“You get only one chance to make a first impression.”
These are wise words that you should follow when designing your blog. Choosing a good looking design is as important as choosing a good functioning design.
In the words of the great Steve Jobs.
“Design is how it works“.
Not only should your blog look beautiful, but it should also be functionally beautiful as well.
Being functionally beautiful means that all the content is presented in a useful way.
Your readers should have no trouble accessing the information on the blog.
You should take care about at least the following things
1. Choose a readable font
There are thousands of fonts out there. Be sure to choose the one that looks good and is easy to read. Test and make sure that the font size you choose is readable on all devices.
Some blogs like to choose 2 or more fonts, keeping different fonts for headings and paragraphs.
You can also check out fontpair for inspiration.
2. Choosing a good look for your blog
I chose this as my second point because I believe that a bad font will annoy the readers more than a bad design.
3. Managing your ads/popups
It might be tempting to fill your blog with ads all over for more income, but in the long run, it will be harmful. If your blog is filled with ads or popups that annoy your users, they will leave your blog and might not come back.
A blog without an audience is a hobby.
As I stated above, always make user experience a top priority. Keep ads to a limit that they do not hamper the reader’s experience.
4. Sending timely and relevant emails
Having a newsletter with high opens and click through is every blogger’s dream.
Its very tempting to bombard every user with emails almost every day in hopes that they will open your emails, but the hope is a bad way to do business.
I get hundreds of emails daily. Those include newsletters that I signed up for. But a lot of them go un-opened and end up in the trash.
The reason? I only have a limited time throughout the day to check emails, and I’ll open the ones that give me the most value.
If you have high-quality content on your blog, you have set up your readers’ expectations. Make sure you provide them the same value in every email.
Make sure to test your email strategy and your autoresponders to make sure your readers get the best value.
6. Not Creating Visual Content
Have you checked your Facebook recently? Next time you do, compare the number of photos and videos you see to the number of text updates you see.
If my estimate is right, over 90% of your updates will contain a photo or a video.
Why is that?
Facebook’s job is to make its news feed more engaging for its users. Engaging means that users see what they like, spend more time on the website, like and share more.
Facebook long discovered that users like to see more images in their news feed. If Facebook is adopting it, why aren’t you.
An image is worth a thousand words. There is truth to that statement.
Images are easily processed by the brain. An average person will digest information a 100 times faster than text. That is the reason info-graphics became so popular.
If you still are not convinced, think about this. As a child, you must have enjoyed books with lots of cartoons and graphics. The same story presented in a textual way would not have been that interesting.
Take a look at my earlier article. Its filled with images and even has an animated header image. That sure grabs some eyeballs.
The verdict is, visual content is going to win in the long run and you should prepare yourself.
This is how you start creating visual content
1. Hire a designer
2. Use design tools
This would be the cheapest but the most time-consuming way to start creating visual content. For some people or beginners, this would be ideal.
7. Not Making A Fast Website
Website loading speed is not only now useful for SEO, but also for user experience.
Nobody likes a slow loading website. As the amount of information available explodes, attention spans will get shorter and shorter. If your website loads even half a second late, it will cost you readers and money.
There are several ways to make your website fast. I will share some of the techniques here as well.
The best part is; you can follow the tips even if you are not extremely techy. Let’s get started.
1. Choose a good host
A host is the first thing that you find when you start a blog. Much has been written about choosing a good host and I’m no expert. It’s better to consult an expert. Harsh has been running this blog successfully for many years. Here is what he recommends for hosting WordPress site.
2. Choosing a good CMS
I recommend WordPress. It’s the blogging standard on the web and for good reason. No CMS comes close to the functionality of WordPress.
3. Optimize your WordPress database
Over time, as your blog grows, the size of your database can grow muti folds. If not properly optimized, it can lead to slow DB performance. A slow DB means a slow website.
Its easy to fix this. If you can open your PHPMyAdmin console through your hosting, select your database
You will see a list of all tables, select all and select the option “Optimize Table”.
There are also some plugins that will optimize your WordPress database by cleaning out revisions from the database etc. Here is the one I recommend. It cleans out un-necessary tables and reduces the load on the database.
4. Using Caching Plugin
Technically speaking, a WordPress website is a dynamic website. That means all the data is stored in a database, and all the pages are created using the code at the time of a request. That means that whenever a user tries to access your website, WordPress will access the database and generate the page.
This works when you have a few visitors, but when the number of visitors rises, the load of the database will become un-sustainable.
Caching solves this problem by creating a static page and keeping it “cached”. This way, whenever a user visits your blog, the cached page is shown instead of accessing the database. This saves resources and increases performance and speed.
One of the best caching plugins is W3 Total Cache.
5.Optimize your images
When you create visual content, there will be a lot of images on your blog. It is important that you optimize those images for good performance.
Bigger images take longer to load and slow down the website.
Plugins such as ShortPixel will help in optimizing images. It’s better to resize the images properly and then upload them. You can also use Snagit to take the screenshot & resize it before uploading to your blog.
There are several tools that can do this. I recommend XnConvert. Here is an easy tutorial on how to use XnConvert.
8. Not doing any testing
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
This is what I learned in engineering. Measuring and testing are part of any progressive project. If you don’t test and measure your results, they will not improve magically.
Ideally, you should test everything. Content length, writing style, blog design, CTA’s, ad placements, multiple ad providers, multiple affiliate programs and more.
If you can’t test everything, then you start with a few most important things.
CTA’s mean call to action. For a blog, that would be a click on an ad or affiliate link.
You should test your ad placements and the type of ads you publish for maximum revenue.
9. Not Approaching Advertisers Yourself
If you have just started blogging, then it would take some time for you to get your AdSense account opened, place ads and see the revenue flow.
If you have a niche focused blog, you can make money faster by approaching advertisers yourself.
This may seem intimidating, but the worst that can happen is you can get turned down. No harm was done there.
Also, you can make much more money by focusing on a specific niche and then asking advertisers in your niche to advertise on your blog. This is because you will have a chance to get better click through rates through on your ads if your ads are highly relevant to your niche.
Look at this screenshot from ShoutMeLoud Advertising Page:
Also, you might have read about Harsh making 650$ from promoting X theme, where he contacted the company.
So how do you start approaching advertisers
1. Set up an advertising page on your blog
Look at your traffic numbers, audience engagement and decide on pricing. Your pricing should be moderate enough to attract advertisers and enough to make it worth your time.
2. Contact advertisers
Ask yourself this. What products would my readers be interested in? Since Harsh writes about blogging and making money, his readers are interested in setting up blogs, SEO tools, traffic tools etc.
Similarly, you can look for products in your niche that your readers would like and contact those companies to ask if they would like to advertise on your blog. You could be surprised with the results.
10. Not Promoting Your Blog
“Content is King”.
I am sure you must have heard this hundred of times. I agree with that statement, but content alone will get you nowhere.
If no-one is reading your blog, the best content in the world will not help you.
The secret sauce of all the successful bloggers is a promotion.
You should spend as much time promoting content as you do in creating it.
Without great promotions, your great content will stay mediocre.
With mediocre content, you will get mediocre results.
But if you are spending time reading this post, I’m guessing you don’t like mediocre results.
So how do you start promoting your blog?
1. Get Social
Develop an active community on Facebook or a following on Twitter.
If your blog is already successful and has a big following, you can start a forum just like ShoutMeLoud Forum.
2. Engage with other successful people in your blog niche
Relationships with your readers are important. Relationships with other successful bloggers are equally important.
A good relationship with other bloggers will open new avenues to your blogging career. You will have more channels to distribute your content, be invited for guest blogging or more.
3. Find out where your target audience asks questions and answer them
There are many places where people ask questions about specific. There is Quora, Yahoo Answers, Ask.com and many more. There are many forums as well where your audience will spend their time.
Find the relevant questions that people ask and answer them there.
Not adding value to your readers lives
This is the most important tip. Whatever your blogging goals are, if you are not adding value to your reader’s lives, you are not making any progress.
Remember, adding value always doesn’t have to be in learning. Adding value can mean anything. It can mean giving them a good time, adding a new perspective, teaching them something new, making them aware or anything else.
Successful blogs don’t have to be always about teaching or blogging.
Remember, Viral Nova got sold for 100 Million $.
So go ahead, give your best shot and add value to your users lives.