Like most newbie bloggers, you’re probably filled with boundless enthusiasm and feeling optimistic about this new change to promote yourself or your business and maybe even make a few bucks on the side. These are certainly not bad things, and your positive energy is what will carry you through the first difficult months as you painstakingly build up a readership and find ways to connect with your audience.
But, there are downsides to being fresh-faced and green, and most new bloggers find out the hard way that there is more to blogging than putting words on the page and hitting the “publish” button.
To spare you from some of the growing pains and prepare you for what’s ahead, I’ve compiled eight of the most common blogging mistakes that new bloggers tend to make over and over, without even knowing it.
1. Not having a common theme or constantly going off-topic
Too many bloggers start out without any concrete idea of what their blog will focus on. This leads to an unorganized, confusing and just plain useless blog. Think about what you hope to accomplish with your blog, how you are going to get there and what specific niche you will focus on.
Another mistake is choosing a theme and then writing about other things. Imagine going to a blog you thought was about adventure travel and finding posts about fashion. Would you return? You can’t please everyone and you can’t write about everything, so pick a topic and style and then stick to it.
2. Inconsistent posting
Posting inconsistently is a sure way to lose your readers and fail to attract new ones. Some bloggers are under the impression that they should only blog when they have something important to say or news to share, but if you wait around for things to happen, your posts will be sporadic and readers will lose interest.
You don’t have to post every day, but you should post at least once a week or your blog will appear abandoned. Find a blogging routine that works for you and then stick to it so that your readers know when they can expect updates.
3. Not knowing who your audience is
If you don’t know who you are targeting with your blog, you won’t be able to connect with your audience, which means you won’t have an audience. Figure out who you want to target (teenagers, young professionals, women who love fashion, etc) and then tailor your posts to appeal to that audience.
4. No formatting
You can have the most captivating subject in the world, but if you don’t format your post correctly (or at all), it’s not going to get many hits. No one wants to read through a huge block of dull looking text, so format your posts using subheadings, numbered lists, bullet points, bold text, and most importantly, short and concise paragraphs.
5. Mediocre headlines
Your headline or title is the first thing people will see when they open your blog or when you share your posts. If the title doesn’t spark their interest, they won’t take time out of their day to click on it and see what you have to say.
Your title needs to be catchy, inspiring, funny or enticing. It also needs to be descriptive and match the content you are sharing.
6. Leaving out the facts
Sharing your opinion is fine if you are a big-shot movie critic, millionaire, celebrity, designer or writer. If you aren’t one of the above (or at least a well-established blogger with a steady stream of returning visitors), you need to include the facts and keep your opinion to a minimum, because until you are well-known, no one really cares about your personal opinion.
7. Being long-winded
When you are enthusiastic about something, it can be hard to keep your posts short and sweet as you have so much you want to share. However, most people who follow blogs don’t have time or simply can’t be bothered to read a post of 2,000+ words.
To keep your reader’s attention, especially when you are still establishing yourself, try to keep your posts under 800 words, and make it easy for the reader to skim over and pick out the most important messages you are trying to convey (by using subheadings, lists, etc).
8. No images
This goes hand in hand with the point about formatting; pictures break up the monotony of the text and spark a reader’s attention at first glance.
Of course, you need to choose images or photos that match what your post is about and fit with your overall blog theme and style. Don’t use images of flowers and trees in a post about technology, because it clashes with the message you are trying to convey.