Starting a new blog? Blogging can be a rewarding pastime, as a way of expressing yourself creatively and by connecting you to like-minded groups of people. Some bloggers are even able to earn a living by writing about something that was once just a hobby or a passionate side project.
However, beware of the common mistakes that many new bloggers make that can slow or prevent you from finding your audience. Below are some common missteps to avoid:
Lack of passion. You want to focus on a topic that you love and you find intensely interesting. Otherwise, you can easily lose interest and stop writing shortly into the start of your new blog. In addition, the enthusiasm that you feel about the subject matter should be evident in your writing, imagery and photography. Readers are quick to sense if posts are written just for promotion (or if your heart really isn’t in it) and are unlikely to become fans.
Generic or poor blog design. Even though using the myriad of free template options to start a blog is easy and requires little investment, you should consider customizing the blog–even with a just few small changes, like a personal logo or header. While quality content is what keeps readers returning, a visually appealing blog is what will get them to stop and read it in the first place.
Keep the design simple so that your audience can quickly and easily access the information they want. You also want to make sure that your web host plan has the right amount of bandwidth for the type of traffic you want to come to your site. A chunky design with a slow-loading webpage are a quick turn-off for many visitors.
Inconsistent posting, particularly with long breaks between posts. You don’t have to create a new post every day–in fact, if you’re just starting out, you probably shouldn’t shoot for daily posts unless you are positive you can sustain that level of productivity for at least six months.
Readers will develop expectations of your blog, including the frequency of posts. Long delays between posts can lead to attrition–people will forget to check back after a period of silence.
Decide how much you can and would want to create on a weekly basis. Also, try to put some posts “in the bank” so that should busy periods come up or emergencies happen, you will have posts ready to go without any additional effort needed. Many blogging platforms allow you to schedule posts; use this to develop a blog calendar.
Forgetting to proofread. A common error amongst bloggers and writers, that happens particularly when rushing to get a post up, too many typos can drive readers crazy (and youíll probably hear about it in the comments). While a few errors here and there are perfectly normal, an excess of grammar and spelling mistakes will make your posts seem sloppy and amateurish.
Take a few minutes to read through your posts after writing them, or recruit someone else to be your proofreader and editor, and have them read through for flow, content, and yes, typos.
Not promoting your blog through social media channels. The quickest way to develop an audience is by promoting to your social network. With thousands (possibly millions) of blogs available on almost every topic you can imagine, your voice can easily get lost, regardless of how well-designed your blog is or how great your content is.
Tap into the network that you’ve already built and expand on it by creating social media accounts specifically for the blog.
Not utilizing search engines. Blogs are generally search engine-friendly by nature, especially if you’re frequently updating and providing new content; however, the search engines need to know that the blog exists before they can crawl the pages.
Submitting your blog to search engines can be very easy, depending on the platform and the engine. With some platforms, it’s as easy as simply choosing to toggle the Submit to Search Engine button to “on”.
Maximize your efforts by learning about SEO (search engine optimization). SEO has evolved beyond incorporating keywords; content, links, headlines, images and so on all make a difference on how your page is ranked.
Ignoring other blogs. Commenting on like-minded blogs in knowledgeable, accessible ways is a quick way to garner attention. You will come across like an expert on that shared subject, and readers are likely to click over to take a look at your own blog. Also, by commenting on other bloggers’ sites, you can establish relationships and join a community in your niche.
Blogging can be very fun and rewarding experience. Make the best of your efforts by avoiding these common new blogger mistakes.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and online marketing professional from Los Angeles. She specializes in social networking and web analytics, and knows the right steps to developing an active, engaging blog.