Starting a blog can be a huge step towards creative (and literal) freedom, but blogging unfortunately isn’t always a smooth journey. What most bloggers want is an engaged audience, but what if this audience is nowhere to be seen? You’ve probably made at least one blogging mistake!
Don’t fret – in most cases, there’s a more rational answer than ‘everyone hates me’! It’s usually far less personal. But if your pageviews are nowhere you’d like them to be, you’re probably making one of these blogging mistakes.
Before anyone accuses me of only pointing the negatives, I’d like to say that:
- I’ve made most of these mistakes myself
- I offer solutions to each and every one of them (because I’m that helpful)
Do I promise 1000s of visitors after you fix a blogging mistake? Well, not immediately! But what I can promise is that fixing these simple issues will STOP annoying your readers, and as a result they WILL want to return to your blog.
Ready? Let’s dive into it:
Blogging Mistake No.1 : Not providing value
‘Value’ is different for every blogger and every reader. While some people find it in reading information-rich, ‘evergreen’ posts (like this one), others are fueled by inspirational photos or a relatable story.
Surprisingly, posts like ’50 things to buy in ASOS’ or ‘Links I love’ can also provide value, although they are not the ‘evergreen’ content everyone keeps on talking about. While I agree that they are timely rather than timeless, they save people the time of looking for something themselves. And that, my loves, is value.
Not providing value for me means publishing content you’re not proud of, or not thinking like your ideal reader. I have also published multiple mediocre posts. They were bad not because of the writing, but because I wasn’t giving my readers anything in exchange for their time. The worst thing? I wouldn’t read them myself!
Think twice (or 29 times, as it happened with this post) before you hit publish. Are you so proud of a post that you’re ready to show it even to your enemy? And more importantly, is your post something that your audience would love to read? If not, don’t post it! It’s better to go a day (or two, or three) without posting than keep publishing rubbish you regret after a week. On the plus side, there are many options to provide value and not all of them include writing 3,000 word posts.
Try to think like your ideal reader. Why should they be reading your blog? If you’re a fashion blogger, people may want to follow you because you’re inspirational, have the best Zara finds, or can show them how to wear white jeans in 5 different ways.
But whatever you do, don’t publish something just to keep to a certain (usually self-imposed) schedule. It’s much better to post a great, inspirational post once a week than to have a filler content for the sake of blogging daily.
Blogging Mistake No.2 : Posting content that doesn’t interest your audience
There is an ongoing debate about the importance of being a ‘relatable’ blogger. From my personal experience, I don’t only follow bloggers I can 100% relate to – that would be rather boring, cause it would feel like talking to myself. Despite being a budget fashion blogger, some of my guilty pleasures include bloggers with which our only thing in common is our shared love for Chanel handbags (the blogger owning it, and me lusting after it).
However, there are many luxury fashion bloggers with Chanel handbags that I don’t follow – simply because their content doesn’t interest me! And if they don’t give me a compelling story to compensate for the fact that I can’t afford their outfits, I am out, never to return!
The two things that can make your readers run away like crazy are if you:
a) change your direction: If people follow you because of your affordable high street finds, when you start buying £2,000 handbags, people may stop finding you relatable and leave.
b) continuously write posts that you wouldn’t read yourself: we can go back to point 1, but I guess you got me.
So the point of all this is simple: if you’re posting something that doesn’t interest your audience, they may visit once or twice, but they won’t become your die-hard fans. And it’s the die-hard readers you want to have, not the once-a-month-checking-if-you’re-still-alive type of reader.
If your interests have shifted, there’s not much to be done. It’s really okay to move on as you grow and expand your horizons. Changing your blog direction is not a crime as long as you keep your integrity.
If you no longer feel like compiling ’50 ASOS products to buy now’ lists, don’t do it just for the sake of keeping your readers! There’s nothing worse than forced content, and people will run away from you, never to return. Instead, just let your readers know that you’ll be doing more posts like ‘X’ and ‘Y’. Those who are genuinely interested will stay. Those who aren’t .. well, they’re not your target audience, anyway!
Blogging Mistake No.3 :Your content is extremely varied
I get it, I get it! You love fashion, beauty, eating out, discovering amazing travel destinations, and kicking ass in your career. And you want to write about it ALL. As people, we are way more than just one category or niche. So it can be really hard to narrow down what you want to write about, especially at the beginning.
BUT if you want to establish yourself as the ‘go-to person’ for a certain thing, or at least have readers that come back hungry for more, you kind of have to. Trust me on this one. I started writing about so many things, and it was
a) overwhelming to keep track of all things I wanted to include
b) confusing for my readers.
Because people who loved my beauty content weren’t necessarily interested in studying abroad, or backpacking in Asia. They just wanted to hear about the new £5 lipstick I found at Boots. I had many readers but none of them were actually interested in everything I had to say. In other words, they weren’t my fans, and I really wanted to have fans!
I’m not saying that if you start your blog about vegan recipes, you can never post about fashion. I do love well-rounded blogs, like Thirteen Thoughts or MakeupSavvy. BUT they all started as single-niche bloggers and gradually branched into writing on several topics.
Finding a niche can be tricky and you shouldn’t limit yourself too much. After all, if you want to continue blogging, you have to be passionate about it in 2 or 5 years from now. Pick one or two things you’re really passionate about. You can already be really good at it, or want to learn more about it (such as getting fit, or developing your style). Share your enthusiasm, offer value with your content and you’ll get loyal followers. Who will later be interested in EVERYTHING you have to say.
For example, for my second blog Honestly Mili, I focus on providing style advice and tips on becoming a fashion blogger. I am by no means an expert, but I do try to provide as much value as possible. Sometimes it’s super-informative posts, other times it’s just a story with a cute outfit. My two topics aren’t super related, but I assume that anyone who loves fashion would love to learn how to monetize on this passion -> and they can use my blogging resources to do just that!
Blogging Mistake No.4 : Too many ads and pop-ups
One thing that really annoys me *and I believe I’m not alone* are pop ups! When I click on a post, all I want to do is read it. If I enjoyed it, MAYBE then I’ll look around for some more awesome content. You don’t need to shove your email list, Facebook group and invite me to join your Pinterest board before I even read a single sentence.
Ads are another cliché blogger mistakes that people keep on making. It’s perfectly okay if you want to use ads (although, unless you have tons of traffic, they won’t bring you much return on investment).BUT pop up ads are bad on a desktop, and terrible on mobile devices. I can’t count the times I’ve exited a website because I couldn’t close a pop-up on my phone! And since Google started to penalise websites who have pop-ups in mobile mode, it’s more important than ever to get rid of them!
Don’t be that person with the annoying pop-ups, simply! I do get that you want to make money from your blog, but ads are really not the only way to go. What’s more, they significantly decrease the positive user experience people get from reading your beautiful, well written blog.
If you really have to have them, make your ads as non-disturbing as possible and keep them classy. Or at least, sign up for a network such as AdSense that provides targeted ads, like fashion items for a fashion blogger, or sports equipment for a fitness one.
Blogging Mistake No.5 : Poorly written sponsored posts
Let me start by disclaiming that I actually like sponsored posts. They give me the encouragement that blogging is increasingly recognised as something more than just scribbles on the internet, and people are able to make a living from it.
So if a sponsored post is not a blogging mistake, then what is? A poorly written, obviously sponsored post! Like talking about pans on a beauty blog, or advertising detox tea if you’re a healthy food blogger. But, I assume you’re smart enough not to accept opportunities that don’t align with the focus of your blog.
The problem with sponsored posts is that they can quickly outrage your audience if you fail to disclose a partnership, because people feel personally cheated. How would you feel if a blogger you trusted told you to use Bluehost, but didn’t mention that they make £65 when you sign up? And also somehow forgot to mention that it is a *crappy* hosting? I suppose you won’t be too happy, and for a while you’ll probably forget about the blogger. (Yes, blogging is a bit like a real-life relationship!)
First off, always disclose. If you’re fortunate enough to be sponsored by a company, it shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of disclosing!
Secondly, instead of telling me how much you love a certain thing, show me how you use a product or a service. Tell me how it made you feel. For example, if you were gifted a new bag, show me how you’d style it 3 different ways, so I know it’s worth having it. If you want me to buy the same hosting as you, tell me why you’ve had the best experience with the service and what problems they solved for you.
That’s when a sponsored post becomes a success for both parties. Posts like these do take more effort, because you need to think of a way to seamlessly incorporate an ad within your content.
If you want to learn, take example from the queen of sponsored colabs – Hannah Gale. I’ve seen her talk about shavers, crisps and skirts with the same enthusiasm. And her posts make me feel like she genuinely loves having smooth legs, a bowl of crisps in bed, or a flowy skirt that makes heads turn. And I’m much more likely to buy a product from a blogger that provides value, rather than just continuous praise about something.
Blogging Mistake No.6: Your blog takes ages to load
The second most annoying thing after pop ups are slowly loading websites (I just realised I sound like an easily annoyed person – I promise I am much more patient in real life). I’m sure you know of some slow websites and you visit them rarely because of that. People have literally no time to waste on slow blogs. So even if you have the most stunning photos, I won’t stay to see them!
First off, check your site speed at https://tools.pingdom.com/. And if your site doesn’t get an A rating, here’s why.
There are three potential reasons. One is dozens of plugins, banners and ads. Just get rid of the ones you never use – either deactivate or delete them.
The second reason is photos. No matter whether you only have one photo per post, or 20, a large image can significantly slow your loading time. Which makes your readers go mental and leave.
And the most frequent one is: YOUR HOSTING is slow. I never thought that was the case with my blog until my website developer pointed out that Bluehost are the worst when it comes to speed.
First off, deactivate all the slowing down plugins. You may think you need 30 of them, but in reality you probably don’t.
If you rely on beautiful imagery, it’s very likely that your image are causing your website to load slowly. Optimise them using http://compressimage.toolur.com/. It’s a free, super easy to use tool to minimise the size of your image while keeping the dimensions and quality at place. Once you select images to compress, tick progressive loading and 80-90% quality. An image larger than 500 KB will be slowwww.
Finally, if nothing like that works, maybe the problem is with your hosting. I wrote a whole post why I changed my host here, and if you just want the gist: Use SiteGround: they are the most reliable host for fast loading.
Blogging Mistake No.7: Your website is hard to navigate
A really big blogging mistake (at least to me) is not having an easy to navigate website. There are two things that readers find annoying – too much choice and no choice at all.
Too much choice: If there are 50 items on the sidebar fighting for your readers’ attention, they may wonder where to go next. And if there are too many shining and sparkling things trying to lure them to click, sometimes the easiest choice is to just leave.
On the other side are the super minimalist blog designs. I generally tend to prefer a sleek, non-distracting theme, but it also comes with a big BUT! When the menu consists of only a Home and Blog page, but lacks categories, I know I’ll have a little nightmare of an experience. Usually bloggers write on at least 2 different topics, so if you don’t have categories on the menu, finding more posts like the one I loved becomes pretty much impossible
Let’s take an example. I landed on your page telling me some amazing Pinterest tips. I want to know more! But when I look at the menu, there’s no Pinterest category. I only see ‘blog’. And when I open it, oh god. What’s that? ’15 ways to style a white t-shirt’. ‘My favourite travel destinations for summer. I just wanted to get more of your insights about Pinterest. So, if I can’t find it, I will leave.
Make use of categories – I recommend having one for each main topic that you talk about. You can also have a drop-down menu in each category that gives an even more specific way for people to find relevant content.
For example, if you’re a mommy blogger and also talk about money, make your categories: ‘Mom life’ and ‘Money’. Under mom life, you can even have subcategories like ‘time management’, ‘recipes’ and ‘baby clothes’. Under money, you can have ‘budgeting for moms’, ‘food planning’ etc. You get me.
Make it easy for your readers to navigate your blog and find things that excite them. If I care enough to click on your post and like it, I want to read more from you! So please, I beg you, don’t make me leave.
Blogging Mistake No.8: No information about the author
I used to be so guilty of this, because trust me, there are way more exciting things than writing an ‘about me’ page. Because how do you write about yourself without either boasting or being extra modest, and well, a little boring?
But if you don’t have an About me page, you’re seriously missing out on making a connection with your readers. It’s the SECOND MOST visited page on your website. I am a curious animal, so when I find a blog I like, I want to know more about the person behind the screen. And if I can’t find anything, it’s very likely I’ll forget about you. Sorry.
Your ABOUT page should tell people a little bit about you and your blog. And most importantly – what you can give to your readers. Are you a master of delicious chocolate desserts? Or you can teach people how to shop in Zara? Tell me what I can get from you, and I’m yours.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to writing catchy, interesting paragraphs about yourself. If you’re still unsure how to do it, Melyssa here has a great, easy to follow tutorial. I highly suggest you fill the little workbook because in the end you’ll have a great, easy to read bio.
Blogging Mistake No.9: NO PROFILE PICTURE
I really find it weird when I can’t see your face in the side bar. It makes your writing seem much less personal or relatable. And come on, everyone has at least 1 photo of themselves that they like. Include it, together with your name.
That’s how I know I’m reading a post from Mandy, a 25-year-old brunette from Manchester. Not a bot that randomly put keywords in an article. Being personal allows your readers to feel at ease, because they can imagine you’re talking directly to them. Plus, people are much more likely to associate a blog with a person rather than only with their writing.
Add a profile picture that showcases who you are or what you love. For example, if you’re a beauty blogger, a head shot showing me your top-notch makeup skills is much better than a full body one. If you’re a mommy, a cute photo with your little one will let me know what you’re going to be talking about.
Find an image that you like (and preferably in the same colour scheme as your theme) and post it. It will make you more memorable and people who see you on Instagram or Twitter are more likely to associate you with your blog.
Blogging Mistake No.10: You’re not (active) on social media
I completely get it – it’s so hard to stay on top of all Social platforms. But not utilising any of them is a serious no-no. Firstly, you’re missing out on growing your audience. Think about it – if you’re a fashion blogger, you need to be on Instagram, because that’s where your crowd is. If you’re talking serious topics, maybe Twitter or Facebook will connect you with the most like-minded people.
Secondly, not everyone has time read blogs and leave comments. Some people scroll their Instagram feed, other check Pinterest, third are on Twitter at 7 am. Your readers may prefer to actually connect with you on another, easier to follow platform. So don’t deny them the opportunity to get more of your amazing self!
My pet peeve is when I can’t find your social icons! I know you probably have an Instagram, Twitter or Facebook page. But why can’t I see them?! Even if you’re on Social Media, if people can’t find the easy way to follow you, they won’t. And even if you’ve got a new reader, you probably missed out on an Insta or Twitter follower.
Choose one (or a few) platforms you want to be active on, and actually socialise. Yes, it’s demanding and time-consuming, but you need to give before you get. Connect with people who you like and that you think will enjoy your content. Even though it’s hard, find the time to spend even 15 minutes on Instagram replying to comments or writing under other people’s amazing images.
I personally have 10-15 people who always comment on my Instagram photos. I try to return the favour and actually engage, because I know that these people are also my potential readers and supporters.
To make it easy for people to follow you, use a plugin such as Simple Social Icons to add them under your profile photo. And possibly in another 1 or 2 places, like your top menu and footer. Remind people to follow you in your blog posts as well. You can make a draft post called ‘Signature’ and include a link to all your social media. Then copy it at the end of every post and voila, people will follow if you remind them to!
Blogging Mistake No.11: Writing about the same thing as everyone else
Let me give you a quick example. Last year the Urban Decay All Nighter foundation was all the rage, so naturally all the big beauty bloggers wrote about it. But after reading 15 posts about a single item, I felt a slight deja-vu. Wasn’t there anything else happening in the beauty world?
Generally, approaching a popular topic is not considered a blogging mistake. But writing the same content as everyone else is. If you’re not giving your readers any new information, your post becomes super easily forgettable. When you’re not providing value, your posts become worthless. Which brings me to point one about value.
Writing about a super popular topic can be a double sided knife. Yes, it can get you many views, but your content also risks being buried underneath the posts that everyone else had already written.
So, if you want to talk about something that many bloggers have already written about (like a makeup review, the new IT bag or blogging tips for Instagram), always include a piece of yourself. Add a personal story that people will remember. Shoot your photos in a different way than others. Compare the product with something that you’ve used before.
Everything you do differently doesn’t make your content worse. It makes it yours and helps you establish yourself in the long run.
Blogging Mistake No.12: Not having a responsive comment system
Finally, let’s talk comment systems. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but generally: if your readers take time to post a comment, they want to know if you replied. Most comment systems out there are relatively easy to use (everyone can comment) but they never let you know when someone replies.
Having a responsive comment system has two benefits:
a) it notifies people when you reply to them
b) so they can come back to the blog and read your comment! And potentially spend some more time on your blog
So if you’re not using a responsive comment system, you’re probably missing out!
Disqus is the only comment system I’ve found to be satisfying. You do need to be registered to comment, which may deter potential readers from posting. However, it always gives me a heads up when someone replies to me or comments on my posts.
So don’t be like me in the past. Install Disqus – more and more blog readers are on it! You’ll be happy when the comments start rolling!
There you have it – 12 blogging mistakes that hurt your blog. To make sure you’re not making blogging mistake, download my FREE checklist below.
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