Firstly, shout out to any new or newish bloggers out there! Whether you’ve just started out and have 0 idea what you’re doing or have been at it awhile and are still floundering a bit (I mean, let’s face it, the floundering never really goes away!), I want to get real with you and share some of the mistakes beginning bloggers make.
It’s been about three and a half years now since I started my first blog, www.girlgonelondon.com. It started as a creative outlet to pass the time while I couldn’t work in the UK until my visa came through, but what it has turned into is something incredible: a way to make extra income for myself each month (you can check out my income reports here), the portfolio that got me my now full time job that I love, and a way to keep myself connected to the world and the people I love who live across it.
But it took me awhile to learn some of the following lessons, and I want to save you some of the time and heartache involved in doing the same.
So let’s get down to it!
Mistake #1: Blogging to Make Money
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re blogging to make money from the start, you’re going to have a bad time. This is not a get rich quick scheme. For a lot of people, it’s not even a get rich at all scheme.
When you set your sights on money as the primary goal, you’re going to be disappointed early on rather than encouraged. And – even if the money does come – the passion will soon fade when you don’t have any other emotions behind your blog except the thrill of having more money in your bank account.
Trust me, I SHOULD KNOW. I started Girl Gone London for the right reasons, but then thought I’d try out a Girl Gone Lifestyle site where I talked about products and try to pay off my mortgage through affiliate income. You can read more about this particular failure here, but let’s just say that it no longer exists because I couldn’t keep going when I realized I don’t care about beauty products. Lesson learned.
Mistake #2: Focusing on Follow-for-Follow and Instant Engagement
So don’t get me wrong here – I understand that when you’re JUST starting out, it takes some time to get traction and those “follow me and I’ll follow you back” threads are appealing. But don’t let this be your long term goal. You will never become a blogger sensation if you spend all of your time searching for that “instant” hit and the traffic that comes from sharing to blogging Facebook groups.
It can be a great way to get your content in front of new readers, but you should be spending the majority of your time on building up your SEO and long-term social media strategies. Otherwise, the second you take a break and aren’t constantly engaging in these threads, your traffic is going to plummet.
Good things come to people who focus on the long term, and not just the short term!
Mistake #3: Doing Too Much at One Time
I also know the insane need some of us have to do it ALL. I STILL struggle with this. You start a blog and then the next minute you’re on Twitter, Pinterest, Google + , Stumbleupon, Facebook, and dreaming of ideas for a second blog altogether.
Whoa, hold up. Wait a minute.
You’re not going to succeed if you spread yourself too thin. Imagine, if you will, a brand looking at two bloggers. One has 100 followers on each social media platform, and the other has 700 on Facebook and Twitter.
Who looks more prepared here? The person with more followers and more engagement on fewer platforms.
Mistake #4: Avoiding Pinterest
I’m just going to come out and admit it – this was me. I made thousands from my blog and had been going for multiple years before I decided to harness the power of Pinterest.
Well, it seemed harder than all the others. It’s a steeper learning curve than just “post your links on Twitter” or “take a picture and throw a filter on it.” And so it always got pushed to the side for me.
But Pinterest ISN’T a social media platform. It’s a visual search engine. And if you’re going to keep getting traffic to your blog day after day, week after week, without sitting at your computer 24/7, you need to learn how to use it properly.
And you might as well start from the beginning.
Mistake #5: Not Collecting E-Mails
If you don’t have an e-mail opt-in on your site from Day 1, you’re making the classic beginning blogger mistake and you need to change that right now. I don’t care how many words you have written, how many pictures you’ve taken, or how many social media platforms you’re killing it on.
You need to start collecting e-mails.
Read this post for some super important tips on how to collect e-mails quickly.
E-mails allow you a control over your audience in the sense that you don’t have to hope they notice your post – you can send it (and lots of other things) straight to their inbox.
And when it comes to monetizing, whether that means affiliate marketing, selling products, or selling services? Well, your money is in your list. That is an often repeated phrase, but it is because it’s true. I’ve learned this for myself in the past 6 months and I will say over and over again – start your list today!