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Are you a new blogger? Or perhaps you’ve been blogging a while but you’re not seeing enough traction and growth? You are in the right place because I am going to share 25 amateur blogging mistakes which could prevent you from growing and monetising your website as fast as you’d like.
Ask yourself if you are making any of these common newbie blogger mistakes?
Chance are you have made at least one or two of these during your blogging journey so far!
Transitioning from an amateur blogger to a successful blogger is not always easy. It’s a steep learning curve, but hopefully by identifying potential road blocks, you can make the journey a little smoother and faster!
25 Amateur blogging mistakes I wish someone told me when I started
This is a collection of blog mistakes which many newbies make and that I wish someone had told me about back when I first started…
Common blogging mistakes made during blog set-up
Not niching down
The first common mistake I see newbie bloggers make is that they don’t choose a niche. In other words, they keep the topics they blog about super broad. These types of blogs are often referred to as lifestyle blogs.
(I ought to add that lifestyle blogs CAN be niche. For example student lifestyle blogs or Retired lifestyle blogs.)
The problem with not niching down is that Google and Pinterest (the two biggest search engines where people will find your content) will struggle to understand what you’re about. If you write about chicken recipes one day and homeschooling the next, Google is going to get confused. Which of these topics are you an expert in?
Your goal as a new blogger is to train Google to understand your website so that it thinks of you as an expert and sends people to your articles on that topic.
Broadly themed blogs can occasionally be successful but usually for those who have a really large social media following which can take many many years to accumulate. This is because these blogs rely more on social followers than search engine traffic.
So try to get as targeted with your niche as you can. The more niche your website is, the easier it will be found and search engines will start to recognise you as an expert source a little faster.
Choosing the wrong niche
Ok so now you understand how important having a niche is, it’s time to choose the RIGHT niche!
Firstly it needs to be a niche that you know really well and can easily create a LOT of content about. Choose something that you won’t get bored writing about in a few months time. So make it something you are passionate about!
If you want to go from amateur to professional blogger, then you’ll also need to pick a website niche that has a lot of monetisation potential. It’s worth thinking about your longterm monetisation strategy from day one as this might guide your choice of niche.
Will you create your own digital products? Will you monetise with ads? Will you use affiliate marketing? Will you work with brands on sponsored posts?
Think about what people spend their money on. In general, it tends to be things which
- Make them healthier
- Make them happier
- Make them richer
- Improve their relationships
- Saves them time
Does the niche you are considering help satisfy any of those?
Here are a few lucrative niches you could choose from
- Personal finance
- Heath and fitness
It is even better if you can niche down even further. So if you are a food blogger, could you specialise in vegan food or comfort food? If you are a travel blogger, could you specialise in one location? Or a type of travel like luxury/budget/solo/adventure travel?
Choosing the wrong blog name
Okay now that you have decided on a niche, it’s time to think of a great blog name.
If you can, try and get a keyword into your title. A keyword is a search term that you want your blog to be recognised for.
By including it in your blog name, you will find it much easier to rank your articles for keywords containing that word.
So for example, I write about passive income strategies for bloggers which is why I have the word passive income in my blog title.
If you were a DIY blogger, it would make sense to have the word DIY in your title somewhere like ‘DIY Made Easy.’
Blog names also need to be catchy and memorable.
Finally, try not to make blog names too personal. If one day down the road you decide to sell your blog, it will be much easier to get a good price if the blog has a generic name.
I regret calling my first blog The Globetrotter GP as a result of this! It’s very possible I will sell it one day (it’s now worth quite a bit of money!) But the name is a tricky point as I called it that because I was working as a GP when I started it. What’re the chances of another GP taking it over? Slim to none! So the new owner might wish to rebrand which risks losing the Google rankings which makes it successful. This may impact the price I can sell it for.
When choosing a blog name, these are the things you need to consider
- Does it contain a keyword?
- Is it short, catchy and easy to remember?
- Is it easy to spell so people can find it easily?
- Does it avoid being too specific to you personally?
Not understanding your audience
I always recommend taking time to really consider who your ideal target audience is and understand what goals, problems and roadblocks they are experiencing. The most successful blogs solve problems for their audience. But in order to solve problems, you have to understand your ideal readers first.
So take time to think about your ‘blog avatar’ or ideal reader. Give them a name and really get inside their heads.
Then think of that person every time you write a blog post, a social post or an email.
Not treating their new blogs as a business
The most successful bloggers are those who treat their blog like a business from day one. They show up, they dedicate time, they stay professional, they consider their branding in everything that they do.
They invest money in the tools which are going to help them grow faster and avoid making too many newbie blog mistakes.
And most importantly they have a strategy. They prioritise tasks and projects which will help them to grow and monetise their blogs on a long term basis
If you want to turn a hobby blog into a business job, you absolutely can! But having the right attitude and strategy is vital.
Not Self-Hosting Your Site
Many amateur bloggers opt for a completely free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.com.
It’s understandable. You probably want to see how things go before you invest money, right?
But the problem is that these sites are not self-hosted.
Think of it like renting vs buying a property. When you rent, you are often subjected to a lot of limitations like no pets, no picture on the wall, no redecorating etc?
It’s the same with hosting. When you are self-hosted, you have your own space on the internet to do with as you like. This helps you to grow and monetise your website much faster. Hosted websites in comparison apply a lot of restrictions on things like using paid ads or affiliate links.
In general, Google prioritises self-hosted websites in searches and you are also free to introduce ads, affiliate links or sponsored posts in any way which suits you!
To go self-hosted, you will first need to invest in a host but it’s actually very affordable.
Once you have a host, you can download wordpress.org for free (different from WordPress.com!)
I recommend Siteground which is affordable, hosts fairly fast websites and has great customer service.
Bluehost is very popular for beginners but I do not recommend it as there have been many problems with site speed. Site speed is important both for user experience but also to help you rank your articles on Google.
Not having an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate stands for secure sockets layer. It helps encrypt users private information making websites more secure and trustworthy.
Google favours SSL websites as more trustworthy sources of information. Not having an SSL certificate could significantly hamper your growth.
To know if you have an SSL certificate, look at your URL. If it starts with https:// then you have an SSL certificate. If not you will need to speak to your host. Sometimes hosts charge for this but Siteground offers this for free – another reason I rate them highly!
Choosing the wrong theme
The theme is essentially your framework for how your website will look and function. It will determine the layout of your pages and menus.
You can choose a free theme but in general, they are very basic and you will likely want to upgrade pretty quickly to something which has a professional look and feel (and doesn’t slow your website down.)
When choosing a theme, make sure you consider
- Is it a bloated theme? Look for reviews about how it affects speed. Bloated themes can slow your website down so do your research. Perhaps run a speed check on some websites using the theme. Of course, if the website runs slow, it may not be the theme responsible but if you’re noticing a theme of slow websites, I’d stay away…
- How easy is it to customise? If unsure, ask around in Facebook groups about other bloggers experience with the theme. Some themes are drag and drop which is much easier but occasionally these themes are bloated – like the Divi themes which are notoriously beautiful but slow…
- Is it responsive? Yout theme should look just as great on mobiles and tablets as a desktop so make sure you check this out first
- Is it easy to navigate?
The theme I recommend is Flatsome.
Why not browse the entire collection of Envato themes?
Using too many plugins
Plugins add functionality to your site and so can be very appealing. It’s very tempting for new bloggers to add a hundred different plugins so that their website has all the bells and whistles. However, adding too many plugins can really slow your site down.
And remember Google does not like ranking sites that are slow!
So take look and ask yourself which plugins do you actually need?
And if your website is getting slow, consider turning each plugin off in turn and running a speed test. This can help you identify the culprit. Not all plugins slow your website down – it depends how bloated the code is.
When adding new plugins, always do a speed test before and after. If you are purchasing a paid plugin, do your research and ask around in Facebook communities for recommendations for plugins which won’t slow your site down.
Not creating (or updating) an about me page
One of the first pages you need to write for your blog is your ‘About Me’ page.
This is where people head after they’ve read an article they enjoyed to find out more about you. They might want to understand your credibility. They might be deciding if to follow you on social media. It’s a chance to turn casual readers to fans and followers so make sure you include a juicy ‘About me’ page.
But ‘about me’ pages are also great for SEO and helping you rank on Google. One of the factors Google considers when ranking websites is their EAT score. EAT stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
If you have qualifications relating to your blog traffic, make sure you include them. If you have a lot of experience, mention it. Won any awards? Document them! Google is far more likely to rank websites it deems trustworthy and your ‘about me’ page is a great place to educate Google on your level of authority.
If you started your blog a while back, your ‘about me’ page may be out of date so make sure you update it every 6 months or so to reflect your skills achievements and experience.
Not including a legal page
If you are not a lawyer, the best thing to do is use templates drafted by someone who is.
I’ve previously used some templates by Elizabeth Stapleton, a lawyer turned blogger and they were an absolute breeze to use. I dreaded setting up my affiliate T&C’s, knowing how complex they can be. But with these templates, I added my business name, personal name and a couple of figures and the template self-populated. It literally took a matter of seconds.
It gives me a lot of peace of mind knowing my business is protected.
If you’re not sure if you are legally compliant, you can use this free checklist to find out.
Not investing money in your blog
It’s totally understandable that you want to avoid spending too much before you know if blogging is for you but realistically, if you want to be a successful blogger, you will need to make few investments to make it happen and the earlier you do so, the sooner you will see results.
As an absolute minimum I would recommend
- Self-hosting – I recommend Siteground
- A premium theme – I recommend Flatsome
- A keyword research tool – I recommend Keysearch. (Use Keysearch discount code KSDISC for a 20% discount.)
- Legal templates – I recommend these ones.
- Social media scheduling tools – For Pinterest or Instagram, I recommend Tailwind
It is also advisable to invest some time in your blogging education. By learning from those who have trodden the path ahead of you, you can skip all the common amateur blogging mistakes and start seeing results much quicker. You might feel nervous about spending money on blogging education but the reality is you will grow and monetise your website faster meaning that you will quickly earn your investment back.
I would prioritise learning the following as a blog beginner:
- WordPress – check out Wicked at WordPress
- SEO – check out my SEO ebook or this more detailed course, SEO Jumpstart.
- Pinterest – check out this Pinterest marketing course
- Affiliate marketing – check out my course Affiliate Marketing Superstars
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the Genius Bloggers Toolkit which is a huge bundle of blogging courses at a heavy discount. It’s usually only available for a few days a year in September then again in January.
Amateur blogging mistakes which limit growth and monetisation
These are the mistakes I see newer bloggers making that stop them from growing their blog traffic and/or monetising their blog effectively.
Focussing on quantity over quality
There is a common myth that to be successful, you have to put out new content several times a week. This is simply not true.
If you try to keep up this pace, either you will burn out or the quality of your posts will suffer.
Find a schedule that works for you but that also allows you to spend time writing well-researched quality content. Google is smart at scanning your blog posts and deciding if it is high enough quality to rank.
In general, Google favours longer, more detailed blog posts. They are also hot on grammar so if you have spelling mistakes, your articles will rank lower!
Many bloggers will tell you that you need over 1000 words to rank on Google but this isn’t strictly true. It is true that on average the articles ranking highest are well over 1000 words. But that is because these articles in general are the most in-depth articles.
If you can answer every possible question on the topic and address the topic fully in under 1000 words then you should never write more just to hit some imaginary threshold. So rather than ask yourself if you should add more words, ask yourself if you can add more value? If the answer is no or if by adding more information you will be going off-topic, then don’t do it!
Always put your reader’s experience ahead of everything. Will your article help them? Will it answer all their questions? Will reading it feel like an easy, pleasurable experience?
Copying other bloggers
When you are a newbie blogger, it can be tempting to copy what professional bloggers are doing. But this is not recommended. Blogging is more than creating articles, it’s about having a voice and that voice needs to be unique. By standing out and being different, you will actually gain traction and earn new loyal readers much quicker.
So don’t be afraid to go your own way. Show your personality and quirks, write about what your passionate about and give your own opinions!
Copying other people’s work or style is only likely to land you in hot water and you’d be amazed how small the blogging world is where everyone knows everyone!
Also, having duplicate content on websites is a big no-no so if your work is too similar to someone else’s you could easily land in Google jail. Using other people’s photos can land you with a massive copyright fine.
And copying someone’s keywords is definitely NOT the way to gain friends in the blogging world. Of course, we are all often competing for similar keywords but trust me, it gets noticed when the same person goes after the same keywords as you over and over, producing the content just days after yours gets published. Please don’t do it.
Not learning about search engine optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has already come up in this article several times and that is because it is VITAL for success. When I was a beginner blogger, I tried to ignore it for as long as possible. The result? Growth was incredibly slow. When I caved and started learning about it, my traffic exploded!
Here’s a graph showing the traffic growth over my 1st 18 months of blogging…
And you know what? SEO is actually more straightforward than you might think. I surprised myself by really enjoying learning about it and I get a massive kick from seeing my articles rise through the Google rankings!
If you haven’t yet started learning about SEO for beginners, start here:
- SEO for Affiliate Success ebook – the basics of SEO plus how to use this knowledge to rank for lucrative keywords that will earn you money.
- SEO Jumpstart – a very detailed SEO e-course by Eb Gargano
Not doing proper keyword research
Not only do you need to so SEO but you need to do effective keyword research. Without keyword research, you might be targeting keywords that are so competitive you will never rank for. Or alternatively, you could be targeting keywords which no one is searching for!
Ideally you are looking for keywords which enough people are searching for to make it worth your time but which are also easy enough to stand a good chance of ranking for.
If you are writing affiliate articles, the search volume is a little less important as purchase intent becomes a lot more important but still needs to be taken into consideration.
If you are a little more advanced, you may also want to consider investing in a content creation SEO AI tool like Frase. This will help you stay super competitive and help you structure articles that rank for many keywords.
Not linking to other websites
Many amateur bloggers worry about linking out to other blogs. They worry this will direct people away from their sites or somehow diminish their own authority on the topic.
In reality, outbound links are an important part of a broader SEO strategy. If you are linking to high authority resources (especially for stats and quotes) this can help you appear more trustworthy to Google.
However, you need to check that the articles you are linking to do not compete with your own keywords – they should be about a similar topic but not the same topic. You also need to check that the source you are linking to is credible. Linking to spammy websites can negatively impact your own credibility.
Not linking properly
Keeping on the theme of proper linking strategies, you need to make sure that you are linking correctly.
Sponsored or affiliate links need to be marked ‘rel=sponsored”
If you are swapping links with other bloggers they need to be follow links for them to benefit from the link juice.
Careful not to do too many direct link swaps as this can be considered spammy. Also never link in and out from the same articles on 2 different blogs. This definitely looks orchestrated and therefore can potentially get flagged as spammy link building.
Make sure you understand the difference between follow and no-follow links.
Not understanding user intent
This is one of the most common amateur blogging mistakes I see people making.
Many bloggers think if they use a keyword in their article, then traffic will come and so will sales via affiliate links etc. But it depends what the user intent is.
Say someone clicks on an article about the 10 most beautiful cities in Europe. They are searching for trip inspiration, they are not ready to spend money on a hotel. Therefore they are very unlikely to use your affiliate link to book a hotel as they are not ready.
However, if they click on a link to your article about the 10 best hotels in Paris, chances are they are actively seeking somewhere to book and you are likely to see conversions.
When you target a keyword, ask yourself what the person typing that keyword into Google is actively searching for and make sure you deliver exactly that. Answer that search query in depth but try not to stray too far from the topic in hand.
Take the 10 hotels in Paris article as an example. Yes, people who are ready to book might also be interested in a packing list for Paris. However, that’s not what they are actively searching for so including that in the article can be confusing especially to Google trying to decide how to rank your content!
So perhaps you could include a link to a separate article about packing for Paris. Chances are they will click on that link after booking their accommodation and you can now keep them on your site a little longer – win-win!
Amateur bloggers try to do everything at once
Blogger life can involve wearing a LOT of hats. But you don’t have to wear them all at once.
Just because one blogger is doing well on Instagram, it doesn’t mean that it has to be part of your strategy. If your ideal audience aren’t hanging out on Pinterest, there’s no point trying to master Pinterst marketing.
Don’t be afraid to do things your own way as your blog in unique.
Also, trying to do too many tings at once means you are not likely to excel in any of them. If you try to take too many courses at once, will you finish any? Or will you take action on what you learned?
Spend some time thinking about what your own priorities are and focu on them without getting too distracted.
Since I focus on making my money via affiliate marketing, SEO is important to me but social media less so. Therefore, for me, focussing on Instagram is a waste of time which could be better spent on optimising articles for SEO and affiliates.
When considering your priorities ask yourself
- Is it an essential to stop me landing in trouble? (For example, adding legal pages.)
- Is it something I enjoy and am passionate about? And if not, is it essential? (We all have to do boring tasks occasionally.)
- Is it something which will help me grow my blog traffic or monetise my traffic faster?
- Is it something we can pass off to someone else like a virtual assistant?
- Is it essential to help me achieve my next goal?
Not diversifying income streams
Okay, this sounds like a contradiction! But whilst you shouldn’t focus on ALL the things, you should add more than one income stream to your blog.
This is because unexpected things happen. For example, a core Google algorithm update could result in massive traffic reductions. If you only monetise through ads, this is going to hurt a lot.
In March 2020, a little virus caused the travel industry (and the world) to grind to a halt. Bloggers who were relying on sponsored posts for an income suddenly found that brands did not want to collaborate and struggled more than those who had multiple streams of income.
So once you have mastered one source, it’s time to introduce another.
Ways to monetise your blog include
- Affiliate marketing
- Ad networks like Mediavine
- Sponsored posts with brands
- Creating digital products like ebooks, printables and planners
- Email marketing (and promoting your own products or affiliate products.)
- Selling services
- Selling physical products e.g. by linking to an Etsy store or selling books on Amazon.
- Freelancing and using your blog as a portfolio.
- Selling your photography and videography to stock sites.
Adding advertisements too early
Whislt we are on the topic of earning money, this is one of the beginner blogging mistakes I see ALL the time! Bloggers cannot wait to monetise their websites so the first thihey do is sign up to Adsense.
I do NOT recommend doing this. Adsense pays very poorly, slows your website and ads can be spammy.
It is better to wait until you have enough traffic to apply for better ad networks like Mediavine which do not slow your site, pay better and have better quality ads which are less obstrusive.
Think of it like this. If you are getting say 2000 page views a month. With adsense, you will be earning less than $20 a month. Is that worth slowing your website down for?
When you are a newer blogger, you should focus on growing your traffic and monetising with affiliate links which can be far more effective. Think about ad networks later on when it becomes worth it!
Mediavines new requirements are that you have 50,000 sessions a month. If each 1000 sessions is worth about $20, that will pay you $1000/month. NOW we are talking!
Not having a strategy
Bloggers which become successful are usually those with a plan or a strategy. They ask themselves why before they spend time on anything so that their time is spent wisely.
Spend some time thinking about your own strategy and asking about what tasks have the most growth/income potential. What tasks are less importnat for you and what you can outsource.
Obsessing over Domain Authority
Domain authority is a score calculated by MOZ which indicates how much authority your website is likely to have in the eyes of Google. This is based on many factors such as they type of content you create, your site age, back links, site speed and structure etc.
Many newer bloggers use their domain authority score to help them estimate which keywords they can rank for. They might also use domain authority scores on other blogs to decide who to guest post for or who to swap links with.
However, it is important to remember that domain authority is just an estimation. This score is NOT generated by Google. Therefore, there are many times that a website with a lower domain authority score will outrank a more established site because their content is more thorough or user friendly or because they are more of an expert on that topic.
Equally, a back link from a website with a lower DA score but which specialises in a topic or is ranking number one for a related keyword will give you better ‘link juice’ than a high DA site wich is less relevant and not ranking for any related keywords.
So whilst understanding domain authority can be useful at times, always consider it in context and think about the bigger picture!
Choosing the wrong email marketing platform – or not starting an email list at all!
Email marketing is super powerful. It’s a way for our readers to come to know, like and trust us! It’s also a source of blog traffic safe from algorithm updates. Our email list is ours, we can take it to whichever email platform we decide to use.
Email marketing is a powerful way to promote affiliate links and earn more money blogging.
However, neglecting their email list is a common amateur blogging mistake. Starting an email list seems overwhelming but it really doesn’t have to be as you can see in this beginners email marketing guide.
But one of the most important decisions a new blogger can make is which email marketing platform to choose. Choose the wrong one and it can hamper your monetisation attempts. It can also be a gigantic pain in the butt to move from one platform to another. I should know – I’ve done it 3 times!
I finally settled with Convertkit and using it has been a total dream!
Make sure you choose an email platform you can grow with which is the easiest and most powerful platform to monetise your email list. I recommend Convertkit (which also has a free plan) and you can read more about why in this article comparing Mailerlite vs Convertkit.
I have also compared Convertkit to Flodesk.
Expecting overnight success
Another super common newbie blogging mistake is to expect overnight success. The truth is that being successful as a blogger requires a lot of patience!
It can take while for your blog to be seen an authority and to start ranking on Google. It takes time to grow an engaged audience on social media and an email list doesn’t grow overnight. All of these things require effort, time and patience.
You may hear people talking about being in the ‘sand box.’ This means that newer blogs are ranked lower on Google to stop low authority sites from outranking established sites. It can take a little while before Google will favour your content as they want to see that you are creating consistent quality content before recommending you to their readers.
But trust me, if you focus on the right things and make an effort to avoid some of these amateur blogger mistakes listed above, you WILL see success in time!
So, the moment of truth… How many of these amateur blogging mistakes were you making?
Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to share this article with other newbie bloggers to help them along too!
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