5 mistakes I made when starting my own blog

I am not a big fan of the word ‘blogger’, it has connotations to a certain type of person – almost like the modern day journal keeper (we all don’t like those types) and that scares me. By broad definition it would make me a person who regularly updates a website (true) and also confides and confesses using such a platform – something that doesn’t sound like me until I realized that is exactly what I have done over the past few years (and am doing right now!).

It dawned on me; I have been blogging for nearly 3 years flat out and have accumulated some 800 unique articles on one of my personal websites – that’s a long time to stick with something.

It made me realize just how far blogging has come and the steep learning curve I have taken in riding that wave of web 2.0 (don’t you love that word?).

So as a quick summary, here are the top 5 mistakes I feel I have made over the years which I have since rectified;

Not having a newsletter

For nearly 2 years I never had a sign up form on my blog for a newsletter – It seems like more work than it was worth yet I had millions of people coming to my website in that time, all of which were motivated and interested in what I had to say – yet I never took advantage of that. It blows me away when I think of this; my email list is now one of the most important functions I use to keep my readers up to date and a constant source of traffic.

Not posting enough

In the early stages, I was posting other peoples articles and referencing them – a form of web spam really, but soon after that I begun writing my own pieces. The problem however was it could be months between posts and I wonder how many readers I must have lost by not keeping the website up to date? I now schedule posts to be published daily, normally by sitting down on a Sunday and teeing them all up for the following 7 days. My traffic has grown as a result, my readers have become more loyal and my repeat visitor rate is through the roof.

Trying to be something I wasn’t

Sometimes when writing for the web, you can quickly become overly factual and boring – to me it was the feeling that I didn’t want people to perceive me in the wrong way as my reputation was on the line. Now days however, I think it is more important to write content that is interesting, on a whim and less formalized – while still been careful to preserve your reputation. I guess my point is to be yourself, share your thoughts and don’t become just another blogger who spits out the same content in different ways.

Post size

The optimal size for a post is up for debate, but as long as you have scanable headers and dot points to break out the bulk of it, I feel a post can never be too long (within reason!). I used to post 200-300 word posts which was a good start, but not enough substance to really let me rank well in search engines – now days my posts are around 600 words minimum and a maximum of 800. They rank much better, get far more traffic and much better responses by readers.

Shameful blogs filled with ‘advertorial'

If you are going to plug a product or service that is going to earn you money, let the readers know and ensure that you truly back it/have tried it. I made the mistake of trying to disguise this money making agenda with actual editorial content, blending to make ‘advertorial’. Cringe.