I’ve been blogging (often badly!) for around a decade. In that time I’ve failed at a lot of things. Today I want to share some stories in the hope that you can avoid making the same mistakes.
When you learn a new skill, including starting a new blog, you always go on a steep learning curve.
And the thing about blogging and online business is that the learning curve can be especially steep because the technology is always changing.
When you have changing technologies you also get a lot of commentators saying different things and giving different bits of advice.
And that can lead to confusion and mistakes.
Here are some blogging mistakes that I’ve made over the years. I’m really interested to know how you all feel about these ones.
Do our blogging mistakes really matter?
Something that I’d like to emphasize at the start of this post is that mistakes aren’t always mistakes when you’re an entrepreneur.
It sounds silly but over the years I’ve kind of learned that mucking up is all part of eventually reaching some level of success.
It’s never a clear and easy road.
Mistakes in business are inevitable, but the way we react to it is a choice. – Tweet this.
So when you do inevitably make a mistake in your blogging career you should remember that me and this website (and the Tyrant Troops community!) will be here to support you as a fellow blogger on the road. We’ve all been there.
The blogging mistakes that I’ve made over the years
Alright, let’s jump into the tofu and potatoes of the post.
As always, please leave me a juicy comment at the end if you disagree with any of these or if you have your own mistakes to share.
1. Being a perfectionist (it’s a huge, huge mistake)
I’m putting this at the top of the list because I honestly think it is one of the worst things you can do in business.
For a long time I really struggled with the thought of publishing something that wasn’t amazing. Or if I was making an eBook or product I’d refuse to release it without spending 95% of my time tweaking 1% of the un-important stuff.
I have a few friends (you know who you are…) who are really talented but haven’t done anything because they are worried about releasing something that isn’t The Old Man and the Sea.
You have to give it up.
Being a perfectionist holds you back from growing, and it also stops you from helping people.
Even something that you think is pretty shitty will still be useful to someone who is just starting out. If you’re a perfectionist then it’s likely that you’re hitting a pretty high level regardless.
2. Trying to build sites in profitable niches
This one might sound a little bit weird to some people but I know there are a lot of others in the same boat so I decided to share it.
When you first want to learn about making money online you run into the idea of niche sites, affiliate marketing and so on. And after a while you start researching profitable niches in order to find one that you want to tackle yourself.
Well, I’ve found this approach has really set me back.
Because I get bored.
One of the main reasons I started my company is because I wanted to do something that I love and something that helped people. When working in those profitable micro-niches you often find yourself working on something that you really don’t care about. And that makes it really easy to lose interest.
The people that I’ve seen have the most success online are doing so with products, services, niches and ideas that they really believe in. Unless you are very motivated by a long term end-result I haven’t found there’s much point in trying to build up something you don’t believe in.
3. Spending time on social networking sites
Some people are really good at social networking sites.
I’m not one of them.
In fact, I think that reading about Twitter, Facebook and Google+ has taken away a lot of time that I could have spent building up my own assets, creating new content and capitalising on a method that I know is working.
Please don’t take this to mean that you shouldn’t be doing social media.
If you’re a physical small business, for example, it’s very important that you have a social media presence. It might even bring you sales.
But for the most part I think that people spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook because it seems like an easy (and perhaps free?) way to find new traffic and followers.
So where do you spend your time instead?
As always, it’s worth testing new options. For example, don’t open Twitter on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and instead work on your next blog post. See whether that gets better results.
4. Assuming that blogging alone is enough
This one might sound like a big old contradiction given what I just wrote in the previous point, but there is a subtle difference.
When you want to make a career from blogging it is pretty tempting to think that you just have to write the perfect blog post and then everything will fall into place.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.
The business of blogging is actually a lot more than just the art of blogging itself.
For example, when you look at the most popular bloggers you’ll notice that they aren’t always that good at writing. But they are excellent at promoting.
That is very important.
If you want to build a successful blog you need to get good at many other things but the most important are often networking and advertising. Finding ways to get your content in front of new, relevant and engaged people is an ongoing battle that requires a lot of attention.
I wish I’d devoted more time to it earlier.
5. Wanting the whole process to be free
I talk about this one quite a lot (and luckily I got over it quite early) but wanting everything to do with blogging to be free is a big mistake.
At an absolute minimum a serious blogger should have a blog with its own domain name and self hosting setup.
Free blogs just don’t get the same results.
But beyond that it’s a really good idea to be spending money (wisely…) on things like advertising, outsourcing tasks to experts, email hosting, image buying, improved software, premium plugins, and so on.
Yes, a lot of this you can do for free.
But my experience is that you can really speed up your progress by spending a little bit of money in some places. It’s not a secret. All the big bloggers are doing it and will continue doing it. If you want to compete you might have to start as well.
6. Not focusing on email subscribers (even in profitable scenarios)
When I sold I blog back in college I literally put no effort into getting email subscribers. I had an option to subscribe by RSS feed (which was bigger back then) but I feel like I really missed out.
At the time I was making my income from Adsense which essentially means you need to get as much traffic to your site as possible and then watch them click an ad for a few cents and leave forever.
See why I don’t like it now?
I can’t help but wonder where that site might be now had I focused more on getting email subscribers and building a loyal following. At a minimum I would have had a platform to promote new material to every time I posted a new article.
If your blog is becoming more successful it’s really important to keep working on growing your mailing list. It’s that list that will insulate you from any nasty Google surprises, and it’s a promotional base that you will always have.
7. Being stingy with my content placement
Stingy might not be the right word here, but I used to suffer from a blogging disease that prevented me from giving any of my best writing away to other websites.
I’d write something that I thought was pretty good and then want to publish it myself!
Ironically, it wasn’t until I started publishing big long posts on other peoples’ websites that I started to see my own website become more popular.
Derek Halpern often talks about this. New bloggers think that they have to write all of their content on their own blog when in reality it’s a much better idea to guest post it and tap into new audiences.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog then maybe plan to write a bunch of excellent articles for other websites right from the very beginning. You only need one or two fantastic posts on your own blog to start with – a good guest post will do so much more for you.
8. Being afraid to do something because it makes money
One of the big concerns I notice that a lot of bloggers share is that idea that selling something or making money from a blog is kind of dirty.
That attitude really holds us back.
Firstly, if you are thinking about these kinds of things then chances are you’re a pretty decent human being to begin with.
Secondly, there is nothing wrong with making money from a service that you provide that helps people in some small way. Even if it’s just an eBook that gives some answers – you’ve put time and effort into it and you’re trying to make a living.
It’s not unethical.
Anything that tricks people or is dishonest is (obviously) a very bad thing and should be avoided. But, there’s no point in putting off your next promotion because you think that someone will think you’ve “sold out”.
No one really cares anyway.
What mistakes have you made?
I’d like to open up the comments now and hear about any mistakes that you guys and girls have made over the years. More importantly, what lessons did you learn from those events? Please leave a comment below – you never know, it might really help someone.
Photo: Kyle Szegedi.