12 Stupid Things That Bloggers Don’t Do When First Starting
Are you looking to write for a living? Maybe just as a hobby? Well, now is one of the best times to get into it. The Internet has been a great equalizer that allows just about anyone to have a voice.
However, there’s also the problem of whether or not anybody will be there to listen—this is the key to earning a living or being able to amass a sizable audience.
Lots of people jump right into blogging without much research, thinking that it’s going to be easy. While their ambition is admirable, there are a lot of things to consider before one dives in. Take a look at these 12 mistakes that you should avoid when you’re getting your start:
1) Not having a focus.
When it comes to making any online venture profitable—or just about any venture, period, really—you have to keep niches in mind. People need to know you for something, and if you’re writing about everything under the sun, with no unifying theme or style, then you’ll just confuse the audience.
It’s lovely to think that people will read your blog because they just love your words so much, but the fact of the matter is that most people are looking for a certain kind of information or entertainment. Focus on just one thing and you will be able to create a loyal following. Drill down to the deepest niche that you can while still having a sizable audience.
Yes, you must get down to specifics and have a niche, but just any niche will not do. Some niches, especially the more profitable ones, are overly-saturated and your blog will just get lost in a sea of competitors.
Unless you can outperform your competitors by a considerable margin, you must pick an under-served niche. This requires research before your blog is even born. Ask yourself the question: Does anybody want to read a blog like this? How do I know whether they do or don’t?
3) Not quelling vanity.
Believe it or not, most people don’t want to read your purple prose, your hazy metaphors, or all of the “big words” that you use to show how smart you are. Good writing is efficient writing. Get the ideas into the reader’s head as painlessly as possible. It’s a thankless job, but a good writer is an invisible one that the reader hardly has to think about as his eyes scan over the page.
4) Not knowing what you don’t know.
Know your limits. Don’t write about things that you have no idea about if your intention is to appear credible and grow a loyal audience. People can smell a phony, and once you’re branded as one, that’s a reputation that is hard to shake.
This problem can be partly prevented by choosing the right niche, but keep in mind nonetheless that if you have nothing new to say about your topic, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with regular material, which is the heart and soul of a blog.
6) Not hiding the seams of your sales copy.
Is your blog really just an excuse to sell to your visitors? That’s fine, just don’t make it obvious. A good writer can disguise sales copy and propaganda, and hide his subliminal messages between the lines of an otherwise ordinary-looking article.
7) Not keeping keywords in mind.
Remember that keywords are how your audience will find you in search engines. Do your research, or else you will be underusing this huge source of free organic traffic.
8) Not keeping keyword-use in check.
On the other hand, having too many keywords in your posts, especially if they litter your writing in awkward and artificial places, will negatively affect your credibility, your readability, and even your search engine rankings. Avoid keyword stuffing.
This is a huge one. The average Internet user is largely ignorant of copyright law and just assumes that anything they find through a search engine is fair game or “public domain.”
Sadder still, even many successful bloggers and supposedly professional media sites operate under this mindset as well. Don’t be one of these people.
No, it is not legal to repost someone’s article in its entirety without their permission, even if you “credit” them as a source. No, it is not legal to use a copyrighted image on your blog that you found via a Google image search unless you paid for a license.
Luckily, there are alternatives. You can buy articles and images, or use actual out-of-copyright, public domain content. Look up how to tell if something is public domain if you have any doubts.
10) Not knowing why you’re writing.
If there’s no reason for a post to exist—or worse, for a whole blog to exist—because it doesn’t fulfill a need that people actually have, it will show in the passionless writing as well as in the fact that no one will visit. Your writing should be solving some kind of problem or filling some kind of need for a certain demographic of people. Understand what they need or want, and cater your writing to that end.
Your writing should be solving some kind of problem or filling some kind of need for a certain demographic of people. Understand what they need or want, and cater your writing to that end.
11) Not knowing who you’re writing for.
Just as there is a “why,” there is also a “who.” Get to know your audience. Visit the sites and forums where they lurk. This is the only way to grasp their perspective and from there understand what they may want from you.
Though you are writing for other people to read, don’t be afraid to show the real you. Lots of people get caught up in being “professional” and holding their audience at a distance, but this just makes their writing lack personality at best or reek of snootiness at worst. Especially these days, people are looking for an authentic connection with the person who is giving them their entertainment or information. Don’t be afraid to give your writing your own personal touch and style.
There’s quite a learning curve in the saturated world of blogging, but don’t let this discourage you. Avoid these main mistakes and you’ll have a leg up over many of the amateurs.