We all make mistakes, sure.
But as a blogger, I wish I hadn’t made quite so many of these mistakes when I decided to become a serious blogger.
Doing so has significantly impacted my growth as a blogger in the last 2 years.
In fact, correcting these mistakes has seen my blog grow relatively more in the last 30 days than it has in the last 24 months!
While I have no lasting regrets, I do know that I’d have been better off not making them in the first place.
It is my sincere hope that if you are on the path to growing your blog or making money from the blog, you’d learn from my mistakes and course correct right away.
[easy-tweet tweet=”17 Terrible Mistakes I made as a Serious Blogger” user=”shyvish”]
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- Used the wrong hosting provider
- Used a free theme for too long
- Chose the wrong Email Service Provider
- Spent time on the wrong platforms
- Focused on the wrong numbers
- Bought too many courses
- Didn’t act on most of the content I bought/read
- Didn’t create the right pin designs
- Didn’t target my audience right
- Didn’t leverage Pinterest traffic well
- Did not leverage SEO effectively
- Didn’t plan my content in advance
- Did not write more long form content
- Did not see where my audience was actually active
- Did not create a 90 day plan
- Wasted too much time on social media
- Spent way too much time worrying about what other people thought
Used the wrong hosting provider
We all know that hosting is a crucial part of a serious blogger’s game plan.
It costs more than a free platform like WordPress.com or Blogger, sure. But it’s always better to own your platform on self hosted WordPress to reduce risk of losing your content.
When I first began my self hosted journey back in 2016 August, I went the conventional route that most bloggers took: Bought a hosting plan from Bluehost for 3 years.
It was one of the worst mistakes I ever made.
Honestly, I didn’t know better.
People I knew were recommending it left and right. Regretfully, I did too, for about a year or so after the move.
What saddens me even today is that bloggers whom I truly respect for their work end up recommending Bluehost to new bloggers. The reason? They earn a very high affiliate commission.
But over time, I was spending more time on Bluehost chat and support asking them why my site was inaccessible instead of doing what I actually loved- creating content.
Finally, in 2018, I was fed up of the whole drama and moved over lock, stock and barrel to my current provider, Chemicloud.
You may not have heard of them as much as Bluehost or Hostgator or Siteground.
But they are truly incredible. I did all the research, read independent reviews from at least 15 other people and had a nice, long, detailed chat with them before making the switch.
I should have done this long ago. Still, it’s better late than never.
Used a free theme for too long
Free themes are great, to be honest.
It’s one less expense to worry about, if you’re on a tight budget as a new blogger.
But, over time, I should have really thought about purchasing a paid theme sooner.
The cost was what made me think twice, really.
But, honestly, the amount of energy I’ve saved, the number of subscribers I’ve gained as well as the increased page views the blog has seen in the last 45 days makes me wonder: ‘Why didn’t I switch sooner?!’
In early December, 2019, during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale, I purchased the Victoria Theme from Bluchic.
Within hours of installing and activating the theme, I had an immediate uptick in traffic! It was incredible.
Chose the wrong Email Service Provider
Why do most of us pick a particular email service provider?
Because it’s free, right? Or at least, they have an attractive free plan.
And that’s exactly what MailChimp promised with its 2000 subscribers on the free tier.
But there were so many other drawbacks!
I couldn’t create multiple opt-in forms. Just one form was allowed.
There wasn’t any way to customise a form in a particular way to appear on my site.
Adding landing pages turned out to be extremely difficult. I couldn’t set up an automation sequence on the free plan. It was extremely time consuming to battle it all.
In July 2019, I switched providers over to Mailerlite, again after due research and was blown away by the range of features available.
And in just 2 weeks, I gained over 250 subscribers!
In six months since that time, I’ve grown my list to 1150 subscribers.
I took over 2 years to grow to 500 subscribers on Mailchimp! Think of the time I could have saved. 🙁
Spent time on the wrong platforms
We hear this all the time.
Be on social media, promote your posts, get loads of traffic. Right?
Turns out that’s not the best use of a serious blogger’s time. Yeah, who knew!
I spent way too much time on Twitter, my Facebook page and Linkedin for the better part of 2.5 years since I rebranded my blog.
But the truth is I should have actually focused most of my energies on Pinterest and SEO, followed by e-mail marketing right from the start.
Net result? I lost out on scaling my blog, growing my list and any chance of getting into good ad networks for 3 years.
Now, with a shift in focus, I am on the cusp of applying to a premium ad network. Wish me luck!
Focused on the wrong numbers
It’s not our fault, really.
Too often, brands and other bloggers talk about the wrong metrics when it comes to evaluating progress.
For instance, the worst thing you can focus on is follower numbers, on any platform.
Seriously, it’s a very painful path to take because you always feel like you aren’t good enough, just because you don’t have 10,000 followers on Instagram or 25,000 fans on Facebook or (and this is my favourite) 1 million monthly views on Pinterest!
Most people wear these as a badge of honour when they actually don’t mean anything.
None of those things translate necessarily to good, sustainable numbers like quality traffic to the blog or engaged e-mail subscribers.
From the beginning, make Google Analytics your friend and stop worrying about every random set of numbers on social media.
With less than 300 e-mail subscribers, I made $300 one month thanks to affiliate marketing.
Bought too many courses
Okay, raise your hand if you’ve bought more than 100 courses in a year.
Yes, guilty as charged.
I fell victim to shiny object syndrome so early in the blogging journey that I skipped the cardinal rule of buying: Research and Review.
I bought a course simply because it was offered at a steep discount.
Or I bought a course because 15 people in a Facebook group recommended it.
Or more likely, I bought it because I believed THAT course would be my magic ticket to increased page views or more money or better content.
Today, I have over 250 courses that I have bought and I so wish I’d had someone take the time to tell me that I didn’t need every course out there.
I should have only bought those courses that would help me at each stage of my blogging journey.
For instance, I should have ONLY bought courses on Pinterest in the very beginning. Since Pinterest is great for organic, search oriented traffic, I would have seen results in a shorter time frame.
Next, I should have invested in just one or two very good pin design courses, since that’s a crucial component of success on that platform.
A couple of months later, I should have invested in SEO, since that’s the logical next step.
Finally, I should have focused energies on building my e-mail list.
Instead, I started drowning in so many courses that I couldn’t make head or tail of anything!
Okay, if we’re being really honest, I should have started with the FREE courses first.
So, this is me telling you: Start with this list of 31 Free Blogging Courses , no matter which stage of blogging you are at
Didn’t act on most of the content I bought/read
So the actual crime was not buying the courses.
Truth be told, I’d say I spent good money on about 70% of paid courses. The remaining 30% were not worth it.
No, the actual crime was not sitting down to finish most of the good courses.
Naturally, if you flit like a butterfly from Pinterest to SEO to e-mail marketing to affiliate marketing, your brain is going to protest and give up.
Instead, I should have done the sane thing and picked one course, finished it all the way through, implemented it and then moved to the next course.
Well, we live and learn.
It’s why I no longer jump on the ‘Buy now’ bandwagon UNLESS I am both financially and mentally ready for a new course in that space.
Want to know which courses I recommend?
I’ve mentioned a few in this post on whether it’s a good idea to spend money on paid blogging courses.
Didn’t create the right pin designs
In my early days of using Pinterest, I didn’t pay attention to anything related to pin design.
I just added a vertical image, wrote a few keywords and uploaded it to Pinterest.
These days, I spend at least 20 minutes on each pin that I create.
From the right font to the best colours to use for each pin to the ideal SEO description and the optimal time to upload pins, I focus on all of these elements.
But, most of all, it comes down to pin design.
And trust me, I’ve taken so many courses on pin design.
But there were only two courses that truly explained pin design the way I loved it.
One is The Perfect Pin by Breaking the One Percent.
This is great if you’re on a tight budget and don’t have too much cash flow at the moment.
The other is Pins Made Happy by Audrey Marshall. Hands down, one of the most exhaustive courses on pin design I have ever seen.
One of the modules in the course is 1 hour and 30 minutes of video on how to bring the elements of a pin together. I’m not kidding. It’s brilliant!
Check it out. I wish it had been around when I started with Pinterest in later 2017.
Didn’t target my audience right
I realised this mistake only one and a half years after I re-branded my blog.
That’s a colosally long time to be stubborn, but yeah, that’s me.
See, I started out as a parenting blogger in 2007. And the idea to re-brand the blog came about in March 2018.
Over time, I saw that my audience was split between two very diverse groups: parents and bloggers looking to monetize their blogs.
Since I had an established audience in the positive parenting niche, I stuck with it for the longest time.
However, I realised that it was a niche that just didn’t lend itself to monetization.
Whereas, my new blogging audience was receptive, engaged and converting to readers and subscribers.
So, finally, in September of 2019, I bit the bullet and shelved the parenting niche completely.
Narrowing the focus to blogging and social media gave my blog the confidence and boost it needed.
Didn’t leverage Pinterest traffic well
Over time, I noticed that the one platform that sent me consistent, daily traffic was Pinterest.
But I never leveraged the power of that traffic!
I had all these readers, seeking information, land up on my blog.
And what did I do?
Never gave them a reason to stick around.
I didn’t link my top-performing posts internally.
I didn’t include proper affiliate links, thus leading to lowered earnings on my best posts.
I didn’t create the right opt-in forms or lead magnets for different people.
In short, I didn’t actually use the traffic to its full potential.
When I switched to MailerLite, the first thing I did was to create specific content upgrades for different posts.
And the result?
That rise in the number of engaged subscribers is something I should have been seeing ages ago.
In fact, my blogging bootcamp guide is among the highest-converting opt-ins ever! And I created it just 3 weeks ago.
Did not leverage SEO effectively
The irony with this mistake?
I actually train people in SEO!
But I was so preoccupied with helping other people with their SEO that I neglected it for my own blog.
But fortunately, I came across the one person whose SEO advice has helped me land on page 1 for at least 3 different posts in the last 6 months.
Debbie Gartner’s SEO e-books, newsletter and courses are something every blogger must sign up for.
I know there are a ton of SEO experts out there. Take it from me though- you don’t need anyone other than Debbie.
Just a quick read of her post on the 9 Worst SEO tips to avoid will show you what I mean.
Between her Easy On Page SEO and Easy Backlinks e-books, you’ll be bang on target for both on page and off page SEO practices.
Then, if you want to dive into Google Analytics, pick up her very reasonably priced book on the topic.
Finally, when you’re comfortable with SEO, dive into her course, Easy SEO Revamp, on using Google Search Console to optimise your posts.
Didn’t plan my content in advance
All content has a seasonal element, be it on Google or Pinterest.
There are trends and peaks for certain ideas all through the year.
When I didn’t plan my content in advance, I wound up posting on a series of topics that were completely disconnected from one another.
Except for one series called ‘Plan your Blog’ that I did in late 2018, the whole of 2019 was very haphazard in terms of content creation.
That hurt my blog more than I knew, because I wasn’t able to optimise my blog for trend-oriented traffic.
In late 2019, I downloaded the Simple Pin Planner (it’s free) and chalked out a seasonal content plan for 2020.
My last 30-day traffic has already surpassed the previous month’s traffic thanks to this tweak!
Did not write more long form content
I did write long form content, but not enough over the last 2 years.
Since January, 2020, my posts have all been long form content.
Contrary to the belief that ‘nobody reads long posts on blogs’, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to the contrary.
Posts that are between 2000 and 4000 words actually get readers!
What’s more is that Google loves these posts.
It’s also much easier to embed sign up forms when there is enough meaty content on the page.
Remember to always write content that is genuinely helpful for the reader.
In other words, don’t write 4000 words to pad your content. Nobody likes that and Google frowns on it too.
Did not see where my audience was actually active
Remember that earlier mistake I mentioned about being super active on all the social media platforms?
Well, I was under the mistaken notion that since I was a solo business owner, I needed to be active on Linkedin or Facebook.
But the really foolish thing I did was to not understand who my target audience was and where they actually hung out!
My audience was beginner to intermediate bloggers and a lot of them were actually on Instagram!
How did I know? From my Google Analytics.
Any time I publish a post and talk about it on Instagram, I get two responses from that audience:
- A need to read the post and convert to subscribers
- The longest time spent reading my blog
It was in July of 2019 that I realised this and ever since, Instagram has been a core part of my lead generation strategy!
Did not create a 90 day plan
I’d read about it; researched it and intended to do it.
But I never actually chalked out a proper, structured 90 day plan for the blog or my e-mail list before December, 2019.
Then, once I did, the clarity that came to me was something else.
With the setting of smart goals, I became more confident on the steps to be taken to move the blog forward.
I’ve already written a detailed post on the subject so I’ll guide you to read that.
Why every blogger needs a 90 day plan and How to make one today!
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Wasted too much time on social media
As embarrassing as this is to admit, I’ve wasted my fair share of time on social media.
Yes, I know I talk about productivity and time management all the time, but the truth is, a lot of that came after I’d been burnt by squandering time on Facebook and Twitter.
Once I began diving deep into books that spoke about habit formation, productivity and distraction, my focus began to veer away from social media towards content.
The point is, serious bloggers- the ones who actually monetize and grow their blogs- don’t spend any time on these platforms.
Instead they focus on Pinterest, SEO, affiliate marketing and their e-mail list.
This story of a mom blogger who earns $5000 every month and who hit that goal within 10 months of launching her blog is exactly what you should read.
*Spoiler alert: She has minimal to zero social media presence on the triumvirate of social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Spent way too much time worrying about what other people thought
Now, this may be more of a generic problem than blogging related, but the fact is it actually affected my work as a blogger.
Worrying constantly about how other people perceive you and your blog is an utter waste of time.
I allowed self doubt to overwhelm me more than once.
I spent days wondering if I should respond to posts/tweets about the blogging landscape and my changed role in it.
Instead, if I’d devoted all that time to actually working on my blog and moving forward, I’d have created more useful content for the audience that actually reads my work.
Mistakes happen. We all make them and it’s normal.
But if we never learn from our mistakes and keep repeating them in a fatalistic fashion, there’s a good chance that our blogs will remain stagnant.
Take it from me and if you’re serious about blogging, make it a priority on a regular basis.
I’m a blog, social media, productivity and content coach with over 14 years of writing, blogging and social media experience. Read my story & more about my work here.
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