Eleven years ago, I, Sue Davies from Travel For Life Now posted my first blog post. It was called Morocco Trip Report. 1,155 words. No subheadings. One photo. No keywords. Parts of it were notes—not even complete sentences. It was on blogger. I didn’t know if anyone even read it. Then I did a post on a different platform. It was called Tibet Flim. Yes, there was a typo in the title. Then there the posts with just photos. Don’t even ask me if I had captions, alt text or anything else. The answer is no. Blogging mistakes that beginner bloggers should avoid– I’ve done them all. I’ll be sharing them without with tips from myself and Female Travel Bloggers on how to avoid them.
In January of 2018, I decided to become more serious about blogging. I just returned from a trip to Antarctica and I was about to have more time on my hands. I settled on wordpress.com and was off to the races.
I am one of those people who opens the box and starts putting things together without reading the instructions. Then I get stuck and, well, you can probably figure out what happens… I pull out the instructions and start reading. So it went with blogging. It’s been a challenging and fun journey. And, I make blogging mistakes constantly. Here are some of the top 6 mistakes beginner bloggers make and lessons we can learn from them and how to avoid them.
Since we can all relate to movies, all blogging mistakes have a Hollywood movie lesson to accompany them, to help you relate as you go through your blogging journey.
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Top 6 Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make and The Hollywood Lessons Behind Them
If You Build It, They Will Come. Field of Dreams 1989
I know, I’m dating myself here. In the 1989 Field of Dreams Kevin Costner builds a baseball field and eventually, the 1919 Chicago White Sox show up. Well, assuming that if you write it, they will read it is one of the first blogging mistakes I made. It takes hard and consistent work to build your audience. And, you need to remember that what this about is building a relationship with real people. It’s not all bits and bytes, Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), Pinterest shares and swapping links. I am still working on finding and refining how I am creating my voice, my organic audience and my conversations with them.
FTB recommend reading this guest post by Girl Astray on how to write for your readers and retain a strong loyal readership. We would like to remind you that one of Google’s first principles is to write good content over anything else. Write about areas you are an expert in and can build an authority.
Houston We have a Problem. Apollo 13. 1995.
There are many technical aspects to blogging. Most of them are beyond me. I started on wordpress.com and then decided to move my blog to wordpress.org to a self-hosted platform. It did not go well. It took most of a weekend and many photos and other things did not port over. The site went down. One lesson I learned is that paying for some support (if you can afford it) is worth it. If you can’t afford it, ask a lot of questions. FTB has many more experienced bloggers that are very generous in sharing their tips and helped me fix some of the blogging mistakes that I made. There are also numerous Pinterest posts and blogs that you can follow to learn more.
When it comes to the technical side of things FTB recommends using Site Ground as your host. Their tech support and customer service knock it out of the park. They are often there to hold your hand every step of the way when you switch to a self hosted platform using them as your host. We also recommend checking out FTB’s sell it Sunday album to hire a fellow Female Travel Blogger to offer you tech support and help.
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain! Wizard of Oz. 1939.
One of my all-time favorite movies. There is so much behind the curtain in regards to building a successful blog. Learning SEO is a challenge, and particularly hard to do when you are just starting out. I recently had my highest ranking post at 15, the top 10 ranking is still eluding me. At first, I just picked keywords that made sense: “Free in NYC” or “Sri Lanka.” I didn’t know about long tail keywords, how to find less competitive words and the tools that people used to find them.
FTB recommends using Keysearch, one of the most popular tools for bloggers to resarch and understand keywords. This tool will help you find what keywords you can rank for and alternative sub keywords and phrases to naturally write into your blog post. Additionally if you have not done so yet, make sure your blog is indexed on search console and use their search analtics to see what you are ranking for and how you can do better.
Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night. All About Eve, 1950
When I first started blogging, I did not create a hierarchical set of categories and tags. Then, I read that this was a blogging mistake. I tried to fix it by deleting some categories. I then I read that I could take the date out of my URLs. So I did. Since I hadn’t read the instructions, I did not know that is would impact on my pins and links. About a month later, was poking around and discovered that I had about 70 404 errors on my blog. I barely had 70 posts so how could I have that many 404s? Well, I had never set up redirects when I changed the URL format. This was a blogging mistake that had a big impact on my rankings and search engine results.
Show Me The Money! Jerry MaGuire. 1996
A common mistake that new bloggers make is that we think we are going to make money blogging. I did not realize how much work needs to go into building a blog voice and audience in order to make money. Fortunately, I have a long-term plan so I was okay with that blogging mistake. But, I didn’t have a budget for expenses for my blog. I have ended up spending much more money than I expected: Bluehost, WordPress, Keysearch, Tailwind, and more. It adds up. To avoid this mistake it is best to have a budget for expenses and understand that in the beginning, you might be putting in more money than you are making if you are serious about growing your blog and making money down the road.
Just Keep Swimming. Finding Nemo. 2003
Dorrie says “Just keep swimming” to Nemo when Nemo is down. Actually, she sings it and she gets Nemo to start swimming again. One of the biggest blogging mistakes that I made was underestimating how much writing I would be doing. I have lots of notes from trips that I am excited about writing up. I have written professionally in all of my jobs and I teach writing for nonprofits at a University. But, feeding a blog is ongoing. If you want to build your audience, you need to write and post regularly. I had tried to do twice a week, but often I post only once. And, you have to keep going no matter what. Just like Nemo.
The Neverending Story
There are so many other blogging mistakes that I have made. Recently, I promised to do a collaborative posts before I checked on whether or not I had the required picture. I did not and I had to apologize. The most important thing that I did right was to join a number of blogging communities on Facebook and elsewhere. Female Travel Bloggers has been a very big help to me. There are a lot of people willing to help whether it is to share their knowledge, show you how to link or do a collaborative post or answer a technical question. Blogging is about giving–to your readers, to the blogging community, to others on a similar path. Take the time to be kind and supportive of other bloggers–you’ll get much in return. On this note, I leave you with one last quote from Winston Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
What is your biggest blogging mistake and what have you done to avoid it? Let us know in the comments!
Sue Davies has been to 42 countries plus Antarctica. Her partner in life and travel, Regina Ang, is a native of Singapore. Their travel blog www.travelforlifenow.com covers temples, wildlife, culture and having affordable off-the-beaten-path adventures. Her favorite experiences include kayaking in Antarctica, chasing the Northern Lights in Norway and camping in the Sahara Desert. You can follow her on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.