Blogging has been growing in popularity year after year, and there are no signs of things slowing down anytime soon.
In fact, according to Statista, the U.S. alone will have around 31.7 million bloggers by 2020.
If you’re looking to start a blog yourself, or you already have one, these numbers can seem daunting, to say the least.
So much competition!
Or is it, really?…
According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days.
That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.
In other words, around 95% of bloggers quit!
Pretty eye-opening, right?
That was 10 years ago, but the situation seems to be about the same today.
And that may not be so strange, when you consider the fact that around 80% of bloggers don’t even make 100$ from all of their efforts.
For a humble hobby blogger, that may not be such a huge deal.
However, if you’re looking to turn your online project into a juicy, semi-passive income stream that’ll sustain you for years to come, you’ll have to up your game.
Why Most Blogs Fail
Why do so many sites get left behind without ever making a single day’s worth of income?
In this article, we’ll go over 8 common blogging mistakes we see time and time again.
If left unchecked, these can kill your precious online project before it even gets to liftoff.
However, if you dodge them all, you could soon find yourself among the top 19% who run successful, profitable blogs.
With that in mind, let’s begin…
1. Blogger Burnout
If you’ve searched the web for tips on blogging, you’ve probably been told by someone, somewhere, to publish one post a day.
More posts = more growth = more money.
Seems so simple, right?
However, unless you’re running an online magazine or news site, this can actually hurt your progress in the long run.
Too Much, Too Fast
When you’re really passionate and determined (most likely at the beginning of your blogging career) squeezing out a daily post may be doable.
But, unless you have skilled co-writers or freelancers who are helping you, you will not be able to keep up the pace — you will get tired sooner or later.
You’ll drop from daily publishing to 3 times a week, 3 times a week to 2 times a week, then once a week, and, for some time, maybe even once a month.
This “blogger burnout” happens to the vast majority at some point in their journey, and it’s not pretty.
It can completely sap your motivation, which in turn effects the quality of your blog.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll attract a special kind of following when you publish so often — the kind of following that’ll expect a daily dose of you!
If you suddenly drop off the radar due to burnout, or completely change up your rhythm, a portion of the audience you’ve built may lose interest.
On top of that, your blog will look unprofessional to those who keep track, such as advertisers and potential business partners.
Not a nice thought, is it?
To avoid this issue, choose a reasonable schedule from the get-go, and stick to it.
It doesn’t have to be completely on the dot every single week, but try to keep it as consistent as possible.
The key is to make it sustainable. That way, you’ll avoid the blogger burnout and keep your followers happy.
2. Volume Over Value
This is a closely related issue that’s made from the same mindset of “more, faster!”.
There’s a limit to how much valuable, in-depth content you can publish all by yourself, week after week.
If you’re filling up your blog at a rapid pace, there’s a good chance that you’re slacking when it comes to both the length and quality of your content.
Besides bringing down the image of your brand, why is this such a big deal?
Search engine optimization (S.E.O.).
The days of loading websites with 300-word “articles” stuffed with keywords are long gone.
If you want to bring in tens of thousands of visitors every month from search engines (and you should), then your content needs to be on point.
You see, Google keeps track of factors like “time on page” to judge the value of your pages, as well as your website overall.
If you want to rank higher in the search results, you need to improve these stats as much as possible.
And, no, mass-produced, lackluster posts simply won’t do.
To avoid having your content pushed to the back of Google’s search results, you need to hold the attention of your readers.
This can be done with:
1. High-quality writing
2. Great formatting (more on that later)
3. Interesting/helpful content.
Writing longer, more in-depth content also lets you include more of the keywords you find with tools such as Long Tail Pro (in a natural way, without stuffing).
By doing so, you’ll rank for a larger number of keywords, which in turn gives you more organic traffic from searches.
The balance between frequency and quality is one you need to find yourself. However, a good rule of thumb is to post articles that are at least 1500 words in length.
Finding Your Sweet Spot
If you can do that every day while still keeping the writing crisp, hats off to you!
More realistically, though, if you’re working alone, 1-3 pieces of in-depth, quality content every week is more than enough to deal with.
If you’ve been publishing wimpy, 400-word blog posts for a while with little-to-no success, this one change will pretty much guarantee progress.
Monitor your blog’s statistics with Google analytics, and see if your values stay consistent between your posts.
If your stats are looking good, and you can keep publishing at a steady pace, you’re good to go!
Since we’re already on the topic…
3. Neglecting Analytics
If you’re like me, you’re probably not too keen on spending precious time going through numbers, graphs and percentages.
After all, that’s time you could use to produce more content, interacting with your audience, or promoting your site, right?
Well, like it or not, keeping an eye on your analytics is crucial if you want your blog to succeed in the long run.
You’ll learn important details about:
- How long people are staying on your site.
- Which of your posts are the most popular.
- How users are navigating through your blog.
- Where your website traffic is coming from.
- How many people return to your site throughout the month.
If you don’t keep an eye on this data, you won’t know what you’re doing right and wrong.
However, if you do have a solid overview of these things, you can carefully craft your content strategy in a way that will benefit your blog’s growth.
If you haven’t done so already, take some time to set up Google analytics and learn the basics of how it works.
You won’t regret it.
4. Lifeless Writing
Here’s the deal:
Nobody enjoys plain, stiff writing.
Your posts shouldn’t read like something you were forced to cough up during an exam from hell.
Instead, put some personality and flow into your writing — make it seem more alive.
You can achieve this by doing one thing:
Write in a conversational tone.
If you study the writing of most successful blogs, even business-related ones, you’ll quickly notice that the vast majority of the writing is conversational in nature.
This is because posts written in this style tend to:
- Better hold the attention of your readers.
- Increase engagement (comments, likes, shares, etc.).
- Connect better with your audience.
- Make your content appealing to more people.
Getting Into It
Writing conversationally basically means “writing as if you’re speaking”.
If you’re struggling with this, try reading through some popular blogs in your niche and studying their content.
Once you get a hang of it, it’s actually easier than writing bland, objective text — it flows more naturally, and you can “break the rules” when it comes to the structure.
Here’s a few tips on how to write in a conversational tone:
- Address the reader directly (“as you probably know”, “if you want to” etc.).
- Use simpler words.
- Write shorter sentences.
- Use examples and metaphors.
- Ask questions.
- Use storytelling.
Is your blog currently filled with dry, boring writing?
If so, changing it up with a conversational tone is pretty much guaranteed to boost your readership.
Try it out!
(Unless, you know, you’re writing reviews about medical journals or something. In that case, keep doing your thing.)
5. Poor Presentation
Does your written content look anything like this image?
If so, yikes! You got some work to do…
You may draw in new visitors to your site with attention-grabbing headlines and good SEO, but they’ll bounce quickly if they are met with a scary-looking wall of text.
Unless they really have to know something, very few people want to dive into a fat mess of a post to maybe find something of value.
It’s true that “content is King”, but presentation is Queen — and you need both if you want your kingdom to thrive.
You can have the most valuable content in the world, but if your presentation is poor, you’ll still be fighting an up-hill battle.
People appreciate a neat, professional appearance; if your delivery is on point, more of them will read, share and interact with your content.
Here are some tips on how to unclutter your pages and improve your presentation:
- Keep your paragraphs short — 1-3 sentences in each (increasing white space).
- Include headings and subheadings to break up your content into easily-digestible chunks.
- Use numbered and bulleted lists (like we’re doing here) to give a nice overview of closely related ideas, or steps in a process.
- Highlight important points by using bold text.
- Increase your font size across the board (depends on the font you’re using, but 12-14 is usually a good range for paragraphs).
6. Posting Only Text
Now that we’ve addressed how to arrange the writing of your articles, there’s a closely related issue we also need to tackle…
As you’ve probably noticed, today’s online environment is filled to the brim with all kinds of distractions — a new article, video or social media interaction is just a click away.
Naturally, this effects your blog’s visitors as well.
In fact, on average, 55% of people will read 15 seconds or less of a blog post.
Pretty rough, I know, but can we do anything about it?
Well, we’ve already covered 2 things you can improve to increase your reader retention — writing in a conversational tone, and properly organizing your written content.
However, there’s one last remaining piece to the puzzle:
This will probably make up the majority of your added media.
These can be complementary screenshots for a tutorial, photos of a finished meal on a recipe post, or some stock images to add some flavor.
If they suit your blog, these can increase the fun factor of your posts without taking up much space.
Just be sure to not overuse them, or it can get really silly, really quickly.
- Slide shows
If you have a bunch of relevant images to show your readers, this is an effective way of going about it without stretching your articles too much.
If you haven’t produced video content for your blog yet, it’s time to start.
It’s generally seen as high-value content, and will be greatly appreciated by your audience.
As you probably know, online video consumption is BIG, yet it’s still growing!
In fact, according to data from Cisco, video traffic will be 82 percent of all global internet consumer traffic by 2021.
Podcasts are excellent for marketing — it’s an easy way to reach new people and spread brand awareness (can be published to itunes, Soundcloud and Youtube as well as your blog).
However, if that’s too heavy for you, consider making audio versions of some of your blog posts.
These will be greatly appreciated by those who move around a lot, and don’t have much time for reading.
Just by going through this list, you can probably see how interesting your blog would be if you used even half of these options regularly.
The bottom line:
Don’t forget multimedia!
7. Bad (Or Inexistent) Editing
When you’re “in the zone” as a writer, and your words are flowing like gentle waves, it almost feels like you’re in a trance.
Your sentences chain together effortlessly.
Metaphors and similes spring forth like it’s nothing.
BAM — you finished a blog post, just like that!
Ideas appeared one by one, and words came together in a graceful dance of content creation — how wonderful.
Time to hit publish, right?
Well, not quite…
You see, when we start flowing like that, we’re tapping into the creative part of our minds. This is optimal for pulling ideas out of the ether and into the real world.
However, the finer details are mostly overlooked in the process — that’s just part of the deal when you’re optimizing for creativity.
So, in other words:
Your creation probably needs a solid round of polishing before you present it to the world.
And how do you do this?
With some nice, sharp editing, of course!…
I know, I know — not the most exciting of things, but it has to be done.
After all, one of the quickest ways to bring down the image of your site is to have lots of content filled with obvious typos and grammatical errors — nobody wants that.
To make sure your content is ready for the world stage, here’s a simple checklist that will eliminate the most common issues:
- Edit after the draft is done.
Trying to edit your work in the middle of the writing process is a poor strategy. It takes you out of the creative part of your mind, and into the analytical.
Besides being really tedious, it’s also inefficient, so it’s best to leave it be until the text is complete.
- Start with the big stuff.
Things like context, phrasing and structure should be looked at first.
There’s no use in scanning for grammatical mistakes in sentences you may be removing later on.
- Trim the edges.
Being thorough is great, but being long-winded isn’t.
Look for unneeded words and sentences that are prime targets for pruning (without overdoing it, of course).
- Organize paragraphs and headers.
Make sure there’s enough whitespace between the text, to make it neat-looking and easy to read (presentation, remember?)
- Scan the details.
Finally, it’s time to look for the smaller stuff, like punctuation, grammar and capitalization.
This is the final polish that will give your blog that high-quality feel to it.
Don’t be a perfectionist.
When you’re done with all of the above steps, don’t spend extra hours going over your writing again and again.
At some point, you just have to hit the publish button.
After all, as a blog owner, you probably have an extensive to-do list waiting for you.
8. Not Building An Email List
This is one I see far too often with beginner bloggers.
They have a good publishing schedule in place, they produce quality content, and they’ve done some decent SEO for their site.
The initial heavy lifting has been done, and now they’re enjoying a steady stream of traffic coming to their blog.
Maybe they’ve got thousands, or even tens of thousands, of unique visitors every single month. Yet… there’s no email list to be seen.
It’s truly a huge waste of opportunity.
Why is it so important, you may ask?
Well, having a base of subscribers allow you to:
- Send out newsletters— ensuring an early influx of traffic to your newest content.
- Keep your followers updated on important developments with the site.
- Communicate directly with your most loyal fans.
- Do free, direct marketing for any products you create.
- Alert people to exciting launches of helpful products and services (and cash in big with affiliate commissions while doing so).
Simply put, you can update, interact and sell.
As you can probably guess, this makes an email list a highly valuable asset to have.
Like they often say in marketing circles, “the money is in the list”.
You should note, however, that the value is actually in the relationship you have with your subscriber base, not the size of it alone.
Treat your followers good, and you’ll build a sense of trust, loyalty and respect that no money can buy.
Then, for the love of puppies, don’t neglect list building! There’s really no excuse not to do it — it’s so easy these days.
Once it’s set up, your subscriber base will be growing on autopilot in the background.
With that in mind, you should get this done as early on as possible — you’ll be glad you did.
And there you have it, 8 common blogging mistakes you need to avoid.
A lot of (perhaps jealous) critics tend to look at successful bloggers and say something like, “Puh, writing on the internet for a living? That’s so easy”.
However, those of us who’ve been doing this for a while know the truth — there’s a lot of things that can (and do) go wrong!
This list is really just the tip of the iceberg. You may have to face a bunch of hard challenges down the road.
Still, if you can avoid these 8 common pitfalls successfully, you’ll be better off than the vast majority of blog owners.
From one blogger to another, I hope this was helpful to you, and wish you all the best in your journey!
- Blogger burnout.
- Volume over value.
- Neglecting analytics
- Lifeless writing.
- Poor presentation.
- Posting text only.
- Lackluster editing.
- Not building an email list.