When you’re new to blogging you’ll not understand the ins and outs of the trade and it may take a good deal of time to get up to speed. This is a learning experience that will be a continuing education.
There are some basic fundamentals that you’ll need to grasp quickly to avoid getting off to a rocky start. Things that are just not cool.
Let’s get right into it.
Poor theme selection – For the new blogger the excitement of getting your blog up and running means that you have arrived. You are now officially on the World Wide Web and although that standard issue WordPress theme may really look fantastic to you, don’t use it. It signals the world that you have just come out of the gate. Finding another theme is your next order of business. Try here, where there are more than 1000 to choose from.
Poor color selection – Okay, you’ve dumped that newbie theme and now you’re a designer – not. Don’t go from one extreme to another, settle for something that is pleasing to the eye and most important of all, readable to your site visitors. Avoid loud, eye-straining colors.
The sound of music – Not the Julie Andrews classic, but that annoying surprise you get when you arrive at some sites. Let’s face it, unless you have a music site, no one really care what you want to hear. No music should be auto-started when visitors arrive. Think of your blog as a library, it should be quiet because people came to read.
Failing to write clearly – Your blog should be easy to read and that includes the manner in which you write. Do not try to impress the world with long-winded dissertations and A+ term papers, write like you speak. The idea is to write in a conversational tone and promote some interaction.
Providing nothing of value – Whether you’re posting as a new blogger or an old vet, always be mindful of your audience and write something that someone, somewhere on the internet can actually use to enhance their lives or solve a problem. Believe me, no one cares a hoot about what you ate for dinner last night.
Not being authentic – Do you know how to be someone else better than yourself? Probably not, and that’s a problem. Relax, be yourself and don’t be a phony. Fish out of water always flop around and show their discomfort. Be for real and write what you know, your readers will love you for it.
Ignoring your readers – You must engage your readers and avoid pitching and preaching to them in all of your posts. Ask some questions, ask for feedback, comments or some other call to action that makes them feel a part of the experience.
Stealing the content of others – Stealing is a strong word and one heck of a charge to put on someone, but if you visit the sites of other bloggers, copy their content and place it on your site as if it were your own work, no accreditation, that’s exactly what you are doing “ Stealing”.
It’s okay to read the content of others and write about that topic in your own words, but be sure to enhance the topic by adding more value to it. If you can’t do that then you need to find another topic.
Failing to give credit – Be certain to give credit to the original author or source of any information you use or refer to, including photos, charts, and statistics. This is the courteous thing to do and shows that you are giving the respect and credit to those sources that have assisted you in creating your post. Link back to these sources when possible.
RSS not easily found – Are you kidding me? Your RSS subscription service is vital to building a following. Be sure this is above the fold in plain sight. Not clear on what it actually does and how to use it? See my article: RSS Feeds – What Are They?
Hiding behind the curtain – You cannot blog in anonymity, so be sure to get an “About” page up as quickly as possible. People want to know who you are and this is no time to be bashful. You are building authority and a brand, get to it.
Missing in action – If you expect to build a blog with a following of loyal readers you’ll need to post regularly. There can be no guessing on the part of your visitors as to whether you have something fresh for them to consume or not. Sporadic posting will lead you to the trash heap of blogging where so many before you have landed.
Establish a regular posting schedule and stick with it. If this means posting 3 times each week, do that consistently. Don’t post 6 times each week for one month, then suddenly cut back to 2 or 3 post over a 10 day period. People will just not bother to even check you out as you’ve built no credible level of dependability.
Failing to proofread – During the course of writing a blog post, there are bound to be some typographic errors, that’s life in the blogging world. Be sure to proofread your articles before publishing to catch as many of them as possible, keeping them to a minimum. Even then, there will be the occasional error that just flat out gets missed. An occasional error here and there shows that you are human and not perfect, but you must avoid the appearance of sloppy work.
Failing to respond to your readers – Your main feedback mechanism is your comments system. Always respond to your readers. They took the time to leave you a comment and they deserve to be recognized for that. There will be comments that oppose your position, and that’s okay, but be sure to respond to them as well. Join the conversation because 1, it’s your blog and 2, this is what you really want anyhow. A good conversation or even a debate is healthy and educational.
Don’t be a jerk commenter – When visiting the sites of others, leave a decent comment that actually adds to the conversation. The old worn out “Good post” and a link back to your site brands you as a spammer and someone who can’t see past their own nose. If you’re in this only for yourself, you’ll be by yourself. Interact with others and be a contributor to the community.
Ask for no handouts – Whatever you do, don’t do the “I like your blog, want to exchange blog rolls?” thing. Do you really want to sound so needy and pitiful?
In the world of blogging you have to establish yourself as someone who really has a passion for this and wants to enhance the online experience for others. This takes time, so be patient and continue to provide valuable content to your readers.
As your blog grows and you become known throughout the community, things will begin to unfold for you in ways that you didn’t anticipate or even imagine. Successful bloggers may not say much to you during the early developmental stages of your career, but people do take notice of the up and comers.
My advice to you is to keep producing quality content and be helpful to others as much as possible. You want to be known as a contributor because when you give, good things will happen.
To my more seasoned readers: What blogging blunders have you to contribute to this list that can help others trying to find their way?
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