This is a guest post by Bridget Sandorford.
Every successful blogger had to start somewhere, and most of them made a few mistakes along the way — OK, a lot of mistakes. Blogging comes with a steep learning curve, and there is a lot of trial and error as you figure out what works best for your blog in order to achieve your personal goals for your business and your online presence.
You will never be able to avoid making mistakes entirely, but you can avoid many of the common mistakes that new bloggers make by doing a little research before you get started. This will help you to move your blog along a little faster so you can achieve the success you’re looking for a little more quickly. Here are the top 8 mistakes that new bloggers make that you should try to avoid when you are getting started (and that you definitely shouldn’t be doing anymore if you are an established blogger):
Not Hosting Your Own Domain
Free blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are alluring for new bloggers who like the ease of use that they offer. However, free blogging platforms are very limiting in what they allow you to do with your blog. You may not be able to get the functionality you need, you may not be able to get the professional looking design that you want, you may not be able to accommodate the traffic that you hope to generate, and you certainly will not be able to sell the kind of advertising that you want to make money on your blog. You need to host your own domain in order to get all these features and more so that your blog can live up to its full potential.
Not Using a Custom Design
Every blogging platform comes with basic themes. If you use these, visitors will recognize them right away and think that your site is of poor quality. You can use a professional template, but hundreds or even thousands of other sites may be using the same one. It’s important to set yourself apart by creating or purchasing a custom design. You can use a template if it’s easier, but make sure you customize enough of the elements to make it stand apart.
Not Using a Custom Logo
Your logo is your brand. If you create a generic logo from text or some clip art, you are going to miss out on a big opportunity to define your brand. Invest the money in a custom design to make a bigger impact. You can use sites like Design Crowd in order to connect with professional designers and get a logo at an affordable price.
Not Creating a Unique Voice
Content is king when it comes to promoting your site. If you are creating generic content with generic writing, you aren’t going to attract the traffic you want. You must write in your own, unique voice. Be bold with your ideas, and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective. Doing so is what will make you stand out and get the traffic you want.
Not Using SEO
Search-engine optimization is one of the most important ways that you can promote your blog — and you can do it totally for free. Do your keyword research and use the most relevant terms in your blog posts, your page titles, your meta descriptions, your photo tags, and many other places in your content and your code. Doing so will help you rise to the top of search results fast.
Not Changing the Permalinks
Permalinks are the URLs of your posts and pages. The default for most blogs is something generic like www.yoursite.com/p-123. You need to change these so that they reflect the name of your post instead — www.yoursite.com/post-name — so that the page can be more easily indexed for keywords and can help you increase your page rank.
Not Reaching Out to Other Bloggers
You may see other bloggers as your competition, but they can also be your greatest allies in promoting your content and your site. Reach out to other bloggers by leaving comments on their posts and on their social media profiles. Start a conversation and build a relationship. They may end up sharing your content with their readers, getting you more traffic, or you may end up collaborating on something more significant, such as an e-book or online course.
Not Promoting Social Bookmarking
Social networking is still a powerful way to market your blog. Make sure you have social sharing buttons on each of your posts and pages, and make sure you promote your own social networks through badges and widgets.
It can be a tough road to becoming a successful blogger, and you are bound to make many mistakes along the way. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes that new bloggers make and you will accelerate your success.
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the Culinary Institute in Dallas. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.