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New to blogging? Want to get your blog off on the right foot? Want your blog to be a big success? Then make sure you are not making any of these 35 BIG mistakes new bloggers make!
Have you just started your first blog? Or are you planning to start a new blog soon? Then you really NEED to read this blog post. It will save you so much time (and money!), not to mention it will get your new blog off on the right foot and make growing your blog and earning money from your blog MUCH EASIER!
In this post I share 35 BIG MISTAKES I see new (and not so new) bloggers make ALL THE TIME. (In fact I made several of these mistakes myself when I first started out… I wish I could’ve read this post back then!)
These mistakes will hold your blog back, stop your blog from growing and earning money, and give you major headaches further down the line.
But the good news is they’re all easy to fix. In this post, I don’t just tell you what the mistakes are and leave you hanging! I also share how to fix them and/or point you to resources on my site and others which will help you understand exactly why each mistake is a mistake and what you need to do to fix it.
NOT a new blogger? It’s still worth reading this post – I’ve come across lots of established bloggers who still make many of these mistakes!
Still got questions after reading this post? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help you.
OK, so let’s dive in… here are 35 BIG MISTAKES new bloggers make (and how to fix them!)
1. Not going self-hosted
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a new blogger is not going self-hosted.
Hosted blogging solutions (like Wix, SquareSpace, WordPress.com and Blogger) can seem like the best option when you are first starting out – especially as many of them offer a free ‘starter plan’ of some sort.
However, this is very much a false economy. First of all, there are often hidden costs – so ‘free’ doesn’t turn out to be free after all. But also hosted options massively limit what you can do and how you can grow and monetise your blog.
All this means that, if you don’t go self-hosted right from the start, you are likely to have to move your blog over to self-hosted WordPress at a later date. And moving your blog from hosted to self-hosted is a BIG pain. Much better to get it right from the start!
Still need convincing? I know many bloggers who have had to move from hosted blogging to self-hosted WordPress blogging, but not one who has gone the other way!
READ MORE >>> Hosted vs self hosted: which is best for your blog?
READ MORE >>> How to start a self-hosted WordPress Blog
2. Picking a bad domain name
Your domain name is your website’s address – for example, my domain name is ‘productiveblogging.com’.
It really pays to spend some serious time choosing a good domain name from the start and considering all the possible pitfalls. There are quite a few things you need to take into consideration.
For example, is it easy to say and pronounce? Are there any hidden rude words in it? Does it limit what you can do? And is it available with a .com ending? (You definitely want to try to get a .com ending rather than .net .biz .tv etc.)
READ MORE >>> How to choose the perfect domain name for your blog
3. Not choosing the right permalink structure
Hands down the BEST permalink structure is:
So, for example, the URL for this post is:
Sadly, many new bloggers opt for one of the other permalink structures, such as including the date:
Or the category:
This causes so many problems further down the line and many bloggers find themselves having to create lots of redirects (or having to pay someone else to do it) in order to move over to having the POST NAME permalink structure.
If you have just started your blog, you can easily change you permalink structure by going to SETTINGS >>> PERMALINKS in your WordPress dashboard and selecting the POST NAME option.
If you have been blogging for a while, you will need to create redirects from your old post structure to your new post structure or you will end up creating lots of 404 error messages and breaking all the links to your blog.
4. Not choosing a good theme
Your theme is so much more than just the design. Your theme affects how your blog functions, how easy it is for readers to use your site, how your blog performs in search engine results and how easy it is to grow your blog and make money from it.
When choosing a theme, you want to choose a theme that is well coded, fast, regularly updated and optimised for getting good search engine traffic, building your email list and generating money from your site.
READ MORE >>> How to choose the right theme for your blog
5. Ignoring SEO
Whatever you do, DO NOT ignore SEO or you will come to regret it. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and it’s all about getting your blog to perform better in search engine results – which, in turn, will bring you more traffic to your blog.
Most established bloggers find they get far more traffic from SEO that social media, and that search engine traffic is much more reliable than social media traffic. Search engine traffic takes much less effort too!
Many new bloggers put off learning about SEO, thinking it’s too complicated or not worth the time… especially as, in the beginning (when search engines are just trying to learn if they can trust you to deliver good answers to their search queries!), search engine traffic can be quite low.
But this is a big mistake. The hands down BEST time to start learning about SEO and putting it into practice on your blog is RIGHT FROM THE START!
This will help you get good traffic from search engines as soon as possible AND it means you won’t have to go back and fix a TON of SEO mistakes later down the line.
I know many bloggers who have had to spend months going back into hundreds of old blog posts to make them search engine friendly. This is wasted time that would have been saved if they had implemented good SEO practice right from the start.
Now, in fairness to those bloggers, they were not aware of the importance of SEO when they started blogging and, indeed, it is only relatively recently that SEO has become quite so important. But now you know! So, don’t make the same mistake… learn everything you can about SEO and put it into practice ASAP.
I have lots of free help and advice on SEO on Productive Blogging, but if you want to turbocharge your SEO efforts and make sure you get everything done in the right order, then I highly recommend taking my course, SEO Jumpstart.
6. Choosing inconsistent social media handles
When you start a new blog, it’s really important to try and get social media usernames which match. This will make it much easier for your readers to find you on their favourite social media platform and/or guess what your social media username might be.
So, for example, if your domain name is crazybusymama.com, try and get the social media username @crazybusymama on all the main social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest). If that’s not available, try and at least get the same thing for all your social channels – for example perhaps @thecrazybusymama or @crazybusymamatips is available.
Alternatively, you could get your name, instead of your blog name. For example, I’m @productiveblogging on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but @ebgargano on Twitter as @productiveblogging was too long!
Of course, ideally you would obtain all the matching social media channels at the same time as you get your domain name so you can get everything matching.
7. Not doing updates
WordPress, plugins and themes are frequently updated to provide you with new features and fix security issues. But to take advantage of the updates you need to manually update these in your WordPress dashboard.
If you don’t update your plugins regularly, you are leaving your site vulnerable to getting hacked!
To find out if you have any updates to do, go to DASHBOARD >>> UPDATES in your WordPress dashboard.
If you do, check the boxes and hit UPDATE PLUGINS (for plugin updates), UPDATE THEMES (for theme updates) and UPDATE WORDPRESS (for WordPress updates).
Make sure you regularly check this WordPress Updates screen and make all the necessary updates. I recommend making updates once a week.
And before you make your updates, it’s also a good idea to do a manual backup of your site first – just in case anything goes wrong!
8. Having too many plugins
Too many plugins can slow your site down (which puts readers off and affects how well your site does in search engine results). It can also leave your site vulnerable to getting hacked as hackers can get into your site though bad plugins which have not been made secure or which have not been updated recently.
Make sure you limit the number of plugins you have to the bare minimum – only the ones you really NEED and ensure the ones you do have are good plugins from reputable sources, and which are regularly updated.
READ MORE >>> 15 essential plugins for WordPress blogs
9. Not being consistent
If you want your blog to be a success, you need to be regularly creating good quality content for your blog. You can’t write the odd blog post now and again, as and when you feel like it, and then complain that you are not getting any traffic!
Aim to write one blog post a week, and publish that blog post at the same time and on the same day each week. That way you will surely but steadily grow your blog’s library of content and your audience will come to expect and look forward to your new blog posts.
Better still, plan your blog posts in advance and create a content calendar for your blog.
READ MORE >>> How to create a content calendar for your blog
READ MORE >>> How to blog more consistently (even if you have NO TIME!)
10. Not setting up Yoast properly
Yoast is an incredible tool for optimising your blog for search engines – meaning you get more traffic from search engines. BUT all too often, new (and even more established) bloggers have it set up incorrectly.
In fact, in some circumstances it can be set up so badly, you are actually telling search engines NOT to index your blog and send you traffic. You definitely want to get this fixed ASAP.
READ MORE >>> How to set up the Yoast SEO plugin PROPERLY!
11. Creating waaay too many tags and categories
One very common mistake among new bloggers (and often experienced bloggers too!) is creating far too many categories and tags. In fact, I’ve heard of bloggers who have over 1000 tags!
Not only is this a waste of time, and not helpful to anyone, but it can seriously damage your blog’s chances of appearing in search engine results and getting good traffic from search engines.
You should aim to have between 4 and 8 main categories – these should be the main topics of your blog. A bit like the chapters of a book.
Tags are more like the index page of a book, and so it is normal to have more tags than categories. However, you should still use them sparingly. They are there to group together blog posts which have something in common, not to be randomly!
READ MORE >>> How to optimise your blog’s site stucture for SEO
12. Not building an email list from the start
If you want your blog to be a success, it’s really important to start collecting email addresses and sending out newsletters to your readers ASAP.
This will help you grow your blog, get more returning visitors, build up a loyal fanbase and get valuable feedback from your readers.
Better still, growing an email list will help you make more money from your blog… and sooner!
There is a reason why marketers say, ‘the money is in the list’!
In fact, the general rule of thumb is that for every 1000 subscribers, you should be making about $1000 a month.
The sooner you start getting email subscribers, the sooner you will get to that stage!
READ MORE >>> Why every blogger NEEDS an email list
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers + free challenge
13. Not promoting blog posts
It is no good creating lots of blog posts if you never share them anywhere! After you publish a blog post, you should make sure you spend time promoting that blog post… on social media, to your email list, on Pinterest, on photo sharing websites, in roundups, on other blog posts on your own blog… EVERYWHERE!
14. Not setting up Google Analytics from day 1
Google analytics is a tool which gives you lots of stats about how your blog is performing. For example…
- how many visitors you are getting
- how many pageviews you are getting
- where your traffic is coming from (direct, search engines, social media…)
- demographic information (gender, age, country)
- which are your most popular posts
For Google Analytics to track your stats, you need to install some tracking code on your website. It is vital you set this up as early as possible. This is because Google can only start tracking your stats from the day you install that tracking code.
It’s important to track your stats from Day 1 (or as near as possible) so you can see how you are progressing and how you are improving, and so you can learn from your stats in order to improve your blog.
READ MORE >>> How to set up Google Analytics on a WordPress blog
READ MORE >>> How to use Google Analytics – a beginner’s guide
15. Not niching down
One of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers making is trying to appeal to everyone. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.
Your blog is much more likely to be successful if you pick a niche and totally own that niche, in time becoming a go-to expert in that niche.
READ MORE >>> How to choose the right niche for your blog
16. Obsessing over the perfect blog design
Of course, it is important that your blog looks good, but it is much MUCH more important that your blog has lots of good content that your readers want to read.
Sadly, many new bloggers spend all their time and energy on the design, logos, colours, fonts etc. and nowhere near enough time on the content.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: having the ‘perfect’ looking blog will not make your blog a success. Having awesome content will.
Spend just enough time on the design and look of your blog so it is reasonably attractive and not likely to put your readers off, but after that focus your time and attention on the CONTENT.
In any case, it is likely that after a few months of blogging, your style and ideas will have changed and you will want to redo aspects of your blog’s design… so spending enormous amounts of time on design when your are just starting out is likely to be a complete waste of time (and money too… if you pay a designer!)
17. Not setting up useful menus
The menu bars are a hugely important feature of your blog. Done well, they help your readers understand what your blog is about and find the blog posts that they are most interested in – leading to more pageviews per visit. And they also help search engines understand your blog better – leading to more search engine traffic.
Ideally you should have 2 menu bars near the top of your blog. One should feature your main categories, while the other should feature other useful pages, such as your about page, contact page, subscribe page etc. See the top of my blog for an example of this.
READ MORE >>> How to optimise your blog’s site structure for SEO
18. Writing for yourself, not your readers
If you want your blog to grow and be successful, you must write what your audience want to read, not what you want to write about. (Of course, if you’ve chosen your niche well, there ought to be a lot of crossover!)
In order to do this, it’s important to get to know your audience. Interact with them on social media, ask questions in your emails and encourage comments on your blog posts.
And don’t forget to check your analytics. Take a look at your stats and see which of your posts are most popular – then write more content like that!
For example, if you look at your analytics and see that 5 out of your top 10 posts are soup recipes, write more soup recipe posts!
READ MORE >>> How to write the perfect blog post
19. Not using H tags
H tags are used for subheadings in blog posts. First and foremost, it is vital that you use subtitles to break up your text and help readers find the information they are most interested in.
But subheadings are also important for search engines – they help search engines understand better the structure of your blog post and what your blog is all about.
While your readers will not mind especially how your subheadings are formatted, so long as they are clear and consistent, search engines need you to use H tags for your subheadings.
To turn text into an H tag, simply click on the text and select the paragraph symbol ( ¶ ). Then select ‘Transform to:’ Heading.
READ MORE >>> How to write the perfect blog post
20. Writing too formally
A blog post is not an essay for your teacher, or a report for your boss, or even an article in a high-brow newspaper. It’s more like a helpful email to a close friend.
And, as such, you should write more like you speak than how you were taught to write essays as a child! Your tone should be friendly and engaging, and you should definitely use relaxed and informal language. This will make your blog posts easier to read and help your audience to relate to you as a human being, not a faceless corporation.
If you find this hard, just imagine your blog post is an email you are writing to a close friend who is struggling with whatever the topic of your blog post is.
Of course, you shouldn’t go too far! Make sure you check your work carefully after you have written it and correct any spelling, punctuation or grammar errors. And definitely try to avoid using text message style abbreviations and too many emojis!
READ MORE >>> How to write the perfect blog post
21. Focusing too much time on creating content
Whilst spending time creating good quality content is hugely important. You shouldn’t spend all your time creating blog posts!
You should make sure you also spend plenty of time promoting those blog posts on social media and Pinterest, getting to grips with SEO, growing your email list and on activities which will help your blog to start earning money as soon as possible.
You should also make sure you spend plenty of time reading other blogs, learning about different aspects of blogging and connecting with other bloggers.
I recommend you spend roughly ¼ of your available blogging time on creating blog posts and the rest of the time on all these other activities.
If you want some help on how to get started with this and find time for all these other activities, then why not check out my FREE Profitable Blog Plan which takes you step by step through the first 7 weeks of blogging – what to do, in what order and how to fit it all in.
22. Not having a way for readers to share your content
If you want your blog to grow, then you really need to have some way for your readers to share your content!
Luckily this is very easy to do on a WordPress blog. Simply install a social sharing buttons plugin and social sharing buttons will appear either before or after your content (sometimes both, depending on your settings) or down the side of you blog post.
This means, when a reader reads your content and wants to share it, all they have to do is click on one of your social sharing buttons and your content is shared on their social media channel of choice. Getting your readers to share your blog posts is a great way to grow your blog!
There are lots of social media sharing plugins, but the one I recommend to new bloggers is Social Warfare*, as they have a great free version. (Though they do have a premium version too, if you decide you want more functionality.)
23. Not having a search bar
Having a search bar is vital if you want your readers to stay on your blog and find the content they are most interested in. In fact, don’t stop at one – have several!
I recommend ideally having three. One at the very top of your blog, one in your sidebar and one in your blog’s footer. That way your readers can’t miss them.
Remember too, that most people these days read blog posts on their phone, so your search bar needs to be easy to find on mobile as well. Don’t just rely on a search bar in your side bar, as this usually gets pushed right down to the bottom on mobile.
To add a search bar to your sidebar, or anywhere else on your blog, simply go to APPEARANCE >>> WIDGETS and drag the widget called SEARCH BAR into the correct widget space.
24. Not having links to your social media profiles
If someone new finds your blog and loves what you blog about, they are most likely going to want to follow you on social media too.
So, make sure you make it easy for them to find your social media profiles. The best way to do this is to install a social icons plugin and set it up so the icons link to your social media profiles.
Just like the search bar, try to make sure you have these in more than one place – for example, your header, your footer and your sidebar.
There are lots of social icons plugins available, but the one I like the best is Simple Social Icons.
25. Not doing any internal linking
An internal link is a link from one part of your blog to another. For example, all the links I have put in this blog post which link to other blog posts on my website.
These links are hugely useful for your readers as they show your readers where to go to get extra information on the topic they are reading about.
But internal linking is also an incredibly easy way to increase your pageviews. After all, it is much easier to get a reader who is already on your website to click on a relevant link than it is to get a new person to come over to your website in the first place!
And, in fact, if you include lots of helpful links in each of your blog posts, you may be able to turn each new pageview into several and keep your reader on your website for a lot longer, clicking around and following more internal links.
Better still, search engines, like Google, see this behaviour as a sign that your blog post is a good resource on the topic and so will boost that blog post in their search rankings – meaning you will get even more readers visiting your blog post (who then go on to click on more links… it’s a virtuous circle!)
READ MORE >>> How to use internal linking to boost your SEO
26. Writing blog posts that are too short
It used to be that the best way to do well on Google was to write lots of short blog posts. Not any more!
These days the best way to do well on Google is to write high-quality, much longer blog posts.
This does mean that you will inevitably write fewer blog posts. But that’s OK! Google is much more concerned about quality than quantity these days!
Longer, higher quality blog posts will also serve your readers better too – giving them better researched, more in-depth information, help and advice.
When you get to the stage of being able to put ads on your blog, longer posts will help you earn more money too!
27. Not editing your blog posts
There’s no point in writing well researched, high quality, long-form content if you don’t bother to edit it!
Unedited blog posts, full of typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, missing words and repetition, looks sloppy, unprofessional and off-putting to your readers and makes it look like you don’t care.
And if your writing looks sloppy, your readers may well not trust the content you have written either. They are likely to leave your website in search of more professional looking information.
Aaaand when they do that, this sends signals to search engines that your blog post is not a good resource on the topic and so your blog post will be downgraded in its search results.
28. Waiting too long to launch
It is really not a good idea to wait a long time… or indeed any time until you launch your blog. It is far better to get your blog out there ASAP.
Well, firstly because if you keep putting off your blog until it’s ready to launch – you are likely to never quite feel ‘ready’ and keep putting off launching for a long time, missing out on lots of traffic and income in the process.
But secondly, and more importantly, it takes time for search engines to trust you enough to send traffic to your website. If you hide under a ‘coming soon’ page. Search engines cannot start to index your website and so cannot begin that process of learning to trust your website enough to start featuring it in its search results.
When you finally lift the ‘coming soon’ page, only then can search engines start to index your website and start the process of learning to trust it. As a result, you will probably find you have very little search engine traffic in the early days.
It is far better, therefore, to just start blogging, with no ‘coming soon’ page… at first you are likely to get almost zero traffic, but search engines can start indexing your site, meaning by the time your site is ‘ready’ you are already getting a steady stream of search engine traffic, which you can then build on.
29. Not setting goals
This is HUGE! If you don’t set goals and make plans about how you are going to achieve those goals, it is very easy to drift along without really getting anywhere.
If you want your blog to grow and be successful, you need to start making plans about how and when you will do things.
30. Not investing
Blogging is actually a very low-cost way to start a business… you have very little you ‘need’ to buy upfront. You don’t have to pay for stock, or rent, or signage, or leaflets… or any of the standard things most traditional business have to lay out for – usually stretching into the thousands.
But there seems to be a myth that still permeates that you can start a successful blog for nothing! And this is simply not true. Yes, you can start a blog for free. But if you want your blog to earn money and grow into a successful and profitable business, just like a traditional business, you need to invest.
An old adage springs to mind here:
“you’ve got to speculate to accumulate”
Sadly, all too often, new bloggers are unwilling to invest and so it takes them much longer to make a profit… or indeed they never get to the point of profitability at all, because of their unwillingness to ‘speculate’.
Which is such as shame… because you really don’t need to invest a lot to have a successful blog. But you do need to invest more than nothing!
My recommendation to new bloggers is to invest in 5 key things
- Good hosting
- A professional theme
- A decent camera* (if you need to take photos for your blog)
- A really good email marketing provider
- A course that will help you start a profitable blog – the right way!
And if you have any spare cash, I really recommend you take a course in SEO for Bloggers too.
31. Writing long sentences and paragraphs
As I’ve said before, blog writing is not like essay writing.
When writing a blog post, you need to write in short sentences and short paragraphs.
Well, firstly because most people won’t read your every word. Instead they will be quickly skimming your blog posts looking for the information that they most need. Long sentences and long paragraphs make this much harder to do.
But even more importantly, most people these days read blog posts on their phone. What looks like a reasonable sized paragraph on your computer, looks like an impenetrable wall of text on a phone!
READ MORE >>> How to write the perfect blog post
32. Violating copyright
Many new bloggers believe that anything on Google is fair game and will take images from Google to illustrate their blog posts and maybe even copy whole chunks of text from other people’s blog posts without asking for permission.
It is very important to understand that you cannot just ‘take’ images (or text) from Google or other people’s websites.
No matter whether something has © or ‘copyright’ on it or not, copyright is automatically granted to the person who originally took the photo (or wrote the text).
If you want to use stock images for your website, DO NOT simply use images from Google! Instead use a free stock library like Pexels, Pixabay or Unsplash, where the images are free for you to use as you wish.
Alternatively, if you really want to use an image that you have found on Google, write and ask for the owner’s permission. They may be happy for you to use their image for free (usually in return for a link back to their website), or they may ask for a fee.
33. Using a logo rather than your face as your profile pic
One of our biggest USPs as bloggers is that we are real people, not faceless corporations. Most people would much prefer to interact with a real person, rather than a corporation! And so this gives us a real edge against our corporate competitors.
However, many new (and quite a few well established) bloggers throw away this opportunity by using a logo instead of their face as their profile picture for social media and on their blogs.
This is a huge mistake!
I know it can be daunting to put your face on your blog (I hated it at first and I still don’t particularly like it), but it is essential if you want your readers to see you as a real person, not a faceless corporation.
Just get a friend to take a nice friendly, smiling photo of you on your smartphone and use the same photo on your blog and on all your social media profiles. This will have a huge impact on the success of your blog!
34. Not engaging with your audience
It’s not enough to simply create blog posts, promote them on social media and be done with it. If you really want to make a success of blogging, you need to engage with your audience.
Engaging with your audience builds up trust, helps your audience to get to know you better and helps you get to know your audience better too. By engaging with your audience, you can turn casual readers into raving fans!
Ask questions in your blog posts and encourage comments. Make sure you always reply to comments on your blog posts and social media.
Ask questions on social media too. I find this works especially well on my Facebook page. Ask questions which are relevant to your blog’s niche and get involved in the discussion which ensues. I often find this leads into a full-blown conversation with my social media followers!
To take this to the next level, consider starting a Facebook Group on your blog’s main subject. For example, I have the Productive Blogging Community, which is a Facebook group for bloggers and aspiring bloggers to chat with each other, ask for help with a problem, share success stories, share relevant news etc. The purpose of this group is not to drive traffic to my blog, but rather for me to engage with my audience: to get to know them better and for them to get to know me better, to help where I can and to understand how I can best serve my audience in the future.
And make sure you ask questions in your email newletters too. Encourage your subscribers to interact with you personally by replying to your email and answering a question. Not only will this help your audience to get to know you better and so like and trust you more, it will also help you to get to know your audience better AND it will improve your delivery rates, meaning your emails are more likely to land in your subscribers’ main inbox, rather than the junk folder or the promotions tab.
35. Blogging on your own
One of the biggest mistakes a new blogger can make is blogging on their own and not interacting in the blogging community.
Interacting with other bloggers can stop blogging from feeling so lonely, prevent blogger burnout and help you see that there are many others out there who ‘get’ you and experience all the same things you do. Bloggers ‘get’ blogging stuff in a way that other people in your life often just don’t.
But even better, the blogging community will help you as a new blogger when you get stuck, they will cheer your highs and commiserate with you on your lows and cheer you up when you are feeling glum about blogging.
Not sure where to find other bloggers? Well you can start with my Facebook group – the Productive Blogging Community!
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