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Every blogger makes a lot of mistakes in the early days of the blog. I have done many blogging mistakes myself. I am sure every single one made at least a few mistakes. And doing mistakes is fine as long as we realize and we improve from them.
Today, I want to share with you the 9 biggest blogging mistakes I did on this blog since the beginning. Hopefully, you will learn something from them and do not repeat my mistakes.
You have to remember that I am a hobby blogger with a full-time job. I cannot invest 50 hours per week into my blog in order to make it big. Even if I was a full-time blogger, I would probably still have done all these mistakes. However, I would have done them much faster.
If you think I have done other blogging mistakes, please let me know in the comments!
1. Not starting with custom hosting
The first of my blogging mistakes was not to start with custom hosting directly. When I started this blog, I started hosting it on wordpress.com. This is not a real hosting because it only offers WordPress. This is fine since I am using WordPress. However, it offers a limited version of WordPress.
For instance, I could not install all the plugins I wanted. And the customizations options are very limited.
At least I started with a custom domain so that is one mistake I did not do! After only a few months, I migrated the website from WordPress.org into proper hosting.
2. Starting with Bluehost
After I realized the limitations of WordPress.com hosting, I migrated away. I transferred my website into Bluehost. This made it the second mistake related to hosting, one after another!
I chose bluehost because everybody is recommending it. But after a while, I found out that bluehost is a terrible hosting company. I had only issues and their technical support was all but qualified to handle the issues. After some research, I found out that the main reason people are recommending bluehost is that they have the best affiliate program available. I really would not be surprised if most bloggers recommending bluehost were actually not using it. This is pretty sad, but this is unfortunately true.
I should really have done more research and not base my decision on some people recommending it for the wrong reasons.
3. Not having a proper email list
An important blogging mistake is to not have an email list from day one. At the beginning of my blog, I did not realize the potential of email marketing. I used Jetpack Subscribers to collect emails of readers that wanted to stay informed about the blog.
However, there are a ton of limitations with this tool. I could not even email my subscribers with this tool. I could only send automated emails every time a new blog post went live. This is really too limited. And some of the subscribers actually subscribed with their WordPress account and not their email.
A good email list has a lot of value! Even in the age of social media, many people are still using emails. And many people are still using it to subscribe to blogs.
After more than 18 months of blogging, I finally migrated to a proper email list. I am now using Mailerlite for this. I have started writing custom emails to my subscribers instead of automated emails. And I already see more engagement for my emails. I have not yet changed my way of collecting subscribers which is a simple form in the sidebar. But I plan to work on that later this year.
4. Using JetPack from the beginning
This mistake is a bit related to the previous one. Since day one of my blog, I have been using Jetpack. If you do not know what it is, Jetpack is a big plugin from the team that is behind WordPress.com. It does almost everything: stats, subscribers, comments, security and so on.
At first, I was thinking it was good to have Jetpack because I needed fewer plugins. However, there are a few big problems with Jetpack.
First of all, it does a lot of things, but it is not the best at any of them. For each of the feature that you use Jetpack for, there exists a plugin that does it better than Jetpack. This means that by using Jetpack you are settling on lower quality features!
And for me, the biggest problem with Jetpack is that it slows down a website. By default, it enables so many features that it will significantly increase your loading times. This is pretty bad. There are many ways to improve it. First, you can disable the modules you do not need. Then, you can use some PHP code to clean up even more of the features. But this is a lot of work and some of it may not be doable by non-technical people.
Over time, I already relied less and less on Jetpack. But then, I decided I had enough. Therefore, I entirely migrated away from Jetpack. For each of the feature I was still using at the end, I found a better plugin, or service, doing the job better and faster.
Overall, this greatly improved my blog. If I had started without Jetpack, I would have saved a ton of time.
5. Reading other blog reports
To be honest, this is probably the biggest mistake I did. I used to read a lot of blog income reports. Now, I entirely stopped doing that.
You should never read a blog income report from another blogger. And you should probably never pay attention to posts like “I made 4000$ in my first-month blogging” and all the other blogs of that kind.
The problem with these kinds of posts is that some of them are not highlighting everything. I am not going to say that the bloggers are not honest, but they make it seem too easy when it is not. I would prefer if they were a bit more honest and down to earth.
Another thing is that most bloggers do not talk about the time invested when they do these reports. Most of these results would be almost impossible to reproduce on the short-term by a hobby blogger like me.
6. Underestimating the work
When I started this blog, I was thinking I was going to spend a few hours a week on the blog. But after a while, I realized that it was going to take me more time than that if I wanted to run a semi-successful blog. These days, I probably spend about one to two hours per day on my blog.
For instance, I started to get many emails for my blog. Answering them take more time than I thought when I started the blog.
At first, I was thinking I would spend all the time writing blog posts. This was a big mistake. These days, I probably spend only half the time writing new blog posts. I am networking with other bloggers, answering emails, improving the blog, updating old articles and so on.
Now, since it is a hobby blog, I can avoid doing the things I really do not enjoy. For instance, I do not do much social networking. This is probably a mistake from the blog perspective. But I do not like social networks. I want to keep my time on the blog enjoyable.
7. Thinking that things happen overnight
This is one blogging mistake that probably every blogger did. And this is probably even truer for hobby bloggers like me. I used to think that a simple change to my blog could have an effect very quickly on my audience.
For instance, when I discovered Pinterest, I was sure that my traffic would double in less than one week. I invested a lot of time into it. However, there was no spike in traffic. To this day, I never was able to get traffic from Pinterest. Even today, I get about 50 visits per month from Pinterest. It is still on my todo list to crack Pinterest.
Recently, I started listening to Brandon Gaille podcast (The Blogging Millionaire) and I applied many of his advice to my blog. However, it made no noticeable change in my statistics.
That is not to say that nothing I do has an effect on my blog. It probably has a long-term effect. Some of the things I did a few months ago are probably now. But I should not expect a small change to have an instant return on my blog.
You should not believe these articles such as “I doubled my traffic overnight with a simple trick”. There are thousands like this. But most of them are pretty bad.
Now, when I do a change on the blog, I am satisfied if I think this makes the blog better. I do not look at the difference in traffic the next day to make sure this made a difference. If my blog is better, it will make a difference in the long-term.
8. Posting some articles of little value
A blogging mistake it took me a while to realize is posting some articles with no real value.
In the first months, I have posted a few articles that were small news. These add very little value. Basically, a few weeks after the article, they were almost worthless. Every post does not have to be evergreen. But I believe that most posts should serve a purpose. It should be very helpful to your readers. If you are a news blogger, it is perfectly fine but you need to be aware that most of your posts will have a very short life.
I started deleting and redirecting these articles from my blog. I still have a few lying around. But I know what to do with them. And I will not make this mistake again. If there is important news, I will try to cover it in a meaningful and helpful way now.
9. Ignoring my archives
This is a blogging mistake I only realized recently. I have been ignoring my archives way too long on this blog. I have almost 200 articles on this blog.
And not all these articles are that good. I have improved my writing over time. And some of these old articles really needed a good cleanup.
I have been focusing too much on creating new content instead of making the current content better. I have also improved how I am sharing my old content in order to make it visible. The archives of a blog have a lot of values. It is necessary to keep them up to date and to try to continue bringing new readers to them.
I still have a lot of work to do on my old articles. However, I now am aware of the value of my archives. And I will spend some time also improving them not only focus on my new posts.
As you can see, I did my fair share of blogging mistakes. And I am sure I am going to make more mistakes in the coming months and years.
But I have learned a lot from my blogging mistakes. If I were to start a new blog today, I would do a lot of things differently. And I think that my blog is already much better because of what I have learned. I am not saying there is nothing to improve on this blog. There is a lot still to do!
My blog is not perfect, on the contrary. I know there are a lot of things to improve. But my blog is much better than one year ago. And this is enough for me now.
What blogging mistakes have you done yourself? What mistake do you think I have done on this blog?