If I convinced you to start a blog after reading my 8 Reasons To Start Your Blog Today post, you will no doubt be excited to rush into it. But wait! Amateur bloggers who rush into starting their blogs tend to make a lot of mistakes (yep, that includes me!). I’m here to help limit your mistakes as a newbie blogger.
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I’m a little embarrassed to say that when I started my blogging journey, I had no idea where to start or what I was doing. I turned to Pinterest, Google, you name it, and found a multitude of advice. And yet, I still make a ton of mistakes. But rather than seeing them as a negative, I have been seeing them as a positive as to what I’ve already learned and accomplished.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Most Common Mistakes Amateur Bloggers Make
- 2 #1 - Spending too long thinking about your domain name
- 3 #2 - Not self-hosting
- 4 #3 - Not being niche specific
- 5 #4 - Not investing
- 6 Education
- 7 #5 - Not having their blog up to legal code
- 8 #6 - Signing up to everything
- 9 #7 - Not starting an email list
- 10 #8 - Not working on monetising
The Most Common Mistakes Amateur Bloggers Make
#1 - Spending too long thinking about your domain name
Guilty! I spent weeks trying to think of the perfect domain name. As an amateur blogger I thought it had to be relevant to what my blog niche was. It doesn’t. Your domain name can literally be anything. If you think about it, some of the biggest websites out there have made up names, or random names.
Take Apple for example. When asked how he came up with the name, he said he had just come back from an apple farm and he thought the name sounded fun! So just pick a name and stick with it. If you don’t mind showing your identity you could always use www.yourname.com.
Another thing that amateur bloggers tend to do is veer away from a .com website if their chosen name isn’t available. For example, when searching for a domain name, I searched for various travel / bucket list names which were already taken. I could have chosen to use the name I wanted using .net instead of .com, but .com is by far the most popular and memorable.
#2 - Not self-hosting
This is one of the most common mistakes amateur bloggers make. You have paid self-hosting and you have free platforms. We’re all looking for a bargain, right? But at what cost?
Why would you need to pay for a hosting service if you can get one for free? If you have asked that question, you are not alone. In fact, most amateur bloggers question this.
The differences between self-hosting your blog and using a free service are
- You don’t own your blog if you choose a free service
- You don’t get the exposure your blog will no doubt deserve
- It is difficult to monetise your blog, some don’t allow advertising
- You will get better customer service with self-hosting
- It looks more professional to have a self-hosted URL, i.e. com rather than yourname.wordpress.com
- You have free range of customisation options with self-hosting
- You get faster site speed with self-hosting
If you are happy to use your blog as a hobby, just for friends and family to keep in touch, then perhaps a free hosting service is sufficient for you. I recommend hosting platforms such as WordPress or Wix.
However, if you plan to monetise your blog, paid hosting platforms are better.
You can get a self-hosted platform for as little as $2.99 per month when you sign up with GreenGeeks. Over half a million websites are hosted by GreenGeeks (including mine!). My reason for going with GreenGeeks, other than their fantastic customer service, is that they’re the number 1 ec0-friendly web-hosting in the world.
Another option for self-hosting is Siteground. Their plans are slightly more expensive, starting at $6.99 per month, but they also have a great customer service team.
Both of the above self-hosting platforms allow you to have multiple sites with them. This is a great option for those of you have different niches and want to split them out into multiple blogs.
#3 - Not being niche specific
Speaking of niches, amateur bloggers tend to start out wanting to write about everything and anything that interests them. There are so many different types of bloggers – you’ve got travel bloggers, beauty bloggers, craft bloggers. The difficulty when you group them all together is that your audience, Google and Pinterest get confused!
Your audience wants to know who you are and what you have to offer. If you’re a travel blogger, you won’t be writing about tips for getting your toddler to sleep. Similarly, a mommy blogger won’t be writing about the best solo travel destinations for men!
A great way of niching down is to write a list of what you’re passionate about. Let’s say in this scenario, one of your passions is health and fitness.
Next you want to write a list of which aspects of health and fitness you’re an expert in. Let’s say you choose yoga from that list. If you want to niche down even further, you could look at who your audience will be. Perhaps you could aim your blog at expectant mothers. Hey presto, you have a niche! Yoga for expectant mothers.
#4 - Not investing
From the very beginning, I thought of my blog as a business. Even as an amateur blogger, I feel it’s important to have this mindset from the very start. With that in mind, let’s say you want to open a coffee shop. There is so much you need to do before you can open the doors to customers; find a space, kit the place out, get inventory, get insurance. It’s the same for a blog – here’s what you need:
Would you get a free space when opening a coffee shop? Of course not! And if you did, there would have to be something wrong with it, right? It’s the same for your blog, your space is your host and if you’re treating your blog like a business, you will want one of the self-hosing services such as GreenGeeks or Siteground.
Next you need to kit it out. Get fixtures and fittings and make your shop all pretty. With your blog, this is called a Theme. Lucky for us, once we sign up with either GreenGeeks or Siteground, WordPress (not to be mistaken for the free hosting service WordPress) is installed free of charge.
Behind the scenes in WordPress, we can choose from thousands of different themes, depending on what you have in mind for your blog. Along with the free themes made available to you, you also have the option to upgrade to a ‘pro’ theme.
As an amateur blogger, I spent much longer than I’d like to admit trying to find a theme I liked and getting a theme to do what I wanted. I had a vision and I couldn’t seem to get it out of my brain onto my website. I tried 4 themes altogether before I found what I wanted.
I ended up purchasing a theme from April at Studio Mommy, the Adore Me theme. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the template on her website. She has tons of options to choose from, starting from as little as $25. And the best thing about purchasing this theme was that it came with step by step instructions, so even the technologically challenged like myself could follow it! You can also get 10% off your purchase by signing up to her mailing list.
You wouldn’t open a coffee shop with zero business skills, would you? Most likely you will have studied business or taken extra courses such as marketing, accounting. You invest in yourself in order to invest in your business.
While there is a lot of free information available online for amateur bloggers (blog articles, YouTube videos), there are some things that I didn’t have a clue about and knew I would have to invest in. Out of all the courses I invested in, these were my favourite.
This course is a great one for getting amateur bloggers up and running. Jennifer, who runs this course, takes you through finding your niche, choosing a host, building your blog, what social media platforms you should be on and much more.
There is something so soothing about listening to Jennifer’s voice in this course, I sometimes go back and watch her videos just to hear her voice (is that weird?)!
There are two major ways of gaining traffic to your blog. One is by practising SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and the other is via Pinterest.
In Ell’s course, Pinterest with Ell, she takes you through setting up your Pinterest account for business, how to do keyword research, how to make pins that go viral. She also talks you through her Pinterest strategies in great detail. The great thing about this course is that it’s super affordable.
She also runs a Facebook group called Boss Girl Bloggers which I recommend you join if you’re a new blogger.
So I mentioned SEO above, but what is it exactly? SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of increasing the quality of your content in order to be discovered when using search engines. Stupid Simple SEO offers a free 1 hour masterclass which is really informative.
At the end of the masterclass, you have the option to purchase the course. This course covers absolutely everything SEO related and while it’s a pricey investment, it is worth it.
If the one above is a bit much for you right now or you just need a taste of SEO, this course is fantastic for amateur bloggers. He starts right at the beginning and even explains definitions of all the terms you will encounter when you begin your blogging journey (I had no clue what DA, SEO and GA, were to begin with}.
He has a really informative webinar you can join for free to get you started.
If you think about it, by taking courses like these, you are setting yourself up to increase your blog traffic, therefore increasing earnings.
#5 - Not having their blog up to legal code
Amateur bloggers are not thinking about the legal side of things when they start their blog. This is a BIG mistake. By not legally protecting your blog, you are leaving yourself open to lawsuits. Particularly if you are working with brands, wanting to join affiliate programs, or collecting emails for your mailing list.
Please do not use any free templates you find online!! They are not accurate enough to protect your business. Your templates must be drawn up by a lawyer. If you can’t afford to hire your own lawyer and pay hourly rates, Amira at A Self Guru has legal templates you can purchase. She is a full-time lawyer and blogger. She has bundles ranging from Starter to VIP. To begin, I recommend you start with the Starter Legal Bundle.
The wonderful thing about these templates is that she highlights the bits you need to add your own information to and voila! Ten minutes later you are fully compliant! You’ll also be invited to join her Facebook Group.
#6 - Signing up to everything
There is an abundance of information out there for amateur bloggers looking to learn from other bloggers. And it’s fantastic what other bloggers have to offer. But, with all that information comes conflicting information.
I signed up to so many newsletters when I first started out, to my detriment. I would get so distracted reading every single email coming in (which was ALL THE TIME) that I wasn’t getting any of my blog work done. Too much information can overwhelm amateur bloggers so its best to stick to just a few at the beginning.
#7 - Not starting an email list
It’s never too early to start collecting subscribers to your blog. You can set up a subscription service with Mailerlite or Convertkit and send your subscribers weekly or monthly newsletters, along with promotional offers, freebies. It’s a great way to keep your followers.
The great thing about Mailerlite is that it’s free up to the first 1000 subscribers!
#8 - Not working on monetising
From the get-go you should be signing up with affiliate programs. Any of the courses you do, email them afterwards and ask them to add you to their affiliate program. You can do this for your hosting platform too!
No matter what niche you’re in, there are numerous affiliate programs you can sign up for. Research what affiliate programs are best for your niche. For example, a travel blogger should sign up to be an affiliate with Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia, etc. Pretty much every niche can benefit from Amazon Affiliates.
It’s never too early to start monetizing from your blog.
I admit I made a lot of these amateur blogger mistakes. And I paid the price sometimes!
The fact of the matter is that, as an amateur blogger you will need to put in a lot of time and effort and some monetary investment in order to make the best of your blog. If you see your blog as a business from the get-go, you will have no problem in doing this.
You might also like: 8 Reasons To Start Your Blog Today
Have you made any of these common mistakes? Let me know in the comments below.