As my blog approaches its 18-month birthday, I've been getting more and more new bloggers asking me questions about how I developed my blog. People want to know how to grow a blog, when to post and how to make their blogs look great. Mostly, they want to know how to make their blog last over the long haul.
Here are my 5 common mistakes that I see new bloggers make and most importantly how you can avoid them.
1. Treating the blogging marathon as a sprint
Blogging is an endurance activity. If you were running a marathon (why would you do that?) would you start with a sprint or go with a slow steady pace that can last you for the long haul.
New bloggers are excited. You've got a lot of ideas in your head. The creative juices are flowing. You write. You publish. You write more. You publish.
About a month or two in, you are bound to hit a creativity draught. It happens to all bloggers. What do I want to write next? The muse isn't speaking. Maybe you decide that you're just not going to post this week. Thus, begins the slow death of your blog.
While you are excited about blogging, save some of those posts for the future. I'd recommend to have 3 or 4 weeks of posts done. For me, I'm lucky to be 2 weeks ahead. For instance, this post was written on May 25th and not published to June 19th. Plan and write posts well in advance.
2. Posting sporadically
One week you post 5 times, the next week 3, the following 4, then 2, then 1 and then uh-oh the big ZERO! The goal of blogging is to post consistently. Pick the number of times a week you want to post and the dates when you want to post. For me, twice a week works. My posts are published on Sunday evenings at 6pm and Wednesday mornings at 7am. Like clock work unless there is a holiday because who is reading blogs on a 3-day weekend?
If you use WordPress, use this editorial calendar plugin to see when your posts are scheduled and to plan a new post. Not a WordPress fan? Start an editorial calendar in Google calendars. You need one to plan your blogs in advance.
3. Questionable headline…what does it mean?
I love fun, quirky blog titles. I'm a huge fan of creativity; however, some headlines inspire a “WTF?” instead of a click. My first blog post fell into this trap. It was What's Uggs Got to Do With It. It sucked. I'm ok with that as we all have to start somewhere. The title made sense once you read the post, but the title is what makes people click.
You have to give the people who might read your blog a clue what it's about. Search Engine Optimization experts would say you need to make sure you have a keyword in your title so Google knows what your post is about. I'd say you want to include your keyword because readers need to know what the heck your post is about.
Copyblogger has an excellent resource on writing magnetic headlines. Check it out.
4. Posting on Friday night
I am not a big believer in the idea that there is one best time to post, but I do believe there are a couple of times during the week where posting a new blog is a complete waste of time. You might as well set your post on fire because launching a new post on a Friday night or Saturday is a waste of time.
No one is reading your blog on a Friday night. No one. I'm too busy drinking Malbec and watching Shark Tank to click on the link to your new brilliant post. Take the weekend off. Go out for dinner, but don't push publish on a Friday night!
My Google analytics reveal one big fact – the slowest days for traffic on this site are Friday evenings and Saturdays. Every week – those are the 2 days with the lowest traffic. Avoid them.
5. Admitting defeat too soon
New bloggers need to be a little delusional. Act as if the whole world if reading your blog even if it's only your spouse, your best friend and your 2 cats. Don't check your Google analytics at all during the first 3 months. Just don't do it. It's sad to find out that your epic post got 3 views.
There's a statistic that floats around the Interwebs saying nearly 80% of new blogs are abandoned in the first 3-months. Why does this happen? Newbie bloggers run out of creative steam, become discouraged due to lack of traffic and write headlines that don't get them noticed.
Keep blogging. Develop your blogging endurance. Remember, Chris Brogan blogged for 10-years before his blog took off. There's no such thing as an overnight sensation in the blogosphere. Keep calm and blog on!
Got a question about blogging? Ask in the comment section below.