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New Bloggers Beware: 3 Traps You Need to Avoid

This guest post is by Roman of how this website makes money.

After more than two years of blogging, I’m happy to be still around. Most new bloggers do not survive longer then six months.

Because of their lack of experience, new bloggers make assumptions about blogging that are completely wrong. They start blogging with these assumptions and are surprised six months later when their assumptions turn out to be incorrect.

These assumptions—or traps—give the false impression that becoming a successful blogger is easy and fast.

Trap 1: All blogs are successful

As a new blogger, you eagerly learn everything you can about blogging. You Google every question that pops in your head. Clicking on one of the first few results, you land on a blog that answers your question perfectly.

You have lots of questions so you visit lots of blogs. After a while you start to notice something exciting. Every blog you visit looks good, has lots of posts, has lots of comments and has thousands of RSS subscribers and hundreds of retweets for every post. Basically every blog you visit is a success!

This trap is really difficult for most new bloggers to notice. While they’re researching blogging they get the impression that all blogs are successful blogs. But what the new blogger never sees are the thousands of unsuccessful blogs. They never see them because they’re on pages three (or later) in the search results. New bloggers only see the blogs on page one and two of Google. So after a few days of researching blogging via search engines, the new blogger forms the false impression that all blogs are successful.

It is not just the search engines that create this mirage: it’s also the blogs themselves and the blogs they link to. Successful blogs link to other successful blogs. So the new blogger is bouncing around from one blogging success to another thinking, “Wow this is great, look at all these successful blogs—blogging must be easy.”

It doesn’t take the new blogger long to notice this trap. After a few days or weeks struggling to get traffic to their blog they begin to ask, “Why did I think this was going to be easy?”

Trap 2: Success is as easy as following the yellow brick road

When Dorothy landed in Oz she had a problem: she needed to get back home. The munchkins told her that the Wizard would solve her problems. “How do I find the wizard?” she asked. “It’s easy,” they replied, “just follow the yellow brick road.”

The trap for new bloggers is that they believe in a yellow brick road—a path that leads directly to a successful blog. They think that by following a few simple steps, they can achieve success. Write compelling content, have a RSS feed, post often, reply to comments, create backlinks—do all these things, and you will succeed.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Steps can be laid out describing how to create a blog and suggestions can be made on how to improve a blog, but there is no direct path to success for any blog. There is no system to follow that will result in a successful blog. There is no yellow brick road to success.

There are a lot of products for sale that guarantee you will become a successful blogger. They promise to lay down a road to success—all you need to do it buy it and follow it.

Save your money. Dorothy did not need the yellow brick road or the Wizard to bring her back home. She discovered that she had the power to get home all along. I wasted a lot of time looking for a yellow brick road, hoping that it would lead me directly and quickly to success. Instead of looking for the easy road, my time could have been better spent creating compelling content.

Trap 3: Success comes quickly

The brick-and-mortar world is a lot slower then the Internet. A blog takes five minutes to set up. In twenty minutes, you have your first page of content lined with AdSense ads. If you are really lucky, you can make your first dollar in an hour.

Compare that with opening a fruit stand. First you have to build the structure—preferably with bricks and mortar. Then you need to purchase fruits to stock your stand. Finally you will need a cash register and a sign on the highway directing traffic to the store. It will take weeks before you can sell a single apple.

The trap that new bloggers fall into is thinking that because the Internet works fast, success will come quickly. They expect visitors and revenue to pour into the business just as fast as the blog was built. Then when it doesn’t happen that fast, disappointment sets in.

Do not fall into this trap. Just because it takes five minutes to create a blog, do not expect it to take two days to become successful. The Internet is fast, but when it comes to having a successful blog, brick-and-mortar rules apply.

Imagine spending years getting up early, opening shop, selling a couple fruits and going home. At first there are no profits, and most likely your days end in loss. But with perseverance and hard work, more and more people come to you for their fruit needs. It could take months until word gets around that you have quality fruit and good prices. This is how blogs work, too.

More traps?

Did you make any assumptions about blogging that turned out to be wrong? Tell us about them in the comments and prevent other bloggers from falling into the same trap.

Roman will be the first to admit that he fell into all three traps. Fortunately, he got away. On his site how this website makes money he proves that success is not just a stroll down the yellow brick road.

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Comments

  1. mary lanser says:

    so how do you get started anyway? Do you really have to be a computer wizard to do it?

    • Roman says:

      TRAP 4 – Computer Skills Are Important for Blogging

      Hello Mary. The short answer to your question is no – you do not need to be a computer ‘wizard’ to a start a blog. With the help of a template you can have a good looking blog up and running in ten minutes – or you can pay somebody twenty dollars to do it for you. Once your blog is running, publishing posts is as easy as sending an email.

      But be careful. Do not fall into this trap: a lot of people assume that the biggest barrier to success in blogging is computer skills. They think: I could never be successful, I do not know enough about computers.

      Then when they learn that starting a blog and publishing posts is not that computer skill intensive, they assume that they just got past the biggest hurdle of blogging – that the difficult part is behind them.

      Blogging is not about computer skills. Blogging is about persistence, patience, personality and providing content with impact.

  2. Brian Boyer says:

    These are great points to remember for any type of new blogger. It is so easy to fall into the mindset of thinking your blog will be instantly successful and you will become the hottest thing online.

  3. Clara says:

    Here are 3 more biggest mistakes for newbies:
    1) You start out by looking for information about how to blog, but instead of blogging you just start standing back in admiration of the social media celebrities out there.
    2) You monitor your web traffic obsessively and get so discouraged that it’s more exciting to see a spike in traffic than to meet people and have conversations.
    3) You may have readers in a different country, but your friends, family and immediate network either forget you have a blog or don’t know you have one.

    • All good points, Clara. We all have a tendency to become overly obsessed with numbers and analytics, while if we just pay attention to the “social” aspect of blogging we will fare much better in the long haul. Also, right, family and friends can be so easily missed as a wonderful audience to launch a blog with.

      -Peter

  4. Naresh says:

    we can’t get success in a short time span.We have to struggle for the first year and concentrate on content quality remaining things come automatically

  5. Deborah says:

    Thanks for telling us how it really is. This will keep a lot of people from getting discouraged and giving up. If you know what to expect it is easier to keep going. Thanks again.

  6. Great tips Roman,

    Indeed, I think it really helps if you love what you are blogging about.

    Really love. Because you need staying power if you want you blog to become successful.

    And a strong will is easier to maintain if you love the topic you are blogging about.

    I am in love with children’s books and I adore reading them aloud to my twins.

    So, the first six months of blogging have not been hard at all and I enjoy the great communication with other parents!

    Read Aloud Dad

  7. Excellent! And a must read for all the newbie bloggers who start blogs with wrong dreams and goals. One more traps is: “Blogs make all money”

    When they aim at making 5 or 6 figures from blogging, they want their blog to make all the money. They don’t offer any services themselves, but just put up some banners and hope that those banners will make them 5 figures a month.

    Great post Roman.

    Cheers,
    Jane.

  8. Jill says:

    I never actually believed I would have a successful blog in terms of lots of visitors, comments, etc.; however, I failed to realize that my friends and family would never read it. That’s what disappointed me the most. I thought at least my family and friends would be supportive. But I have a small following and when I have giveaways I know it’s my followers and supporters that win (most of the time).

  9. Guy Hogan says:

    I have to admit that I made all three mistakes. Luckily, I’m stubborn and six years and four blogs later I publish a blog that is two and a half years old and gets over 900 page views a day.

  10. liaqat says:

    the 1 word answer to of the points you mentioned is that bloggers must be patient in everything they. Don’t expect anything too soon. Patience is the key in blogging
    that’s what i have learnt

    • Graham Lutz says:

      I’m with you on that! There are so many blogs out there with 10 posts in a row and then nothing since last year.

  11. stargaterich says:

    Thanks for the great post. Apart from the 3 traps discussed, another main reason that I think a lot of new bloggers set them selves up for failure from day one is that they believe they can earn easy cash with minimal amount of efforts through single push button auto blogging. Soon enough those who implement autoblogging realize auto blogs aren’t generating the type of money as advertised and then they give up.

  12. Tinh says:

    The question is now how to access the success of a blog, it is revenue or authority? That is why many newbie bloggers fail before getting success :-)

  13. David says:

    You have to have a plan in place before you begin your new Blog.

    Great content without a plan is likely to get some attention from social media, but an effective plan can maximize the traffic volume and help you to reach readers that are more targeted. A plan will help you to know what type of content to develop, what type of readers you want to see it,

  14. Asif Mumtaz says:

    Excellent post!

    I just wonder how important it is to find something that interests you. Many to-be-bloggers are told that they can blog about anything even if that does not interest them. I have seen few of my friends doing that. They are making decent progress though.

    Do you think it is another thing that can be treated as a trap set by product sellers (related to blogging just as you talked about at the end)?

    Asif

  15. Roman,

    A well thought-out post! I think the key to blogging success lies largely in patience, along with your passion for your topic. I would realistically give a blog a full year before expecting anything. It’s all about building your brand by cultivating reader trust, loyalty, and solid relationships.
    Bottom line: create, create, create!
    Thanks for the thoughts,

    Peter

  16. Justin says:

    I have enjoyed every aspect of blogging so far. I realize that writing the content takes the longest for me. I try to make each blog a little longer and more detailed than the last one.

  17. I guess Trap#3 is the most kind of thing being experience by new bloggers, that’s based on how they react when they never see any good results few weeks or months after they started blogging. They rely on the “Build it and they will come” mindset never knowing that we must also learn how to promote our blog.

  18. I’m a new blogger, and when i first read this article, i thought you were talking about me 110%. because i that being a succesful blogger is easy, but i discovered that it’s not. it’s about creativity, Patience and hardwork.

  19. Graham Lutz says:

    The big trap I’ve found is related to #1. All those successful blogs have great design with links built in, email sign up forms that fit in, advertising that isn’t gaudy, intuitive comment sections, all the buttons that look just right, and everything else looking perfect and uniform.

    That is not easy to accomplish.

    Question for the readers: Is it better to spend your time learning to make those changes and customizations, or better to pay someone else to do it for you?

  20. Bernie says:

    I’m happy to say I didn’t make any of these mistakes! I had very few expectations for my blog and I’ll be blogging one year in April. I think of it as a work in progress. Baby steps.

    Honestly I didn’t realize there was a “Stats” feature for 8 months! My biggest mistakes have been with writing. I would spend literally an hour and a half on a post nit picking about wording and such when only 5 people read the post! What a waste of time. I’ve since signed up for a Journalism class at the local community college and it’s helped a lot! I feel like I’m a much better writer now, I try to keep my posts short, and I don’t spend more than a few minutes on each write up.

    Good luck to my fellow bloggers out there!

  21. Eleazar says:

    Before, I think that blogging is for professionals and good writers. Now I learnt that it is also for amateurs and those learning to be good writers. Also, all is fair in blogging and making money online. Newbies can still get their share in online money if they learn effective ways used by successful bloggers and apply it to their advantage. Lastly, blogging to make money online is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but with persistence, blogging in the long run is a good passive income earner.

  22. This is a great article. Blogging is certainly not easy and not everyone makes $$$f from it. I also agree that most new bloggers fall into these traps, and only a few, probably the few that become successful, get past the three traps and keep moving until they get successful. Of course, some lucky bloggers who have the right topic, may get success a little quicker, however for most bloggers, success is slow and hopefully, steady!

  23. Praveen says:

    Hey,
    I agree with your points…Success will not come quickly, that too in this days competitions are too high so bloggers have to work with patients, and passion to get success.

  24. Sarah says:

    Being a total newbie myself, I was hesitant to comment here, but I just couldn’t resist. I do respect all the entries, but if I took each of them to heart, I think I may have been scared off from the start.

    I’d like to offer a little hope to others thinking about diving in. I am starting my 10th day on this journey. I do feel a little guilty because my blog is about me and my outlook on life so it isn’t like I have to research and my content is original (and hopefully funny), unless someone else is blogging about me that I am unaware of.

    I will say I have put sweat and tears into learning how to blog, networking, reading every blog I can, commenting like I want to be commented on and embracing each new follower or reader who connects with me. I have even begun reaching out to potential readers individually.

    I believe all of this has paid off. This morning I had over 1,700 pageviews and 12 followers – 5 of which I do not know. I do have a supportive family but I think finding and knowing your audience then treating them like a long lost friend will go along way. I do have big hopes and dreams. I want to be up there with the powerhouse mommy-bloggers. This is just my first step.

  25. Kenny Voon says:

    I too had been trapped into believing that it takes two steps to create a blog, one more step to make money and become successful. Internet is just too bombarded with statements promising overnight success. It was not until I begin reading this blog and other long lasting blogs that say one can only success with persistence and patient. It takes time ti build our blog, but when we made it, it definitely worth it

  26. Too long. Too many words! LOL
    But seriously, thanks for this post – it assisted me in several ways – one as a reminder not to be impatient with the process and expect more success (measured by number of comments in my case) as though by some “magic” -
    It reminds me that the process will unfold over a period of carefully tended time, and not just “happen” –
    Like all else that is worthwhile, dedication to the point of devotion is required.
    Now, to go and implement some of these insights.
    Thank you very much.
    Wayne

  27. I founder and editor of a blog that I launched in 2007. I didn’t do any research, I just dove in and started writing about something I was passionate about, food. One of the reasons it has become successful is that other people are equally passionate about the topic and new content is never ending. Another reason is that I chose a niche. My blog is not about food everywhere. It is about food in New Jersey. This gives us a local appeal and helps differentiate us from the millions of other food blogs. I think this is an important point for bloggers to consider, how am I different? Another tip for success, is invite others to contribute. I have over 25 contributors throughout the state. It makes for a far more interesting blog and takes the constant content development pressure off of me. And, lastly, don’t wait for readers to come to you. Start using Social Media to syndicate your content and introduce your blog to people who share your interests. I started our Twitter account @jerseybites in 2008. We now have over 4000 followers and over 2000 on our Facebook page for Jersey Bites. Most of our comments about posts actually happen on Facebook because that is where people like to converse. Which is fine with me. As long as their talking and sharing our content. Be patient. I’ve been doing this for 4 years. We now have outstanding search engine rankings and have been written up in the New York times and many local publications. I recently got asked to sit on a panel at the Governor’s Conference for Women because of my role as Executive Editor of Jersey Bites. Amazing opportunities can come your way, but patience and hard work are truly key. There were plenty of days when I didn’t feel like writing, but you just have to.
    Best of luck new bloggers. It’s an exciting journey for those with the stamina and skills. Have fun with it.

  28. seenu says:

    I don’t about these traps but what i believe is you need to blog with sincerity then you don’t have chance to fall under these traps,

  29. Mike Lopez says:

    All blogs are successful – yeah, right. :) I’ve been in that trap before.

  30. Great post. I’m happy to read this. I’ve been strengthened.

  31. Starting a blog is an asset, building a list is an asset… There’s no wrong way to get started, but only persistence to keep going :-)

  32. Laura says:

    As a newbie blogger, this blog was extremely helfpul. I’ve only been at blogging for two weeks and already notice myself falling into these traps of discouragement.

    I really enjoyed your imagery of a blog as a brick and mortar business. I started my blog with the intention of building slowly. However, now that I am blogging I just want to see results!

    My question is how should a newbie blogger measure success? What are milestones young bloggers should look for? How does a young blogger know they are on the right track (since blog followers come so slowly for most)?

  33. Chris Alta says:

    I’ve been blogging for about 3 months now and I’ve yet to make any money from my blog. The thing is most people think your blog is what’s going to make you money, however your blog (at least my own personal opinion) is just a way to connect with your viewers. Your blog is NOT a business model, but simply a way to connect and share how you’re running your other businesses.

    For example if you sold cotton candy and were making a comfy $100,000 per year, you would BLOG about HOW you’re making $100,000 selling cotton candy, you can write an eBook and give it away for FREE, include affiliate links to programs and different resources you use that help you online to make some extra income, however your BLOG is NOT your BUSINESS.

    Basically your blog keeps your audience informed about what you’re up to, and how you’re doing things and new business ventures you’re doing. Anyone that thinks they can make it HUGE from a blog would be on their own “yellow brick road” to false expectations.

    BUT!

    This again all depends on what your blog is about and how you were planning on monetizing it. Darren’s Photo Blog makes him a substantial amount of DOUGH I’m sure because it’s a blog about Photo’s specifically targeting the photography niche head on. I’m sure ProBlogger makes him some good money but it’s not his business model. Kahhpeeeesh?

    I knew what I was getting into when I started blogging and I still don’t have a business model but it’s okay.

    At the end of the day if you feel you can be successful at something then it isn’t a TRAP. It’s dreaming and thinking outside of the box that makes you become great. If you don’t set your goals high you’ll leave fall down because you’ll have still been standing on the floor not even giving yourself the opportunity to try and fail.

    We learn from experience, so while I kind of agree with this post I also disagree with it. If you don’t set yourself up to get “Trapped” then you’ll never learn.

    I’m outta breath..

    -Chris Alta

  34. Terrel Smith says:

    “This trap is really difficult for most new bloggers to notice. While they’re researching blogging they get the impression that all blogs are successful blogs. But what the new blogger never sees are the thousands of unsuccessful blogs.” —
    This is an excerpt from your article, that caught my attention. If I may ask, how can you distinguish successful from unsuccessful blogs? Is there sort of a distinct sign or indication that it is such?

    • Roman says:

      Hello Terrel,

      As with magazines the goal of bloggers is to have readers. The more readers, the more successful the blog is.

      A successful blog is one that can attract and maintain a readership. That is why successful blogs show their RSS subscribers – they are showing you how successful they are.

      A new bloggers sees blogs with 100k readers and thinks: it must be easy to get 100k readers. Then after a few months of blogging and 50 readers latter they begin to realize that getting readers is not that easy.

      Of course if you consider a blog with 50 readers a success then you have a successful blog, but most people aim higher.

      Most people would not start blogging if they saw that 99% of blogs have 50 readers or less. People start blogging because they see the blogs with 100k readers.

      • Terrel Smith says:

        Since getting readers is not that easy, a blog with a rich content is not a sure thing still? So what is? Is there an easy way to capture an audience?

  35. Spatch says:

    My stupid assumption was that blogging would be easy as writing awesome articles ;) and the viewers would magically find my site, i soon found out that’s not the case if people don’t know about your site they can’t read the articles

  36. The other thing people forget ( I did) is that the biggest investment in the blog is TIME.
    The time required to create great original content like original interviews and videos.

    That also means you may need to travel, meet opinion makers, attend events and all of that. It is fun, but you need to have the time and money to do it well. It is a full time occupation.

  37. Balamoosh says:

    To relate my personal example, it was after I stopped refreshing my analytics, stopped checking adsense, stopped ‘caring’ about traffic- that’s when I started seeing success. I probably check my adsense once a week now, and get a nice little surprise instead of checking it 10 times a day.

  38. Ross says:

    Excellent article! I’m a new blogger myself, and just hit my first month of blogging. I needed this, as I would have likely fallen into the third trap. Thanks for the heads up!

  39. I think the key to blogging success lies largely in patience, along with your passion for your topic. I would realistically give a blog a full year before expecting anything

  40. Larry Lewis says:

    When i first started blogging i didn’t appreciate how much was involved. Although of course i would like my blog to benefit me with a little money and more important to me helping others, at the end of the day I love blogging, and all it brings. If it brings me more readers all the better, but most people surely start blogging because its fun.

  41. Chris says:

    I must admit I have had my ups and downs, been blogging about 2 years now and its only recently that things have started to pick up. So many times I felt like giving up but I continued and continued and now slowly I am starting to see results. Blogging requires a huge amount of patients!!

  42. Congratulations on one of finest and most crucial articles I have ever read in my 20 years of online business! This is an absolute must read for anyone attempting to use the Internet, in any of its variations, for business purposes.

    I have said the following so often on my blog, in speeches and in private meetings, that it has become my mantra: “Social Media is simple, but it isn’t easy.”

    I have been doing business online since 1991, and it is safe to say that I have worked at least 12 hours per day, six days per week for that entire time. It became quite lucrative after a few years, but the road was not an easy one. My second mantra became: “Never, never, never give up.”

    My first step, once the business evolved from general Internet consulting and web design to Social Media, was to use my decades of previous experience as a Senior Officer at a $40 billion dollar company as a model for online success: Define your market, establish a concrete strategy, work your plan, set a daily agenda, monitor your progress, and then improvise, improvise, improvise.

    An important take away from my previous career was this: Don’t copy your competitors, and don’t emulate the supposed leaders in your industry … innovate instead. As Seth Godin said in an extremely profound blog post today … “Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself.”

    Don’t wait for success to find you, create your own. With 200 million bloggers out there struggling, and with that number growing exponentially, your odds of making it without a period of sustained effort are roughly the same as any inner-city child with a basketball making it into the NBA.

    Social Media, while not a Yellow Brick Road, is at least the Land of Oz. You won’t succeed by simply clicking your Ruby Slippers, but if you remain determined and if you’re lucky or smart enough to find a Wizard who is not just hiding behind a curtain to shelter his lack of true understanding from the Munchkins, and you listen creatively to his or her advice, you have a better than even chance.

    This posting of yours, if it is as broadly distributed as it deserves to be, will make a huge difference in the lives of every blogging newcomer. When historians write of this period as the new Industrial Revolution, you will rank as one of those rare few who cared enough about others to “say something that mattered.”

    • Roman says:

      “When historians write of this period as the new Industrial Revolution, you will…”

      I am young, but this is the biggest complement I have ever received.

  43. Jeremy says:

    I think that #3 is probably a big one for most. My blog is only about two weeks old and getting traffic is quite a task. I didn’t think I would have tons of traffic right away, but I thought I could get maybe 5 to 10 visitors per day and grow from that. The fact is that you really have to work to get traffic and that means everyday. All except three hits to my blog have come because of me commenting on other blogs. My problem is being a college student, I don’t have hours upon hours to spend on it. I can really see why so many people give up blogging after only a few months. I have followed a lot of Darren’s advice but I am realizing just how long it takes to get in search engines and get traffic. Of course this article brings up a good point, not all blogs are successful. I could have chosen the wrong subject, but only time will tell.

  44. Julio Ruiz says:

    That was a great post..!

    About the question
    Did you make any assumptions about blogging that turned out to be wrong?

    Yes, my assumption was, i believed that all the knowledge to run a blog was easy to learn and to implement in a record time.

    How wrong i was…! every business proyect and tools requieres skills you need to learn before you get into them seriously..

  45. Troy Lilly says:

    I must admit I stumbled into blogging initially!

    And then into each of the traps at three different times. I took more than a year and a half before I started thinking about a focused niche, and about what kind of headlines would draw readers, and how to break up the paragraphs so my posts didn’t just look like a pile of black scribble.

    There’s no yellow brick road to blogging success, but there are foundational tips that increase your chances of getting there. ProBlogger is one of the resources and I’m glad I found it.

  46. Emily says:

    I’ve been blogging for about a month now and I have about 600 views. I have a Facebook page and I post on there and on Twitter. I also try to email people and let them know about my blog. I would like to know what causes people to comment and tweet your posts. Seems like people come to my blog, read my recipes, then leave. So I would like more pageviews and more retweets. :) Any suggestions? Great post, I am following you on networkedblogs where I also share about my blog.

  47. Joy says:

    What a great post, thank you Roman,

    I have only been blogging for a few months and am guilty of falling into all three of your traps. Thank goodness I found out the truth fairly quickly and have caught myself before falling in to despair over the whole thing.

    I have minimal traffic and have made no sales yet, but that is all ok, because I am enjoying myself immensely and learning from both mine and other bloggers mistakes. Posts like this one are essential to my education.

    I would love to have a successful blog one day(,who wouldn’t), but I now realise just how much work it takes.Patience and persistence are vital to success and I have an abundance of both. Only time will tell just how well I do.

    Thanks for sharing

    Joy