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What Mistakes Did You Make When You Started Blogging? What Would You Do Differently?

This morning, a new blogger asked me to name 3 mistakes I made when I started blogging so he could avoid the same pitfalls.

I thought this might make a good discussion starter and something that might help new bloggers. So… take a few moments to answer these two questions.

  1. What are the mistakes you made when you started blogging?
  2. What would you have do differently?

Here are my 3 mistakes and what I would do differently:

  • Not getting my own domain - I should have bitten the bullet and secured a domain for my first blog the day I started.

  • Choosing profitable topics rather than topics I was interested in – at one point I had 30 blogs, most of which I thought would be profitable. I couldn’t sustain them. I should have stuck to blogging about things I was interested in and passionate about.
  • Expecting that good original content was enough to attract readers – I should have spent more time OFF my blog, interacting with people where they gathered, rather than having a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality.

So now it’s over to you. If you started your blog today, what would you do differently?

I’m looking forward to hearing your responses!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Arun Singh says:

    Thanks Darren for this remarkable summary. People must understand that social media is not designed to post only. The main purpose is to exchange with others, to be judged as a contributor and to gain (or not) credibility. Credibility comes with expertise, expertise comes with interest. This checks your last two points!

    • Hello Darren,

      I am a total newby to blogging because we outsourced all our blogging setup to a company but we have decided to hire a full time writer who can get our opinions across and we manage the blog in house. We have been posting for several weeks but not seeing much traffic yet and wondered if you could provide some details on how we could start bringing in website traffic to our blog. Our content is really high quality and does provide very helpful tips in the form of top ten tips, how to’s etc etc.

      Thanks in advance Darren

      Regards

      Andrew McBay

      • Rameshwor says:

        Here is what you can do:
        1. Share your content on social media like twitter, facebook and google plus.
        2. Build links to your website
        3. Focus on onpage seo (just search onpage seo optimizations tips in google and you will learn a lot)

    • @ Arun, I do completely agree with you. Generally most people are seen to flooding the social media with what they have to say and keep posting their articles and links but finally fail to draw attention of the fellow members. They should learn the netiquette of Social Media. You can draw attention quickly when you reply other’s question in their comments instead of keep sharing your own articles. There should be an optimum balance between sharing your own posts and replying other people’s queries to set yourself as an expert in the niche. When people will start taking you as an expert, it will be more easier to enjoy the benefits of social media.

  2. Kalen says:

    Hi Darren,

    I made a plenty mistakes when I started blogging. I would say that the biggest one was trying to work hard instead of working on things that provided value. I probably spent hours every day writing articles to submit to article directories and trolling for high pagerank web pages to comment on for links. I have since learned to focus on priorities and do things that achieve results.

  3. Liana says:

    Hello,

    I shouldn’t be here, commenting, because I don’t have a blog. But since I am here, would you please explain what you mean by “not getting/securing by own domain”?
    Thanks!

  4. Liana says:

    Oops… typing mistake. I meant “…securing MY own domain”.

    • He means buying a website URL and not relying on the standard URL offered by generic blogging services like Blogger or WordPress etc. ProBlogger.net is a domain

  5. Diana says:

    I didn’t writted on a specific niche. I started a general blog instead starting a blog about skin diseases example (I’m a dermatologist).

  6. I didn’t focus on social media early on. 1 year after staring my site, I have realized what I had been missing on. I currently have 1,200 followers on twitter, could had easily had double if I had been working on it for the past year.

  7. Happy to see this post. I’m (re)doing “31 Days to Build a Better Blog,” being more intentional and focused than the first time. Can’t wait to see responses to this.

  8. Dan Erickson says:

    I did get my own domain from the start thanks to a friend. I’m a literary style writer, poet, and songwriter and content to monetize is a weak point for me. I’m trying to work my style into a need for a product. It will take time, but it’s working.

  9. Shana Norris says:

    I still consider myself a new blogger, having started a little over six months ago. REALLY looking forward to the comments here.

  10. Ian Morris says:

    Hi

    Like Shana I am new to blogging but my first mistake,of which there will be many,was to procrastinate for so long before taking the plunge and starting a blog.

  11. Edson Hale says:

    The last point is lethal; most of the bloggers assume that after writing a great post with on-page and off-page SEO and by sharing it in social media they would be getting more and more traffic. This is partially right but not the wholly. For that you have to think beyond SEO, social media and backlinking. Here you have to prove simply getting traffic is not your ultimate goal (thought it is yours) your main goal should be more and more people should take benefit of your great contents; instead of selling your contents you must sell their benefits to your readers

  12. I’m a new blogger and I cannot decide the niche on which I should start blogging. Sometimes I write on technology, sometimes on blogging and sometimes some other stuff. What should I do to choose a perfect niche for myself?

    • Elena says:

      Have a separate blog for each. Never blog on 100 topics under same URL unless you DON’T want to earn with your blog.

  13. Jo Atua says:

    Whatever your purpose for blogging, don’t make the mistake I made of being selfish. I prepared the blog as a means to an end. I wrote, not necessarily for those who were reading the post, but to get the blog noticed.So the on page SEO was the focus. The irony here is that the more interesting your content and the more reader focussed you are, the more you will get noticed. It won’t be over night, but it will be built on a solid foundation of popularity, not the more “temporal” and less solid foundation of SEO.

    So now my blog content is for the reader. The content is good quality and not limited by the constraints of SEO. I suppose now I keep the requirements of the reader and the requirements for ranking separate – because as stated already, the former will provide the latter.

  14. Ben Troy says:

    I think many beginners start off by creating content that does not have a clear direction. The content you publish on your blog should be relevant to your niche or industry. When readers land on your blog, they expect its content to be relevant to what they were searching for online.

  15. Wow, the second point needs more explanation.

    Surely you can’t just go for your interests and ignore the profitability part.

  16. jerrylewis says:

    The greatest mistake I’ve made in blogging was not having my own domain. My blog then was living in the shadows of a blogging platform, with the sites extension.

  17. Gjivan says:

    Well, initially when i started blogging, my biggest mistake was to think it only as a hobby but not as a business perspective. Secondly, i randomly publish contents without proper keywords research from which i could have known what particular terms people are searching via search engines. Thirdly, using free platforms instead of paid which i think will restrict the freedom for my contents. Another biggest mistake was to not know how to analyze the strength of competition of other competitors and miscalculate wrong keywords!!

  18. sanam says:

    Hi Darren,
    In preparation of my new blog I was thinking about this exact same thing, as I really wanted to avoid committing the same mistakes that I made with my last blog! Here are my top 3:


    1. Not focusing on creating quality content

    2. Not having any clear target audience/ ‘one person’ in mind when creating content

    3. Not interacting with the blogging community well

    These practically destroyed my blog last time, so I made them my first priorities to deal with for the new blog and it has worked a treat so far!

    I genuinely feel that my new blog will be a million times better than the last, as I have really worked on avoiding these 3 issues this time round :)

  19. Trish Jones says:

    Akin to #2, definitely should have taken more notice of social networking than I did. Relationships first.

    Another huge mistakes was doing nothing at times when what other marketers were doing didn’t rest well with me. My copy, website, emails, would have been MY voice. As I tell almost every client now, “don’t lose your voice.”

  20. Dave Powell says:

    I wish I got started earlier with email list building. Adding a pop up to my site and offering eBooks made my list grow dramatically in such a short amount of time.

  21. Hey Darren, everyone. I am recently trying to get back into seriously and I was curious about something. Where do you type out your posts? Do you do it online via WordPress Dashboard, or do you type them using desktop software?
    I have trouble staying focused when I’m doing it via Dashboard, so trying to get a feel on what most people do.

    • Shana Norris says:

      I write my posts right on the WordPress dashboard. Once in a while, if our wireless connection is acting up, I’ll write in Word.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      I use ecto and Mars edit – they’re mac tools though so depends what you’re using I guess. Alternatively I often write posts in plain text docs and copy and paste them in.

  22. My biggest mistake when I started my first blog was topic choice. I chose a topic that was way too broad for me to keep up with – unless I wanted to hire a ton of people to write on it each day. The topic was technology – that’s about as broad as it gets, right?

    There were pros and cons to this. On the upside, as a beginner blogger, I never had issues coming up with content ideas because there were so many different topics I could write about. It allowed me the freedom to create extremely unique articles and allowed me to blog almost every day for a year without ever running into issues with content ideas.

    However, since it was so broad, my bounce rate was incredibly high. People simply weren’t interested in the other posts on my website – and I don’t blame them. They were almost unrelated. Compared to my newer, more focused blogs, I’ve noticed that the percentage of returning visitors was also much lower on the general technology blog, which makes sense.

    Anyway, if there was anything I could change, it would be focusing more on topic choice before I started my website. I was just so excited that I jumped into what I knew – and it ended up costing me a year of my time. It was a great learning experience though, so maybe it was for the best.

  23. Papiya says:

    Very informative and useful post, I got some important idea from your post. A big thanks for sharing with us !!

  24. Ankit Bansal says:

    Small striking words. You have always been a inspiration sir and you just keep me motivated to not to give up when my traffic is down. All the points are important and blogging is about people. True that.

  25. Sue Bride says:

    I started blogging as a way to learn how to blog, so I made plenty of mistakes but they were all valuable lessons. I now wish that I had concentrated on learning how to monetize rather than consider blogging as a hobby. I also did not try to find a particular niche within the popular niche of blogging/social networking and it took me a while to figure that out.

    I also did not cater for a wider audience. My contacts were mostly newbie bloggers like myself. We made a good team for a while with lots of mutual promotion and sharing but the majority of those gave up. I kind of miss those days. They were exciting times with the start up of a lot of blog networking, before the advent of Twitter and the wide popularity of Facebook dissipated the dedicated the dedicated blog networks.

    My goals are different today and, with the aim of making money online, I now study what niches interest me along with their SEO aspects. I could not produce the quality content needed if my heart was not in the subject. A blog itself is not enough now. You need to back it up with a presence on social networking sites.

  26. ujjwal says:

    @Darren the first one is really play important role to make money from blog.

    Although these three points are great!

  27. The biggest mistake I made when I started blogging is underestimating the commitment to it.
    It takes a lot to consistently blog. Its like going to the gym, you need a routine to make it happen.

    If you just sit down and think I’ll start blogging now, it just won’t work.

    Commit to seeing it through.

  28. Sushain says:

    The mistake i made as a newbie blogger was that i sold my first blog. I still regret that decision.
    Anyways, you have put out great points out there, and every newbie should consider them.

  29. Holly says:

    The biggest mistake I made when I started blogging was that I spent all of my time blogging. I didn’t let myself enjoy life and I let my blogs consume me. What resulted was a lack of creativity and major blogger burn out.

    Now I give myself days off, usually the weekends and make sure that I make time to relax. I create better content and provide more to my readers.

  30. Stephen says:

    Choosing the wrong blogging platform!

  31. My three biggest mistakes? Wow. Hmm…

    1. Changing my design too often. You can’t build a brand if you’re constantly rebranding.
    2. Not focusing on one project at a time. It’s easier to make one blog great than to build 10 great blogs.
    3. Not accepting criticism sooner. Sometimes feedback is really helpful if you learn to stop being defensive and just go with it.

  32. Thanks to Darren, I was able to avoid quite a few ‘blunders’ at the start of my blog. But still there were many things that I did wrong along the way.
    1. Not having a simple blog design (I ended up on my current design after many experiments)
    2. Using adsense too soon
    3. Using adsense ads next to the heading thinking they bring me most of my adsense revenue
    4. I would write better headlines, if I can start all over

  33. Emmanuel says:

    Hmmm, with these sought of mistakes coming from you, I’ve obviously learnt my lessons.

  34. Actually I’m 2 for 3 with you :) I realized I was writing about something I was not as passionate about so I made a shift. And I’m not always the best with “live networking” . Mostly because I’m always with my daughter and have little interest in hanging out :) And I’m in the midst of launching my baby product and every ounce of brain power I have is normally zapped between coaching clients and my product at the end of the day.

    But I will try to get out a little more.

  35. Ian says:

    Interacting with people off line is such a great tip. Whenever I am looking over blogging course I always notice that people de-emphasize this.

  36. Hi Darren,

    its nice share.. i have question too.. do you think that long term article still preferable on today SEO. since we dont think about the trend.. for example we write about health topic that more lasting..

    thank you

    arif

  37. yogesh pant says:

    but writing about what you are passionate alone never helps.
    You have to be sure that what you write is in trend, if you have an idea to monetize from your blog.

  38. John Judd says:

    My first blog was (and still is) a gaming blog which was devoted to World of Warcraft. I had previously decided to give blogging a go and figured that since I enjoyed that particular game I would blog about it. I had it in mind that I could make some money doing that too.

    The mistakes as I see them:

    1) Not really doing my homework (niche research) and decided that there weren’t that many WoW blogs. Boy was I mistaken! The web was full of them. However, I still managed to get the blog to PR4 (back in 2007) and built a small rep among other game bloggers. It’s PR3 now, not that that really means much.

    2) In making money. It turned out that nearly all WoW Adsense ads were from a segment that I and many other MMO bloggers despised. The gold sellers and power levelers. Try as I might to block those ads from my site they kept coming. In the end I just disabled the ads. None of the others (Amazon) never really made money. In the end it was a commercial bust.

    3) Consistency and time requirement. I work (not in the basement thank you stereotype) and gaming was my hobby. Finding the time to play games, and write about them was tough at times, so I didn’t always keep a consistent writing schedule. I think the best I managed was in the high 20′s or low 30′s of posts in a single month.

    But, a post like this could be depressing if I just tell you about my mistakes. There were plenty of good things to.

    1) I learnt how to promote a blog and get it into the serps, although some of those lessons no longer work thank you Google, the concepts are still in my head.

    2) My writing has improved. Over six years I have written nearly 300,000 words for that blog. I cringe when I read my first posts. Not so much anymore.

    3) Highlights of meeting other members of the MMO blogging scene in various games, some of who are now friends of a sort.

    4) Crazy moments when some dumbarse little post seems to get traction and thousands of views, when my most dedicated writing got little or none. And the post I wrote about World of Warcraft Addiction in 2006 remaining in the top 10 for that search for over 3 years.

    Anyway. Thanks for the question Darren, and the opportunity to share.

  39. Hemu says:

    i think it’s human nature to make mistake, and most of us want to make fast money and that’s when we ought to learn moral from our childhood story slow and steady wins the race. :)

  40. ed cyzewski says:

    My biggest mistake may have more to do with the way I’m wired, but I used to write 5 short blog posts every day, usually breaking a longer post idea into a series in order to improve my search engine rankings. I have since found that it’s far better to aim for 2-3 posts a week and to make one of them a long, in-depth piece that digs into a challenging topic (1,000 to 2,000 words). It gives me more freedom to research, makes me far less reactive, and ensures that my content is far better.

    Surprise, surprise, bloggers write for people, not search engines. My site has grown more in the past year because of that than because of almost anything else I’ve done.

  41. Alison says:

    OK my biggest mistake is PROCRASTINATION!! This has always been something that has intrigued me greatly. I feel that I have a gift of sharing and hopefully inspiring. I have been through 3 job eliminations within 2 years, followed by husbands position being eliminated as well and although he has a job, it is far below his skill level at the same company, and of course pay. We are struggling to keep our home and basically I need to find something else to go along with my 2 part time jobs for Non Profit companies. Blogging has always intrigued me and would love some help getting started. I don’t have a ton of money or time to put into reading every book out there but I need some help and I am hoping that on here some kind soul will take pitty upon me and assist me in fulfilling this dream of mine!!

  42. Josh Brancek says:

    My first mistake was creating too many blogs at once and also keyword focused websites!!! Now it is mainly about brand building!!!

  43. Thanks for the great article. As a blogging newbie, it helps when people like you share these little nuggets of wisdom. Keep up the good work!

  44. Caty says:

    My biggest mistake was not using major keywords when I would
    write my blog post also I would go off topic.

  45. Ava says:

    I have made many mistakes since I started blogging.

    I think that it is important to write about something you are interested in. If you have a passion for your topic, it will show in your blog.

    I would also network more and invest in a quality domain name.

  46. Ingrid Cliff says:

    I have also made many mistakes with my blogs – and learned along the way. Lessons from the past 10 years include motivational quotes by themselves are not great blog content – you need to add your own interpretation or story to the insight. My motto is Add Value – Not Just Content. I would have also thought through my site structure earlier and SEO friendly URLs and save myself the pain of creating many many 301 redirects.

  47. Jasper says:

    Hey Darren !
    Well, I am happy that you have shared your experience with us. That would be beneficial for every newbie. I totally agree with you that one should write according to his interest not about profitable topics. This is the way to success. Your passion is your talent.
    Thanks.
    Jasper

  48. Getting $$ signs into my eyes and looking at how to monetize it, forgetting the reason I started the blog in the first place – to have more fun with my gaming.

    Now, I’m back to just writing about games, I reduced the frequency of articles and I’m working on making them better and more interesting. Blogging and gaming is fun for me again and monetization isn’t a priority any more. If it happens, it happens, but I don’t really care if it happens. Right now, I’m looking for readers who comment, so I’d have someone to interact with, by doing the same on similar blogs.

  49. The biggest mistake I made was not setting goals for my blog so I flapped around all over the place for 6 months. It wasn’t until I developed a direction for my blogging that things started happening for my blog.

    I can confidently defend my choices/opinions, I have no trouble turning down review and sponsorship opportunities that don’t work for my blog, and I’m having fun (the most important part) with blogging.

    Kimberly

  50. Barrett says:

    Hello Darren !
    It’s good to know about the start of your blogging career. That’s quite motivational thing that you have faced some difficulties with courage. You did not stop, you carried on. Well I agree with Jasper that your passion is your talent.
    Thanks.
    Barrett