I recently issued a group of bloggers with a challenge to complete this week on their blogs. The challenge was simple – to write a ‘top 5’ post on any topic they wanted.
This is my own contribution to the challenge!
My Top 5 Mistakes as a Blogger
I’ve been blogging 11 and a half years now, and while I pinch myself everyday at where blogging has taken me, that time has been littered with mistakes and failures along the way.
While we often talk about the good times here on ProBlogger, today I thought I’d share 5 mistakes I made (or to put a more positive spin on it… 5 lessons I learned the hard way).
1. Choosing Profit over Passion
My first blog was a personal blog and an extension of who I was. I only wrote about what I was interested in and profit was not on the radar as nobody made money blogging back then.
My second blog was an extension of my first, and a blog on a topic that I was interested in (cameras/photography) – but which also became profitable.
After I saw that my second blog started to make money I began to dream about ‘going pro’ as a blogger. One of the routes I saw I could take to achieve this dream was to start more blogs.
I thought if my camera/photography blog could make money, then I could replicate the model with other niches and topics. At the time, I took two approaches in researching what topics to create these new blogs on:
- Popular topics which could potentially attract a lot of traffic
- High-value topics – which I could earn good money on through AdSense (some niches of ads were paying higher rates than others)
I started 30 blogs in that next year, and each fit into one of the above categories.
For example in category one was a blog which I started with a friend on the Athens Olympic Games. We knew there’d be a heap of people searching for information on the topic (particularly people wanting the results of events), so we created a blog with hundreds of posts on every single event in the games. We had all these posts live and indexed by Google weeks before the games happened so that when each event happened and people typed in ‘event name gold medal’ or ‘event name results’, we’d come up.
As each event happened we added the results to the event.
Fitting into the second category (profitable high value topics) was a blog I started on ‘printers’. My research revealed at the time that some of the highest paying ads going around were for print cartridges. So I started a blog on the topic of printers. I reviewed printers and I posted about new ones on the market.
I had absolutely no interest in the topic of printers – and it showed in my content.
Both of the above blogs made money but neither were topics I was particularly passionate about (although the Olympics is something I have an interest in the content we were producing wasn’t that stimulating to create).
I got away with the Olympics one because it was a short-term project and it was quite a buzz to do on some levels, however the discovery I made about almost all of the other blogs I created in that period was that it was both mind-numbing and spirit-sucking work to sustain a blog on topics you had no interest in at all.
That year almost ended my blogging dreams because while I made enough money to call it a full time job – it left me very uninspired.
Luckily at this time I also started ProBlogger – a blog I’m passionate about – and later started Digital Photography School and found that it was a heap more enjoyable to create blogs that you actually enjoyed writing for. I abandoned the other blogs soon after and a weight was lifted from my shoulders!
2. Being Slow to….
I’m going to roll a number of regrets and mistakes into one here and put them all under the ‘being too slow’ banner.
I’m not a fast-paced person. It takes me a while to make decisions and to jump into new things. I watched everyone else jump into Twitter for six months before I did. The same happened with Facebook, the same with investing time into starting an email newsletter.
While I did jump on some thing pretty quickly (like blogging itself – which I started doing two hours after reading my first blog), I sometimes wonder where I’d be if I’d acted faster in some areas, particularly at adopting new technologies.
On the flip side of this though is that I feel like by being a little ‘slow’ I probably jumped in with more information and having watched what others were doing – which hopefully meant I started things ‘right’ from the start.
3. The Wrong Domains
I’ve made almost every mistake you can with domains. For starters I didn’t get my own domain when I began, later I got an Aussie domain for a blog with a global audience, then I got a .net domain instead of a .com, then I ran a whole heap of different topic blogs on the one domain and then I got a domain with hyphens! I wrote more about all these mistakes (and more here!)
4. Business Regrets
A number of years ago I started blogging network by the name of b5media with three other bloggers. While the experience was amazing on many levels and I learned SO much, I have many regrets about some aspects of the experience also.
I won’t rehash them all but if I could go into that business venture again I’d have spent more time at the beginning as a partnership working out goals, expectations, roles and thinking about the model. I’d probably have wanted to ‘meet’ my partners before starting the business too :-)
I’d also have avoided going down the path of giving up equity in the business in order to take on capital. My experience with venture capital was not overly positive. While it does enable you to grow and expand – it means less control. In my case it meant I ended up with nothing at all after several years of work. It works for some, but I’d avoid it in future.
I learned a lot from that business and bear no grudge to any of my partners in it, but wouldn’t do it the same way again!
5. Trying to Do it All Myself
It’s only really been the last three or so years that I’ve begun to develop a team of people to help me run my businesses.
The 3-4 years preceding bringing on team members almost killed me. I stretched myself way too thin and it impacted my health, relationships, and the business itself.
While expanding the team means changing my role (which brings challenges), it also has led to many new opportunities and a lot more enjoyment! The business has grown as a result and I hope has helped me provide a better experience for those whom I serve also.
What Are Your Biggest Blogging Mistakes?
There you have it – my biggest mistakes as a blogger (note: I didn’t say my ‘only’ mistakes). I’ve shown you mine… how about telling us some of yours?