This is a companion post for ‘How to Start a Blog‘. It is chalk full of rookie mistakes I made right out of the gate. Cataloging them here might save you from making some of the same classic newbie missteps.
They are mostly in chronological order.
- I waited too long to start my blog. You don’t have to make your site public on day one. There are many reasons why I hesitated, but they are all wrong. At the VERY least your blog is a mental exercise for you and helps you organize your thoughts and practice your writing. Let’s face, it is basically just a diary with the potential for massive exposure.
- I did not proofread sufficiently. People are turned off by simple spelling errors and common syntax mistakes. Read your post over in ‘edit mode’ and on the actual blog. Read it over 3 times. Revisit it after you have posted to make sure it says what you think it says.
- Read your blog on a smartphone, it will look way different than on your monitor. In needs to look good and flow well on both formats.
- Your post is too short, try for a minimum of 300 words, I have grown to shoot for over 500. If it is too long chop it into part 1 & part 2.
- I used images because they were relevant and cool without checking their sources. Original Art should be credited at least and probably permitted by the artist beforehand. My blog still uses one image I am sure has a source, but I can not find the specific image anywhere. (awesome Dragon picture on Precious Metals post).
You spammed your blog everywhere like a teenage boy who has just discovered masturbation. I got booted off of at least 3 forums before I realized you are not supposed to do this. It is only by the grace of a empathetic moderator that I was allowed back onto the MMM forum and I am still banned from city-data. Early Retirement Forum has me under a different name because OthalaFehu overspammed his welcome.
- Tried to move to a ‘paid for’ host too early. I did not understand how things worked and had some much technical trouble that I had to cancel my whole subscription. Nothing due to anything HostGator did, it was all my fault. Later, when I was ready, I moved to Blue Host.
- Then I read this post by Lindsay over at NotoriousDebt and second guessed my staying with Blue Host. I chose SiteGround(affiliate link) based off feedback from around the web. (For the record, Siteground is good enough to become my first and only affiliate link). If you’re keeping track at home that is my third shift without ever even really moving anything off of WordPress.
- I asked a lot of people to let me guest host before I really knew what that meant. Offering posts I had already published on my own blog??? I did not hear back from most of them because I was clearly punching above my weight class and surely not helping OthalaFehu’s stock price.
- Not pacing my posting. I had a lot of ideas for posts up front and spewed them onto my blog before I had any real readership. Now I have great opportunities like ‘Blog Share Monday‘ On Rockstar Forums, but some of my best material has already been prematurely posted and extremely under viewed IMHO. Secondly, if you put out 20 posts for 2 months and then drop off to 2 posts month three your blog looks like it is dying out. You may have a slow period in your creativity. It is nice to hold some posts in reserve for just such a span. This is a lot like a business, you want a plan for steady growth but also try not to over expand.
It takes some time to get a sense of yourself and the feel of your blog. When that happens, you will likely go back over a lot of earlier material and tweak to fit the current overall tone. (dozens of times).
- Having to go back and replace my http address with EVERYBODY because I changed sites within the first 3 months.
- Wasting precious time and opportunities not being on social media because I did not understand that tweeting, pining, and linking is the real engine of expansion.
These next 2 aren’t mistakes so much as fables about the Golden Rule.
- Not really a mistake so much as a comment. Never hesitate to try and make connections. I signed up for BlueHost through a link on Physician on Fire’s site rather than just sign up on my own. (Why not throw someone a referral right?) Later that week, I got a mention on his site (The Sunday Best) that led to one of my best traffic days ever. That’s the way the world works people, we help each other out.
- Another example, I found a guy on Reddit who did not know about RockStar Finance and I pointed him in the right direction. We exchanged links on our blogroll and it turns out he is a FIRE O.G. (earlyretirementdude) and I get hits everyday from his popular blog. We are a friendly community, make bridges and you will grow.