10 Blogging Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur

blogging mistakes

PRO TIP: If you can’t be bothered to read 1,000’s of words right now, you can watch the video a few paragraphs below or listen to the podcast episode right here. 🙂

Enough. I can’t take this anymore.

This post might feel more like a rant than anything. Perhaps it will come across as too negative or whiny. And I will be judged accordingly. That’s fair.

I’m just tired of seeing blogging, one of the most powerful and effective tools to market your business, brutally abused and assaulted.

Amateur bloggers and online business owners are always telling me how they’re too intimidated to start their own blogs.

Not only do they have no idea how to start a blog, but they’re not even sure if they should bother starting one at all. And one of their biggest complaints rattles around in my head and keeps me awake at night.

“I hate reading blogs.” – Frustrated Blog Reader

And you know what? They’re 110% right.

The blog reading experience sucks. The majority of blogs are terrible. They ignore the needs and desires of their readers, force antiquated “marketing” strategies and obsess over nothing more than making a cheap buck.

“Marketers ruin everything.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

These so-called bloggers have tainted the art of blogging.

If you’re about to start a blog, or have started one recently, please learn from these people. More specifically, learn what not to do.

You have a massive opportunity to disrupt the blogosphere and gain tons of readers and followers simply by putting the readers’ experience above all else. (I know, what a novel idea right?)

These are the 10 biggest blogging mistakes that will make you look like an amateur:

Monetizing your blog with ads

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Guys, it’s 2019. (and counting… #evergreencontent)

How in the world are you still trying to monetize your blog with ads?

Ads are bad. They trash your beautiful blog, annoy your visitors, torpedo your website’s performance and pay mere pennies.

Even Google is warning you that, if you don’t follow their very specific rules to the T, they’re going to drop the SEO hammer on you.

How many more reasons do you need?

I get it, you want to make money off your blog. We all do. But running ads is not the way to do it.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD: Monetize your blog by selling your own products or services. Yes, this takes a lot more work. But the payoff is that much greater. Your ROI will be exponentially higher when you’re selling your own stuff. Or, at the very least, resell other businesses’ products through good ol’ affiliate marketing. The margins are still pretty good, and you can keep your focus on driving more traffic to your blog. Just be sure to only resell products you have personally used and believe in. Don’t be another scammy peddler.

Using popups (of any kind)

amateur blogging mistakes

Google’s next all-out assault is on the notorious popup. You know, those obnoxious little boxes that pressure you into giving them your email the second you land on their page.

Popups are right up there with ads. They completely destroy your blog’s user experience in exchange for a paltry 2% conversion rate. (In fact, 5% is considered wildly successful!)

On top of that, the majority of those people will end up unsubscribing within a few weeks anyway. And then an additional chunk of people will simply ignore what you send them or miss it because it ends up in their spam folder.

Yah, sounds like a super successful sales funnel right there…

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD: Remove all popups from your blog. Every. Single. One. They’re antiquated and soon to be extinct. Give people options. Include an email opt-in box on your actual page, then let your users decide if they want to subscribe. Trust me, they’ll know it’s there. They don’t need you to shove it in their face. Make great content, and people will beg to subscribe. Simple.

Gating your best content

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Raise your hand if you’ve given a blogger your email in exchange for a “super-duper incredible mind-blowing ebook that will explode your business and turn you into the most attractive human being on the planet” only to be incredibly underwhelmed once you received it.

I’m pretty confident that if you were all in front of me right now, I’d be able to crowd surf for days.

It is stunning to me how frequently bloggers under-deliver on over-hyped promises.

I wrote an ebook for my blog. I created a custom landing page for it. I integrated it into many of my blog posts. And then I gave it away.

I did not lock it behind an email opt-in. In fact, I didn’t ask for anything in return. I simply put a CTA at the end of my ebook with all of my contact info, and told people to get in touch with me if they need anything.

Do you know how many people reached out to me and thanked me for this simple little ebook? Many of these people ended up becoming some of my most loyal fans and subscribers.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Give away your best content for free. There are so many fakers and snake oil salesmen out here. The best way to grow your blog and online business is by proving to the world that you know what you’re talking about. Write your best posts. Produce your best videos. Share your best podcasts. Then give it all away. The people, and money, will follow.

Treating email “marketing” as the Holy Grail of the Blogdom

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Heads up… email marketing is dying.

I am very much in the minority on this take. I’m well aware.

One of the most incorrect assumptions that continues to circulate around the blogosphere is that “email is the only marketing channel that you own”.

This is 100% false. You don’t own a dang thing.

Do you know how much email has changed over the years? It is a communication channel that continues to evolve and adapt, just like all of the social networks that bloggers love to compare it to.

Or do you not remember the days when SPAM filters were easy to bypass, all emails fell into your inbox instead of segregated tabs, and government regulations were loosey-goosey?

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Accept the fact that you don’t own anything. You’re merely leasing. Including your email list. We all are. The best thing you can do is diversify your marketing channels so that you never rely too heavily on one of them. #NeverForget about the online publishers who grew an audience on Facebook, only to be screwed over by Facebook’s algorithm changes. Or the newspapers who were too slow to adapt to the internet. Or the taxi industry who thought they had a monopoly, only to be upended by smartphone-powered ride-sharing. The same thing can happen to your email list one day. Don’t get comfy.

Copying other “successful” bloggers

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I can learn about building a profitable blog from guys like Pat Flynn, Brian Dean, Neil Patel (ew), or a gazillion other online entrepreneurs.

Do you know why I keep going back to Pete McPherson’s Do You Even Blog? Because I like his style.

I like his transparency, genuine quirkiness and rather frequent spelling errors. I find myself listening to his podcast even when I’m already well-acquainted with the info being presented because I find it entertaining. (and it’s how I met my boy Alex Felice!)

And this is uniquely Pete.

If he had tried to merely copy all of the other big blogger dudes out there, I would have no reason to come back to him. I could just leapfrog over him to the big guys.

So why do you keep insisting on making the same stuff that’s already out there?

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Do you. Write, create and inspire in your own unique style. I promise you are not as boring as you think you are. Everyone has a story to tell. There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from others. After all, all of our output is a direct result of our input. But how you share that information is what makes all the difference. And there’s only one person on earth who can do that differently. You.

Writing boring blog posts

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This blogging mistake is just a direct result of laziness.

The old days of writing a 1,000-word post and stuffing it with targeted keywords are long gone guys. It’s time to get really good at storytelling.

And if I see you write one more lazy listicle and plaster it all over spammy Pinterest group boards I’m gonna need to buy a new laptop after all the table-flipping I’ll be doing.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Work more personal experiences, stories, illustrations and life lessons into your blog posts. Don’t have ideas? Start a note on your phone and jot down little things that happen to you on a day-to-day basis. Even seemingly irrelevant events. You’d be surprised how many of them you’ll be able to work into a blog post or video later.

Relentlessly sticking to a schedule when you have nothing to say

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Content schedules are very helpful for creating a big picture view of your content strategy and providing daily motivation to write.

But this should never come at the detriment of your actual content.

If you don’t have anything to say, you don’t need to write. Writing a blog post because it’s Tuesday and you think people are waiting on bated breath for your post to drop is not a good reason to write. Especially if you have nothing to say.

I promise you, your followers will be fine if you take an extra day or two to publish something better.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Quality over quantity. Take your time to create a truly useful/inspiring/memorable/shareable/rankable blog post. Remember that you’re building a brand, and brands’ reputations can be damaged. If you become known for putting out consistent but mediocre content, it will be hard to overcome that when you decide to wake up and start creating something meaningful.

Using too many generic stock photos

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We constantly hear about how important visuals are to creating memorable blog posts. Our attention spans continue to shrink by the day and we need to be engaged fast if we’re going to stick around.

And yet, you click on an interesting headline about How to Use AI to Automate Your Personal Finances and are greeted with a stock photo of a pile of cash in front of a laptop with a side of espresso.

YAWN.

How many personal finance blogs exist? 1,000’s? 10,000’s?

If you own one of them, how exactly do you plan to stand out?

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Use those stock photos, but edit them and make them your own. Throw a funny text blurb on it, turn it into a meme, or add your own blog’s branding to it. It takes a grand total of a few additional minutes per photo, but makes a huge difference in the long-term health of your blog’s brand.

Pushing garbage online courses

bad online courses 1

*braces for flying tomatoes* *prays that it’s only tomatoes that come flying*

I have some serious issues with online courses. Nevertheless, they are clearly the latest trend in online business.

But as with any trend, you’re going to have people jumping on board to do nothing more than take advantage of people and make a quick buck.

And I have seen many bloggers creating subpar courses and overcharging for them.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you’re planning to build online courses to monetize your blog, do exactly that. PLAN. In this day and age, you can find any information you need for free. So, if you plan on selling your take on that information, you need to make it fantastic. In-depth, well-structured, gamified, community-oriented and fun. If you don’t, you will soon face the backlash of your customers who feel duped into buying something that did not meet their expectations.

Ignoring your user experience

bad blog ux 1

Finally, we come to the worst blogging mistake of all. Ignoring your users’ experience.

The blogosphere is changing quick. A lot of these old school bloggers who profited off of black-hat SEO techniques and subpar content are in for a rude awakening.

The good news is, you have the opportunity to step up and replace them.

With each new algorithm update, Google is placing a higher priority on UX. They are heavily tracking how your visitors are interacting with your site. Metrics like Time on Page, Pages Visited, and Click Through Rate are the new goals.

On top of that, they are promoting websites that perform extremely well on mobile. Things like loading speeds, image optimization and text sizing play a much bigger role in getting your site to rank higher.

This is good news. Because all it means is that you simply need to put your visitors’ experience above all else.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Before you make any, and I mean ANY, changes or modifications to your blog, ask yourself one question: Will this improve or damage my visitors’ experience? If it damages it, don’t do it. Simple as that. Pretty easy to remember right?

What’s your take?

For all of my fellow bloggers out there who haven’t had the privilege of being on Pete’s podcast (yet), how would you answer his question?

At the end of every podcast episode, he asks his guests one simple question:

What is one thing you wish bloggers would stop doing?

I just gave 10 answers to his question, and I think I could come up with another 10, to be honest.

What about you? Do you have any blogging pet peeves that you would love to just toss into the sun?

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