My blog is one year old today.
I’m no longer a blogling. I have matured. Pretty soon my blog will need Botox. Or Viagra. Or both.
I’ve learned more this year about websites, blogs and the internet than I ever thought I’d want to learn. Lots of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned through my mistakes. Some of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned from other people’s mistakes.
For this post, I got some help from few of my favorite bloggers.
So, as I blow out the candle on my cake, my party favor for you is my comprehensive list of 18 Stupid Mistakes Bloggers Make in their First Year:
1 – Even bothering to get overwhelmed
What I’ve learned from connecting with web-savvy types and blogger types is that overwhelm comes with the territory. Every time you think you’ve got one rule of thumb down, it changes. Every time you’ve mastered one exciting thing, it’s out-dated. Just when you’re proud of yourself for starting a blog, someone will tell you that you need a lens. So, you make a lens. But then you’re supposed to Twitter. It’s 24/7 if you’re keeping up. Take your time. Go at your pace. You’ll improve in your own perfect way.
2 – Apologizing for not writing
Either create a posting schedule and stick with it, or decide to write when you feel like it and do that. But don’t go into the land of wishy-washy and spend the first paragraph of each post apologizing for not writing in days. No one cares all that much. Just write the post. An apology says, “I’ve already messed up bad.” Your readers rely on you to entertain them in some way. Don’t wimp out on them!
3 – Checking your stats hourly
Here’s the deal. Stats are a good barometer for some things. Especially if you have a clear-thinking mind. Or if you’re approaching your blog experimentally and viewing your stats with a marketer’s mindset. But if you’re mindlessly checking stats all the time, looking at your affiliate earnings every hour, then it’s time to step AWAY from the computer. Go play with your dog.
4 – Practicing “Field of Dreams” blogging
In an email to me, Michelle at Scribbit wrote:
One of the mistakes I made was thinking I could blog on my own terms, that I could post once a week in a little vacuum and “if I post it, they will come.” My husband kept telling me that I needed to post every day and get out there in the community but I didn’t think I wanted to. So I didn’t. And no one came. I finally started taking his advice, posting every day, reading other blogs and then realized how fun it was. If you want people to read your blog you have to be out there participating and contributing to your own blog regularly.
5 – Taking RSS subscription numbers personally
Okay, so if you’re Arianna Huffington, and you suddenly start a blog series on why you’re supporting Newt Gingrich for president, then your RSS subscriptions might drop. And it might be your fault for betraying your readership.
But let’s suppose you’re not doing any such thing. RSS feeds will move up and down in small increments. And really, it’s not personal. Just keep posting and doing the work and your devoted peeps will find you! (And while we’re on the subject, you can subscribe to my blog here.)
Desperation shows. It shows in the music business. It shows in the book business. And it shows in the blogosphere. (Really. Don’t email Guy Kawasaki and ask him to link to your blog.) If you’re working too hard to get links and recognition, it kind of leaks all over the place. Bloggers don’t rescue. They’re way too busy. Bloggers are a motivated remarkable bunch! If you get linked, it’s probably because you’ve written something good. And then, you have to keep writing something good.
7 – Ignoring the community
Kristie T at the Home Business Blog writes that her biggest first-year mistake was “not reaching out to other bloggers soon enough.” She adds that she has worked on this, and “Now I have a sense of community with other bloggers.” I would add that it might feel really weird at first to leave comments and write an email or two. But most bloggers are really cool and happy to help and almost always write back! (Guy Kawasaki probably won’t write back. Unless you’re Arianna Huffington.)
8 – Being unaware of the Morning-After-Digg syndrome
Everyone wants to get Dugg. Everyone wants be Stumbled Upon. (Or some equivalent of those.) One thing to remember is that Diggers and Stumblers are a lot like pre-teen music fans. You may relish the praise. You may delight in that big tall spike that Feedburner shows in your subscriptions graph. But sometimes the fickle crowd moves on to the next big thing. And the Feedburner graph looks like one tall building in a city of 3-storey condos. The readers have gone out as fast as they arrived, and you’re left feeling like the blog equivalent of New Kids on the Block.
Digg. StumbleUpon. All of those kinds of things are great. But the next morning, it’s still just you and your computer screen, and another post to write.
9 – Not being prepared for a Digg
Three months into my new work as a blogger, one of my posts got Stumbled Upon. At the time, I didn’t know what happened until someone emailed me about it. I wasn’t prepared to take advantage of something like this. I didn’t have anything set up to connect with people and encourage them to subscribe.
If one of your goals is to get Dugg or Stumbled Upon, then prepare your blog. Write a free eBook that folks can download. Make subscribing to your blog easy. Include an “About” page. (Copyblogger writes beautifully about the “About” page on a blog. While you’re at it, read everything he’s ever written.)
(I’m about to launch a new design to this website based on all the blog advice that’s out there.)
10 – Comparing yourself to six-figure bloggers
Chris Garrett wrote a fantastic guest post on Problogger today. One of the things he wrote was, “One of my biggest mistakes in blogging has been quitting, chopping and changing.” He wrote that he had made hasty decisions about changing his blog whenever he compared his meager Google Adsense checks to the earnings Darren Rowse had been writing about. If fear is the mind-killer, then I’d venture to say, “Comparison is the blog-killer.”
11 – Over-thinking your posts
The world-famous Mike Sansone of Converstations says:
Over-thinking a post has got to be like burning the cookies. They still have a sweet taste, but it sure is tough to chew on. Some of the best posts I’ve written are quick jots on the blog. Some of the stinkers took 83 minutes to compose.
12 – Under-thinking your posts
I agree with Mike on #11 up there. But I’m also a big fan of editing and taking extra minutes to re-write. (I spend hours on posts when I’m passionate about them. But that’s my personal approach to blogging. And I love doing it!)
13 – Not writing for the joy of writing
If there’s any blog about writing and blogging that can uplift, it’s Liz Strauss’s Successful Blog. This post called 10 Reasons to Write and Publish Everyday is brilliant and inspiring. Print it out and read it when you get too focused on the external success and not on the internal success.
14 – Not practicing the Art of Allowing
Not everything happens because you got exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated and tense. In fact, the best things happen just because you showed up. The best things happen because you’re having a great time. In my music career, most of the performances, song cuts, radio airplays, and other opportunities happened with no effort on my part at all. I showed up. And good things happened. Same thing goes for blogging.
15 – Thinking that blogs just back themselves up
Elizabeth Perry of the fantastic blog Woolgathering wrote that you need to figure out how to back up your blog database. And she adds one word to the end of her thought – “Often.” (I’m thinking there’s a story behind this one!)
16 – Not considering the time commitment of blogging
Starbucker told me that he’s a blog dork. His “mistake” is about time. He travels for his job. He writes posts constantly (and has gained quite a loyal following). He works long hours. Lots of bloggers face this same dilemma. It does take time to add a blog into your list of to-dos. Remember that when you install WordPress and begin writing!
17 – Not attending the SobCon07 Conference
I travel and do shows in various cities. I’ve experienced the huge joy of meeting other bloggers who have come to my shows and greeted me at the CD table. Now, you get to do the same thing. AND, you get to learn from those in-the-know as well. Come to Chicago in May! Learn from all of us who have made these mistakes for you!
18 – Intentionally blank
If you’re a blogger, feel free to share your own mistakes! (And if you’re not a blogger, well, you can still share some of your mistakes, too.)