Top 10 Beginner Blogger Blunders

top 10No matter how skilled a writer you may be, writing is not blogging. There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to learning how to write for the internet and attract a readership to your blog. There’s a lot of good advice available but there’s lots of bad “canned” advice too.

Whether you plan to blog as a hobby or you envision making big bucks from blogging, my advice  is to take a deep breath and learn how to write for the web.

This is where many print writers utterly fail to become bloggers – they simply post material written in their usual print style for stand-alone, one-way consumption by readers, and make no effort whatsoever to leverage the context of the Internet.

As a beginner blogger I made many mistakes and learned how to correct them after the fact. I’m including a short list of mistakes I made in this post because I want to share what learned.

  1. Not developing an About page and an effective blog description.
  2. Investing too much time and energy on blog appearance (not enough time for content creation).
  3. Not developing a strong enough focus on content creation and a social media time management strategy (distraction).
  4. Not developing a commenting policy (no plan for dealing with negative comments).
  5. Not checking my sources and resources closely enough (links to bad neighborhoods.)
  6. Including too many images (slow page loading time).
  7. Including too many animated icons, embeds, widgets, etc. (slow page loading time and distracts readers from content).
  8. Not maintaining links 404 page not found links ie. broken links lead to reader frustration and negative SEO impact).
  9. Not updating frequently enough (losing readers).
  10. Creating a lengthy blogroll  (reciprocal links).
How to focus
How to focus

I dove into the learning process and found that we scan web copy and read print copy.

I learned to set my intention, become organized and focus on creating scannable web content regularly.

I became familiar with the technical aspects of blogging, taught myself how to apply basic SEO and a natural linking strategy.

I discovered that continually publishing content that engages an online audiences is both a skill and an art.  I accepted the fact that blogging over the long term requires takes passion, purpose, productivity, people skills, planning, persistence and becoming a willing student, because the learning never ends.

In Writing for the Web by Rogier Gruys and Faye Hoffman feature these three main guidelines in their presentation:

  1. Be Succinct
  2. Write for Scannability
  3. Use Links to Your Readers Advantage

Leveling up means making a move in your life or career for the better and that may mean doing something different. 10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts will help you improve your writing for the web. If you haven’t accomplished the basics and don’t have a clear vision of where you want your blog to be, then you won’t be able to plan how to get there.

67 thoughts on “Top 10 Beginner Blogger Blunders

  1. Wonderful. Can’t help thinking there’d be a lot fewer abandoned blogs if the bloggers had read this post first. Your warning about too many bells and whistles (images, widgets, etc) is spot-on. Travel light is always good advice, and it seems especially apt for blogging. Superb post, TT.

  2. Timethief, you hit the nail square on the head when you said surfers scan web content.

    I’ve learned that I get more comments and likes when I write two or three sentence paragraphs. I also use more single sentence lines to bring home a point or accent a thought or a joke.

    I found that one good trick to test your post’s ease of reading (for the web) is to test it by reading it on your iPhone, Droid or any other mobile device before you publish. This will give you a good indication where paragraphs should be broken up and where more one-liners should be used. If you can read it easily on your mobile device (no sentences or paragraphs appear too long) then your readers will hang around longer.

    Web surfers will give you only a few seconds to interest them or scare them away. They don’t want to have to work hard or strain their eyes to read your content. By keeping that thought in mind, they will find your posts more attractive and entertaining.

    Good post!

  3. Hello! Your advice is great. I’m reading through your posts and wow, it’s like hitting the jackpot on everything I ever wanted to know about blogging! :)
    Thank you for visiting my blog and supporting my writing. It means a lot for a newbie like me! :)

    1. Thank you for the follow. I hope you find value in trhis blog. If blogging tips aren’t your thing then you may be more interested in my personal blog here http://thistimethisspace.com You write well and I enjoyed reading your blog very much. It’s always good to meet a new friend online.

      1. I’m so psyched that you think so :D It’s just been 4 days since I started so it’s honestly exciting to meet people who enjoy my work and of course, new friends! Hope you stay with my blog :)

  4. You have highlighted some pretty important points. I will also tell that thinking about the subject matter, tags and the hierarchy of the blog would also be helpful. Like in my opinion diluting a blog with technical stuff and casual writings and pictures may not be a good idea. If I am interested in technical stuff then I would like to see related posts on the blog. Also under a blog tags should be maintained, what tags should be applied to a post, and if to create a new tag etc. I think this is important. But at the same time thinking on the structure over and over and trying to get it perfect is another mistake. An outline might be created first then it can be revised in iterations.

    Let me know your opinions on this issue, and also do point the things you think is not correct from your point of view.

    1. I agree with you phoxis. People ought to spend more time to decide exactly what the purpose of their blog is and avoid rambling into unrelated subject areas. I’m redoing all my hundreds of categories and tags and severely limiting them. See here http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/10/15/category-and-tag-descriptions-and-seo/ My readers don’t show much evidence of using them and I have duplicate meta descriptions errors I need to clean up – hundreds of them.

    1. I’m with you on that. I’m not a keen on blog promotion and I have so little time. That’s why I haven’t got a Facebook page, a Google + page, and a LinkedIn profile. I simply haven’t enough time to interact with others on 3 additional sites. In a perfect situation I would not have to work and would have lots more time. Though I could spend that extra time on blog promotion I know I wouldn’t. I would spend more time on content creation because it’s what I love to do.

  5. you are righ tt, thanks for the tips.when I began blogging, i sure did some mistakes, but now thanks to experience and your blog, I think im on the right track!

    1. Hi there Cate,
      I’m so happy to know my blog is helping you avoid making more mistakes. It’s good to know you are on the right track and I wish you all the best with your blog and in all you do.

  6. Wow, this is an eye opening post. And I thought all I`d have to do was write the most fantastic posts! ;-) Never occured to me that blogging has a whole other host of skills attached to it. Constant revision seems to be key. Gonna have to download that Screaming Frog thingy as mentioned by David Bennett above.
    Blogging is all about learning, all of the time.

  7. We all fall down at least in 1 area. I fall down by having many full recent posts on home page. I’m just afraid people won’t click further into the blog and I’ve spent enough lovingly crafting blog content.

    1. It’s hard to believe you made many mistakes, Kathy. But then again I suppose we all do. Maybe I have been so taken by your writing that I never noticed any of them. Truth be told, I enjoy reading blogs and I turn of the correct this or that part of my head when I visit and read any blog.

      Your latest post was such a delight to read. I’d love to have a reservation to eat with you and Sara at Joe’s Secret Garden. http://reinventingtheeventhorizon.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/an-expat-experience-of-san-fernando-ecuador-a-lesson-about-abundance/

  8. Well, I haven’t made quite all of them, and I corrected a lot already thanks to your guidance on previous posts. I suggested that a friend who is thinking of starting a blog read your site before ever registering a blog. You will spare her a lot of confusion and prevent a lot of mistakes!

    1. Hi there,
      It’s always good to hear from you and better still when you tell me you recommended my blog to a friend. Thanks so much for doing that.

      When you first begin to blog the learning curve is steep and there are so many distractions. You don’t know how to prioritize and can get carried away doing things you will later regret. My best advice is choose a simple theme, put very little on it, develop an About page and blog description, then focus on content creation and commenting. The rest can be learned along the way.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Hi there. I’nm glad you found a valuable reminder here. New bloggers often fail to when it comes to developing an About page and blog description and experienced bloggers often forget to update their About page bios and blog descriptions when required. I have committed both blunders.

  9. Excellent, couldn’t agree with you more, Timethief. And I say that knowing full well I have been and in some cases still am guilty of some of these things in my own blog. Thanks for the nudge! Time to get on with fixing it. And I loved your Blogging Yoga Style, don’t know how I missed that earlier! Thanks!

    1. Hi Cynthia,
      I suffer from widget creep. I find myself adding more and then waking up the next day and removing them. As you well know one doesn’t just publish a post and forget it. Updating posts and maintaining links it’s a never ending process. I have been fixing broken links and editing and updating posts all along but there are over 900 posts in this blog and I know there are many more posts I still have to get to.

      P.S. I’m glad you like Blogging: Yoga Style. If I don’t organize work space, clear away all distractions, set my intention and keep refreshing it while doing only one thing at a time, then I don’t get anything done.

  10. This is all great advice and it’s always good to refresh these things. I totally agree with #6. I do not enjoy blogs with lots of images and little text. How do I check if I have any broken links?

    1. Hi there,
      Pictures may be worth a thousand words but there is a need for text in terms of SEO. Some bloggers include informative captions and some provide quotes or even longer entries of original text. Posts that feature only an image or collection of them without text are not as attractive to search engines as those with text are. That’s because search spiders crawl text to index it by looking for keywords and if there is no text then there are no keywords. More to the point, those who include text in images have to be mindful of the fact the search spiders cannot “read” the text in images.

      re: broken links checkers
      I have a post that explains that and provides links to tools. Click the linked text in 8. and you will find it. http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2008/03/12/wordpress-how-to-maintain-and-track-links/

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for letting me know which points were most useful for you. When I first began to blog I didn’t realize the articles I linked to in my posts could become 404 (page not found) links. I didn’t realize that constantly editing older posts and updating and replacing broken links with new relevant links came with the territory of blogging.

  11. I agree that pages with too many animated icons/gifs can be bothersome as it really slows page loading. And too many images in the one post can be boring.

    1. Because I’m not a photographer I fail to appreciate a sequence of posts all on the same subject that don’t display much variation. I find photographers who are more selective and who actually state why they selected the image they did hold my attention longer than those who don’t brother. The grainy instagram pics of going about their daily lives are totally wasted on me. I have no interest in them at all.

      I live on an island and love your Eventide image. The colors and the textures and contrast are awesome. http://lignumdraco.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/eventide/

    1. Hi David,
      Wow! A new tool and it sure looks like a sophisticated one to me. I’m not particularly technically inclined but I may download it after I watch the video. Thanks so much for sharing the link.

    1. Hi Jacqui,
      It’s never ending and so boring but it has to be done … SIGH.
      Note that David has included a link to a new tool I haven’t tried yet.

    1. Hi there,
      I don’t think my head size isn’t in any danger of increasing any time soon but I felt some pride inflating my chest when I read that. :)

  12. So, when I first started, I may have broken some of these rules. :) However, according to the nature of my blog, some of it was initially done out of necessity. Most of these things have been rectified and other things I am still deciding upon. Had I been in a different frame of mind, I think I would have taken some things into consideration that would have saved me the re-work. Due to the subject matter I cover, and the personal nature of the posts, my blog posts tend to run a little longer and do not include as many informational links within the text body itself. I have pages for videos and resource links, but I can admit I need to pull in the reins some now that I *have* direction.

    1. I, too, found that particular tip very useful. I thought more photos, the better. Now what about gallery of photos, does that also slow down loading? I do that quite a lot, it’s “my look” so to speak. Btw, thanks for the likes and the follow, timethief. It’s an honor. God knows how much help I’ve received from you and your blog. Newbie bloggers like me take comfort knowing there’s an expert such as yourself out there willing to help! Thanks! :-)

      1. Hi there,
        I like your blog and it will be a pleasure following it.

        If you use a tool like this one http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ you can keep watch on how long it takes you blog to load. I do like to see images of completed dishes on foodie blogs. However, I find that many foodie bloggers feel the need to display pictures of every step they take when preparing and cooking food. To me is a waste of time and space. Unless there is something tricky or unusual about a specific step I don’t need to see a collection of step by step images.

        Do know that I do appreciate your kind words but I don’t now nor have I ever claimed to be an expert. All I claim is to be experienced. I’ve learned tonnes by answering support forum questions.

  13. For photoblogging, I tend to keep the number of images to a minimum. I find it highly annoying when someone posts too many pics (a couple dozen or more) of nearly identical shots. After all, my time is limited and there are far too many great blogs out there. It’s always a struggle to avoid having blogs take over my life. This, after having pretty much broken my own ‘rule’ in my latest post! ;)

      1. I generally put quite a bit of work into getting the best shot and best quote together, so most often it’s just a single image. My goal is to provide a little bit of a getaway for my followers. A breather of sorts. Of course there are exceptions such as the Mt Shasta post where there’s a bit of a story to tell and extra images seem necessary.

        Thank you for the lovely compliment about my quote selection. It gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

        1. We all need more warm and fuzzy feelings in our lives. If my response can be used as a measure, then you are achieving your goal, because I do feel like I’m taking a breather from everyday life when I visit your blog. Blog on!

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