Starting out in the blogging world? Here is how to avoid common mistakes & pitfalls!
In 2004 people defined blogging as, “A web-based form of communication which is slowly becoming mainstream”. Since blogging started becoming mainstream, blogging is now considered to be one of the most popular social media and networking tools. People start up blogs for many reasons ranging from self-expression, self-reflection and sharing experiences. However, It is easy to jump straight into the exciting world of blogging hastily and make mistakes. The purpose of this blog post is to discuss the truth behind starting out in blogging and what to expect. Also, I will cover tips on how to avoid common blogging mistakes and truly make the most out of your blogging journey. My personal issues and mistakes will also be discussed so that you don’t have to make them!
How My Blogging Journey Started
I have always wanted to start blogging but had to postpone this due to studying for my Psychology degree. When I graduated I had this urge to write and share my experiences, so I dived straight into it and created new social media accounts. All I thought about at the time was building a following/audience so that my blog will be read by people when it is up and running. I did not know my niche, I just focused on numbers and churning out content (bad move!). After many set-backs on social media, I managed to build a decent following and audience for my blog and finally started posting.
I am still new to this, I am still finding my niche and writing style. I can only offer my best advice from my personal experiences so I am going to start with the social media pitfalls and how you can avoid them. Blog traffic has to start from somewhere and social media is a good start! Also, because I encountered these issues it does not mean everyone else will, I am just sharing this so that people have awareness of these issues.
Social Media Pitfalls To Avoid When Blogging & How To Keep Focused On Building an Audience For Your Blog
1. Beware of false followers, engagement services & even false social media platforms.
A little word of advice: quality over quantity, period. I even was close to having to delete my social media accounts due to points mentioned above. I tried paid engagement services which actually resulted zero engagement, system crashes and me having to open cases to get my money back. What bots/engagement services do is follow, like and even comment on your behalf, which can result in awkward situations. Yes, you’ll have more followers but your account will be full of spam and inauthentic “connections” and most of all, the wrong audience. Another warning is that engagement services directly contact bloggers to get them to buy into their services. One of them even randomly e-mailed me, statistically analysed my Instagram profile without my permission and said my engagement and following was “too low”. Do NOT fall for this, these engagement services will borderline force and harass you to buy into it.
There are false social media platforms that also claim to gain you followers through organic connections. There is a scam and false social media platform “IG Model Search” (I find the name so laughable now). So I paid like a fool to use this platform to build my audience and connect with brands (as promised). I could not access the forums and site and then my Instagram account was then being attacked by thousands of bots and fake accounts, I had no choice but to temporarily deactivate my Instagram account and change my username. Luckily I opened a case, got my money back and exposed this site.
Bottom line: Trying to build a following in a non-organic way caused me a lot of stress and I could’ve saved a lot of time. So focus on meaningful connections and an organic following when it comes to your blogs!
2. Pyramid schemes and social media “business opportunities” will consume your time, ruin your content and put your engagement in jeopardy (If sucked in by them).
This almost destroyed my content. Multi-level marketing is currently taking over social media and there are countless people who will intrude your domain (literally). Have you seen those distributors on social media selling weight loss shakes, cosmetics and skin care products? Yes, they are everywhere. I briefly fell for it, but I luckily saw sense and shifted my focus back to the right place.
But how is multi-level marketing related to blogging? because blogging was my main goal yet I fell for it. Plus because I have actually seen blogs and businesses destroyed by this. Why? because their content and posts gradually turned into hard sales and promotion of sub-par beauty products, thus resulting in a drop of engagement. Nobody wants the annoying sales person and sheer spam on their feed. People ignore, unfollow and even block these types of accounts and posts. This is like social media suicide! If you do get sucked into a pyramid scheme (which you hopefully wont after reading this – touch wood!) it will also be nearly impossible to build meaningful connections with bloggers because you’ll be spending most of your time harassing people to sell something to make a quick buck.
At the time I got close to using my blog to flog poor beauty products and make sales. Pesky sales reps even ask to advertise on my blog! Obviously people, brands and advertisers can pay to use ad space on your blog, but that is a completely different story and for developed blogs. If you are building an audience you are inevitably going to be approached by these people. So keep your focus and block people who do attempt to intrude your blog and hard work. I also get approached by the, “Your blog would be great for promoting our products” and the “Your blog will be great for this business opportunity!” lines. So beware and avoid like a plague. Remember, the block button is your best friend and your blog is yours.
3. Making brand collaborations too much of a priority & collaborating with sketchy brands on Instagram WILL hold you back.
This is another mistake I’ve made and I went on a MASSIVE rant over dodgy brands in my first blog posts. Gaining collaborations gives a strong sense of achievement and progression, particularly for those bloggers who are new. However, the sketchy brands will prey on this and use it to sell their products. One trick in the book is pretending to do the blogger a favour by giving them a small discount to buy and promote the product. Brand collaborations don’t work like that, genuine deals involve gaining free products and payments in return for promotions. No genuine brand that genuinely wants to work with you will ask for money.
Some brands also pretend to send free products to bloggers but ask for them to pay for an extortionate shipping fee. What I have also noticed is that these brands particularly approach new bloggers with a smaller following which is predatory. Essentially, most new bloggers that I’ve seen are fooled into paying for a personalised discount code to give to their followers which is insane. All just for that sense of achievement of a brand collaboration because top influencers and celebs are seen doing brand collaborations on Instagram.
Most of the time the sketchy brands also sell cheaply made products that look atrocious at high prices to bloggers. So, who is really gaining? Is promoting bad products going to build a blog audience or put them off? Think about how this is going represent your blog. Plus, do you also want to contribute to sucking other bloggers into these tricks? So beware of these “blogger ambassador programmes” that sketchy brands pull to make bloggers purchase their products. Instead, wait to build a good audience to work with better, more established brands. There are some genuine and lovely small brands, but very few and far between in contrast to the amount of bad ones that approach bloggers on Instagram.
4. Blogging guides and news letters (Get rich from blogging and grow your blog traffic fast schemes) will overwhelm and confuse you.
I point this out because there are so many blogging guides out there and I personally found this overwhelming. At times reading these confused me even more. There are some informative ones and some sketchy ones from people that are just after your money. Remember that no guide can guarantee you insanely high traffic and to become rich from blogging in an instant. Success comes from a very long time of consistency, hard word and dedication, there is no quick fix. Sometimes these exciting promises and descriptions are sadly just a sales gimmick. However, this does not stop you from signing up to some free newsletters and guides, but take them with a pinch of salt. Remember that small steps are vital at this stage.
5. Do not get caught up in world of constant comparison, numbers, algorithms & perceived popularity.
This is one issue that I had. It even caused me to melt down and become close to quitting blogging all together. This also caused me to have “bloggers block”. I thought what is the point of writing a blog post if nobody is going to read it and with little exposure. Little tip for you, even if one person reads your blog post and finds it beneficial you are doing great! Engagement, followers and all of that jazz is influenced by a bunch of complex algorithms and rules, there is no way you can base your worth and blog progress on this. Instead base your progress on your writing skills and quality of your content, there is always room for improvement!
If increasing engagement and followers is proving difficult for you, try joining bloggers groups on Instagram and Facebook and actually engage with people. Popularity is nothing compared to true authenticity and people that genuinely love your content. Also, do not compare yourself to other bloggers, instead, support them and ask them for advise. You can even take a leaf out of their book to improve your own blog.
Blogging Writing Mistakes & More Things To Watch Out For
Writing informative blog posts… that are not actually readable!
Yes, that’s right. You heard me. This is a mistake that I’ve made. It is so easy to just churn out posts and go on an absolute rant when starting a blog. Whether it is a beauty review, about a place you’ve visited or even a breakup, it is easy to ramble. There are many things to be taken into account ranging from sentences, structure and grammar. But it is more complex than this and I struggled with writing, even as a Psychology graduate. The good news is that the plugin Yoast SEO can help with this and I am using it as I write this. It analyses the length of your sentences, paragraphs and scores your posts on its readability. I cannot recommend Yoast SEO enough and how much it helps you brush up on your writing skills!
Mistakes that make blog posts unreadable include little or no structure, typos, bad grammar and sentences that are too long. Also writing in a passive tense tends to put off readers, Yoast SEO helps identify this so that you can rectify words to a more active tense/alternative. Blogs that score good readability and are in the “green” range tend to attract more readers and gain more traffic.
You can find Yoast SEO plugin options here: https://yoast.com/
The blogging community can be extremely supportive or VERY judgemental
I had a social media meltdown recently and was close to giving up. So what did I do? reached out for help in a bloggers group on Facebook and explained my struggles. The blogging community can either be extremely supportive or very judgemental, there is no in-between in my experience. I got torn to bits on this thread, to the point where I was in tears and had to delete the post.
People called me selfish for monetising my blog. One woman even took her time to screenshot one of my blog posts and commented, “Hardly inspiring. Why the hell should I read this?”. I even found some women gossiping about me under my post because I didn’t follow someone back (Because I was staying off social media due to my meltdown and did not see any follow notifications). I had everything from my photos, Instagram posts and writing scrutinised and was even accused of having a sense of entitlement.
The truth is I am working my butt off to be able to work for myself and working on earning an income that I can fit around my crippling anxiety, depression & PMDD. These people in these groups were not aware of my setbacks I’ve explained in this post or know my personal and financial situation. They just thought I was some spoilt kid complaining about followers. What some bloggers forget is that everybody starts from somewhere and it takes time to find your niche, style ect.
The good news is that I also had some amazingly constructive comments and actual constructive criticism. Thanks to these blogging groups, I discovered the tips and tricks I have included in this blog post. I cannot thank the helpful people enough for their help. Even after the nasty comments I strongly advise communicating on blogging Facebook groups. You have to be very thick skinned when it comes to blogging and be able to take constructive criticism if you reach out for help. As for the insults? Use them to help you to do better and achieve more!
Some final points I may add…
Always consider your audience and readers. Blogging is also about giving and benefiting other people. You should think about what you can do to catch the readers attention and what they would be gaining from reading your blog posts. I find that it is the small steps of kindness that goes a long way. Whether it is giving a compliment to a blogger each day or sharing bloggers posts, it all adds up!
I worked very hard on improving my posts and working on this one. It is incredibly detailed and has a good readability score! But remember, I am STILL learning and finding my niche. I am aware that there is room for lots of improvement and that is the beauty of blogging. I’d love to hear some feedback and I hope that this helps.
Wish all of you the best on your blogging journeys!