January 13, 2012

10 New Blogger Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Oh, the blogging world. It can be a tricky minefield of complicated relationships, unrealistic expectations and technical faux pas. That's why I'm sharing a short list of "new blogger mistakes" - things that I wish I had known as a new blogger, as well as some faux pas that I often see bloggers making. Read up and don't make me tell you "I told you so." ;-)

1. Promoting too early. I'm a big fan of sending messages to let people know that you have started a blog! What you shouldn't do, however, is send this email when you haven't posted anything on your blog yet. You should have at least one month's worth of posts before you start pushing your page. I personally started my blog with 20 outfits on day one, so that I could start marketing on day one (classic overachiever). But please don't send out your blog with no content! We have no idea what you plan to post until you actually show us.

2. Stepping on other blogger's toes. Besides the obvious (don't use someone's photo without giving credit, etc.) I also have to strongly caution you against using another blogger's blog or Facebook page as a method of promoting your own blog. I specify in my Comment Policy that I will remove any of these promotions from my Facebook page, but people do it all the time. It's simply not the appropriate time or place to promote your blog. Either email the blogger privately to let them know about your blog, or use Facebook as your page to make a thoughtful comment, but please don't spam another blogger's page.

3. Doing what everyone else is doing. Know how I came up with my blog? I did hours of research on what was already out there, and then I did the exact opposite of what everyone else was doing. Most people, I think, switch it around - they emulate whatever blog they like the best. I can't stress enough that not "doing you" is never going to work, and you will burn out quickly if you are trying to tell someone else's story. Try to find what makes you unique, and what you are good at, and blog that instead of emulating another style you liked or what is working for someone else.

4. Not marketing. "If you build it, they will come" only works in movies about baseball. To some extent, if your content is amazing enough it will catch on and you won't have to do much marketing. But for the most part you need to put yourself out there, or you won't ever have visitors your blog. (Look for my post on marketing your blog coming soon!)

5. Not learning the technical stuff. Ugh, I hate technical stuff. But now that I know it, I really wish I had known it sooner. Things like installing Disqus, setting up Google Analytics, and affiliate programs - I waited a year to learn most of these things and really wish I hadn't. Find a techie friend to help if you can, or visit my friend Katy Widrick's blog for some tips.

6. Not being ready for criticism. It breaks my heart when someone tells me they wanted to start a fashion blog, but decided not to because of the criticism they might face. It breaks my heart, and it also couldn't be more true. The internet is full of trolls. If you put yourself out there, be ready to deal with criticism. Now matter how good your content is (or how amazing your outfits are), you can never please everyone. It gets easier as you grow, but blogging is not for the faint of heart.

7. Thinking it will make you tons of money. Like anything in life, you get out of it whatever you put into it. You might be able to create a blog that supports you full-time, but not without working full-time first. Gary Vaynerchuk video blogged for something like 7 years before he made any money. I worked for 40-60 hours a week for a year and wasn't making a dime yet. It can pay off in the end, but it is certainly not easy or a great "get rich quick" scheme.

8. Running out of steam. You will likely have a million ideas for your blog at first. To help you be consistent with your posts down the road, I recommend saving some of them! I used to be a posting machine when I first started and would sit down and crank out 10 posts at one time. Life gets busy though, so I highly recommend having some ammo saved for days when you run out of time.

9. Comparing yourself to others. Whatever you do, don't focus on someone else's success. Oprah says her team used to bring her the ratings of other talk shows when she first started and she wouldn't even look at them. Going along with what I said in #3, you should be doing something different from anyone else, which means that your numbers and your "success story" shouldn't look like anyone else's either. Just do the best you can, and don't worry about other blogs.

10. Burning bridges. This applies to all avenues in life, but burning bridges is all too easy in the blogging world. I have experienced both sides of this phenomenon - I've burned bridges when I shouldn't have, and I've also had some very popular bloggers be total b-words to me when I first started out. You never know who is going to be successful, and who you might want to work with down the road. So be nice to everyone. Nice always wins.

What are your top tips for new bloggers? Tips you wish you knew when starting out?

85 comments:

  1. As a new blogger, I appreciate this enormously!  I am always so worried about doing something rude without realizing it.  I am food, not fashion, but I realized early on that people don't like it when you post their recipes, even if you give them credit, they prefer that you link to them.  I'm better about it now.  It also seems to annoy people when you use your blog name in your comment name, I guess because it makes it look like you're promoting your blog in their comments.  Thanks for this, I appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is sooooo helpful! I just started my blog in the end of December, and I feel like I have no clue about "blog etiquette". I am excited to see what other tips your readers have for a new blogger :) Will you be doing a post about the techie stuff? I am going to Katy's post right now...THANKS!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am interested to see your post on marketing. I only know of 2 ways to promote my blog. Linking to it on Facebook and posting a link after I comment on others' blogs...which apparently is taboo, even though I'm not really promoting it per se. It's more like just a signature.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, and one other thing... I think some people's blogs are easier to promote than others, simply because they appeal more to the masses. Your blog appeals to lots and lots of females because clothes and fashion are very relevant. My blog, on the other hand, is about health, fitness, and nutrition and only appeals to certain people. Thanks for your great posts!

    ReplyDelete
  5. These are wonderful tips!  I used this as sort of a checklist for myself to see if I do some of these things!  This was helpful!  Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great tips, J! :-) The promoting too early is a good one. I wish I had set up my page how I really wanted it to start out with. I didn't LOVE my header at first and kept changing it. Not that I don't still change it, but I wasn't confident with my set up at first.
    Another good tip is to not expect for your blog to blow up and be popular right away. It happens to some people, but for the other 99% it doesn't. So keep at it and keep it consistent and your readership will grow! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. As a new blogger, this is all very helpful! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on marketing.

    -Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the awesome tips, J.  I think #9 struck me the most b/c I have a bad habit of comparing our blog to others who have been around a lot longer or who are doing something totally different from us.  Looking forward to your marketing post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for sharing such helpful tips!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great tip, thanks Paula!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Veronica, I think I will do a techie stuff post... really baseline stuff from the perspective of someone who is not all that techie. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. These are all good tips/reminders - as someone who has never been good at "tooting my own horn", I am anxious to hear your marketing ideas!  Thanks for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Megan, a blog name in the comments doesn't bother me one bit! :-) I even don't mind if you want to mention your blog in your comment, under your thoughtful comment. A Facebook wall is a whole other story though - for one thing, it's way more out in the open. Also, a lot of girls actually upload their photo or post to my page, so it's a lot more aggressive than just a link in a comment section. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks Hannah! I don't think linking to it on Facebook is bad, I just wouldn't use other blogger's pages to do it. Find another category or genre. Also, I don't mind a link in a comment on a blog at all! I agree that it's more like a signature. Posting your content (pictures, links) on someone's Facebook wall is a lot more aggressive and I wouldn't recommend that though. 

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great post!! One thing I always tell new bloggers is to have 30 days of content ready when you start. Inevitably, you will go through a bit of a creative slump after the build up to publishing. So have some material ready right off the bat. I love what you said about not making tons of money.  A lot of bloggers (especially fashion ones) think that starting a blog entitles them to free clothes and big sponsorships. It's important that new bloggers know it takes a lot of consistent and hard work to get there.

    ReplyDelete
  16. These are really great tips!!! I've been blogging for more than 6 months now, and these are incredibly useful to me :-D. Looking forward to your marketing post!!

    Thanks for the helpful tip from Paula@Eat: Run :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. These are great tips!! I'm off to check your techie friend's site, I really wanna learn photoshop while I am taking a semester off. Have a great day girl!

    ReplyDelete
  18. These are very helpful tips that I will definitely take to heart. Thanks for the much needed advice!!

    Tiffany
    http://shoeschampagne.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you so much for all this advice!  I'm a new blogger, too, and I'm looking forward to trying all these tips to increase my readership.  This is why your fans love you!
    http://stylishsass.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Alexi @ lolaslustlistJanuary 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    This was very helpful.  I started my blog about a year ago but when I discovered that it wasn't as easy as it looked I kinda neglected it for awhile & have just recently started up again.  I am definitely looking forward to both a techie basics post and the marketing post.  For personal reasons I do not use Facebook so I hope that you have some marketing tips that are not FB related.  
    I also hate "follow me, I'll follow you" comments because I do want followers (I only have 12 right now, ha ha) but I also don't want to follow blogs that I really wouldn't read everyday just to get a follower.  But at the same time I know how they feel trying to get more followers and feel like I should support them since I am in the same boat.  Thus the conundrum of the follow-me-I'll-follow-you comments, I often end up following blogs I don't really want to read.Thank you for all your kindness, tips, and support to those of us trying to break into the blogging world.xoxo Alexiwww.lolaslustlist.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Such a great post J! I think it's really easy for people to think that when they start a blog that it will instantly be a huge success...when in fact it takes a lot of time and heart...and you might not ever be "big" in the blog world. I see people start blogs and get into hardcore posting for a few weeks/months...then give up because they haven't become "popular" yet. I always try to remind myself that I started blogging for myself, not for the swag I could potentially obtain. I think, in the end, just remembering that if YOU love it, it doesn't matter if you make a large sum of money off of your site!

    I like to celebrate little successes: I started making a spreadsheet that keeps track of my different statistics: Twitter followers, page views on my site, Pinterest followers, etc. I log the numbers each week and pat myself onthe back for increasing...even if it is only by 1 person a week or something like that! You have to start somewhere!

    And yes. There are trolls. So you have to have thick skin. It stinks, but my best advice is to just ignore it. Hit delete. I allow myself about 20 minutes to get upset about it: I'll talk to my husband or call my mom to vent. Then...it's over. Time to move on. Don't let others discourage you. The internet can sometimes be like high school...and we know how high school girls can be...haha!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This really was super helpful. Thank you! One thing I've realized in my short time since having my blog up is to not forget to let someone know if something they posted was helpful to you. And to understand that some people can't respond to ALL comments but that doesn't mean that it didn't mean something to them.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am new blogger and I greatly appreciate this information! Very helpful, thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am really enjoying your posts on how to develop your blog.  The facebook post was great last week and the top 10 mistakes to avoid are fantastic.  I fell into the comparison curse as I call it.  How come this person who started at the same time as I did has more followers, fb fans, page views than I do...etc!  I would tell my mom and she would tell me what Oprah did...you two should meet!  I think what many people think of in terms of criticism rarely happens.  The blogging community is very supportive.  Great tips Jeanette!  I look forward to your marketing strategy post!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think being aware of how much time it can take to become popular is a way to keep expectations in check.  I became discouraged when my blog wasn't growing by dozens of followers per month, and I'm still at 280 while others who started after me are well until the 800+ Google followers mark.  However, after emailing with some other bloggers and simply asking them how they achieved that, I learned that many of them visit and comment on 60-70+ blogs per day and spend another 2+ hours on their own post and scheduling guest spots, etc. 

    That amount of time investment is not even an option for me, and once I realized that I'm doing pretty great for putting in a fraction of those hours, I stopped comparing myself to them and focused on writing posts that I enjoy. 

    Also, leaving comments that are obviously cut/pasted in like "Great post!  Be sure to check out my [Etsy shop] giveaway at [url]" are just annoying.  I don't get so many that I delete them, but I find it rude.

    And finally, hosting giveaways is fun and a good tool for gaining exposure, but making it difficult to enter and requiring multiple steps across multiple social media channels is more of a turnoff than anything.  You appear desperate for numbers, and lots of people choose not to enter and move on to the next.

    Thanks for posting this!  I've been blogging for a while, and it was good to be reminded of some of these things!

    ReplyDelete
  26. That would be perfect! Thanks so much! Whenever that techie stuff post comes I am totally going to do a post about how I am in need of a teacher for techie blog stuff and link it to your page :)   (if that is ok with you of corse!) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. so many great advices! It's good to read these great tips by someone who is successful. Often successfull people discover the way to success thanks to experience and hard work so they aren't happy to share them with other people!  You wonderfully marketed your site and I really can't wait, really can't wait to read your post on marketing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Alexi - I am so glad that out of just a hand full of comments I read, that I read your! I feel the same way about the "follow me, I'll follow you" comments. I just started my blog in Dec. and was a bit annoyed when I got my first comment like that...but thought it must be a 'normal blog thing to do'...you are right, it is a conundrum - especially since I get SO excited every time I see that I have a new follower. Anyway just wanted to let you know that you are not alone :) 

    ReplyDelete
  29. so many great advices that this page will go on my bookmark list so i'll be able to read it and read it again!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow! Thanks for the great tips! I love your blog and appreciate all the good advice.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love these type of posts from bloggers that I admire! Thanks for the tips! I think for me, going into it, I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and blog every single day. It took me a while to learn that it wasn't realistic for me and that people would still read my blog even without daily posts. Some weeks are better than others but I've learned to give up putting unnecessary pressure on myself! 

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is definitely advice that any blogger could benefit from :) Thank you for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Um, yes. WONDERFUL post. Always doing YOU is so huge, and most of all, working hard. Hard work in the beginning pays off in the end.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Interestingly enough, isn't that how you gained followers, by posting pictures on jcrew's facebook page?  or is that different?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Julie, I used a large # of marketing methods, including some specifically on Facebook, which I'll be sharing in my marketing post soon! I'm not sure what you are referring to exactly - tip #2? J.Crew isn't a blog, so yes, that is totally different!! In fact, that's the difference between smart marketing and spamming, in my opinion! :-) It's completely appropriate for a real estate agent to engage other Facebook pages such as mortgage brokers or home builders, but it would be completely inappropriate to engage another real estate agent's page. See the difference?

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love this. "Unnecessary pressure" is another great tip that could be added to this list! Thanks Emily!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for adding these great tips Haley!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks so much! 

    ReplyDelete
  39. That's a great tip, thanks Jane!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Great tips Katie!! Loved this!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Yes, I love this Cathy! I also started with 30 days of content ready to go when I started. The first 20 I posted right away, the next 10 I posted one per day. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Yeah, I don't even know of any other bloggers who have FB pages except yours so no worry there! I don't think that would be cool to do that anyway. And thanks for clearing up the signature thing. :-)

    health4lifekc.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I completely agree with you on the giveaways. I hate it when bloggers say "extra points for following me on Twitter, Facebook, Chictopia, Bloglovin', etc." It turns me off, and I automatically move on from it. 

    ReplyDelete
  44. Good clarification, J. I was also a bit confused on that point too, but now that you put it like that, I see what you're saying. It's completely understandable.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Although I started my blog in April 2011, I still consider myself a new blogger, because I still have so much to learn. I can say right off the bat that I committed mistake #1...promoting too early. I thought that once I made it known, I would have followers right away. That didn't happen.   
    As a blog reader, I must say that I enjoy bloggers that show their everyday style much more than bloggers that post solely "dressed up" outfits. Dressy outfits are great to look at, but most women do not dress like that everyday. Thanks for sharing this post with us, J. I'm looking forward to your marketing post also :)Janell
    www.fashionableyoubyj.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hey J I'm a regular reader, but never comment since I know nothing about fashion, just like checking out your choices and wishing I knew how to work them into my life! Anyway, had to comment on this as a newbie blogger! That is all great advice, and I'm taking note of all. Especially since I'm already guilty of trying to do too much too soon and not learning enough techie stuff. So thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I agree Janell! 

    ReplyDelete
  48. you could also take advantage of you tube! people love to actually see who are you and your personality. it makes you more relatable and makes YOU come alive!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Ahhhhhhhhh!!! <-------That's me screaming!! I'm new and I've already made several of these mistakes. Can we say embarrassing?... But like the big girl I am, I'm going to hold my head up high and keep walking. Even if I'm dressed as a sexy bunny at a black tie affair.

    Thanks J! Your blog is the first blog I ever started following daily.

    ReplyDelete
  50. All of your tips are good ones but the one that stood out to me is "nice always wins". I started blogging in October 2010 and from the beginning I decided my blog and the comments I leave will always be positive. I know the type of comments I want to receive so those are the comments I intend to leave for others. The old saying "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing" is great advice for life and especially for commenting. 
    Thanks for the great tips! 

    ReplyDelete
  51. No worries girl, I made some of these mistakes too! :-) None of us are perfect. Hang in there, I'm rooting for you!

    ReplyDelete
  52. This is a really good post.  Another point that you could add is being mindful of image size.  I always get frustrated when I visit a blog who's photos haven't been re-sized.  They take forever to load and I usually lose interest fast.  You have compiled a fabulous list of tips though, I was definitely an educational read! :)

    Julia
    Cup of Tea
    http://cupoftea-style.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  53. Julia, thank you! I'm going to add that to my list of things to include in my "techie for people who aren't techie" post.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Alexi @ LolaslustlistJanuary 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Thanks Veronica!  Sometimes I wonder if I am just being a b*tch to feel like that so I'm glad to know its not just me!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Agree with all of these! I hate the tech stuff, but it is good to know. 

    ReplyDelete
  56. You are the first person I've seen mention Google Analytics, disqus, or affiliate programs. Why would disqus be a benefit, and how are affiliate programs different than advertising? I just signed up with Rewards style. Is that similar?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I love this. <3 Thanks for making this post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  58. These are great tips, J! Thank you for sharing. I think this feature is terrific. I love Disqus and wished I could install it on my free wordpress blog. Would like to eventually transfer to a paid wordpress.org blog, but only after I can prove a consistent blogging schedule. It's tough. As much as I love it, it's a challenge to make time for it in between motherhood and running a full-time business. I'm not giving up though and your post is giving me a boost of motivation!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Hi J - I just stumbled across your blog today, as I've been doing research for my own 'newbie' blog. Great advice, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  60. wow....I saw you speak at the TxSC Blogger Conference some time ago and am only now getting to your blog....forgive:)  One word for ya....BEAUTIFUL!!!!  You, your outfits, the kind way to you tell people to keep the negative junk out and the great tips you give.  NICELY done lady! Be abundantly blessed in this blog, all your relationships & life in general:)

    ReplyDelete
  61. jseverydayfashionJune 20, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Trish, I believe so much in speaking positivity into each other's lives so THANK YOU for your kind, encouraging words! It really does mean so much; thank you for taking the time to say hello! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Great advice! Started a blog a month ago and this was very helpful and encouraging!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thanks for the advice. These are awesome tips!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thank you.  I started a blog a few weeks ago.  I have about five posts on now.  How did you afford all those clothes when you weren't working?  Did you buy them and then return some of them?  I am a housewife and I can't personally buy all those clothes.   Also who takes your pictures - a friend?

    ReplyDelete
  65. jseverydayfashionJuly 17, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Laura, when I wasn't working my clothing budget was between zero and $100 per month. This blog is all about getting creative with what you already have! (You might enjoy my post "How to Set a Clothing Budget" though.) And no, I don't return things unless specified in the post.  I take my own photos using a tripod and timer.

    ReplyDelete
  66. SimplythisandthatJuly 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    I just started a blog, lots of great information. I love your blog, just came across it today! I actually had the same idea you do, but guess you beat me too it! I always hated reading magazines with fashion that was not affordable for the everyday person!

    ReplyDelete
  67.  Thanks for the advice!  I read your post on the clothing budget too.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Great advice! I just launched my blog Shopaholic Undercover, still building my site and figuring things out. Its helpful to know things like this early rather than later. 

    ReplyDelete
  69. Great Advice! Thanks for posting! 

    ReplyDelete
  70. I love how you give other new bloggers advice! I just started a blog and your techniques are very insightful.  Thank you so much, I can tell you have a passion for what you do. One quick question, how do you add the join this site link to your blog, the one that's above me to the right that shows how many members you have? I want to add that to my blog but can't figure it out.  

    ReplyDelete
  71. Thanks Amy! I'm really not great with techie things, but I believe it only works if you have a Blogger blog and that you just add it via the "Design" page. It should be one of the options! 

    ReplyDelete
  72.  Thanks, got it! You are so helpful

    ReplyDelete
  73. Blogging is one of the most cherished internet practices these days. You
    should make sure you reply to each and every comment on your blog and
    keep the conversation going. You should not waste time and wait for
    people to comment instead, you should come up with more tasks on your
    blog.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I love this! I think it is awesome that you took the time to help other new bloggers become successful and let them know what does and doesn't work. I am currently starting my own blog and your advice has been extremely helpful. Thank you :) Also, any advice on how to market/get your blog out there?

    ReplyDelete
  75. Thanks Sarrah! I would love to do more posts like these for bloggers and have been brainstorming lately! I will definitely consider doing the marketing post I promised. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  76. Sounds great. I will be looking forward to that post :) thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  77. Learning the technical stuff, sure is very important. And also having the right plugins. My bounce rate was very high. Readers were leavving the blog after reading the last post. But once I have installed the plugin "related posts" the number of views trippled and my bounce rate decresed by 20%. This was a very big step forward for my blog. Goodluck to every new blogger!

    ReplyDelete
  78. Dear J, I'd love to use celebrity pics from e.g. Popsugar on my blog too but I am concerned about copyright restrictions. What do you do to safely use inspirational photos on your blog?
    Your answer is highly appreciated and would really help me.
    Many thanks from Vienna (Austria),
    M
    www.thankstofashion.com

    ReplyDelete
  79. Do you have any recommendations of where to start learning the "technical stuff"? Any classes or online trainings to take?

    ReplyDelete
  80. This is absolute GOLD. "20 outfits on day one, so I start marketing", classic overachiever! But it all works out well so nicely, as you have such a great blog now! I also love the rules you maintain and the unconventional tips. That's when you know you're a great blogger.

    ReplyDelete