This blog technically celebrated its eighth birthday at the beginning of 2017, though it would go through at least three name changes and a major style upgrade before it became the blog you now know and hopefully like a little bit today.
Eight years is a lot of time to make mistakes — many mistakes. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without my baby. Starting a blog today is much different than it was in 2009. It’s a lot harder to discover and commit to reading new blogs because LITERALLY EVERYONE has a blog. But if you do want to stand out, I’ve shared my biggest blogging mistakes below, in hopes you won’t make the same ones as you start to grow your own thought storage units.
Writing bad headlines
When I first started publishing my thoughts on the internet, headlines weren’t my main concern. Sometimes they’re still not, to be completely honest, if I think it’s clever and don’t care about views. I’m not even sure how much they mattered back then in general. Now, your headline is everything. If you have a bad or unspecific headline, people aren’t going to click on it. If you’re not concerned about that, well, keep on keeping on. But SEO won’t pick up on it, people likely won’t take the time to click on it, and for the love of god, if it’s a false or misleading headline, stop blogging now.
Writing badly in general
I’ve never been a “bad” writer. But I remember at least a dozen posts I published for some reason that were just a sentence or two long. I didn’t link to anything or post a picture, it was just those two sentences. As if I expected someone to read what was essentially a Twitter post on a blog page. That’s not interesting and it doesn’t belong on a blog. I read a lot of blogs (I like seeing what you guys are up to!). Every once in awhile I’ll stumble upon a random one (not one of yours) that’s just … bad. It’s written badly, it’s not grammatically sound, it doesn’t really have much to say … that’s not impressive. Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Post well-written content that has a purpose for being on the internet.
Not posting consistently
I’d go weeks at a time without posting in the early days. I was a “post when I have something to say” kind of blogger, and especially now, that doesn’t cut it. If you keep disappearing and reappearing at random intervals, people aren’t going to keep coming back to your blog. They will forget about you. Posting every day is NOT necessary — do not do as I do unless you’re EXTREMELY committed to what you’re doing or you’ll hurt yourself. But stick to some kind of schedule, for your sake more than your readers’. If you can’t keep up with a blog consistently, it’s not going to grow.
Talking about myself too much
When I started blogging, I treated my blog like a public diary. Any commentary I had on my life or anything happening in the world around me, I put it on my blog. Back then, I wasn’t trying to be useful to anyone or say anything significant. I just wanted a place to dump my weird, disoriented brain thoughts. If that’s all you’re blogging for, keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t expect to gain much of a following outside your friend circle (if even that). These days, even blogs focused on one person have a purpose other than “let me spend a few hundred words talking about myself.”
Not bringing myself into the conversation enough
As my blog started transitioning from a personal space to a more professional “hub,” for awhile I stopped talking about myself completely. That really wasn’t good for the blog. Something only written by you, about something you’re (basically) an expert in, needs a little personality. You shouldn’t spend the whole post talking only about you — you always have to relate it back to something a reader will benefit from. But telling stories, sharing personal experiences and memories related to the topic of your post — that’s what makes your blog posts unique.
Not knowing my niche (or that you had to have one)
I wrote about everything. My focus has always been on writing, since the whole reason I started a blog in the first place was because my favorite author had a blog AND I WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR TOO. But most of my posts were random (I think there’s a SCANNED IMAGE of my high school algebra notes still on the internet somewhere….). People were not interested in that, and I pretty much knew that. But only when I decided I wanted to write about writing did I realize I needed everything I posted to belong specifically in that niche. Do not write about random topics. Always bring it back to your blog’s focus somehow even if you do.
Honestly, I still make plenty of mistakes. You never stop learning, as a writer. I embrace those. I do my best to learn from them. I hope my dedication to continuing to do this whole blogging thing, despite not always doing it well, will inspire you to keep publishing your own thoughts, too.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.