Recently I posed an article about the 5 mistakes every blogger will make at some point.
For the most part, they were all fairly minor mistakes, in part because they are so common, but they are all also mistakes that one’s handling of could prove far more damaging than the error itself.
Still, I wouldn’t call any of them fatal or even blog-changing errors, just trials that every blogger has to go through at some point. But that raises the question, what are some of the bigger mistakes one can make?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I’ve made my share and some were quite costly. So, in an effort to help warn others, especially new bloggers, of the pitfalls that loom, here are my top five blogging blunders since I started about six years ago.
5. Not Focusing on Titles
When I first started blogging, I didn’t focus very heavily on the titles of my post and often wrote them as an afterthought. That unfortunately came back to haunt me as I learned quickly that not only are titles the most commonly read part of a post, but the only part many people read.
My very first social media exposure was a very hostile Slashdot based not upon what was in the post, but what was said in the title, which was much more divisive (albeit accidentally).
After a day of having my site shuttered by an angry mob and dozens of letters accusing me of things I did not say or mean, I realized I needed to spend more time with titles and give them considerably more attention.
4. Hosting is Important Too
Speaking of that incident, it also showed me that hosting is incredibly important for a site, not only affecting your site’s speed but also it’s ability to take a hit from a traffic spike.
Though cheap shared hosting accounts might be fine for some sites, if you want it to grow you need to invest in your hosting and get a VPS or a dedicated server as soon as you are ready.
Otherwise, you will likely find yourself as I did, with a ton of social media traffic coming to your site and nothing there to greet them, the biggest waste of marketing effort imaginable.
3. Poor Business Model Choice
Early in my site’s history, I explored a variety of advertising schemes to try and earn at leaset a little bit of money from the site. However, even when the traffic was there, the CTR was low and the keywords were terrible, making it so that I was earning only pennies per (rare) click.
The experiments, as limited as they were, didn’t go over well with my audience either and never generated more than a few dollars per month in revenue. I eventually abandoned them and realized that the most valuable thing I could offer is my expertise. Slowly, I began dipping my toe into consulting, the approach I still take today.
It’s important to be realistic about what’s valuable on your site and how you can best earn money from that, I lost at least a year of good revenue generation with the site because I kept trying plans that were never going to work.
2. Not Listening to Reader Suggestions
In the early days of Plagiarism Today, i had a very specific picture of what I wanted the site to be like and the topics I wanted to cover. As I began to build readers, they requested I talk about different issues or add features to the site, such as a stock letters section. I ignored them initially because of a combination of bad advice and the fact it didn’t mesh with my vision of the site.
However, eventually I realized I was being too limiting and decided to see if I could make it work. After branching out a little bit, following my reader’s suggestions, I found that the site began to grow very rapidly, exceeding my expectations.
Still, I wonder how much larger it would be today if I had started out with the right mindset and listened to at least some of the better ideas my readers had, even if they were against my personal vision.
1. Picking a Bad Domain
I admit it openly, “Plagiarism Today” is a bad domain. Hard to spell, hard to say, too long and too specific (see above). It was a terrible choice for the site and one I regret. However, after over five years, it’s the one I’m stuck with too. That’s the reason I put it at the top (or bottom) of my list.
Changing it now would probably be more work and more drawback than its worth, but it was a lesson learned nonetheless. I jumped on “Copybyte” for my consulting firm and have been much more careful about domains since then.
In the meantime though, I get to spell the domain for everyone I give it to, even those who know how to spell “plagiarism” don’t trust themselves to do so when writing it down.
Obviously, I’ve made a lot more mistakes than this but these are some of the errors I consider to be the most damaging and the ones others would be best served to avoid.
Fortunately, all of the above errors can be easily dodged if one is looking out for them, which is exactly why I post this list.
After all, the goal of this post isn’t just self abuse, but rather, to help others not fall into the same traps I did and maybe not waste some of the time I did in my early years.