The blogging world can seem overwhelming at times. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Are you thinking about starting a blog and feeling lost in the prep work? Or perhaps you’ve launched your website, but want to dodge the pitfalls others have encountered. We can help with that! Whether you’re a new blogger, prospective blogger, or seasoned pro, there are plenty of blogging mistakes to avoid.
Today, I’m teaming up with a pal (travel and lifestyle blogger Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes Will Travel) to share 10 areas where we goofed, so you don’t have to!
I would classify myself as a “new-ish” blogger. Anchored In Elegance has been around for nearly three years now (crazy how time flies). For me, it’s a hobby and passion project, but blogging is a professional gig for Puls. The globe trotter/online shopping aficionado has been blogging full time longer than my website has been in existence!
Not only is she a font of blogging knowledge (her post on blogging tools is super helpful), she’s also a former journalist, fellow cat lover, and Appleton, Wisconsin-area native. Since then, Puls has lived in Japan, Argentina, Russia and Australia. Her posts will inspire some serious wanderlust and help you pack smart. Now, let’s dive in… I’ll share the first 5 mistakes and Lindsey will take points 6-10.
Fun fact: We worked together many years ago at Green Bay, Wisconsin. television station WLUK-TV. She was a morning producer and I was reporting at the time.
It may look easy from the outside, but there’s a reason people blog full time. There’s much more to blogging than snapping photos and writing a few posts. One of the top blogging mistakes to avoid, is underestimating just how much of a time-suck blogging will become. Yes, you can do it as a side-hustle. However, if you have aspirations of turning it into a business, you need to put in the work!
Planning content, shooting content, writing content, optimizing for SEO, promoting posts on social media channels, staying on top of communications with brands/collaborative partners (e.g. negotiations/invoices/emails), pitching ideas to brands/media (read how I do that in this post), and engaging with your audience via social media can easily take 40 hours a week. With a three-year-old (and no child care), I don’t have that kind of time. However, I do have determination… and I try to use my time wisely. I write a lot of my content late at night, when the rest of my family is sleeping. There are so many things I would love to do to grow/improve my blog. Lack of time is always my biggest obstacle.
“Take your photos to the next level” – “Get a professional look with one click” – Sound familiar? These days everyone is trying to sell a preset, claiming it will simplify your workflow and give you the beautiful, dynamic imagery you are looking for. Do presets work? Kind of… but you can’t just slap a preset on a cell phone photo and call it a day. You need a solid image to start with. You also need to understand how to tweak/adjust your preset within Lightroom.
The Adobe program is crucial for content creators. In fact, I wish I knew its capability before I started blogging. Instead, I wasted time—and money—by buying four preset packs. Every time I was disappointed. The presets either washed out my images or looked “fake” and “over the top.” Then, I learned Lightroom… and realized presets do work… if you can tailor them to fit your aesthetic.
Every image is different. You need to adjust exposure and white balance before adding your preset. You might want to sharpen the image, increase luminosity, or change the dominant colors in your image. Lightroom can do that. In fact, it allows you to save your own presets. This will really speed up your workflow. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy presets, but you need to choose them carefully and rely on your own Lightroom knowledge to make them work. I would highly recommend purchasing a preset created by a professional photographer or photographer working in tandem with a blogger, rather than springing for a preset pack created by a blogger alone. Why? Photographers spend years honing their editing skills and Lightroom know-how. That’s where you’ll find real quality! I see far too many bloggers out there selling lackluster presets, simply to make a few bucks. Don’t fall for it!
Dress (just $19!)
Beginning bloggers will feel a lot of pressure to get on the ‘gram! Instagram seems like the be-all end-all of blogging success. News flash: It’s not, especially with recent algorithm changes that make it increasingly difficult to authentically grow an audience. When I first started out, I poured a ton of energy into Instagram (read what I learned in year one). And quite honestly, I think I still allocate too much time there. What’s one huge item in my list of blogging mistakes to avoid? Buying into advice that says you must post at least 5x per week, appear on stories daily, and spend at least an hour (preferably more) engaging with your audience.
With my schedule, that kind of social media behavior is unsustainable—and probably unhealthy. Yes, if you want to score paid work with fashion/lifestyle brands as a blogger, you will need an Instagram presence. But you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. You own your blog. You don’t own Instagram. What if it folds one day? What if people stop using it or it gets banned (i.e. TikTok)? You want to strike a balance between creating quality blog content and growing your social media channels.
As a writer, my blog will always be more representative of my unique skill set. This is where I can create informative, value-added content for my audience and those I collaborate with. So, I’m trying to juggle the two. I post to Instagram 3-4 times a week and try to craft/promote one in-depth blog post per week. Interestingly, Instagram is not the most successful platform for driving traffic to my blog. Pinterest is way more effective!
Blogging requires a lot of self-promotion. Oddly enough, I ran from it… at least at first. When I initially began blogging, I was cagey about what I was doing. I told my mom and husband, but that was it. Perhaps it was fear of failure (I had plenty of that) or fear people “wouldn’t get it”… either way—I was secretive. I didn’t want my friends to know. I didn’t want my neighbors to know. And I definitely didn’t want my co-workers to know!
Guess what? If your blog is working and growing, people find out. And that’s not a bad thing!
My friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers actually loved the blog and became some of my biggest cheerleaders/supporters. The judgement I expected was all in my head. Another key item on my list of blogging mistakes to avoid is getting paralyzed by other people’s opinions!
I worried people would think it was silly for a former journalist to write about lighter things like fashion and style. I thought they would think this material was too “light and fluffy” – that I was a “sell out” for promoting brands (even if they were companies I genuinely loved). The real truth? Those who really know you, know all sides of you. My loved ones already knew I had a passion for style. In fact, they regularly asked me for fashion/decor advice. The blog didn’t surprise them one bit. And what a relief to let the cat out of the bag!
I see this time after time… If we’re talking about blogging mistakes to avoid, this next piece of advice is critical. In fact, it might be the best spot of advice I’ve received yet: always focus on quality over quantity. People are busy. They likely won’t notice when you don’t post, but they will notice if you post a lot of lackluster, forgettable content. Post when you have something to say or something valuable to share. Don’t simply post for the sake of posting. Think about why your audience follows you. What are they here for? How can you deliver on what your niche and mission promises? How can you entertain, engage, and connect?
I’ve seen far too many bloggers churn out 3-4 blog posts per week, only to lose segments of their audience. Why? Some followers felt those posts were superficial, “salesy”, or devoid of useful information. You don’t have to be long-winded, but you should always be helpful. Leave your audience hungry for more.
Now, I’ll let Lindsey Puls take it away! Unlike me, Puls is a full-time blogger, who has been operating Have Clothes Will Travel for six years.
One of the most common mistakes in blogging is thinking social media is the only way to drive traffic to your blog. (I am completely guilty of this!) While social media is important and necessary many times to land sponsored/paid work (as Lindsay mentioned above), it’s not the only way to get eyeballs on your posts. Learning how to optimize your blog and posts for search engines (SEO) is a better way to spend your time and energy.
SEO is also not as intimidating as it sounds. Google rewards bloggers who write genuinely helpful content. Yes, Google makes updates to its algorithm every once in a while, but it’s not at the same devastating level as Instagram and Facebook. Google’s main goal is simply to make sure the best content is being presented to answer a user’s question.
To put this in perspective, I used to spend nearly 3 hours a day working on my Instagram page! Instagram drives just 1 percent of the traffic that comes to my blog. It made absolutely no sense for me to be spending that much time on Instagram.
Over the last year, I’ve started spending less than 30 minutes on Instagram a day, and instead focusing my time on SEO. I started taking SEO courses on Udemy and hired Karen of SuccessLynx to audit my blog. My page views have doubled since I stopped focusing on Instagram and started focusing that time on learning and fixing my blog posts for SEO.
What this means is, for every post you publish, you must keep your audience in mind. How are you helping them? I used to just write whatever I felt like writing… this is NOT a recipe for success!
Sure, it’s fun every once in a while to write a purely creative post or feature an outfit that’s interesting but not necessarily practical. However, writing this way all the time won’t bring in the page views. You need to ask yourself what problem you are solving as you write a blog post. It’s a vital focus point on our list of blogging mistakes to avoid.
This also goes for your page titles. I used to write what I thought were “clever” and cute titles… but they didn’t actually explain what the post was about. Writing “clever” titles versus helpful titles is a big issue among style bloggers, especially (again, I am completely guilty of this). Help your audience understand what problem you are solving right away in the title. (This also helps you rank on Google!)
Technical updates and issues are absolutely terrifying. Despite blogging for 6 years, there are still some technical aspects that I struggle with. I’ve admitted to myself that I can’t do it all, and started finding freelancers on Fiverr and Codeable to help with issues that are beyond my experience.
My previous plan was to ignore any technical issues and hope for the best. (Great idea, right? And definitely one of the blogging mistakes to avoid!) This was especially true for my blog’s page speed. My blog was SO slow. The audit I purchased with SuccessLynx also helped me understand and fix this. (I go into greater detail in this post.) Now, my site loads in a decent amount of time. This means readers are more willing to stick around and read more than one blog post AND it ranks higher on Google search results.
Another big help in this department was switching to a good hosting provider. I transitioned to Siteground. Not only do I have fewer technical issues, but when I do encounter them, Siteground is able to help me work through them.
It’s tempting to put ads on your website right away for a little extra income. However, until you have a decent amount of traffic, it’s one of our blogging mistakes to avoid. Sacrificing your readers’ experience is not worth it for the few cents you’re going to make from your ads. I recommend waiting until you have at least 10,000 page views a month and can be accepted into an ad management program like Ezoic or SheKnowsMedia or waiting until you qualify for Mediavine ads, which requires 50,000 sessions (about 60,000 page views) a month.
I put Google Adsense and Media.net ads on my blog within months of launching. It made less than $10 a month at this time from these ads (and even at my peak, I was making less than $80 a month). The ads slowed down my website terribly and annoyed the living daylights out of my readers. It was NOT worth it!
Now, I use Mediavine for my ads because they pay well and don’t slow down my blog. I am averaging $18 page RPMs (ad revenue per thousand impressions) with Mediavine. What this means is for every 1,000 page views I get to my blog, I make on average $18. So, if I have 2,000 page views a day for a month straight, I make over $1,000 a month with RPMs at this rate.
So, this point isn’t to say don’t put ads on your blog… it just means to wait until you have sufficient traffic to use an ad management system that pays well.
Even if you’re not blogging to make a living, it’s important to recognize that your time is worth something! Among the list of top blogging mistakes is to avoid is realizing that when a brand approaches you to promote their products on your blog and social media, it will likely take you hours to photograph, edit, write and promote the post. That is not something you should do without getting some form of compensation in return – whether it be a flat fee or the chance to earn a commission for any sales you drive (or even better – both a flat fee and a commission).
Again, I am completely guilty of accepting free products in exchange for a post on my blog… especially when I was first starting out. And when I say “free,” I mean no opportunity to earn anything other than a free product. Figuring out what to charge for a blog post is tricky, don’t get me wrong. It’s still something I struggle with. I’ve found that this post by Hobo with a Laptop is quite accurate for gauging what brands are willing to pay.
It’s also important to take into account how much you can earn from affiliate revenue when calculating your rates. Especially in the wake of COVID, I’m finding many brands are more willing to pay “hybrid” rates, instead of high flat fees. What this means is they are still willing to pay flat fees, but at a reduced rate, in exchange for a higher (15%+) affiliate commission. This can be a good way to keep sponsored posts coming in right now, while building lasting brand partnerships.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions we didn’t cover, please drop us a note in the comments section!
And be sure to poke around Lindsey’s blog… It is an awesome example of what is possible! Here are a few of her top posts to get you started: