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It’s crazy to think, but I started Diary of a Debutante in 2012. That’s almost 7 years ago, y’all. What started out as an awkward LiveJournal somehow transformed into a full time business, and I’m not sure how it all happened, but I feel very fortunate that it did. Suffice to say, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I’m sharing 10 of my biggest blogging mistakes, along with a handful of lifestyle blogging tips for beginners, in today’s post!
1. Starting off on Blogger
Blogger makes setting up a blog super simple. From easy-to-use templates to a fine-tuned UI, it’s an incredibly attractive option when you’re first starting out. However, you own 0% of your website. If Blogger, who’s run by Google, decides to shut down your site, you’re done. And if something does happen to it, there’s limited support available.
If you’re planning on turning your blog into a business, host your own site from the get-go. Trust me, from experience, migrating from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress is extremely complicated, and a lot can go wrong in the transfer. I still deal with glitches from the migration, and I took the plunge over four years ago. Plus, it can jeopardize your hard-earned SEO, subscribers, and overall follower counts. For a super helpful article that can help explain the technical advantages of self-hosted WordPress.org over Blogger, click here!
2. Choosing the wrong web host
Once you’ve committed to a self-hosted WordPress site, you need to choose a host. And take it from me, your web host matters. A lot. I started off on BlueHost, which is a great and affordable option for newer blogs. However, as my traffic started to grow, I needed something more reliable. Upon the recommendation of a web developer, who I later learned earned commission on my migration, I migrated to FastComet. It was the worst decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve ever wondered why my site was down (and admittedly, it’s been down a lot over the past few months– once for upwards of 48 hours), it’s because of them. Not only does an unreliable web host affect your traffic, it puts your professionalism and overall reputation in jeopardy.
I’ve since moved to a new web host, but I’m still paying for FastComet’s neglect. Take it from me and do your due diligence. Don’t buy into paid reviews and ask other bloggers or IT experts for personal recommendations. It’s worth investing the time to ensure the livelihood of your website.
3. Not treating my blog like a business
Contrary to popular belief, being your own boss does have disadvantages. In my experience, not having someone to report to can leave a lot of room for laziness and irresponsibility. If you’re a full time influencer, it’s important to remember that your blog is a business, and it needs to be treated as such. You invest in a business– both in the form of time and money. You create a business plan. You stick to a schedule. You outsource tasks that can be outsourced. These are all things that are easily forgotten when you’re not in the “this is my business” mindset.
4. Investing too much time, money, and energy into Instagram
Instagram might work well for some, but it doesn’t bring me traffic. In fact, Instagram brings me less than 5% of my overall monthly UMVs. Pinterest, on the other hand, brings me over 50% of my overall traffic. If only I’d invested the same time and money into designing quality pins and cultivating a better Pinterest following than I did jumping on the bandwagon and participating in loop giveaways, I’d feel a lot better about my prior years’ expenses. Check Google Analytics for your acquisition stats and invest appropriately. Remember, you don’t own your Instagram. You own your blog. Budget your resources wisely!
I never liked loop giveaways. They always seemed so spammy to me. I fell behind, though, when they were in their hay day, so I decided to try follow/unfollow on the recommendation of a friend. Big mistake. I did gain some followers, but I ruffled way too many feathers to make it worth it.
6. Not cultivating an email list early on
For as long as I’ve known him, Kyle has been adamant about me building a solid email list. For one reason or another, I ignored him up until about a year ago, and I’m still kicking myself for it. Email marketing is essentially a direct line of communication with your readers. Not only are email lists full with people who’ve voluntarily opted into hearing from you and have granted you permission to share with them, you own your email list and have 100% access to it. On the contrary, if Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest decided to change their privacy or user settings tomorrow, you could instantly lose access to whatever fanbase you’ve worked hard to cultivate. The bottom line is that you don’t want 100% of your following to be controlled by anyone else.
7. Posting inconsistently
Being inconsistent is one of the fastest ways to lose readers. Honestly, it’s one of the biggest complaints I got during last year’s Reader Feedback Survey (more on that below!), so I really tried to get my act together this past year. I’m not always perfect, and I definitely still miss posts here and there, but I’ve seen my recurring traffic increase considerably since I started posting consistently.
8. Not conducting a reader feedback survey
Reader feedback surveys are amazing. They’re a convenient way for your most devoted readers to anonymously voice frustrations or give constructive criticism. If you don’t conduct a reader survey this year, you’ll be missing out on incredibly valuable– and completely transparent– feedback that you’ll never get otherwise.
9. Feeding the trolls
Plain and simple– don’t engage with internet trolls. As stressful and downright heartbreaking as it is to see someone anonymously trash your content, remember that you always have the upper hand. You have the power to delete their comments, block their accounts, and report their bad behavior, which, for the record, is what I do every time.
10. Posting about divisive issues
This opinion may be unpopular, but unless you want to run a political blog, steer clear of political commentary or divisive issues. One of the most valuable pieces of feedback I got from last year’s Reader Feedback Survey was that people appreciate positivity. They visit my blog (and surely other blogs, too) to escape from the news– not to get my take on the election or the maelstrom of hot topics dividing the country right now. Yes, you have a voice, and yes, it’s great to use your voice for good, but keep in mind that you’re likely alienating readers who disagree with you, and there’s just no real reason for it. Leave the social and political commentary to the media and create awesome content that makes your audience happy.
If you’re a blogger, what are some of the biggest blogging mistakes you’ve made? Anything quite as bad as having your site go down for a full 48 hours like me? Share your worst!
Photography by Catherine Rhodes. Fleece pullover from Amazon.
Very interesting. Especially #4.
Good article! Helpful for anyone working on the internet.
Excellent advice. I particularly like #10. I love your site and pictures. Best of luck in 2019. I can’t wait to see what’s coming up in the new year!
Great tips for people like me who are just starting out. Hope my blog gets as much traffic as yours someday. Keep up the good work!
Love the tips!!! I agree about the Trolls, I love how I can set wordpress to NOT post comments until they are approved.
Right?! That’s one of my favorite WordPress features honestly!