Everybody has to start somewhere. We all come into this world with no idea how it all works. As humans, we learn to evolve and adapt to our environment. Discovering how to walk, talk, eat, read, write, draw even going to the toilet had to be learnt. Learning is a way of life which is why I don’t understand why we think we should be perfect at something before learning about it. I have a feeling everybody reading this is guilty of just wanting to fast track and be good at ‘that thing’ you’ve been working on, right away. The truth is life isn’t like that and it’s something I’m only just grasping myself, especially it when it comes to blogging.
Throughout my first year of blogging, I made mistakes, failed at things and carried on going! This post isn’t a pity party more a reflection of what I’ve learnt after something didn’t quite turn out well.
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Rookie Blogging Mistakes I Made in My First Year
If this is your first time here then you may want to check out this page and then my first post in this mini-blogging series. Alicia Overseas turned 1 last week so throughout the whole of May I’m sharing some of my blogging experiences from the last year. My first post in this series talks about What I’ve Learnt after One Year of Travel Blogging, click here to read it first.
Blogging has become a phenomenon over the last few years. People say it’s fading out and being taken over by social media but I have a feeling there will always be room for blogs. Blogs are about the people behind them and the world loves people and their stories. With the digital world ever expanding more and more of us are turning to blogging as a hobby or even a career. With so many of us now writing on the internet, it can be overwhelming as a new blogger. There is just so much information out there! So, after one year I’m reflecting on the blogging mistakes that I hope you won’t make.
Blogging Mistakes I made in my First Year
Taking it back to the start I can see how many blogging mistakes I made before my blog even went live. I was so excited at the prospect of starting my own blog. It had taken years of courage to actually put fingers to keyboard and decide to start Alicia Overseas. So, of course, I just wanted to get started right away, I bought a domain, got all of my social media handles and was ready to go. I chose a free WordPress theme and hit publish…and so it begins.
Not Having Posts Ready for Launch
To most reading this it may seem like such an obvious point not to follow. You read so many blogs on the internet that tell you to have at least some blog posts lined up to post when you first go live. Some say 5 some say 35 or even more! But this I didn’t do. I mean let’s be honest here I had no idea what I was doing. So after creating a semi-cute looking blog I hit publish and realised I hadn’t written anything yet.
It didn’t take me long to start writing, my mum and I had just been to New York so I had all that material to work with. I started writing posts but once you publish one people want to hear more so you have to keep writing. When I first started Alicia Overseas I thought writing posts would be easy. I had no idea that one blog post might take a full day or even a full week sometimes. So at the start, I found myself posting weeks apart, making it really hard to gain a trusting audience from the get-go. I was also moving to Australia the following weeks after starting my blog – Great timing Alicia!
My biggest advice when it comes to launching a new blog would be first to create a website that you like aesthetically. Then have at least 2 months of posts already written that way you can get straight into marketing your blog from the start rather than writing the content. Of course, the content is the most important part of a blog but it actually takes the least amount of time. If nobody knows about the blog you’re writing on then how will they know it exists? That’s where marketing comes in, especially via social media!
Caring What Others Thought of Me – Blogging Mistakes
I briefly touched upon this subject in my previous post but I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who’s done or thought this! When I first began Alicia Overseas I tried with all my power to hide it from my friends. I didn’t mind telling my family and partner because I was sure they would support me. My friends, on the other hand, I wasn’t so sure. I knew which ones would be supportive and which ones would roll their eyes and laugh. Probably says more about them than me.
The truth is it wasn’t just my close circle of friends I was afraid of. It was other people around me, my colleagues, acquaintances and people who I had yet to meet. What would people think when I tell them, I have a travel blog. My fear was that they would laugh and think who does Alicia think she is to have a travel blog and post all about it on social media. So I hid it for as long as possible. This meant not sharing it with the people in my life who love me but strangers behind a screen.
Because of this, I LOVED Twitter in the early days (it’s still my favourite social media platform) none of my pals had Twitter so I knew I could hide safely on there! As a result, I did manage to find a fabulous #traveltribe community who I now see as my friends. But I neglected the other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. In the long run, I don’t think it did my blog much harm and I now have a well-engaged audience on Instagram and Facebook but it would’ve been better to have started building relationships immediately.
So, did they care?
As for the friends and other random people? Well, my friends have supported me. Sure there are a few who never read my blog but there are the others who read every post and share every post! Your friends and ‘real life’ circle of people are going to be amazing at spreading the word about your blog which we all need in the early stages! It’s blogging mistakes like these that get me the most. Not because I didn’t market my blog right away but because I was hiding something I was proud of!
Be proud of what you are creating and tell the world!
My Top Tips for Social Media in the Beginning
Whilst you’re drafting up your backlog of posts mentioned above start being active on social media. Find where your niche hangs out, get to know other influencers in that area, follow their blogs and start interacting. Tell people what you are creating and when they can expect a live website. It will give people an idea of what to expect from you and probably give your blog a great boost in traffic at the start 🙂
Blogging Mistakes – Getting Stressed About Instagram
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with this platform? As the second biggest social media site in the world and over 1 billion active users every month as bloggers we just can’t ignore (even if it’s all we want to do). Don’t get me wrong I know some bloggers who refuse to use the platform and still do well. But it is a great platform to get exposure on. The key is to not get too immersed in the ‘games’ that people play on Instagram.
When I first started my Instagram account I was able to grow quicker than I ever thought but I was a little obsessed with it. Posting every day, trying to learn about editing tools such as Lightroom and run a new blog. It was honestly exhausting. As soon as I hit 2,000 followers I was stagnant for months. No matter what I did my for every one follower I lost 10. If you have Instagram then you’ll know what I’m talking it, it can feel pretty demoralising.
I stressed about Instagram for months and was putting all my energy into it, neglected my blog. This is probably one of my biggest blogging mistakes I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until I listened to Mollie Bylett, from Where’s Mollie, at the World Travel Market (check it out here) that my relationship with Instagram and social media changed. Yes, Instagram can be a great way to make money and collaborate with brands BUT what happens one day when Instagram, or any other social media platform, disappears? Like MySpace did? We may have moved on in the digital world since MySpace but It could still happen. Social Media could be there one day and gone the next. And when it does go, what happens to you? I really want you to think about this.
Social Media could be whisked away from beneath our feet your blog can’t. Alicia Overseas is mine and the only person who can take it from me is me. So that is exactly where I put in all my hard work and this is what successful bloggers will tell you. I now put more energy into my blog, SEO and then use social media to market Alicia Overseas. I’m much happier from it and my blog is better than ever! I’ve found that my social media following has increases the more I put into my blog. Don’t let this be your biggest blogging mistake if you have or a starting a blog then focus on the blog the most.
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Blogging Mistakes – Not Learning SEO from the START
Search Engine Optimisation, the single most important thing to getting ranked on Google. I’m going to into the technicalities of SEO because I’m only just grasping them myself. The best kind of traffic you can get to a website or blog is via a Google Search. This is organic traffic. It shows 1 that people are searching for your blog and 2 that you’re answering a question that people are searching for. Making sure that each post is optimised from Google is so important when trying to gain traffic to your blog.
Creating an SEO optimised post involves searching for keywords, looking at other blog posts on that topic, individually naming photographs, back-linking, alt text, meta description, the list goes on. You may find conflicting information about writing for SEO on the internet because some people like to write in a story format. When you are writing for SEO then you want to be informative so Google can see that you’re answering a question that someone needs answering. For example, in terms of SEO, this post probably won’t do that well.
My advice is to learn SEO before writing posts for your blog! There is so much valuable information out there that you can at least start learning the basics before starting to write your posts. If not you may find yourself trudging through old posts to make them more SEO friendly – ME!
These resources have helped me so much when it comes to understanding SEO:
Make Traffic Happen by Gemma and Laura – check out their website for free tips and their eBooks. The Facebook group Make Traffic Happen is also so so valuable when it comes to learning SEO. It’s a real community where people are out to help each other understand SEO. Join Here.
The Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz, Access it free here.
Not Using Affiliate Links from The Start
I know that this is one of the biggest blogging mistakes that a lot of bloggers have made at the start of their blogging journey. There is an illusion that you need to have a big following or a lot of traffic to start using affiliate links! You don’t. In case you don’t know an affiliate link is when you link to a product or service, if someone buys through that link then you earn a commission. This could anybody who reads your blog so all you need is readers. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a fast money maker and it takes gaining trust from your audience before bloggers see consistent income from affiliate links. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start linking your favourite services and products from the start – you never know what could happen!
I’m starting to get more and more clicks on my affiliate links the more my traffic at Alicia Overseas improves. I wish I’d learnt and incorporated affiliate links into my posts from the beginning of my blogging journey. To find out if a brand has an affiliate programme just type it into Google. For example, ‘FitBit Affiliate Programme’
Spending Money on Unnecessary ‘Blogging Courses’
Blogging Courses, do you need to take one? Well, that’s up to you. So many bloggers out there who start with no knowledge and build a brilliant empire through self-teaching. YouTube is my number 1 go to when I can’t figure something out on my blog – usually the technical stuff! There is a vast amount of free knowledge on the internet it’s just about filtering through the rubbish. You definitely do not to spend money on a blogging course to start a blog.
I’m not going to go into too much detail but at the start of the blogging journey, I bought a course which promised all the results. They gave a great sales pitch and I bought it. What I later found out what that it was much more of an affiliate marketing programme than a blogging platform. Basically, their claim was that you can blog full time by making money selling their course. Well, I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to learn how to create my own empire not sell someone else’s! Long story short it turned out to be a complete waste of money! I was sworn off blogging ‘courses’ for the seeable future.
But I did end up buying another…
There are so many other courses out there that I’m sure are amazing. Last year I was at a point where I didn’t know whether to continue my blog. I didn’t know if it was growing fast enough, that I’d ever become good enough to grow and inspire people to travel the world. So, I decided to reach out to a well-known blogger in the travel industry, Jessica Festa who runs the blog, Jessie on a Journey. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I reached out but I couldn’t believe it when Jessie personally replied to my email!
The email was heartfelt and so supportive, she knew what I was feeling. She gave some pointers and gave me the option to buy into one of her courses. This email wasn’t a sleazy sales pitch and it wasn’t all she spoke about. It was a simple, hey try this out and see if it could help you. She even offered me a huge discount for the first month of her Travel Blog Prosperity membership course. I wasn’t sure, I’d already lost money before but the more I research and read the reviews Jessie had I decided to go for it. It’s now the only blogging course I’ll ever take. From SEO to working with brands, monthly workbooks, affiliate market training this course has taken my learning to the next level.
You do not need a blogging course but it can be beneficial but I know it has been for me. My biggest advice is to do your research. Ask around, look at reviews and ALWAYS reach out to the creator of the course before opting in. A lot of people are out to help others but a lot are just out for themselves too. So just be careful.
If you’re just starting out in this crazy blogging world then be kind to yourself. I’m talking about these mistakes one whole year on, I’m able to reflect but by making these mistakes doesn’t mean I failed. Enjoy the ride and learn on the way. I thought I’d share one of my favourite quotes before writing off this post:Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly - Embrace it! Click To Tweet
Sharing is Caring
There you have it my 6 biggest blogging mistakes I made in my first year. I hope that this post has inspired you in some way. Either to do some more learning before going in all guns blazing or, if you’re an established blogger maybe a gave you a smile as you thought ‘me too’.
Either way, I would love to know your thoughts about these mistakes and share some of your own if you wish! I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments below or you can always me at [email protected]. If you enjoyed this post then I would love it if you could share it for others to find!
Next week I’ll be talking all about what blogging resources have helped me in my first year of blogging!