When starting a blog, there comes a point inevitably when you sit back and reflect a bit about where you are and where you’re going with your site. For some of us this happens in the first month while others can go years before they reach it. Ultimately, you ask yourself, what am I doing right with my site, and what am I doing wrong? This is the state I found myself in at the beginning of this month. To try and better analyze where I was at, I made a list of some of things I’ve done wrong as a freshman blogger (especially those things that are holding me back), and I decided to share that list.
In my opinion, these are the 5 biggest mistakes I’ve made as a freshman blogger:
Not building a brand and site that I was willing to part with
This was a real killer for me. Originally, when I decided to start blogging, I used a URL that I have had for quite some time, FuzzyFuture.com. I really like the URL and in fact, my company is titled the same thing and the original use for the URL was as a portal for my online freelancing business. I converted the site to a blog when I decided to stop doing freelancing and as many of you know already, I started blogging there on a regular basis. The problem with this, however, is that I am not willing to part with the domain FuzzyFuture.com. This really limits my future options with the site in that anything involving its sale to a third party is completely off the table.
Now don’t get me wrong, the offers definitely weren’t flooding my inbox. I simply think that for someone like me, who started blogging as an experiment, to completely eliminate one of my potential options for revenue is a mistake. To help address this, I’ve decided to separate my blogging from my business side of things and as I’m sure you’ve already noticed, we’ve moved everything from Fuzzy Future to Bookmark Bliss.
In the long run, no matter what the future holds for your blog, keeping all your options open is never a bad move. I really regret not doing that from day one.
Picking a schedule that was too hard to maintain in relation to my other obligations
When I first started blogging, I was really gung-ho and was posting at least one post a day, sometimes two or three. After the first few months though, I started to find it really difficult to keep up that pace. This was not due to a lack of things to write about but more due to time limitations. My schedule for blogging started to slip and slip and gradually got to the point where I was posting one post every 3-4 days. I apologize to everyone who stuck with us through that, but I do feel that it was a learning process in which I came to an understanding about just how much time I really have if I want to sustain it.
It’s like a long distance marathon. If you start out sprinting at full speed, make sure you have the endurance to keep going or those that are slow and steady will gradually pass you by. Here at Bookmark Bliss, it turns out our readers are actually ok with a slower posting rate (our subscribers have gone up 150 since I slowed down) but I’m committed to a minimum of one post a week from here on out. Some weeks I’ll have time to do more, but each week you can expect something fresh and new available on our site.
Failing to do enough promotion of my site through RSS and backlink generation
This was a big oversight on my part, and one a colleague of mine never fails to rub in my face. I was so busy starting out with blogging, that I really neglected the backlink and rss aggregator work that really would have improved our readership over the long haul. Fuzzy Future suffered a bit for it on the last pagerank update when we jumped only one rank from 2 to 3 despite having almost a dozen posts that individually were PR5 and PR6. I’ve definitely learned my lesson with this, and from here on out a major focus will be on building up Bookmark Bliss traffic over the long haul.
Overdoing it with social networking sites like Digg and Del.icio.us
This was definitely a big mistake made at Fuzzy Future due to the way our site was originally designed. Initially, we added a Digg button and a Share This button on every single page of our site. This was to encourage people to Digg up submitted articles. Instead, many of our readers submitted articles to Digg on their own, including pages that never had a chance in hell of making it to the front page (things like link roundups). As a result, many of our articles got buried by Digg users, and within the first two months our URL had been flagged by Digg similar to John Chow. Basically, this completely cut off Digg as an option for us.
In retrospect, I think it’s better not to encourage people to submit your content to social networks simply because of the fact that not all your content deserves to be on social networking sites. Really, only your best content stands a chance of gaining a following on these sites, so it’s better to be selective rather than aggressive.
Not spending enough time communicating with the community in my niche
Finally, I was not spending enough time in my niche getting to know other bloggers. I’ve met some great readers who’ve taken the time to stop by our site and I’ve also met many others visiting sites myself. I don’t think I made enough of an effort, however, and with Bookmark Bliss I hope to make a lot more connections with great members of our community. In addition, I’m also going to look into possibly guest blogging on some other sites, in order to gain some new readers as well as get some guest readers here on our site. I think guest blogging is a great way to get to know your community and help introduce your readers to new sites and authors they may not have known already.
So those are what I feel are my 5 biggest mistakes I’ve made as a freshman blogger. Personally I think that this kind of reflection is absolutely crucial for anyone who plans to keep blogging over the long haul. Only by figuring out where you’re going wrong can you correct your course and get back on track. So, for those of you out there who’ve had your own time to reflect, what do you think are some other big mistakes that bloggers make starting out? What are some other mistakes you think I’ve made starting out? Hit me! I can take it