The most common mistakes new bloggers make include picking the wrong niche, being too general with their topic choice, targeting overly competitive keywords, neglecting link-building, and being too inconsistent with publishing.
Let’s explore these (and others) in more detail and find out how you can avoid them.
15 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make (And How You Can Avoid Them)
#1. Picking the wrong niche
This can go wrong in several different ways. First, you might pick a niche with limited potential for monetization.
Perhaps it lacks affiliate programs or its key target audience doesn’t have much money to spend (for example, nonprofits or high school students).
Second, you might pick a niche that you’re not passionate about. In that case, you’ll struggle to produce the sheer volume of new content necessary for a new blog to make headway in Google.
Lastly, you might pick a niche where you lack the appropriate expertise. This isn’t always a problem. But if you’re writing about topics in finance, health, or law, then Google is unlikely to rank your content unless you have relevant expertise and qualifications.
If you pick the wrong niche, all isn’t lost. You can always pivot to a different focus (and that’s why it’s a good idea to build your site on a “your name dot com” domain, instead of a branded one).
#2. Being too general with your topics
Google likes websites to have a specific focus. But being too general is one of the most common mistakes new bloggers make.
That doesn’t mean you have to write about one narrow topic forever, but you should choose somewhat related topics. For example, this blog is about making money through SEO and blogging.
Large websites like the New York Times or Wikipedia can get away with having a broad focus, but that’s because they’re extremely well-established, credible and powerful. Your new blog can’t match that.
So pick two or three related topics and start writing about those. Make sure you interlink between each one, so Google knows what your blog is all about.
#3. Using poor quality web hosting
Choosing the right web host is vital to succeed in blogging.
If you choose one that’s poor quality, you risk ending up with a slow, unstable website. That can drive away your readers and reduce your chances of ranking well in Google.
For those on a tight budget, Bluehost is a low-cost choice to get started fast.
For those with a little more to spend, I recommend WPX for great customer service, fast speeds and reliable uptime.
#4. Not doing ANY keyword research.
In those early days before I knew SEO, I thought I could just “write about my passion” and readers would magically show up.
Well guess what?
It didn’t work. 🤦♀️
#5. Targeting overly competitive keywords.
Ok, so you did your keyword research.
You published a blog post targeting the keyword “make money online”.
But it’s nowhere to be found on Google. Or maybe it’s in position 95 (and hasn’t moved for months).
That’s because “make money online” is a highly competitive keyword, as you can see below.
When your blog is new, you need to target keywords with lower competition, like the below (although ideally the keyword difficulty for a fresh blog would be below 15).
Lesson: Be realistic. With a new blog, you need to target low competition “long-tail” keywords (often in question format). Tools like Keywords Everywhere or Answer the Public will help you find easy opportunities for your first blog posts.
#6. Using ‘clever’ titles instead of properly-optimized ones.
This one goes hand-in-hand with my lack of keyword research. My ‘imaginative’ titles might have worked well in a novella, but they were meaningless to Google.
Lesson: Make sure your post titles: 1) clearly describe the post topic, and 2) use your primary keyword at the beginning. Bonus points if you can include numbers or emotive words too!
#7. Not building any links at all.
When you’re heavily focused on writing your content, it’s easy to overlook link building.
Based on my experience, I believe maintaining frequent publishing right and high-quality content is more important in the early stages than building links. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the latter altogether.
The best ways for newbies to build links is: 1) by reaching out to other blogs and offering to guest post for them, or 2) by answering HARO queries.
These methods are solid and reliable. But are there any shortcuts?
We’ll look at that in the next section.
#8. Falling into the link farm trap.
You’ve got a new blog. You know you need links. But how to get them?
Hmmm, Fiverr looks like a good place to start. Cheap links and those sites look legit. Win!
Fiverr itself is great. You can find loads of awesome and professional service providers to help you out with many different kinds of tasks.
But buying links there can be a dangerous game.
Even if the websites look legit (good domain rating, some traffic etc), they’re probably general “lifestyle” sites writing about a huge range of topics.
Why do they write about such a huge range of topics? So they can sell links to a huge range of customers!
This is bad for your blog’s authority. It may even put you at risk of getting a ‘unnatural links’ penalty from Google in the future.
Lesson: Don’t cut corners when it comes to backlinks. As a beginner, you’ll struggle to know if a site is a link farm or not. It’s better to get backlinks by writing guest posts for other blogs in your niche, or responding to HARO queries.
#9. Not publishing often enough.
At first, I thought publishing a new blog post every month would be enough. Well, it can be – if you don’t care much about organic growth.
But if you want to show up quickly in Google, you’ll need to build up a lot of content.
For best results, I recommend publishing a new blog post DAILY during the first 3 months of your blog’s life.
5 posts per week, 20 per month, 60 over 3 months.
Having this strong foundation of content will help Google’s bots to build your knowledge graph – so it knows what your blog is all about.
Check out my tips on how to write faster.
Lesson: Don’t sleep on fresh content. Publishing daily posts is key for ranking fast! (AI tools can also help – here’s 10,000 free credits to try out my favorite).
#10. Wasting time on fancy logos
Tinkering with logo designs for your new blog is a common procrastination strategy!
You don’t need it.
Just open a free Canva account and whip up a simple text based logo, like the one I’ve got on this site. That’s really all you need.
Google doesn’t care about fancy logos. It cares about you producing lots of good quality content.
#11. Paying $$$ for custom blog design
I spent a few thousand dollars on custom design for one of my websites in the early stages of its life.
Although I liked the result (and still do), I now realize it was unnecessary. In fact, the custom design made the site a little too complex and unwieldy.
If I could go back, I’d build it using the simplest way possible. I’d use a fast, high-quality theme and go with a simple starter template.
Custom design is nice to have. But you absolutely don’t need it to get started with blogging.
#12. Choosing a poor quality WordPress theme
WordPress comes with thousands of themes to choose from. It’s easy to get lost for ages scrolling through all the different options.
But here’s a warning: don’t use random themes for your blog, no matter how great they look. You might end up with a badly coded, bloated theme that will give your blog a bad start in life.
Instead, go with one of the tried and trusted options. I recommend choosing one of these three:
All three of them have great customer support, solid options both free and paid, and a good range of nice-looking starter templates. They’re also fast, cleanly coded, and will keep your site running well.
#13. Not building an email list
Many bloggers neglect email list building, especially during the early stages of their blog. They assume that having no real traffic means there’s no need to have an email list set up.
But having your own email list is an essential aspect of your blog’s monetization strategy. And even if you don’t have much organic traffic yet, you can still leverage other methods to get people onto your list.
For example, posting every day on LinkedIn about your blog topic is a great way to drive people to your email list.
Just place the signup form in your LinkedIn bio, and encourage people to sign up at the end of each post.
In fact, the goal of any social media activity should be to entice people onto your email list. Once they’re on there, you’ve got full control.
Social media platforms can shut down, block your account, or close your business page. But your email list is yours forever.
So what’s the best way to get started with list building?
I recommend grabbing a free account with ConvertKit. You can have up to 1,000 subscribers on the free plan, so there’s plenty of mileage for a newbie.
What’s more, the ConvertKit interface is relatively intuitive and easy to use, which isn’t the case for every email list provider.
#14. Doing all the writing yourself
I’ve got to confess, I’m guilty of this one.
But, unless you love writing for its own sake, constantly writing all your own blog posts is hard work.
That said, I do highly recommend writing at least your first 20 posts by yourself. It’s an essential step to learn what makes a good blog post, and to understand the basics of on-page SEO.
Once you’re clear on those things, you can confidently hire a freelance writer to help you scale your blog. The Fiverr freelance marketplace is a great destination to find your first writers. Test out a few and see who you like best.
If you don’t want to hire a freelance writer yet, you could use an AI writing assistant to speed up your workflow. Jasper AI is a popular choice among bloggers.
For best results, I recommend using Jasper in conjunction with your own manual editing and fact checking, rather than relying on it to generate an entire blog post.
While the AI is quite sophisticated in terms of writing, some of its facts will be inaccurate and the text may sound clunky in places.
If you want to try out Jasper, you can get 10,000 credits for free.
#15. Not creating templates and repeatable processes
Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll find a lot of processes become repetitive.
Perhaps you receive a lot of similar email enquiries. Or perhaps every blog post you publish undergoes the exact same set of checks.
In that situation, it’s time to start documenting your processes and creating templates. Not only will these make your working life easier, they’re also a great start for outsourcing these repetitive tasks to a virtual assistant.
It’s also worth looking at a tool like Zapier to create automations for your most frequent workflows. Being a solo blogger is challenging, but templates and repeatable processes help to lessen the burden.
Don’t fall into the trap of making the same common mistakes new bloggers make – whether that’s falling into the link farm trap, being to general, or simply overlooking proper keyword research.
Follow these tips to get your blog off to a solid start – and you’ll be ranking before you know it!