Today’s post is a fun one that I am really excited to share with you all! I’ve teamed up with fellow blogger Lindsay Veremis of Anchored in Elegance to bring you the top blogging mistakes to avoid.
However, before we get into all the juicy details of mine and Lindsay’s biggest blogging mistakes – I want to first introduce you to Lindsay!
Lindsay and I have quite a lot in common (besides our names!) and actually knew each other before starting our blogs. We both share a love of cats and have a classic sense of style, we’re both from the Appleton area of Wisconsin and we both worked at the same news station in Green Bay – FOX 11. Lindsay was a reporter there and I was a morning show producer.
While my news career never went beyond FOX 11, Lindsay continued on to many different reporter and anchor positions before starting her blogging journey. Her blog is filled with fantastic advice for how to dress for on-camera appearances, and I especially love her tips for how to get the media coverage you want for your business!
Lindsay has since moved to Indiana to start a new career in communications and is also the mom of the cutest little boy in the world – Hudson! (Learn more about Lindsay and her family on her about me page.)
We met up for coffee when Lindsay was home visiting family a few weeks ago and had a chance to catch up and talk about our blogs. This is where the idea for this post came from.
I hope you enjoy these tips and we’re happy to answer any questions you have in the comments section at the end. The first five tips are written by Lindsay and the last five tips are written by me. Enjoy!
Lindsay Veremis of Anchored in Elegance – Top Blogging Mistakes to Avoid
1. Underestimating the time commitment
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, and engaging with your audience via social media can easily take 40 hours a week.
With a three-year-old, 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.
2. A preset won’t improve your photos, Lightroom will
“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 buck.
3. It’s NOT all about Instagram
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. 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!
- Recommended: Pinterest With Ell Course for Growing Your Traffic
4. You don’t have to HIDE your side-hustle
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 judgment 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!
5. Quality Over Quantity
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.
Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes, Will Travel – Top Blogging Tips
6.) Social media is not the only way to get traffic. SEO can be even better!
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 said 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) can be a far 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 devasting level as Instagram and Facebook. Google’s main goal is still to make sure the best content is being presented to 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. (Lindsay hit the nail on the head with point 3!)
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.
7.) Write for your audience and not yourself.
What this means is, for every post you publish, it is important to keep in mind your audience and how you are helping them. I used to just write “whatever I felt like writing.” Let me tell you, 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 is interesting but not necessarily practical. However, writing this way all the time isn’t going to bring in much for page views. You need to ask yourself what problem you are solving when you write a blog post. (As Lindsay said, it’s about quality – not quantity!)
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. You won’t have to go back too far in my archives to find these either.)
Help your audience understand what problem you are solving right away in the title! (This also helps you rank on Google!)
8.) Don’t be afraid to learn the technical aspects of blogging… or don’t be afraid to hire someone who does.
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?) 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 about how I fixed this 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 made the switch to Siteground, and not only do I have fewer technical issues, but when I do run into technical issues, Siteground is able to help me work through them, or at the very least, point me in the right direction.
9.) Don’t put ads on your website too soon.
It’s tempting to put ads on your website right away for a little extra income, but until you have a decent amount of traffic, sacrificing your readers’ experience on your site 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. I 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), and it 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 will pay you well.
10.) Know your time is valuable.
Even if you’re not blogging to make a living, it’s important to recognize that your time is worth something! If 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 (meaning, cash money!), but at a reduced rate, in exchange for higher (15%+) affiliate commission rates. This can be a good way to keep sponsored posts coming in right now, and building great brand relationships!
Thank you so much for reading this post! If you have any questions please feel free to reach out in the comments section!
I also encourage you to read Lindsay’s blog Anchored in Elegance and especially check out a few of her top posts below.
- Best Jeans for Petites With Muscular Legs
- How to Decorate Above The Bed
- How to Dress for a TV Appearance
- How To Get Media Coverage & Why You Want It
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*Disclosure: some of these links are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click a link and make a purchase, Have Clothes, Will Travel gets a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.