This week's podcast (“Things I wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog”) is all about common blogging mistakes.
I've been blogging for almost 10 years now, and I've made just about every mistake there is.
So Hopefully, I can save some of you a lot of time and frustration with this podcast episode.
If you'd like to have your question answered on the podcast, use the “Ask a Question” tab on the right side of this page https://parttimepreneur.com/allthingsblogging/
Today's question is one that will hopefully be really helpful for those of you just getting starting with blogging, and also for those planning to start a blog soon. That is, “What are some things you wish you'd known before starting a blog?”
I've been blogging for almost ten years now and I've made just about every mistake there is. Hopefully, I can save some of you a lot of time and frustration with this podcast episode so let's go ahead and get started.
Well, hello and welcome to Episode 4 of All Things Blogging. I'm really excited to be here again this week and excited you can join me. Before we get started, I just want to mention that you can hear this podcast every Wednesday. And I'd also like to let everyone know that there's also a YouTube channel that goes along with this podcast. The topics are not exactly the same. They are more in debth over there, but I just wanted to let everyone know to check that out, and to go over there and subscribe and like some of those videos. Also, if you're not subscribed to this podcast, do that as well and we always appreciate a review/like/share/rate… I'll appreciate any of that.
Let's go ahead and get into today's topic. Basically, we're going to be talking about common mistakes and I think that's a really good way to learn. It is always a good question to ask if you're talking to someone who might be in the position to give some information; “What are some of the most common mistakes people make when doing x?”, whatever it is.
Anytime I've ever heard that type of question asked, there have always been great tips in the answer. Hopefully, I can share some good information with you today.
You Should Never Change URLs or Domains Unless You Have to
I'm going to start with one of the first mistakes and one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. And that was actually an SEO mistake.
We talked a little bit about Search Engine Optimization last week. Well, on one of the first serious websites I ever made, I decided to use underscores ( _ ) as a word separator in my URLs. If you think about it as a file name when you name a file on your computer, it's the same thing. About six or seven months later, I had just started to really see some traffic coming in from Google. Then I came across some SEO advice that said hyphens were better to use than underscores. So I said “Well, I should probably change my underscores to hyphens! That'd be a great idea!”
Well, some of you who may know a thing or two about SEO probably know what happened next. Basically, it tanked all my traffic. The reason for this is that website URL is like an address. And if you change your address without letting the mailman know what your new address is, he's not going to be able to get to your house.
The site sort of recovered but it was very difficult. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. In a situation like that, there are things you can to do to recover, but it's not worth the headache.
The takeaway here is, never change your file names or your URLs after you've made one. It's just not a good thing to do and if you do, you absolutely have to change it, you need to know how to properly do it.
The same goes for changing domain names. If you buy a domain name, you really want to make sure that you're getting the right one, the one that you want. Changing domain names though definitely very possible, is one of those things that's best left to the experts to do.
There are just a lot of things that can go wrong. And when you're talking about traffic from search engines, it can be really tricky to recover. In other words, it's really easy to shoot yourself in the foot.
You Should Use (self-hosted) WordPress.org if Possible
The next one is not anything that I've personally done but it's one that I hear a lot from people. It's along the same lines as the previous one and that is a lot of people say that they wish they had started on their own, self hosted, blog and their own domain name as opposed to starting out on a free blog. This one really ties into the previous mistake because it's also that SEO mistake where you change your URL or you change your domain name. Except with a free blog, it's that much harder because you don't really have 100% control with the free blogging platform. It just makes it a little more complicated, definitely possible, definitely doable but it takes time and it's not super easy to do.
This is going back to Episode One but if you are going to start a free blog, make sure to do it on wordpress.com because they are the only ones I know of that will actually allow you to redirect traffic from your free blog to your new domain. You can think of it as kind of a change of address form and again, they are one of the only ones that I know of that will do that for you. If you're going to go the free route, use WordPress.com
You Should Have Google Analytics Installed
The next mistake, neglecting to put analytics on your website ( neglecting to capture and record the traffic that's coming to your website.) The best tool for this job is Google Analytics. If you haven't done so yet, you should sign up for Google Analytics. It's easy to install on your website, and nit won't be long before capturing/ recording all the traffic. You'll learn a lot of information about the people using your site and see which pages they're going to. Analytics can help you make decisions about what sorts of content you should make more of and maybe what types of content you shouldn't make more.
You Should Start an Email List
Okay, the next one is one I wish I had done a long time ago and that is start an email list. This is a really important one and you can't do it soon enough really and basically gives your visitors and chance to subscribe to your list and you can send emails weekly or monthly or bi-monthly or whatever you want to do. It just really helps you to have a way to stay in contact with your audience. It's probably one of the best ways to do that.
There are some free tools you can use. MailChimp is one, that's the one I use and it's free up to a certain point. I think it's up to 2000 subscribers and that's actually quite generous and I think it's really great for anyone just starting out. It's really easy to, if you need to take all of your subscribers and move somewhere else, if the time comes where you need to expand or you're not happy with them. They have really great tools for making emails and sending emails. The only thing you might need to do is find a form that you can put on your site to collect, to ask people to sign up. There's a good WordPress plugin for that. It's called Sumome, S-U-M-O-M-E. I'll be adding links to these things that I'm mentioning in the show notes so you can check those out.
You Should Stop Waiting to Start Something
The final mistake or thing that I wish I had known, is another one actually that didn't happen to me but it's one that I hear a lot and it is just start. Stop waiting. If you're waiting for the perfect moment or the perfect design or the perfect logo or the perfect blog post or whatever it is, it's not good. The best thing to do is just to start. Do it and the only way to really get good at something or make something become better is to just do it. I don't think anything that's worth while starts out perfect. Things just tend to get better over time. If you're sitting on an idea and you're just waiting to start your blog, there's really no need to wait and the sooner you get started the better.
Well, that's going to do it for this episode. I hope this has been really helpful and hopefully these tips will put you well ahead of the game if you're planning to start a blog soon or if you're new to blogging. If you have a question, head to the show notes. There's a link to the place where you'll be able to ask it and I'd love to answer it on the podcast for you. Also, make sure to check out the new All Things Blogging YouTube channel for some more in depth tutorials, subscribe there and also, if you haven't subscribed here, go ahead and head to iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Store or wherever you're listening to this, subscribe and leave a rating. That would really help the podcast a lot. I would really appreciate it. Thanks so much for listening and I hope you'll join me next time for All Things Blogging.