Avoid These 8 Mistakes When Starting Your Blog [Quick Guide]


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Six! Yep, six years blogging. I don’t even know where the time has gone. Plus, I’m like a pre-OG blogger. And to be completely transparent, this is only the second thing in my entire life that I’ve consistently done. Well third if you count motherhood (but who gives up on that, insert duh emoji). Writing is something that I do every single day. Whether it’s a long oversharing Instagram post, or a 500 word rant on Facebook, I am always sharing my thoughts.


The number one question people ask me is, “how did you become so successful?” First off, how y’all know I am successful. That word is relative and depending on the day…but I will say that being successful is a state of mind that is only determined by you.


But when I look back at those six years there are a few mistakes that I made that maybe you don’t have to if I spill the tea! So here’s 8 mistakes you need to avoid when you start blog (or even if you’re blog is old, stop doing these things now!)


 


create your audienceIn the beginning, I was just writing. I was writing everything for everyone. I thought that I could appeal to every single person in the world. I even wrote in third person so that you would think it was a team of us here at GIG. Fail number 84,078,219,381,974,819. Then I thought that my audience would find me. Fail number 417,183,741,874,281,741,807,201,749,210. While this is true, it took about 3 years for her to find me. Talk about time wasted.


Even though I have some readers of other races and ethnicity, my reader looks like me. I know this to be true, thanks to a reader survey I just did (you can take the survey here for a chance to win $100 gift card).


I learned that she’s Black! Something that I fought for a while. I told myself that in order to be successful I had to dial back on my Blackness. Gasp, that’s a lie! My reader is also close to my age, fairly tech savvy (or willing to learn) and she loves slaying her look. A few of my readers are bloggers but most are just 9-5 type women searching for the answers of life. I don’t have all the answers, but I got some!


Here’s what you should be doing…


Start by identifying the one or two topics you are going to write about. Example, I write about beauty and lifestyle.


Then decide who is most likely to read your work. Example, Black women who want to be entertained and educated read my blog. My reader, Keisha, she’s a little bougie at times, but trust, she is street smart. And while she is socially conscience, she cannot pass up watching a WSHH video. Keisha and I have a “judgement free” type of friendship.


This is creating a marketing persona. Creating a persona is putting a name and background to your customers. It’s like an educated guess of your blog readers.


Next, create content based on what she/he is most likely to read. Now that you are actually creating content, use words that are inclusive (like “you,” “we” etc.).


I’ve started doing polls and asking questions because that’s really the only way you can get to know your audience (once you have defined them). Once you’re aware of the goals, challenges and demographics of your audience, you can relate to them and write to them like the humans they are.


beyonce 24 hours


So about this. I am so so so so so guilty. Like, real guilty. But it’s 2016 and managing my day is something I am trying to get better at. I took a long unplug break during Christmas and now we are a week into the new year and things just ain’t right with my schedule. I just wanna nap and watch Snapchat. Breaks are good but don’t let that break turn into a vacation and don’t let that vacation turn into a hiatus.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Create an editorial publishing calendar and stick to a schedule even while you are on vacation. This will build anticipation with your audience. You can even share what’s coming to get them (and yourself) excited.


My plan is to get my editorial calendar for the year done this week (like I said I took a vacation and all went…)! This way I can effectively and deeply serve YOU, my reader! I can also stay relevant on the Internet. Plan ahead for holidays, big events…alla dat: let Google be your best friend and figure out what people were searching for this time last year. Most likely they will do it again this year.


If you are on WordPress, you can get started with the Editorial Calendar plugin to organize your schedule. It’s free with a simple user-friendly drag and drop interface. Personally I use CoSchedule. I like the combination of the editorial calendar and the ability for me and my team to schedule social posts for the week, month or whenever.


youve got mail gorgeous in grey


Umm, did I say that this post was really for me. SMH! For me, this was my biggest fail. I actually started collecting emails early on but I only sent newsletters out when the sky was red or if it happened to sprinkle Unicorns tears at midnight. From day one, you need to collect emails and send a weekly newsletter. Why? Because we are always in our phones and email is the most effective marketing channel for any business. It’s more effective than Facebook and Twitter when done correctly.


I’ve found that most of my traffic comes from Facebook, but people are just lurkers. They aren’t loyal there. They will look, skim read and move onto the next. Very few people actually take action. But your email subscribers are loyal and engaged. They are the first to comment and take action. Also, they will trigger that social media distribution of your content you need desperately by sharing your articles on their social media. This will allow you to gain more of an audience.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Add a opt-in pop-up to your blog. Here’s a list of 67 email marketing tools that you can use. Once you’ve found the tools that meet your needs, commit to writing a love letter to your readers once a week. Update them on your life, share your best content and offer deals.


Umm did you sign up to get my love letter, expect one in your inbox this week.


this one time at band camp


Here’s where I brag a little because it’s the one thing I know I do well. Keep your reader in my mind with every post and tell them a story. Yes, solve their problem but don’t be rude and just throw content down their timelines. Why did you want to solve their problem in the first place? What makes your ass the expert on their problem? Is this a problem that you or a friend has had? Why should they shop at that expensive ass store on Fifth Ave? Did you decide to indulge and you want them to indulge also?


Skipping this step is so unforgiving and you will find that your traffic will literally stand still if you’re not doing this. Your content goals should be aligned with educating your audience, addressing their pain points and inspiring them to take action.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Take your time and write some dope ass content. Really guys! Think about your opening paragraph and remember it’s about them and what they want. Write something that makes them get all the feels. Like, “OMG, she wrote this post for me!” or “Lawrdt, she knows my life!”


Discipline yourself to write every word with the audience persona in mind. Also remember that some stories are visual and require a good gif or meme to really evoke the feeling of your post.


 


chikin_is_brain_food_cow_chick-fil_aYour headlines are whack! There I said it. Also, no one is clicking on it. There, I’m mean for being honest. But it’s true. Not a single person is clicking on your post because your headlines scream, “please scroll past me because this post MIGHT be boring”.


A good writer knows how to hook you with the headline and introduction. They empathize with your pain points. They offer special bonuses leading to instant gratification.


Here are some examples of my recent headlines:


Being persuasive (not click bait-y) will inspire your readers to engage with your content and take action.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Structure your blog posts and social media updates with a technique called AIDA. AIDA is an advertising formula that helps you write captivating posts, newsletters, landing page copy, social media updates and more.


Here’s what the acronym means:


Attention: Attract the attention of your reader (with an enticing headline). Example: Sneak Peek, You Won’t Believe This Ish, Yikes…)
Interest: Give fresh and insightful information that’ll interest the reader.


Desire: Persuade your reader. Convince him to believe in your idea by stating its proven benefits.


Action: Once the reader has engaged with your copy, don’t assume he’ll take the necessary next step. End your post with a compelling call to action but make it clear and easy for the reader to take your intended next step.


brace yourself we writing 7 posts


Now when I say this I mean publish dope content every day. It’s really important that the quality of your published posts is stellar. If you write something just because you want to meet your goals you’ve actually failed at this goal and you’ve wasted your audience’s precious time and risk them never coming back again.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Write stories with original perspectives. Make sure that your blog posts are supported with original graphics (this is something I am working on too, don’t judge me). Try to have at least 40% of your content evergreen long-form (1500 – 2000 words) content. But don’t forget about your past content you’ve already published. You can always research more on that topic, update your post and socialize it again. The extra effort keeps both parties happy–the search visitors and Google!


 


epic-failI can’t even take you seriously if you aren’t on WordPress and I think you are all the way playing if you URL says HeyGirlHey.blogspot.com! Seriously tho? And if you are doing this to elude the technical aspect of blogging, kill yaself! Wait, sorry that was harsh I meant…delete your blog.


Having a free blog limits your growth and monetization options! And we all like them coins, right. Even though you are new to the game you still need to have a professional look and set up for readers to become loyal.


Here’s what you should be doing…


Select your own domain and start with your own hosting company. Go ahead, buy the house and the land please and thanks! What’s great about doing this is that many hosting companies offer a hosting plan with free domain for the first year. GoDaddy will even install WordPress on the domain for you.


funny-blogging-content-meme


I don’t care if you are a new blogger or you were the first on the Internet, this is crucial mistake. And it’s one will (me included) sometimes forgets. I know that life happens but this is a business. Even if your business is part-time and is only open from 4pm to 10pm it’s still your business, so treat it as such. We don’t work for free, we make sure there’s no typos (hopefully there are none in this post) and we deliver what we promised to our readers and brands. Period!


Starting a blog is so easy that it’s incredibly difficult. Partly because it’s easy to get confused with the but truckloads of blogs that give out advice which may or may not be useless. But start with NOT making these mistakes. These aren’t all the ones you can make, and I will probably update this, but it’s a good starting point. And what’s even better is…you can trust me, I’ve done them all and I am still working on myself. Le sigh!


If this post helped you even in the slightest bit, make sure you share with your friends on social media (tweet it above). Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


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