When it comes to building an audience for your blog…one that keeps coming back…one that you build a real relationship with…there is a lot of work to be done.
I just yesterday had a guest post on David Risley’s site that covers 10 of the smartest things you can do to promote your blog. I encourage you to check it out. There are also a lot of mistakes that can be made, and that’s what this post is about. Combine these two articles, and I think you’ll be off on the right foot!
- Submitting to hundreds of directories: Lisa Irby described this type of method very well pretty recently. I agree with her take on it. Look, we all know that in-bound links are good. This isn’t a secret. But keep in mind that not all links are created equal. If a directory is going to accept anyone that submits, do you think Google doesn’t know that? Unimportant, easily acquired links really just aren’t going to do much for you. If you have all the time in the world on your hands, then by all means feel free to submit to hundreds of directories and get their links, but your time is better spent on writing good content, interacting with your readers, or drinking a good beer with friends.
- Automatic blog commenting: Another thing that’s not a secret is blog commenting. Leaving comments on other blogs is a great way to build name recognition and get traffic to your site. So why not automate it? Here’s why…because it’s spam. Yes, there are tools that enable you to leave tons of comments on other people’s blogs with just a few clicks. And no, I’m not going to mention them :). I’m a fan of automation when it’s appropriate, but auto-commenting is not only ineffective, but it’s also a way to damage your brand, not help it.
- Not using self-hosted WordPress: Yes, there are easier, simpler, quicker ways to get a blog fired up. But none of those easier paths will give you the control you will require later on. I don’t mean to imply self-hosted WordPress is the only way to go. It’s not. But if you’re new to blogging, and you want to do this for business, the learning curve is worth it. Trust me, after you’ve been blogging for even a short time, you’re really, really going to want to be able to tweak some things, optimize your site and take things to the next level, and if you’re on a platform that doesn’t give you that control, your creativity is going to be stifled. That’s not a good thing. If you want to skip the learning curve altogether and just get a rocking professional blog site up without a hassle, just hire me to do it for you.
- Putting up Ads from Day 1: I don’t mean this critically of anyone who wishes to advertise on their blog. I will probably advertise on Next Level at some point; it’s a good way to make some cash. However, this is a post about mistakes often made in marketing, and while I believe success in blogging is largely subjective, I also believe that a lot of new bloggers equate getting some Adsense clicks as success. Here’s the bottom line: If making $5 a month is your goal, go for it. Not everyone is in this blogging game to make money. I get it. But if your goal is not to make money, why are you putting up ads? And if you’re goal IS to make money, I seriously question whether $5 a month is going to do it for you! And that’s what you’re going to get when you’re first starting…$5 a month, so just skip it. NOTHING is more valuable than your time. When you’re getting a few hundred solid visitors a day or more, look into advertising then. At least then it will be enough to cover your hosting expenses! Til then, focus on content and building your brand. It is a way better return on your time.
- Put up your blog, write one or two posts and complain about how you’re not getting any traffic: Any business endeavor worth doing takes time and effort. I’m not saying it’s going to take years to build a successful business. It won’t. Not if you’re working it like you should be. In fact, building an income online is fairly simple and doesn’t have to take that long…but the effort still needs to be there. Even the gurus like John Reese work their asses off prior to a launch. Yes, they may rake in a few million bucks doing it, but the wrong assumption to make it that it was easy to do. I’m not saying you can’t make really good money doing this. Clearly, you can. But even Frank Kern, the king of lazy, openly admits to working long, hard hours when necessary. It doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and live a good life, but the work has to be done. If you want results, you have to do the work.
- Beg your friends to stop by and comment your blog: It is not comments that you lack when you’re trying to build a new blog. It is community. This is another example of good energy being focused in the wrong place. Allowing your blog to grow organically takes patience, but it is the best return on your time. Additionally, unless your blog covers a truly universally appealing niche, it is unlikely your friends are ideal visitors to your blog anyway.
- Buy traffic from a traffic broker: This is a complete waste of time. Wanting traffic is understandable. Pay-per-click traffic can be used well, but it can also get expensive very quickly. But traffic that comes from a broker (i.e. GET 10,000 VISITORS TO YOUR SITE FOR $39.95) comes mostly from pop-under windows or other similar methods. It is basically forced traffic, and it is not valuable.
- Blast out an email to everyone in your database about your new blog: It is natural to want to tell everyone about your new blog. But who do you have in your database? Is it really just close friends? If so, OK. But most people’s contacts are filled with a lot more besides just close friends. Coworkers, business contacts, vendors you’ve done business with in the past, etc. If someone has not specifically asked for updates from you regarding your new blog, it is spam for you to blast a message out. Just because you tentatively know someone does not mean you can email them about anything, even if it’s really cool! You’re not forwarding them cute pictures of cats and funny political cartoons too, are you? : )
- Use social networks solely for promoting your blog: No one likes someone who only talks about themselves. Social networking sites are for conversation. It is perfectly fine to tweet out links to your site and such. I do it. I recommend you do it also. But doing it incessantly, or if your twitter stream or any other status updates are 100% (or even 50%) links to your blog, you need to reconsider what your motive is for being a part of that network. If your main motivation is to promote your blog, you will be well-served to reprioritize . Brutal truth: if all you’re doing is promoting yourself, your “friends” aren’t listening anyway.
- Constantly tweak your site: Everyone who has a blog wants their blog to look great, work great and be great. It’s important to work on the design and functionality of your site. Right now for example, I’m having some issues with some of my files taking way to long to download, and it’s causing my pages to load way too slowly. I apologize if this page took too long to load…I’m working on it! But here’s the thing…you only have so much time, and prioritizing is absolutely essential. I’m going to fix this slow page load issue, no doubt, but not before I make my contacts and write content for the day. First things first. Design, plugins, etc can really work for you. They’re important. But there is no such thing as a blog design or a specific plugin that’s going to make your business a success. Likewise, you can have the ugliest blog ever, but if your content is awesome and you build a community that is engaged and loves what you do…the ugliness of your blog just won’t matter. Work on the fine details of your site, but focus on the important stuff…do the important stuff first.
I write these tips because when I was first getting started, I did most of these things. I never did auto-blog commenting, but I did look into it. I DID email everyone in my database to promote my very first internet marketing project. What a disaster. I’ve made mistakes, no doubt. And you will too…surely you’ll be able to write your own list of 10 things to avoid, and I’d LOVE to hear about them in the comments! But hopefully I can at least help you avoid these 10 mistakes, so you can make better use of your time and get better results quicker 🙂