This list isn't comprehensive, but it hits some of the most important traps to avoid. So, bloggers, just don't do it:
- Begin a blog for money or fame. While there is money and fame, it is mighty hard to come by and requires years of hard work and endurance. You have stiff competition, a relatively small market, and people just don't just trample each other to get to your blog when you launch it. You have to attract the audience through social media, meeting other bloggers, commenting on other blogs, and using Search Engine Optimization to bring in organic traffic (people searching on Google).
- Quit your day job. Because of the above, don't do anything drastic financially. Your blog will evolve with you and the intensity of your efforts, but to make it a success, you need your job to help you build it. Hold onto that job and use it as a resource to fund your blog until it sustains itself.
- If you do not love to read and write. Blogging is in no way worth it if you do not love to read and write. This should be your motivation, to learn and express your ideas. Other motives will get you into trouble.
- Pick a title that's stupid, silly, obscure, or without keywords. Here was my first error. I thought of companies like Yahoo!, Yelp, Google, and the like, figuring that I needed a strange catchy title for my blog if I wanted to be big time. The reason to avoid something like ZipMinis is difficult to explain, but much easier if you look at the other end. Picking a title with keywords about your topic assists you in drawing in organic traffic because you have the actual topic people are searching for in your title. Silly and obscure titles will make people skeptical about the value of your blog. That's not to say that you shouldn't be creative, but pick a title that is an asset to you and that you can live with for the next 10 years.
- Start your blog without purchasing a domain. This means that you buy an address and own it until you stop paying for it. This gives you credibility, and makes it possible to create a name like zipminis.com instead of http://zipminis.weebly.com. Do you see the value in that?
- Start your blog on a platform that is difficult to use or that you cannot change. This is a little complicated, but there are many services out there that want your dollar to give you the tools to create a blog. Not all are equal, and there is much debate about the best. Let me tell you my experience. I started with Weebly because it seemed easy. I didn't need to know any code, and I just had to drag a drop the things I wanted, like this section you are looking at with a picture and text. There are a lot of other features. However, most people will tell you Wordpress is the best, and I will not disagree. It has some nice features and flexibility that Weebly doesn't, but because of that it is a little more complicated. Certainly Wordpress is workable and fairly easy to use because so many people do and have beautiful blogs and websites.
- Write a purely creative blog. If you plan to write just creative fiction or poetry, your blog probably isn't going to fly. The reason why is that people search for answers to questions and information about topics on the internet. They generally do not search for, and many times avoid, creative blogs. So, all you have to do is meet that first need, and in a separate blog on your webpage, include your creative writing. If they like your informational content, they may just take a look at your creative content as well.
- Pick a topic without thorough research and about which you know nothing. You want a topic that you know about or that you want to learn about, otherwise you will get bored fast. Find the keywords in your topic area and keep a list of them (use Google's Adwords Keyword Search Tool).
- Start before learning something about SEO and Google's best practices. There is a bit of flexibility here, but you should research on the internet what these terms mean and how to employ them. I didn't, and had to learn it on the fly. It was difficult to keep pace with writing while I was trying to learn the basics of blogging. Just to give you an idea of the potential problem here, I know many bloggers who don't even verify their site with Google, which guarantees you will not receive any organic traffic. Thankfully, I learned this one early on.
- Forget your reader. You must figure out, based upon your topic and the way you write, who your audience is. Initially, use your imagination and ask journalist questions about your audience: Who? When? Why? What? How?
- Unwilling to learn a lot of information and techniques quickly. The learning curve is intense, but it is certainly manageable if you are willing to passionately learn about the craft of blogging. I learn new things about blogging every day, and I do this by searching on the internet for answers. There are expert bloggers out there that know them and are kind enough to share with you. Other bloggers are you strongest asset.
- Find writing everyday frightening or unappealing. The best bloggers write daily or close to it.
I hope you see these tips as helpful rather than discouraging. My opinion is that it's best to know what you are getting into. I love blogging and am passionate about it, but it certainly takes a unique type of person to feel that way about writing.
You will enjoy these articles on writing:
- 10 Essential writing lessons from Albert Einstein quotes
- The writing life: Passion for the pain of bloodletting on the page
- Top writing myths that motivate and sabotage
- How to create the ultimate writer's app toolkit
- Productive procrastination? A writer's worst enemy and Zen remedies
- Best blog title tips: What SEO and 10,000 plus student essays reveal
Before you leave, what tips have a left out? Do you disagree with any of them? Let us know what you think.