This blog is primarily about using travel as a way of enriching your life without the requirement of bathing in money first. However, I realise that many of you lovely readers are also bloggers, and as I do rather enjoy blogging I’d like to share the occasional post on the experiences I have and the best practices I’ve learned as I become better at it.
Many bloggers (myself included) are guilty of making some the following mistakes. Blogging is a skill that is often self-taught and many of us struggle with it in the beginning, but we’re all here to learn and slowly improve over time.
Here are some of the common mistakes I’ve come across through my short but intense blogging career, and how to overcome them!
1. failing to display your name
My name makes an appearance on every page of my site – in the sidebar on the home screen and pages, and in the author bio on each of my posts. I want everyone to know that it’s me writing these posts.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve tried to look up someone’s name on their site or Facebook page to thank them for a comment, only to find that it is nowhere to be found. Nowhere! Not even on their about me page.
Your content becomes much more relatable when your readers can see that there is a physical human being behind it. You want people to know who you are, so display it proudly to ensure your site doesn’t look like it’s been compiled by a robot.
2. Ignoring precious readers
So people are commenting on your posts and liking your Facebook page? That’s great – now the last thing you should do is nothing! Say thanks, respond to their comment, and let them know you appreciate them stopping by because if it wasn’t for them, your site would be a lonely book on a dusty shelf that everyone forgets about reading.
Think about it – would you want to comment on a site if you knew the person behind it didn’t give a crap about you reading it?
3. an Overcrowded site
Have you noticed that all of my posts (including this one) don’t have a sidebar? This is so that you can easily scan through my site and concentrate on what’s important – my content. If my posts are enticing, then it’s simple enough to find your way to my social media in my author bio, or to other parts of my site in the navigation menu or home page.
I know it’s tempting to include 3 different Facebook plug-ins and add a massive tag cloud in the sidebar or footer, but seriously – they might look cool but they create useless clutter. If people are confused by the massive amounts of pop-ups and sidebar rubbish, they won’t know what to click on and will therefore leave your site without looking at any other pages. I will usually close a page when a pop-up makes an immediate appearance rather than stay on the site.
What do you want people to do when they visit your site? My bet is you want them to read the posts that you’ve spent countless hours putting together, so get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be there and make your content the centre of attention.
4. Not having a responsive design
It’s fine to use a free WordPress theme for your blog – I know plenty of successful bloggers who do, but please, please, please make sure it’s responsive!
My fiancé is in web development so I’ve had the benefit of having ‘responsive sites’ clearly explained. It basically means the site design shrinks and adapts depending on what size screen the person is viewing it. A smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop monitor are all different sizes, so your site needs to look good on ALL of them.
Approximately 50% of blog posts are read on mobile phones, so if your site isn’t responsive you are therefore giving the shift to 50% of your readers. Google has this great tool for testing whether your site is mobile friendly.
I don’t know about you, but if I open a site on my smart phone and I have to zoom in constantly to view the content, I’m not going to stay there long.
5. using boring post titles
If your content is good but your post titles are boring, no one is going to look at them. Above is an example of some of my first posts which have some fairly mediocre titles. I know, I know, I can edit them – but all my time is spent on my new posts at the moment.
Would you click on a post titled My visit to the Eiffel Tower? I didn’t think so. How about 10 reasons the Eiffel Tower is overrated or Why the Eiffel Tower is the best thing about Paris? You’ve got to make your titles enticing for your reader and make them feel as though they have to click on your post.
It’s challenging, but try thinking up 5-10 different engaging post titles before you decide on the best one, and use power words (here’s a list!) to grab people’s attention.
6. Copying everyone else
It’s easy to read posts from your favourite blogs and think ooh I could write about that, then go on to write a similar post. It might even be a decent post, but do you really think people want to read posts that are pretty much the same as every other blog out there? I’ve actually scrapped great post ideas once I find that someone else has already written one just like it.
For the love of god, be unique! Think about what you have to offer that no one else can, and write about it. Be an expert on something that no one else has written about. Embrace the fact that you are you, and let the world know why they should join you! Your personality and point of difference is the reason people will come to your site and love it.
Want to know how to stand out from the crowd? Check out my guide to being unique!
7. Not having a publishing schedule
A publishing schedule probably isn’t necessary if you’re blogging to show your parents and friends what you’re doing on your travels, but if you want your blog to be a little more serious then sporadic posts once a fortnight aren’t going to get anyone excited about your upcoming content. Why would anyone follow you if they have no idea when your next post will be?
I use Google calendar to plan a month of posts in advance. The above screenshot for November shows that I post three times a week (normally consisting of a photo post, a destination post, and a travel planning post). I compose them during the week before they’re scheduled to be published, then once they’re live I market them on social media. This method ensures my blog will consistently have three posts going up with varying content, and I can plan future posts accordingly.
The schedule doesn’t have to be set in stone. This post, for example, came to mind last week and I excitedly wrote it all down while I was inspired, then moved what I had planned for today to next week instead. Flexibility is fine, as long as you have a plan.
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