5 Blogging Mistakes I’ve Made Over the Last 8 Years

Throughout middle school and high school, I started and maintained a half dozen or so “online journals.” You know, the ones that a lot of kids made in the late 90s/early 2000s, on Xanga, LiveJournal, DeadJournal, etc. No? Was I the only one? 

Anyway, I wrote in these online journals about my day at school, boys I thought were cute, lyrics I loved from various boy band songs, and details about drama between me and my friends. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing this content with the world, so I kept these sites private. 

Time passed and while I was in college, I got the urge to start another online journal. By this point, they were being called blogs, at least among the millennial crowd. I remember the day very well actually. It was 8 years ago. I was sitting in my college bedroom, on the internet, on my desktop computer. I set up a blog on Blogger.com and named it Simply Nicole. That was that. There was no real strategy behind calling it Simply Nicole. I just thought it was cool. Pretty boring story, but it’s the truth! 

I didn’t do it to start a business. I didn’t do it to get lots of readers. I did it because I craved a platform to express myself in a more public way than online journals of the past. I wanted a place to interact with like-minded girls about living a healthy but BALANCED life, and share the tips and tricks that worked for me. 

Blogging Mistakes I've Made over the Past 8 Years

However, a lot has changed in the blogosphere in 8 years, in my opinion. For one, more people are starting blogs in hopes of becoming famous and making a lot of money. If this is you, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, sweetheart, but that’s most likely not going to happen. But who am I to tell you what to do? Do whatever you want. Just make sure you have realistic expectations. 

Secondly, I’ve found that over the past two years or so, brands have been taking bloggers more seriously. Brands are dedicating more money in their budget to work with bloggers in larger capacities. They understand that consumer attention has shifted. How so? People are more likely to purchase a product that their favorite blogger or digital influencer mentions and uses, than buying something that a celebrity talks about on a commercial. Why? Trust. Which is why I ONLY talk about products that I really love, and that I use on a daily basis. This wasn’t always the case. Let me tell you all about it, along with more blogging mistakes I’ve made over the years.

I want to make sure you don’t fall into the same traps that I did. Let’s go!

Blogging Mistakes I've Made over the Past 8 Years

1. Choosing bad brand collaborations

Ok, as I mentioned above, I completely was at fault for this one. In the beginning, I thought getting free products was the absolute best. Who doesn’t love free makeup, free fitness products, free clothes, whatever!? It was until I realized how much time goes into mentioning a product here on the blog. I have to wait for the products to be delivered, use the product to make sure I like it, take and edit photos, write and edit the post, and then share the post on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter. Phew. It’s a lot. And after saying YES to one too many products, I realized that I need to be more selective in determining the brands I want to collaborate with.

The second part of this, was that I collaborated with brands who didn’t make sense for my audience, my lifestyle, and essentially my brand. I learned the hard way, because you, my readers, were able to tell that the post didn’t really fit with the rest of my content.

Lesson learned: turn down any collaboration that isn’t a 100% good fit, no matter how much money the brand is offering to pay. 

2. Picking a confusing URL

The name Simply Nicole doesn’t tell you what my blog is about. But I’ve realized that the NAME of a blog doesn’t really make that much of a difference. Gary Vaynerchuk has said this many times. No one knew what Pepsi or Nike was before they became huge brands. They are just made up names. It doesn’t matter what you call your blog, because overtime with consistent content and an authentic voice, people will understand what you’re all about. So, I’ve been able to look past the fact that I named my site Simply Nicole. 

One thing I think I did wrote was picking a confusing URL. At the time, SimplyNicole.com wasn’t available, so I decided to throw in the dash between the two words. Not only is it annoying when I tell people my URL, “Make sure you don’t forget the dash!”, but a lot of people think that “Simply-Nicole” is my blog name. Nope, no dash. Dash in the URL, no dash in the name. See?! Isn’t that confusing?

Lesson learned: It doesn’t matter what you call your blog, however make sure it’s consistent with your URL. Try to stay away from URLs that could be confusing, including dashes, random numbers, etc. 

3. Not focusing time on developing a mailing list

This is a lesson that I only recently learned – the importance of having email subscribers. I read in numerous articles for years that having an email list was key to success, not just in the blogging space but really for any business. By creating an e-newsletter, sales funnel, whatever you want to call it, you are given the greatest gift in the world – entry into your readers/customers’ inboxes. Sure, social media is great, but there’s no guarantee that your audience is seeing your posts. Having the opportunity to get inside their inbox ups your chance of having your message seen. But this doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the email addresses! 

I’m not pushing my e-newsletter as much as I should, but that’s because I haven’t figured out a good system yet. I currently have a very small signup box in my sidebar, but I can tell you for a fact that I don’t get a lot of signups. After doing some research, I learned that it’s great to have multiple signup forms! For instance, I need to hire someone to help me create a branded signup page that I can link as “subscribe” in the top navigation bar. That way, I have more space to explain what my e-newsletter is, and the valuable that it will bring readers. It’s also nice to have a separate subscribe page because I’ll be able to link to it when I reference my e-newsletter in various posts. 

Lesson learned: Start now {I use the free version of MailChimp}. Create an incentive for your readers to want to subscribe to your e-newsletter. That incentive will differ depending on the content you provide. For instance, if you’re a fashion blogger, maybe you create a PDF about the top 10 items readers need to have in their closet that will never go out of style. If you’re a food blogger, maybe you provide exclusive recipes only for people who sign up. If you’d like me to do a whole post about growing your email list, I will! 

4. Trying to hard to fit in

This isn’t the case anymore, but when I decided that I was going to take Simply Nicole to the next level, I did EVERYTHING I could to fit in with other bloggers. And, this went through phases. So, in the beginning, I tried everything in my power to become a fitness blogger. I worked out even when I didn’t really enjoy it, just so I would have content for the blog. Then, when I got tired of pretending to be that, I switched to only producing content about my home. That got tough, because I rent and I’m limited in the number of home projects I can really do. It wasn’t until maybe three or four years ago, that I realized that I was trying too hard to fit in with everyone else. 

Lesson learned: Figure out who you are, what your voice is, and stick with it. I’m not saying to write the SAME content over and over again for years, because you have to evolve with your audience and yourself. However, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. 

5. Consuming too much content

When I say that I consumed too much content, I’m talking about two different types: educational content that helps you build your blog and content from other bloggers in your niche.

Keeping yourself educated about the blogging world, new ways to produce content, upcoming technology, and social media news is so important to becoming a seasoned blogger. Never stop learning. I personally don’t think you can ever consume too much of this type of content. Even 8 years later, I’m constantly learning new things, because things are constantly changing in the business of blogging and digital content. You have to be able to keep up with these changes and adjust your business as needed. 

However, on the flip side, I made the mistake of consuming too much content from other bloggers in my niche. So much so, that I started to realized that my style of blogging, my tone, the things I was covering, wasn’t authentic. Unconsciously, I was trying to blog like someone else. I won’t lie and say this doesn’t happen from time to time, but I’ve learned how to recognize this fault. The tell-tell sign for me, when I know that I need to step back from reading blogs, is when I run out of things to blog about. I read too much from what everyone else is writing about, that I lose sight of my own blogging goals.

Lesson learned: Stay educated on what’s going on in the blogging industry, but don’t overwhelm yourself by reading too much content from bloggers like yourself. 

So there you have it. I know this post was kind of long, but it’s important. If you’re just starting a blog, I want to make sure you don’t make the mistakes that I did. Also, just to be clear. I’ve made WAY more than 5 mistakes, but in order to keep this post manageable, I decided to pair it down to the 5 most important ones. 

// Check out other posts in my blogging series!

Share:

3 Comments

  1. October 21, 2016 / 9:43 am

    Great article, Nicole. Thanks for sharing!

    • May 9, 2017 / 2:59 pm

      Thanks for reading!

  2. October 23, 2016 / 1:53 pm

    Very interesting …thanks for sharing! I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now, and I hear about the mistake of not growing a subscriber list all the time. But as a lifestyle blogger, I always struggle with what exactly that ‘incentive” would be in terms of getting people to subscribe. I’m not selling anything… I just want to offer my advice. I wonder if you have some tips for this question!

    Jessica || Cubicle Chic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *