When I started this website three years ago, I had no idea that it would turn into a profitable blog.
I didn’t know anything about blogs, social media, or how to make money online. I learned everything from scratch, which meant that there were a lot of painful nights when I was ready to call it quits.
While I made a lot of mistakes when I first started my blog, I did one thing right. I never gave up.
Just a few years ago, I was unhappy at a dead end job and now I am my own boss! It’s amazing how much my life has improved and I feel so blessed.
If you’re looking to start a blog, that’s great! However, if you’re looking to start a blog and make it successful, then there are a few things that you MUST avoid. A lot of these mistakes are ones that I personally made.
1. Do NOT start your blog on a free website
If you’re just blogging for your family and friends and have absolutely NO desire to grow your blog readership or EVER make money from your blog, then it makes sense to have a free blog through wordpress.com or blogspot.com.
However, nothing is a bigger signal that you don’t take your blog seriously than a domain name like:
I can appreciate that starting a blog for “free” sounds appealing, but please understand that there’s no such thing as a free lunch in this world. You may not be paying for hosting with a free blog, but you are “paying” in other ways such as…
- Free blogs usually have slower speeds
- It’s hard to run advertisements on free blogs (making it difficult to make money)
- Free blogs don’t rank well in search engines because Google favors self-hosted websites
- Free blogs have limited customization options and look unprofessional
- Having a free blog looks sloppy and gives your visitors the impression that you’re not committed
- Free blogs are a waste of time because you really need to be self-hosted in order to actually make money
These limitations can prevent you from growing your blog and monetizing your passion. That’s why I recommend starting a blog with Bluehost to ensure that you have the right foundation for your blog to succeed. You can start a blog with Bluehost for only $3.95 per month, which makes it super affordable to start a self-hosted blog of your own. You can use my step-by-step guide here to get started.
2. Do NOT choose a bad host
Many new bloggers are quick to sign up with cheap web hosting companies that are well-known, such as GoDaddy. Unfortunately, this is a BIG mistake. Not only do these web hosting companies offer poor quality hosting, but their customer service is non-existent!
I started my blog with Bluehost and recommend them to anyone looking to start a self-hosted blog. Because of my positive experience with Bluehost, I’ve partnered with them to get my readers an exclusive deal on web hosting.
The best part is that you can start a self-hosted WordPress blog with Bluehost and get a FREE domain name for only $3.95 / month when you sign up through my tutorial. You can click here to get started or follow the step-by-step instructions in my tutorial: How to easily start a WordPress blog with Bluehost.
3. Do NOT try to please everyone
Many new bloggers worry that they’ll run out of ideas for blog posts if they stick to just one topic, so they end up writing about everything and anything. (I was definitely guilty of this when I started my blog).
While it sounds smart to try and create a blog that appeals to everyone, it almost NEVER works. By trying to please everyone, you end up attracting no one. Instead, your blog will lack focus, your readers will get confused and have no idea what your brand is about or why they should care.
Does this sound like the type of blog you want to have? I didn’t think so.
Successful bloggers have a strong niche. They know who their target audience is, what their reader is struggling with, and how to motivate their reader to accomplish their goal.
If all this sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry. I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I started my blog. It took me awhile before I found my blogging voice and established a strong niche. Trust me, these things take time, and that’s okay.
To help you get started on finding your niche, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your skills? Are you knowledge about a certain topic?
- What are you currently learning about? (You don’t have to be an expert at something to start a blog. Maybe you’re on a journey to paying off debt and want to share your tips with others).
For more tips on how to start a successful blog, I recommend signing up for my free 7-day blogging course. You can sign up in the form below!
Join my free 7-day blogging course here!
4. Do NOT spend time trying to make your blog perfect
Here’s the moment of truth when it comes to having the “perfect” blog: There is no such thing as the perfect blog.
Got it? Okay good.
I see SO many new bloggers get hung up on having the perfect blog name and clever mission statements. They spend time writing dozens of blog posts before they’re ready to go live and launch their blog with the world.
The truth is, this mentality prevents new bloggers from getting ahead because they are too afraid to take risks. They waste so much time on small details that really don’t matter in the big picture.
There are many blogs with perfect domain names and clever mission statements that don’t make any money. (You think I’m joking? I’m not).
If you want to be a successful blogger, focus on creating awesome content. Promote products your audience will find useful and provide value to the world. You could have the best-written About Page in the history of About Pages, but it’s ultimately your content that will make the biggest impact.
5. Do NOT spread yourself thin on social media
Many new bloggers feel the need to be on every social media platform because that’s what they see other bloggers do. The truth is, every social media platform works differently. For example, growing your audience on Pinterest involves very different strategies than growing yourself on Twitter.
I do recommend creating profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, just to ensure that you have the same handle across all platforms.
However, I only recommend focusing on one or two social media platforms to promote your blog, and doing them really well.
Not sure which platform to focus on growing? My suggestion is to go where your ideal audience hangs out. For example, Pinterest is my favorite platform for promoting my blog content.
6. Do NOT neglect your email list
An email list is vital to your success as a blogger. Many new bloggers make the mistake of waiting to start growing their email list. Some bloggers don’t even offer an option for readers to subscribe to an email list (which is even worst).
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I had it all figured out when I started my blog. In fact, it took me two years before I signed up with MailChimp to start my email list. Honestly, I didn’t see the point in having an email list and I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did.
If I could go back in time and tell my younger blogging self what I know now, starting an email list from day one would be on the top of my list!
Because you OWN your email list.
Social networks come and go, algorithms can change, but your email list remains the same. Plus, your email subscribers are more likely to be product buyers. This means that if you ever to decide to sell a product or service, you need an email list.
Your email subscribers are your most engaged blog readers and will be your most loyal customers. For new bloggers, I recommend using MailChimp (free for up to 2,000 subscribers) or Convertkit (the email service I use and LOVE). Click here for tips on how to grow your email list.
7. Do NOT ignore your blog’s branding
It may sound silly to think about it now, but your blog’s brand is important. Creating a style guide for your blog will instantly make you look more professional and less like a newbie blogger.
This doesn’t mean that you need to invest a large chunk of money to get a custom website theme, fancy logo, amazing photos, and epic graphics. In my opinion, less is always more. Here are some helpful tips in creating a style guide for your blog:
Create a simple logo which reflects your blog’s brand and core values. I created a simple logo using Canva, however you can pay someone to create a custom logo if you wish. To keep things simple, I recommend creating a typographic logo.
Stick to 2 or 3 font choices for your blog’s brand. This helps to keep things looking clean and professional. I have two font choices for my website: one font for my headings and second font for my body text.
When colors come to mind when you think of Coca-Cola? If you said red and white, that’s because they have good branding. Colors are important for expressing the unique personality of your blog’s brand. I recommend sticking to 2 or 3 colors. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.
Your images are also an important reflection of your blog’s brand. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy camera, there are lots of free and paid stock photo websites to choose images for your blog. Some of my favorites include Pexels, Pixaby, and Unsplash.
8. Do NOT try and publish a new blog post every day
One of the mistakes I made when I first started my blog was to try and publish a new blog post every day. Let me tell you that this strategy was exhausting and it’s impossible for anyone to be a successful blogger with this strategy, unless you have multiple contributors to your website.
Many new blogs fail because they get overwhelmed and think they need to constantly pump out new content. Content is important, but you don’t need to publish a new blog post every day in order to be successful.
You can post three times per week, two times per week, once per week, or a couple of times per month. Whatever posting schedule you decide to do, make sure to be consistent.
9. Do NOT be afraid to spend money on tools that will add value to your blog
Many new bloggers are afraid to spend money or invest in the tools that will help them grow and monetize their blog.
It’s funny because many of these new bloggers are also afraid to pay for web hosting and instead choose a free blogging platform (hoping they can make it successful someday).
How many hobbies can you think of that only cost a few dollars per month?
How many business ideas can you think of that only cost a few dollars per month to start?
Blogging is one of the MOST affordable hobbies/business ideas I know.
I used to be afraid to spend money. I was scared to pay for a self-hosted blog. I was scared to spend money on a professional WordPress theme. And I was really scared to invest money in buying blogging e-books or e-courses.
Then one day I realized that these fears were holding me back from pursuing my goals and getting ahead. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.
Knowledge is power, my friends! Say it with me: Knowledge is POWER.
Once I invested in a professional WordPress theme, my blog traffic instantly increased and I received so many compliments on how easy my website was to navigate and read.
Once I bought my first blogging e-course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing I was able to use the strategies I learned in the course to turn my hobby blog into a profitable blog. Below is a snapshot of my blog income since I signed up for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. The income I earn from blogging comes solely from display advertising and affiliate marketing.
10. Do NOT give up
There were many times in my first year of blogging that I wanted to throw in the towel and give up on my blog.
Before I started Mint Notion, I didn’t know anything about blogs, social media or how to make money online. I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but fortunately I did one thing right.
I never gave up. I believed in myself and stayed persistent.
Many new bloggers start a blog hoping for instant success. I hate to break to you, but overnight success does not happen in the blogging world (at least it’s very rare).
So whether it takes you 5 months or 5 years to achieve success, the important thing is to never give up. Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about. Set goals, create an action plan and make a commitment to yourself to keep at it, even if it seems like a struggle.
You’ve got this, my friend!
Over to you — what are your tips for new bloggers?
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