Thursday, February 6, 2014

5 Blogging Mistakes

My 5th Blogging Anniversary

5th Blog Anniversary
Today my blog is turning 5 years old. It’s a nice opportunity to pause and reflect on the things I did right and the things that I did wrong during this time. As many bloggers of that time, I started with a goal of documenting our activities at home without any real goal of attracting readers. Over years I struggled with how much time I want to dedicate to my blogging and how much I want to reveal about my family, but my desire to blog did not diminish. I was also lucky enough to meet great blogging friends on my journey and get to know them and their families better than I know some of my neighbors. But I also made many mistakes, and this is really a post on how you can avoid them.

1. Learn About SEO

Learn About SEO
Even as late as a year ago I had a very vague idea as to what SEO is. I knew that this has something to do with web marketing, but anything containing the word marketing made me want to run away screaming. No wonder then that my most used search keyword reported by analytics is seahorse. Seriously, people stumble on my blog searching for seahorses! And, as a result of my ignorance, now I have 1,000 posts that are not optimized for SEO with horribly formed URLs. Don’t do as I did – learn about SEO early – a good place to get started is Google Search Optimization Starter Guide.

2. Images Do Matter

Use Compelling Images in Your Posts
I am not a great photographer, and I have no talent for graphic design, but this doesn’t excuse tiny pictures with poor lighting. That’s another liability for me – 1,000 posts with poor or no images. Good news is that with free software like PicMonkey or Picasa even I can manage a decent image for my posts once for a while and I even have fun making them. Here is where beginners can get started – Create Pinnable Images With PicMonkey. Also, I highly recommend a great post from one of my oldest blog friends Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom - Making Pinterest Work for Your Blog.

3. Let People Discover Your Awesome Content

Promote Through Social Media
I joined Pinterest years ago, and I pinned stuff I liked, but I never pinned my own content. Now I consider it one of my biggest mistakes. By all means, create your own Blog Pinterest board, make it the first board in your list of Pinterest boards and then pin your content first to it and then repin to other boards. Never pin to multiple boards at once, this makes you look like a spammer in Pinterest feed. My friend MaryAnne from Mama Smiles: Joyful Parenting has a good post on Organizing Your Pinning for Pinterest.
I am very interested in Google+ as it is evolving fast and makes it easier for people to find interesting content through search and hash tags. If you add your content to Google+, by all means use hash tags and tag people or pages to spark conversations. Read 5 Google+ Tips for Newbie Bloggers to learn more.
I also was very late bringing my blog to Facebook. Granted, with changing Facebook algorithms pages on FB are not as instrumental to driving traffic as they were before, but it’s a good platform to engage your readers in a conversation.
Know where to stop. Social media can suck a lot of time, so you have to decide where you want to invest your time and energy. I don’t do Twitter or Instagram, because I don’t want to spread myself too thin, but some people really enjoy these and other sharing platforms.

4. Know Your Numbers

Learn About Google Analytics
I am not proposing to obsessively check your numbers and stress over them, but, if you blog consistently and produce worthy content, you should see a steady increase in your page views over time adjusted for seasonal variations. One interesting number to track is a number of repeat visitors, which translates into a loyal following for your blog. I had Google Analytics installed for a long time, but I didn’t pay any real attention to it. If I were, I’d be more attuned to the fact that I kept having about 100 visitors a day with 75% repeat visitors for years. In other words, I had loyal followers (thank you, followers!), but their number was not growing. Why? See points 1, 2, and 3 on my list. You can start here – Google Analytics Resources for Beginners to Advanced Users.

5. Get Out of Your Ivory Tower!

Since I don’t want to share my last name online, I was hesitant to join online communities. I haven’t thought about using my blog name as my last name until recently. It was a big mistake. You are not alone. There are many other bloggers writing on similar topics, and you might be surprised to see that they want to feature your content. I am now a proud member of Kid Blogger Network and Kids Activities Share groups, and I really enjoy working on joint projects with other kid bloggers. Your group of supportive bloggers is probably only a few searches away.

What Will the Future Hold?

I am entering my 6th year with many liabilities, but they are also my assets. I am sitting on 1000+ of posts which are waiting to be cleaned up, purged, optimized and shared while I keep writing new posts about challenging gifted learners at home. I don’t consider myself a professional blogger, and I don’t blog for income. In fact, I have a “real” full time job, but I am really hoping to be useful to more than 100 people on my blogging journey.

Your Turn

Was this article useful to you? Then considering following me and share your own blogging mistakes in the comments section.

Follow Natalie Planet Smarty Pants's board Planet Smarty Pants Blog on Pinterest.


GarethfromFlashSticks said...

Great post. I think we've all definitely been guilty of some of these at some point! Really agree with the not spreading yourself too thin thing, it's easy to try and do so much that you end up doing nothing!

5 years? Wow! A long time in the blogging world, keep up the good work!

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

Congrats on 5 years! I think most of us learn as we go along with blogging. Your suggestions are helpful for a relative newcomer like me! :)

Dayna Abraham said...

Congratulations on 5 years! This is a great post and I will be sharing your content in Pinterest :-) so that I can come back and read more of the links. I am so happy to be part of the kid blogger network with you! I look forward to learning from you

amber whitehead said...

Happy 5th year! What a great post thanks for sharing your insight and tips with us.

Ticia said...

We can start the support group "recovering bad bloggers," or something silly like that.

I haven't quite decided if I like the idea of a board just for my blog.

Anik W. said...

Happy 5th anniversary! And thank you for great post! I'm glad I found your blog some time ago and will be back again for sure :)

Erica MomandKiddo said...

Fun post, Natalie. Like you, I blogged in a bubble for many years, not focused on growing. But in those years I "met" many awesome people -- like you!

Growing Book by Book said...

Congrats on 5 years of blogging! You may feel you've made a lot of mistakes, but you do a lot of things right too. You are awesome at supporting others and leaving comments on other blogs!

Anna hugoandmathilda said...

very helpful, thank you! :)

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Happy blogiversary!!! This is an excellent post! Pinned - I think it will help new bloggers!

Susan F Williams said...

Congratulations on 5 years and thank you for sharing your lessons learned!

The girl who painted trees said...

I have loved your blog since the beginning! Another mistake (one I made) is to make sure your blog name can grow. The Adventures of Bear was fine until I had a second child. I didn't have the guts to change the name until this year! Nurturing Learning is a name that can work regardless of the age of my kids.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Five years! Can it really have been that long already? Congrats - and as always - thanks for another thought provoking post. said...

Thanks for sharing your reflections to help us out! :)

Cassie Osborne said...

That is a great post. I know that I'm working more with SEO a 2 years later. I love pinterest so I'm doing good there! We shall see what the future holds but great ideas there.

Jo Todd said...

I've been pinning my own items for a few months. Just realised they all linked to my blog home page instead of the exact item. Realised what I did, so I've had to go through them all remove them and re pin.

Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan said...

I waited too long for SEO as well.
:( I have a great system now of updating and reposting one a week. It's actually working really well for me. Congrats on 6 years!! YAY!

Monica Pruett said...

Congrats on 5 years and thanks for the helpful tips! Monica

Hannah Wood said...

Great advice for someone just starting out! It can be very nerve inducing! Thank you for the advice :) (I found this on Pinterest, woo!)

Thrifty Londoner said...

Great advice, thank you, I'll pin my blog xxx