About a year ago, I hosted my 2018 EBA VIPs for our first (of four) two-day strategy session of the year. It was such a great mix of people! There were veteran bloggers who are already pulling in six- and
seven-figure incomes from their blogs, and then there were bloggers who are still in the beginning stages.
It was so cool to be able to work with so many different types of people! (In case you are wondering, I select members based on mindset, not on income or traffic!)
We covered a lot of different topics and strategies that applied to different stages of the blogging journey, and it was hard not to get excited about all the possibilities. But one thing we had to get very clear about is timing, and at which point in our journey we should be focusing on refinement and growth versus monetization and business building.
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Because the hard truth is that sometimes the monetization and business-building side sounds a lot more exciting! But the thing is, we can’t do everything from day one. If we want to be successful with our blogs — and if we want to get to the point where we’re trying all these exciting new strategies and generating a ton of income — we have to start with the basics.
In other words, if we want to build a blogging empire, we need to start by laying down the right foundation.
The Mistakes New Bloggers Make on the Road to Success
But not everyone who’s starting out wants to hear that. They don’t want to lay the foundation; they want to go straight to the building part. And as a result, I see a lot of new bloggers getting ahead of themselves, making the wrong decisions, and not getting as far as they could have.
Here are a few of the most common mistakes I see people make during the foundation-laying phase of their blogging career (and why you should avoid them if you want to build a successful blog):
Taking Steps out of Order
In EBA, we give our students a step-by-step guide to building their blogs. And it’s a step-by-step guide for a reason.
When we follow those steps in the correct order, we get the results we’re looking for. And when we don’t… well, we don’t.One of the biggest mistakes beginning bloggers make is doing things out of order.
It’s like they have all the pieces to the puzzle, but they don’t know how to put them together. And then they get totally frustrated because they can’t seem to make everything fit.
When it comes to blogging, we need to do things in a certain order because everything we do builds on the thing before it. Again, it’s building the foundation. If we try to drive traffic to our blogs before we’ve written any content, what will those people read when they get there? If we try to build an email list before we’ve promoted our blogs and found an audience, who will be on our blog to sign up for our email list? If we launch a product without having an email list, who will we sell to?
The most successful bloggers are the ones who understand that the process of building a blog is a series of steps — and in order to get their blogs to the next level, they need to take those steps in the right order.
Bouncing Around From Strategy to Strategy
Another major mistake I see people make when they’re starting out — and aren’t focusing on building a foundation for their blog — is bouncing from strategy to strategy.
You know what I mean. We read one thing and think, “Ohhh, I’ll try that!” Then we try it for a little while, but it doesn’t work or we get bored so we read another thing and think, “Oh, okay, let’s try that!” Then we try that for a little while, but it doesn’t work or we get bored so we read another thing and…
Rinse and repeat. You get the picture.
The thing is, there’s SO much information out there. It can be tempting to try it all! But bouncing from one strategy to another with no real rhyme or reason is a quick and easy way to tank our blogs.
Now, once we’ve laid the right foundation for our blogs, can we try out a new strategy here and there? Of course. But at the beginning of our blogs, our focus needs to be on laying the foundation for success — and we won’t be able to do that if we’re suffering from the “new and shiny syndrome” and trying some new, fancy strategy we read about on a blogging website every five minutes.
Getting Caught up in Perfectionism
Another mistake people make that stops them from building the proper foundation for their blogs actually doesn’t seem like a mistake — and that’s perfectionism.
Now, don’t get me wrong — it’s super important to make sure we’re putting out quality content. But if we’re so concerned with how well our content is written or how long our posts are that we never hit the “publish” button, we’ll never build the foundation we need to take our blogs to the next level.
As someone who has a tendency to overthink, I can totally relate to this one. But when we’re first starting out, our content needs to be a balance of quality and quantity. We’ll never get anywhere if we work on a single blog post for an entire year, no matter how great that blog post is.
Remember — not every blog post has to be a 5,000-word dissertation. When we’re building our blogs, it’s more important to get content out into the world than it is to spend days (or weeks… or even months!) agonizing over every word and comma until we feel our content is “perfect.”
Getting Locked Into One Type of Post
Speaking of “not every blog post has to be a dissertation,” another major mistake new bloggers make during the foundation-laying phase of their blogs is getting too attached to one type of blog post. They think “a good blog post should be 1,000 words long/short and sweet/serious/funny/professionally written/cool and casual!” And they get locked into that idea of what a “good” blog post should be… and then only create blog posts in that format. You can use this resource to help you brainstorm more types of blog post ideas!
But how do we know what will work before we try it? Our audience might like listicles or more in-depth posts. They might like posts that are a mile long or posts that are short and to the point. They might like hearing our personal stories, or they might like it better when we keep things all business.
The point is, we have zero ways of knowing what kind of content will perform well on our blogs until we try it. And getting too attached to one kind of content — at the expense of trying other things — can stop us from building the foundation we need to really amp up our blogging.
What to Focus on at the Beginning of Your Blog
Now that we have talked about what doesn’t work when we’re first starting out and laying the foundation for our blogs, let’s talk about what DOES work.
Lucky for us, it’s super simple.
The truth is, at the beginning, there’s only two things we need to focus on as bloggers. While they might not be the most exciting things, I can guarantee they were the jumping-off point for every single successful blogger on the planet.
So what, exactly, are those two things?
Creating ContentThe foundation of our blogs is content. So before we can do anything else, we need to get writing.
At the beginning, we need to be writing our little tails off — at least three posts a week. And we need to really pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. Is there a specific post topic that people can’t seem to get enough of? Is there a topic we thought people would love, but for whatever reason is falling flat?
This is also the best time to test different things out to see what resonates with our audience. Testing out different graphics, different titles, and different Pinterest images will give us insights into our audience — and help us craft better-performing content in the future.
Promoting Like Crazy
When we start our blogs, our readership is likely hovering somewhere around the “zero” mark. And the only way to get that number moving in the right direction is to promote like crazy.
When we’re first starting out and laying the foundation for our business, that is the time we need to be promoting our blogs like our lives depend on it. This is the time to be all over Pinterest, to be sharing our posts on social media, to be doing everything we can to get our blog in front of our ideal audience and turn them into devoted readers. If we’re not promoting like crazy at the beginning, we’ll never get the momentum we need to move on to the next stage of our blogging careers.
Just two things make up the foundation of our blog: creating content and promotion. At the beginning, it’s that simple. It’s these foundational strategies that help bloggers at the beginning of their journey make it to the next level and find the success they’re after.
I Know This Might Sound Boring…
Now, look — I know this might not sound like the most exciting stuff. And at the beginning, things can feel kind of slow. But I promise you that every single blogger who’s found success has gone through this not-so-exciting — but totally necessary — foundation-laying process with their blogs. Every single blogger who’s found success will also say that it’s one of the most important things they ever did.
So if you’re just starting out, I know this isn’t glamorous — but I also know that this is what it takes to set yourself up for success. And I know that you can push through the not-so-fun-but-totally-necessary stuff and make it happen!
By the way, if you haven’t already, be sure to take our blogging assessment to find out where you are at in terms of mindset–and what you might still need to work on!