When you’re starting your blog, it’s easy to make mistakes. You focus so much on what to write that it’s too easy to overlook the other things you need to think about. Things like design, marketing and your long-terms goals for your blog.
But, hey, everyone makes mistakes. That’s normal. And one of the cool things about WordPress is how easy it is to fix those mistakes.
Today I’ll show you 5 common blog mistakes you could be making and how to fix them.
1. You haven’t changed the default sidebar widgets
When you set up your WordPress site, there are a few widgets automatically placed in your sidebar.
Most of those are unnecessary – like the Recent Posts widget, which will just be the same as the first post of your blog. And the Meta widget, with the login link, is really only useful to you, not your visitors, so it doesn’t need to be there either.
Having the default widgets in your sidebar makes your site look brand new and can even make you look inexperienced. Time to clear ‘em out.
Your sidebar takes up valuable space on your site so make sure you only include things that are going to be useful for your readers – like an ‘About Me’ section – and encourage them to stay on your site longer – like popular posts.
How to fix it
To customise your sidebar, go to Appearance > Widgets. On the left of the screen you’ll see all the available widgets and on the right are your sidebar and other widget areas (depending on your theme, you may only have a sidebar or you could have multiple widget areas).
To remove a widget from your sidebar, you can either drag it to the Inactive Widgets section at the bottom of the screen or open up the widget settings and click ‘Delete’.
To add new widgets just drag them from the left column into your sidebar and then configure the settings, if it has any. You can also get extra widgets, like popular posts or social icons, by installing plugins.
2. You’re not using SEO
SEO should be a big part of your blogging strategy. Because with websites, ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply.
You’ve gotta tell people you’re there.
There’s no point spending all that time writing awesome content if no one ever reads it. And Search Engine Optimisation is how you make it easier for people to find your stuff.
How to fix it
Start by installing the Yoast SEO plugin (Don’t know how? You can grab a step by step guide to installing plugins here)
This will place an SEO box at the bottom of each blog post where you can check your settings – like keyword, title and description – and edit them. The plugin will also rate your settings and offer suggestions on how to improve them.
Make sure you’ve entered a keyword or phrase for each post or you won’t see a rating.
3. You haven’t got any social sharing buttons
Some people purposefully don’t have social sharing buttons on their site because they’re concerned that page load time will be increased or that users will simply tweet or like their post rather than leave a comment.
But people are lazy, y’know? If you don’t make it easy for them to tweet or share your content, a lot of them won’t bother. And that means you could be missing out on a load of traffic and new readers.
How to fix it
Plugins like Sumo, Jetpack and Social Warfare give you an easy way to add social sharing buttons to your posts.
If you’re worried about them slowing down your site, limit the buttons to the 3-4 sites where your audience hangs out most. Like, if you know they’re not using LinkedIn, don’t bother including that button.
4. Your posts have no featured image
We humans are very visual creatures. We just love pictures, and so do social media sites. Adding an image to your posts is a fast way to increase their appeal, both to your site visitors and when your posts are shared.
When your post is shared on Facebook or Twitter, those sites look first for the featured image to show beside the excerpt and link. If they don’t find one they’ll grab any image they can find in your post – but that might not be the image you intend to be shared. So you have more control over which image is shared by uploading your pic as a featured image.
Including an image in your post also makes it shareable on Pinterest.
Pinterest is way more than just another social media site, it’s more like a search engine. Pins can drive traffic to your site for a long time after they’re created, unlike Facebook posts or tweets, which have a very short shelf life. So making your content suitable for sharing on Pinterest is a good idea!
Plus, when you add a featured image to your posts, that image will show next to the post excerpt in your main blog page, making it more attractive and eye-catching to your visitors.
How to fix it
When you’re creating your post, you’ll find the option to add a featured image just below the Category and Tags panels. Click the link and you can upload an image just as you normally would.
You might also like: How to prepare images for your website
If you need help creating pin-worthy pics for your blog, Canva is a great option. It’s easy to use, much simpler than Photoshop and best of all, free. And check out this post for a tutorial.
You can also grab stock photos from sites like Unsplash and Pexels, and check out this post for some more options: Where to find the perfect picture for your blog post
5. You have no email opt-in
This last mistake is a biggie. And it’s where we get strategic and think about your long-term goals for your blog.
If you plan on selling products or services at some point, you’re going to need an email list. And if you haven’t started building an email list yet you’re totally missing out.
Your email subscribers are much more likely to become customers than your social media followers. That’s because our inboxes are precious. We don’t just let anyone in there.
But when people sign up for your email list, they really want to hear from you. They’re properly interested in what you do.
Even if you have no products or services to sell just yet, it’s not too early to start building your mailing list. That way, when you are ready to sell, you have a group of interested and engaged people who want to be the first to know about your stuff.
How to fix it
Start by signing up to MailChimp or MailerLite. They both have free accounts to get you started. Then add some signup forms to your site and create a welcome message that your subscribers will get after signing up.
You could send out a regular newsletter – think minimum of once a month so that you stay in people’s minds. You could send them exclusive tips that you don’t publish anywhere else.
Or if you don’t have time to create extra content you can just send them your latest blog posts to start with. You can create an RSS campaign so that this is done automatically when new posts are published – it’s a great time-saver.
And to encourage more people to sign up to your list, you can create an opt-in incentive. This could be a content upgrade for a blog post or a general lead magnet. Things like checklists, workbooks swipe files and short email courses or challenges tend to work well in attracting new subscribers.
It’s not enough to write great content for your blog, you also need a great design and effective, strategic marketing to make the most of your content and turn your readers into fans. If you’re making any of these blog mistakes, it’s time to get them sorted.
Over to you – what mistakes have you made with your blog?
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