Are you thinking of starting a blog in 2012, or making significant changes to your old one?

One thing that you should always be 100% clear on is your purpose of writing. Is it to start a personal blog where you don’t really care if you have a total readership of 9 or is it to have a blog that you want to monetize at some point.

If you belong to the former camp, then do as you please, and skip this post. If not, read on.

1. Making Your Blog All About You

Your blog is not an online journal. Although it might feel like the perfect place to let everything out, be careful about what you write. Especially, when you have aims of making money from it.

Many people get offended at this advice. They indignantly retort that they are writing for their friends and family only. If that is your intent – and it is perfectly fine – go ahead but keep this in mind it would be fairly hard if not impossible to reach wider audiences with a personal blog.

The majority of the new bloggers gives up within first year of blogging. Lack of audience is the biggest factor. And they are not finding these audiences because they are not targeting them.

You target new audiences through marketing as well as your content. Not one or the other, both.

Write for your readers. Find out what can you write about that will interest them enough to come back. Remember, you might be the author but ultimately the blog exists because of your readers.

2. Writing About Every Topic Under the Sun

You have many interests and you are happy to write about them. Ask yourself, would your readers be happy to read just the same?

The only way to survive in the blogosphere is to pick a niche and write about that. If you are like most of us, you have lots of things that interest you and it can be hard to choose one.

For starters choose a broad niche such as personal development, writing, marketing, business, technology, fashion etc. As you get comfortable with writing, you could narrow it down further.

Make a list of 20 possible posts you could write on your blog. You would be dismayed to discover that you run of things earlier than you anticipated. On the other hand, a new topic with potential might surprise you. Go on, try it, you won’t know it until you do.

3. Confusing Your First Time Visitors

When somebody lands on your blog for the first time, it takes a few seconds for them to form an impression. And you need to do everything you can to make it a favourable one.

A first time visitor is looking for this information.

  • What is your blog about?
  • Who are you?
  • What is it in it for them?

If they find the answers to these questions quickly, and if they fit your reader’s profile, there is no reason for them not stay and explore further.

If you indeed are right for them, but the information is hidden away and hard to find, you are doing yourself a big disservice. Choose your blog name carefully, put a great deal of thought into your tag-line, all of these things contribute towards positive branding.

4. Not Paying Due Attention to Your “About Me” Page

Your ‘About me’ page is the second most frequently visited page of your blog. (Your homepage is the first in case you are wondering)

As soon as the visitors start to develop a soft corner for your homepage, they will head straight towards your ‘About me’ page to find out more. Now its your job to satisfy their curiosity in a way that is highly relevant to them.

Talk about what your blog is about, who you are and what you can do for your readers. That’s the main information any reader wants to have. Once you have done that, you can elaborate on what is important to you and really personalize your page.

Include a back story if you think it will inspire your readers in some way. Don’t ramble about your early childhood.

5. Writing Like Your High School English Teacher

Your design will would help to get people through the door but what will make them stay put? Your content!

It doesn’t have to resemble a college essay in form. Work hard, write passionately, be yourself and don’t forget to learn from A list bloggers who deliver with style and panache!

Make your content screen friendly, break up large chunks of text, use headings, bullet points and bold to make it easy on the eyes.

Headlines: If you want your posts to be read and shared across social media channels, then you better be a pro at crafting headlines. Headlines that arouse curiosity, hints at solving reader problems and are so good that it is impossible to not check out the article.

Intro: Once the reader is there, they are skimming. Remember it is the web, attention spans are shorter and everybody is in a rush. Your lead should invite the reader straight into your post. Start with a story, a shocking statement or a question. Whatever you do, make sure you get to the point quickly or you will risk losing your precious reader.

Close: Have a clear call to action when you finish your post. What is it that you want your reader to do? Comment, share or buy? Make it explicit.

6. Not Embracing Social Media

Even if you build it, they still won’t come, unless you market and promote your blog – repeatedly. Go out there and get active on social media. If you think it’s too hard, start using one medium at a time. Start with twitter then move on to Facebook. Don’t overlook the importance of Linkedin and other networks if you are serious about monetizing your blog in future.

7. Ignoring Other Bloggers

You should subscribe to as many blogs as you can. There are a few reasons for that. Not only will you learn a lot, you will never run out of material for future posts. On top of it, you will stay abreast of latest trends in your niche.

Most of all, you would start to develop relationships with fellow bloggers who can help you out and vice versa. You will form meaningful connections and even make a few friends. They will support you, link to you and keep you working towards your goal.

And that is priceless.

If you were to start a blog again, what would you do differently? Share with us in the comments below.

(Photo credit: Start Blog via Shutterstock)

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