Avoid the Pitfalls of Blogging - picture of young woman working at laptop
Blogging and Freelance Writing

Avoid the Pitfalls of Blogging

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Kassandra Dasent is a self-employed wife and step-mom striving to live life beyond what money can buy. She writes about a variety of topics and personal experiences that all intersect with money.  You can communicate directly with Kassandra at More Than Just Money.

You’ve decided to become a blogger?  Welcome to the jungle!  How’s that been going for you?  

Cue the crickets…

If you haven’t been seeing much action on your blog, the blame is pretty much yours for the taking.  I may sound harsh but I’m not one to sugarcoat my opinions.

It’s one thing if you started a blog in the way of an online diary; which essentially amounts to having a conversation between you and yourself.  No harm, no foul.   But if you began blogging with a  focus on any topic such as fashion, music, minimalism, fitness, or personal finance, then it’s clear that you’re writing to attract an audience.  Yes of course I know you’re blogging because you love it-but let’s be honest here. You also want a slice of the internet real estate pie!    

How To Avoid the Pitfalls of Blogging

I want to cover some tried and true ways that bloggers manage to sabotage their efforts.  Better yet, I’ll offer suggestions on how to fix the problems.  I’m nice that way.  There are already too many sites gone the way of the blog cemetery so let’s save yours before it’s too late.

Quality of Content

Problem:  Your blog posts are all over the map and it’s hard to figure out what’s point of your blog.

Solution:  Take some time to define the purpose of your blog.  Some refer to this as a blog manifesto.  This should be done before you even publish your first post, but sometimes you just figure it out as you go along.  You don’t have to limit yourself to writing every post on the same topic but find clever ways to relate back to the central tenants of your blog.

Problem:  You want to create content that appeals to your target audience, but writing a blog post in the manner of a thesis hasn’t been scoring any rave reviews.

Solution:  Inject your personality, sense of humor, and opinions into your posts.  Your unique writing sauce is what will have readers coming back for more.  You don’t need a BA in English Lit to be a successful blogger so let loose a little and let your readers discover you, the blogger; not just the blog.  Your goal is to have compelling and original content written in an easy to read format.

Posting Frequency

Problem:  You’ve been blogging every day in the efforts of building your blog but, by the second month, you’ve got nothing left in the tank.  

Solution:  Stop with the daily posts because you’re not giving each post enough time to gain traction with readers and via social media.  I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to come up with amazing posts every single day.  I prefer quality over quantity when it comes to blogging so dial it back to 2-4 posts per week.  Try to write a few posts when you’re feeling particularly inspired and schedule them in advance. You can also count one of your weekly posts as part of an ongoing feature or series, week-end wrap-up/link love post.

Problem:  On the flipside, you post sporadically and pull the “Now you see me? Now you don’t!” magic act on your readers.

Solution:  Hire a staff writer and/or accept guest posts from bloggers in your niche but with a variety of perspectives.  Once you’ve created value in your blog and don’t want to lose your following, I find that sharing content from other writers is a great way to keep your blog afloat until you can commit to it more regularly.

Social Positioning

Problem:  You’re writing posts that are pretty darn good, but are tempted to fake reader responses because no one leaves any comments.

Solution:  You need to be seen in order to be heard.  This means investing time by visiting and commenting on other blogs, broadcasting your posts on social media sites and sharing those of the blogs that you frequent.  A surefire way to get comments is to ask questions in your posts to generate reader discussions.  

My personal blogging pet peeve highlights bloggers that don’t respond to their comments.  You may not get to each one, but people are taking the time to read and respond to your posts so make an effort already!

Problem:  You find yourself wasting too much time on other blogs instead of focusing on your own.

Solution:  Find blogs that truly appeal to you.  Aim to visit them weekly and comment on a post.  Add new blogs with time and stop following blogs that are at a standstill or not holding your interest anymore.  Use sites such as Bloglovin to keep track of new posts by your favorite blogs.  I believe in building genuine relationships with bloggers you feel more of a connection with and usually you’ll be reciprocated for your efforts.  

Monetizing A Blog

Problem:  You love to write and blogging is a passion but you see other bloggers making thousands per month from it.  You want in!

Solution:  You need to slow your roll and think about this very carefully.  The financially profitable bloggers are not overnight success stories.  Do you have the energy, desire and time to commit to earning more money?  If yes, then create a Hire Me page on your blog that details your services, build your writing portfolio, promote yourself and start applying for freelance work.  Don’t work for peanuts and keep your expectations in check.  Be prepared to accept rejection but if you are tenacious and do all the above, eventually you’ll start landing jobs.

Problem:  You have zero interest in being a freelancer but you want your blog to at least pay its own bills.

Solution:  Don’t solely rely on Google Adsense.  If you’re testing the waters with advertising, then Adsense is an easy way to start, but you won’t be making money quickly from it.  You have options such as sponsored posts, affiliate ads, selling a service or product, or owning multiple blogs with the same intent of building revenue.  My opinion is that you’re investing considerable time in your blog so why not make money from it.  However you choose to monetize your blog, it should be done according to your personal values, not be offensive to your readers or poorly placed on your site.  

Blogging is hard work and you only realize it once you’re in the thick of it.  You’ll learn a lot about what it takes to become a successful blogger as you go along, so stick with it and don’t allow yourself to fall by the wayside.

What are the biggest mistakes you see blogger make?  How do you propose they solve them?

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86 Comments

  1. Great post! With a new baby at home, posting frequency is definitely something I’ve been struggling with a bit this summer. I’m staying at home now and my hubby’s work schedule varies so it’s made it a little tough to get into a solid routine. I’m slowly getting back into the groove though!,

    1. A baby is a major life changing event and it definitely takes time to adjust to all the changes it brings Dee. One thing I appreciate is that your readers are in the loop about it and are supportive while you take the time needed to shift gears 🙂

  2. Thanks for the advice on blogging. Even though I’ve been a blogger for a year now, I still encounter some problems in quality of content (the content itself) and positioning myself in the blogging industry. I agree with you that hard work is needed to become a successful blogger. I hope I can be one. Just stay POSITIVE and FOCUSED!

    1. A year is no small feat Jayson so I congratulate you on this! Like you, I continue to work hard to become a better writer with each post. Love that last sentence of yours!

  3. I’ve been at this thing for just over a year. I know I am not a big gun, but I think I’ve sort of found my niche, especially within the Canadian market. Sometimes I go off topic, but it’s encompassed in my blog because it’s about more than just debt repayment.

    Joining twitter pushed me so much farther than any other single action I’ve done to date. I’m still working on it, but the networking that comes with it has made blogging so much more of a community atmosphere. Yes we comment back and forth on sites, but it’s nice to be able to say something silly not always related to the posts topic.

    1. Twitter is a big way of making connections with those in the blogging community and regular Twitter members. I too enjoy the sidebar convos and banter it generates.

  4. Great advice. I’m still trying to figure everything out and you are so right that you have no idea how hard it is until you’re in the thick of it. But then again I had no idea how rewarding it would be either. That helps with the sticking with it part :).

  5. Great post, Kassandra! You’ve covered lots of common problems. Love what you said about injecting your own personality into your blog: if one is blogging simply for the sake of making money, readers pick up on that real quick. Blogging successfully has to involve the heart and as as the head. Networking and truly caring about the blog community is vital as well.

    1. You’re absolutely right in that readers can see right through a site that solely has content for revenue generating purposes. I enjoy learning about the blogger through a mix a personal experiences and their suggestions on the topics they write about. You succeed at both Laurie!

  6. Blogging definitely requires balance! You want to make some money from it, but you also want to stay true to yourself and your readers. Its tough!

    1. It can be tough but by first staying sure of yourself and the content you write, readers will continue to be loyal for the most part and you’ll be able to starting gaining some revenue.

  7. Another great post, Kassandra. I always feel like my blog is all over the map, but I’m also ok with it not growing much. I really did start it for accountability and I’m enjoying the motivation it brings me. Any money I make is just icing in the cake. On the other hand, I want freelancing to pan out and I’m gathering my blog needs more focus to sell myself there.

    1. When you have several goals that tie into your blog such as accountability, gaining some readership and deriving freelance income like you have, I would say it’s important to first focus on your blog itself. Your content, some of which would be written in styles that would appeal to potential clients, will play a role in being able to earn even more freelance income. Wishing you the best Kirsten!

  8. My biggest pet peeve is a blogger who doesn’t respond to my comments too! Once I get a couple of no responses from comments I’ve made, as a reader I stop following the blog. I know some bloggers are too busy being ballers to appreciate every reader, but I figure if they’ve got no time to respond to the people who helped them get there, I’ve got no more time for them.

    1. With the hugely successful bloggers it’s a trade off of sorts. On one hand, they didn’t get to be where they are today without the help of other bloggers and readers who supported them. On the other hand, their time is very strained due to the growth of their site(s) but I agree that some need to make a better effort!

  9. When I started blogging seriously, I never thought about these things, but then I slowly learn how blogging takes a lot of work, and even though you can be the kind of blogger you’ve been dreaming of, it doesn’t take over night. Great advice! Wish I had known this before I started.

    1. Yes, impatience can be the death of us bloggers Brian! It does take considerable time to gain interest/traffic. What’s even tougher is to maintain and keep building once you’re reached a good rhythm with your blog.

  10. Consistency of posts should be prevalent. I hate it when I find a blog I really enjoy but then the blogger only posts once in a blue moon. Weekly should be a minimum to keep people coming back. I’ve deleted many blogs because I can’t find their new stuff.

    1. It is difficult to continue to follow bloggers when you have no idea when next they’ll pop up with a post! It’s a shame because some of these bloggers have amazing posts every time they surface, but it’s hard to keep up with them.

  11. Really good summary about what it takes to be a good blogger, Kassandra. I also don’t like when bloggers don’t reply to comments (okay, not every comment requires a response) or don’t visit your blog, even when you’ve been a loyal reader and commenter on theirs for many months. I get it that we need to also focus on our own blog which is something that I need to work on because I spend too much time on others blogs possibly. On the other hand, it has helped me to connect with many great bloggers who have reciprocated in kind (even the really busy ones!). I also get distracted by shiny bright objects, and when I sit down to work, I end up doing everything but what I planned to do. So I’d say that it requires some discipline to stay organized and on top of the various aspects and not focus too much time on one area.

    1. I hear you about some not visiting your blog at all even after you’ve been supporting theirs for awhile! You do an awesome job of reaching out to other bloggers and encouraging discussions beyond the one-to-one comment scenario. Discipline as you said is a requirement in order to properly allocate your time between all aspects of running a blogger/being a blogger.

    2. Ooh, that is a tough one. I can think of one or two regular commenters on my blog where I rarely visit their blog, and the thing is, I just don’t get any value from their blog. I certainly can’t think of any comments I’d like to leave on any posts, and so I don’t reciprocate. I don’t think there’s any point forcing it.

      1. I understand when you say about not forcing the point. I do find it a little unfair to people who do take the time to visit someone’s site often and leave comments yet the site owner has no response to you…ever? Eventually you’ll lose readers whether they are bloggers or not, and unless you don’t care, then that’s going against what you’d want for a blog.

  12. Very useful tips. I am not quite 2 months into blogging and I should probably better define the purpose of my blog. I guess my other problem that I need to address would be having the blog pay for itself. Granted I don’t expect that to happen any time soon, it is more of a long-term type of thing. Aka I don’t expect it to be doing much of anything for awhile :).

    1. Monetizing the blog is a long term outlook Kipp but it doesn’t prevent you from learning about it today and which options you may think would work better for you.

  13. Great post. I’m new to blogging but I’ve thought of all these things but have come to the same conclusions except with monetization. Traffic just isn’t there yet! Yet!

    Jay

  14. Excellent post, Kassandra! I struggled to pin point my direction. I agree it helps to focus it in!

    1. I also had to really take some time to figure out what I wanted my blog to represent and ensure that it was an accurate reflection of who I am as a person. Thanks for the comment Kara!

  15. Good tips, Kassandra.

    The main things that I tell new bloggers are to spend at least a few hours each week networking with other bloggers.. and to BE PATIENT.

    1. It’s so true Jefferson that time needs to be invested in order to grow connections with other bloggers. I think people don’t realize how MUCH time and patience it takes in order to see the results they’re after!

  16. I LOVE this Kassandra!!! I especially love the point about not responding to commenters on your blog. Part of why I comment on a blog is not just to support the blogger, but to have a conversation with the blogger. When they don’t respond, you just feel like you are in a one sided relationship and no one loves that. I understand when you have LOTS of comments, but if you only have 3, I just don’t get it.

  17. “…but if you only 3 (comments)…” this is beyond me also Shannon! Like you, I comment because I’m interested enough by your post to share my thoughts and opinions. If I wanted to have a convo with myself, I’d just pick up my Winnie the Pooh bear and have a good chat.

  18. This is great advice, Kassandra! I’m loving my journey of blogging and the community that exists :). It took me a few months after starting the blog to realize I needed a true manifesto/about page. I couldn’t have written it at the outset–I needed to find my voice and define Frugalwoods a bit before I could commit to the manifesto. But I’m so glad I did, because you’re absolutely right about needing one!

    1. You’re definitely not alone Mrs. Frugalwoods in taking some time to figure out what your blog is truly about. I happen to love your blog because you’ve have an amazing writing “sauce”!

      1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate that! Goes without saying that I love your blog too :)!

  19. The most important things for me are perspective and point of view. I’ve read a million posts about emergency funds- what story or new perspective is someone going to share to make that post add new value?

    1. Bloggers tend to churn out the same topics over and over. The main difference as you mentioned, is the added value of the blogger’s opinions and perspective. I like it when a blogger brings a fresh approach to a topic we’ve read about so often.

  20. Oh man! Where was this post 6 months ago! It’s been a real learning experience for me. One thing I did recently is test some different ad sizes and positions on my site. I was surprised at how big a difference that could make. I nearly doubled the number of ad clicks on my site just by better integrating adsense ads into the site. Google has a ad heat map that was a lot of help.

  21. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    I love these tips! I’ve already done a few of them and it’s made a huge difference. There are others I’ve already been considering, so I guess it’s time to get the ball rolling 🙂

  22. Great post! There’s so much more to blogging than just writing and publishing. I think many people don’t realize that at first, and quickly throw in the towel. If you can stick it out and keep writing worthwhile content, it can be so rewarding!

  23. You’re on a roll Kassandra! I agree with all of these. Blogging is not as easy as it may seem, and it does take time to gain traction and figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going. I think just about everyone agrees on commenting. I have a plugin that tells me if there are any comments I haven’t replied to. It’s important in order to build your audience.

  24. Awesome tips! for new bloggers starting out. Blogging requires time and effort and it is pretty much an investment in the long run. You can’t expect a blog to gain traction or traffic in a short period of time. It will take 6 months to a year to establish a newly started blog with multiple weekly postings. You shouldn’t even think about putting adsense on your blogs till you have at least 30 quality posts.

  25. Most common mistake is failing to network and get out there I think. At the beginning you write really good content and if you don’t promote it no one will read your archives once you take off. So you have to network from the start even if your blog has only 5 posts.

    1. Je suis d’accord avec toi 100% – In 100% agreement with you Pauline! Too often new bloggers are shy to put themselves out there and mingle and that’s exactly what they need to do.

  26. Preaching to the choir on a couple of these, thanks for sharing Kassandra. I was writing the other day and was exciting about the topic and got about 500 or 600 words and I said you know what this sucks and did an entirely new post about the same topic just with my flavor and charisma that I loved writing. Maybe a another one you could add or an addendum for posting 2-4 posts a week, make sure you don’t think it is average or sucks!

  27. Noted Steven! Your point about writing a post that you can feel good about is important – don’t settle for writing less than what you know you’re capable of.

  28. Networking was about 90% of what I did in the beginning. If you don’t, no one will know you’re there. I think you also have to love it. If you are doing it solely for money, it takes took long and is too variable.

  29. When I first started blogging, I was clueless. I couldn’t figure out why people weren’t reading my blog, but I wasn’t getting out there and interacting with anybody. How were people to read my blog if I wasn’t making myself visible? Nobody is going to seek you out, give you opportunities and grow your blog for you. You have to work hard and build it on your own. Good post!

    1. I think a lot of people who first start out with their blog act like a deer in the headlights lol. But I’m glad you wised up quickly and got things going for yourself. You said it well Daisy “How were people to read my blog if I wasn’t making myself visible?”.

  30. This brings me back to my first days of blogging. I remember feeling isolated and unsure of what to do. Then I interacted with a few fellow bloggers and it made everything much easier. I am still def. learning but I like to think that I am getting better.

    1. It just takes a few steps towards making contact with others and the ball gets rolling from there. I believe we all continue to learn things as writers no matter how long we’ve been at it. Thanks for your comment!

  31. Jason @ Phroogal says:

    I started blogging back in April 2013 while I figured out what to do with my mission on financial education. It’s been great and learned so much in the 15 months I’ve been doing it. I’ve seen a few fave bloggers burn out in 6 months after going at it full speed. The issue with coming up with great content and then trying to monetize weighs heavy. What’s kept me going is writing about things that interest me and may only resonate with a niche. I used to get bummed out too that I didn’t get as many comments as I’d like but instead I discovered I got a bunch of emails and direct message tweets instead. My audience isn’t so much commenters as they are “I want to talk to you directly.”

    1. That’s great Jason that you’re getting direct e-mails because often they are from a general audience and not necessarily other bloggers. Blogging should always be about creating joy for yourself in the process.

  32. Interest is the key to successful blogging. It makes it easier when thinking ideas and making it work online. If you have interest, I think you will go no wrong. What you only have to do is to know how blogging really works.

    1. Yep. I don’t quite understand those who blog solely for money. I thoroughly enjoy writing and when someone really enjoys their craft it comes across to their audience.

  33. Excellent tips here, Kassandra! I just made the purpose of my blog clearer actually. I always knew what it was for me, but I don’t think I communicated that to my readers until recently.

    1. That’s wonderful that you decided to share with your readers the “why” of your blog. It helps your readers to appreciate your content and efforts that much more.

  34. Yeah google adsense…talk about crickets!!! Sometimes though I have to admit I’m amazed at how well some sites are doing when they don’t have a point of view, or post the same stuff over and over, or have 2,000 words. Hey, good on them I guess! 🙂 I think another mistake is not taking the time to build a community…like you think you’re blog is so great people will just flock to it to comment. Uh, nope! 🙂 Good post!

  35. Great post Kassandra! It’s taken me a while to really get a good purpose down but I think I’ve finally found it and I’ve been blogging for two years. The biggest challenge that any new blogger can face is the time factor, especially if you have a full time life outside of your blog (job, kids, family, etc). But if you’ve found an area to write about that really interests you…you can’t go wrong. You just need to focus and interact with the rest of the community.

    1. Congrats Michelle on nailing the purpose behind your efforts and yes it really can take some time to clearly identify it. Good point about the time factor because it is hard to juggle growing a site along with fulfilling our other roles in life.

  36. Great post. Very true! The main thing is time. That can mean taking the time to promote your content and build relationships with other bloggers. Or time to learn about content and internet marketing. Or time to write all of the awesome blog post ideas you may have. If you devote enough time to every area of building a blog and learning, it will be successful…eventually. The final thing is not giving up. It really may take a few years to build a blog’s traffic, even if you work really hard. Stay persistent, don’t give up and never forget your reasons for wanting that blog to be successful!

    1. “…may take a few years…” this is a very true assumption that a lot of bloggers fail to understand or realize. There are so many elements that is involved growing a blog/site to a level that we desire. Thanks for your comment Kalen.

  37. Great post. I didn’t start out to have a blog. I just wanted to create a more of how to and how I retired early site because people always ask me and I thought this was a way to share with many that have the same questions or on the same path. But then I soon learned blogging is the only way to be found in the whole inter-web world. I had just never gave blogging much thought before. I think my biggest issue is my content’s tone. I was an engineer and was always developing formal technical training classes for the operational support folks and its hard to interject my freakish and sometimes sarcastic humor in my pages. I always left that to the class-room. I am passionate about what I am writing about so I tend to take it seriously and I need to relax more and just go with it. If anything I am patient so I am working on it. I learn a lot from just reading yours and other great blogs. Thanks again for your super article.

    1. You have a lot of life and career experience under your belt Tommy and for a lot of people who are learning about FI or who want to reach FI earlier, you have a lot of insight to offer. As you said, work on a way to feel comfortable injecting your personality into your posts while blending the knowledge based approach of your former engineering career. You’ll soon find a middle ground 🙂

  38. Great post! I really struggle with posting frequency since I work full time and freelance also. But since it’s something that I actually enjoy doing, I try to prioritize it. I use to post 3 times a week and it was hard to keep up so now I post about 1-2 times, which is much more manageable for my schedule.

    1. It really can be tough at times to juggle our daily commitments with writing on our blog. I tend to post twice a week, but never less than once/week in order to provide readers with solid content. I do have a life outside of blogging 🙂

  39. Cari @ A Thrifty Yankee says:

    Thank you for the tips – I’m trying to figure this whole blogging thing out and reading this will help of that I am sure!

  40. Very good and useful tips, especially for beginners like me. I am slowly trying to find my voice, build an audience, and go from there. It’s easy to give up when you don’t have a big audience. There has to be passion, along with wanting to monetize your blog.

    1. As you said Kemkem, when you’re first starting out and your following is peanuts, it can be discouraging. But, if you’re persistent in your writing and reach out to others, many will reciprocate.

  41. These are great points! I’m still trying to find my voice on my blog, but I’ve at least pretty much settled on not worrying about monetizing. I feel like that’ll help me relax and be more apt to express myself organically. 🙂

    1. I think that’s a good strategy to not focus on one aspect in order to help you build your content. It took me months before I even considered monetizing the blog and this is still a slow and steady approach for me.

  42. Thanks for the tips. My biggest problem is traffic, so I’ll make a point to comment more often. Of course, that creates the next problem of spending too much time at other websites.

  43. Prudence Debtfree says:

    This is all great advice, Kassandra. I’m trying to figure out how much time I can regularly devote to my blog and to reading other blogs. I’m in the process of moving over to WordPress with the hope of monetizing my blog, and I need all the advice I can get. I’m want to find out more about sponsored posts and affiliate ads. Do you know where I can find out about these two things in particular? Thanks.

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