The Five Biggest Mistakes You’re Making With Your Blog

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I look at a lot of blogs. Not only am I a fanatical reader, but through running The Blogcademy I’ve now critiqued over 300 of them! In class, each attendee receives a report card where we give them some personal feedback on their sites. And after doing so many of them over the past 12 months, I’ve realised that most bloggers are making exactly the same mistakes.

To ensure that you’re not doing the same, here are the five main blunders I see being made over and over again.

1. You have a lacklustre About page (or no About page at all!)

Next to your homepage, your About page will be the most visited on your site. The likelihood is that if a brand new reader likes your content they’re next going to want to know about the person behind the blog. If your About page is lacklustre, boring or doesn’t entice them to want to know more about you, they are unlikely to stick around.

It’s no secret that writing about yourself is hard, but as Gala says, “It’s the best possible PR exercise! You have to be your own cheerleader, your own PR agent and your own pushy stage mother!” Remember, if you don’t tell people how awesome you are, no-one else is going to do it for you.

Online, we have the power to present ourselves however we want and to become the people we always thought we could be. While, of course, you shouldn’t be making things up, the way you talk about yourself can make or break how people perceive you.

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I was recently featured on the UK Wedding Academy site. Their article was loosely based on my About page (which I directed them to when they emailed to ask if they could feature me) and I was thrilled with how the piece came out. Why? Because they said all the things I wanted people to know about me! On my About page I’m not shy to big up the things that make me proud and to share the things I want to do more of. Therefore when they came to write their article, it basically contained all the things I’m most excited about.

If your About page is lacking some oomph, be sure to let go of your inherent shyness (a good tip is to imagine you’re writing about someone else), check out this advice post and crack on with bigging yourself up ASAP!

2. Your contact info is hard to find

It genuinely baffles me how difficult some people are to contact! Don’t make it hard for potential clients to get in touch with you, especially if you’re in a service based industry or if you’re trying to sell something. Your contact page should be clearly labelled and located in the top navigation bar of your blog (under your header). Failing that you could include it in your About page, but make sure you call it out very clearly.

Similarly, if you run a location-specific business, make sure you include where in the world you are based. If you’re a florist in London, for example, it’s unlikely that you’ll be wanting to work with people in The States. If you don’t include this vital info, how are potential clients supposed to know if you’re an option for them?

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And finally, if you want people to email you, ditch the contact form! Anything that makes a potential client jump through hoops is only going to put them off. People are lazy online – we want information fast and for it to be blindly obvious what the next step is. If it’s not, we’re most likely to just click away.

If you like people to send you a specific pieces of information when they enquire (i.e. their wedding date and location), by all means do have a form, but make sure you also have the option of a clickable link which directly opens a new message in their own email client. Sure, you might get a little more spam, but just delete it, it’s really not that difficult!

3. You’re not posting enough images

Big walls of text are off-putting to even the most enthusiastic blog reader. Online, there are lots of things to distract us, but more than that, the way we read is different to how we might a book or a magazine. I always post an image every few paragraphs or so. This keeps my content looking pretty but also encourages readers to scroll further and breaks up big blocks of text.

You should also always start a blog post with an engaging, big beautiful image. This will initially attract people much more than a paragraph of text and will encourage them to keep reading. It also sets the tone of the article and gives the reader clues as to what the article is about.

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4. Your sidebars are cluttered

Everything on your site needs to have a purpose and be useful to your readers. These days, minimalism rules when it comes to blog design so get rid of anything that’s just adding unnecessary clutter. You can use your Google Analytics to see if people are actually engaging with everything on your site but I guarantee no-one is clicking those archive posts by month links on your sidebar.

If you look at my blog design you can see that it’s VERY minimalist. My sidebar is dedicated only to the things I want my readers to actually pay attention to – my advertisers and my shop. Everything else has either been removed or relocated to my footer. We did this so that these less important things wouldn’t distract from my content and so that they gave my readers an obvious next step when they get to the bottom of the page.

Let your content do the talking and eradicate anything that is distracting, irrelevant or messy around it. Less is more and all that…

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5. You don’t update regularly

Many people think blogging is easy, and I can see why, it has a very low barrier to entry. You register a domain, sign up with WordPress and go! But the people that soar in this industry are the ones that stick with it and post regularly, even when they feel like no-one is actually reading!

A lot of the blogging tips you might read may seem super obvious but it’s all about taking those lessons, applying them to your own niche and doing them every single day.

If you’re updating your blog sporadically, you don’t have any regular features or you feel like it’s more of a chore than a pleasure, then you’re unlikely to progress or see much growth in your readership.

You need to make the commitment to update often. That may be everyday, twice a week or even only once a month – the time frames don’t actually really matter. What does matter is that you’re committed to sticking at it, and giving your readers regular, engaging content. Over anything else, this is what will eventually build up those visitors numbers and keep that loyal readership always coming back for more.

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30 comments

  1. Charis Warrell

    Brilliant, love this feature. Answered loads of questions and made us think, perfectly timed too as we redo our blog/site! 😛 x

  2. I think 95% of this is really good advice! For what it’s worth, though, I have to disagree with this part:

    “I *guarantee* no-one is clicking those archive posts by month links on your sidebar.”

    When I find a blog I like, I love going back through the archives, both by date and category. And I get annoyed when I come across a really cool blog that doesn’t have a way to do that. Sometimes I want to see just one type of post (for example, outfit posts on a fashion/lifestyle blog), or I want to go back and see what the blogger’s first few posts were like.

    I’m sure I don’t represent all blog readers, and I do agree that it’s important to reduce sidebar clutter–but don’t assume that none of your readers want a way to explore your earlier posts.

  3. Hi Kat,
    I want to insert more photos into my blog posts, but I don’t want to purchase a stock photo each time. I realize I should (and will) take more of my own photos. What do you recommend as far as adding amazing images (and also giving the proper photo credit)? It is probably obvious but I’m having a DUH? moment.
    Thanks, Kat,
    Kira

  4. Post author

    Yey, well done Katie! It’s easy to overlook the blindingly obvious things when you’re in the middle of it!

  5. Post author

    Hey Laura
    Fair point, I also always like to go back and look at similar posts that I’ve enjoyed too and browse through my fave categories. By ‘archive by month’ I mean when it says “archived posts” and just lists the months underneath. Those links dont tell the reader anything about the content so they’re unlikely to get clicked, however descriptive tags or categories most certainly will get more views.

  6. Ha! No 5? Guilty! But then my excuse is that I’m not actually a blogger – my blog is just part of my website ’cause you have to have a blog, right?! TBH, I suffer from a severe case of ‘no-one-really-wants-to-read-what-I-write-anyway’. And don’t even get me started on bigging myself up on my ‘about’ page…
    Note to self: try much harder! As always, loving the advice and proverbial kick up the backside, Kat!

  7. Great post Kat, nice reminder to update my About page… I”ve slowly been making the suggested changes since The Blogcademy.. and my readers are loving the changes! thanks hun x

  8. Thanks for this post! It’s really helpful information. As a wedding photographer I’ve always just been concerned with showing off the latest wedding images but the more I study the craft of blogging the more I realize that doesn’t necessarily build readership. I personally know I’d benefit from the About Page and posting more regularly. Thanks again!

  9. Hi Kat,
    Thank you for the post! I’m not exactly a blogger, just a wedding singer trying to keep up with the ever increasing technical side of things.

    Long gone are the days when someone somewhere told someone else you could swing a tune in a bucket and you were automatically booked (although to be fair there is still a good bit of that, you just need to be able provide a link!). When I started it was proper letters and dodgy tapes…and I’m not that old!

    Everything you said struck a note with me. I’ll endeavour to do better 🙂

  10. Ha, One in Five, not so bad, right?? 🙂 The bad news for me, lots of room for improvement. The good news for me? Lots of room for improvement!

    Thanks for the gentle *push* !

    Bettye

  11. Oh no…guilty of so many of these! As much as I am crazy looking forward to the Brisbane Blogcademy, the thought of a woeful report card is a little disheartening…BUT i’m sure it will be just the kick up the bum that I need!

  12. I would absolutely LOVE to have tons of gorgeous photos of myself all over my blog like you and Gala have but I can’t afford £200 a shoot and don’t have anyone to take hot photos of me. What do you suggest? I know I can set up TFP shoots with togs on Model Mayhem but I feel like it would be too contrived :/

  13. Post author

    The Dame – make friends with photographers haha! Or failing that, do what Gala did for years and get yourself a camera and a tripod!

  14. Hi Kat,
    Thank you for this post! Do you find people respond better to original photos rather than ones from stock image sites?
    Best,
    Emily

  15. Post author

    Hi Emily – yeah totally. But also having original photos really makes your site stand out and have a unique spin.

  16. Super helpful Kat 🙂 Having just started my own blog I am probably guilty of all of the above and I have kind of started writing without getting everything else sorted out first (got to take advantage of inspiration I guess!). But I look forward to reading more of your green room posts (having been a reader of rock n roll bride since I got engaged in 2011) as I’m finding what I’m reading very useful. Thanks again!

  17. Great article – Thank you! My New Year resolution is to give my blog the attention it deserves and these tips are extremly helpful. One of my biggest faults is my lack of confidence but I truly believe i have a unique USP and so will keep going. Thanks again x

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