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Mitch is in charge of a well over six figure blog empire in the sports niche, which he started by focusing on college football in the USA.
He was one of the very first people to join Blog Mastermind. He also happens to have the distinction of attending almost every single coaching call I have done since I started doing them for my members (we are talking years!).
Mitch is a straight talking guy and wanted to share with you what he considers some of the most common mistakes that cause blogs to fail. Follow his advice, he has the experience to back up the claims…
I want to preface this by saying I haven’t been at this blogging game as long as some, but I’ve been at it longer than others.
I have seen people come and go, as they try and make a run of it as a professional blogger or to create a successful blog. I have seen plenty of things work and fail to become an expert on this subject.
As for my story, one day I typed into Google “How do I start a website?”, two and a half years later I run a site that easily makes six figures a year and is on the fast track to seven figures annually.
The thing is, I never started my blog with the intention of making money or becoming a professional blogger, it just happened. I truly believe anyone can do it.
There is a right way and a wrong way and while these aren’t the same for everyone, I have seen the following list of mistakes enough times to know they are the most common reasons why blogs fail and the bloggers who start them in essence fail as well.
1) Blogging with a focus on making money as opposed to blogging with passion.
Blogs are targeted towards a very specific market, that is why there are so many and why the word “niche” is always associated with them. When your target market is a group of people who are passionate about something, they are also the ones who are most easily going to see right through someone who is in it for the money and not in it for the love of what they are blogging about.
People want to be part of something, a community where they share a common passion and interest for a subject and the Internet brings these people together, who wouldn’t have found one another otherwise. No one wants to be part of something that isn’t genuine and someone who knows enough about a topic to join a community will easily identify something that isn’t genuine.
2) Worry too much about the “keywords”.
Trust me on this one, what you think are your best keywords may not be the best keywords. If you are blogging consistently, your keywords will be part of your articles and blog posts, not as something forced or contrived, but as just part of what you are writing about. This is a really simple concept that so few seem to get. If you find a formula that works for bringing in traffic, then of course stick to it and incorporate it.
I hear over and over again about people targeting specific keywords without even knowing if these are even going to be bringing in traffic or not and if so, how much or how little. I often see people waste a lot of time on this, time that would be way better served writing blog posts.
3) Refusal to Invest in their project or hobby.
Not a lot of people have extra money, it’s just a fact of life. Most people however, if they are going to play tennis, they would have no problem buying a tennis racquet or if they were taking a photography course, they would buy a camera.
I have seen few things in my life like a blog where people feel compelled to build their own tennis racquet or camera.
The time that it takes to do certain tasks with a blog is worth spending a few bucks to get it done by someone else. Obviously better help costs more money but saving hours and possibly days on end to get something done right is a very good investment if you want your blog to make it through the early days. The work you need done just to get up and running in the infancy of a blog isn’t expensive tech work no matter who is doing it. You can find someone who can do this type of work at a very affordable rate.
4) Treat blogging as a “Get Rich Quick” scheme as opposed to building a business.
Anyone can start a blog and it doesn’t take a genius to have a successful one, I’m living proof. A lot of people seem to feel that once the blog is live and up and running, it’s a license to print money when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Making money on the net isn’t difficult, once the groundwork is done, but the groundwork could take years and will at the very least take many months.
Think of it in these terms: if you open up a donut store would you expect people to be flocking to your shop on day 1? Well of course if you had the right location you very well might. Now imagine opening that same shop where there are 30 million other stores and maybe one half of one percent of those are selling donuts (that’s 150,000 donut shops), and they have been selling donuts a lot longer than you have, in fact, a lot of people have been eating their donuts for years.
Maybe you can get them to try your donuts, maybe you can get them to come back, but all of this takes time and it is a building process. Unless you are very famous, your chances of instant success are close to zero. To stand out right away, as everyone is in virtually the same location and of that location, your spot is not likely the most noticeable, is challenging.
5) Spend way too much time on the appearance of their blog before there is any content.
I have had six blog redesigns, some of them major and some just minor changes, but still very noticeable changes to the appearance of the site. I very much wish I saved a picture of my first site, no one would recognize it.
The thing is, if no one is there to read it, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. If you don’t have content to keep people there or fresh content to keep people coming back, it doesn’t matter what your blog looks like, no one is coming back to look at the blog just to say how nice it looks.
A lot of people worry way too much about the header banner, it isn’t that important. I’ll be honest, I spent $59 dollars to have my logo designed and I like it a lot better than some that I have seen that cost $50,000. You’ll want to get a logo but the banner… let’s just say no one is really paying all that much attention.
About a year ago I replaced my banner with a gigantic ad that my ad agency fills for me, I never got an email or a comment from anyone about it. I can only guess that the reason no one ever said anything is that they didn’t care or they didn’t notice, I strongly believe it’s both.
Once again, as your blog grows you’ll have features you’ll want but in the first few months and over the near term this is time better spent on building content. Just note changes down for future major redesigns.
6) Believing that signing up for a program or course guarantees success.
The only thing that will make a blog successful is the person running it. I signed up for a course and I am still an active member of that community but I never expected the course to do the hard work for me. What courses do, or should do, is provide you with solid guidance and hopefully some tips as to what has proved to work and what doesn’t work or is more difficult to make work.
A lot of the blogging experts are fantastic, they all vary a little but they all have the same message: develop content and market well and you will be successful over time.
Not one of them will say the day you go live will people flock to your site because you are a member of XYZ program, because they know better than anyone it isn’t realistic. What they will do is save you a lot of time you would have spent using trial and error by just giving you the answer or reducing the possibilities or methods to a handful of which one or more should be reasonably successful over time.
A lot of times I have seen people try something short term or just for a post or two and then abandon it if they don’t see instant results. That is not a good idea. There is no magic, just good and bad paths to take.
7) Giving up too easy.
According to Google Analytics, I had three visitors to my site in the first month I was live. When I realized I couldn’t get anyone to read my site, that’s when I signed up for a course on how to get traffic. I implemented what I was taught and it helped but it was still not a very fast process. Getting things going is a building process.
Some people might say I got “lucky” as one of my early blog posts was picked up by a major news site and I had thousands of hits in one day in my early months of blogging. While it’s true that this happened, what also happened that within two days my blog returned to its normal low traffic numbers and I was at the same point I was before that huge surge in traffic. I didn’t retain the readers because I didn’t have enough content to keep readers, it took time and effort to get it to happen.
More often than not people get out what they put into their blogs.
8 ) Putting too much emphasis on rankings.
There isn’t a bigger misleading statistic than Alexa ranking and I can prove it. As a matter of fact, when you think about it after I explain this it will make perfect sense.
Before I started my site I had no idea what an Alexa ranking was. While something like an Alexa ranking is looked at by people who have websites, people who don’t have them have no idea it even exists. Alexa only tracks visits from people who have the Alexa toolbar and if you don’t know it exists, how would you have the toolbar. My site averages 400,000 visitors a month. I know this week I had on average 3,000 more visitors a day than I had the week before yet according to Alexa my traffic is down. How is this so?
People who read my site aren’t bloggers, they are sports fans. People who have sites geared towards bloggers are more likely to attract visitors who have the Alexa toolbar, thus their Alexa ranking will be higher. Of course there are the mega sites which do millions of visitors a day where there is less of a disparity but I am sure an argument can be made that numbers are just as skewed there.
The best advertising agencies use Comscore and Net Ratings for their stats and ratings and demographic information. If you don’t know what those are or have never heard of them, then more than likely your site and traffic aren’t big enough for you to worry too much about rankings. Someday if you work hard they will mean a lot to you as the Fortune 500 will be knocking on your door for advertising space.
9) Not reading your stats correctly.
The big mistakes people make at first is they use a stats program that refers only to page views or count bots. While both of these can produce encouraging numbers, they don’t tell the story. I always use the stat programs which show my numbers to be the most conservative.
I always look at the stats not to see if my traffic is more than it was yesterday (though of course when it was new I did), but mainly I am looking for what people typed into the search engines to get there. If there is something people are looking for when they got to my site, I want to make sure I deliver if I can.
Here’s a quick example: I write up football game previews and when I looked at my stats noticed some people got to my site asking what time a game was being played or what TV channel it was shown on. While I previously did not include this information and it certainly wasn’t one of the very top searches that got people to my site, I did see these searches almost daily.
Now when I do the heading inside of my articles, I put the time of the game and TV info if I know it. It’s literally two or three strokes on my keyboard, but if people know they can find this information on my site, maybe they’ll bookmark me for that alone.
Not all people want to read my articles, but that’s okay, my feelings aren’t hurt. If people come to my site every time they want to know what time or what channel a game is on and they consider me a good source to find that information, I can live with it. My ad agency and sponsors don’t care why they are there, it’s that they are there and they come back. Those guys know a few things about what is important when it comes to building a business on the internet.
I hope at some point to expound on what I have written here and to help other people who have the passion about something that is as strong as I have for my topic, and that they end up doing what they love for their living. I can say from experience, it can happen and in fact it will happen, but maybe not how you plan. If you can avoid the frustration, stay the course, and don’t get in your own way, your odds are a lot better.