If you’re new here, my name is Angela – I’m the owner of Stray Curls, and I’ve been blogging since 2018.
I currently have 4 blogs:
- Stray Curls – the one you’re reading
- Mind Space Cafe – a blog on relationships and personal development
- Draw Cartoon Style – a blog on drawing cute things
- Simply Happy Hair is a blog on hair, hair, and more hair.
Apart from the last one, all the other blogs make a full-time income.
The last one only makes me about $350 per month since it’s less than a year old.
I’ve been in this business for a long time and worked with a lot of clients – coaching them personally and even doing blog audits so I am familiar with most of the mistakes new bloggers (or online business folk who are not familiar with SEO and blogging) make when they start their blogs.
And in this post, I thought I’d cover those mistakes.
If you’re considering starting a blog, I’m sure this post will help you!
But before that, why not take my free SEO email course to help you learn some SEO?
This post includes affiliate links to products I truly (from the bottom of my heart) recommend and use, meaning at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small percentage which I will use to pamper my pups and myself. This gives me more time to experiment with strategies so I can help you.
1. Not doing research on a niche first
Before anyone starts a blog, there are certain things they have to do.
1. Check if the niche is viable
What do I mean by viable? I mean:
- Is the blog niche something you are genuinely interested in? If you are interested in the niche, you can keep researching, writing, and growing your blog. If you aren’t interested in the niche (but only doing it because you’ve heard it’s profitable), you will burn out quickly and get bored – unless you hire writers. It’s happened to loads of bloggers.
- Is the blog niche profitable? You have to research and find other blogs in the same niche that are successful. You have to see how they’re monetizing and see if monetizing this niche is possible.
- Are there high-paying affiliate programs in the said niche? You must research and check if this niche has affiliate programs for products and services you can promote to your audience. If not, you’ll have to depend on ads only – and it’s not a wise idea because every blogger should diversify their blogging niche.
- Does the blog niche have a target audience in the US? It’s very necessary that you target a US audience because most advertisers pay to place ads on blogs that have a US audience mainly.
- Is it related to finance or health, or YMYL? These niches don’t do well because Google takes a long time to trust the writers in this niche. They are very careful when showing their users anything related to finance or health – it takes much longer to grow these kinds of blogs – years, I’d say.
Of course, there are a lot of details that you need to be aware of when growing a niche.
I cover everything you need to know about choosing and validating a blog niche in my brand new eBook Start a blog from scratch.
Additionally, you should also do topic research when choosing a niche.
What do I mean by that?
2. Do topic research
To make a blog work, you must check if the blog niche has topics you can rank for initially.
So, what’s the process?
- Understand your niche: To be seen as an expert in your niche, you need to cover all kinds of questions people ask. Some of these questions are high volume and very competitive, and some are low volume and low competition. You have to answer very low-volume, low-competition topics in the beginning. This is when Google understands that you’re not doing it for the pageviews but to be helpful and gain authority.
- Look at the questions people are asking, take an interest in finding out who your audience is and what questions they are actually asking that are burning them.
How do you find these topics and questions?
Answer: A Keyword Tool and Google Search
Google Search is free, but you need a paid keyword tool to find out topics people are searching for.
A keyword tool gives you the search volume and competition for each topic.
I use Ahrefs, but it’s costly, so I recommend it for bloggers who have been blogging for a while. If you’re just getting started, use KeySearch. It’s the next best thing, and the monthly cost is very low!
(Use code KSDISC to get a 20% discount)
If you are just starting out, you must aim for 0-volume keywords.
Zero-volume keywords have a volume, but they are so tiny that Google doesn’t put a number on them.
You must write posts on zero-volume keywords because this is how you get Google to trust you.
The chances of showing up on the first page are very high when you write a post on a keyword that only 10 people are searching for in a month.
Basically, you have to keep writing and writing to see what sticks.
This is the part most bloggers get stuck at – they write 3 posts, see nothing is working and give up.
But the idea is to write non-stop and complete at least 30 blog posts (all zero-volume topics/keywords).
Once you notice that you rank for many such keywords, slowly increase the search volume number to 30 and then slowly go up to 100.
Move up the ladder slowly.
- One hundred blog posts bringing you 10 pageviews daily will make 1000 pageviews.
- One hundred blog posts bringing you 100 pageviews a day make 10,000 pageviews.
You must be organized and systematic – that’s how you grow a blog.
So, before starting a blog, do research and find some extremely low-competition and low search-volume keywords/topics – make a spreadsheet. This will help keep you on track!
While doing this research, you’ll realize the kind of work you’re set up for.
I dive deep into this topic in my new eBook – How to Start a Blog from Scratch. It’s available right now for a very low price for the next 48 hours.
This eBook discusses how to validate a niche, find a profitable niche that aligns with your interests, and, most importantly, explain how to research topics. I also explain how to install Google Analytics and start the blog. I cover everything you need to know after starting the blog and even explain how to write posts in a systematic manner – it includes a 24-month blog plan as well that will help you be more accountable!
2. Paying too much attention to design and frivolous details
I’ve seen people spend weeks, if not months designing their blogs.
If you’re spending more than 3 days designing your blog, then you’re doing it wrong.
You just want to create a basic standard website with the following pages:
- About Page (that tells your readers why you’re blogging in this niche and how you can help them, this also helps Google understand you’re a real person with some expertise and experience in this niche)
- Contact (for your readers to be able to contact you and for Google to know that you’re accountable and a legitimate person and business)
- Terms and Conditions
Create a simple text logo and 2-3 blog categories and launch.
You launch with zero content.
Because nobody is going to find you anyway.
It doesn’t matter if your blog is public; nobody will find it unless you write a few posts – so you can launch within 3 days, no problem!
Once you’re done launching, hit the ground running – write, write like you’re a monkey on candy.
Write at least 10-20 blog posts using your research in step 2.
You’ll rank almost immediately if you’ve done your keyword research properly.
Of course, you will need to SEO optimize your content – that’s how Google will rank you, and that’s how people will find you.
3. Not making the blog user-friendly
If you focus on content, make your blog page your home page.
I’ve done this for all my blogs except Stray Curls because the main focus of this blog is my digital products.
My hair blog, drawing blog, and relationship blog have posts on the front page. They are all monetized with ads and bring in a stable monthly income.
You need to make your blog very readable; here are some tips:
- Increase your font size to 19 px
- Increase your line height so the text isn’t squished together
- Look at your blog via your phone and see if it’s readable
- Have dark grey text over a white background – don’t even bother with any other combination. You want your text to be readable and simple – not pretty and difficult to read.
- Take time to customize your header sizes – this will help keep your text well-formatted and structured.
- Make sure only your Blog categories and About page are in your header – put all the other links in the footer.
- Keep the blog neat and simple – you don’t need much to be on the home page except for the content.
Whenever I do a blog audit, I notice many people have complicated blog designs.
Your blog design should be so simple and easy to use that a fifth grader should be able to navigate around it.
Don’t use too many colors – 1 primary color and 2 accents are fine and plenty!
The best example I can give you is to look at Medium.
See how beautifully laid out their content is – copy that.
Use a simple sans-serif font that is easy to read on all devices.
Test your blog – look at it from different devices and see how easy it is to scroll through the content. Fix this mistake, and people will feel like staying on your blog for longer.
4. Not paying attention to SEO
Please, please don’t write posts you want to write.
Not in the beginning, at least.
You need to be answering QUESTIONS that people are actually ASKING.
This means taking the time to think about what people are asking in your niche and then answering those questions in detail.
For example, I wrote a post on “How to get better at drawing?” on my drawing blog.
I wanted to write a post on “7 ways to draw like a pro,” but people do not ask this question. People tend to ask, “How to get better at drawing?”
You have to try to think like your reader.
What are the words they are writing in the Google Search Bar? Once you get into that line of thinking, your post title and the way your post is structured should reflect that.
Additionally, every article you write will rank for more than 1 keyword/search phrase.
For instance, if you write a post on “how to draw a succulent” that is only searched 10 times a month, you’ll expect maybe 5 pageviews. But if you do a good job, you’ll get way more.
Because that post will rank for multiple keywords. It will rank for:
- Best succulent drawing (100 searches a month)
- How to draw a succulent for a beginner (50 searches a month)
- Succulent drawing for kids (250 searches a month)
- easy plant drawings (500 searches a month)
This is why I have only 160 blog posts on Mind Space Cafe right now but have way over 130,000 page views monthly.
I get traffic for multiple terms for each blog post – this is how traffic works.
There is a knack for finding keywords and using a Keyword tool along with Google Search – I explain this in detail in my Start a Blog eBook and also in my other eBook, Grow your Blog to $1K a month in a year.
I cover multiple free methods using Google Search (if you can’t afford to pay for a keyword tool), and I also cover methods that use a keyword tool (especially if you have 1 but don’t know how to use it)
It’s a guide for beginners and intermediate bloggers wanting to reach their $1K within a year.
5. Giving up within a few months
I understand how excited you are when you start a blog.
I share that enthusiasm – I still sit at the edge of my seat and dance happily when I launch a new business. It gives me a high and an adrenaline rush like no other.
But let me be very frank with you.
It takes time to get discovered.
Let’s say you’re like me and unable to promote posts or post on social media due to lack of time.
This means that you will depend on search engines alone to get traffic.
The only way you can get traffic from search engines is to write high-quality content and wait till it ranks.
Once it starts ranking, the traffic will slowly start trickling in.
I started a new hair blog in late 2022.
Now, I’m pretty well-versed in SEO and hit the ground running. As soon as I created the blog (it took me 3 days to design and publish it), I started writing many blog posts.
Here are my income and traffic stats for the first 10 months – note how long it took to reach that $300 per month.
It takes time to earn money; it takes time to get traffic.
It does double month after month – but the first $500 you earn from your blog takes a long time. It’s relatively easy to grow once you learn what works and what is bringing you traffic.
I am telling you this because I want you to know that your traffic and income increase exponentially once you cross that 6-9th month mark.
I expect to reach $700-$1K by the 12th month of blogging with how things are going so far.
But your blog will be a practical ghost town during the first few months.
However, I highly recommend being patient and also having a plan.
This is why I wrote everything I did in my hair blog into my new eBook – Start a Blog from Scratch– and I’ve recorded every step I did while starting my new blog.
I’ve used the same strategies repeatedly to replicate success and make money blogging with my niche blogs.
There is a plan you can follow, and once you start getting that traffic, you can slow down writing posts and focus on other things.
But yes, the first few months are quite intense.
I hope this post helped you see what mistakes you can avoid starting a blog and gives you an idea of what to expect once you do start.
As always, if you have any questions or doubts, feel free to leave them below in the comments, and I will respond as soon as I can!
Have a lovely week!
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