5 Beginning Blogging Mistakes You Can Fix

beginning_blogging_mistakes

Congratulations! You’ve decided to join the ranks of bloggers. You’re going to love it! Before you get too far into it, though, I’d like to help you avoid some common beginning blogging mistakes. These mistakes are almost a rite of passage, but why waste that time with mistakes you can easily avoid?

1.  Auto-loading music.

Please. I beg you, your readers beg you: ditch the auto-loading music! Auto-loading music is not only annoying and surprising, but it’s a bandwidth hog. It makes your blog load slowly. Do you really want to lose a reader because she couldn’t wait for your site to load? And if she waits for your site to load, will she be annoyed because she didn’t know there would be music, accidentally had her speakers on high, and a sleeping husband (or child) right beside her? I can tell you this: She won’t be back.

2.  Using a design with a dark background & light text.

This issue is less about your aesthetic (though that is part of it) and more about usability and readability. Reading online is harder on our eyes than reading traditional paper. Using a dark background with light text makes it even harder on your readers’ eyes.

3.  Too much sidebar clutter.

A sleek, uncluttered design goes a long way with readers. The less clutter, the more white space you have. You can use this white space to help lead your readers’ eye toward specific content. Your images and headlines will stand out more.

Are you proud of your awards, badges, and various trinkets and show them off on your sidebar? That’s OK, those things are a rite of passage too. You don’t have to get rid of them, but why not put awards on their own page and link to it from your main page? You’ll trade 20 links for just one link and de-clutter the sidebar. De-cluttering your sidebar eases navigation for your reader. When there are fewer items competing for your reader’s attention, they’ll be drawn to what’s important.

TIP: Want to learn more about how light backgrounds & clearing clutter affect how your audience uses your site? Blog Design For Dummies is a great resource. I highly recommend it.

4. Accidental plagiarism (even with photos).

Very few legitimate bloggers plagiarize on purpose. Most likely a new blogger won’t realize what they’re doing (but that doesn’t make it OK). Plagiarism applies to using any content that isn’t originally yours, whether it’s words, photography, music, pictures, or anything else.

Many new bloggers will Google a picture, then save it and use it in a blog post. That’s plagiarism — even if you cite where you found the picture — because you haven’t asked the owner if you can use it.

The U.S. Copyright Office bluntly says: “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

So take a minute to find out about and understand the issues of plagiarism and copyright. You may also want to know about Creative Commons.

What about your words being used without your permission? You can check to see if anyone has copied your content with Copyscape. And if you find that someone has used your content without your permission, click over to What to Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Post.

5. Using “click here” instead of keyword phrases for links.

Choose your link words carefully. When you are writing a post and need to insert a link, consider how you are going to write that sentence and where you will include the link. For example, which of these is more effective (potential links in bold)?

We can help you find information on the most popular blog hosts.

For information on blog hosts click here.

The top sentence is more effective because it has a keyword phrase that helps with SEO and is more descriptive for readers. The words “click here” or even just the word “here” linked to other files or pages are everywhere on the web. When was the last time you did a search for “click here”?

Wait, there’s more! Here are five more beginner blogging mistakes to avoid.

What would you add to his list?

48 Responses

  1. tahle October 21, 2015 / 6:43 am

    wow , very easy to understand #thankyou

  2. Bethany May 25, 2014 / 9:56 am

    Thanks for this its really helpful!

  3. Anna May 13, 2014 / 10:24 am

    I would like to use a quote from a book in a blog post. After reading this post I went on a research spree and have not found any satisfactory information on whether or not I can or cannot use quotes. Some say cite your sources and others say ask for permission. Many blogs I visited used quotes and cited the author, book, publisher, year – all the good stuff. Is this ok? Do you have any material on how to cite sources on blogs, any dos and do nots, that goes more in depth than this post?

  4. Dustin Garness April 26, 2014 / 11:13 pm

    These are some really good tips. The thing I have struggled with the most is finding images that are free to use and don’t cost me an arm-and-a-leg. Do you have any recommendations of places that provide good free images to use?

    Dustin

  5. Butch Seroto April 2, 2014 / 5:38 am

    GOD BLESS YOU Melanie Nelson… I am About to start my own blog. This Article… I love it, I love it, I love it. Old BUT still quite relevant. Although I intend creating a platform for Consumers to vent and share Bad Service Experienced from Companies, given the generally bad service levels in South Africa – and more so the Acceptance of this by consumers (Shockingly). Your tips were great and re-assured me of what I have in mind.

  6. Kelly Wheelhouse February 9, 2014 / 8:18 am

    So this popped into my head tonight…Maybe I should start a blog. Heres why, I have a lot of passions. I know a little about a lot of things and A LOT a few things. Ive seen the darkness and I chose to go back into the light. I annoy myself writing my ideas and such on social media cuz I think its ignored and under appreciated because I think I have A LOT Of GREAT and helpful things to say I want to reach people. Im passionate about teaching…I take a lot of time learning things and I want to share them. Im passionate about Yoga safty and benefits and I am certified to teach tho I dont practice…i know its weird. Im passionate about HAIR Im a cosmetologist of 23 years and I know what I know really really well and I love to learn more and seek it out. I tell the newbies their biggest mistake doing hair is having and EGO it gets in the way of learning and being humble and willing TO learn. Im passionate about mental health issues because Im Bipolar/depression and I want to help and make a difference build bridges of understanding as they say. Also Fibromyalgia…which I also suffer from and I read A LOT about and want to help people with what I know. NOW that being said…as a Hair Stylist I have learned a lot…about people about their jobs familys health drama sadness and stress. It is what they want to talk about or end up talking about when I do their hair. It gives me my fix helping them listening to them and also making them happy and feel beautiful. But now Im not working…health issues…and I want to help people….SHOULD I START A BLOG? Im going to research more but I really enjoyed your’s the best straight forward no self-aggrandizing fluff. What do you think….

  7. janie October 26, 2013 / 11:57 pm

    omg…lol do i have some stuff to fix. Thanks again!

  8. James McAllister May 24, 2013 / 12:18 am

    Before you even get the blog online, one mistake you should definitely avoid is choosing a bad domain name. After all, once you put your blog online, it’s pretty hard to change the domain name that it’s on.

    Good domain names should be short, easy to remember, and it’s also helpful to have your websites keyword in the url. By having it in the url, not only is it better for search engine rankings (sometimes, although not so much anymore), but your visitors can instantly tell what the website is about by simply looking at the URL.

  9. april March 22, 2013 / 7:19 pm

    I did make one of these mistakes in one of my blogs. I am so glad I came here. They were pics a friend sent me via email but was so amusing. I know that they did not belong to him. Also is there a way to make sure folks that visit your blog (because some of my pics will be on my blog) cant copy and paste pictures there. I am a newbie with the blog and have no real knowledge of html…so something like “creating blogs for dummies” wording would work for me. 🙂

    • Melanie Nelson March 22, 2013 / 7:44 pm

      April, there are ways you can disable the copy feature (Google ‘disable right click’ and you’ll find instructions on that). However, people can always find a way around those fixes and they aren’t fool proof. Remember that anyone can take a screenshot of an image and have it on their computer. A better idea is to watermark your images (Google ‘how do I watermark an image’) in a way that even if someone copies the image, your watermark is still clearly visible and it’s obvious the image isn’t theirs.

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