Search blogging on Pinterest and you will be bombarded with pins all saying how these bloggers are making thousands upon thousands overnight after just starting their blog.
Sadly, most are not telling you the whole truth. A lot of times, their instant success comes from the fact that this isn’t their first blog. They not only know how to succeed (and which mistakes to avoid) but also they already have social media accounts or email lists with high numbers of followers from previous endeavors, giving them the instant boost of traffic to start making money from day one.
I started a blog with zero followers, no one on my email list and no social media accounts. A year and a half later, it was making over 10K a month. During that time, I’ve listened to other bloggers describe their frustrations and their activities and sadly, so many feel like failures if they aren’t making money from the get-go.
In fact, trying to go after the small dollars at the beginning can be counter productive to making a blog that can become a real source of income. Here are the biggest ways you can efficiently work towards that full-time income and the common mistakes to avoid along the way.
Disclaimer: Through no additional cost to you, I may be compensated from affiliate links included in this post. Learn more here.
10 Common Blogging Mistakes
1. Wasting time on Google Adsense
About a month after launching my first blog, I applied and got accepted for Google Adsense. I went into each post and manually placed ads and then would excitedly check everyday to see how much I made from ads. The best day was like two bucks.
Now let’s flash forward a few months to when I had finally reached enough traffic to join Mediavine. Once I got accepted and everything set up, my daily ad earnings literally increased by 10x. Additionally, I didn’t have to manually create ads and place them in articles. Mediavine did all that for me.
In hindsight, that 50 or so bucks I made from Adsense was so not worth the time I wasted tinkering with it. If I had invested that time instead into increasing my traffic I could have boosted my earnings way sooner. Overall making a lot more, a lot faster.
There are some other downsides of Adsense which I wasn’t aware of at the time. Adding Google Adsense ads will slow down your site A LOT more than premium ad networks. You can lose up to 40% of your traffic if your site is slow.
Also, if for some reason you majorly mess up and get yourself banned from Google Adsense (like asking family members to click on your ads), you will permanently ruin your chances of getting your blog accepted into one of the higher paying ad networks.
Which ad network is best and how much traffic do you need?
My only direct experience is with Mediavine, but I have heard good things about AdThrive and Monumetric as well. All seem to result in roughly similar earnings, although it is impossible to predict as ad earnings vary depending on your niche and type of content.
Monumetric has the most lax entry requirements, they only require 10,000 pageviews per month if you’re willing to pay a $99 setup fee. You can get the setup fee waived if you have over 80,000 pageviews per month.
Mediavine requires at least 25,000 visitors (not pageviews, but actual users) in the last 30 days and does not charge a setup fee.
AdThrive has the most strict entry guidelines, requiring 100,000 monthly pageviews.
2. Ignoring Pinterest
Pinterest can be enormously frustrating. There is a lot of work required to properly set up your profile, you need to manually pin often to be seen as a curator, and trying to join group boards as a new blogger is extremely difficult.
Despite all that, Pinterest is extremely important for nearly all bloggers as it is the number one traffic driver for most niches. With Pinterest, unlike SEO, you can gain a lot of traffic in a short amount of time, even with a small amount of followers.
So, whether you like it or not, if you want to be successful, you need to learn Pinterest. One great way to get started is by learning how to use Pinterest analytics to improve your pin design.
3. Thinking you just need to post more
“Why aren’t I getting traffic? I post three times per week!”
Have you ever said that? Maybe not, but that’s a phrase I’ve heard so many times. A hard truth of blogging is that it’s really 20% content generation, and 80% promotion. You can write fantastic content that will change lives and/or entertain readers but if you can’t get any eyes on that post it will have no impact.
If you find yourself struggling to get traffic, simply writing more content may not be the answer. Most do not succeed by waiting for someone to find their site. They instead get out there and promote their content. You are your number one cheerleader.
You may need to revamp your Pinterest strategy or look at the type of posts you are writing. With my previous blog, it grew to $10,000 per month with really only 100 posts. Furthermore, my top 20 posts generated 75% of traffic.
So, the key isn’t quantity, but rather quality. You want your posts to be so jam packed with information that it almost requires the reader to save it to Pinterest so they can come back to it later. Also, longer, more in-depth posts also achieve better rankings on Google.
4. Not including a pin image
This next point goes hand in hand with the mistake of ignoring Pinterest. Every post on your blog should have at least one (preferably two) images that are optimized for Pinterest. What I mean by that is the image should have a 2:3 aspect ratio, meaning if the image is 600 pixels wide then it should be 900 pixels tall.
I like to place my first Pin image at the beginning of the post just after my intro paragraph, and then another at the end after my call to action.
To utilize your pin images even further, with plugins such as Social Pug or Social Warfare, you can set a custom pin description for each image so that it’s loaded with keywords. Having lots of keywords in your pin description helps your pins appear in search more often, gaining you more traffic.
5. Creating a paid product or course before establishing an email list
Nearly every successful blogger sells their own eBook or course or digital planner, so you should too right? Not so fast. Any digital offering takes a lot of time to develop and create. Then a significant amount of time is needed to learn how to make a good sales page.
If you don’t have at least 5,000-10,000 active email subscribers, creating a paid product is probably not a good use of your time. Wondering why I didn’t say you needed a lot of traffic? Email converts way better than Pinterest or even organic traffic. These are your most loyal readers, the ones who have followed you over the course of months or even years. They trust you because they have gotten to know you.
On average people need to interact with you at least three times before they will buy from you.
If you haven’t reached this milestone yet in email subscribers, then maybe instead of developing your own product, I’d focus your time more on growing your email list at a quicker rate.
6. Trying hard to sell affiliate products before gaining consistent traffic
This point is pretty similar to my first. You want your blog to make money as quickly as possible, everyone does. One mistake that many bloggers make though is writing content that tries too hard to sell affiliate products or courses.
The easiest way to monetize in the beginning is via display ads from a premium ad network. Your top priority in the beginning should not be to make $7 via Amazon Associates, but to reach the required amount of monthly traffic to join Monumetric, Mediavine or AdThrive.
Include affiliate links if they fit naturally, but otherwise just focus on writing high quality content that helps your target reader. Over time, you will learn how to best promote affiliates to lead to conversions, but in the beginning your focus should just be on building traffic and gaining email subscribers.
7. Not understanding the fundamentals of SEO
New bloggers do not need to become SEO experts, but a common thing I hear from new bloggers thinking about SEO is “I always make sure the YoastSEO light is green”.
YoastSEO does a great job of telling you if your post is written correctly around a specific keyword. However, there is so much more to SEO than just getting that little light green. If YoastSEO is the only thing you’re using to target organic traffic, then you will undoubtedly fail.
Again, new bloggers should not stress about becoming SEO experts, as a blog has to be a certain age before Google will even consider giving you a high ranking. Instead, just learn about the fundamentals of SEO so you can have that background knowledge as you move forward.
8. Not growing an email list
You need to create an opt-in that will entice readers to give you their email. These subscribers will be some of your most loyal readers and customers.
Another reason you want an email list, and you want to start working on it from day one, is that if you ever want to work with brands or do sponsored posts, they will want to know your number of email subscribers.
Simply having a subscribe form will not convert your readers. You need to offer them something. Continually work on changing the wording and freebie using A/B testing. Take the time to learn about how you can prominently display your form with wording that motivates the reader to sign up.
9. Having a slow site
Most of you reading this did not start a blog because you are IT experts, but rather you were a passionate about a certain topic and wanted to share that knowledge with others. However, there are some really easy steps you can take to speed up your site.
Why is site speed important? If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, up to 40% of visitors will leave before your site even loads. 40% is a lot. For example, that could be the difference in getting 24,000 sessions and making pennies from Google Adsense to generating 40,000 sessions per month and making a nice little side income from Mediavine.
Additionally, a slow site will hurt your chances of ranking on google and will just generally frustrate your readers causing them to leave your site rather than clicking around.
Efforts to increase traffic aren’t always successful, but the opposite is true when it comes to working on site speed. Get started by learning 7 ways to improve site speed.
10. Wasting time in Facebook share groups
When traffic to your blog is scarce, it can be very tempting to participate in Facebook share groups. These groups are where you get your content shared in return for having to share everyone else’s content. If you have all the time in the world, spending an hour per day on these is fine. But if you’re like most people and your time is at a premium, then these groups are often not an effective use of time.
While these groups will likely get you re-pins, they probably won’t be from bloggers in your niche, meaning they are effectively useless. Additionally, the other people in these groups likely don’t have large followings either, so the overall reach will be limited.
Instead, spend your time on creating high quality content, learning what kind of pin design resonates best with your audience, improving your site speed, or focusing on more effective strategies to improve traffic.
If you truly want to make a blog that will make you a full time (or even part time) income, then you need to know where to focus your energy. Even though I read many “blogging roadmaps”, I still made a lot of mistakes.
Focusing on avoiding, or fixing, the mistakes I have outlined here regarding traffic, ads, site speed and subscribers is a fantastic step to making money. Remember, traffic before ads, promote your content and learn a social media strategy that works for you.
I could have made so much faster if I really understood the path a blog takes to monetization.
What do you think?
Have you made any of the mistakes I mentioned on this list? Do you disagree completely that the action was a “mistake”? What blogging activities have you done that you later realized were a waste of time?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
If you found this post helpful, please share it on Facebook or Pinterest