I’ve been blogging a long time. I first started a family blog, where I shared my travels with the kids, in 2006. Slowly, over time, it evolved and I started this site in 2010. I had all sorts of ideas of what I wanted to do and absolutely no clue what I was doing. I had to learn from trial and error over the years. To be honest, it seemed like mostly error! It’s still a work in process as the blogging world changes. I still have moments when I realize things I should have been doing all along. It’s a “Duh! Is everyone doing this but me?” moment. To save you from some of these mistakes, here’s four costly mistakes new bloggers make (and what you can do instead.)
Mistake #1. Begin with A Hosted Blog – I know this is in every blog post written about blog mistakes, but bear with me. I began my site on a hosted blog (blogspot) not realizing Google owned my blog. This allows them the opportunity to shut down a blog for any reason. While it never happened to me, it happened to friends, causing them to lose years of work overnight. Imagine building a blog and then having to start over from scratch.
WordPress is the most commonly used self-hosting, but don’t confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. Wordpress.Com is a hosted site, meaning your address will have “whatever.wordpress.com” in the title. You won’t pay any fees as you do with WordPress.org to self host your site, but wordpress.com’s terms of service do not allow you to make money on your site.
Also, you can get plans for as little as $3.99 or $4.99 a month. If you prefer not to go with a hosted blog get a .com name for your blog and use it through blogger. These .com can be as little as 99 cents for the first year.
Mistake #2 Searching Google For An Image for Your Post. Most of us have done this at some point. We need an image for a post, do a quick google search and grab an image. No problem. If it is on the internet it’s public domain, right? Nope. If the image is copyrighted and the owner decides to take legal action, you could be in for a costly settlement. It won’t matter if you remove the image when contacted by their lawyer, they are still entitled to reimbursement. This has happened to several people I know, ranging in settlement costs from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Instead, purchase low cost stock photos, use a free photo service like morguefile or take your own.
Mistake #3 Don’t Worry About Site Speed I learned this the hard way. When I checked my site speed some pages were taking ten to twenty seconds to load because of the size of my image files. I didn’t realize even if I changed the image size on my post, the entire photo would still factor into the page load time. People are usually in a hurry when they browse blogs, trying to find the information they need quickly. If the page takes more than a few seconds to load, they’ll likely click away no matter how compelling the content. (And I was pretty sure mine was compelling. 😉 ) The best way to solve this problem is by using a photo compressor. You can find a free one at Compressor.io.
Mistake #4 Spending a Lot of Money for Start Up Costs If you are thinking of giving blogging a try, it’s easy to get caught up in spending money. The minimum you have to purchase a domain name and purchase hosting. From there it is easy to get caught up in all you need, a fancy theme, a blog designer, special plugins, and more. Instead, begin with the basics. Purchase a domain name (search for coupons online you can often get your first domain for around a $1.) You can sign up for a year of hosting, but if you’re not sure you will like it, why not pay by the month for a few months? I know Bluehost has a special for special sale now for $3.95 a month, plus a free domain. I suggest using one of the free wordpress themes for a few months to see if you want to stick with blogging. If, after a few months you decide you don’t like it, you’re out $30-$50 instead of the hundreds to thousands you could have spent. If you do enjoy blogging, you can upgrade to fancy themes, a designer and special plugins.
You might also enjoy “3 Tips for Beginning Bloggers I wish I had Known.”