Anyone can start a blog. But most people who do so will never reach sky-high levels of success. It’s not because they lack potential—they just run into all-too-common pitfalls along the way.
Fortunately for aspiring bloggers, there are hundreds of successful bloggers who have shared their journeys—both the highs and the lows—in the spirit of helping others avoid the mistakes that keep others from doing well.
Read on for 13 things to avoid if you want to become a successful blogger yourself.
01. Having no clue about who is your target audience
If you don’t understand your audience, your writing will lack focus. You won’t have a unifying theme to tie all of your blogging efforts together. If your blog posts are all over the place, visitors won’t feel like you’re consistent—and for online audiences, inconsistency is the biggest turn-off of all.
Take the time to learn about the people you’re writing your blog for. Hang out in forums on relevant topics, engage with people on social media, pay attention to the Demographics tab in your Google Analytics. Understanding who they are will help give your writing direction and focus.
02. Writing about what you love (and forgetting your audience)
Blogging about what you love is a great way to keep it interesting for yourself, and help avoid burnout. But don’t forget: if you’re putting it on a blog, you’re writing for more than just you.
Pay attention to your audience’s needs and interests. By serving them, you’ll encourage readers to keep coming back—and to share your content with other people.
That doesn’t mean you should only write what your audience wants you to write, though. Find a balance that works for you. Choose topics that overlap between things that are interesting and fun for you and those that will best serve your audience.
03. Making your posts too complex
Online readers have almost laughably short attention spans, and the average reading level is somewhere between fifth and seventh grade. Though your particular audience might differ from these averages, it’s still important to keep things as simple as you can get away with, or most people will give up on reading your posts.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid complicated topics, or dumb things down. But it does mean you should focus on communicating effectively rather than showing off.
Tools like Hemingway can help you keep your language simple and readable. If you’re writing on a complex subject, make sure you put in the time to make it easy to follow.
04. Being concerned only about SEO
Amateur bloggers often read articles talking about how important SEO is to the success of their blog, and in response, they focus all of their efforts on keywords and backlinking, without putting in the time and effort to make their content useful, readable, and engaging.
When people read articles that are obviously just there to fill a page with keywords, they don’t stick around or share the article—they leave. And the search engine providers know that, which is why there are penalties for having low-quality content or too many keywords stuffed into a page.
While SEO is an important consideration, you’ll be much better off if you focus on creating high-quality, readable, interesting content that helps your audience. The search engines will like your blog better, and your readers will be more likely to share your work with their friends.
05. Not caring about the quality of your writing
The point of a blog is to communicate information—that’s how it accomplishes every other goal you’re using it for, whether that’s education, influence, or marketing. So it’s critical to ensure that you convey your message clearly.
Use tools like Hemingway to ensure your content is readable, and proofreading tools like Grammarly to avoid major errors in spelling and grammar. If you don’t have the time or skill set to edit the writing yourself, there are lots of custom writing services are available online to conduct detailed reviews of your content, or even write top-notch content for you.
06. Not doing enough research
Presenting inaccurate information is a quick way to damage your credibility and make it harder for your audience to trust you.
To avoid giving bad information, do some quick research on whatever you’re writing about—even if you think you know it backward and forward.
Make sure that any facts you present are supported by reputable sources, and if you use statistics or findings from a study, don’t forget to link to the source.
07. Writing like a robot
Never forget that you’re writing for people. People like variation, whether that’s in paragraph length, sentence structure, or word choice. Don’t just write mechanically—that’s boring, and will drive people away.
Instead, use a conversational tone, as if you were discussing or explaining the topic to someone interested in learning about it. It also helps to avoid extremely long, complicated sentences and awkward phrasing.
08. Pretending that you understand what you don’t
If you don’t know how something works, don’t pretend to. At best, you’ll confuse readers. At worst, you’ll give bad information and people will realize you don’t know what you’re talking about. But what if you don’t have time to become an expert?
One solution is to find someone who is. You can summarize their position, interview them, or even ask them to write you a guest post.
Your readers won’t expect you to know everything there is to know, and it’s fine to admit when you’re not sure about something. It can even give you more to write about, or provide a way to connect with your audience by telling what you do know and asking them to share their expertise.
09. Creating always the same post format
There’s nothing wrong with having a framework or template for your posts, but if you stick to it too closely you risk coming across as mechanical.
Switch it up now and then. If you have a template, think of it as a guide rather than a strict set of rules. Vary your sentence structure and paragraph length. Use an image or other illustration to break up long passages.
The point of all this is to keep your readers from getting bored with reading your content. Keep them interested with both substance and style, and they’ll be more likely to come back.
10. Writing about everything
If every post on your site is on a different subject, readers who arrive looking for a solution to just one type of problem will stay only long enough to read the one article you have about their question.
That doesn’t mean every post should be the same. You still need variation, or as soon as visitors realize you say the same thing in every post they’ll decide that’s all you have to say—and leave forever. You need to strike a proper balance.
Fortunately, even within small niches, there’s enough subject matter to keep you from ever running out of topics to use. In fact, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to generate ideas to write about in detail.
11. Posting irregularly
Consistency is quite possibly the most important “secret” to a successful blog. Without it, people won’t know what to expect from you or when to expect it, and they’ll stop paying attention.
Having a publishing schedule is nearly as important as having content to publish—if people know when to expect a new post, they’ll be looking for it.
Whether you plan to post once a day or once a month, make a schedule and stick to it.
12. Thinking that editing isn’t important
While your readers will likely forgive you for a few small mistakes—unless you’re writing a grammar blog, anyway—if your writing has too many errors, it will be confusing and hard to read.
Edit everything you post to be as clear and readable as possible. If you don’t have time, or you’re not confident in your editing ability, there are tons of tools—everything from spelling and grammar check functions in your word processor to apps like Grammarly—to help you out. You can even outsource the editing to a professional.
13. Not sharing your own posts
Even if you have everything else on this list in the bag, your blog will still fail if no one can find it. Until people are actually reading your blog it will go nowhere, and if you’re not sharing your posts, no one else will do it for you.
Fortunately, social media makes sharing content incredibly simple. It’s the quickest, easiest way to get your blog in front of as many people as possible and start gathering an audience—and no blog ever succeeded without an audience.
Success in blogging almost never happens overnight. It takes effort and dedication. If you approach it with the proper attitude and stay focused on what matters—providing consistent, engaging, useful, quality content to your audience—you can avoid many of the pitfalls that prove fatal to aspiring bloggers.
Now that you have the list above, it’s time to put it to action: create a checklist of the possible pitfalls and assess yourself and your blog to see where you can improve. Good luck, and stick with it!
About the author: Steven Mehler is an experienced writer, blogger, SEO specialist and social psychologist that works as an editor at a local newspaper and a freelance writer. Steven also runs his own content agency and is writing a book. He has a long-term experience in writing articles based on blogging, marketing, SEO and social psychology.
13 Treacherous Things to Take Care About While Blogging