Blogging is not “hard” – at least I’m pretty sure that being a rocket scientist or working in national security is more difficult in terms of the actual tasks you have to do. However, I will say this: blogging has a LOT of moving parts and it is time consuming! When I started my blog as a hobby over eight years ago, it wasn’t quite this complicated. I was on a free blogging platform, not using any social media, and certainly not working with any sponsors. I posted whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and with mediocre photos.
Oh, how times have changed.
Blogging has gotten more complicated, and the mere fact of it turning into a full-time career has required that I take on multiple roles: programmer, photographer, videographer, and more. I know all bloggers have a hard time keeping up. I think this Ferris Bueller movie quote is fitting:
Just substitute “life” in the quote above with “blogging!” And here’s my point: it’s easy to make mistakes. We all do it. But since my blog is my online portfolio/resume, I like to minimize those mistakes – hopefully down to zero. Yet they still happen. And I see them happening all over the blogosphere. I look at a LOT of blogs on a daily basis (yes, I still read blogs), and I see some of the same errors over and over. I wanted to share them with you in the hopes that, if you are making them, you take a peek. Because with changing times, our blogs are our professional portfolios. First impressions mean a lot in general, and the same goes for blogging. If you are looking to be hired by more sponsors (or just do a little housecleaning to make navigating your blog easier), check out these suggestions.
Social media icons don’t work. This one seems like a given but I think that’s why it often gets overlooked. Please – right now – go to your home page and click on each of your social icons. They should ALL open in new tabs. My reasoning for that is because if you send someone to social media without opening up a new tab – they likely aren’t coming back. Pinterest is a black hole, my friends. This isn’t 1999 and most people aren’t on dial up anymore, so they can “afford” to open another tab.
“Giveaway” in the title of an (OLD) post. I cannot tell you how many times I see a post with the title “Mod Podge Kids Dollhouse AND NEW FORMULA GIVEAWAY!” I’m going to assume the formula giveaway is temporary – but you’d like to promote the dollhouse after the giveaway is over? Here’s what I do. Instead of allowing the URL to be:
I force it to be (I use WordPress so I can change the URL; not sure if other platforms can):
The second URL is the one I publish with. Then when the giveaway is over, I can change the title of the post from “Mod Podge Kids Dollhouse AND NEW FORMULA GIVEAWAY!” to “Mod Podge Kids Dollhouse” and everything matches. I don’t do it RIGHT away . . . I’ll wait a few months so people can see the giveaway winner, etc. But eventually, I want it to look like a regular post. This is especially important with Pinterest rich pins, which will share the title of the post and mislead people who are seeing it on Pinterest for the first time into thinking you are currently having a giveaway (do you know how many times I’ve clicked over to win a Cricut only to find out the giveaway is over?).
I also remove giveaway talk from the post once the giveaway is over (like I said, I give it a few months). YOU know the giveaway is over, but someone who just arrived at your blog might not check the date of the post and realize it’s old. It’s just general housekeeping, but an important part of keeping your blog tidy in my mind!
Links aren’t updated when the custom URL is changed (date moved, etc). A lot of bloggers like to remove dates from their posts, which I get. They do this:
BUT THEN THEY NEVER REDIRECT THE OLD LINKS. That means when I go to the first link above with the date, I get a “404” error instead of it redirecting to the second link above. This is bad. It causes problems for you as a blogger because you are missing out on page views, and it causes problems for anyone that has ever linked to you. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and make sure your links work. And not only if you’ve changed the URL format . . . if you’ve ever deleted a post or for any other reason changed things. I’m currently working on this now as I’ve deleted posts in the past, and I want to make sure there are NO broken links on my blog. Ever.
Off-brand favicon. Do you know what a favicon is? The official definition is “an icon associated with a URL that is variously displayed, as in a browser’s address bar or next to the site name in a bookmark list.” You can see favicons circled in my image above. For all of my blogs, I have favicons that display when you go to the URL. You absolutely don’t need a favicon, but I worked in Brand Management for years, so I can’t imagine my blog without one. Having said that, the mistake I typically see is that a blogger will have a Genesis favicon (a small G) or even worse, their host’s favicon. Hostgator seems to be really bad about this as I’m seeing that little alligator on more blogs that I should.
It’s not like having a favicon that doesn’t match will keep someone from reading your blog, but some people do notice (especially marketing people – your sponsors) . . . AND your favicon shows up on your Pinterest rich pins.
Mailing list forms or other pop-ups you can’t click out of. This one IS a deal breaker as you can imagine! If someone can’t click out of your sign up form, they can’t read your blog. Pop ups and ads can be annoying enough . . . don’t make them more annoying by not testing them! Try to test them on all browsers if you can. Ask friends, family, and other bloggers to test your site too. See if they get any errors.
I use Optinmonster for my pop-up, and love it. The reason is because it has an “exit-intent” option. This is a special pop-up that doesn’t come up until the person is moving their mouse to click off of your site. So they are leaving anyway – and it doesn’t impede them leaving. I like asking people to sign up after they have already viewed my content rather than before.
Sections of your blog aren’t finished. Sometimes you get so caught up in building your blog that you put a placeholder for something – and then forget to go back and put content there. I’ve done it too! :0 But don’t leave this forever. Because then, someone like me goes to your “About” page and it says “coming soon” for 3 years! So maybe go back and click through your site and see if every page (and menu and button for that matter) works and goes somewhere. Again . . . ask friends, family, and other bloggers to help. I’d contact your favorite blogger friend and ask for a trade! You look at my site and I’ll look at yours . . . tee hee.
Now that I’ve told you about making blog mistakes, I’d better go back and check my own blogs, right? The truth is that blogs are fluid, constantly moving things and you’ll probably never have all of the mistakes fixed. I’m sure I have a broken link on my blog(s), even though I just used Broken Link Checker a few weeks ago to fix them all. There’s probably something left unfinished on one of my blogs, too. None of us are perfect, and neither are our blogs. But it’s like anything else – you do the best you can and put your best foot forward. Schedule audits of your blog regularly and minimize the mistakes. People WILL notice – especially sponsors!
I’d love to know what mistakes you see regularly made on blogs in the comments.