The 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made In My First Year Blogging

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new – Albert Einstein

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one – Elbert Hubbard

I would imagine that almost everyone that runs a successful blog gets asked this question regularly: How did you create a successful blog? As I look back at the last year, I see the progression of this site as a series of mistakes, followed by a series of corrections, lessons learned, and then progress.

I have to admit that I have made some pretty big mistakes, but I am truly grateful for those mistakes. Each one of them has helped me to get to higher and higher levels of exposure and success. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I hope that they are as helpful for you guys as they were for me, here they are:

1 – I didn’t nail down my brand name.

In the beginning I frankly didn’t understand the power of branding and had no idea how to brand my site. Deciding on Court’s Internet Marketing School helped on like a thousand different levels, including helping a ton with our ranking for ‘internet marketing’ in Google. The name also helps people to understand what we’re about here.

2- I didn’t promote my RSS feed.

My goodness. When I think of where I could have been I almost get sick. As of today (4-9-2008) the site is sitting at about 2,500 subscribers, and there’s no doubt that if I would have promoted my feed from the beginning I could have double that amount.

RSS is truly the holy grail of blogging. It provides you with the leverage you need to build links and have success with social media. It also creates a great situation for affiliate marketing and sales of personal products, and long as you are trustworthy.

With the first six months of work I was only able to create a subscriber base of 250 subscribers and I felt that I was really behind where I should have been. A sudden panic helped me to shuffle my approach – I reworked many trafficked posts to promote the feed, created a much larger RSS button, and created a section that invites people to sign up via RSS at the end of each post. Wow, it’s made a huge difference.

3 – I lost my life balance.

Blogging can easily become an addiction that takes over your life. I have always been unusually driven to be the best at everything I do, and blogging was no exception. About five months ago I realized that I just wasn’t happy. I found myself all out of whack – physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. This started to negatively affect my work and I saw that I needed to make a change.

I have made some pretty big changes since then, including switching to a regular 8-5 work schedule so that I can workout everyday, study, have a normal social life, and spend more time with family. I’m a lot happier now and what do you know… the site has improved amazingly since implementing those changes.

4 – I didn’t add a contributor soon enough.

In a lot of ways, Mark has been a mentor to me. He has taught me a ton about marketing and business in general and quite frankly I have absolutely no idea why he hasn’t been contributing for at least 6 months. His contribution has helped free up thinking time for me, which has improved my work, and he has contributed some amazing stuff to the site – stuff that I couldn’t have done myself. Doh!!!

Since the beginning of Mark’s contribution, we have been able to post more often on the site, which has led to a very significant increase in traffic and RSS subscribers.

I would highly recommend finding contributors, mentors, and partners that have talents and abilities that are outside your skill set. We have been able to do a ton of stuff together that frankly, I could never have done on my own. We also have another business partner, Cade, who does stuff for us that I can’t even wrap my mind around, let alone do myself.

5 – I didn’t think I needed relationships with other bloggers.

Frankly, I started this site based on the fact that I knew I could create traffic with my SEO abilities. SEO has worked out very nicely for me in the last year, but I really missed out in the beginning by not connecting with other bloggers. It took seeing some other bloggers who were able to build RSS counts of 1000+ in a single month for me to see how important it is to get to know other site owners and bloggers.

I am now a lot better socially but I can’t help but think what could have been…

Along these lines is the fact that I haven’t linked out enough – I haven’t helped enough of you to get exposure. I came to this conclusion lately, which is why I started Court’s Links, which is there solely to help you guys out. I hope that it has helped some of you and I will continue to do it. If you would like to participate, please visit my contact page and send me a cool post that you’ve written. Here’s what I do with them: Court’s Links.

Conclusion

These mistakes are simply the biggest five of many, many mistakes that I’ve made (and hopefully corrected) in the last year. I hope that somehow I can make five bigger ones this year because if I do, the site will grow that much more.

Other Cool Posts on Blogging Mistakes

Comments 34

  1. I didn’t know I was supposed to do some of these things for a long time but once I learned things sure went better.

  2. I think you point on having commentors is a great idea. If it’s not you specialty, let someone else do it. That way you can focus on creating great posts and making sure other people read them (marketing) Have a great day

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  3. Court,

    I agree with you, especially on #3.

    This has been a tender spot with my wife, and I can tell you that once I “grew up” and set a schedule of working on my sites, life has been better at home.

    It has also allowed me to quit a part-time job and spend more time with my girls.

    Thanks for the list!

    1. Bristol –

      Good luck getting Court to write that post. It will feel too much like bragging to him!

      Court, I’ll volunteer to write it. I’ve been hanging around since the beginning, so I feel qualified.

  4. As someone who attempted to start making money by blogging about a year ago but then put it off to go back to school and get my degree, I am glad to have this site. I am a fresh newbie that has been devouring information on this site and finally decided on a niche to blog about. So I will be using your information to get started in the right way and once I get started, you will see me coming back with some questions. Thanks so much!!!

  5. My blog just hit 50+ RSS subscribers after 4 weeks… I know it’s not too fast, but I am excited.

    Your Court’s Link post to my page has helped out a bunch. How soon can i submit another article for possible inclusion? =)

    I wish i could work on blogging from 8-5… I have to squeeze blogging into a 40 hours work week, plus about 5 hours of drive time, plus building niche sites, working out, spending time with wife, and oh yah, sleeping and eating. Plus link building, and other promotion.

    So, I won’t have as huge stats as some, but it’s been a fun experience. Thank you so much for your solid posts about starting a flagship blog…

  6. Court,

    How do you convince someone to contribute to your site like Mark does for you? Do you pay them per post, do you cut them in on some revenue share, or something completely different? I’m new to the blogging world so any insight would be helpful.

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      Luke that’s a great question. Once you have a site that has traffic people will be asking you to contribute. I get emails about that every week.

      However, in this case Mark and I are business partners. We have been working together for a while now behind the scenes.

      You should start by building up your traffic and then inviting regular readers to contribute.

    2. Luke, there’s really no need to pay for contributors. If you build a good website, the requests will come.

      I have two co-authors on my political humor site, and in both cases, they came to me, asking to contribute.

      Feel free to pay IF your site is profitable enough to, but it’s not necessary.

  7. Court – rockin last few articles.

    This is my first year of blogging and I come to your site everyday cause I’m learning so much.

    The last 2 posts have been definitely giving me some insights as I just started my blog!

    thanks!

  8. I think 3 n 4 are applying to me now (in that I’m a little out of it and need another writer).

    Besides that, I made the same mistakes. I think everyone does. It’s hard to grasp why linking out is important, when you first start blogging.

    BTW: Another thing is not understanding commenting as a tool to build relationships – I thought that I just had to respond to comments and be done with it. A biiig mistake of mine.

    BTW, your dofollow blog list is out of date.

  9. I neither read nor subscribe to your blog until, I guess, last year or so. I guess the blogosphere, especially the webmaster and Internet marketing has changed a lot, making errors like not promoting your RSS feed not a big deal back then.

    However, I guess with your authority status right now, you can have those mistakes easily ammended. 🙂

  10. Life’s about making mistakes. Trying to rectify them is something else altogether. I agree with you say though. If I hadn’t had made the mistakes I did (do 🙂 )then I would be no-where at the moment- and like you I wouldn’t change a thing!

  11. LOL Court,

    It looks like I made exactly the same mistakes as with every point I was nodding my head like crazy.

    Great that you post about this to help new bloggers avoid these mistakes themselves.

    I also always wondered whether Mark is THAT Mark? Now I know, cheers 😉

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  12. I like this post, it points out my weaknesses, just like my wife. Okay I made that up, my wife only points out my good points. 🙂

    I have so much to learn and my head can be so thick at times.

    The only one of your points I am not messing up on right now is life balance. I made a commitment a while back that my online business needs to have business hours.

    I now take weekends off, I just plan my posts in advance and use the timestamp in WP.

    I also get up at 5am and when my wife gets home from her day job my day is done as well.

  13. Court Im about 6 1/2 months in and probably made at least 4 of those on your list, including the RSS feed subscriptions. frankly I think the biggest is convincing myself to be , well, myself. things completely turned around after that

  14. These are some great tips! Getting people on your RSS is a fun and exciting challenge, as you found out for yourself. That’s one of the areas where I’ve been focusing some of my clients, letting them know the importance of RSS so that they can leverage their brands. Now, thanks to this article, I can point to more anecdotal evidence. 🙂

  15. Hi Court,

    An enjoyable read, thanks, and it’s great to read how you got your social life back on track. I too, suffered a little from burnout back in the beginning. It’s definitely important to have a good work / life balance.

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