And hello again everyone!
It’s been SUPER busy here in the BNB Household, what with speaking engagements, blog classes, and of course my main blog over at Brand New Vegan.
BUT… I am still here and I wanted to take a moment to share with you something I’ve seen recently with a few of my new students.
I call these the 5 Common Mistakes Brand New Blogger’s Make.
Not that they are really mistakes, but more like time sinks, or as I like to call them the “Rabbit Holes” of blogging.
So here we go.
1. Not starting with a self-hosted blog
Sure WordPress is free, along with Blogger and a few other hosting platforms, but let me use one of my students as an example…
This lady has over 1600 (yes – sixteen HUNDRED) articles on her free WordPress site, with ads. Were they HER ads? No. So who do you suppose was earning the ad income? That’s right – WordPress was. I mean that’s fair, right? They DO let you use their blog platform for free. But why not put that money in your own pocket instead? You can with a self-hosted account.
Then there’s the issue of security. Although I have never seen it myself, I have read about it many times. You break one rule or policy and the next thing you know your blog is gone. Can you image all 1600 of your articles, years worth of work, just disappearing overnight? It could happen. After all, THEY own the site, not you. With a self-hosted blog – YOU own it. No one else.
Lastly, even though there are ways to export your free site and import it into your own self-hosted account….let me just say from recent experience it is neither easy, fast, or worry-free.
The moral of the story is – start your blog right with a self-hosted account.
2. Choosing your theme
I can’t tell you how many times I have done this myself. And I KNOW I’m doing it but can’t stop!
It’s called spending days, weeks, months!…. looking for that perfect theme. Let me tell you – it doesn’t exist!
Just PICK one and get blogging!
Because honestly your content….. is what makes your blog. And that content is way more important than your theme.
I tell my students your host is kind of like the land your blog (or house) will sit on. And of course, your url or domain name is the address. But your theme – that’s more like the paint color, or landscaping of your house. Your theme is what makes it pretty. It’s all the design elements that go into your blog. The colors, where your sidebar is located, where your menu will be, how many widgets you can put inside your footer, etc.
This stuff can be changed at ANY time!
There are literally thousands of free WordPress Themes and if you aren’t careful – you’ll be sitting in that same chair months from now still trying them all out.
So my advice here is this.
Pick a theme right away and just get started writing. You can always change it later as you get more experienced with WordPress.
3. Deciding on a Header Photo
Again, just like the theme – everyone wants to have a pretty header photo at the top of their blog. And again if you’re like me – you’ll spend way too much time trying to decide on the perfect photo.
It’s another rabbit hole, and trust me when I say it runs deep.
So here’s what I suggest:
- Look at the detailed instructions for your particular theme – they probably give you the dimensions of the photo that will look best (1950 pixels x 500 pixels for example). Every theme may be different, so if the photo you selected doesn’t look right – that may be why.
- Make sure whatever image you use is either one you have taken yourself or is copyright free. Just because it’s on google doesn’t mean someone doesn’t own the copyright. There are tons of places to look for royalty free images. Pixabay is a good place to start.
- And lastly – just like the theme – pick one and move on. You can always change it later.
4. Trying to design a logo
If you already have a pretty good idea what you will be blogging about (your niche) then you most definitely will want to start thinking about branding yourself. And a logo is an excellent way to begin the process.
But if you’re just starting out? Start writing that content first!
I can’t say it enough, your content is what is important here. Not your theme, or your pretty little header photo, or your professionally designed logo…..your CONTENT.
Your words, your thoughts, and your ideas are what will gain followers. .. not the way your blog looks. And when you DO get to that point where you ARE putting out content regularly and you ARE gaining followers…. then you can start looking into a logo.
And unless you are a professionally trained graphics artist – this is one job I’d farm out to someone else.
Take a look at www.fiverr.com. There are lots of people there who would be willing to help you for a small price. Well worth it – as it frees up your time to WRITE MORE CONTENT!
5. Not Resizing Your Photos
Learn to resize your photos.
I have seen so many people with little tiny photos like this one on their blog posts thinking their blog will resize them for them. And it will – but ….
The actual photo is STILL HUGE! This one, for example, is actually at 1280 x 850 even though I am only displaying it at 300 x 199. Remember, the entire 1280 x 850 photo still needs to load in order to display it at 300 x 199.
The larger the file size is – the longer it takes to load, which will affect your site’s speed. Something you want to start thinking about now because Google looks at this stuff. And if you ever want to get on the front page of google – well then this stuff is important.
If you have no idea how to do this – take a look at a little program I have learned to love called PicMonkey. You can use PicMonkey to crop, resize, add text, – all kinds of things.
As a Food Photographer, I do use Adobe Lightroom, but I still finish up my editing process with PicMonkey. They have a limited free version as well as a more robust Pro Version. Be sure and check them out.
And there you have it.
My Top 5 Common Mistakes Brand New Blogger’s Make
When I first started out I made them too, and then some.
I had a cheapy free theme, a crappy header photo, and a homemade logo. And I spent way too much time deciding on this stuff too when I should have been writing content.
I used my old Galaxy Note 4 smartphone to take pictures of my recipes, complete with tons of bad lighting, and no clue whatsoever how to compose or style food photos.
But I just kept blogging and churning out content. And even with all the mistakes I made, I still gained followers anyway – because people loved my content, they loved my recipes. Bad photos and all.
So just keep writing and putting out good quality content. We’ll have lots of time to bring this all together and make it pretty later.
Hope this helps.