7 Mistakes I Made When Starting This Mama Learns (and how I fixed them)


7 mistakes I made when starting this blog

I was talking to Elna Cain of Twins Mommy the other day about various bloggy things and she suggested I try doing blog updates – like a traffic/income report.

If you haven’t read Elna’s blog updates, they’re a good read and in them she invites other Moms to follow along and grow their blogs with her.

Instead of doing that right away, I’m going to own up to a whole bunch of mistakes I made when I first started This Mama Learns. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I hope you will too (and avoid making them yourself!).

A Little About Me

I guess I should tell you a bit about me before we get cracking.

I discovered that you could make money online using Squidoo back in 2011 and promptly quit the job I hated, because I was sure I could make it work. Bad idea.

I did start to make a little money, but called it quits and went back to work (dream job this time) a couple of months later. I’ve vaguely intended to ‘get back into it some day’, but as you’ve probably realized things put off for ‘some day’ tends to end up becoming ‘never’.

Yet, now I’m here. I needed a creative outlet while on maternity leave and thought ‘hey, if I could make a bit of money on the side I won’t have to go back to work’. So, my ultimate goal is to turn this blog into a business.

 

Mistake #1 – I wasn’t clear on my niche

When I first started This Mama Learns, I thought I was going to write about affiliate marketing.

It was what I knew after all.

Problem is there is definitely a seamy underbelly to affiliate marketing, but the real kicker for me was listening to a bunch of guys talk about how to sell breastfeeding as a niche in an affiliate marketing Facebook group.

Like, really? Do we not draw any lines here?

So I went searching and I found some amazing girl-boss-bloggers, femtrepreneurs and mompreneurs.

These were my people! This was what I wanted to do and I found my niche – cutting through the noise and charting a course to success for Mom bloggers.

Getting clear on your niche is crucial to blogging success. If you’ve started a blog intending to go in one direction, but you have a gnawing feeling you should be going in a different direction, stop. Regroup. Get clear.

 

Mistake #2 – I wasn’t clear about my audience

Was my audience Moms or not?

I wanted to write for Moms but had this weird idea that Moms aren’t interested in making money online…

Right. Not my most shining moment.

Of course Moms want to make money online as much or more than anyone else.

Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Answer this question, if you could choose just one person to help with your blog, who would they be and why? Now, do everything for that person.

 

Mistake #3 – I was writing for Google, and only Google

Ah, the black art of SEO

Writing only for Google using keywords from a keyword tool sure gives you some headline doozies.

In my defense, the last time I had a blog site was back in 2011 and it was perfectly acceptable practice back then and actually worked… Thank goodness we’ve moved on from there.

And I’ve moved on from SEO. I’m writing for people now. Yeah!

Spend time learning how to write great headlines. Or just copy and paste from this list, or this list or this list.

 

Mistake #4 – I didn’t have a plan

Apart from a vague intention to make money from my blog I had no plan.

I thought traffic would just happen naturally.

Social media would just happen.

My blog posts would be recognized instantly as the most brilliant thing anyone had ever written on the topic and the money fairy would visit every day and shower me with gold dust.

Say what? I’m really not much of a planner. I tend to focus on whats in front of me at the time, the problem with that is if you are going in the wrong direction you might not know it for a while. I’m getting the big picture into place.

This post – the 6 Most Profitable Blogger Career Paths – from By Regina is pretty helpful in looking at the big picture and kinda how to get there.

 

Mistake #5 – I prioritized quantity over quality

I decided I was going to post daily (do all new bloggers do this? lol) if it killed me.

I ended up with some excruciatingly lame posts.

I’ve deleted them all now. They were just too embarrassing to keep.

Here’s the thing: to stand out in this noisy, crowded online arena you need to produce QUALITY – all the time.

Quantity is meaningless if you can’t keep people on the page.

Setting an editorial calendar and sticking with it is one of the most important actions you can take as a new (or not so new!) blogger. Give yourself time to publish quality, consistently.

 

Mistake #6 – I hadn’t looked at what was popular in my niche

I just went straight to my keyword tool for ideas on what to write about – really bad choice.

Its kind of like walking into a room blindfolded and expecting to give people fashion advice.

In my last post, I talked about how to use BuzzSumo to check what content is being shared in your niche. You should also sign up to the email lists of the top people in your niche and keep up with their blog posts to see what’s popular.

 

Mistake #7 – I didn’t know any of the bloggers in my niche

This seems like a really dumb mistake now.

I’m not sure why I thought I could just start blogging in a vacuum and it would all work out.

I literally knew no one. This is really dumb.

A lot of your potential success relies heavily on who you know and network with.

 

Find the bloggers in your niche. Subscribe to their email lists, read their blog posts and make connections with them by commenting on their posts, tweeting them and sharing their content.

Those were just seven of my mistakes, but I’m betting they are pretty common to new bloggers.

I’m going to start doing blog reports at the end of this month to show y’all what I’ve been up to, how it’s working and what I plan to do next.

For the rest of my Jam-Packed-July, I’m going to focus on sticking to my editorial calendar and promoting like crazy (so that when I own up to my stats next month, they aren’t too embarrassing…!)

What new blogger mistakes did you make? Do you have any advice to help new bloggers avoid mistakes?

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12 thoughts on “7 Mistakes I Made When Starting This Mama Learns (and how I fixed them)”

  1. I think everyone of us, made some of the mistakes in one way or another, it is always a learning curve otherwise thanks for sharing some of the things you’ve learned on your blogging journey.

    1. Thanks for the comment John. You’re right, it’s a learning curve. Now that I’m further along my journey I could probably write another article about another 20 or so mistakes I made… lol.

  2. Hi and Thank you. I am seriously considering starting my own blog. For many years I have been told I am great with words, advice and creativity and feel for too long I have let fear consume me. This was a great eye opener as to what to avoid and confirmed the how vital it is to be prepared and knowledgable. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Fiona! Glad to have you here ๐Ÿ™‚ Starting a blog is a great way to start sharing your words and advice with the world. It also lets your creativity come out! I also know where you’re coming from with the fear – I still feel it sometimes. It’s hard to get out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there. But it’s so good for us! Feel free to drop me a line if you need any help!

    1. That’s great Maelonni ๐Ÿ™‚ Welcome to blogging! I hope this post helps you steer clear of these particular mistakes of mine.

      Feel free to contact me if you ever have any questions ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cath!

    Thank you thank you thank you for mentioning me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I LOVE this post too. Owning up to your own mistakes shows you’re a real person and it’s okay. Just wipe the dust off you and go at it again.

    For me, I think the biggest mistake that I continue to do is not think about SEO. I focus too much on social media, but knowing that it works, delays me in learning about SEO.

    I have very little organic traffic and I feel I should have more on Twins Mommmy, so I think SEO is the reason why I don’t?

    Anyways, I’ve made a ton of freelance writing mistakes on the other hand!

    Thanks for this awesome post and I’ll be sure to share it.

    1. No worries ๐Ÿ™‚ Honestly, I LOVE reading other bloggers talk about the mistakes they made when they were just getting started (especially when they’re now really successful). It makes me feel like I’m not doing too badly after all. Lol. And I’m definitely going to keep going until I make it (and even then, keep going!)

      SEO is a tough nut to crack, and its only getting tougher with each Google algorithm update. I honestly think that Google doesn’t want us messing around trying to manipulate their search results.

      SEO is a long game – I’ve heard it can take around 6 months to see much organic traffic.

      Have you used SEMRush before? It will tell you what keywords you are ranking for, on what posts and at what Google Search number you appear (and how much traffic those keywords get). They offer a free 24 hour trial if you stick around on their site long enough and check out their plan pricing.

      If you check what keywords you are already ranking for using SEMRumsh, you could improve your SEO by adding those keywords into your post.

      Mistakes are how we learn ๐Ÿ™‚ No shame in making them!

      Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I LOVE this post! I found it very helpful as a new blogger and can totally relate to a lot of it which is a little embarrassing. I look forward to following you! Nice to meet you also!

    1. Hehe, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ It got more than a little bit uncomfortable writing this post! But hey, we’re all in the same boat here and I know I find it so encouraging to read other bloggers admitting that they aren’t perfect. We all like to pretend we are so that we look fabulous but I think its more important to be real.

      Nice to meet you too ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for commenting on my post.

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