I’ve been blogging as whathannahwrote since November 2016. It wasn’t all that long ago, but I feel like there’s been so many changes since then! Since I went self-hosted and monetised the blog last month, I’ve had a few people ask for tips and it’s kind of surprised me because I legit have no idea what I’m doing. Like, I’m genuinely just clicking things and hoping for the best. While I don’t have any expert advice to dish out, I did have a little think about the blogging mistakes I feel I’ve carried out in the past. Either use them as guidance to avoid making them too, or do exactly the same (not recommended) and we’ll see where it leads us together!
Not researching services
I first started my blog on Blogger. This was mostly due to the fact that I’d previously had blogs on there, and so it was easier to understand. But as I began to make more effort with it, I soon realised that I was pretty limited in what I could do. Obviously exploring it more would have shown me that I had other options, but back then I wasn’t willing to spend money on creating a website. I was quite disenchanted with the idea of blogging due to the fact that I wasn’t happy with my design at all. I then decided to jump ship and move to WordPress, which I felt allowed me much more flexibility. Since then, I’ve come across SO many pretty Blogger websites, which I didn’t think was possible at the time. Doing much more reading into the different publishing services available to me would have saved me a lot of faffing around!
Writing for the sake of writing
I don’t like the idea of deleting all my old posts, because I feel like they represent the start of my “journey” while my blog changes and grows… HOWEVER. There are a few posts I look back on now and think “why did I feel the need to write this?”. At the start, I was determined to keep up my writing, and so I quite often posted random things in order to keep things moving. This was especially prevalent at times where I had other tasks requiring my attention. You can pretty much tell where I’ve had assessments and exams to focus on based on whether or not I’ve written a long-winded anecdote or a seemingly pointless list of favourites. I did actually delete one or two posts when I moved to this site; small posts that hadn’t gained much attention at the time of publishing, and certainly weren’t of any use at this stage. I now realise that I am waaay prouder of the blog when I have posts worth sharing on there – obviously it’s subjective, but my rule now is that if I’m not happy with it, it doesn’t get posted.
Failing to engage organically on Twitter
This is one that may not necessarily be useful to everyone; Twitter is not the be-all and end-all of “success”. I’ve been using Twitter personally for nearly 9 years (June 2009, HOW IS THAT 9 YEARS AGO), but because I had both a “blog” and “personal” Twitter, I very often forgot to post or interact with anyone on the blog account. It wasn’t until I purchased my domain last summer that I started to take everything a bit more seriously, and I came to realise how influential Twitter is for directing people to your site. Not only that, but the blogging community on there is so helpful. There are so many things I’ve learned from them, and the amount of support is unreal. So even if you’re not keen on “marketing” your blog on there, even just getting involved in the community is a big plus!
Trying too hard to follow the crowd
This is one that I feel kind of hypocritical about including, because I do still tend to follow the crowd to some extent. I look to bigger, more established bloggers as if to go “what do I do next?”. When I first started out, I was rushing to get on as many social media channels as I could, using tools that I had no idea how to use. I’m still at a loss over driving traffic from Pinterest. I have a Facebook page which still sits at about 20 likes and was last posted from in October. These are things I didn’t have to try and use, but it seemed like that was what everyone did. And while I admit to still doing such things (I bought a white board for flatlays the other day, after a year of saying I wouldn’t), I’ve included it in the list because it’s something I would still like to change. There’s no real formula to it all, and so basing your actions on something someone else has done previously does not necessarily guarantee success.
Spending loads on a domain
This is a ridiculous one which I’m still reeling over. I considered purchasing a domain for months before finally going for it. I’d studied everywhere I could purchase it from, and had found a ridiculously cheap price from somewhere like GoDaddy, I think? But when it came to purchasing it months later, I was looking into the purchasing plans for WordPress.com. I decided to go for the Personal Plan, which included my domain. Obviously now I’ve switched over to a self-hosted website, which means in the end I basically paid £30+ for my domain name itself. I totally forgot about all the cheap places I’d found before. Do not spend £30 on a domain name, please.
I’m sure there’ll be loads of little things I’ve overlooked, but these are definitely the main ones I would go back and change if I could. Feel free to comment any mistakes you’ve learned from – any bit of advice helps!