Avoid These Blogging Mistakes (If You Really Want to Succeed)

I’ve observed something about Nigerians: whenever an individual tries out a particular business and succeeds at it, everyone quickly jumps on the bandwagon, hoping to make quick money.

The same story runs true for blogging. Since it became well known that the likes of Linda Ikeji are earning huge figures from blogging, there has been a very sharp increase in the number of Nigerian bloggers — mediocre bloggers who jumpstarted blogging with little or no knowledge of what blogging entails.

But because blogging didn’t give them the overnight riches they expected from it, many had abandoned their blogs. Poor guys! They’ve been told that all they needed to do was set up a simple blog on Blogger.com, publish a few stolen articles, embed ads at strategic points, and sit back to watch their bank accounts soar.

And they’ve been told that Linda Ikeji achieved success by simply doing it that way. But when they faced the harsh realities of blogging, they hit the roof — frustrated and disappointed.

In their bid to make quick money from blogging, many of these losing bloggers make several mistakes. And many newbies would still fail woefully because they are also (or will most probably soon start) making the same mistakes.

mistakes by Nigerian bloggers

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been into blogging for a while, you must avoid the following mistakes if you really want to succeed as a blogger.

1. Trying to earn profits overnight (desperation)

Because of what they’ve learned from greedy, desperate folks who only want to sell ebooks or certain services, many newbies go into blogging hoping to start making money within a few days to weeks.

A couple of days back, I landed upon a new blog that contained less than 10 articles — mostly crappy ones. I was amused when I observed that the owner had slapped up Adsense banners everywhere. I needed no other proof that he isn’t any passionate about blogging; he only wants to tap from the “cake.” I quickly closed the page because it looked very sickening. (I’ll soon tell you what drew my attention to the useless blog in the first place.)

Also, I’ve seen “advertise here” pages on blogs that were just days to a few weeks old. And I wondered what the owners of such blogs took blogging to mean. Of course, only foolish advertisers would pay to have their offers promoted on a blog that attracts zero or unit visits per day.

Another blunder by Nigerian bloggers, which I’ve seen times without number, is their adoption of silly (and st*pid) tactics for driving traffic to their blogs. Some would concoct and publish false stories just to catch people’s interest. Some would use photo-editing software to design fake pictures and lure people with silly captions. Some would sprinkle links to their blog on online forums, other blogs, and social media pages with massive followership — derailing from the main topic of discussion most of the time.

What you need to realize

Blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Growing a blog to the point where it starts to generate a decent income takes time. It takes dedication. It takes hard work. And it takes consistency. Only after you’ve given all of these (and played by the rules) can you attain success in blogging.

Darren Rowse (Problogger) didn’t start making money from his blog until after 3 years. Linda Ikeji blogged consistently for several months before she started earning a living from her blog. So, if you’ve been told that you can achieve the same goal much faster than these people did without investing time, effort, and even money, then you’ve been taken for a ride. And you’re on a “long thing.”

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While it’s true that your success as a blogger hinges largely on how much traffic you generate, you won’t succeed by trying too hard to attract traffic the wrong way. (Who would visit your blog again after discovering that your last blog post was a bloody lie you concocted just to attract attention?)

Building a huge audience of loyal followers requires publishing authentic, unique, and valuable information. And your traffic will increase gradually with time.

If what you’re looking for is a business that will start fetching you huge profits within days to weeks, blogging is certainly not what you’re looking for. And you’d better not start a blog at all.

2. Plagiarism

You see, when you’re trying to achieve success at a faster rate than expected, you would most likely resort to unethical practices just to achieve your goal.

Many Nigerian bloggers publish stolen content on their blogs. I mean, content that they practically copied and pasted from other blogs.

In fact, my attention was drawn to the useless blog I referred to earlier by one of the articles on the blog, which had been copied directly from a blog I own. When I discovered this, I only asked myself if blogging was by force.

What you need to realize

Succeeding as a blogger requires publishing original content on a consistent basis. Only by doing this can you build trust and position yourself as an expert in your field. Only by doing this can you build a large audience of loyal followers. And only by doing this can you make money from blogging in the long term.

Google hates duplicate content and penalizes websites and blogs found publishing content copied from elsewhere. So, if you’re a sworn plagiarist, you risk having your blog slapped by Google.

Also, most web hosting providers have zero tolerance for copyright infringement. If you’re reported and found guilty of this, you’ll most likely have your blog brought down.

Plagiarism is cruel. It’s the hallmark of lazy, heartless folks. If you cannot write original articles or hire a freelance writer to write them for you, then blogging is simply not for you.

3. Bad grammar

I cringe whenever I read posts by most Nigerian bloggers; they contain too many errors, mostly unpardonable ones. I’m not trying to place myself on a pedestal here. Neither am I trying to come across as a perfectionist. But I’m trying to emphasize the importance of writing well.

Yes, Nigerians aren’t native English speakers. But that’s no excuse for you not to write good English, especially as a blogger. Though you only need to write in clear English that effectively passes your message across, your writing shouldn’t contain too many obvious errors that would piss readers off.

What you need to realize

Writing in bad grammar makes you come across as a slacker. Worse, you won’t be trusted or taken seriously by your readers. So, it’s very important that you strive to improve your English grammar and writing skills even before you start out as a blogger.

Just as you won’t feel safe to buy a product after reading a review of it that was written in very bad English, your readers would be skeptical to take any action that would fetch you money.

To improve your writing skills quickly, you can read books such as “The Elements of Style” and “Grammatically Correct.” Also, write frequently (everyday, if possible) and read articles and other write-ups by very good writers.

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In case you didn’t know, one of the reasons why most Nigerians are bad writers and speakers is that they read and interact bad English every day (on social media and online communities). If you spend more of your time reading online news sites and reputable blogs, you will learn how to write better because the content on those sites is always rendered in correct English.

I’ll stop here on these 3 common mistakes. In subsequent posts (probably one or two), I’ll reveal more mistakes that are common among Nigerian bloggers and that ruin their chances of succeeding.

4. Inconsistency

Consistency is one of the hallmarks of successful bloggers. When you look at blogs like Bella Naija, Linda Ikeji’s blog, Techloy, and others, you’d observe that they are updated every day — with multiple posts.

As a new blogger hoping to set up a profitable online business, you should try to publish new posts very frequently. If you can, publish multiple posts per day. If you can’t, then publish one new post daily. If you still can’t keep up with that, try to publish new posts at least thrice per week.

Frequently publishing new posts at regular intervals helps you build a large audience quickly and boosts your search engine rankings. Publishing three posts every week — consistently — is far better than publishing more posts at irregular intervals.

Well, I must admit that I’m not a consistent blogger myself. But that’s because I’m almost always busy with clients’ writing assignments, and I manage many blogs (for myself and for clients).

As for most other bloggers, being too busy isn’t the reason why they’re inconsistent. Laziness is.

5. Wrong niche

The choice of blogging topics by most Nigerian bloggers is influenced by money rather than passion, interest, or experience.

Many have chosen the entertainment niche because that’s where Linda Ikeji makes her money from, and so they believe it’s the only niche where they too can make money from. Monkey see, monkey do.

The truth is, you can make money from any niche that interests Nigerians (or people in general). So, you should choose a niche that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. If you offer value and are determined, the money will come.

6. Bad domain name

Many Nigerian bloggers register domain names without considering the long-term results. While there are no standard rules for choosing a domain name, it’s best to choose a domain name that reflects what your blog is all about.

Also, ensure that your domain name is very easy to spell and remember, so that your readers won’t have problems when trying to check out what’s new on your blog.

As for using your name as your domain name, there’s no rule that prohibits that. But I don’t subscribe to the idea, anyway. I prefer choosing domain names that will read well and can pass for brand names.

Retaining a “.blogspot” in your domain name is quite unprofessional. You may argue that Linda Ikeji is sticking with such. But the truth is, Linda already built her brand around that domain name, and changing it now would only make her lose several followers.

And for your information, someone else — a “sharp” Nigerian — already registered the lindaikeji.com domain and is attracting some of the traffic that should be going to Linda’s real blog. (Of course, many of Linda Ikeji’s followers would erroneously or forgetfully visit lindaikeji.com instead of lindaikeji.blogspot.com. You get it now?)

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So, I strongly advise that you register your own domain name from the start. Aside that it makes you come across as a serious blogger, it will prevent others from earning unduly from your sweat when your blog becomes popular.

When choosing a domain name, stick with the .com suffix. This is because people are used more familiar with .com domain names.

7. Lack of focus

I’ve seen many instances where the content of a blog would be totally different from what the blog’s name or title reflects.

Similarly, I’ve stumbled on many blogs with posts that left me wondering what exactly these blogs are all about. It all boils down to a lack of focus.

If your domain name or blog’s title suggests that you’re offering content about sports, don’t derail by posting articles about technology. And don’t be tempted to write on many topics on a single blog.

If there’s one thing that separates successful blogs from the rest, it’s focus. Only when you’re focused will your readers deem you an expert in your niche. Only then can you build a large audience of loyal followers. And only then can you make money in the long term.

8. Bad design

In their attempt to make their blogs look beautiful, many bloggers end up screwing up the whole thing. And on seeing the end result, you’ll want to puke!

You see, the most important thing is to make your blog look cool and easy to read. Google doesn’t rank sites based on design. And people don’t visit a blog primarily because of design. So, don’t try too hard to make your blog beautiful, as you may end up making it otherwise.

Ensure that your blog is well structured. And keep the design simple and cool. No one will ever blame you for having a simple design. But you can lose visitors if your design looks really messy.

Derek Halpern’s blog, SocialTRiggers.com is a good example of a high traffic blog with a very, very simple design. Ever since I learned from him that your success as a blogger has nothing to do with sophisticated designs, I’ve always stuck with simple designs.

Oh, one more thing. A sophisticated design can cause your pages to load slowly. And that’s enough reason for you to lose some readers.

9. Not being updated

Many bloggers depend heavily on their knowledge without dedicating time to learning new things that will help them succeed.

To succeed in any business, you need to keep abreast of latest trends in your industry. The same runs true for blogging. To achieve success as a blogger, you need to keep yourself updated by reading other blogs.

You need to read blogs that discuss SEO, traffic generation, and other topics that will help you understand how to attract more readers to your blog. Similarly, you need to read blogs that discuss various ways by which you can make money from your blog, so that you can maximize your opportunities when you get them.

You also need to read other blogs in your niche. Not only will this expand your knowledge of your topic, but it will give you more post topic ideas and help you understand the type of information your readers want from you.

So, in essence…

If you’re guilty of any of the errors I mentioned here or in the previous post, try to correct them (if possible) as soonest as possible.

Over to you…

Do you agree or disagree with any of the points I made? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. I’ll eagerly respond.

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