Beginner bloggers feel one of two things publishing their first blog post:
Or total exhilaration.
There is no in-between.
But no matter what you’re feeling, you want to make sure you’re writing your first blog post correctly.
Because web writing is totally different than the writing you’re used to.
And blog writing specifically is unique because you need to know things like formatting rules and keyword optimization strategies.
If hearing any of that is already making you break a sweat, then keep reading to learn the 9 common mistakes beginners make writing their first blog post.
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1. Not writing about a popular topic
Imagine you’re a finance blogger.
And the hot thing to talk about is debt reduction.
After auditing the personal finance blogging niche, you realize your target audience wants to hear how to pay down their debts.
Almost every blogger is blogging about it.
But instead, to be “unique,” you decide to write a series of blog posts on Warren Buffet’s strategies behind value investing.
Why would you do that?!
Not to say Buffet’s strategies are bad (he’s brilliant), or that people don’t want to learn how to choose the right stocks.
But a bigger proportion of people want to learn about debt reduction.
This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice originality by going with what everyone else is writing about.
Here’s the deal:
Bloggers are writing about it because a lot of people care to hear about it — they’re genuinely struggling with debt reduction.
You can take your own spin on debt reduction if you’re worried about blending in with the crowd.
Maybe you know a great method to make it happen, or maybe you know some interesting tricks for reducing different types of debts.
So go with what others are writing about it, but give your own unique spin to it.
(And don’t confuse popularity with lack of originality.)
2. Writing too much about yourself
Have you ever skipped ahead to the very first page of a blog, and noticed the first blog post the blogger ever published was something along the lines of,
“Hello, world! This is ME! Let me introduce myself.”
It used to be a cute thing to do back in 2005.
But not today.
There’s so much content out there that readers don’t really care.
Yes. Let me repeat that.
Readers don’t care about who you are or what you do.
They care about how you can help them make their lives easier, wealthier, healthier, happier, better.
Your About page is a better opportunity for you to introduce yourself. And the main reason those details are there anyway is to build trust with your audience.
In other words, even sharing your life with your readers is still done for their sake – for them to get to know, like, and trust you.
Using your first blog post like a diary entry will make you look novice. It’ll also give the impression that you won’t blog about anything that matters to your readers.
It’s as if you’re at convention and decide to stand up in front of thousands of people just to say hello.
It feels out of place and out of touch.
Avoid the “Hello World!” blog post. If you want your readers to care about what you have to say, give them content that solves their problems.
And naturally, they’ll want to get to know you more.
3. Spending less than 10 minutes on your headline
Do you remember the last headline that made you click-through?
It was probably so irresistible, right?
That means the headline did its job.
Now, do you remember the headline that didn’t get you to click-through?
To illustrate just how important your headline is, I’ll quote famous copywriter and advertising tycoon David Ogilvy:
“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as they read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Ogilvy is basically saying the headline is the most important part of any body of copy you write.
I have worked on projects where we’ve spent nearly 2 weeks just coming up with headline iterations.
Think of the headline as the gateway between your content and your reader.
If you make it relatable, you make it easy for readers to cross that gateway and reach your content.
If you make the headline hard to relate to, readers will stay on the other side and find other content that speaks to them.
Most bloggers I know don’t spend nearly enough time on their headlines.
Take, for example, these two headline variations for a blog post about Shopify themes:
7 Shopify Themes for New Ecommerce Store Owners
7 Stunning Shopify Themes That Require Zero Experience to Use
Which one feels more “juicy?”
Number 2, of course!
Because #2 speaks to the beginner-level audience: the headline promises you won’t need any experience while still getting a beautiful Shopify theme (that’s what ecommerce beginners really care about in their themes).
Number 1 is basic. It’s blah. It doesn’t inspire action.
It’s also calling ecommerce beginners “New Ecommerce Store Owners” which is 1) a mouthful, and 2) a weird thing to refer to oneself as (would beginners really call themselves “ecommerce store owners?”).
Just to reiterate:
Spend some time on your headline.
Make sure it inspires action.
4. Not doing keyword research
You need to care about how search engines, namely Google, rank your posts and blog content.
For that, you need to do some keyword research to use the right keywords for your post.
What are keywords?
They’re the terms your readers search for on Google and other search engines.
There are a ton of (free) tools now that help you figure out the right keywords to use for your particular blog niche.
One of my favorites is Keyword Tool.
Here’s what comes up when you do a keyword search, for example, for “wordpress themes blogs”:
If you were running a blog about creating great WordPress themes for bloggers, then you can include all those other related keywords in your blog posts.
Including the keywords strategically in your posts and site content boosts your chance to show up in Google search results.
Which brings me to the next mistake you can make in your first blog post:
5. Not using keywords in your images’ alt tags
Did you know your images can rank in search results, too?
That’s why it’s always best practice to include images in your posts — not only to help illustrate points, but also to boost your search visibility.
The way you help your images get found in search is by adding relevant keywords to the alt tag of your images.
You can add keywords to your image’s alt tag in any content management system.
This is the way it looks when you’re creating a blog post in WordPress after clicking “Add Media” in the top left-hand corner of the post editor:
Simply add the keywords you want to rank for in the “Alt Text” area.
This will give your images a better chance to show up in image search results when people search for that specific keyword.
(Bonus points if the keyword also ranks on Pinterest’s search engine!)
And if you’re getting a bit confused about all these keyword rules in search engine optimization, then I have a lifesaving little WordPress plugin for you:
The free version of the plugin easily outlines all the key points you should hit with optimizing your blog posts and pages for search engines.
Make sure to download the WordPress plugin so that you can get a jumpstart on optimizing your blog posts for search.
Neglecting to add keywords to your images’ alt tags is a missed opportunity for people finding you in search.
Make sure to include keywords in the alt tags!
6. Writing in long paragraphs
Imagine you stumbled across a blog post that looked like this:
Does it scare you?
Because it scares me.
Big blocks of text are annoying to read and hard to skim (and everyone online loves to skim).
I’ve seen so many bloggers write their first blog post with Deadly Paragraphs like those.
Our eyes need a break.
That’s one of the reasons we have punctuation marks, and indentations:
They let your eye have “micro-breaks,” as I like to call them, while reading.
Properly formatting your blog writing also helps with your readers understand your material and remember it.
Be fearless with one-sentence paragraphs and two-sentence paragraphs.
I’d go as far to tell you you’re pushing it with three-sentence paragraphs.
(Especially since everything is cut to a small width on mobile view.)
I know those are a big no-no in college essay-writing, but it’s not a standard practice online.
To emphasize again:
People are skimmers. So write for skimmers.
7. Not including a call-to-action to a lead magnet
Let’s say you just finished reading a great book.
You fell in love with the author’s writing and you’re hungry for more of their work.
But at the end of the book, you don’t find any additional information on any of the author’s other books.
This is the same thing that happens when you write a blog post with no call-to-action (CTA) to sign up for a lead magnet.
Another missed opportunity is failing to include a CTA for a lead magnet at the end of your blog post.
See, there are two reasons why someone would make it to the bottom of your blog post:
- They read the blog post in its entirety
- They scrolled or skimmed to the bottom
In either case, you’re missing out on a chance to convert your readers into subscribers when you don’t include a clear CTA.
If you don’t have any meaningful lead magnet yet, then something as simple as a PDF version of your blog post works, too.
(I think this type of lead magnet is a fine stand-in before you have one that is tailored to solve a specific problem your reader has.)
Include a relevant CTA in your blog posts.
(I like to sprinkle them throughout the blog post, especially if it’s a long one.)
It’s a smart way to make sure you turn your most engaged readers into subscribers.
8. Thinking you have to be super formal
I mentioned before how the college essay format breaks one of the cardinal rules of online web writing (skimmable, short paragraphs).
College essays also have another quality that make this style of writing inappropriate online:
They tend to be too buttoned-up and formal.
You’ve probably noticed so far that I have a very conversational tone in this blog post.
A conversational tone is key to write well online.
The format isn’t an academic paper.
Or a well-structured essay.
Online web writing is meant to be immediately clear and concise.
If you don’t maintain a conversational tone and write too formally, readers will lose interest in your writing.
If they lost interest in hearing what you have to say, then it’s unlikely they’ll come back to read your work.
How, then, do you strike a balance between sounding authoritative while conversational at the same time?
I like to use this trick:
Pretend your ideal reader is a close friend you’re giving advice to.
If you imagine you’re writing for just one person who needs advice, it becomes easier to fall into that conversational rhythm.
9. Not planning out your blog content in advance
Let’s go back to our fictional personal finance blogger.
That finance blogger may want to cover several topics on their blog.
They may want to go into:
- Managing debt
- Getting out of debt
- Investing in the stock market
- Using real estate to build equity
- …and more
Covering several related topics in your niche is possible as long as you have a content strategy in mind.
A content strategy helps you outline the themes and topics of your blog content in advance.
For example, that finance blogger may want to cover these topics in a certain timeframe:
Managing credit card debt
Getting out of debt
Investing in the stock market
|Investing in real estate||
Going deeper into a topic is always better compared to casting a wide net on a variety of topics at once.
It’ll also be easier for you to make targeted lead magnets this way that align with the different topics you covered.
Tackling one important topic at a time and in-depth helps you stay organized and focused while building one audience at a time, too.
Over to you
Making any of the mistakes above in your first blog post takes away from the quality of your blog content.
In summary, avoid these 9 mistakes below:
- Not writing about a popular topic
- Writing too much about yourself
- Spending less than 10 minutes on your headline
- Not doing keyword research
- Not using keywords in your images’ alt tags
- Writing in long paragraphs
- Not including a call-to-action to a lead magnet
- Thinking you have to be super formal
- Not planning out your blog content in advance
Have you made any of these mistakes writing your first blog post?
Are there any others I forgot to cover?
Let me know in the comments below!