My Ten Biggest Blog Blunders EVER

Blog Blunder #1: No call to action!
Top TenI was a shy blogger when I first started and I cringed at the thought of asking people to subscribe. I thought if they wanted to read what I had to say every week they would figure it out themselves. But then I realized that potential subscribers often don’t consider “going steady” until you ask them to take the next step, and it doesn’t have to be aggressive. So in the fall of 2012, I finally gained enough confidence to add a sentence to the bottom of every post that simply says, “If you like this article subscribe to my blog.” Subscriber stats increased immediately. A couple months later I activated the plugin “Notification Bar,” which adds the invitation to subscribe across the top of my website, and subscribers doubled in just a few months.

Blog Blunder #2: I stopped growing my Twitter following
I got really, really busy after I published my first novel, and one of the tasks I stopped doing regularly was to seek out and follow people on my favorite social media platform, Twitter. Big mistake, know why? Because new followers are also new to your blog content. Yes, that’s right. New followers = potential new blog readers. Don’t stop building your community!

Blog Blunder #3: I didn’t collaborate enough with other authors
So many experts are dissing the “huge” mistake authors are making by marketing to other authors on every social media platform – and I agree about the marketing bit. However, forming close alliances with authors who write and produce a quality product is one of the best perks of hanging out on social media. Unfortunately, my excuse was that I didn’t “have enough time” to establish new relationships/collaborations with my peers, and now I’m paying the price. Other authors are our best support system. Guesting on their blogs can expose our work to their readers and vice versa, which benefits everyone. Alliances among groups of talented self-published authors can be a lucrative way to market. So figure out who’s good and hang out with them.

Blog Blunder #4: I was mesmerized by blog stats
Okay, I admit it, all right? I was hypnotized by my blog stats. I was enthralled by the steady growth my website experienced and every day I checked again and again – how many page views? Gasp! So I had to break myself of the habit. Really, it was just a form of procrastination (like excessively checking Facebook or surfing the web), and once I realized that, I backed off. Funny though, I remember reading a blog post a year ago written by an author who said she stopped blogging because she couldn’t break her habit of checking stats. Isn’t that sort of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater? I vote for balance in all things. Blogging is one of the best author marketing tools available, and my position is that it’s a must-do for every self-published author. Just try to detach from the urge to watch your website stats ;-O

Blog Blunder #5: I didn’t establish a solid plan to repurpose blog posts
I seriously erred right from the beginning by not having a plan for my blog. But way back in 2011 I had no idea it was possible to have a plan – lol, no, really! When I finally wised up I established a serious campaign to repurpose my posts. Now my mantra is “3-purpose,” which means I make every effort to utilize everything I write three times (with necessary modifications). Here’s an example: Twitter Tips was a post on my blog; then it morphed into a flyer I offer as a freebie for new email subscribers; and I’ll eventually expand the info and include it in the second book in my blogging series (coming sometime in 2014) to be titled, “Blog On!”

Blog Blunder #6: I failed to post enough reader-centric articles
And this booboo has a lot to do with Blunder #5, see above. I have a wonderful community of authors who follow my blog and my guests and I will continue to share info about what I’ve learned – good and bad – in the self-publishing process. But now I’ve resolved to return to writing a few essays, which were my basic go-to post when I first began. The secret to having different topics mesh? Choose subject matter that’s interesting to both readers and writers. And hopefully, these articles will reflect non-fiction topics in your novels.

Blog Blunder #7: I did not post social media follow links on my website
Okay, duh. I realize most of you already get that this is a no-brainer. I never said I was a prodigy. I may be late to the party, but I finally added a few social media follow links this year. Please don’t do what I did – make it easy for new website visitors to connect with you on other platforms.

Blog Blunder #8: I was clueless about opening widget images “in a new window”
Hah, I bet I got you with that one! Not sure what I’m talking about? Tech nerds out there will understand. Example: Now I post my book covers (via widgets) as clickable “buy” links on my website, but I didn’t want to do it until I figured out how to make the links “open in new window,” so visitors who clicked through to check them out on Amazon wouldn’t accidentally close the window and forever leave my website. You see, WordPress doesn’t give you the option to open widgets in a new window, so I had to research it until I found a way. Now you want to know how, don’t you? Or maybe you already do. At any rate, the how-to is another blog post. Snicker.

Blog Blunder #9: I grew addicted to the convenience of guest posters
Don’t misunderstand – I love, love, love my guest posters and the truth is many of their articles have gotten more page views than my own. But I found it was SO convenient to fill up my blog schedule with guests that my own writing was reduced to a single post every month. Why is that a bad thing? Because I wasn’t churning out enough writing of my own. Now that I have a solid “3-purpose plan,” I’m almost giddy about my blog-post-writing because every article moves another writing project forward. Yay! So going forward I’ll flip the schedule and write three posts per month and host a guest once.

Blog Blunder #10: I didn’t move my email subscribers to MailChimp
FINALLY! I took me forEVER to move my subscribers from JetPack to MailChimp, even though two guest posters, Toby Neal and Jeri Walker-Bickett, sang MC’s praises and tried their best to make it easy for me. I whined and procrastinated, but finally moved with last week’s post. Moving involved 1) creating an RSS email campaign in MC that sends weekly posts out automatically 2) figuring out how to embed MC’s subscriber code on my website and testing it to be sure it worked, and 3) deactivating JetPack so my ever-patient subscribers wouldn’t get the post excerpt emailed twice. Benefits? Prettier email with more links and information in it. Oh, and fodder for another future blog article. Yay!

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51 Responses to My Ten Biggest Blog Blunders EVER

  1. Lee-Anne April 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Thank you Molly, these tips are amazing! As a new and inept blogger I need as much help as I can as I am completely gormless with technology (being an old-school English teacher). Have bookmarked this post so I can go over it until I get it 🙂

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      I was completely gormless when I started, as well. If I can do it, YOU can do it!

  2. Deborah Jay April 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Oh Molly, thank you, your timing could not have been better.
    I started blogging 3 weeks ago and I’m already making some of these mistakes – now I can do my best to rectify that 🙂
    I think it’ll take me a while to get past the obsessive stats checking though – I want to be sure someone’s taking a look!
    And please please please go ahead with that post on opening things in a new window – I know I should have that but its driving me nuts trying to find out how…

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Made me laugh about the “new window” issue, it drove me crazy until I figured it out too!

  3. Pamela Beason April 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Oh yeesh. I have done/am doing all those. ACK! ACK! (On the upside, I have been writing.)

    Let’s see, who can I blame? Who can I shanghai to do all these tasks? My darn cats never take responsibility for anything.

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      PAMELA!!! I can’t tell you all the time I had available for writing when I stopped watching my blog stats, hahaha!

    • Belinda Pollard April 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

      Pamela, I thought it was just dogs that shirked their responsibilities. (I’ve been telling mine to clean the kitchen for days now.)

      Molly, I particularly liked that repurposing idea. My process has tended to be: hmmm, this post seems to have been popular, maybe I should do something else with it… rather than thinking of opportunities from the outset. I was a freelance journalist for a while, and the only way to make a living at that is to reuse and repurpose the same piece of research. Now I just need to be a bit more intentional about how to make this work for my blog.

      I’m going to sit down and ponder the possibilities, while my dog cleans the kitchen.

      • Molly Greene April 17, 2013 at 9:22 am #

        Belinda, once you start repurposing you’ll have all kinds of time to supervise the dog while he’s cleaning the kitchen!

  4. elaine pinkerton coleman April 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Wow, Molly, just when I felt I was gaining on social media outreach (and I sort of am), now I realize that, truth be told, I’m moving at glacial speed. Seriously, the new challenges are very good for the brain. And I know that baby steps are ok at first. You’ve made me hungry to learn more, to push the envelope, to write better blog posts and tie things together. Inspiration is your middle name!

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Oh my! Thank you so much for the lovely comment! My inspiration comes from all of you — and by the way, slow and steady wins the race.

  5. Anne R. Allen April 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    What a great list. I fail at a number of these. I don’t use Mail Chimp (I don’t think it’s compatible with Blogger) and I don’t post enough for readers of my mysteries. That’s a problem when you establish a blog following before you publish.

    The thing about networking with other authors is key. I’m going to be talking about that on my blog on Sunday.

    And the “new window” thing is new to me. I’ll have to explore how to do that in Blogger.

    Great post!

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Thanks so much, Anne. Love your blog and I’m looking forward to your post about author collaboration – my next focus, as book promotion is NOT my strength.

  6. David April 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks Molly.
    Yeah, I’ve been really slow on a few of these. #1, I finally made it easier to even subscribe with Feedburner. Some blogs don’t even have subscription tools. Then free WordPress added a second subscription tool that can’t be turned off. So now I have 2 subscription lists… I preferred to keep Feedburner up as when I migrate, I just have to update it and subscribers all move.

    #3 – I found just commenting on related blogs with intelligence brought a lot of readers. Unfortunately the better such blogs are silent these days…

    #5 is a great idea I’ve been moving towards but have not implemented. Thanks.

    #8 is interesting. I’ve been doing that only to discover at some point, it wasn’t actually working in WP. Look forward to the post.

    I’ve not developed other social media much and I’ve stopped adding pictures to blog posts which does make a difference. Both were due to time constraints. But I do write a lot of articles. Perhaps there’s a balance in there too. When I was writing over 30 a month, readers were not able to keep up.

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      David, 30 a month! Think of all the books you can create out of that re-purposed content!

  7. Bette A. Stevens April 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Terrific and timely (for me) post… THANKS! Bette

  8. Nancy M. Dickinson April 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    Excellent, excellent post! Definitely a far cry better than the others I see that give the same advice as everyone else!

    I’m already doing eight of the ten and I’m rectifying the other two tomorrow…

    I do have one question, though. When I search the plugins directory for Notification Bar, I get two of them. One is simply called “Notification Bar” and it’s as it says, a bar at the top that asks people to subscribe. It stays open for seven seconds and this is not a setting that can be changed.

    The other one is called WP Notification Bar. I’ve not loaded it but it does the same thing as the other, but there is no mention of whether or not it remains in place or eventually closes.

    Which plugin did you load?

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      Nancy, I use “WordPress Notification Bar.” I’ve read other posts that rec’d “Viper Bar.” Let me know what you choose!

  9. Stephanie April 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Oh my, guilty on several counts my friend!! LOL Luckily, I had my note taking app open on the iPad but then again, I usually do when I am over here. Thanks for sharing another helpful and important post aimed at correcting important missteps. I am happy to report that I did stop checking my blog stats quite some time ago so there’s that, LOL. I’d like to increase my subscribers and I am going to take your advice and just ask. Funny, all the YouTubers are constantly asking us to like, comment, share and subscribe so why not us bloggers!? I’ll be working on my other faux pas as well and thank you as always for sharing. I’m loving, Blog It, by the way.

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      WOW Steph, thanks so much! Let me know if you have questions about Blog It when you’re done.

  10. Laura Zera April 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    You always find the best plug-ins! Thanks, Molly.

  11. John April 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Hello Molly-Thank you for the helpful post. As one of the many newer bloggers, I have done 9 of the 10 things wrong. But my one point plan was this: I don’t want to post things that waste other peoples time, or distract them. Be helpful, now that I know what the other 9 things are I will do them all.
    Here is the reason I follow your blog….Your helpful and you don’t waste my time. I enjoy the word trips you write to a conclusion that is artistic, lyrical and useful. So in keeping with your advice. my suggestion is that now that your bolder in asking others about things, ask them also to comment on the merits of your site, or their own, their info will help us all. Thanks.

  12. Shirley Ford April 16, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    You have just described me ! How do you know me so well? Thanks for all the advice

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Ah, Shirley. Birds of a feather.

  13. Tim Stutler April 16, 2013 at 7:37 am #

    What a great, informative post! I’m still new to blogging; most of this is a surprise to me. Thank you!

    Now, to put your advice in action, is there any way to get to to be the first guest on my blog?
    Tim Stutler

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Tim, so glad you found us here and happy the info has been helpful. As for guest blogging, thanks so much for the invite but I’m working on another book so my schedule is full for now!

  14. James L'Etoile April 16, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Have you been peeking over my shoulder? I’m guilty of each and every offense you listed. I’m fairly new at the blogging universe and I have a learning curve ahead. This post (and your previous entries) help give me the guideposts along the path. Thanks Molly.

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      My pleasure! We’re all learning together!

  15. Lori Draper April 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Wonderful! I am fairly new to this, so any tips that I can get from a real blogger are like gold to me!

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Oh man! So pleased that you called me a real blogger, yaaaaaaay! Thanks, Lori!

  16. Juanita Rice April 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Thank you for that informative and encouraging post! I’m also enjoying your posts to my Facebook page. 🙂

  17. Jeri April 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Stop that snickering! Just this weekend I was doing some blog housekeeping and put a a few widgets on my sidebar that feature some of my posts as well as adding clickable images for my two eBooks. Overall I like how it looks, but I found myself thinking it sure would be nice to know how to make widgets open in a new window when clicked….

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      LOOKS like I better write that post quick!!

  18. Chelsea Williams April 18, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Love this post! Its so true, you start to forget and and stop building, I need to remember that one! x

  19. Jay Scott April 18, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Here is one that I just figured out. I use and the gadgets that come out of the box include a “subscribe to” link. Standard stuff, right? Well, there are a couple of problems.

    First is that the default subscriptions in the drop-down list are kinda crazy, requiring you to have a My Yahoo! or some other feed types I’ve never heard of. Second, there wasn’t a “subscribe by email” option. Really.

    When I set my blog up, I just assumed these would be simple and easy to understand–wrong!–and hadn’t thought to actually try them. Big mistake. After two months of only getting one subscriber it occurred to me to check these gadgets. I know it seems obvious, but I missed it.

    So my takeaways are:
    1) Test EVERY link on your blog page, even if it *seems* obvious. A quick check will confirm it works as you expect.
    2) Subscribe to your own blog to see what the alerts look like. Perhaps some of the graphics or formatting are botched, and it would be better to know that sooner rather than later.

    Cheers and thanks for all the great posts, Molly!

    • Molly Greene April 18, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Thanks Jay and I agree – check every link and subscribe to your blog so you see what every one will see. Thanks for the info about!

  20. Alex from HP Supplies April 19, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    A great list, thank you Molly. I think Twitter’s an excellent boost for bloggers, you just have to be very active and friendly with it. Talk to people and have fun – don’t treat it as a means to try and get additional traffic. And interacting with other people’s blogs is also a good idea. I’ve made of number of good friends thanks to just talking to people on their blogs.

    Guest posting’s a funny one – so long as it’s great content by a keen writer I see no problem with it. Unfortunately a lot of people use it as a links opportunity and create sloppy articles. Google are helping cut that out, thankfully!

  21. Pat April 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Wow, Molly, thanks for all the fabulous tips! I love you blog I always learn something new or receive validation for something I am already doing on my own blog. You help keep the blundering at bay. ha

  22. A.K.Andrew April 23, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    Really excellent post Molly from so many different perspectives. I love your idea of having a 3-purpose for your posts, something I hadn’t particularly thought of. It’s also an excellent point about having topics that are not solely author centric. Which can sometimes be a challenge if you’re talking about writing. As for Mailchimp, I’ve been resisting for similar reasons to you, so thanks for the encouragement & good heads up that I need to unplug Jetpack. Didn’t know that. Your posts are always a pleasure. Thank you

  23. Leora Wenger April 23, 2013 at 2:58 am #

    Hi, Molly. I found you via A.K. I noticed that you are doing a lot of things right – you are certainly speaking to your audience in this post! Maybe I get hung up on the “didn’t” and “clueless” – by now, you seem to have done quite a bit and are cluing in new bloggers.

    A useful list.

    • Molly Greene April 23, 2013 at 7:56 am #

      Hi Leora! welcome to my blog and thanks so much for your comment. I share what I’ve learned so others can hopefully avoid some of my mistakes!

  24. Sandy O May 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Excellent tips Molly. Do you have a blog, or will you be doing one about the “3-purpose plan”?

    • Molly Greene May 12, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Hi Sandy! I discuss re-purposing posts in my book, Blog It!

  25. Tracey Best May 13, 2013 at 4:57 am #

    Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing with us so we can avoid some mistakes. For those of us new to blogging and technology it would be great to have a post that explains more about e-mail subscribers and how that all works. Have a great day!

  26. Lisa May 19, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    These are great, thanks Molly. A bit like you I’m very slowly catching on to my mistakes. After reading this I’ve noticed a few more things I need to change. Thanks again and all the best.

  27. Ann Snizek August 23, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    I’m extremely glad that my hubby is as supportive as he is. He’s discovered your wonderful site and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without you!!!

    Now, I have the daunting task of correcting all of the mistakes I’ve made on Twitter, my blogs, and Facebook! (phew) You are going to be a major go-to point for me. Thank you so much for putting together all of these wonderful posts.

    And yes, I’ve subscribed! <3

    • Molly Greene August 23, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Ann! Fun chatting with you on Twitter and thanks for the lovely, lovely comment. There are no mistakes – we’re all just learning together. So glad to have you along on the ride!

  28. Norah September 7, 2013 at 5:08 am #

    Thanks for retweeting this. I’m new to blogging so the timing of this great advice is just right for me!

  29. Sakib Khan September 7, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    quite helpful!… as a newbie I learnt lot of things, but overall we all learn from mistakes