7 Deadly Niche Website and Blogging Mistakes

Niche Website Mistakes - Man Walking AloneI’ve done a lot of stupid things when it comes to making money online. When I started trying to make money in early 2007, I had no idea what I was doing.

I thought I’d be up and running within 6 months making a full-time income.

I can now see how delusional I was. I see this a lot though. If you’re new to this scene and want to start making money on the internet, please realize that it isn’t something that happens overnight.

Look at it as a brick & mortar business, only with the internet, you don’t have to invest a lot of money.

All you need is money for a domain, hosting and a paid course or mentor to help speed up the process and minimize mistakes.

I started out with a coach, but I still screwed everything up. Sometimes you’re just not ready. I certainly wasn’t at that time, but I kept going at it and here I am.

1. Research

The first mistake I did was in the area of research. When you’re beginning with all this internet stuff, research is the last thing you want to do. You already have your great idea and you want to jump right in and get started.

I felt exactly like this, but let me tell you, research is the foundation of your future empire. If you neglect your research, you might strike gold, but often you’ll end up being one of those people who claim that making money online is a scam.

Research can involve many different things, depending on what your goals are. For example, with my niche websites, I did a lot of keyword research because I was going to optimize them for the search engines.

But with this blog, I thought mostly about branding, my personality and how I could stand out from the crowd. This is why I recommend everyone join a paid course, because you get a mentor for an affordable price who can point out any mistakes you make and steer you in the right direction.

I personally was a member of Authority Blogger which is run by Chris Garrett. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Chris and when I saw that he was offering a course, and that he offered comprehensive e-mail support, I was sold.

2. Design

I used a free CSS template for my first website, which was fine in the beginning, but as time went on, I kept adding to it and it started looking messy.

I never got the motivation to clean it up, so now it just sits there collecting cyber dust. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a super fancy design when you start, but something simple and clean will make a professional impression on your website visitors.

For example, when I launched the Wake Up Cloud in December 2009, many people after a few weeks were telling me that they thought my blog was a lot older than it was. I made sure to get a good designer to make a simple customization of the Thesis theme for me.

It cost me $300, excluding the price for Thesis. There are great designers out there that are very affordable if you know what you want. I’ve found it helpful to sketch down what I want, scan it and send it to my designer. Works like a charm.

Update: Today I use the Genesis theme for WordPress.

3. Links

I was naïve enough to think that I didn’t need to build links to my website. I guess we’re all retarded sometimes and I’ve learned a lot since then, but this was definitely one of my biggest mistakes.

If you want traffic, especially from the search engines, you have to build links. You can do this by being friendly, writing guest posts or asking nicely.

With this blog, I’ve done a lot of guest posting and connecting with people. It has helped a tremendous amount, because not only have I made a lot of friends, but many of them link to me from their blogs because they like what I’m doing.

I also get high-quality links and traffic by guest posting regularly on other blogs. Guest posting is a great way to get your name out there and meet new people.

If you have a blog and are wondering why you aren’t getting traffic, you’re probably not doing the right kind of stuff.

4. Connections

I’ve noticed that actually putting your face behind your website or blog gives you more credibility and allows people to get to know you, which is essential if you plan to make your own products and offer services.

My first website was almost completely anonymous. On second thought, I did have an about page, so I guess I had a face there.

My point is that I didn’t actively go out there and engage fellow bloggers and website owners. I was sitting and waiting for something magical to happen.

If you’re starting a blog around your passion, you should connect with anyone and everyone that you can. Networking can do huge things for you.

This doesn’t mean that you go out and tell people about your website and/or products, because no one wants to listen to that guy.

It means that you hang out with like-minded people and have fun. That’s how you make solid connections. At least that is how I do it.

5. Search Engine Optimization

I completely neglected search engine optimization with my first niche website. I think search engine optimization is not as important for blogs, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

My first website was meant to get search traffic, so it lived or died on how well I did my research, optimized my pages and built links.

The bad news was that I didn’t pick my keywords well, because the niche that I chose had no good keywords.

It was a highly saturated market with companies spending millions on getting their websites ranked high in the search engines. Suffice it to say, I had no chance.

I was lucky though, because I went to the Site Build It! forums and asked for help. That’s when someone told me honestly and bluntly that my website was never going to make it with the keywords I was working on.

I could’ve gotten mad at him, but instead I chose to leave a broken website behind and start a new one.

My new website is more in line with my passions. It’s also a Site Build It! website. I’m glad I chose to move on, because I am now making close to $1,500 passively from this new website each and every month.

There are times when you have to realize that quitting is the only option.

6. Shortcuts

A few other lessons I learned the hard way was to look for shortcuts. I bought links, I outsourced a bunch of bad stuff and it didn’t help me one bit.

All it did was lighten my bank account. I don’t regret making those mistakes at all, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

If you’re actively looking for shortcuts and how you can become an overnight success, chances are that you will fail miserably.

When I realized that working hard is the only thing that will bring me closer to my goals, everything started working much smoother.

When I started the Wake Up Cloud, I realized that guest posting was a great strategy for me. I’m a fast writer, so I have no problem churning out content for my blog and for other blogs.

This has helped me build links, connections and traffic. It isn’t a shortcut, but it’s a strategy to works extremely well.

7. No Plan

Last, but not least, I had no plan. My grand plan was to start a website and hope that everything would work out.

You have to have a plan if you want to make money. With my second, and successful niche website, I knew how I was going to monetize it.

With this blog, I had a vision in mind before I started. I am open to my vision changing, because that happens a lot.

I am not saying that you should make a plan and stick to it no matter what. I’ve found that the best results in my life have come from me being open to new and surprising possibilities.

Have a plan, but also be ready to modify and adapt it to what is happening around you. As you go through your journey, you will learn new things, your perspective will change and so will your plans.

In order to calibrate and head in the right direction, there is one thing you must do, and that is to take action. Don’t put off going after your dreams.

Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it is better to start, because you will learn a lot in the process, which will equip you for future success.

Image by Éole Wind

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Comments

  1. I think that everything that we do needs to be done with a purpose. I see a lot of bloggers just jump into it with no plan but a lot of passion – but they fizzle out after a couple of months.

    The ones that stick around are those that have a plan and commit to it.

    • Good point, and something I’d like to add is that sometimes the bloggers that fizzle out are the ones that succeed once they try it again.

      I know I definitely was one of those people that didn’t have a clue, but I kept at it until I started understanding the basics.

  2. Another great post Henri – I am finding these so useful. I realised recently I have been resisting planning anything with my blog, but I know it will help me further down the track and at those times when I am not sure where it is going so I am starting to do this.

    • Planning and knowing what your goals are is always important. If you’re not planning on monetizing and making money then it probably isn’t so important, but if you are, then it is ;)

  3. My greatest mistake is in not building links too. I wonder how on earth I ever get a PR2 without conscious effort in getting backlinks then.
    By the way, can you consider using CommentLuv, plus get a top commenter plugin.

  4. Great expose for bloggers and anyone looking to become a blogger.

    I think No Plan is the biggest mistake of all. Without a vision, people and resources waste.

    Henri, a second request for CommentLuv plugin besides mine :)

  5. Henri,

    You’ve identified many really important points in this post. I’m actually planning on making the switch over to Thesis soon and working on my redesign. Right now I don’t hav the money to hire a designer but I know there are things I can do on my own to really improve the site. I’ve attempted shortcuts myself. I hired somebody to do my SEO and it was a complete waste of money. This was on another blog I started that never did that well. I think a plan is really a key part of how to do things. Sure you might not follow the plan to the letter but it gives you a structure and guide. I noticed that the minute I wrote my marketing plan, I found a way to earn about 600 dollars in income and today that is a reality.

    • Thesis is awesome and has worked very well for me, so jump right in, the water is good ;)

      I usually have a plan but I’m ready to deviate from it if I feel like it’s a wise choice. Just planning something out and thinking about what you’ll do is helpful, because I see so many bloggers jump in, give stuff away, but they have no long-term plan on how they’ll make money (assuming that they want to).

      Congrats on the $600! It’s funny how those things happen once you get clear on what you want.

  6. Sujit | ResaleRightsYouWant.com says:

    Hi Henri,

    Yes indeed research, plan, seo, link building are all important to be successful in any online ventures. Also there are very good tools out there which can help in the process to a great extent.

  7. Hey Henri!
    Nice to hear all your mistakes and your learning phase. I have gone through exactly the same. It’s so nice having someone who can tell you all this stuff, it’s just hard to find this someone when you know nothing about the internet and want to start a blog. That’s how I did it, although I had some very decent help from my buddy Glen (Viperchill).

    I also started out with free themes and spent hours messing with it, and the only result was that it looked like complete cr*p! Then I finally decided to pay for a decent theme and since then I have been happy with it and regularly get compliments about it, so it was well worth the price. I think that a lot of people are scared to pay a few hundred dollars to get a professional and clean looking website when they start, but my experience (just like you say) is that it will make life SO much easier and help you grow your blog so much faster.

    I also used to think that it was hard working writing just the two articles a week for my blog, but now I see that I was just lazy (or didn’t know how to write good posts easily). Currently I am writing 5-8 posts a week, which means 2 for my own blog and the rest as guest posts which will get me links, traffic and publicity :)

    Good to see you growing so fast!!
    Keep it up!
    Cheers!
    Diggy

    • Yup exactly, outsource the stuff you aren’t good at and focus on your strengths. Having a good, clean and professional looking website will pay dividends down the line, so throwing $300 at a designer is well worth it.

      I also think that there are a few mental blocks we have to overcome when it comes to writing. First you think you can only write one, then you realize you can do more, and more, and more.

      And of course, the more you write, the better you get :D

  8. Nice post Henri. When I started, it was difficult for me as well. I didn’t get my first comment until about 5 to 6 months into it! I like your tips that you’ve provided here to beginners because growing a blog definitely isn’t an overnight process. I think if we work hard and get our voice out there, even if this means getting over the fear of talking to people we don’t know, we can create the potential to make a really successful blog. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • Not getting a comment until 5-6 months into it can be rough, but it’s great to hear that you stuck with it. Once you get through those periods you get tougher and realize that persistence matters.

      I’m glad you got some value out of my story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hulbert!

  9. Hi Henri!

    I did not start out with a plan. Mainly because I didn’t have a clue what I really wanted to achieve or if blogging would get me there.

    Later I got an idea that I wanted to self-brand and ultimately monetize my passions so that I could fund our alternate lifestyle in a flexible way.

    Now I am commenting a lot ;-), meeting people online, and actively looking for guest post opportunities.

    My niche is a little different. It’s a combination of families, self-help, and lifestyle design in the vein of Tim Ferriss. It’s a bit of an unusual mix, but not really. (BTW – any recommendations of blogs that I should be following/writing for, let me know! ;-) ).

    Anyway, I am on course to reaching my goals now. Love to know more about exactly what you are doing to monetize so quickly (I know it’s health related).

    Anyway, I’m a fan of both you and Ingela! And your recent posts have been very helpful.

    Thanks and all the best as always,

    Hugh

    • I think it’s completely cool to start out without a plan if you’re doing it consciously and not deluding yourself that stuff will work out.

      When you gain enough experience, you’ll uncover what you want and can start planning and setting some goals.

      Thanks for reading, Hugh. It is a pleasure to have a conscious soul like you hanging out on the Cloud :D

  10. I’ve personally made the mistake of not doing any research. I started a blog about Internet marketing because others were successful with their Internet marketing blogs too. So I thought I could easily get a lot of people to my blog because they have managed to do so too.
    Well, it turns out that I was quite wrong :P

  11. Love your transparency here Henri and the desire you have to help ‘newbies’ like me not make the same mistakes you made the first go-around. Thanks for your great work :-)

  12. I feel part of the great thing about taking action is that it helps you learn what NOT to do. If you never take action you’ll never really learn what you should be doing.

    You’re going to mess up. That’s part of it. But it’s then that you need to realise what went wrong and fix it the next time around.

    Great article man!

  13. Thanks for sharing this. I’m teaching my brother how to blog and earn money online but because I’ve just started earning from site just recently and didn’t know where to start with teaching him. These tips are surely more than enough to get us on the right track. thanks again

  14. Aced it with : Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, it is better to start, because you will learn a lot in the process, which will equip you for future success.

    When didn’t know even what meta keywords were back in 2004 I was making $1500+ per month without even knowing why people pay me to add banners why people click on ads!
    Was It luck? Sure it was but luck was created because I did something, even if i had no idea what I was doing.
    Go out and make things happen!
    Angel

  15. Hi Henri!

    Thank you for sharing. I was wondering which is the website you were mentioning in there which generates 1.5K in passive and is built on Site Build It? Im interested in getting more to know about SBI.

    Thanks

    Greetings from Estonia
    Kaido

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