As you already know, I’m an experienced blogger (my ‘main‘ blog is 9 years old this September) and have also done countless blog designs for my web design clients (plus admin/management for their web sites). Together with my personal experiences, I was able to select the 10 personal finance blog mistakes that I find to be most detrimental to your blog:
1. Choosing the wrong domain name
I am a firm believer that you don’t need to spend thousands of bucks on ‘premium’ domains and, with some serious work, you can actually rank anything in Google. And yet, a not so well chosen domain name won’t be too easy to promote. Of course, I’ve done this myself before: first I had my name-domain name. My maiden name is Iftode, please tell me it’s very easy for you to pronounce and also remember it. Right?
Then I decided to create dojoblog.net, initially as the English counterpart of my main blog, dojoblog.ro. After few months I have noticed that a general blog is pretty difficult to ‘SEO’ (I wasn’t even sure what keywords I’m trying to compete on), so it turned into a personal finance blog. Sure, way better than my previous blogging attempt, since Dojo is not hard to remember, but still not that pretty.
So, here we are on PFToday.com. It’s a .com, it’s short and catchy. And any personal finance blogger out there knows what PF stands for (the logo also has a tagline, anyway :)) and can remember it easily.
This is why choosing the right domain name is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing for your blog (of course, after you have really thought well about what niche you’d like to enter). Choose a .com if possibly, make it short and sweet.
2. Choosing to blog on WordPress.com or Blogspot.com
OK, you’ll hate me for this, but in 2015 a domain name is sooo cheap and so is a nice cPanel hosting plan. It’s the ‘money’ niche, you probably plan to earn some bucks yourself, so, as we all know in business, it takes money to make money.
Can you achieve success with a free hosted blog? You can. Would it be easier for readers and advertisers as well to notice you and trust your brand if you had something like PFToday.com, with a nice design and professional look? You’d have the freedom to do whatever you wished with your blog (add banners, affiliate links, change designs etc.) and never have to worry that a missed step might get your blog disabled.
I have ALWAYS advised my readers to look for a nice domain name and get an affordable hosting plan. You can start very low (a small blog really doesn’t need a dedicated server) and build from there.
3. Choosing a niche just for the money – is probably the biggest of all personal finance blog mistakes
In the past I have chosen specific niches, because they were ‘high-earners’ in Adsense or similar ad networks. Let’s get it straight: there is money to be made in the personal finance niche. But there’s also a lot of content to be written, money related things to be understood and a lot of reading and education from your part.
I have chosen this niche because, since 2009, I’ve been VERY interested in it personally. After getting fired from my job and having to build my freelancing business from scratch, I wanted to learn as much as possible about money, saving it, earning it etc. This passion of mine is the reason I bother you with PFToday 🙂
Whatever niche you LOVE, is the perfect one for you to build in. Don’t choose a topic just because the Adsense clicks are best paid. Choose something you are passionate about. You’ll have to write HUNDREDS of interesting articles, let’s say that, if you dread the niche, the activity would be a bit hard to ‘swallow’.
4. Writing posts that are way to difficult to understand
We are writing for ‘regular Joe’ here (self included, since I still need to wrap my head around some of the personal finance terms – especially since I’m Romanian and, no matter how good my English might seem to you, there are specialized terms I need to google for). Don’t use an ‘academic’ style, don’t place too many specialty words (or at least explain them). We’re not doing an MBA research here, we are discussing how to earn, save and invest money.
Fortunately most personal finance blogs I read have been written with a lot of care and the articles are very easy to understand even by a non-native speaker.
In order to attract more people (not only the specialists in our niche), we need to have our readers in minds and make sure our content is easy to understand.
5. Writing posts for Google only
We all do SEO on our blogs. It’s normal to get a keyword to focus on and then write ‘around’ it. But we don’t write for the keyword in itself or for Google, we just create our content, making sure we also keep this in mind.
Our main concern is the HUMAN reader. I have seen some horrible ‘money making blogs’ that have such an idiotic content, no one in their right minds could read/understand anything. It’s clear to me they are just spamming the living daylights of few keywords and have zero focus on the readers who might stumble across the web site (we actually do the SEO to get higher in the search engines, so that PEOPLE can find our site and read the articles).
By not writing the content for your readers, you’ll get visitors and they’ll immediately ‘bounce’ out of your web site, since the articles are poorly written and ‘spammy’.
Always remember that your focus is the person who is visiting your personal finance blog. Can said person understand where you’re coming from with the information? Can he/she relate to it?
6. Not allowing comments (or making people register).
I have developed a small list with few of the personal finance blogs I love to comment on (will make it bigger in the near future, since there are at least 100 blogs I actually visit/comment on). What do they have in common (besides posting good content, of course)? They all allow for fast / easy commenting.
As a blogger, you also need to do a LOT of promotion and blog commenting is THE BEST so far (in my experience at least). It allows you to meet new cool people in your niche, you can contribute with a great comment to an already great article, you can also promote and foster some nice relationships.
This is why, one of the big personal finance blog mistakes I see people make is to either disable commenting or install Facebook comments, Disqus etc. WordPress has a very nice commenting system in place (simple and nice to use), don’t over-complicate your life (and your readers’) with useless plugins. Just let the regular comment fields there and you’ll do great. No, spam won’t hit you too hard (I’ll also prepare an extensive article about how I was able to prevent spam from appearing on my blogs in all these years.
So, this one is easy: don’t install comment plugins, just let your WordPress do its job.
7. Not having a modern looking RESPONSIVE WordPress theme
It’s 2015 and most people have smartphones. When not wasting time ‘liking’ pics with cats on Facebook, some might want to read our blogs. If yours doesn’t have a ‘mobile friendly’ (responsive) theme, you’re losing readers and potential clients.
I always advise people to get a good premium theme for their blog (if they cannot afford an unique one created exclusively for their web site). As soon as you ‘clear’ the funds, you get get a web designer to work on a custom design based on your brand and needs. (Shameless plug: I design responsive WordPress themes and they cost you only $500. They are original, look great and are, of course, responsive.)
It’s true that content is king (still is), but looks also matter. In order to attract advertisers and visitors, you need to ‘look’ professional and an outdated blog design is clearly not gonna send the right message.
8. Today you’re active, tomorrow you’re gone
‘Hi, I’m Ramona, and I have been inactive on my blogs from time to time’. Yes, it’s a HUGE mistake. On my personal blog, I was pretty MIA for months (after the birth of our daughter). I was lucky enough not to lose too much traffic, since we’re talking an established blog (over 8 years) and over 2000 articles that are well indexed by Google.
Let’s say that, after writing maybe 20 posts in 2014, I’ve only lost 10% of my visitors. Which is not that bad, provided I used to write more often before.
Don’t do this. Set up a blogging schedule and post at least weekly. As soon as your readers will get used to it, they’ll know when to get back for content. Finding old content for months will make them un-bookmark the web site and unsubscribe from your lists.
9. Too cool to hang out with the others
I’ve seen big bloggers rise and fall, all because of acting as if they discovered hot water in their niche. Always be nice to your readers (yes, even the nasty ones), be active on your blog (respond to comments, visit / comment back) and NEVER badmouth someone else.
Blogging has given me some nice friends over the time, a lot of opportunities (many of my web design clients came from there) and the chance to grow A LOT as a content writer and small business owner.
It’s always a great idea to care for your readers, be nice and polite. Some of them might be your future advertisers or business clients. Not to mention that just a Google search could make a potential client ‘skip’ working with you (nobody wants to work with troublemakers and all our potential clients or advertisers know how to hit the ‘search’ button).
10. Not being consistent in your efforts
We all start with great plans and want to achieve success, it’s just that sometimes we get sidetracked by other projects or life. So one of the big personal finance blog mistakes is to not follow through with your plan. If you cannot spend too much time blogging, set yourself a lax schedule (one post / week, bi-monthly posts etc.) and try to follow that schedule.
Same goes for promotion and blog commenting. You need to dedicate some time to get in touch with other bloggers, provide useful comments on their blogs, promote your articles.
Just few minutes/day can really help you get your name out there. Consistency is the key in this, too. Keep on adding content and promote, your readership will increase and the blog will become successful.
Do you know any other personal finance blog mistakes? Which ones are you making?