Blogging Tips from All the Dumb Mistakes I Made My First Year



Blogging Tips Wednesday is my official one-year blogging anniversary.  If it comes as a surprise to you that my blog has been around for one year, than shame on me! It seems this week will be a silent anniversary for me since my blog basically didn’t exist for about the first five months of its career. And it’s all thanks to all the really dumb stuff I did when I first started My Money Design. So for anyone out there just starting out (and for those of you who just want to laugh with me – not at me), here is a tally of all the stupid things I did over the last year and my blogging tips on how you can do better!

 

My Dumb Blogging Tips:

1. About six months before I actually created My Money Design, I would write articles in Word as if I was a blogger. I don’t know who was going to actually read them – I think I was just trying to psych myself up into actually believing I could do it.

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 01: Don’t wait. It’s not that difficult to start a blog. If you’re even thinking about doing it, then go for it!

 

2. My original logo was really lame. I mean REALLY lame. It was a diagram of a little dollar sign going into a box and turning into a bigger dollar sign. I really don’t know how I thought I was going to make this cool. And to make things worse, I did it in Microsoft Paint so it looked extra terrible.

Blogging Tips

The first time I uploaded that logo and realized how bad it looked, I substituted it with an equally lame logo – A giant lime green block (where my current header logo is today). My intention was to use it as a place holder until I thought of something cooler. Unfortunately I think I had it up there for about 2 months.

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 02: Before you launch your blog, give a little thought to what you want your logo to be. Don’t be lame like me and do it in MS Paint. Use an affordable logo service like eLance or 99designs so you can at least look halfway professional.

 

3. And that’s where I finally developed my current logo. I knew I needed something fast and I wanted it to do with money. So grabbed several twenty-dollar bills from my wallet that I had just withdrew from the bank, laid them on my dresser, and shot a few photos using my cell phone.  Here is the original photo:

Blogging Tips

A few adjustments later, I finally had my logo! Coincidently, it is very fitting – Andrew Jackson and I have very similar haircuts!

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 03: Okay, if you don’t want to use a service, get creative and just snap some photos. There’s a lot of easy programs out there that you can use to make your photos look descent.

 

4. As you can probably guess, the name MMD is just My Money Design shortened. I really wish I had put some thought into this and came up with a really cool Matrix-like name like Morpheus or whatever. On the first carnival I ever submitted to, the headline read “[Title] by My Money Design on My Money Design”. I thought that looked pretty stupid. So the next time I changed it to MMD. Not very creative …

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 04: Whether you’re going to blog anonymously or use your real name, put a little thought into who you want to be known as.

 

5. Early on, my blog was littered with ads. Tons and tons of crap. Like a poorly designed porn site. I really wish I had taken some screen shots because you would laugh. I unfortunately had the “field of dreams” attitude that if I put them up there that people would come and I’d be rich. That was REALLY dumb! You know how everyone tells you to build your traffic before you monetize you blog? They’re absolutely right! When the ads generated zero revenue and one person actually told me my blog looked like spam, I decided to take them all down and re-think my strategy. Sometimes the truth hurts …

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 05: Don’t put the cart before the horse. Forget about ads until you start to notice some traffic. Sign up early for free with Google Analytics to monitor your traffic. If you really wants ads, sign up for Google Adsense and use them very subtly.

 

6. My first attempts at commenting were not very encouraging. The first few blogs I commented on either deleted my comments within a few days later or never made it past moderation. Thanks a lot for kicking down the little guy My Money Blog, Get Rich Slowly, Smart Passive Income, and Problogger!

Blogging Tips

After that sour note, I tried a different strategy of commenting on popular media sites like MSN Money or Yahoo Finance. Not only did all those comments also eventually get deleted, but I also had every Tom, Dick, and Harry with an Internet connection bashing everything I’d say. Can I just say that even the worst comments I’ve experienced on this site do not compare to the evil, heinous things people will say to you on the major media sites?

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 06: Don’t try to reach out to the big boys or mass public. Start by observing who is in your niche and form relationships with the people like you – other bloggers who either just started or have only been at it for a few months.

 

7. My first comments ever on My Money Design turned out to just be spam. One day I checked my site and found I had +30 comments. Hooray!! I thought one of my articles must have gone viral or something! What’s even dumber is that I responded to them. And that’s when I noticed that the comments started to repeat themselves … and that they weren’t real ….

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 07: Spam is everywhere. If you don’t want it on your site, install a great plugin like Akismet. If the comment doesn’t address anything specific in your post, have a real URL, or simply appears spammy, it probably is.

 

8. My first real comment (as far as I know) from a real human being didn’t come until nearly five months after I started my blog. And it came from Kevin over at Invest It Wisely. To this day, I still visit Invest It Wisely often to see what Kevin is up to. Call it gratitude. Fortunately, shortly after that first comment I started to get more comments. And it was a good thing too because I had given myself an ultimatum to get some traffic or give up blogging in about one more month.

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 08: Your fellow bloggers are your allies. Install an RSS reader like RSS Owl, signup to receive free feeds from your fellow bloggers, and start commenting on their sites. Build your relationships. Just like the Beatles said, the love you take is equal to the love you make!

 

9. I had never heard of Alexa or Google PageRank until about five to six months after blogging. And even then, I wasn’t being aggressive enough to improve my scores.

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 09: If you want to monetize your blog, then focus on your Alexa and Google Pagerank stats. And start early! Install the Alexa toolbar right away and follow my other tips in How I Got My Alexa Ranking Below 200,000.

 

10. I did absolutely no keyword research. And as you can guess, my organic traffic was terrible. Until only a few months did I realize the value of doing your homework and finding good keywords. Unfortunately I was naïve enough to believe that if you just wrote about a topic that people would find it …

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 10: Get found on the Internet – Do your keyword research and write about the stuff people are looking for! Test keywords and pepper them throughout your text. Use the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

 

11. In addition to not doing enough with keywords, I put little effort into SEO (search engine optimization) in general. Again – not the best results in organic traffic.

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 11: You know how everyone always says just write great content and everything will take care of itself? Well, you DO need great content, but there is a whole science of things behind the scenes that I now know will improve your SEO and chances of being found. Study SEO and use a plugin like WordPress SEO to help keep you in line.

 

12. I had no social media setup for about six months. That’s just plain dumb. I’m not sure why I was like a cow on rail-road tracks when it came to social media. Even now, I still don’t use it enough …

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 12: Right away setup your Twitter and Facebook accounts for your blog. Automate them to update whenever you publish a new post with plugins. And use your social media accounts – more than I do!

 

13. I completely underestimated the amount of time investment. Writing two to three articles per week was basically the absolute minimum investment required. I didn’t even think about how much extra effort was going to be needed to figure out programming, coding, formatting, setting up accounts, responding to comments and emails, networking, commenting, etc.

Blogging Tips

Dumb Blogging Tips No. 13: Be prepared to invest time and patience into your craft. Blogs don’t just happen overnight – you have to work at them. Work with other people and try to get into a rhythm of writing, posting, and networking with other bloggers.

 

Readers – What were some of the dumb blogging mistakes you made and what would be your blogging tips to help others avoid them? How long have you been blogging and how long did it take you to actually get noticed?

 

Related Posts:

1) How I Got My Alexa Ranking Below 200,000

Photo Credits: Unknown, MMD

Comments

    • MMD says

      Thanks Alik! If I remember correctly, I think YOU were also one of my first commenters ever! Thanks for being a reader for so long buddy!

    • Nurse Frugal says

      This is definitely one of my favorite posts of all-time! So awesome to be sharing your triumphs and not-so-triumphs with your readers. What’s funny is that I can definitely relate to several things you posted about…..and I’m still doing some of them. Shows you what a newbie I am. I just think it’s so sad that no one approved your comments….makes my heart hurt ;(
      Nurse Frugal recently posted..$1,000 vs $10: Seeing your money differently while on a budgetMy Profile

      • MMD says

        Thank you very much NF! What’s funny is you see all these really nice blogs out there with tons of readers and assume they were all hatched that way – but they weren’t. They used to stink just we did. Hopefully this story will help you bypass a ton of bumps in the road over your first year and get you right to the good stuff – readers, more readers, and advertisers contacting YOU directly!

  1. Modest Money says

    Great honest account of your blogging journey so far MMD. You know it’s not too late to come up with a cool alias. I may have to just start calling your Morpheus until you do :)
    I made a bunch of mistakes early on too.

    I assumed I could make money with my blog as soon as I had any kind of traffic. I didn’t realize that fellow bloggers generally aren’t interested in the ads they see on every other blog.

    I also let my emotions come before my blog on a few occasions. Instead of always putting the future of my blog first, I got in some public disputes unnecessarily.

    To a new blogger I would just say to be patient and be willing to put in a lot of time and effort before you see any results. Besides writing good content, networking with fellow bloggers is the most important thing. They will provide all kinds of invaluable support.
    Modest Money recently posted..August 11th 2012 Favorite Blog PostsMy Profile

    • MMD says

      If I were a new blogger today, I think I’d read every one of your Wednesday blogging tips and put them to use!

      The aspect of networking with other bloggers cannot be mentioned enough! I’m very grateful to you and all the other bloggers within our circle for all the continued support and encouragement you’ve provided over the past year! Thank you very much!

  2. Mrs. MMD says

    Happy Anniversary, Mr. MMD :) Even though I give you a hard time about blogging “ALL THE TIME”, I know you love it! Justremember, every success takes a few mistakes along the way.

    • MMD says

      With a PR of 4, I’d say I’ve got more to learn from you guys than vice-versa! Nice work on your blog in such a short amount of time!

  3. Budget & the Beach says

    ha ha! Cut yourself some slack-those mistakes aren’t that bad. I need to get on monitoring my traffic some more and figuring out if it’s worth it to try and monetize my blog, or just keep in simple. I wish I knew more about SEO and even how to use some of the tools in wordpress. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall half the time.
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..Week in Review-8/12/12My Profile

    • MMD says

      Thanks. Yeah, they could have been a lot worse, but they were all still kinda silly.

      I think you could monetize your blog if you wanted. A lot of the blogs I visit that are ran by girls seem to do a very good job at doing this “subtly”. Even after everything I’ve learned on the technical side of blogging, I still will read an article and realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface yet!

  4. Chuck says

    You are right blogging isn’t as easy as it looks and it takes a ton of time, dedication and research. Knowing the basics of Google SEO and keywords is a much so it best to read up on it before you make your game plan.

  5. Daisy @ Add Vodka says

    Happy blogoversary! We all make mistakes as young bloggers AND as more seasoned bloggers. You should have seen my header two years ago!

    I believe a professionally designed site is important, because I take the blogger more seriously if they take their own site seriously, but I didn’t know that when I first started out and over the past year or so I’ve been much more concerned with the look of my blog.
    Daisy @ Add Vodka recently posted..Planning For HomebuyingMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I’ve actually always liked the appearance of your blog. It is very nicely put together! And I agree. Your blog doesn’t have to look like a million bucks, but it will be hard to take it seriously if it looks like a homepage from 1995.

    • MMD says

      Thanks John! I have definitely also not done enough with Facebook, Twitter, and guest posting! I’m forcing myself to work on a guest post article right now!

  6. Mackenzie says

    Congrats on your one-year blogging anniversary!

    I wish I knew more about SEO and traffic rankings and all that… But I agree with you about social media. I am always a bit surprised when a blog doesn’t have a twitter account to accompany it.
    Mackenzie recently posted..It’s a Hot TopicMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Thank you! I was so dumb to not start a Twitter account for so long! I think I put it off because I had never used it before, so I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with it. I’m sure you’ll pick up more and more about SEO and traffic strategies as you go along. There’s a lot of good posts out there lately by people in our niche that have been very helpful in this area.

    • MMD says

      Agreed! Without the people who religiously and self-lessly visit our sites, all these mistakes would have been the end of our careers! Thanks for reading so often!

  7. TB at BlueCollarWorkman says

    I guess it’s good that I started out super duper naive. I didn’t ever have a totally ad/spammy looking site because I didn’t know how to get ads up or that I even could, lol. I think I went through a lot of the lessons you did, too. Akismet is a savior for sure. There’s so much spam — how do they even find me? And learning about SEO and alexa has been great too. Once I started using an SEO plugin, I found my search traffic bumped up. It’s amazing how little changes can make such a difference! I still haven’t really done a lot of good keyword research yet though. And I should. I really should.

    So I’m afraid I won’t be laughing at you becuase I’d just be laughing at myself. I didn’t make all the mistakes you did, but I certainly made others!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..The Roadrage with a Gun TrialMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Akismet was the biggest relief ever! And those SEO plugins have also been wonderfully helpful!

      I didn’t get too much into detail, but I struggled so hard with ads at first. Everything I read said “just cut and paste this code”. I was all like “where???” So dumb.

      Right or wrong, here’s to at least giving it shot!

  8. Tackling Our Debt says

    Congratulations on your first year anniversary!! It does take a tremendous amount of work and dedication, especially to make it through the first year.

    I agree with all of your points, especially keyword research, and I would add to that, crafting attention getting titles that give people a reason to click and read. :-)

    Have a wonderful week!!
    Tackling Our Debt recently posted..How to Be Grateful in Times of NeedMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Thanks Sicorra! Sometimes its been too much work and dedication, but its worth it when you take a step back and look at everything you’ve built! You’re on to something with those titles. I’ve been guilty of giving into my curiosity when I see a quirky looking title on my RSS reader!

  9. Donnie Lawson says

    Haha, some of these are so funny. I’ve had similar thoughts over the past few weeks. Thanks for helping me NOT do some of these things as I start blogging.

    It’s encouraging knowing that other people have gone through the same thing as me!
    Donnie Lawson recently posted..Preparation, Motivation, Determination!My Profile

    • MMD says

      Oh, yeah! Heed my warnings and you’ll avoid a lot of lost time. There’s a lot of people out there offering tons of free advice – my advice is soak up as much of it as possible!

  10. Nell @ Housewife Empire says

    You’re so right about SEO. I came from Internet marketing to blogging, so I focused on keywords and organic search traffic first. I grossly underestimated the power of networking with my peers, though, guess I learned the hard way, too! Now I do that more heavily and do lighter SEO. It’s working much better!
    Nell @ Housewife Empire recently posted..When Your Online Biz Hits a WallMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Ah-ha! I knew you had some kind of background in technology! Your blog was really well put together for being newer. And it’s pretty rare to see a new blogger who also has niche sites and other side projects in the works. That is very ambitious! At any rate, its good to know that even SEO alone won’t cut it, and that you have to use a combination of techniques. Interacting with our peers has definitely been a meaningful way to help and make this interesting!

  11. MakintheBacon$ says

    Happy Blogversary! I wouldn’t say those are dumb mistakes. Its seems that every new blogger goes through what you’re going through. I’m definitely going through it. I do want to make money off of it, have a professional looking design, learning more about SEO, and keywords eventually, but right now I’m just focusing on growing my blog. One step at a time, right?

    I haven’t experienced any commenting bashing or commenting deleting, but I don’t think that’s cool. Everyone should be entitled to their own opinion, as long as its not destructive to the person’s blog.
    MakintheBacon$ recently posted..For Your Viewing Pleasure: Aug 3rd, 2012My Profile

    • MMD says

      You’ve got the right idea building a readership first! All the other things will come with time. And yes – one step at a time!

      I think my comments may have made it into the Big Boy’s spam folder. Or they just didn’t care. Sooner or later you’ll run a controversial story and have a few comments on your own site that you will question whether or not they should be allowed to stay. I say “my blog, my rules!” when it comes to the haters!

    • MMD says

      Thank you Shilpan and thank you for being a long time reader! It means a lot to hear a compliment like that from someone with as much inspirational tone as you have in your own writing.

  12. Justin @ The Family Finances says

    Congrats on the milestone! As a new blooger, I’ve enjoyed reading all the tips and tricks that all of you more established bloggers have written about. I keep toying around with the idea of paying to have someone design a new site header image rather then the one I photoshopped together. And I’m working on the whole twitter and facebook thing. There’s definitely a lot more to blogging than sitting down and writing out your thoughts.
    Justin @ The Family Finances recently posted..Friends of the Family: Fall Weekend EditionMy Profile

    • MMD says

      If only it was that easy! I’m still working on the Twitter and Facebook thing! I hope these tips as well as the other ones you’re picking up help you out, Justin! And your header doesn’t look that bad!

    • MMD says

      Thanks Anne! All of mine were “oh craps”, so consider yourself lucky for having scored any high fives. I’ve got a lot to do on my to-do list!

    • MMD says

      Wow, six years? You’ve definitely been around the block Sean. Isn’t it somewhat weird to see sites that were only started 3 or 4 years that have blown up into these massive fixtures within the blogging community?

  13. Ornella @ Moneylicious says

    Congrats on year one. I really like your list. I wonder why your comments were being deleted. I knew blogging would take a lot off time–commenting and guest posting. I’m not great with SEO, so I’m still learning.

    It’s nice to see you mentioned having a nice design. I like how my designer chose the layout and spiced it up. For now I think my design will do.

    I actually use Google Reader to keep up with all my fellow bloggers, but the more I’m becoming part of the blogging community the more bloggers I like to follow.

    • MMD says

      Thanks Ornella! Good thing you realize that the time investment is there now rather than get frustrated later. You were probably smart to use a designer rather than muddle through the site creation and layout instead of wasting a lot of time like I did trying to force code things. One question – did your book come first or your blog?

  14. Kim@Eyesonthedollar says

    Congrats on making the one year mark. I just started August 1st and basically am learning as I go. I really appreciate post such as this. I’m sure I’ll still make my share of mistakes. Thanks for commenting on my site.

    • MMD says

      Thank you and welcome to the site! See – 15 days in and you’re already learning! Just don’t do anything I did and you’ll be fine! :)

    • MMD says

      Thanks Scot and welcome to the site! You’re right – you need to do your keyword research and have a plan before you just blindly go publishing things on the Internet.

  15. Earth and Money says

    I can relate to a lot of these mistakes! Particularly #4 – I actually did think about using some kind of name/acronym but EAM or EaM just didn’t have a ring to it, and I couldn’t think of something better, so I still go by Earth and Money. I agree that it doesn’t look great on the Carnivals but now I wonder if its too late to change it.
    Earth and Money recently posted..Investing to Save the WorldMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Oh crap, I just replied to your other comment calling you E&M! Sorry to use the wrong thing. I love seeing what other people come up with for me: My Money, Money Design, M.M.D., etc. Unfortunately I do think it is too late for us to change … We’ll just have to start new blogs and try again.

  16. Jason @ WSL says

    These are great, MMD! Can I just be honest and say that first logo was HORRIBLE! haha. Sam just posted something on Yakezie about having a classy layout for your blog…while the layout isn’t imperative I do think a good logo helps your cause and builds your brand.

    I made a lot of these same mistakes. I had no idea about keyword research, SEO, or Alexa. I didn’t realize how much time this would all really take and I certainly could have come up with a more creative domain name. Oh well!

    We all learn the hard way! :) Congrats on the 1-year anniversary!
    Jason @ WSL recently posted..Recipe: Blean Bean Quinoa BurgersMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Thanks Jason! I’ll have to check out the Yakezie post because I still question whether my site layout is really the best it can be. I think there’s hope for all of us with mediocre site designs. My Money Blog and Get Rich Slowly have some of the most plain sites you’ll ever read. Yet they still attract 1000X more readers than I’ll ever get.

  17. DC @ Young Adult Money says

    Hey just commented on another post earlier, but I am a newer blogger so I will take some of this stuff into consideration. Trying to soak up as much advice as I can, thankfully lots of PF bloggers freely give advice on what to do and not to do if you want to succeed. I definitely want to get to the point where you are at (I think you said you made $2k your first year?). Ideally I could make $1k side income/month, whether it’s through blogging or other sources. That’s my initial goal and I plan to go from there.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Why Everyone Should Go To College Sooner Rather Than LaterMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I’ve got a feeling that if you’ve got your mind made up to make that much, then you probably will. Even at six months when I had basically made nothing and had almost no comments, I kept trying and was eventually delighted to make as much as I did and bring the blog as far as it is. Listen to the pitfalls and mistakes of others and try to steer clear of them. I don’t think $1K/month will be out of the question!

    • MMD says

      Thanks and welcome to the site Terry! Seeing your stats can be very eye opening, but don’t get overwhelmed or too worried about them. As long as you focus on the basics, building readership by participating on a lot of other blogs, then you’ll do better and the rest will follow.

  18. Earl says

    These are awesome tips. I admit I’m still making one of these mistakes; but we surely are looking to get over that hurdle. Thanks!

  19. Ron @ Running From Debt says

    Thanks for sharing these tips Mr. MMD! I like tip #12 regarding social media. I have been blogging for about 4 months now, but have not really focused on it until recently. I think I receive the most traffic from my facebook and twitter accounts. When I write a new post, it’s easy to reach out to my facebook friends and twitter followers with a click. I get really excited when one of my friends shares or retweets my posts! Okay, only one of my friends retweeted one of my posts! But I was super excited when I saw that!!!

    Thanks for the tips! I will be working on optimizing SEO!
    Ron @ Running From Debt recently posted..Taking a Quick Poll: How Often Do You Run?My Profile

    • MMD says

      Yet more evidence that I need to get off my butt and do something with it! I’m very glad to hear you are using it to your advantage, and that you found this post helpful in general!

    • MMD says

      Really trying to attract other bloggers whom you know have the Alexa toolbar installed is the key. Your participation in Yakezie will help this out greatly. But I also encourage you not to get too hung up. Alexa is only really important if you wish to attract advertisers. And many of the advertisers I have spoken with have told me that a Pagerank of 2 or better is really all they are mostly interested in.

  20. The Insurist says

    Wow. Happy Anniversary! Seems like one year is a short amount of time to accomplish what you have with your blog. I did a similar thing when I started conceptualizing my site in writing in private mode. It does help establish your voice and think through what the imaging and branding should be. The talking to a watermelon analogy mentioned by James @ Free in Ten Years is perfect. Thanks for the tips!
    The Insurist recently posted..“That’s a Whole Lot of Money to Pay For Some Fear”My Profile

  21. Martin says

    That picture of the man talking to the A/C hose totally cracked me up. Hilarious.

    Reading your steps was like watching my own movie. I still have hard time to improve my traffic, pageviews and Google rank. My Alexa is improving dramatically but PG is still #2 and position in search engines – I cannot even find myself. Hope it gets better over time.
    Martin recently posted..Safeway (SWY) hikes its quarterly dividendMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I’m glad this post is still entertaining almost a year later! If there is anything you can do, focus your attention on targeting specific keywords and writing your posts with good SEO. The ranks will follow if you do things right.

  22. Financial Independence says

    Thank you for sharing this. I think the most important thing is to enjoy the writing (blogging). This would keep the audience.

    There is a lot can be done using SEO and design to give good first impression, but only unique content and like minded audience will keep the reader around, imho :-)
    Financial Independence recently posted..Energy Stocks ScreeningMy Profile

    • MMD says

      I can agree with that – you’ve got to really be interested in what you have to say. Otherwise the whole thing is all for nothing.

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