Top 8 Mistakes Way Too Many Blog Owners Make – Are You?

When I do personal blog consultations either on an Academy mastermind call, a blog critique, or a 1-on-1 consultation… I see a lot of commonalities. Common mistakes. They’re trying. Really hard. They’re doing what they THINK should work, but it just isn’t. And, that’s often what brings them to somebody like me. When I look…

oops.jpgWhen I do personal blog consultations either on an Academy mastermind call, a blog critique, or a 1-on-1 consultation… I see a lot of commonalities. Common mistakes.

They’re trying. Really hard. They’re doing what they THINK should work, but it just isn’t. And, that’s often what brings them to somebody like me.

When I look at their site, I see the problems. See, it is one thing to talk about building traffic… but it is quite another to evaluate an existing site and ensure that it FLOWS well and is going to make optimum use of whatever traffic you drive its way. And, so many blog owners get so focused on the traffic part of it that they’re completely forgetting about the CONVERSION part of it.

How many people are getting on your list?

Are you making any sales?

Are you getting people to do anything at all? Or are you squandering the opportunity of a visitor on your site, driving them away and driving up your bounce rate?

Let me tell you what I see a lot of.

#1 – Missing or Hidden Opt-in Form

It is really amazing me to me just how many blogs I see out there which either don’t have an opt-in form at all… or they pack it into some widget on the sidebar or (worse yet) the footer. It is true that sidebar and footer placements for an opt-in can make sense (I use them), but if that’s the ONLY place you do it, it is such a lost opportunity.

If you have any intentions with your blog which are bigger than talking to yourself and your mom, you NEED an email list. This isn’t a matter of “someday maybe I will”, or “when I have enough money”. In the scheme of internet business, this is as important as BREATHING is to your living for the next 5 minutes.

And, the #1 priority of your blog is to build the list. All other concerns are secondary.

Oh, and don’t make people HUNT for your opt-in forms. They’ll NEVER find it that way. To make an opt-in form convert, it needs to be immediately noticeable, relevant and natural to what they’re doing at the time they see it, and what they want.

#2 – Poor Management of Attention

No idea which way to go

Attention is like an energy, and it must be managed just as water flow must be managed. When a person arrives on your site, their attention will land somewhere… and from there it will flow somewhere. The “trick” is to control where the attention lands and where it flows. You want their attention on the things you want them to do.

A lot of sites mismanage this in a pretty big way. Most typical blogs pack the screen with so much crap that there is no place for the attention to land. The attention scatters and you’re FAR more likely to send the user away from your site immediately.

In other cases, I see a site which (purposely or not) focuses the attention pretty well, but then doesn’t control the flow. For example, I recently consulted with a lady who had a compelling image on her homepage. It had a picture of her, along with a strong statement which immediately tells the reader what the site is all about and why they should care. If I recall, that image even had a call to action on it. But, then…. NOTHING. The image wasn’t clickable. There was no opt-in form. NOTHING. It was like the flow of attention hit a brick wall with no way out.

Managing attention starts with knowing exactly what the purpose of your site is and what you want people to do. Then, using design elements and color, you guide and manage your reader’s attention into those things.

#3 – Getting Stuck In Your Own Head

When it is your site, you end up getting tunnel vision on the thing. So, you start doing things which YOU think are cool. Or you have things on the site which make sense to YOU, but your new visitor remains completely oblivious to. YOU care because it is your site. THEY don’t care one damn bit about you, how awesome you are, how long you’ve been in business, how awesome your customer support is, how witty your logo or tagline is…. you get the idea.

ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THEMSELVES. They care about what you can do for them.

One of the best ways to get out of your own head and avoid tunnel vision is to have others go through your site and tell you their reactions. What is the first thing their eyes land on? Can they find something specific? What are they looking for and can they find it? How does your content strike them? Do they understand it?

#4 – Crappy, Boring Headlines


Oh, God, I see this one alot. Just boring, flat headlines. It is like the writer just said “fuggit” and put in some dumb keyword in the headline.

Listen, this is a HEADLINE. Just like in the news media, the headline has to be engaging and make people give a sh*t. Take a look at the garbage gazettes in the grocery store checkout line some time. Observe how they specifically tailor those headlines to make you want to pick it up.

As an example, one client site I saw one time was about online video. One of the blog posts was simply “Lighting for Video”. That’s it. Flat as a pancake. Also incredibly vague and isn’t going to necessarily attract anybody of any specific interest. From a marketing perspective, it is a waste of time. Instead, something like “How To Light Your Videos Like A Pro On A Shoestring Budget”. Hey, that’s more interesting.

Again, get into the reader’s head. Enter the conversation which is already happening within their heads. Give them what they want.

#5 – “Just Because I Can” Widgets

A lot of users of Wordpress get WAY too widget happy. They see that there’s a widget for search, for meta links, for a blog roll, for a list of categories, for archives… and they just stuff them ALL in there just for the sake of making the sidebar busy.

A “just because I can” widget is a widget that you stick in there merely because it exists. It has NO – and I mean ZERO – strategic reason for being there.

Don’t have a search box on your sidebar if you don’t have that much content. It will just lead your reader into likely dead ends.

Don’t show links to archives in your sidebar – especially the kind broken down into months. Readers just don’t navigate that way. And dropdowns are annoying to use.

Don’t use blog rolls. Those things were popular 10 years ago, but at least in my opinion, have no real purpose on a blog which you’re intending to use for business purposes.

A lot of sidebar widgets are just clutter. And they serve to scatter attention (see #2 above).

#6 – “We” When You Really Mean “I”

Chances are that most of you reading this post right now are working alone. Even if you run a business, there’s a good chance that you’re a solopreneur. So, there is no need to go around and try to look bigger than you are by littering your site with “we”.

People like to do business with real people.

#7 – Banner Ads


In a lot of cases, running banner ads on your blog is a mistake.

If you are running a blog which you want to use to market products, sell products, or market your own business…. DO NOT host banner ads on your site UNLESS they are for your own stuff. Those ads are distracting, and it distracts from what you want them to do.

If you are a blogger and simply trying to earn some money from your blog, don’t try to eke out every penny by littering your blog with ads. It detracts from the user experience in a big way… and for what? A few nickels? It isn’t worth it. Plus, the presence of those ads will detract from more effective means of monetization such as affiliate marketing.

#8 – Too Much Content

This does hand-in-hand with #2 above about attention. When you give people way too many things to look at, their attention scatters and, psychologically, they are driven away.

And one way I see that people do this is simply to put too much content on the screen at once.

For example, some business sites user a blog theme which is designed to look like a magazine site. A business homepage need not try to look like CNN or something. Thin it out and focus on the calls to action.

Also, I see a lot of bloggers who list out full posts on their homepage. Say, the last 10 posts printed in full… right there on the homepage. It is just total overwhelm for the end user. I understand that some themes don’t allow this to be changed without a little bit of nerd knowledge, but don’t let that be an excuse for doing things wrong. Hire something on Fiverr to fix it for you.


My job is to help serious blog owners blog for business. If you feel you’re missing something on your site and just wasting energy with an?inefficient?site, consider my blog critique service. I will personally evaluate your site and provide you specific action steps to improve your site and maximize conversions. Click here to learn more.


  1. #1 reason I leave many blogs is “Just Because I Can” Widgets. It is just too much that nothing stands out, never mind getting your attention on and opt-in form. As you put it well even with banner ads when that website is only selling that person’s own business…Excellent article.

  2. Hi David,

    This is my first visit to your blog. I got here through Adrienne. I’m so glad I did! I am so impressed with this post. You get right to the point and you’ve shared some great tips that will help me improve my blog today. I’ve made quite a few changes but I’m still not totally satisfied with the end result. I switched themes recently and I’m still getting used to the change.

    When I started I made many mistakes, learned what needed to be changed, then changed to improve. Then I repeat the process. One thing you said that is very important is, “ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THEMSELVES. They care about what you can do for them.” When I keep that thought I can create a better blog experience for my readers. Finally, I know I need to work on my headlines. Higher level bloggers always have compelling headlines and my plan is to start creating unforgettable headlines. Thanks for the advice. Excellent!

    Raena Lynn

  3. Sincerely agree with you David,
    The crazy thing is that most of us are killing our blogs unknowingly. That is suicide. I’ve seen that case of having too many widgets and i use to wonder why some will put such widgets like tags, recent comments, categories, etc on the widget.

    Building an email list is really very important too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. David I truly understand where you’re coming from. This is definitely a great check list and I do have to admit, that I had stuff scattered everywhere on my blog which doesn’t help my readers attentions. I know I have to clean up my blog even more even though it’s pretty clean now. But I’ll definitely use this blog post as a reference. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi David,

    Found you on Adrienne’s “Thankful Thursday” today and glad to meet you! You made some great points here and my favorite is #5 – “because I can widgets”. Wordpress is full of them, from calendars to recent posts to heaven knows what else. And every blog theme has a sidebar – maybe two! So you have cram some stuff in there, right? I admit I had an “ooo shiny” moment when I did my first Wordpress blog and I added widgets all over the place. Fortunately I came to my senses. These are common traps, and gerat things for bloggers to be aware of!

  6. Hi David

    Adrienne sent me over here. What a great lot of information and I have been back and forth fixing my site while I was reading your post. Never thought about a lot of the stuff being a problem. Been adjusting and reworking my sites with little bits of information here and there. I guess I will sign up for your course.


  7. David;
    Finding you has been a real boon to our work which is still in its infancy (feels preborn?)
    Keep it up. Thanks for being a real person and not some smoke and mirrors internet ghost.
    We read everything you put out.

  8. Umm, okay, guess I’ll remove those search boxes on the two
    new blogs I’ve just released. Scratch that crosseed-off to-do from
    my list.–and it made me feel so productive. I do know how to add a
    search box. 🙂

  9. Hey David,

    Boy, I hear you about those opt-in forms or for that matter, lack of. I also do blog consulting and I do my best to get them moving in the right direction. I still hear a lot of excuses but I already know those are the people who are just not ready to take it to the next level. So be it, they’re missing out big time.

    I definitely agree with you about all of this actually. Having been blogging now for a number of years it’s been some hard lessons to learn for me with no one actually there to give me good advice. I’m glad you pointed some of these out and I have a few people I’m going to share your post with too.

    Thanks for taking the time to point these out.


  10. Dave, you’re killing it lately!

    I’m part of a large blogging network (healthy living, whole foods, natural healing, etc.) with a lot of new and smaller bloggers, so I often share your articles on our forum. You were a huge help when I started climbing the ladder from hobby blogger to problogger.

    Everyone wants advice in how to gain traffic and ‘make it big’, but sometimes resist changing their ideas. You do a great job at laying things out in plain speak. Thanks for sharing such great info without being spaztastic. The chill and funny style is refreshing. 🙂

  11. Considering how you’ve changed this site from an index page that was a blog front page to now the biz style with a link to the blog, where does one draw the line?

    I have my site content and one product. For now, a blog front page makes sense. But once I go to three or more productions, then should I switch to a biz style front page? Joel Friedlander, from, goes with a combined style with product blocks across the top of his web site.

    1. I’m always playing around with different things on the homepage. In fact, might end up going back to a split setup as I soon switch this site to Genesis. We shall see.

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