It’s a process to overcome blogger self-doubt and the good news is that we’ve all been there (or will be). Use these steps to crawl out of that hole and get energized!
These bad blogging habits will stunt your traffic growth, earnings, and opportunities. Avoid them at all costs in order to earn a continuous income from blogging.
Bad Blogging Habits – Could You Be the Problem?
You put in HOURS each week, toiling over content, social media, product-creation, affiliate promotion, images, and so much more. And as you work, the barrier to entry for blogging gets lower and lower, increasing your ‘competition’ for traffic and earnings.
What you might not realize is that you might also be sabotaging yourself with some bad blogging habits! And I’m not just talking about new blogger mistakes. Today, I’m ripping off the bandage and talking about what could be keeping you from earning your full potential online.
This post likely contains affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase I could receive a commission.
You Focus Too Much On Yourself
When we blog, we share ourselves with our readers. Heck, it’s what draws people in! But problems arise when we don’t relate our problem and solution with our readers.
This is best explained with an example. Let’s say you’re a travel blogger and you were robbed on one of your trips to India.
Self-Centered: You describe the robbery, the report to the authorities, and the aftermath effect it had on the rest of the trip.
Reader-Focused: Your hook would be the emotional ordeal, similar to the story above. The bulk of your article, however, would be about the steps travelers could take to ensure their safety.
- What do I want the reader to take away from this article? How am I providing help?
- Are there additional resources which would contribute to the discussion? Should I link to State Department data, important phone numbers or associations in India, etc.?
- Is there a call to action the reader should take? There might be an opportunity to include an affiliate link for trip insurance, a sign up to your newsletter for your “Safety While Traveling in India” guide, etc..
No Disclosure or Masked Disclosures
You knew this one was coming. Using cutesy terms or publishing partner content on your personal profile is not approved by social networks or US governing law. And due to recent announcements from the FTC, ‘affiliate link’ isn’t even enough!
If you share affiliate products, you disclose. Period. So where should you disclose?
- It should appear in each and every blog post before the first outbound link (or very, very close to it if it comes after).
- A disclosure should appear in every email marketing correspondence you send if you’re sharing an affiliate link.
- Disclosures should be on your policies page.
- For every share which goes directly to an affiliate, you need to disclose on ALL social networks. Each share, each network.
Stealing Content (or Using It as “Inspiration” Without Citation)
In one of my masterminds, a few bloggers have repeatedly talked me down from a ledge about this. Let me share what continuously happens to me…
- I publish a post here on NDC. Yay!
- I share the post, primarily into Tailwind tribes for bloggers (and bloggers who blog about blogging). Yay!
- The same two bloggers write and publish a post which looks VERY similar within 2-4 weeks. Not. So. Much. Yay. because they don’t even drop a link back (which would ACTUALLY HELP THEM WITH THEIR SEO). #canyoutellitbothersme
It’s a bit of a joke now because honestly if I don’t laugh about it, it would drive me bananas! My point: don’t do this. It’s shady and we bloggers are smart enough to figure it out eventually. We’ll stop sharing those bloggers’ content and won’t feel a bit of guilt.
Even if it wasn’t an exact copy (read about derivative works here), it could land you in legal hot water if someone presses the issue.
Inflating Followers (or Engagement) In Order to Monetize
Did you just roll your eyes?
Was there a tiny little alarm bell in your gray matter, followed by a, “Whatever, all bloggers do it!” retort?
Whether it’s fudging in a pitch letter or buying followers, refrain.
If you want to monetize a social network, do not buy followers. It’s one of the bad blogging habits I included because it doesn’t help you with your own product sales, affiliate sales, and it’s helping less and less with sponsored content.
A brand, collaborator, or another blogger can check your social followers in about 30-seconds using tools like “Fake Followers Check.” Many brands and agencies are also keen to the use of reciprocal groups (likes, shares, or comment threads for sponsored content and/or Instagram pods). And while share threads and Instagram pods seem like a great idea, the engagement received might not be the best foundation on which to build an income-earning business.
Psst: the tools which brands and network managers have are getting much better at determining what is real and what is manufactured. Ruh-roh, Shaggy.
And the icing on this poo-pile of a cake is that, just like us bloggers, brand managers talk to each other.
Keyword Stuffing and “Bad SEO”
How is this still happening? And from big bloggers, too!
Three days ago I read a post which actually prompted this article. The post was so full of keywords that the rest of the words seemed to be included as filler!
It was awful to read, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The real damage isn’t that the reader clicks off (never to return). The blogger has the bigger problem:
Search. Engines. Are. Smarter. Than. That.
In a nutshell: learn how to write a converting post, Yoast is a guideline, not “good SEO,” use your own search data to build your site, and do everything you can to learn about latent semantic indexing and intent-based search optimization (IBSO). I wrote an article about LSI and alternate keywords for you, so start there.
If video is more your thing, you can get started learning about IBSO in the free blogger’s training group I started on Facebook, Elevate Everyone.
Over to You
You can make money blogging and turn your passion into a business. Just make sure to avoid these bad blogging habits.
What are some of the blogging traits you see out there that make you cringe? Give a share of this (super-duper helpful) article on Pinterest and let us know in the comments!
I’m sharing my blogging toolkit and resources I can’t live without. Each week, I’m asked what I use on ND Consulting and other sites I own and now I’m dishing all!
Blogging Toolkit and Resources
Every blog, blogger, and audience is different and there are many amazing tools which support each. I’m sharing my blogging toolkit and resources I cannot live without.
There are partner links in this article which means should you make a purchase, I could receive a commission. I only share what I use – none of this “linking to get a sale” garbage from me. 🙂
Hosting, Domain, and Blogging Platform
Pro Tip: it doesn’t matter if it’s WordPress or Square Space, just get a self-hosted if you have an income strategy. If not, write on Blogger (powered by Google) or WordPress.com (limitations).
What I use:
- WordPress.org (self-hosted)
- EasyDNS or All Niche PLR for domain registration (website name)
- Infinus Technologies – the support is amazing (I host 2 sites here, both with less than 100k monthly page views each)
- WP Engine – it’s premium hosting and it’s worry-free; I’ve never had a site down, ever.
- Servously – they have multiple packages based on size (and their support is VERY good)
Themes and Builders
Pro Tip: I love themes (they make everything so easy but don’t discount builders. I’ve been a fan from the early days of website builders because they allow for A LOT of customization.
- Genesis Framework (highly, highly recommend – it’s a base for themes)
- StudioPress and R316D themes (take the quiz to help choose the best theme for you)
- Visual Composer (an ah-may-zing builder to create awesome landing pages)
- Divi Builder (Elegant Themes) – My clients RAVE about it! Note, you would get it in place of Visual Composer and one caveat: Divi works on shortcodes which means when / if you decide to change, you’ll have quite a bit of work to do.
Blogging Tools (Writing, Editing, SEO, etc.)
Pro Tip: don’t ONLY write in WordPress or Blogger, even if you back up. You’ll find there to be a lot of distractions and it’s nice to have a backup off-site.
- Microsoft OneNote (I can always access, it automatically backs up, and I always have a copy in case of blog-mageddon). Before I found OneNote, I used Evernote, Trello, and Google Drive.
- Grammarly (commas – I just use too many or not enough in compound sentences)
- For keyword research, I use KW Finder, SERPStat, Keyword Tools.io, etc.
- Yuzo Related Posts plugin, Custom Sidebars, Easy Affiliate Links, CoSchedule, and a few more are installed on almost every site I own.
Social Media Management
Pro Tip: don’t try to do it all. Pick one, build a strategy, execute, and when you start to see growth, add another network.
- Social Warfare
- eCamm Live I go Live with this, allowing me to disclose right on the screen! It was so inexpensive and I’ve made so much affiliate income from it.
- Facebook (native scheduler)
- CoSchedule – The amount of love I have for this thing…
- Tailwind for Pinterest (and live-pinning)
- Tweetdeck – Do not attempt a Twitter party without it #youvebeenwarned
Pro Tip: THERE IS NO BEST EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER (ESP) no matter what their sales copy (or another blogger) says. I have used so, so many ESPs, and I like them for different reasons. Additionally, the ESP you choose will greatly depend on where you are in your blogging and monetization journey.
- MailChimp – used for Tip Emails because it’s easy.
- MailerLite – used for challenges and the “Font Lovers Guides and Deals”
- ConvertKit – Ask me – seriously, email me – about whether it’s worth the price for you. I like it but it’s more robust than many people need.
- Ninja Popups / Optin Monster – exit-intent and highly customizable tools
Images, Videos, Graphics, Tools, and Editors
Pro Tip: Just use something enough that the learning curve is worth it. I now love Photoshop but still use the pro plan of PicMonkey DAILY (because I haven’t figured out how to do everything in Photoshop). #newb
- Nikon D3300 dSLR camera (mostly for other blogs, as I use stock or mockups for NDC)
- Lighting kit from Amazon (I get more use from the box lights than anything else). My next investment will be a ring light.
- Photoshop (I use the Creative Cloud Suite and I big, squishy heart love it)
- Zoom – I use this for all of my client calls (they have a free trial)
- Deposit Photos
- Creative Market (psst they have free goods here)
- Screencast-O-Matic – I use this at least twice weekly for clients and to record training for my free Facebook group (Elevate Everyone – Join)
- iMovie and Filmora – I use iMovie, I’ve purchased Filmora (and have yet to use it).
Pro Tip: have a system to make sure you are clear (and will always be clear) on the licensing. After 10 years of this, I’ve stopped buying or downloading anything personal-use only. You can get my three, free font and graphics guides in the Resource Library or sign up to my Freebie Fri-Yay emails.
- The Hungry JPEG
- Font Bundles
- Dafont (careful with usage with this one, but it’s great if you search by 100% free); I found a great font and was able to buy a commercial license for $8 by emailing the author!!!!
Product Sales (Mine)
- Gumroad (Pitching Perfection, Identity, Find Your Sell, and Content for Growth are all on here); I used to use Easy Digital Downloads but users didn’t like the interface
- Merch (you can sell your own t-shirt designs on Amazon and it’s a nice supplemental income for me)
- Etsy (check out my newest shop for amazing office printables and more)
Product Sales (Others)
Pro Tip: Don’t sign up and promote “ALL.THE.THINGS!” Get my ‘how to introduce an affiliate’ guide in the Resource Library to learn how to select and onboard your partners. That way, you’ll actually make money.
Get access to the library:
Get Free Access to Our Resource Library!
My primary affiliate partners in my blogging toolkit and resources vault for ND Consulting are:
- ShareASale (themes, hosting, and editing partners)
- Amazon (books)
- SEO: Dominate
- Affiliate Marketing: ethical training with Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers
- Genius Blogger’s Toolkit (new for me and I’ll evaluate each one on its merit before promoting – it’s A LOT of work for me to go through each resource)
- Font / Graphics through a few partners
- PLR (purchased content)
Browser and Tools
Pro Tip: Use whatever doesn’t make you all stabby. Safari makes me stabby and I honestly couldn’t live without some of my Chrome extensions.
- Extensions I love (yes, I wrote an article about why I love them and how they make me more productive)
Pro Tip: If you don’t have Google Analytics because you can’t figure out how to add it to your site, pay someone to do it. It’s the industry standard.
- Google Analytics + the Page Analytics Chrome Extension
- Pinterest (native) and Tailwind (MUCH better than Pinterest’s analytics)
- Facebook (native + ads manager detail)
- MailChimp, MailerLite, and ConvertKit native analytics
Backend, Security, Site Storage, and Speed
Kind of like your political preference, no one REALLY needs to know your backend. 🙂 I use all of the following (and I bet a few more), but because I pay people to do this for me, I really can’t tell you anything about them.
What I do know that’s currently in use (and protecting my sites) as part of my blogging toolkit and resources set up are:
- WP Cerber (not Cerberus like the Hell Hound)
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Keeper (Password Manager) – I love this because it’s in my Chrome extensions.
I use a few to manage my businesses, some free and some are investments to help make accounting and tax time easier.
- PayPal to Invoice
- Wave Apps to do my bookkeeping (they have a free version)
- Quickbooks (not for NDC)
- Freshbooks (not for NDC)
Equipment / Hardware / Cloud Storage
Other than my camera, my biggest blogging tool is by far my laptop. I can take it anywhere, use my phone for Internet access, and bang out a few affiliate shares or even a post while I wait on my daughter.
- Apple, MacBook Pro (Retina Screen, SSD, crap load of memory)
- I have a Levalier microphone I use when I’m recording training videos.
- 2TB portable hard drive (I also back up via Dropbox)
I am constantly learning and even build it into my weekly schedule. Some of my favorite resources:
- Blogger courses (I recommended a fave affiliate marketing course above, but take at least one a month)
- Conferences / Videos
- Still working my way through the 2018 Ultimate Blogger’s Toolkit
I strongly advise you not to work with brands or even other bloggers without contracts. Developing your own or hiring an attorney can be tricky. This is one of the most important parts of your blogging toolkit and resources. I use:
Over to You
Which of these tools do you use? Can you suggest something in the comments you love? These are the blogging toolkit and resources I love, but I’d be grateful if you gave any insight into tools you use daily.
In this training, you’ll learn how you can increase affiliate income with custom sidebars. Also, you’ll eliminate clunky affiliate link management with a free tool!
Custom Sidebars and Affiliate Selection Training Video
Affiliate income isn’t passive (in the beginning) but if you want to make money blogging, it’s can be a strong income stream. If you’re on the weekly tips list, you’ll know that my clients have had HUGE increases to their affiliate income streams when we go beyond just linking.
Psst: Do you want case studies and tips to grow your affiliate income? Sign up for weekly tips:
Get Free Access to Our Resource Library!
I created a training video which goes into a bit more detail than this article does. You’ll learn how to use free tools to increase impressions (and potentially click-throughs) to your affiliate partners.
Increase Affiliate Income with Custom Sidebars
What are the ways we can increase our affiliate income with custom sidebars? Here are a few types of sidebars I recommend:
- Category-Based – Each category has a sidebar for strategic partners.
- Promotion Based – Affiliate promotion ad and links to all related articles with that affiliate.
- Your Own Products – Amazon, Etsy, RedBubble, Gumroad / DPD, etc.
Step 1: Determine Audience Devices
If you don’t have at least 50% of your traffic source from desktop users, your time might be better spent maximizing your inline affiliate content. How do you know what devices your readers are using?
To find out, just log in to Google analytics, scroll down on their new Home page, and check out the “Sessions by Device” graph located just below traffic acquisition. I like to look at a rolling 90-day trend and to do so, just drop down the menu which says, “Last 7 days.”
Step 2: Determine Your Sidebar Partners
When creating custom sidebars, you can design anything your heart desires. To maximize affiliate income, however, you’re going to want to stick to your core affiliate partners. These are those partners who have resonated with your audience already and for which you’ve tested their products or services.
Next, you’re going to determine what type of sidebar you’ll use. Above, I mentioned a few I use:
- Your Own Products
Step 3: Install Your Free Resources
Step 4: Gather Your Goodies
You’ll need both the shortlinks to your affiliate partners (the Easy Affiliate Links) and the code for your images. If you don’t dream in HTML, just open up a new article, import your media, create a link on the image using your Easy Affiliate Links, and copy that code to be used in your sidebar later.
Step 5: Create the Sidebar and Assign It
If you’re using the free custom sidebar resource I noted above, drag and drop the elements to create your sidebar. When creating the actual sidebar, you can control the image views (you can assign it to individual posts or you can have it be assigned to all posts within a category).
Save your sidebar. Note: you might have to clear your cache in order to see the new sidebars if you’re assigning it to existing material.
Step 6: Easily Update
The reason I push using an affiliate link manager like Easy Affiliate Links is because it’s a super-duper quick update for all links. Additionally, you may easily update the HTML code by altering it in the sidebar quickly.
If you skipped the video, I strongly urge you to watch it because it goes into more detail on how to increase affiliate earnings with custom sidebars. Let me know – is this a tactic you’ve used only for content or have you branched out and created your own affiliate sidebars?