There are a lot of posts written about blogging success, but perhaps not quite as many written on why blogs fail. Since I believe failure is such a great part of the entrepreneurial learning process, and you really only fail when you quit, I thought I’d write an “homage” to failure if you will.

33 Ways to Instant Blogging Failure

Here are 33 ways to fail at blogging:

  1. Not having a plan
  2. Keep yourself going
  3. Stop caring
  4. Having the wrong expectations
  5. Bad design
  6. Too many ads
  7. Not having a big orange RSS button
  8. Writing bad headlines
  9. Not optimizing your About page
  10. Not cross-linking your posts
  11. Not setting up systems
  12. Having a site that looks like an MFA (Made-for-AdSense) site
  13. Bad SEO
  14. No images
  15. Bad writing style
  16. Bad content layout
  17. Not using lists
  18. Having too many categories
  19. Placing posts in too many categories
  20. Being annoying
  21. Not having comments enabled
  22. Placing too much on the sidebars
  23. Not capturing visitors’ attention
  24. Not building a list
  25. Not engaging with visitors
  26. Not adding value
  27. Too much self-promotion
  28. Not enough self-promotion
  29. “Shiny Object Syndrome.”
  30. Not guest posting
  31. Not interacting with other “small fries.”
  32. Not reading
  33. Not writing enough

Not having a plan

Your blog will be your successful business one day unless you take it seriously. Take out time, get a piece of paper, and start writing down your goals. Set an objective as where you would like to see yourself in next few months or a year etc.

Keep yourself going

The key to success is keep trying. Most people start blogs, works on it for few weeks, and discarded. Perhaps, occasionally it is preferable to comprehend that you have reached a dead end but you just need to push yourself in forward direction. That is the secret to success.

Stop caring

Apathy for your topic is a close second to #1, but it is slightly different. Lack of caring happens when you forget why you’re blogging in the first place—the energy for your topic is lost; all the great ideas fleshed out, overworked, and drained.

Having the wrong expectations

Likewise, you may have increased the bar of your expectation with your site that don’t pay off the way you thought. They are not positioned with the reality and remain unconcerned nearby.

Bad design

Having a site that projects the wrong image can be like trying to open a 5-star restaurant in a strip-mall. Possible? Sure. Likely to succeed? Probably not.

Too many ads

Experts advise to start the blog with a ‘No ads” approach. Add them once you think they are ready and complete. “Ready” is obviously subjective, but it seems to me like having fewer than 2,000 visits a day might be pushing it.

Not having a big orange RSS button

This is a small thing seemingly, but I’m of the type where if I don’t have a super-easy way to subscribe to your content, I won’t come back (it’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I’ll forget). It doesn’t need to be orange, but you know…

Writing bad headlines

Or at least, not writing awesome headlines. Take the time to read how to write the best headlines possible, and practice them.

Not optimizing your About page

People who read your stuff want to read about who you are. Some guys can get away with being a meme, but you’re a person. Give us a big ‘ol mugshot of yourself and a couple paragraphs about why we should want to buy you a beer.

Not cross-linking your posts

Blogging—and the web, if you think about it—is ALL about links. Don’t go overboard, but remember that once you get someone on your site, you don’t want them to leave. Link to old posts, new ones, and pages on your site they might enjoy. Lead them to your product, if you have one.

Not setting up systems

I love systems. My first post at ProBlogger was on blogging systems, and I recommend it now, too.

Having a site that looks like an MFA (Made-for-AdSense) site

Unless, of course, you’re solely trying to blog for profit (nothing wrong with that, but it’s much harder to do when it’s a personal blog). If your design reeks of over-the-top AdSense ads, banners, and in-text link ads, it’s distracting and off-putting for visitors.

Bad SEO

Sure, you might not be trying to focus on organic search results for your “personal experiences” blog, but there’s a reason Google’s algorithm is such a proprietary equation: it KNOWS what’s good and bad, when it comes to content. If you haven’t taken at least a little time to optimize your content for a few keywords and add links, it can seem stale, vague, and boring for your readers.

No images

If there’s one universal truth that seems to still be pervasive in blogging (and even then there are exceptions), it’s “have at least one image in every post.” Images add color, depth, and flow to otherwise stagnant content.

Bad writing style

Your writing should certainly reflect who you are, but I doubt you talk in long-winded paragraphs. You probably also don’t sound like an advanced legal professor—tone it down, trim it down, and let us “hear” who you are.

Bad content layout

Consider the prior mentioned example, don’t occupy your writing pieces with larger paragraphs. The blogs of LiveHacked and Jeff Goin and some descriptions of Ernest Hemingway gives an explanation about how to write short, concise, and easy-to-understand contents.

Not using lists

This concept is not something that needs to be in every post, but if you visit some of the more popular blogs (including this one!), you’ll often see that the most popular content is blog posts organized into lists.

Having too many categories

The guys over at Thesis have a great policy on how many categories a blog should have. You’re not Huffington Post or Yahoo! Don’t have a thousand categories with one post in each.

Placing posts in too many categories

Also, don’t stick each post into every single possible category that seems like it might fit. Give each post one—maybe two—categories. It will help Google as well as your visitors find information faster.

Being annoying

When it comes to evaluation, some writers become rude with their comments and they like the way they are. But it is important to stay kind, nice, and open to all the constructive criticism.

Not having comments enabled

This is certainly a topic for debate, but I like to be able to leave a comment (looking at you, Mr. Godin!). I do understand, however, how huge sites can’t maintain the massive amounts of comments—and spam—that comes in. But you’re not that big yet—turn them on!

Placing too much on the sidebars

Again, this fault seems to plague “little-guys-trying-to-be-big-guys.” It’s not that you don’t have as much to say, it’s just that in the early years of your site, you need to be especially clear, almost to the point of minimalistic, about your site design.

Not capturing visitors’ attention

I highly recommend going through a copywriting course like Copyblogger—even if you’re writing about your trip to Africa, you can probably learn a few tips about drawing your readers in with a great writing style. See #9 and #14.

Not building a list

If you ever want to build a site that can generate income—even a little—start building a mailing list now. Even without ads, your visitors—if you’re offering great content—want that extra “connection” with you. Let them sign up to a mailing list. (I prefer MailChimp or Aweber).

Not engaging with visitors

Engagement can look like following up to commenters, starting dialogue through social media, etc.—just be available to your readers when they want to discuss your topic.

Not adding value

This one’s easy—if you’re not giving me a reason to come back, I won’t.

Too much self-promotion

If your site only links to other posts you’ve written on your site, and completely disregards the fact that there might be another blog with a somewhat similar topic, or your profile on Twitter says all about “Read and Share my blog!” tweets, I’m gone like Donkey Kong.

Not enough self-promotion

Okay, okay—there is another side to the coin. You must take the time (I recommend an hour a week) to practice reaching out, engaging, and yeah—self-promoting your work. You did work hard on it, right?

“Shiny Object Syndrome.”

There are always various techniques for the implementation of your ideas. Or you can buy guides on how to generate organic traffic and try other creative methods. Please resist—I’ve tried many (not all, but more than I should have). These products and “shiny objects” aren’t bad, they’re just probably bad for where you are in your blogging journey. Instead, read #25.

Not guest posting

Guess what? The best way of generating traffic, attention, and leading visitors back to your site is free. It’s called guest posting, and if you’ve not really put in the time to try it, check out Jon Morrow’s course at www.guestblogging.com (yeah, I know I just said not to grab at the shiny objects, but at least check out his free videos. He has quite a story, too!).

Not interacting with other “small fries.”

Or “medium fries,” or “large fries” (or “ProBlogger-size fries”). I’m currently working with a few bloggers who have similar niche markets and are of similar sizes to my blog. If you’re not reaching out to these people, and trying to build relationships, don’t come crying to me when the world moves on without you.

Not reading

Read more. Period. Whether it’s news related to your industry, other blogs (I have about 300 blogs I read in my RSS reader), or just awesome fiction thrillers, you need to read as much as you can. It helps your understanding of your marketplace and it can greatly enhance your writing abilities.

Not writing enough

Back to #1 and #25, if you feel stuck, write. If you feel like quitting, write. If you feel like you’ve made it (yay! My post just went live on ProBlogger!) write. There’s never enough you can write—since blogging is directly monetized through words, you need more of them to make more of it. Kapeesh?

There you go—33 things to go work on right now. And I do realize there are more—many more. Let’s get it going in the comments section and see what else you can come up with (and what I forgot!).