The 5 deadly sins of blogging

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Blogging looks simple and many people think there is not much to it, but thousands of bloggers are making dumb mistakes everyday. Some of these mistakes seem obvious while others are not so obvious; if you are starting a new blog or even if you have been blogging for 3 years, here are 5 deadly mistakes to watch out for.
1. The easiest design for you to use on your blog is the generic theme that comes with the blogging platform. Some people may think it looks good and you might be fond of it, but you don’t want to use it simply because most [splogs]( (spam blogs) use the generic themes. The last thing you want is people coming to your blog and jumping to the conclusion that it is a splog.
2. One of the most important parts about a blog is its’ readability. So before you think about getting creative with the font color, style, and size make sure you think about the readability. Would you like to a read a blog that has small, grey, cursive text?
3. Another attribute about blogging is the conversation. Many bloggers just think about themselves when blogging which is why no one ever comments on their blog. If you are looking for some [interaction with your readers](, put them ahead of yourself.
4. Leonardo da Vinci once said “[Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication](”. Stop making your blog cluttered with useless features and design elements (widgets). You do not need a graphic intensive blog or 20 different RSS feed options, all you need to do is make it as easy as possible for visitors to read your content.
5. There is nothing wrong with making money off of blogging, but don’t shove 20 ads on a brand new blog that contains 0 blog post and has no traffic. Write a few blog posts first and get some traffic coming; then you can think about slowly adding a few ads. If you have a [popular blog]( you can almost do anything you want with ads, but if you don’t have a popular blog your visitors will probably think you are just in it for the money.
These are just a few simple mistakes that I have noticed many bloggers do, if you have any more to add, leave a comment.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at... Read Full Bio
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  • great list. you may want to add “wanders off topic” as a deadly sin. there’s probably no other way to lose and confuse more readers.

  • My blog is fairly new and growing. I have a variety of posts, a variety of posting styles, and a variety of topics. I did put ads on my blog, does it repulse anyone? Any suggestions for my blog? I want to make it successful and I am open to any comments.

  • Another thing I forgot to mention, before you critique my blog make sure to scroll down a bit. I have had many election posts, but I DO have other topics on there. One thing I am always worried about is that people will only look at the top posts and not see some of what I think are my best.

  • Clearthought, you may want to think about moving the counters (statcounter, hot or not, blogtopsites) and the Firefox button to your side bar as well as reduce the ads at the top.

  • Thanks for the suggestion
    Yeah, I had thought of that. The only problem was where to put them… (especially the ads).

  • Thank you for the reminder. Something everybody seems to know but needs to be reminded of.
    By the way can someone critique my blog also? 🙂

  • Ririan, your blog looks good overall. The only thing that I would do is shorten the side bar by reducing the white space such as moving the feed ticker next to the RSS icon instead of below it.

  • Thank you Neil, by the way I know this is of topic but can I do something to improve my google ads placement or colors?
    Thanks again for taking the time to answer.

  • 6. Using numbered points don’t make automatically that there is a lot more content than when the bullets would not be used.
    7. If the blog is about something professional, don’t post about your kids. If people want to read about advertising, photography, vista etc, they don’t want to see your kids.

  • decent list, but I think people who have been blogging for 3 years, as you said, know all of these already.
    How about
    1. don’t write blog posts with seemingly useful information just so you can be dugg.

  • Pancake Schmeckendeugler

    How about another rule: “Use apostrophes appropriately. Or, to be more general, use a spell checker or know how to use proper grammar.”

    One of the most important parts about a blog is its’ readability.

    Its’? Ironic that the sentence is the only one on your page that contains a grammatical error.

  • Since we’re picking blogs apart, have any suggestions on ours? Do you have an comments on the myweblog “interaction” icons?

  • You do not need a graphic intensive blog or 20 different RSS feed options, all you need to do is make it as easy as possible for visitors to read your content.
    Still, blogs that are all text and no pictures won’t appeal to a lot of people who need graphical input to stimulate them.
    Pictures are an important part of my blog and serve to break up long blocks of text which, no matter how interesting the writing may be, can turn off some readers.

  • #4 is a sneaky one. I recently pared back many of my sidebar plug ins and may go further. I think tech and geegaws are seductive, however, for most people more time working on writing well and thinking up interesting topics is time better spent.

  • Ririan, not too sure on how you can increase your ad revenue, but I would check out [Problogger](
    Nick, I should have been clearer. Pictures within blog posts can be great as long as they are relevant, but things such as a flash header/banner are not always needed.

  • Neil- I would like your honest opinion on this whole myweblog user icons thing. I’ve seen it crop up on both TechCrunch and eHub in the last 2 weeks and we added it about a week ago. You claim that “widgets” are a bad idea but we’ve actually gotten quite a few subscribers from them. Thoughts?

  • Alan, I don’t hate widgets, but I hate when blogs stuff their side bar full of them which creates a never-ending side bar and slows up load up time. Widgets are fine as long as they are used in moderation.
    As for myweblog user icons I like them because it makes a blog more “social”. I would even use it on this blog, but I don’t have too much flexibility with the design.

  • I think it’s a great list. On the face of it, all pretty much common sense, but yeah, SO many blogs can’t even get these right.

  • Is my ad placement really that bad? If so, what can I do to ease the pain on viewers’ eyes?
    And how do you know if you start getting a solid or semi-solid reader base?

  • Clearthought, I am not sure where you should place your ads but I do recommend checking out [Problogger]( and [Crazy Egg]( Problogger is a blog about blogging and monetizing your blog and Crazy Egg is an application that will show you how your visitors interact with your ads.
    As for your reader base, a good sign is an increase in traffic and an increase in RSS subscribers.
    **Crazy Egg is an application owned by ACS.

  • No offense, but gray text on medium green ain’t all that readable; and I thought that before I read your post. Your post buttons and footer image are blocked by adblock too btw.

  • Ah, it’s not medium green, you’re using a background image, which was blocked by adblock too. Probably the ‘advertising’ in the domain name!

  • Adam, thanks for the heads up. I will try to solve the problem.

  • Thanks for the advice, Neil. I will check out Crazy Egg.

  • Hi Neil. Thanks for the list, some good advice. I’ve only recently started blogging and am posting various topics at least weekly with what I think is interesting, but I don’t know if others do. Any comments?

  • Stu, some people will find your blog interesting and others will not. You will not be able to please everyone, all you can do is listen to your visitors.
    Hope that helps.

  • I think it depends on which kind of blog you’re running: if it’s an info blog, then black fonts on white background is the best thing, but if it’s an art related blog, then you have more solutions on the site design.

  • Erwin, overall it is not bad, but I am not a big fan of scroll bars within the content and side bar.
    Could just be me.

  • Hey Neil nice post…some great points in there, and I like your reply to Stu above.
    I also like your idea of promoting more interaction with readers. Do you think polls are a good way to do this, providing you push people to give their reasons for voting the way they did?
    Hope to see you in Vegas…

  • Chris, thanks for the kind words, hope to see you in Vegas as well.
    If you can get people to provide their reasons for voting the way they did that’s a good way to encourage them to interact. Otherwise polls generally are not a good way of interaction.

  • Is they only way to make money from a blog from banners or graphic ads?

  • Oz Designs, you can also make money by putting up other types of ads such as [text]( or [affiliate]( Another way to make money from blogging is to [charge for blog posts](
    The possibilities are endless.

  • Neil, on point # 1 , I do agree with you but what does a person who is not so conversant with CSS or other webdesign skills do? To set up the generic themes is probably the easiest way to get started with your own blog. Think about a globe trotter who might not have any idea of web development but has a huge ecperience that he would like to share and we would all love reading – what’s the solution for him ?
    Personally, I am using a simple generic theme on my blog but still I find my blog a bit cluttered.. I am unable to identify why it looks so.. if you get some time to take a look and put in some suggestion, that would be good help 🙂