My Two Biggest Blogging Mistakes

I was asked at a recent Dot Com Pho to name the two biggest blogging mistakes I made when I first started. While I’ve made a ton of mistakes, I feel that the following two really stood out. Hopefully, you will avoid them when you start your blogging journey.

1 – Not Starting A Mailing List From Day One

Without a doubt, my biggest blogging mistake when I started was not getting up a mailing list from the get go. This mistake has cost me hundred of thousands in lost income. When I started the blog, it was meant to be a personal blog to ramble about stuff that I was interested in it. I never intended the blog to make any money. Because of that, I didn’t applied my usual online money making methods on it. The number 1 method for making money online is:

YOU MUST HAVE A MAILING LIST.

I didn’t start the list until over a year into the blog’s life. Had I started from day one, the blog mailing list would twice the size it is today and blog income would be pushing $100,000 per month.

If I were to give one piece of money making advice to new bloggers, it would be start your mailing list from day 1. Don’t wait until your blog “makes some money” before doing it. While many people think/want everything on the Internet to be free, the truth of the matter is you have to be willing to spend time and money on any worth while venture.

My list is the reason the blog makes the income that it does. The ads you see on this blog accounts for only a third of its income. The rest comes from its backend email system. When done right, an email list will never cost you money. I have never failed to not cover the cost of my list hosting. The income the list generate more than pays for the cost of running it.

My recommended email list service is Aweber. I’ve been using them for years and they are by far the best in the business. Aweber works seamlessly with with most blog themes and its web interface allows you to access it from any computer, anywhere in the world.

Aweber offers a $1 trial account for all new customers. The account is just like a normal Aweber account and includes unlimited email campaigns, newsletter, broadcasts and follow ups. It’s a great way to test drive Aweber to see what it can do for you. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If you find that email marketing is not for you, contact Aweber within 30 days and they’ll give you the $1 back.

Email auto responder

2- Using My Own Name As The Domain Name

As I’ve stated before, I never intended to turn this blog into a commercial operation. It was just suppose to be a place for me to talk about whatever was on my mind. Most of the early readers were friends and family members. The blog was a great way for them to keep up with what’s happening in my life.

Because of a case study to see if money could be made by blogging, the blog went all commercial. In doing so, it attracted a ton and new readers but my family members hardly read it anymore. Were I to do it over again, I would have kept John Chow dot Com as my personal blog and did the case study with a brand new blog using another domain name.

Branding Is Easier With a Commercial Name

When it comes to branding, it is generally easier to brand a commercial name than your own name. I had an advantage in that I was already known in the technology circles so it was just a matter of extending my brand into blogging. However, for the average blogger, branding your own name is extremely hard. You’ll have a much easier time branding a trade name than your own name.

You Have To Do Most of The Work

When your blog bears your name, you have to write most of the posts. Sure, you can bring in a guest blogger every now and then but for the most part, your readers will expect 90+ percent of the blog posts to be written by you. Contrast this with the dozen or so bloggers that write for Blogging Tips. Most people didn’t know that Blogging Tips was bought by Zac Johnson until many mouths after the fact and even then, it was because Zac finally revealed he bought it.

It’s Next To Impossible To Sell

How much is John Chow dot Com worth if there’s no John Chow? According to the business Opportunities Weblog, my blog is worth over $3 million but realistically, no one will pay that much for it unless I agreed to stay on (even then I doubt they’ll pay that much). However, if I’m going to sell, I want to cash out and leave, not stay on and work!

In the end, I can never sell this blog because this blog bears my name and I want to maintain control of my name. If you’re blogging for money, then I recommend you do it with a trade name instead of your own name. You should definitely register your own name as a domain name but keep it for personal use.


55 thoughts on “My Two Biggest Blogging Mistakes”

  1. PsychicJim says:

    Such wise words. I am going to start an email list now and get it going!

    1. Joel says:

      Is it possible to get a mailing list for free without Aweber?

      1. Abhik says:

        Ofcourse!!
        MailChimp offers a free account upto 500 subscribers.

    2. Its not only you John …. There are many other bloggers as well who is having their names in domain … Shoemoney is also one of them.

      Why dont you take like this that it represents your brand.

  2. Kristi Hines says:

    Great points about having everything under your own name. I actually had begun to regret that I didn’t brand everything under my name first but maybe that is a good thing.

    1. Every thing have own benefit and loss. So if you have not branded than this good … but as I said this will become a brand name.

  3. Hey John,

    I agree that both mistakes are pretty big and I made both of them too. But it’s not a tragedy.

    It’s pretty hard to start building email list right off the bet, especially when you’re just starting out. Not many people give the good advice you are giving. Had I started to read your blog when I first started I could have avoided both of these mistakes.

    As for the domain name, one can always correct the mistake by starting up a new domain. Whoever reads your post should heed your advice though. I know I would if I was just starting to blog now.

  4. Thanks John for these tips. You helped me save thousands of dollars. As for building a mailing list, i just can’t seem to grow at a fast rate. I see other blogs grow by 50% but my growth remains slow. Can you offer any advice on this.

    1. Abhik says:

      All you need is traffic and have something interesting to offer your subscribers.

    2. Simply provide ebook, start a good contest and keep the prize related to your niche, keep your readers busy and try to get their advice by adding poll and all …

  5. Great post, especially about using your name as the domain. I made this mistake too when I first started blogging. I thought it’d be cool to see my name coming up on Google SERPs and all that. Last year I decided to move to a more professional domain name.

    As you said, it’s easier later to sell and it’s easier to approach advertisers and other opportunities because of a brand name (make it more professional)

  6. Kent says:

    I love your information. I just found this site a couple days ago. I like that your blogs are quick to read. Keep it up!

    By the way, what if i only have 13 subscribers? Its that a little earlier for Aweber or go for it!?

    1. If you can afford it than go for it.

      Use John’s link.

  7. yesyada says:

    i’ve made the first point mistake. 🙁

  8. I think you’ve done pretty well with your own name though.

    1. He did well but he may want to sell the blog one day and that will be where he could sell it for much more were it not in his own name as he points out.

    2. yeah that’s what I am also thinking … He is a brand name now in internet industry … And why he is going to sell this blog …

  9. John, I see what your saying about a personal blog. However, I don’t think that would apply to all niches.

    I use my own name and a lot of posts by guests. I only have had my blog for a little over a month and the readership according to Alexa has increased by 167%.

    Now I do not know if that percentage might have been more if I made all the posts. I do think that people that read my blog are looking for marketing tips. I don’t think they care who gives them the marketing tips, just as long as they get good ones.

    For me that has been my experience. Give the public what they want regardless of who may be writing it.

    Thanks,

    Tom Zimmerman

  10. Fazal Mayar says:

    such a nice post and yes, this is why i changed my domain name. Having your own name doesnt have much benefits besides if you are called Ewen Chia. As for you, you built a nice brand for yourself though.

    1. I agree Fazal very informative.

  11. I started my mailing list about a month and a half after launching my blog. I didn’t go with my own name either in case I want to sell my blog someday.

    As most business owners can attest to; The real money is when you sell your profitable business.

    1. so you are doing everything right …

  12. max says:

    I love it, it’s shameless promotion of aweber on John Chow’s part here but guess what, I followed his advice and I’ve got a big email list which is saving me from evil pandas.

    1. What is so shameless about promoting a product that is good and that you believe in on your own blog? There is no shame in that.

      1. John seriously promoting awebar and hostgator and I think both are worthy for every blogger to use …

  13. shane says:

    AWSOME BLOG. KEEP THEM COMING.

  14. Mathew Day says:

    I really liked this post, was really insightful and personal.

    Since I’ve got into internet marketing I have learned the importance of creating your email list right away. This is a huge asset for you later down the road, financially and for other reasons too. And the earlier you start, the better.

    The personal domain name is one of my biggest mistakes I’ve made too.

    My personal domain name is actually one of my biggest and most successful blogs currently. Which I never thought it would be when I first started out.

    Later down the road I realized selling it would be very hard or I wouldn’t be able to get the amount of money that it could get if it was a domain name that was more relevant.

    It’s all good though. I plan on keeping my personal domain blog probably for life.

    I could only hope for it to be just half as successful (one day) as your blog, John Chow. 🙂

    1. I simply do not understand why you guys are calling it mistake … You are creating your brand …. Your name in the community …. So how this can be a mistake.

  15. Abhik says:

    I agree with the mailing list part. It’s a absolute necessary for a blog to maintain a mailing list from day 1.

    1. Abhik you are also using your name as domain …

      What do you think about it ?

  16. Paolo Volpi says:

    I see the value in using Aweber, but I still don’t see how it brings in traffic with a mailing list. Luckily for me though, I didn’t use my personal name as my domain name.

  17. Thanks for the heads up

  18. ElvinGoh says:

    Will try out aweber soon on my blog. But i made second mistake though, using my own name as domain name.

  19. Thanks for tips will work it out with email marketing list

  20. Shubham Dev says:

    It’s better to learn from someone’s mistake! 😉
    I’ll try not to commit these mistakes!
    Nice article, btw!
    Regards

    1. yeah if you are a smart one than you will learn from other mistake.

  21. Work online says:

    Great work John,you have don really good,and thanks for the nice tips.

  22. George Tee says:

    Hi john, that’s the most common mistake and yet so important that some newbie in the business fail to do. I, myself had the same mistake before which causes income loss. I agree that branding is easy with a commercial name. Your commercial name will be known with what product or services that you offer.

  23. fas says:

    But John your the bread and butter of your brand too.

  24. There is a lot of power in what you decide to name your blog. That name can become a brand and you might not be able to change course down the road. That being said, sometimes you don’t know how well a blog will perform, so the brand might not be as set.

  25. Asif says:

    It’s okay, I love your blog, don’t worry johnchow is a brand already.

  26. Top post John, the mailing list I completely agree with you then domain thing is something I could live with, but top post as always.

  27. So what would have you named your blog if you had it to do all over again?

  28. These are some good points. Using your name for the domain will restrict the future selling of the blog, but what about if you want to brand your name and you are a physician running a blog?

    Does that change things?

    Dr Sam Girgis
    drsamgirgis.com

  29. ryandeiss says:

    Big point about big mistakes.agree with you about building a mailing list from day 1.I made this mistake too.thanks for the info and like your blog lot!

    1. Dneprolab says:

      But you didn’t make a second mistake:) It’s a half of success!

  30. I don’t think that using your own name as a domain name is a mistake, contrary, it makes you memorable.
    As for the mailing list, i totally agree, you’ve reminded me of it actualy. thanx for these tips

  31. ary says:

    Interesting study case John.What if the traffic still low?Is it a good idea with email system, or do we wait till traffic is abundance?please advise?

    1. Jayrweblog says:

      Well I think you must a sufficient traffic,

  32. Kevin Kimes says:

    “no one will pay that much for it unless I agreed to stay on”
    Well, John Chow could become a “pen name” of sorts, the way many popular newspaper columns are done. John Chow would no longer be a real person, just the currently “crowned” person holding the title.

  33. Kevin Kimes says:

    Regarding the name as domain name for the business blog… Interesting that I’ve done the same thing, and so have many, many others. I had my name-domain for personal use as well, actually just for a permanent email address. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I decided to turn commercial.

    I was heavily influenced in going forward with my name-domain for commercial blogging because of JohnChow.com. If I had seen this post back then…..

    I wonder if, since my blog is young and still has little or no reader base, perhaps I should move over to a brand-domain… But then some of the work I’ve already done would be for naught.

  34. NorKhame says:

    I am using my personal name too. In mylanguage, this means the souces of money(goal, properties, treasure). In english is a bit strange meaning. Shall I rename to English commercial name?

  35. Arun says:

    I am also thinking to start a email newsletter for a while now. Aweber has got great email templates to send newsletters. I am going to subscribe immeidatly after reading your article.

  36. Jayrweblog says:

    I really like this blogging tips John,

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