Blogs, just like any website, can fail. Here are 9 common blogging mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not publishing regularly. (OK, I’m guilty of this one, too!)
While it’s helpful to post frequently, it’s even more important that you post regularly. Publishing on a regular basis – whether it’s twice a week or twice a month, helps your readers know what to expect – and when you deliver on what they expect, you become more trustworthy. Find a rhythm that works for you and build it into your schedule. If you are going to be away, write posts in advance and set them up to be posted automatically at your usual time. (For example, this post was published on a Monday, but I wrote it on a Friday afternoon.)
2. Not being focused.
Trying to talk about more than one topic in a single post will confuse your readers and will make your posts hard to categorize. By keeping your posts simple and focusing on one topic at a time, your post becomes more valuable because the reader can understand exactly what you are trying to say. If your post references additional topics, be sure to use keywords to link to other posts that go into more detail. (See what I just did?)
3. Not letting your readers know who you are.
It’s often said that people buy from people. I suppose that all depends on what you are selling, but there’s no getting around the truth that we like to give business to people we know. If you want your readers to connect with your blog, they need to connect with YOU. Let them know something about you. Include an author biography, and preferably a photo to help you build up a relationship with your customers. (Someone recently told me that the “about” page is the 2nd most visited page on a website – after the home page. Something to think about…)
4. Being cutesy vs. having a point.
OK, I’m often guilty of this one, too. Especially on my self-help book summary site. It’s hard to resist being clever. Remember, though, that the headline of your post is sometimes all that shows up up in search engine results and links, so make sure it is attention grabbing and relevant to your post. When you use keywords in your title (and if you’re not, shame on you) make sure they sound natural and help make the point of your post clear to the reader instantly. No one will click on a link to your post if they don’t know what it is about.
(For search engine optimization, including using special titles for search engines, consider using an SEO plug-in.)
5. Getting distracted by other blog projects.
(Seriously, am I guilty of all these mistakes?!) Carried away by the excitement and success of their first blog, many authors rush to start several more. After all, you do have a lot to say, right? Maintaining a blog (reference mistake #2 above) takes time and effort and the quality of your blog will suffer if you spread yourself too thin. In most cases, one high quality blog with regular postings is better than several neglected blogs.
6. Not helping readers understand the context.
Your blog is an ongoing story or conversation – even business blogs. You don’t need to explain your whole story in every post. Instead, refer to previous posts that will help give the back story for people who may not have been following you before. Insert links to the relevant posts, and keep an easily accessible archive of your most significant articles.
7. Not respecting ALL of your readers.
Nobody likes getting negative comments. It can sometimes be upsetting, but try to consider that the author has made the effort to read your post and make a comment on it. You have managed to reach out and make an impact on an individual, even if that has not had a positive outcome. That doesn’t excuse poor behavior, of course. So make sure your response is professional.
Read your post again, keeping the negative feedback in mind. You may find some gems of wisdom in what the commenter said. View all comments as valuable feedback that you can learn from, whether negative or positive.
And remember, you control whether comments get posted or not. Allowing a negative comment to show on your blog can actually build trust with your readers, but if it is particularly vitriolic or contains offensive language, you are not under any obligation to approve it.
8. Not doing your research.
Getting your facts wrong will discredit your blog in no time. Research your topic – and make sure you double check any facts or claims before you post.
9. Getting too fancy or high tech.
There are all sorts of high tech features you can add to your blogs, including ads, feeds, forms, a gazillion twitter options, and other complex plug-ins. Used properly, these can be a great asset and make your site more useful and user-friendly. But be careful of sacrificing blog quality for technology. Too many plug-ins can slow down the functioning of your blog. Make sure your plug-ins are relevant – double check to make sure the latest updates to your blogging software don’t make them redundant. Remember, as well, that fancy features are like shiny object – distracting you from what is really important – your content. People visit a blog to read the posts so make them your number one priority.
Blogging isn’t just a lot of fun, it is good business. A blog can connect you with your community, drive traffic to your website, or sell products for you. A blog can help establish your brand, enhance your press, and increase your exposure. A blog can even help you build credibility and trust with your target market.
Of course, blogging isn’t as easy as tossing a few unorganized thoughts on the screen and hoping it will work. Blogging involves planning and at least a few strategies. Be smart, avoid these 9 common mistakes, and blog on!
© Copyright 2010 Nina East