Are a few silly mistakes holding back your blog?
I work with a lot of bloggers, and I see some mistakes cropping up again and again. There’s so much to learn about blogging that it’s easy to get things wrong … but these mistakes can really cripple your chances of success.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Clear Goal
Why do you have a blog? How does it benefit you and your readers?
You need to know the answer to these questions in order to have a clear goal for your blog. For instance:
- If your blog exists to make money, then your goal might be to reach $1,000/month through sales of a digital product.
- If your blog exists to establish your expertise in your niche, then your goal might be to get named on lists of “top ten” blogs.
- If your blog exists for you to build up a writing routine, then your goal might be to post a 500 word piece every day.
None of these goals are “right” or “wrong” … but you do need to know what you’re aiming for.
Fix it: Work out your main purpose for your blog. Set yourself a medium-term goal (something you could realistically achieve within a year).
Mistake #2: Formatting Posts Badly
I come across a lot of excellent writers who are producing blog posts that simply won’t get read. Why? Because they don’t pay any attention to formatting.
It’s physically harder to read on a computer screen than on paper, and most visitors to your site will be distracted by email messages, Facebook, Twitter, Skype … you need to make their life easy.
- Write shorter paragraphs than you normally would
- Use bullet-points to help break up the text and to increase the white space on the screen
- Use bold text to highlight key points
- Use subheadings to divide your post into major sections
Fix it: Take a look at your most recent post. Does it look attractive and easy-to-read at a glance? If not, look for places where you can add formatting.
Mistake #3: Erratic Posting Patterns
If you don’t post anything for months, then start posting every day for two weeks, only to burn out and stop again … your readers are going to get fed up.
There’s no rule about how often you should post … but you should try to be consistent. That means keeping the frequency of your posts roughly the same from week to week and month to month. If you do decide to make changes, phase them in gradually (and make sure you can keep up the pace).
You can be a bit flexible (e.g. posting twice one week and three times the next) but you shouldn’t have long periods of no posts at all followed by a rapid-fire stream of posts; you’ll overwhelm your readers.
Fix it: Come up with a blogging rhythm that works for you. Remember, quality is better than quantity!
Mistake #4: Poor Editing of Posts
Although most readers will be tolerant of occasional typos, constant mistakes can really damage your chances of success. If your posts are riddled with errors, or obviously dashed off at the last minute, can you really expect readers to feel confident about buying your products or services?
Once you’ve finished a post:
- Set it aside for a few hours or even overnight. It’s easier to see errors when you can come to the post with fresh eyes.
- Read it through carefully: don’t rely on your spell-checker to pick up every typo.
- Rewrite any sentences or paragraphs that are repetitive or badly phrased.
- Consider asking a friend to give you some feedback before you hit “publish”.
Fix it: Build editing time into your blogging schedule. That might mean writing posts a day ahead, so that you’ve got time to go through them again before publishing them.
Mistake #5: No Call to Action
This is probably the worst mistake I see … and sadly, it’s very common. Many bloggers just end their posts without giving the reader any clue about what to do next.
The final few lines of a post is a great opportunity to encourage readers to do something (this is called a “call to action” by marketers). You could ask them to:
- Sign up for a mailing list
- Subscribe to your blog
- Leave a comment
- Buy your product
- Share your post on social media
- … or pretty much anything else that would be useful to you!
Your call to action doesn’t need to be pushy or intrusive. You can simply write something like If you enjoyed reading this, click here to subscribe to my blog. That way, you’ll never miss a post!
Fix it: Go back to your three most recent posts and look at the final lines. Do you have calls to action in place? If not, add something.
So … it’s your turn! Are you making any of these mistakes (or have you overcome them in the past)? Can you think of any other common mistakes that harm bloggers’ chances of success? Let us know in the comments below.