Five Common Mistakes That Most Business & Personal Bloggers Make
When it comes to blogging, almost everybody is doing it wrong. The vast majority of blogs out there fail to gain a dedicated following and capitalize on success. In general, almost everyone gives up on their blogs, whether they are personal or for their business, within a short amount of time, but the problem isn’t in the audiences, it’s in the writers. So do we sufficiently have your attention? Good! Because that’s the first mistake people make when building a blog. In our rapid switch to the “me me me” based Web 2.0, blogs are becoming more popular than ever.
But people continue to make the same mistakes over and over when attempting to create a blog. So what are you doing wrong? Find out by reading on:
1. Failing to Grab the Attention of Visitors
As you already saw in the introductory paragraph, it’s crucially important for a blog to immediately catch the attention of potential readership. With 42 million blogs on the WordPress service alone (that’s more than the most populous state in the USA: California, or the entire country of Canada), there are way more blogs out there than you could ever possibly read in your lifetime. With all that choice, it’s critical that you grasp the attention of visitors to your blog early. If they aren’t drawn in by the first lines of the first blog they see, they might hit the back button and go somewhere else. This is probably the number one mistake most bloggers make, both personal and professional alike. You should always make an effort to draw in audiences by piquing their interest. For example, an outlandish statement, such as the one that this article begins with, is a great way of grabbing the attention of a reader quickly. Likewise, interesting statistics, questions or facts are other good ways to draw people in. However, there is a bit of a balancing act. Trying too hard can make you sound like an advertisement, which scares people away. If I had started this blog by saying, “I’ve discovered the five secrets of success to make your small business’ blog more profitable.” It would give you a much different impression than the way I actually ended up phrasing it. So it’s important to choose your words carefully when writing.
2. Not Considering Layout and Format
Blocks of text are not interesting and are not engaging to readers. This is a fact that many bloggers fail to realize. Much study and thought has gone into the composition of what entices people to read piece of text, and there are many guidelines you should consider in our fast-paced information based society. For one, paragraphs are boring. They’re for novels, newspapers and magazines. Blogs are sleek and simple. Much can be said about brevity — you don’t want your blog to drone on for twenty pages. Users will simply lose interest. At the same time, you should also write enough to get the whole picture on a topic. Likewise, there are many good ways to structure a blog. People enjoy something that is easy to read, with sub-titles, and bullet points. Additionally, blogs posts that take the form of a list (such as this one) are becoming very popular, and a great way of conveying information in an organized format. There are also some “psychological” triggers than make a reader more likely to read your blog. Have you ever noticed that most sites don’t use the whole width of a page to display text, usually putting ads, sidebars or even white space on the side? This is because a narrow reading space that doesn’t take up the entire width of a page is more pleasant to read. Finally, incorporating images into your blog (so long as you hold the rights, or they are free to use), especially at the top of a blog, unconsciously makes the eyes want to move downward and read what else is on the page.
3. Talking Too Much About Yourself
Readers are selfish, and when you’re a reader, you’re probably selfish too. In most cases, readers do not have an interest in hearing you opine about your thoughts on politics, or how your day went. Readers want information that is relevant, useful and important to them. Though this is certainly less of a problem for business blogs, many business bloggers still neglect the needs and desires of their audiences in favor of their desires, and information they want to talk about. Likewise, many business bloggers simply boast about themselves, their products and their successes without recognizing that most customers have no interest in how well the company is doing — they just want to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Or whatever the situation may be. When creating a blog, it is crucial that you think like your audience and consider what they are seeking for out of your blog. If you neglect to fulfill those requirements then your readership will eventually grow tired of your blog and find a blog that will fulfill those requirements.
4. You Don’t Optimize for Search Engines
Even if your blog manages to stick out through the pack in all the traditional means (interesting, has personality, appeals to readers, etc.), you can still fail to find an audience. After all, with 41,999,999 other blogs on WordPress, how do you have people find your blog in the first place? The answer is Search Engine Optimization. A significant mistake that many bloggers both professional and amateur alike make is to neglect this aspect of blog maintenance. If you want to be found you need to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to do so. WordPress and similar platforms often offer tools or plugins to help you manage your SEO. Making sure that your titles are relevant and that you use meta tags well is also crucially important. Importantly, you shouldn’t sacrifice an accurate, keyword-laden title for a cutesy or funny title that won’t be easily discoverable on search engines. Though it may be more enjoyable for your readers, you actually have to have readers for that to matter.
5. Failing to Promote Your Blog
Similar to point #4, you can’t expect people to just find your blog without a little promotion in the first place. Whether it’s for your business or for your personal blog, you should promote your blog on social media services where you already have an audience. If you’re a business too, this informs your already loyal, dedicated customers or clients to another service or aspect of your business that is pretty much designed for them. If even your most loyal customers don’t know about your blog, you can’t expect a random person off the street to come into your business saying they heard about you through your blog. Equally important, you should attempt to get in touch with other bloggers in the same field as you, becoming a part of a community and encouraging others to share your material with friends, promote it on their blogs and commenting is a way of engaging more readership and spreading the word about your blog to even more people.
Zane Schwarzlose is an SEO at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin marketing firm. Zane thinks that businesses need to do some form of sponsored promotion to start their blog.