We asked our Social Media Examiner writers “What’s the single biggest mistake bloggers make and why?” Read their answers carefully to see how you can improve your blogging to get the results you want.
Mistake #1: Not understanding your audience
The biggest mistake bloggers make is to misunderstand who their audience is. I see many blogs where the bloggers clearly understand the topic, but they fail to connect to their audience with their posts.
Bloggers must understand the problems facing their audience and what the audience already knows about the topic to craft posts that deliver useful information. Otherwise, the posts include the wrong information or exclude the right information, making them too complex or too elementary. Or, the posts fail to explain the problem being solved, and the reader can’t put the information into context. Either way, the post is full of information that the reader can’t put into use.
Mistake #2: Not having a strong niche
The biggest mistake bloggers make is trying to be everything to everybody or even three or four things to three or four different groups. You can’t overestimate the benefits of focus, and the more clearly and tightly defined your mission for blogging is, the more likely you are to develop a niche following that is equally as focused, passionate and valuable.
For instance, if a banking blogger is especially interested in lead generation for small business lending, he shouldn’t waste time and energy also trying to write about the mortgage market. Instead, he should focus that energy on niches and interesting topics within small business lending. How do loans differ for convenience stores versus restaurants? What are the different small business loan options for different businesses?
This doesn’t pigeonhole the blogger; it just means the wealth of topics is more specific, and ultimately more interesting and informative, to a smaller group of people.
Mistake #3: Covering too many topics
I believe the single biggest mistake bloggers make is covering too many topics. Many bloggers want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, so they write about a myriad of topics.
The problem with this is that the scope of the blog can become lost and possibly disengage the audience. Defining a few key areas that a blog’s posts will cover can finely hone the content and laser-focus the knowledge and expertise of the blogger.
Mistake #4: Inconsistency
The single biggest mistake bloggers make is inconsistency, both in quality and in publication frequency. The tricky part is that these two elements of success often work as opposing forces.
The notion that you should blog “when you have something to say” makes sense on the surface, but unless you establish and adhere to a publication schedule or a level of frequency (daily, three times per week, etc.) it becomes VERY easy to eventually tell yourself, “well, I don’t REALLY have anything to say today, so I’ll just skip it.” That’s how your publication frequency drops from five per week to three to one to occasional blogging. The blogs that are successful over the long haul are those that make publishing routine, not based on daily inspiration.
But making publishing routine does not mean, “let’s just throw up a garbage post because I have committed to writing three per week.” Quality always trumps frequency (with the possible exception of SEO). Five mediocre posts per week will not get you as far as two outstanding posts per week.
That balance between the need to be consistently publishing and the need for consistent quality is the key to successful long-term blogging.
Mistake #5: Not committing to the process
Oh, there are so many mistakes business bloggers make. If I had to choose just one, it would be not committing to the process. Too many people get into blogging thinking that it will have an instant impact on their business. Their search engine visibility and inbound traffic will skyrocket, and they’ll be sleeping on a bed of $100 bills.
However, unlike pay-per-click advertising, constructing a blog that builds your business takes time and effort. I tell people to plan on writing two to three posts per week for six months to get the results they’re hoping for… more if they’re in a competitive industry.
This means more than just writing, however; you also need to write keyword-rich posts with persuasive, compelling titles that will be read, linked to and shared on social media sites.
Mistake #6: Focusing on quantity instead of quality
I think a lot of bloggers focus on quantity versus quality and I think this is the biggest mistake. There is this theory that states that you need to blog a few times a week to make your blog always seem fresh; both from the perspective of human consumption and also from a search engine perspective. The advantage is again in quantity—perhaps also again in page rank—but there is a loss in quality.
A good, in-depth blog post takes time to research, write and edit. Unless you’re a larger company with a team of professional writers, there’s not enough time in the day to do this well; thus there are a lot of blogs with underperforming material.
Mistake #7: Writing for yourself, not your audience
Although it might be cathartic to opine on your latest thoughts of the moment, if it isn’t of value to your audience, your audience won’t read it.
Readers are selfish. They want information they can use. Find a way to provide it.
Mistake #8: Making it all about you
Are you that interesting? A celebrity perhaps? If the answer is no, stop writing about yourself and write about something that your readers will find useful, interesting or entertaining.
Sure, put your own personality into your content or add a post or two about something that has happened to you and is noteworthy, but write about interesting stuff.
Mistake #9: Bad writing
A blogger’s objective is the same as any other writer: to find (and keep) readers. The more readers, the better. Having said this, there is one sure-fire way to turn off regular and potential readers: bad writing.
With the ease and accessibility of creating a blog nowadays, the importance of good writing in getting published has all but disappeared—online, at least. I cringe in disgust when I find typos in a $30 hardcover book from the bookstore, or a newspaper or journal article. Yet it’s not uncommon to find formatting, spelling and grammatical errors littered throughout blog posts and articles published online.
Not only do these mistakes make a post difficult and unpleasant to read, they make the point harder to get across, and ultimately leave the reader with a less-than-professional opinion of the blogger. Of course, good writing is more than grammatically correct sentences that have been spell-checked.
Good writing is concise, has a point to it and is accessible (in other words, easy to read and understand). But I would argue that half of the battle to gain readers comes down to simple, lazy mistakes that are easily fixed. Use spell-check; take time to research ideas, facts and concepts you’re not sure about; and most importantly, read over your work before posting. This can make a huge difference.
Mistake #10: Failing to engage readers with a compelling headline
The biggest mistake bloggers make is failing to engage readers with a compelling title and an opening statement or question that supports it. Think of the title as the label of a package, one that will only be opened if the label clearly or cleverly describes what’s inside.
Once the package is opened, the first few lines have to hook the reader again by delivering on the promise of the label. When both the title and opening work together, the remaining content is willingly consumed.
Mistake #11: Going it alone
What do I mean by that? I think bloggers have the ability to be great storytellers, but sometimes they cut themselves short. They think they have to generate the whole story themselves and fail to use blogging as a way of reporting.