Today I come to you with Common Blogging Blunders, things I’ve noticed bloggers do a lot… and that they should stop doing. Immediately. I have to admit to being guilty to a few of these on occasion (especially #10 and sometimes #11), and I’m here to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.
Our goal as bloggers is to reach as many people as possible … and if you’re guilty of one or a few of the following, it may be impeding you from doing that.
1. Not understanding your audience
I know what you’re thinking. Who cares who my audience is? If they’re looking for what I’m writing about, they’ll find it. Not a true statement. You need to understand who you are appealing to in order to reach them.
As I said above, our goal as bloggers is to reach and help as many people as possible.
Cooking bloggers want to improve other peoples cooking and share recipes; blogging bloggers want to help other people blog better; and book bloggers, like me, exist to help authors and readers. We promote and share books, expanding an authors audience, and connect with readers, discussing shared feelings on books.
If you don’t understand WHO you’re blogging to, you will not be successful in your goal. You need to understand the problems your audience face, and fix them!
2. Not having a strong niche
Part of knowing who you’re blogging to is knowing WHAT you’re blogging about. You need to find your blogging niche. If you like fitness and nutrition, you’re a lifestyle blogger. If you like reading and talking about books… Hi, you just found a niche. Evaluate your content, categorize it, and find others like you.
3. Covering too many topics
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. The goal isn’t to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, the goal is to hone your content under your umbrella of knowledge and expertise, gaining a band of loyal followers. Don’t bullshit your way through a cooking post to appeal to cooks when you usually eat Cheetos for dinner and run a book blog (hi). Readers gravitate towards people who know what they’re talking about and can give them advice. Narrowing down your topic will gain you a faithful group of followers while widening it will only discredit you and run them all off.
4. Not promoting your blog content
The motto, “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to the internet. There are MILLIONS of blogs on the blogosphere, and you’re only an insignificant speck. If readers don’t know you exist, they won’t come. Make yourself known on one or two social media sites, gain followers and let them know you have the knowledge to offer that will benefit them. Promoting your content on social media isn’t sleazy or shameful…unless you’re being very aggressive about it. If you want followers, you need to promote your blog.
5. Trying to be a lone wolf
Part of finding a niche is exploiting the people in it! Join a niche and share their content–if you promote them, they might promote you. The really nice thing about having a niche and a community within said niche is that promoting others will bring you traffic and increase your subscribers. I’m not saying you need to go and share every article you find on the internet, or tag random people in social media posts. That’s being WAYYY too aggressive and extremely obnoxious. But if you find an article that really helped you or had good points, share it with your followers, and link the creator of the article in it. It will give you incredible credibility within your readership, and the writer of that article you shared might follow you right back!
I struggled a lot with this when I first started blogging, but I’ve found a great community of book bloggers on Bookstagram! You’d be surprised at the replies you get when you put yourself out there :)
6. Ignoring promotion opportunities
Did you see me NOT ignore my promotion opportunity? I did it twice. First I was talking about how you need to promote your blog content … so I inserted a Click-to-Tweet. Second, I was talking about the amazing community I’ve discovered on Bookstagram…and I linked my profile! Take opportunities like this to self-promote yourself across all platforms: Social Media and the Blog.
The fastest way to build a community on your blog is to share your knowledge. But you must have readers to share your expertise with! Host guest-posts from veritable, veteran bloggers in your niche, and their readers will then flock to your site and join your readership. Be a guest poster on other people’s sites! If they have a strong following, and their readers read your content and find it helpful? They are now part of YOUR readership. Get your knowledge out there, and bring readers to your blog.
7. Not engaging with your readers
Our second goal as bloggers is to create a community on our blog, and with other blogs. If someone comments on one of your posts, reply with a thoughtful answer. Acknowledging and responding to your readers builds a trust relationship, and they will be more likely to come back to your blog, subscribe and follow. Beyond the comments, engage with them on social media and invite them into the conversation! You’ll be rewarded by having a beautiful community of people who respect you and your advice… and vice versa!
8. Bad writing
This is absolutely essential to running a blog. You may have groundbreaking knowledge and advice that has never hit the blogosphere before… but people will never read it if you didn’t take the time to correct your writing. Typos and grammatical errors in print publications and books are inexcusable. Why should your blog post be any different?
Write your post. Format your post. Edit your post. Edit the formatting. Proofread, again and again, and again. Read it aloud and correct every error you find. If a sentence sounds chunky, fix it. You want to invite readers in, not push them out because you were too lazy to read over your content for errors.
9. Failing to have compelling headlines
The title of your post is meant to hook your readers in!! A less than decent title typically leads to a less-than-decent article. Look at the difference: “The time I said ‘ok’ and made money, here’s how” vs. “I followed my dreams and made $80,000 my first year…and you can too!”. Which is better? The second! It’s much grander and incites curiosity. The title of the post is meant to make your readers want to read your post. If the headline is faulty, in the reader’s mind, so will be the article.
10. Neglecting SEO
Along the same vein is SEO. If you don’t know what that is, it’s Search Engine Optimization. If you use SEO correctly, you increase your sites’ ranking in a search engine.
Say I wrote a post about Blog Organization and titled it “Tired of not knowing where anything is?” Also, imagine that someone is searching google for “blog organization techniques”. Your post may not even be on Google’s radar because it’s looking for three things. Titles with ‘blog’, ‘organization’ and ‘techniques’ in it. The articles at the top of the search are the posts that use those three words the most. If you renamed your article “9 Blog Organization Techniques That Will Blow Your Mind”, it has the savvy creativity people expect from bloggers, AND you are much more likely to be at the top of the search engine results and will lead to an increase in blog traffic.
How do you utilize SEO, you ask? Sum up your article in 3-5 keywords. In the example above, the keywords would be ‘blog’, ‘organization’ and ‘techniques’. Use those keywords in your title and liberally throughout the article. While Google is looking for those words, you’re more likely to pop up because you used them so often.
This is one blogging blunder I’m pretty guilty of and is perhaps that hardest thing to do on this whole list, especially when you have a busy life (i.e., me). What I mean by ‘inconsistency’ is when/how often you blog. I am VERY inconsistent when it comes to blogging. I try to post on Tuesdays and/or Fridays, but looking back I’ve posted more often on Saturdays. I also tried to post once a week, but it’s really been more like twice a month. Being more consistent is my New Years Blogging Resolution, and I’m working on it.
You (and I) need to set a blogging schedule–one you can ACTUALLY and REALISTICALLY accomplish–and stick to it. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of not posting anything for January and just planning my posts in advance for the coming months, but I don’t know if I can actually just up and abandon posting for a whole month. Your readers need to be able to rely on you when it comes to posting, and if you’re prone to monthly blogging hiatuses, then you’re unreliable. Then you lose subscribers. Don’t do that. Check out this editorial calendar
12. Valuing quantity over quality
Now. I don’t want you to take what I just said the wrong way. Realistically setting a goal for yourself doesn’t mean sitting down at 10pm every night, haphazardly typing a few paragraphs, copying an image from Google and having your head hit the pillow by 11pm. This is even more unreliable. You can’t value the number of posts over the caliber of your information. Remember what we said in #8 about proofreading? Do you think, posting every day, you’re doing the best writing you can? Your readers want information they can use to improve their lives, not exhausted paragraphs full of confused nonsense. Or worse, useless information. If blogging every two weeks is all you can do for quality content, then do that. Once a month? Do it. Do what you have to do to be the best you can be.
The most horrible blogging advice I have ever heard in my life is that you have to post 5 times a week–or worse, every day. You don’t need to do that. Find out how long it takes you to create quality content, and set a schedule based on that data. Don’t follow stupid rules like posting every day, that will only turn your readers off. If your readers are subscribed by email notification… this is called spamming. The goal is to NOT be the thing they delete every morning. Instead, be the treat they only get a couple times a month or once a week.
Be the blog that they look forward to.
What blunders are you most guilty of? What do you vow to change after reading this post? Did you realize some things you could be doing better? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!