Some business owners and marketers assume that writing a blog is an easy task. After all, how hard can it be?
Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to use a blog to demonstrate your company’s field expertise and generate new leads, mistakes are deceptively easy to make and can effectively ruin what should have been a great piece of content.
Here are 11 common blogging pitfalls, and how to transform them into winning strategies.
1) Your topics don’t have a target audience
If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know their pain or their problems. If you don’t understand their pain or their problems, how can you use your blog to demonstrate your knowledge of the solutions to their struggles?
Too many companies write blogs which fail to resonate with their customer base, and are filled with content that will never boost readership, website visitors, or leads.
What you should do instead: Research and recognise the problems that your customers want to solve, and use your blog to instruct them how to do so. Try to omit all other details.
2) Your topics are too broad
Blogs written in a generalised manner are unlikely to be read. Skimming the surface helps no one, and will give your visitors the impression that you are unsure about your subject matter.
What you should do instead: Offering relevant material in your blog is the key to popularity, and your relevance depends on how well you know your niche, your audience, your key objectives, and your readers’ problems. In general, you should select a topic that will interest your audience, then choose one specific associated problem and describe the best practice for how to solve it.
3) Your blogs don’t offer value
Here’s a brutal truth: 99% of your blog readers won’t care about the everyday activities of your business, or which office you are moving to, or which team member’s birthday it is. You are also unlikely to retain readers with purely humorous features or industry news, unless the content is of such a high quality that it competes with the internet’s biggest lifestyle or business websites.
What you should do instead: Your audience will care far more about blogs that teach them how they could be doing an aspect of their job more effectively. This way, you can attract higher numbers to your website, you demonstrate yourself as a thought leader, and you build trust in your potential customers.
The greater the value of the content you offer, the more likely that your trusting readership will turn to you when a business opportunity arises.
4) You aren’t clear enough
Numerous lexicographers over-elaborate their online discourses, utilising inadvisable locutions.
What we mean is, too many blog writers over-complicate what they are saying.
What you should do instead: Write in clear, simple sentences. Don’t try to be too clever. Illuminate your readers; don’t confuse them.
5) You write poorly
Writing is a delicate, surprisingly technical skill, and it is easy to get wrong. Poorly-written blogs risk doing your company more harm than good, and suggest to readers that you are either unprofessional or careless.
What you should do instead: If you can’t write well yourself, make sure to take advantage of spell checkers and grammar checkers. Read as many blogs as you can, taking notes on what each writer does well and which pieces fail to hit the mark. Whenever you see a good blog, ask yourself why it is effective and how you can emulate it. Whenever you see a bad one, recognise the features you want to avoid.
6) You don’t tell a good story
Human beings are pre-programmed to understand and relate to stories, and blogs which don’t tap into this are missing an important trick. There are few webpages more likely to result in bounced visitors than ones filled with flat, uninspiring paragraphs that bore rather than resonate with your readers.
What you should do instead: If you are writing a blog to help people solve a problem, make sure your writing taps into the emotions that are at stake if they fail to overcome their struggles, or the triumph they’ll experience if they succeed.
7) You stuff your keywords
SEO is vital to a strong content marketing campaign, and is one of the main tools you can use to launch your company’s name onto the first page of Google. There was once a time when tactics such as stuffing your content with keywords made Google take notice of you. Now, though, filling paragraphs with unnecessary keywords not only risks Google ignoring you, but means that the content itself will fail to engage visitors in a meaningful way.
What you should do instead: Google’s spiders, which crawl websites to learn what they are about and where to rank them, understand synonyms more effectively than ever before. For this reason, write blog articles in a natural manner, focusing closely on the subjects you want to rank for in the search engines but not endlessly repeating keywords or phrases.
8) You blog inconsistently
Some companies start their blogs with great intentions, without realising that it takes time, effort and commitment to produce regular pieces of strong content. Too many marketers post a couple of great blogs but then fail to put the time aside to post frequently enough to gain a loyal audience.
What you should do instead: Post blogs regularly, aiming for the same day of the week or month. According to Forbes, if your blogs make up part of your main strategy, you should be blogging once or twice a week.
9) You fail to back up your claims
You’re not writing an essay, but it’s important to back up the claims you make with statistics and evidence. Otherwise, why should your readers take your word for it?
What you should do instead: Whenever you can and wherever it feels necessary, find reputable sources to prove what you are saying, and link your readers to them.
10) You obsess over it, and take too long…
No matter how long you spend on a blog article, it can always be improved. While blogs can make up a significant portion of a content marketing campaign, they are just one segment of what you need to be doing, so don’t spend days on a single piece of work.
What you should do instead: Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete a blog article, and stick to it. That “reasonable amount of time” will only reveal itself once you have written several pieces, so produce a few, and work out how long it will realistically take you to create a worthwhile blog entry. Balance this with the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to blog writing, alongside your other responsibilities.
11) …or you do the opposite, and fail to redraft
Spelling errors, poor wording, muddled points and writing that fails to leap off the page can all be symptoms of publishing a first draft. Failing to redraft an article is a cardinal sin when it comes to blog writing.
What you should do instead: Write a first draft and consider this an approximation of what you want to say. Afterwards, decide precisely what you want the piece to say, and shape it in that image during your second draft. Then, finalise with a quicker third draft, during which you check spellings, tighten sentences and make sure that everything is in the best order. Then click “Publish”!