I’m a beginner when it comes to blogging, so I took a look at what I thought I knew and read some other bloggers sites and came up with a list of what I think are common mistakes we can make when starting out with blogging.
These aren’t in any particular order of bad to worse mistakes.
Look At How You Write.
I fell into the trap of writing my first blog posts like I was completing a uni assignment. A little to formal, headings with sub-headings and all very nicely laid out. When reading my own uni assignments I wanted to fall asleep so I can imagine what others would think. Most likely readers wouldn’t get past the first two sentences. So I had to go back through and loosen things up, try and personalise it and look at how to make my writing more compelling to draw the readers in (hopefully I am achieving this).
What To Do: Try Writing Like You Talk.
I have seen this mentioned a lot, write how you would talk about the topic. Try asking yourself the blog topic question and record your answer. Then write that as a post, removing the ‘effing and jeffing’ (depending on your blog and its audience of course).
Why does this work? Well you will be talking and answering in a conversational way, where you come across as a person not a robot. Readers can see your passion about your topic, relate to you more, have a laugh or just enjoy how you write and maybe learn something new.
So calm it down with the facts and techie talk, have a laugh and joke and write how you would talk to a friend about the topic.
Which reminds me:
“What did the biscuit say to the doctor? I feel crummy” LOL, a friend’s 4 year old daughter told me that one, love it.
Not All Ideas Are Created Equal.
I have been at the gym, driving to do the grocery shopping or making love…ly muffins when I have had what I thought were great ideas for my business. When I wrote them down and went over how and if they would work, some got put in the naughty corner (well the ideas book), where I will look over them again another time.
What To Do: Your Blog Posts Should Be In Line With Your Site/Business Goals.
When I started out I didn’t really do this. I came up with an idea and just went with it.
Now I ask myself, what am I trying to achieve with my blog and business and is this idea in line with that?
To create and grow my business, does my idea fit with my business goals and does it provide value to my audience and the subscribers in my niche? I try and read different forums, Facebook groups or other bloggers sites on what people are asking about or talking about in my niche and determine if that fits with my blog goals.
The Topics You Are Writing About Are Too Large.
It can be easy when starting out to want to tackle big topics that seem to get a lot of eyes or are discussed about a lot in different niche forums or social media channels. Ask yourself, is setting your sights on something like this realistic? Can you provide the details, data, research or time to accurately answer the topic in full?
Some general examples of large or broad topics you might like to avoid when starting out:
- “How To Successfully Use Social Media Paid Advertising”
- “Start Your Healthy Eating Lifestyle Today”
- “Ultimate Guide To Dating and Relationships”
Posts like these have so many details and fiddly bits that it can make it difficult to provide in-depth info about them and can also mean you can attract a more general audience, rather than a smaller targeted audience that are more likely to become customers.
What To Do: Make Your Titles More Specific.
When you have a topic, start by coming up with a “production title” or “working title”. This is breaking down a broad topic into something that is more specific.
General topic “How To Successfully Use Social Media Paid Advertising” change to production title “3 Tips On How to Use Facebook Advertising For Your Business”.
When you come up with this working title, it makes it easier, helps guide and keep you on track with your content and hopefully it ultimately enables you to create great articles within a quicker time frame.
Your a Writer And Wronger About People Caring About You.
“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Unfortunately we aren’t Steven King, J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien, your audience aren’t your fans (yet) when you start out. Just because you have a website, are writing content and sharing it, that doesn’t mean people are interested in you and your experiences. When you find a blog, are you initially interested in the writer? Probably not but depending on how they write and what they can show and teach you, you can slowly build a relationship with them.
What To Do: Show Your Lovely ‘Personalities’; I Mean Show Your Readers Who You Are.
Like I mentioned earlier, add some of your humour, write something that people can relate to or add pop culture references, make the content yours or an extension of yourself, these are just some of the ways you can start to make people relate and become more comfortable with you.
Example From: Who The Hell Are YOU? by Naomi Dunford
“It will please some of you to know that I almost titled this article ‘What’s My Name, Bitch?’ it will please the rest of you to know that I realized not everyone spends as much time watching hardcore porn as I do and begrudgingly decided against it.”
Look to write in the first person and relate with your readers about your topic, like you are chatting or just shooting the sh.. breeze with them. Your tone should try to be engaging, personal and comfortable/approachable like if you were out having a coffee with them.
To Copy Or Not To Copy That Is The Question.
‘Borrowing’ or plagiarising someone else’s content is not a good idea. Google doesn’t like it, they can penalise your site which means you can lose out on organic traffic to your site, you can also find yourself in problems with copyright laws. It can seem easy to just copy and paste someone else’s content and change a few words and BAM you have your first article.
When you do this you leave indicators that you didn’t write your post, like your article doesn’t read right, sentences don’t flow or the context of your wording is off.
What To Do: Learn How To Research Existing Content and Make It Better.
Look for and review out of date content, can it be updated and spruced up, can you add more details to it or break it down into smaller posts with more specific details? Add updated images that are relevant to the article just make sure to add value and current info. Industries are changing all the time and new research, techniques or information comes out regularly, so cover many of the same points but update it with cutting-edge details.
Look at creating a new production title, by modernising:
- “5 Ways To Use Facebook To Increase Traffic” to “20 Ways Facebook Can Increase Traffic For Your Website”. Add more points, images and details to provide more value to your readers.
If you do find content that you want to share on your blog, you can copy it into your post, but make sure to link to the original article/content and acknowledge the original source. Doing this doesn’t mean you will do great when it comes to SEO, but it gives you an outgoing link and if you share it on social media it maybe high in the Search Engine Results Page(SERP) which means searchers can find your site via social media.
Or you can write a review about your experience applying/using it or just create a discussion about that post or content. You can provide a small excerpt of the original content, advise readers that this isn’t your content, who it belongs to and provide a link back to the original. Writing a review or creating a discussion can get you on the radar of an influencer in your niche, which means you are exposed to their followers and readers and have a good chance of them becoming your audience.
What’s Done, Is Done.
An easy mistake to make is, you finish writing your masterpiece and then press publish. “And that is that! Drop mic, exit the building.”
This is usually not the case. You could have been sitting in front of your laptop for hours, up till the early hours of the morning working on it or just tired and mythered by life.
Your masterpiece needs to be re-read, changes made and then re-checked again.
What To Do: Take Time To Read Aloud Your Content.
I have made this mistake so many times, just reading it in my head and thinking I’m done but I’m not…
Read your content aloud, find your spelling, punctuation or wrong word mistakes and fix them. Re-read your content again aloud and make changes. Then do it all again a third time. When you read aloud what you have written you find the mistakes your silence reading can over look or what it pieces together to make your writing flow. Your mind is familiar with what you have written and what you want to say, so makes your content ‘right’.
Another option is to have another person read it, as they can provide you with feedback and a different perspective. Give it to someone else to read and have them pick holes in it. You can review the feedback and choose whether to apply it or not. You can guide the feedback by providing some basic questions like, ‘Does the content answer the title or question?’ or ‘Are you hooked within the first 1-2 sentences?’
I know of some people and they have their 13 year old son or daughter read their content back to them, when their child falters reading their content they make a note to edit that part and get them to keep going. Why would you do this? A quote from Literacy Project Foundation “50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level”, it helps you find and edit problems with your copy, while also helping to stop the reader from disengaging from your content and starting to skim read it.
It can be time consuming but it will help with identifying problems with your copy.
Consistency Is Key.
“Consistent action creates consistent results” ~ Christine Kane
This is a big mistake I have been making, I have published blog posts in quick succession, then gone weeks without posting anything. I need to look at blogging consistently.
Why should you post consistently? Well you create a habit for yourself, meet your business goals and once you get readers it can create confusion and maybe frustration if you post randomly.
Some of the big bloggers only post once a month but it is the same time each month where others post twice a week. Having set times and days sets reader expectation and when you break consistency you lose engagement, followers and interest. Having return visitors adds significant value to your website and by creating regular content you grow your digital presence.
Take the time to create a content creation strategy.
What To Do: Create an Actionable Schedule.
Some people use a book or notepad to write down their tasks and schedule when they need to be completed by. Others use a calendar e.g. Google calendar or a spreadsheet where you can mark off when you have completed your topics research, when your first draft and final product is due.
This can also help you get ahead of the game by making it easier to create more articles, more often and having them up your sleeve as drafts ready to go, just in case you get sick, busy with another project or go away on holiday. If you can get ahead of the game, your mind can be at ease and you can focus on growing your blog not chasing your tail.
Draw Your Own Conclusion.
So these are just some of the common mistakes people (myself included) can make when starting out with blogging. Like anything practise makes perfect, so the more you blog the better you get. These mistakes may seem difficult to fix but by taking action whether big ones or small steps you can start to create a better blog and you will reap the long term rewards of getting traffic and leads.
Have you made these mistakes? What are some other mistakes you have made when starting out writing a blog? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Are you making these blogging mistakes?