Think about the number of blog you read on a favourite topic of yours. Let’s say you are a fan of yoga. How many blogs can you find on this particular topic? Thousands? How many good ones can you find? Hundred? How many do you read?
I am guessing, a few. Perhaps, you are subscribed to two or three but I am sure you don’t get to read them all. Even though you are subscribed you read stuff that catches your eye, what seems interesting on that particular day, or is something you need to know more about.
If you have a bit more time than usual or you can afford to slack off, you scroll through your feed and read a few more, but there is only so much you can digest. Now flip the scenario on its back and look at this from another person’s point of view.
This person is also a blog reader. They have subscribed to many, many blogs – more than they should, and they may or may not, be on the lookout for any new ones. Is your blog the one they should be reading regularly? Is your blog they should subscribe to, next?
Of course, they should. But only if you stop making these mistakes.
Mistake #1 You don’t have a clear purpose for your blog
We have millions and millions of blogs occupying bandwidth on the web and it is amazing to see the vast majority of these bloggers still have no idea why they are blogging in the first place.
Let me ask you: why do you blog?
Are you a hobby blogger? Do you blog because you want to voice your thoughts on various topics that interest you? You write about your favourite books, the movie you took your kids to, or your commentary on the latest political crisis? You don’t care if you get more than 50 people reading your blog and most of those people are your friends, colleagues, relatives and so on… (In this case, you can probably skip this post because if your blog is your online diary, this won’t apply to you.)
Are you a blogger who wants to grow a huge audience, become an Internet celebrity, secure a book deal and become a lifestyle blogger? Or, are you a small business owner looking to use your blog as a marketing tool?
Clarity is the first step to achieve success for your blog. Because success looks different to a hobby blogger, it means something else to a blogger wanting to become popular and shows up differently for someone blogging for business.
Mistake #2 You don’t have a strong niche
Once you decide on the purpose of your blog, (and for this blog post, we are going to assume that it is to use your blog as a marketing tool and build your email list) you need to figure out your niche.
Let’s say you are a health coach. Well, health and fitness is a huge topic. However this topic is way too broad if you decide to tackle it in its entirety. You need to narrow it down and pick a topic that will help you attract potential clients and customers. So if you are a raw food expert, then pick this as your niche. If you are a holistic health coach, maybe you want to choose holistic health and nutrition as a focus for your blog.
When you pick a niche, this does a few things for you:
- It helps attract your ideal readers.
- It helps you stand out from the other health bloggers.
- It helps you formulate your content strategy.
- It even helps you rank for your keywords if you create the right content.
Go narrow first and then broaden your scope later as you grow and build your audience. Get known for something first and then expand.
Mistake #3 You don’t understand your audience
You may know who your target audience is but you fail to connect with them.
Sure, you understand your topic and your niche, but you are not creating the right content. You are writing on issues that you want to write about, and not necessarily what your audience wants to hear from you.
This happens when a blogger fails to really listen to what their audience is saying – or not saying (lack of engagement says something). If you are not sure, ask your audience,survey them. Ask them what their biggest problem or frustration is, which needs of theirs aren’t been met, ask them about the topics they want you to write about, ask them what sort of content they want to see.
Don’t assume – ask them. And remember, if you are new or don’t have a huge audience, you don’t need hundreds of responses. A handful will tell you all you need to know for now.
You can also spy on your competitors. They have audiences very similar to those you want, so go there and read their comments. Look at the types of posts that go viral and the ones that don’t do too well. But don’t copy, just get some ideas to see what is working.
Mistake #4 You are not consistent
For any blogger to be successful, they must stay consistent over time. Blogging is a long term thing and often times you will see the ROI (return on investment) after months of hard work. You’ve got to commit to the process. You may be shooting yourself in the foot by being inconsistent. Inconsistency can be of quality and of quantity.
If you publish mediocre stuff, if you put out content that takes five minutes to write, people will notice. You can’t publish random, filler stuff. Now I am not saying that every piece you publish has to be worthy of picking up by Lifehacker, but meet the expectations you set up for your audience. Publish high quality posts.
Secondly, you also have to become consistent in your publishing schedule. I am not saying to publish 4-5 times a day, especially when you are not aiming for popularity. Your goal is to stay top of mind. You have to create a relationship with your prospects and readers so you need to touch base on with regular people. For most people, once a week works out very well. Publish one post every week, preferably on the same day, so you train your readers into expecting content from you on a regular basis, just like they expect to see a favourite show every week.
Create high quality work. Be consistent with your publishing schedule and never compromise quality for quality.
Mistake #5 You hide behind your blog
Do you know the biggest pet peeve of mine? Clicking on a link to check out a blog and finding out that the blogger has chosen to stay anonymous! I mean, what could be more irritating than that? Think I am alone? The vast majority of blog readers feel the same way.
You’ve got to understand that people don’t read blogs purely for information. They are looking for a person to follow and seek inspiration from. They look for a community of like-minded people and most importantly, they want to be just like you.
When you don’t tell people your name, don’t put up a smiling photo, what you are saying is that you are not interested in creating a true and meaningful connection with them. That you are not willing to put yourself out there.
This is even more essential if you are a small business owner. When you talk about yourself, reveal personal information and give people a peek into your life, you create a deeper, richer connection and most importantly, you build trust in yourself and your brand. Tell them who you are, what you stand for and tell them your story – give them a reason to believe in your dream and you will have raving fans of your work.
Mistake #6 You bore people to death
Are you writing in a style that is interesting, engaging, and worth a read? Many business bloggers are guilty of writing stuff that nobody understands or cares about. They use corporate language. They use jargon and gobbledygook, are you guilty of it?
Or maybe you write like you are writing a college essay. Your writing mimics the academic style of writing that nobody wants to read. Do you go on and on about your topic? Is your post filled with repetition and unnecessary information? Do you have a tendency to ramble?
People want content that is inspiring, entertaining, or both. They don’t want to think too hard to understand your point. They also don’t have lots of free time to read posts that feel like book chapters.
Write in plain English. Make your blog posts as easy to read as possible. You are not writing for people reading Harvard Business Review, write in a manner that even your average reader can easily comprehend.
Mistake #7 You are overly promotional
Your blog post is not a vehicle to sell your wares. Your blog is not your store front or your catalogue. This is not the place to talk about your products and services all the time.
You have to understand what sort of content to publish on the blog. And to do that you have to step into the shoes of your blog readers: current customers, prospects, and people looking for information on that topic, people who haven’t thought about buying from you yet.
What sort of content can you create that will appeal to these groups of people? You might cover ‘behind the scenes’ type content. Give people a sneak peek into your production process. Talk to them about how you come up with product ideas and what goes into creating something.
You might put a spotlight on your existing customers. Interview them, show off testimonials, and what people are saying about your company.
You can write inspirational posts where you paint images of what it would be like to achieve your dreams. You can write pure how-to information where you generously share your expertise. You can write a post where you link to other experts in your industry.
There is so much you can do – and occasionally, it is fine to sell, but don’t make a habit of it.
Mistake #8 You don’t pay any attention to formatting
Your blog is extremely hard to read and while this seems like a very frivolous reason, people don’t read it because it’s just not any fun.
What makes a blog hard to read? Firstly, it is the overall look and feel of your blog. The theme you have chosen, the typography and colours. If you use very small fonts, or flashing ads or big neon headlines, people are not going to take you as someone who is legit. So make it look professional.
Make your blog posts scannable by using headlines, sub-headings, bullet points, bold and lots of white space. Don’t forget to use captivating images (not cheesy stock photos) to attract attention.
Lastly, spend some time editing and proofreading your blog posts. Review your post for flow, remove anything that doesn’t add anything to it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. You don’t want to spoil the experience of a well written post by leaving typos in.
Your aim should be to make it an enjoyable experience for the reader so they are bound to return and share your content.
Mistake #9 You don’t promote your blog posts on social media
You think it’s enough to write a blog post, polish it, and then hit publish. You think if you build the content well enough, people will come. Well, that may have been true a few years ago when blogging was so new that people would subscribe to and share any half decent content.
Not anymore. With the proliferation of blogs, there is no shortage of good content. So much so that your good content will go unnoticed unless you do everything in your power to make sure it won’t.
You have got to push your content on social media sites to attract new readers. You don’t have to publish on every single one of them but it is generally a good idea to focus on one or two platforms at a time. You think your audience hangs out on Facebook? Great – then that’s where you should share your content. If you think they are more Twitter kind of people, or Pinterest, or Google+, reach out to them there.
Not only give direct links to your blog posts, but also post status updates especially created for a particular platform and make sure you respect the medium. For example, photo quotes work really well on Facebook, animated videos work superbly on Tumblr, and of course, gorgeous images belong on Pinterest.
Secondly, realize that not everybody will see your updates. Not everybody is online at that time, and even if they were, it would be virtually impossible for them to see what you, and everybody else is posting. Repeat your social media updates to give them a maximum chance of success.
Mistake #10 You don’t build your authority and credibility
- You are trying to do it alone.
- You don’t join any groups, online forums or collaborate with other bloggers.
- You don’t guest post on other blogs, you don’t give interviews and you don’t syndicate your content.
Meaning, you don’t work to build your authority. You don’t care about raising your credibility and this is affecting how you are being perceived.
Even when you share and promote your blog content, you will find it difficult to attract new eyeballs to it because people don’t know how awesome you are. And how can they? You must show them.
When somebody stumbles on a new blog, they are looking for social proof. They are looking for credibility building indicators – like media mentions, praise, customer testimonials, as-seen-on logos and endorsements from other bloggers. This is all part of the plan. This is how the game is played. Show your expertise and people will take notice.
How long have you been blogging for? What is the biggest challenge when it comes to blogging?
Do you make any of the mistakes I listed above?
Leave a comment as we’d love to know.