Let’s face it, a lot of bloggers start off totally clueless about publishing best practices. It’s to be expected — you’re just getting started! But you learn, tweak and change as you go until one day, voila, you’re an expert blogger. When you look back at your novice years, you’ll laugh, cry, cringe and maybe take note of how much you’ve learned.
Well, novice bloggers, Find Your Influence like to help you avoid a few common mistakes that will really slow you down. And for you veterans, this might be a good refresher course. Here are 10 blogging mistakes you should stop making (or never make in the first place!).
1) Not blogging on a regular schedule
When you start off blogging, you’re excited, passionate and have lots to say. But before long real life gets in the way and you start posting more erratically. It has happened to the best of us. But if you want to pursue a professional career in blogging, you’re going to have to start posting on a very consistent schedule. It doesn’t have to be every day, or even every other day. It just has to be consistent.
A lot of bloggers swear by using an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars allow you to plan and organize your content ahead of time. It doesn’t have to include final headlines and research, but instead can just be a guideline. That way when it comes time to write, you’re not starting from scratch. Ideally, you can use the calendar to work a few days ahead so you’re never feeling rushed to hit a deadline. For a sample editorial calendar, check out this free one from Hubspot.
2) Not learning the basics of SEO
If you’re hoping your blog will build traffic, you want it get picked up by search engines, right? Well then you should start writing with the search engines in mind. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply that. It’s the practice of optimizing your content so that it shows up in searches — maybe even the first page of a search.
The basic principles are fairly simple, and they could have a huge impact on your blog traffic. So take some time to study up and start implementing what you’ve learned into your blog. This SEO tutorial is a great place to start.
3) Relying too heavily on SEO
Now for the flip side. Some writers learn about SEO and think it’s their golden ticket to success. They start stuffing their content with keywords and only writing about heavily searched topics. Before long, their content becomes stiff, boring and unhelpful.
Don’t make that mistake. Instead, write the blog post you want to write first. Write with your own voice, taking into consideration nothing but your passion and knowledge. When you’re done, go through your post and see if there’s anything you could do differently. Maybe you could improve your headline to include a key search term. Maybe you should add a meta description. Just don’t go too crazy. Creating high quality content is above all the best way to get noticed by search engines.
4) Your topics are too broad
Would you rather read a blog post about why puppies are cuter than dogs or a blog post that muses on the new scientific discovery that puppies have a unique gene that makes them like people more than cats do? (Note: We made that up).
You’d rather read the second one right? That’s because it’s more specific (although please note we also recommend using only facts, unlike the topic example above). The Internet is overloaded with generic, bland content. There’s no reason to add to it. Instead, find unique angles and opinions to make your blog posts more specific. If you can write an entire article on one small detail, then do it.
5) You talk about yourself too much
The thing that really makes your blog special is that it’s about your thoughts, opinions and personalities. So you should definitely keep it that way. However you should also make sure that your blogs are interesting and helpful to your readers.
If you’re writing about your own life experiences, make sure there is a moral or helpful tip at the end. Don’t make the mistake of rambling about your day-to-day grind. Unfortunately, many of your readers simply won’t care. Keep your posts balanced between personal and informational.
6) You don’t know who your target is
Another common mistake new bloggers make is writing for the world–the entire world. Instead of writing posts that anyone could relate to, do some research and decide who you want your specific target to be. It could be stay-at-home moms with children under 15, runners who run slower than 9:15/mile, men who have daughters, etc. As you can see, this is really similar to number 4. Be specific! Just because your target is specific doesn’t mean other people won’t read your blog. But what it will do is give your blog a very clear purpose and voice, and your content will likely end up being more helpful as a result.
7) You don’t spend enough time editing
Take it from Hemingway, “Write drunk, and edit sober.” Okay maybe don’t write drunk either but the point is that editing is often even more important than writing. Editing is what makes your talent, knowledge and voice really shine. After you’ve brain-dumped your post, read it out loud several times. Take time to fix typos, reword sentences, reformat, reorganize and simply improve your post.
8) Not responding to comments
If your readers are commenting on your posts, lucky you! Now start replying to them. Over time, interacting with your readers can have a huge impact on your blog engagement and reach. The more you interact with your readers, the more likely they are to comment more. They’ll start craving your tips, advice and praise. Plus, advertisers are really starting to focus on influencer engagement, not just traffic. If you can improve this metric, you’re that much more appealing to brands looking to partner with influencers like you!
9) Using “click here”
You’ve seen it a million times and it makes sense: “For more information, click here.” But it would be a much stronger call to action if you (once again) are more specific. Stop using “click here” and instead hyperlink where the link is actually going. For example: “For more information, check out Find Your Influence.” Try not to hyperlink the sentence verb and make sure the information you do hyperlink accurately reflects where the link is going.
10) Using your header tags for style purposes
Many blogging content management systems, like WordPress, have headline tags built in. For instance, when writing your post, you can choose to format specific words and phrases as “Headline 1” or “Headline 2.” These tags often create pretty formatting so it’s tempting to use them to make your blog look more stylish. But that’s not actually their purpose.
These tags act more like an outline for search engines. They tell search engines what’s important in your post. So you should only hyperlink headlines and subheads that are representative of your post. For more information about this, complete tip number 2!
Okay experienced bloggies, here is your chance. What’s our list missing? Tell us some of the mistakes you made when you were starting out.