Is your blog turning people off? Once you win the battle of getting traffic to your site, you need to impress them enough to stay, read, and absorb your message. Otherwise you’ll have wasted all the time and dollars you spent getting them there. These five common sins of blogging are seen all the time, and even occasionally pop up on popular and successful blogs. If you’re guilty of one of these 5 Blog Mistakes, don’t sweat it—you’re in good company. Just fix it, and watch your readership get that much better.
- Apologizing for not posting regularly
“Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I got so busy with my job/the baby/the holidays/my miniature yacht-in-a-bottle collection/ that blogging fell by the wayside. But I’m back now! Let me tell you about all the stuff that’s happened since I last posted….”
Never, ever, ever do this. For one thing, it draws unnecessary attention to the fact that you don’t update regularly. It is much more likely that your readers didn’t even notice, as most traffic to growing blogs are from first-time readers following an inbound link. Don’t give your new readers a reason not to get attached. The second reason is that there is no expectation of regular updates unless you set one, and most people way overestimate how often they need to post to build a good readership anyway. The third and most important reason not to apologize for inconsistent updates is that it causes you to do it even more. Have you ever missed an email, and by the time you realized that it was still sitting there, you were too embarrassed to reply because of how much time had passed? Don’t set up the same guilt trap for your blog by imposing unnecessary standards for yourself. You’ll just procrastinate and squirm instead of writing, which will ensure that your blog remains a ghost town.
- Displaying a Comments count when there are no comments
If your blog posts do not reliably receive comments, as in you cannot absolutely count on there being at least three or four comments on 90% of your posts, then do not prominently display that 0 COMMENTS counter at the top of all of them. Remember, your readers will only know that your blog is a ghost town if you tell them. You can even consider removing the commenting feature entirely if it doesn’t add anything useful for your readers. Activity begets more activity—readers want to get involved with blogs that can offer a vibrant community and a reliable source of useful or entertaining information. If you make it look like your blog can’t offer that, that will only give your readers the impression that the party is happening elsewhere. You will rob yourself of the chance to build that vibrant community by discouraging the early adopters.
- Asking for comments when they don’t matter
This mistake is a derivative of number 2. In response to an inactive comment section, some blogs attempt to bolster the number by adding a call to action at the bottom asking for comments: “If you like what you see, let me know what you think in the comments!” Now, some blogs should absolutely be doing just that, if a healthy comment section is an important value of the content itself. But some blogs just don’t trigger active discussions. Comments are NOT always a useful engagement metric. Opinion pieces and buzzworthy feature stories often generate discussion, because they appeal to emotion and spark opinions in the readers that they want to share. If Jezebel’s comment count dips, they should be concerned. But if you write a brilliant How-To article that doesn’t get any comments, it just means that your readers didn’t have any thoughts to add. It doesn’t speak to the worth of the article–shares are a more important metric for that type of content. Even if your readers comply and a few write, “Hey, great article!” at the bottom, that isn’t really adding any value to anyone’s day. You want your blog to offer value, not insipid observations.
- Leading with a tautology or inane observation
“The holidays are upon us, which means that soon shoppers will be flooding the mall looking for last minute gifts.” Or, “It’s April, and with the spring flowers comes that dreaded deadline–tax day.” Or, “It’s fall, and you know what that means!!”
Yes, we do know what that means. Which means there is no reason for you to say it. People often start their blog posts by attempting to tie-in the content to the season or upcoming holidays. Sometimes they just don’t know how to get started, and end up beginning with a general observation as a way to ‘warm-up’ to the writing before getting around to making their point. It’s common, but it’s a time waster. Readers don’t always give you the chance to get around to your point. You’ll be amazed at how often you can simply delete that first sentence, and the second sentence you wrote will work as a much more effective introduction. In fact, it’s a good exercise. Go ahead and write the general lead-in about the seasons or the weather if it helps you get started, but then get rid of it in your editing stage. You’ll be amazed at how much snappier your writing becomes.
- Not giving the readers other ways to contact you
Never forget that business blogging is never an end in and of itself. Whether you want to use a blog to drive traffic to your site, to build an email list, or to establish expertise in your industry, you’ll want your readers to reach back out to you in some way. If you’re trying to establish sales leads, you should consider creating a contact form so that interested folks drawn in by your blogging can easily ask for project quotes. If you want to be recognized as an industry expert, be sure to direct your readers to your twitter or speaking engagements page once you’ve impressed them with your witticisms. You don’t work hard to gather traffic, comments, shares, likes, and follows for their own sake. Once you’ve impressed your readers, be sure to actually give them a way to get in touch with you and become more involved with your work. That’s the difference between ‘casual reader’ and ‘raving fan’.