Last week, we started a three-part series Common Blogging Mistakes That Can Sink a Small Business Blog. Part one focused on mistakes in setting up your blog.
Today, in Part 2, we’re going to cover writing mistakes that often hinder the success of small business blogs.
We hope we can help you avoid making these common writing mistakes and give your blog the best chance for success.
Blog Writing Mistakes
1. Writing is too promotional
Yes, you are writing your blog, ultimately, to promote yourself or your business.
But your blog won’t succeed in that mission if you don’t build and maintain an audience of readers. And you won’t do that by writing an endless stream of promotional material.
When writing your blog, you need to educate. You need to entertain. You need to help. You need to inspire.
You don’t need to sell, sell, sell.
The magic of your blog is that if you do all those things well, you will also sell. Because people will like you and respect you and want to do business with you.
2. Not focusing your writing on your audience
This second mistake often happens because you’re making the #1 writing mistake: being too promotional.
You can, of course, weave your products or service into your posts when relevant. But focusing largely or exclusively on yourself and your products is a turn-off to blog readers.
Focus, instead, on your audience (your readers and your customers) and good things will happen for you.
Write about the topics you know they are most interested in (and if you don’t know what they are interested in, ask them).
Write to help them solve problems. Write to answer their questions. Write to save them money.
Make your customers’ lives easier somehow and they’ll make it easier for you to succeed online.
3. Writing blog posts that are hard to scan
The first two writing mistakes were about content, or what you should write about. This one is about the structure, or how you should write.
You may have heard…people are busy. They are rushed and distracted, their attention is divided and hard to focus.
So you have to make it easy on them.
Especially on the Web, big blocks of copy scare people off. Readers online like to scan through copy quickly and your writing needs to facilitate that.
Yes, you will need to write some long posts to tackle tricky subjects or to establish yourself as an authority. And being too brief can lead people to think you aren’t an expert.
But be as concise as possible while achieving your goal of establishing authority.
Also, break up long posts into sections with headers to help readers visually navigate your post.
Keep paragraphs short. No more than a sentence or two.
Take advantage of bulleted lists or numbered steps. They are very easy to scan and are a more visually appealing way to present your copy.
4. Headlines aren’t clear enough
Headlines are vitally important to your blog.
First, many people will only read the headlines. It is your job to make sure that your headline gets as many as possible to move on and read the blog post itself.
But many won’t start reading and will abandon your blog if you don’t make it clear what you are offering them for their time.
Headlines that are trying to be clever or mysterious are often simply dismissed by readers. Most don’t have the time or patience to give you the benefit of the doubt and start reading a post when they don’t know what it’s about.
Clarity in your headlines is also especially important for social sharing and SEO.
When people share your post, it’s typically the headline that others will see. And when your post appears in search engine results, it’s the headline that will be the link searchers see first.
Your headline also works to tell search engines what your blog post is about and therefore what keywords the post should rank for.
So a focused and clear headline that features relevant keywords will help your SEO efforts.
5. Too many mistakes: grammar, punctuation, spelling & facts
Don’t let this one intimidate you if you’re one of the many non-writers who are writing blogs for their businesses.
Mistakes happen…and you will make them. Just work to minimize them.
While online readers are pretty forgiving about certain kinds of grammar mistakes (especially if they seem to be part of the writer’s voice and contribute to the energy of the writing), a post that is riddled with mistakes will turn readers away and damage your brand.
How to you minimize writing mistakes?
First, know your weaknesses. You probably know certain words you spell wrong all the time. Keep a list and double-check those words in your posts.
Use spell-checkers, but don’t trust them 100%. They are good at spotting certain kinds of spelling errors, but if you misspell one word and your misspelling is another word, it may not be flagged. They’re also not as good if you’re writing about a field with many technical terms or jargon.
Read your posts out loud, slowly, to make sure they sound right. Keep a grammar guide handy to check any issues you aren’t sure of.
If possible, get someone else to read and/or proof your posts. It’s typically harder to catch your own mistakes than to spot them in someone else’s writing.
Also, be very careful to fact-check your posts.
You certainly don’t want to damage your credibility, tarnish your brand, and loose readers and customers by posting inaccurate information.
6. Not writing substantial enough posts encourage links & shares
You will have many goals for your blog, but many of them will be harder to achieve if you don’t write posts of substance.
You won’t succeed if all you’re posting are brief “me too” responses to other bloggers, one-sentence intros that link to content on other sites, or posts that are too shallow to really add value to the subject you’re writing about.
While you want to be as concise as possible, make sure you take the time to write thoughtfully and show that you know what you’re talking about.
Substantial content will not only help your brand, but it will also help you generate links to your site (which will then help your SEO) and encourage readers to share your blog post via social media or other referral methods.
People want to be confident that if they share your post, the people they share it with will be impressed with your content.
If you hit the right topic or right tone, a short post can definitely generate links and sharing, but you’ll be safer if you mix in longer, more authoritative posts as well.
7. Not writing frequently enough
It’s hard to build up your readership if you don’t write enough.
Quality is, of course, very important, but if there’s not enough quantity to keep people coming back, they won’t.
More frequent blogging will generally mean more traffic to your site.
But there is no magic number for how often you should post to your blog.
The right amount will depend on the type of posts you are writing, the length of the posts (mostly short posts should mean more frequent posts), your audience, and your business goals.
Whatever the frequency is, it’s good to try to be consistent. If you are trying to post once per day, having lots of multi-day gaps can be problematic for building up readership.
People want to know what to expect. You should get them into the habit of checking for posts at certain intervals. Habits are your friend, so you need to post frequently enough that you can get people in the habit of reading your blog.
Blogging frequently also helps the many people who will randomly check out your blog, because it means they’ll be seeing fresh and timely content.
It even helps SEO. Search engines like sites with fresh content. And frequent posts mean you’ll generate more content for search engines to index.
So post, post, post. Every day if you can. Every few days, or weekly, if that’s all you can do. Some business blogs do post monthly, but it’s rare.
It may be hard to achieve your blog’s goals if you can’t post at least once a week. But do your best!
We hope you’ll come back for part three, which will cover promotion and optimization mistakes.