During the quarantine, I have time on my hands, you? One of the ways I fill my time is writing. I write books, web copy, and stories. However, what I write the most are blogs. I’ve posted more than 2,000, and I’ve made every one of these eleven blogging mistakes and more. How do you think I learned what not to do? Hopefully, you can learn from my blogging mistakes. It’s much easier than the path I took. Here are my top ten blogging mistakes.
The number one blogging mistake is inconsistent posting
As well-intentioned as a blogging schedule might be, it’s easy to get away from it. Here’s the thing, I could share calendars, apps, and scheduling software, but that’s not why blogs get off schedule. The reason people post inconsistently isn’t for lack of good intentions. It’s because of a lack of commitment. It’s easy to prioritize other activities more important than this week’s blog post. It can always be justified that something was more critical than writing a new blog post. And as long as this is true. Your blogging will be inconsistent. So, how do you overcome this? First, you set a realistic blog plan (I suggest beginning by posting one new blog per week). Next, you get ahead of your plan by writing four to eight posts before you publish your first. And finally, make a total commitment to not allowing anything to interfere or take precedence over publishing your scheduled post. It helps if you have an editorial calendar with a routine post publishing scheduled such as publishing a new post every Tuesday at 1:00.
A mass of words without breaks
So, when you click on a post and all you see is a full page of words what do you do? Do you click out? Even if there are a few paragraphs, it’s still not very attractive and certainly doesn’t send a compelling message saying – read me, does it? What’s interesting is that this lack of breaks is acceptable in print. A book without breaks isn’t daunting. However, a blog isn’t a book. Posts can be broken up with paragraphs, images, and headers. “By breaking up your article into proper sections with headings, your reader will have an opportunity to do a quick scan and (hopefully) decide that your article is one they want to continue to read.” — How To Format Your Blog Posts To Keep Your Readers Engaged
Lack of a consistent editing plan
If you want to write better it begins with editing and then editing again, and … well you get the idea. My editing plan includes spellcheck (more on that later), a review 24 hours after writing, Grammarly, Yoast in WordPress, and reviewing the post one sentence at a time beginning at the end, which brings a new focus to the edits. “This is a proven copy-editing and proofreading technique that my colleague shared with me some time ago,” says Gocheva. “It’s helpful for shorter pieces. Start at the bottom of the page and read the text sentence by sentence. Reading the copy out of context often helps identify errors.” — Forbes.com — The 10 Best Ways To Edit Your Copy, According To The Experts
Ten years ago, when I was new to blogging, I had two co-workers who reviewed and edited my posts pre-publication. Today I follow an editing checklist. Regardless, whether you use editors or editing software, you need an editing system.
Attempting to blog without a blogging plan is a bad plan. “My wife asked me how I overcame writer’s block. I’m not bragging, but I write thousands of words every week and never have writer’s block. Never. It’s not because I have superpowers. It’s because I have a system. The system is based on the idea of knowing what you want to write before you put your fingers on the keyboard. Blocking out an hour or two to write isn’t a plan. It will almost certainly lead to writer’s block. You need a plan. One of the keys to this plan is you don’t attempt to do it all at once – it’s in stages.” — How to Defeat Writer’s Block
Should you “stuff” words to reach a word count? No. Let me say that again. No! Blogging isn’t writing 101, which required a set number of words for papers. (Do courses continue to do this? And if they do, why? What does this teach?) Anyway, adding words for words sake to meet a number count has little to do with writing an effective post that people want to read. Nobody has ever said, “I can’t read this because it doesn’t have a big enough word count”. However, you may have stopped reading a post because it was too long, rambling, and unfocused. Because it was stuffed.
“When you’re done talking about the subject at hand, and you’ve edited your content to be as useful and economic as it can be, your blog post is exactly as long as it should be. This could mean you have a blog post that’s 2,000+ words (like this one here) or one that’s less than 100 words (like this one here).” — How long should your Blog Post be?
Attempting to edit while you write
Editing and writing use different parts of your brain. Whether Hemingway indeed said, “Write drunk, edit sober” or not, the point is to allow our creativity free reign while writing and if you stop the creative flow to edit, you slow your creativity. So, while you write turn off spell check, don’t reread sentences, and do not check grammar. Yes, do all of that and more but not until the first draft is written.
“Have you ever started a blog post, got a paragraph or two in, scrapped your introduction, started again, and then ended up bogged down mid-way? A good plan will help a lot here, but you also need to get out of the habit of trying to perfect every sentence while you’re working on the first draft. It’s an inefficient and often frustrating way to work.” — Problogger.com — 9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Every Blogger Can Use)
A great post that no one reads is worthless. What can be done to get posts seen and read? You can start by paying attention to basic SEO (search engine optimization) Ignoring SEO is a good way to be seen only by friends and family. What do you do to improve SEO on a blog post? As my good friend Lorraine Ball says, “The best place to hide a body is on the second page of a Google search.”
Poor images or no image at all takes away from a blog post. So, where do you find suitable images? There are many sources, but my current go-to is Unsplash. According to its website, Unsplash shares more than 1.5 million stock photos from more than 100,000 photographers. So, how important are images on a blog post? My friends at Roundpeg say it well, “As it happens, we tend to judge by our first impressions. First impressions can be wrong and misguided, but I’ve often made important decisions off them anyway. From deciding where to eat using pictures on a restaurant’s menu, to picking out what book to read, to buying a present online, we make decisions all the time from visual first impressions.”— How Website Images Create Good First Impressions
No Call to Action
So, why do you have a blog? If you’re in business, it’s ultimately to develop leads. Raising your SEO through content development is one way. Calls to action are another. CTA’s are usually found at the end of a post, but not always. They include blog subscription, email opt-in, contact buttons, social media icons, and internal links. I see too many posts without a CTA. Don’t make this mistake. Remember why you have a blog.
Use bright colors and bold type to help links stand out from the text. There are three primary types of links.
Outbound links — Links to other sites. It’s important to vet outbound links. I find it best to stick with legitimate resources you’re familiar with.
Internal links — Links to previous content on your website — older blog posts, images, or website copy.
Backlinks — Links from other content providers to your content. The best way to get others to backlink to your blog is to offer quality content that answers questions, solves problems, and shows your expertise. Commenting on other blogs, guest blogging, asking for quotations, and conducting surveys are ways to get noticed that can lead to backlinks.
No attention paid to SEO
A post I wrote two years ago explains basic SEO. “The seven-point checklist below is part of what I do before I hit publish on our WordPress site. However, I must confess that I don’t try to keep this checklist in my head. I’ve learned that’s a good way to forget steps. I also know it’s easy to miss or overlook a key to keyword success So I cheat, I use the checklist below, and I use Yoast SEO. I couldn’t do this without WordPress and Yoast.
7 Keys to Keyword Success
- Title – Not only should the keyword or phrase be in the title, but the sooner it appears in the title, the better.
- URL/Slug – The slug is the part of the URL that identifies the post and distinguishes it from other posts on the same platform. The keyword should part of the slug.
- Meta Description – This is the 160 characters that show up in a search. You should include the keyword and searchable phrases.
- Density – Only a couple of years ago, a keyword density of 4.5 % keywords to the total number of words was acceptable. Today, that number is looked on as keyword stuffing. Any time the keywords get in the way of the readability that’s a problem—minimum .05 maximum 2.5%.
- First paragraph – The keyword should always appear in the first paragraph.
- Subheads – At least one subhead should contain the keyword.
- Image – The keyword needs to be added to all images in the post under Alt text or alternative description, and it doesn’t hurt to include the keyword in the image caption and title as well.” — 7 Keys to Keyword Success
What blogging mistakes are you making?
So, what blogging mistakes are you making? Hopefully, I’ve given you a few ideas on how to improve your blog. The key now is to act. Choose one of the top ten (okay eleven) blogging mistakes and make it better. After that, pick another blogging mistake and then another blogging mistake and… If you’re like me, you have time to write right now. So, use your time wisely. Don’t make these blogging mistakes.
If you’d like to dig deep into improving your blog, I wrote a book about it, How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever. I’m guessing you have time to read it.