Blogging is an art form and many novice bloggers fall into some very common pitfalls — pitfalls that can serve to alienate and annoy readers.
First, it’s important to understand that the web is saturated with information. Nobody needs to read your blog; chances are there are 200+ other similar blogs that could easily fill the void if your site were to cease to exist.
Therefore, you need to go the extra mile to appeal to your readers. You need to offer something more than just words or pixels on a page; you need to offer true value. You must earn their trust. You must work to earn your readers’ attention, while simultaneously minimizing errors and tendencies that can be annoying or otherwise not-so-reader-friendly.
Quite simply, you need to offer something that’s worth reading, while avoiding things that leave your readers annoyed or pissed off.
This is where it becomes important to know your readers. Make an effort to discover why they read your blog. Who are your readers? What’s their background? What do they get out of your blog? Once you know this, you’ll know how to write in a way that appeals to this unique audience.
Blogging Mistake 1: Complexity
Many people (erroneously) believe that complex sentence structure and big words convey intelligence or sophistication.
In reality, this annoys your readers. People read blogs for one of two reasons: for entertainment or to learn something. There is nothing educational or entertaining about a blog post that requires three read- throughs and a dictionary in order to ‘get it.’ This doesn’t make you look smart; it makes you look annoying and out-of-touch with your readers.
In the news industry, the standard is to write material that’s easily understood by a 12-year-old. Adopt this rule for blogging.
The true sign of a good writer is someone who can convey complex concepts in a simple, easy-to- understand manner. Use anecdotes and metaphors to illustrate abstract or complex concepts. Simplify your message.
Blogging Mistake 2: Don’t Bore Readers With Personal Details
Don’t bore readers with minutiae about your life. In most cases, we don’t care what you ate for dinner last night. We don’t care about that cute thing your daughter did this morning. And we don’t care about that random story from your childhood.
Of course, there are some rare exceptions. There are some individuals who maintain very successful personal blogs. But these cases are the exception, not the rule. And in most instances, it’s not the minutiae and personal stories that we enjoy reading about; it’s the style and voice that’s appealing.
In sum, make an effort to understand why your visitors frequent your blog and give them the type of blog post that they’ve for.
If you’re unsure as to whether a post is relevant, ask yourself, ‘What’s in it for the reader?’
Blogging Mistake 3: Publishing Only for the Sake of Publishing
Many bloggers erroneously believe that they need to post daily, no matter what.
But publishing boring, hastily-written pieces won’t win you any followers.
Don’t waste space and don’t waste your readers’ time. Post to your blog when you have something of value to offer the world. Don’t post just for the sake of posting, as it tends to have the opposite of the intended effect.
It’s better to have one well-written post instead of five posts that were written solely to take up space.
Blogging Mistake 4: Writing for Search Engines Instead of Readers
We’ve all seen these posts: they’re packed with keywords and they offer virtually nothing of value — that is, if they’re even readable.
Don’t write for search engines in place or real, human readers. If you focus on the search engines and forget about the readers, your blog is going to rapidly drop to the bottom of the pile.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with adding in a few keywords here and there, but it cannot come at the expense of readability or appeal. Remember, Google values attributes that the reader’s value. So by writing in a way that appeals to real people, you’ll inherently be writing in a manner that will appeal to search engines.
Blogging Mistake 5: Writing to Achieve a Particular Word Count
Similar to mistake #3, it’s important to avoid writing just for the sake of achieving an arbitrary word count. Stated quite simply, don’t write 600 words if you can easily convey your message in 400 words.
More isn’t always better. Don’t publish the written equivalent of a never-ending rant. We don’t like listening to nonsensical rants; we don’t like reading them either.
In fact, the most talented writers can convey a message in a clear, concise manner. Practice word economy.
Blogging Mistake 6: Obscure Terminology
Don’t use large words just for the sake of using large words. And don’t use obscure terminology, either. It’s not a sign of intelligence; it’s a sign of an out-of-touch blogger who can’t write in a manner that resonates with the reader.
Now, this is where it’s important to know your audience. If you write in a niche where 90% of your readers will understand a certain bit of terminology or jargon, then there’s nothing wrong with using these terms.
But if a majority of your readers will be driven to ‘Google it’, it’s best to simplify matters.
In cases where you’re uncertain whether it’s appropriate to use jargon, niche-specific terminology or acronyms, dumb it down for the reader and provide a brief explanation. Your readers will thank you for it.
Blogging Mistake 7: It’s All Been Said Before
Don’t be cliche and don’t disappoint your readers with something that’s been said a million times before. You don’t want to disappoint your blog audience by leaving them with a ‘been there, done that’ feeling.
Bring something new and unique to the table. Explore a topic or argument in a new and original manner. Don’t re-hash something that’s been re-hashed by 7 million other bloggers. Your audience shouldn’t be left feeling like they’ve read it before. Blogging doesn’t have to be about perfect writing; its about getting your point across. An example of that would be our bigcommerce review.
Blogging Mistake 8: What’s Your Point?
There are few things worse than arriving at the end of a blog post or article only to be left wondering, ‘So what? What was the point?’
Equally annoying are articles where you’re unsure of the writer’s direction, stance or ‘point’ until the very end.
Your direction should be crystal clear from the get-go. And you should make your point long before the final paragraph.
Many writers avoid this problem by writing the conclusion first and writing the introduction last.
Blogging Mistake 9: You’re No Longer Passionate About Your Blog Topic
If you don’t care about a topic, it’s going to show in your writing. And if you don’t care, your audience isn’t going to care either.
The most popular blogs involve some sort of passion and enthusiasm; that passion is evident in the blogger’s work.
Some bloggers can rediscover their topic by interacting with readers, reading other blogs on the topic, or by using writing prompts. There are many ways to breathe new life into your topic. It’s a process of rediscovery.
That said, blogger burnout does occur on occasion. You feel like you’ve said it all and there’s nothing left to say. If this occurs, it may be best to walk away for a while (remember to tell your readers that you’re taking a break; don’t just disappear!)
If you can’t write with enthusiasm, don’t write at all.
Blogging Mistake 10: Tons of Errors
Grammatical errors, awkward sentence structure and typos really detract from your message. Take the time to read and re-read your writing. Refine and revise until it’s perfect.
Blogging Mistake 11: Your Blog is Void of Personality
You have a voice. Use it!
There are few things worse than a bland, boring blog post that lacks any sort of personality. The best writers convey a bit of their own personality in every piece that they write. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be likeable. Some of the most popular writers, bloggers and columnists are individuals whom we love to hate. Be lovable. Be despicable. Just be something. Otherwise, you end up with readers who feel indifference and indifferent readers aren’t going to make a return trip to your blog.
Bland, personality-less blogs are a dime a dozen. Blogs with flair, flavor and personality are the rare gems that we treasure.