When online entrepreneurs talk about blogging, they usually think about all the ways it can help them. They wax nostalgic about traffic, sales, and their soon-to-be-achieved “expert status.” But what they often forget is that to gain traffic, revenue, and attention, you need to provide something your audience wants. If you’re focused on your business and what blogging can do for YOU, you’re going to alienate your readers and come off as a self-absorbed jerk, to put it mildly.
Here are the top five mistakes that bloggers make and how to avoid them:
- Thinking “What do I want to write?” vs. “What does my audience want to read?” It’s okay to include a few personal details or stories every so often. But keep in mind that your target market doesn’t care too much about your new car or your kitten’s celiac disease – unless it has a direct bearing on their life or the niche you’re writing about. If your website is about natural health cures for pets, then include the gory details of Fluffy’s gastrointestinal distress. Otherwise, focus on your readers’ biggest worries and problems and how you can solve them. Save the chit-chat for your therapist or your spouse.
- Taking “informal” too far. One of the biggest mistakes many bloggers make is to get carried away in their efforts to be informal, with the result that they appear downright unprofessional. By their very nature, blogs tend to be casual, based on conversation and interaction. Just don’t get sloppy. Be sure to check spelling and grammar, and capitalize words where. Think about it… Would you trust a brain surgeon who can’t be bothered to capitalize and punctuate properly?
- Becoming undependable. You don’t have to blog daily if you don’t want to, though you do have to blog consistently. If you blog fifteen times one week and then disappear for a month or two, you’ll appear flaky and disorganized. Instead, use the scheduling function on your blogging platform to set up a regular posting routine. If you want to sit down just once a month to write, that’s fine. But be sure to set up your posts so they appear on a regular schedule.
- Ignoring the interactive element of blogging. Blogs should be dialogues. You throw out the conversational ball, and your readers catch it and toss it back in the form of comments, e-mails, and even responses on their own blogs. If you write but don’t listen or respond, you’ll seem distant and unapproachable. It’s important that you care what your customers and readers have to say, or at least appear that way.
- Making your blog read like a press release. Customers love blogs because they believe they’re getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at your business. If everything you post reads like a corporate press release, no one is going to stick around. After all, they might as well read your annual report.
This doesn’t mean you need to air your dirty laundry in public, but you do need to give the occasional “behind the curtain” scoop. Share what you’re working on, the challenges you’re facing and how you’re overcoming them, and details about your process. Occasionally, you might even want to ask for advice on how to solve a minor business problem. Asking people to provide input helps them feel like part of the team and increases brand loyalty.
As you can see, these aren’t difficult concepts to grasp. You don’t have to write Pulitzer-winning prose or answer complex “meaning of life” questions. Instead, just be yourself – your best self! – and keep your readers’ interests in mind.