Whether you’re doing it as a hobby or as part of your job, blogging can be tough. Everyone and his grandma has a blog these days. It becomes more and more difficult to get yourself noticed, regardless of how many times you tweet the link or post it to Facebook. Sure, your mom might be reading your blog along with a handful of your friends, but what about people you don’t know? What about people in your industry?
Blogging success doesn’t happen overnight, and everyone measures it differently. Some sites are disappointed if they don’t hit a million unique views every month, while others are excited to get a few hundred thousand. Bloggers like me (and maybe like you) get excited over numbers that are much, much smaller than that.
The key to building a readership that keeps coming back is to give them a positive experience when visiting your blog. This includes everything from layout to readability to your interaction, and beyond. Those successful bloggers that you admire so much didn’t get to the top by spending fifteen minutes every month or so typing into WordPress and immediately hitting “Publish.” They honed their craft because, essentially, that’s what blogging is.
If you want to get yourself on the path to blogging success, for every step you should take, there’s another you should avoid. Below are five common mistakes that bloggers make. Lots of bloggers, in fact (because none of us are perfect, right?). So if you find yourself thinking, “Hey, I do that,” you’re in good company. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad blogger. It just means that you, like me and everyone else, have something to work on.
5 Common Blogging Blunders
1. Poor Writing Skills
I’ve said it before and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. Yes, we all make mistakes, and yes, typos happen. Even when we proofread, we sometimes miss things. However…
Don’t: Accept that your posts will have mistakes and take the mindset that your audience will just have to deal with it if you can’t find someone to clean it up for you.
Do: Proofread your posts. Always. If you’re unsure about the spelling of a word, Google it. I promise you the correct spelling will show up in the results. If you’re not sure about grammar, try a site like Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips. She also has a number of books available for desk reference. I recommend Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing. (Those aren’t affiliate links, by the way. I’m just a Grammar Girl enthusiast!)
2. Excess Negativity and Criticism
One of the greatest things about blogging (and all social media, really) is the ability to make your voice heard. It’s an outlet for you to share your thoughts, and along with that, your criticism. But a little bit of that goes a long way with most people.
Don’t: Use every post as a place to rip other people/bloggers/businesses apart.
Do: Learn the difference between criticism and constructive criticism. Constructive criticism won’t be laden with sarcasm and negativity. It will be focused on improvement and how people can better themselves. It won’t be focused on how they can stop ruining your life by doing all of these stupid things all the freakin’ time. That’s just being a jerk.
3. Distracting Images
This can include images that don’t seem to mesh with the post, but I’m thinking more along the lines of physical placement.
Don’t: Place an image after every few sentences. If you have an 800 word post with thirteen images, you’ve used too many.
Do: Use images wisely. Including a picture greatly increases your odds of someone reading your post. The trick is in breaking up the text every so often with a left- or right-aligned image and the text wrapping around it so as not to break the flow. Save centered images for charts, infographics, and other informational visuals.
4. Attention to Detail
Sometimes you run across blogs where, in one post, all headings will be bolded black, but in the next, they’re all underlined red. Sometimes they’re written in serif fonts and other times in sans serif. Readers don’t know what to expect.
Don’t: Be inconsistent or give your readers any reason to wonder what it is you’re trying to achieve.
Do: Choose your own personal style guide for your site, including layout, fonts, color schemes, and so on. Keep things consistent for your readers. It might not seem like much, but that attention to detail can convey a world of professionalism.
5. Being a Jerk in Your Outreach
There’s a well-known, well-liked “authority” blogger with whom I’ve had the misfortune of interacting exactly three times. The first time, he told me I was a disappointment. The second time, he told me my ideas were impossible. The third time, he talked down to me like I was asking stupid questions just to waste his time for fun. There’s more context, but this is an example, not a story. Needless to say, I unfollowed him on Twitter and have no intention to visit his blog ever again.
Don’t: Be a jerk to people or let success turn you into an egomaniac. Everyone is busy and might not have time to dwell on every detail of the wonder that is you. Don’t fault them for that.
Do: Be kind to people. Even if you disagree, thank them for their thoughts and move on. Have you ever heard of Margie Clayman? If not, you have now. I read her blog all the time, not just because she writes great posts (she does!), but largely because she’s such a nice person. That’s what drew me to her blog in the first place. Kindness is a better outreach method than a superiority complex will ever be.
What blogging blunders would you add to this list? What are some of your personal Dos and Don’ts?