Running a blog is hard work. So it’s no wonder that a lot of people who start blogs quit within the first three months (source).
After blogging for eighteen months, I can see why this is true. There is a lot more to blogging than simply, well, blogging. This is something I learnt on my own, through my own journey. I've learnt that there are some quite simple things we can do to help our blogs be more professional. Most of us aren't even aware of them. I came across articles which included almost 20 mistakes you could be making with your blog. But I didn't want to give you an endless list. I wanted to pick out the key things that you could be missing out on. The things you can start working on today. My hope is that by identifying these mistakes, you can then work on them and improve them. This will be key to your success in the long-run.
#1 You're Not Attracting People with Your Headlines
Your headline is arguably more important than the body content of your blog post. I know some of you will be shaking your head at this. We put a lot of effort into writing valuable content for our readers. Why would the headline need more thought put into it?
I shared some data in a recent post that is relevant here. 80% of people will read your headline. But only 20% of people will read the rest of your content (source).
That's a huge difference in numbers. This is the secret to how powerful a headline is. It just goes to show how much it determines the effectiveness of a piece of content. So 80% of the success of your blog post depends on the headline.
When I first started blogging, I remember planning my headlines around song lyrics. Music is a huge passion of mine and I thought I'd be bringing something different to the community. That only lasted for a few weeks. Turns out you can still provide something different whilst offering a great headline.
We know our headlines need to convey what the blog post is going to be about. But also without giving too much away. So if we're writing about blogging on a budget, we don't want to be cryptic. What's most effective is to get the words 'blogging' and 'budget into your headline.
I think it would be useful to give you an example here. “How To Start Your Editorial Calendar From Scratch” is a great headline for a few reasons:
• It's intriguing
• It's a ‘how-to’
• It includes the keywords "editorial calendar", which is what the post is all about
It's not difficult to create a great headline.
CoSchedule's headline analyser does all the hard work for you.
It makes creating headlines the easiest thing in the world. It will set up the rest of your content to make sure it's read.
Why Not Try This?
- Next time you're coming up with headlines for your content, use the headline analyser. You'll never create headlines in the same way again.
#2 You're Blogging Without A Purpose
The blogging community is amazing. But unfortunately, we still come across people who start a blog because everyone else is doing it. These people are obvious. So are the ones who blog just for followers. If that’s what someone needs to gain from blogging, they’re not a true part of the community. We don’t appreciate the comments that go “Great post! Check out my link.” We appreciate those who leave thoughtful comments, and those who we interact with.
A question to ask yourself throughout your blogging journey is “Why do you blog?” If you keep repeating the answer to yourself, your purpose will shine throughout everything you create. Clarity is the first step to achieving success, whatever success means to you. This separates the serious people from the amateurs.
Why Not Try This?
- Every time you sit down to create a blog post, answer the question “why do you blog?” Having this in mind will help your purpose come through in your content. It’s what makes you unique.
#3 You Don't Have an Ideal Reader in Mind
Who are we writing for? Ourselves, search engines or our readers? We sort of have to write for all three, search engines being the least important. So who's the most important? Ourselves or our readers?
We can write what we want to write. Writing what we'd want to read is a key ingredient in the creation of content. But I think knowing who you are creating for makes this work much more clearer and easier to accomplish. Is it enough to say your ideal readers are people who want to read what you have to say? I don't think so.
This was actually mentioned in a Twitter chat hosted by a lovely blogger called Jen recently. The general feeling was that this is important but can be quite a long process. But I think it pays off so much to really hone in on your ideal reader. If we write for everyone, we'll end up writing for no one. Having an ideal reader and picturing them in our minds is so useful. We can become more connected to the content we're creating and pushing out and this will come across. Your readers might fall into a few categories. But I think what really brings them together as a group is purpose. What do they want? What do they go to your blog for? There are many ways to find your ideal reader.
Why Not Try This?
- Go through Jen's post that I mentioned above and work your way through the questions she asks. You'll find that your ideal reader is much clearer to you at the end.
#4 You're Not Providing Resources or Backing up Your Content with Sources
Say you start talking about something your reader doesn't understand. What are they likely to do? They'll probably do a Google search about what you just mentioned. This takes them away from your site. But if you included a link to a web page teaching your reader something, they would be more grateful. And you'd be keeping them on your site.
For me, long form content with resources will be much more worthwhile for me than a 500 word blog post. But what's becoming even more important now is sources. People want proof and Google wants proof. Which is why recently, I've started trying to add more facts into my content. I've actually found it to help the professionalism of my blog. I feel more serious as a creator, simply by starting this new feature.
Why Not Try This?
- Next time you’re creating a piece of content, try to find at least once source that backs up what you’re talking about. Or create a worksheet that would be beneficial to your readers. You might find it keeps them coming back more.
Could you practice these more in your blogging process? Do you notice any other mistakes?
Wondering how to be found online?