It’s hard to ignore the buzz around blogging. Online marketers everywhere are preaching the benefits of providing fresh, interesting content on your blog as a means to attract and woo potential clients and customers.
And rightfully so.
A blog can be great for engaging your audience, building your authority and growing your business. But a blog isn’t going to do any of those things if when people see it they quickly click to escape the chamber of blogging horrors. For a blog to be effective, people need to find it, connect with it, and yes, actually read it.
So make sure you aren’t sabotaging your strategy by committing these six flagrant blogging blunders that send readers running.
Speaking to an audience that’s too broad
People like things that feel personal or intimate. They don’t like things that are generalized, generic, or inauthentic. So trying to talk to everybody through your blog will likely lead you to talking to nobody.
When you write your blog posts, put an image of one imaginary reader in your mind and write directly to him or her. Think of a family member or good friend. This will help you find an appropriate and consistent voice that sounds more authentic, natural, relatable, and readable.
Writing like it’s a research paper
When many business owners start blogging, they pull from their past writing experience. And for most people, that mainly involves academic writing. Those new bloggers tend to be terse and formal in their writing. But that isn’t what your blog needs — or what readers want.
Blog writing should be less conventional than traditional professional writing, so it’s better if you:
Make it conversational. Write like you are talking to a person.
Write in the first and second person. Use words like “I,” “we,” and “you.”
Break some rules. While not completely ignoring grammar and syntax best practices in your writing, remember you’re not bound by all of the rules. For example, it’s OK to start a sentence with a conjunction, end a sentence with a preposition, or throw in a phrase or sentence fragment here and there.
Use contractions. It’ll make your writing sound more natural.
Use simple terminology. Don’t fill your blog post with unnecessary adjectives or big words to sound smarter. Keep it simple and write for a reading level of about eighth grade. You can use an online tool like Readability-Score.com to see where your writing stands.
But again, always know your audience.
If you’re writing for high-level CEOs, kicking it up a notch and sticking to major rules might be in your best interest. For the most part, blogging isn’t like academic writing so you can relax. Loosen up the reigns on your desire to write an “A” paper and you’ll accomplish more and make your readers happier.
Abusing formatting features
Formatting, when used appropriately, can enhance your blog and grow your readership. On the flipside, formatting, when abused and overused, will send your audience running before they make it through the first sentence.
Never overuse formatting elements like:
- exclamation points
- colored fonts
- font styles
I know you want to get your point across. But NO ONE LIKES TO READ a sentence like this!!!!!!!!!!
It’s actually clearer when there are fewer distractions around your words.
Burying the main point, message, or takeaway
Readers like to scan content they read online. They want to take a look at a page and immediately find the main point of the post. So make the message easy to find by:
Writing short paragraphs. Break up about every 100 words with a line break. You can even go shorter. In blogging, it’s acceptable to write one-sentence paragraphs.
Using subheads. Break up every four to five text blocks with a subheading.
Giving vital information in subheads. Use your subheadings to share the meat of your post. Don’t write ones that are vague or ambiguous. Write clear information that guides the reader and delivers the messages they’re looking for.
Highlighting key takeaways. While you don’t want to go crazy with formatting, it’s acceptable to accent important or essential information with bold words or call-outs.
Your blog is competing with millions of other pieces of information online for your audience’s time. Make it easy for them to see why your content is relevant or interesting to them right away.
Over-promoting your business
Your business blog isn’t just a place for you to share news about your business, promotions you’re running, and reviews of your products and services. While you can sprinkle in posts that promote your business, a majority of your blog should be about engaging your audience by entertaining or educating them.
For your content, use the 80/20 Rule. Write 80 percent of your content to engage your audience. The other 20 percent can be about promoting or discussing your business.
Setting music or videos to play automatically
Please, no. Just don’t. Nothing makes people close out of a tab faster than the unpleasant surprise of blaring site music or the sound from a video they can’t find.
Ultimately, your blog simply should be a place where your audience enjoys visiting and wants to spend time. The more time they spend with your brand, the more likely they’ll be to return to you when they need a service or product you offer.
So create a useful, information-rich blog that is welcoming, friendly and comfortable to attract, rather than repel, valuable readers.