We all know how important blogging is to our business. People blog because they need to build up their brand, create a niche market (or enter an already existing one), reach out to a target audience, build a following, create buyers, make sales, retain customers, earn a profit, and ultimately achieve long-term success. At the same time, we also know how blogging can make or break a business. As more and more companies and individual bloggers like you and me come out every day trying to make a cut in the highly competitive and increasingly crowded online business space, it becomes all the more crucial to avoid some common mistakes that most make in the beginning. It is said that 90% of all internet business start-ups fold up within the first four months of the business itself, and one of the contributing factors to it is the mistakes the beginners make with blogging. When these mistakes happen, it becomes almost impossible to recover and stand up on our feet again. With the kind of technology we have at our disposal and the volume of information available on the internet, it’s all too easy to put up blogs. But we are not writing the blogs for our leisurely pursuits, are we? Blogs are just a means to an end and our end is to garner internet traffic in the hope that it leads to business conversions. And as beginners in the content marketing world, we may like to avoid the following common mistakes:
#1: Ill-defined target audience and blogging strategy
The first step to having a solid business foundation is a clearly-defined target audience and blogging strategy. We do not just start writing without knowing the audience for whom we are writing. Who is the audience? What information do we plan to impart to this audience? Their age group? Males, females or both? What is their problem and what solution do we plan to give them through our content?
To have a measure of success from early on, we need to know our target audience so that we could devise our blogging strategy accordingly. We cannot afford to have a neither-here-nor-there kind of brand positioning.
#2: No clear idea of the customer preferences
To be able to create compelling content, we need to know the preferences of our customers. Without knowing their preferences, we end up creating irrelevant content that is of no use to them. We also fail to understand what search terms they use which only makes it more difficult to come up with the right keywords.
#3: Complicated content
Most beginners make the mistake of equating complexity with sophistication and try to use uncommon words and imageries in an effort to spice up the content. Little do they know that it’s the simple message that wins in the end. We have no business of creating beautiful prose of the literary kind. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that people will buy our highly decorated content. Remember, we are dealing with a highly fickle crowd who will not think twice to click away to a different site at the slightest hint of a wordy content. Try to be precise and concise. As a blogger, it is your job to guide your audience and inspire them. Simplify things.
#4: Racing up to churn out posts daily
Another common blogging mistake is the thinking that one needs to publish daily to achieve a higher ranking in the search engines. Of course, regular post update is necessary but that does not mean we can put up any hammed up, recycled content and expect people to like it. If we write only to meet our blogging target and without giving any valuable information to our target audience, they are able to see through it. And if the frequency of these empty, ramblings increases, we would be only driving away the traffic and along with it our business. It’s not a race. Never make the mistake of undermining the intelligence of the audience.
#5: More emphasis on keywords than the actual value of the content
Keywords remain the cornerstone to the success of an online business and the beginners will be ill-advised to ignore them. However, it is seen that in our effort to create SEO-friendly posts, we tend to overthink keywords and give them more importance than they actually deserve. Keyword or keyword tool is an industry in itself which is an indicator of how much importance bloggers attach to them. While they are important, we should never forget that it is great content that comes through at the end of the day. When we try to create content purely for SEO and for the crawlers, we inevitably relegate the audience to a lesser priority. This also spells doom for our creativity. Our lack of honesty in our blogs becomes evident to the audience and despite good keywords being stuffed in them, the bounce rate of our page increases which we will never like. What use is traffic with a high bounce rate?
#6: Avoid superfluous writing
Nobody likes superfluous, wordy writing. Avoid jargon and bombastic words. A superfluous content sends out wrong signals about the authenticity of the writing and undermines the honesty of the writer. The aim of our blog is to create intrigue and arouse the interest of the readers by giving them valuable information. Let’s not stuff up our content with unnecessary words. People read our content to seek solutions to their problems. Time is scarce for them. Never make the mistake of testing their patience.
#7: Updating posts without proofreading
Always check your writing two-three times before publishing it. Edit your post to create an easier flow of words. Check for typos and grammatical mistakes. Remember, there will always be people who are a stickler for correct grammar and spellings. Typos are a big turn-off for many people and they are reflective of the carelessness of the business owner. This can create a dent in the trust of the site by the people. Consider at least three rounds of editing.
#8: There’s no personality in the blogs
There are thousands of bloggers writing on the same topic as you, and without your establishing a personality of your own, your blog is going to be just another writing in a sea of similar sounding posts. What is it about your writing that will make it sound different from the rest and stand out from the crowd? It is your voice in the writing. Be honest with what you say and it will show in your words. Instead of hamming it up, if you can write with conviction (which will come from honesty) and provide solutions, you will definitely connect with your audience and build up your own personality. Your blog should have an individuality of its own. Can you view topics from a new perspective? Can you come up with arguments to suggest a completely novel approach to what most people believe is right? Always remember, people will come back to read your posts for who you are and not because of the useful tips that you give.
#9: Promotion overkill
An overt promotion in your blogging will drive away customers instead of engaging them. Never make the mistake of sounding like a regular, aggressive salesman in your writing. People come to your site thinking that you are an authority in your niche and expecting some useful information there. But if you try to hard-sell your product or service through a string of sales pitches, you scare away your readers and in the process, you lose the advantage you had with your blogging efforts. However, this does not mean promotion is a no-no. It only means the promotion should be within the confines of an expert opinion offered on your blog.
#10: Thinking that people care about you as a writer
Other than the style of your writing and the valuable information in your content, people don’t care a hoot about your literary abilities. Most new bloggers think that the audience will be interested in their stories and their adventures, but the hard is fact is, they are not. When you are a newcomer, nobody is interested to know about you or your interests. It’s only what you can teach them and the new way of looking at things as evident in your blogs that people actually care about. Your impeccable diction is the last thing they have in their minds.
The bare facts about blogging
The internet is already full of information on any niche or topic that your target audience is looking for. They do not need another roundabout, recycled content that is difficult to tolerate even one paragraph. Do not underestimate the intelligence of your audience. They can sniff out the fake from the truth. They need you as their guide and as a trusted voice in the topic they are looking for.