Some tough love in this post, but these are common mistakes I see people make that are new (and maybe not so new to blogging for business!)
The good news, you can easily fix these up, today!
1. Your blog posts are too random and don’t follow a plan
When you first start your blog, you might struggle a little to get into a good planning rhythm, so often I find that new bloggers tend to find blog post ideas quite randomly. i.e. out walking, in the shower, Friday night drinks etc. Whilst this is great and you should totally run with these ideas, they need to be written with a clear purpose in mind.
Your posts should be aligned with one of your business goals and written in line with a content calendar or marketing campaign timetable so that you can maximize their impact as well as extend their reach via your social channels.
All of your good ideas should also be very customer centric - ie written from the point of view of your customers. This blog post here is an example of that - I am focussing a post that highlights 5 blogging errors I see small business make that they can actually change really quickly. It is also following on reasonably quickly from a blog on creating a content calendar. All of these tie in with my overall theme at the start of the year of planning a digital marketing strategy and looking broadly at simple tips you can use to start off on the right path.
A good way to help keep your blog post in a strategic sequence is when you have these great ideas - just right down the idea and a few bullet points if you can. A google doc is a great place to do this. Then they are always handy to find and refer to.
2. You deviate from your topic.
When working with business owners who first start blogging for their business, they often only see a blog and what it is, through the blogs that they currently follow. Often these blogs are lifestyle blogs.
So there is often lots of fitness guides, recipes, snippets of family life or the day to day running around being shared. This is perfect if you have a lifestyle business or see yourself as a potential influencer (think health & fitness, childcare, fashion, beauty etc.) but this not appropriate if you are blogging for a traditional b2b business or a retail business.
When I follow a blog - in personal or business life, I do so because that person is an expert on that topic or has something to teach me. So if I follow a fashion blogger - I expect fashion, I don’t really want to know about books they read or recipes they like.. I prefer that they stick to their zone of genius. They may from time to time share other people’s posts, they may post some of this stuff on their social media channels, but I expect that their blog will be just about fashion.
Your blog is your chance to lay out the case for what it is you do, how you do it, why they need it, how you can fix/solve/help them with whatever their question is.
Blogging allows you to share your knowledge.
So don’t think it is boring. If your business is selling & installing toilets, there are plenty of people who need to know the ins and outs of the decision-making process before they buy one. This is who you are speaking too. At that point in time, when you are responding to a need, your blog post will be really interesting!
3. You are oversharing - Tell some of your story but not ALL of your story.
The best blogs reveal something of the person writing them. But they don’t set out to do that - it tends to just happen. Often this happens from a technique called storytelling (read more about it here - http://www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2015/10/16/6-tips-to-telling-a-better-business-story/#16a1d8e3109b ). It is where you seek to outline how a process works, but you use a story from your life that people can relate to. I used this technique recently in this blog post on holiday planning and digital marketing planning is the same.
So it is great to tell stories of your life as long as they are being used as an analogy that helps explains something to your community. Because not everyone is super interested in your life. Not everyone will be super interested in your marketing message - but a good story, that is more likely to garner interest but stay focussed on your core offer/product.
4. You aren’t reading your blog out loud.
If a blog passes the read out loud test - it is a good blog post.
What’s the read out loud test? Well, write something and then read it out loud. Read what you actually typed. Make sense? No? - then fix it up and read it out loud again.
This simple process is great for new bloggers as often what we think we write/type and what actually comes out are 2 different things.
5. You aren’t reading similar blogs in your space and you are not researching blog topics online.
First time bloggers often don’t know the little secret that other bloggers know. Most things in your space have been written about before!
Yep - they have…
So before you start writing on a topic make sure that you
- Research online on your blog topic and
- Follow people in your space to see what they are blogging about.
This way you can flesh out your ideas, maybe find others and critique what has been already written so that you can get more insight about key phrases, style, tone, seo points, headings, images - lots and lots of cues that will make you a better blogger.
This is how everyone does it. This is how you learn. Read other people. As much as you can.
One last tip and this is my favourite - don’t over think what you are doing.
We are not up for a Pulitzer prize here. The agonizing I see people go through over writing a blog post is crazy. Just do it. We all start somewhere, we all get better. Just share what you know and put it out in the world and worry less.
I am sure it will be great - and if you pick up some tips from this post - I am sure it will be even better.
Check out my past post on Creating a blog post your customers will actually read here