So for all of you beginner bloggers out there who are looking to get up-to-speed quickly, keep on reading. Below are 12 common mistakes most beginners make and some tips on how to avoid them.
Mistake 1: You think of ideas in a vacuum.
When you start blogging, ideas will come to you at random times — in the shower, on a run, while on the phone with your mom. While the ideas may come at random moments, the ideas themselves should never be random. Just because it’s a good idea in general doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your company.
Solution: Your blog posts should all serve larger company goals.
The reason you’re blogging is to grow your business, so all of your blog post ideas should help serve those growth goals. They should have natural tie-ins to issues in your industry and address specific questions and concerns your prospects have.
Mistake 2: Your writing’s too stiff.
Writing a blog post is much different than writing a term paper. But when bloggers first start out, they usually only have experience with the latter. The problem? The style of writing from a term paper is not the style of writing people enjoy reading.
Let’s be honest: Most of the people who see your post aren’t going to read the whole thing. If you want to keep them interested, you have to compel them to keep reading by writing in a style that’s effortless to read.
Solution: Write like you talk.
It’s okay to be more conversational in your writing — in fact, we encourage it. The more approachable your writing is, the more people will enjoy reading it. People want to feel like they’re doing business with real people, not robots.
So loosen up your writing. Throw in contractions. Get rid of the jargon. Make a pun or two. That’s how real people talk — and that’s what real people like to read.
Mistake 3: You think people care about you as a writer.
It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth: When people first start out blogging, they think that their audience will be inherently interested in their stories and their interests … but that’s not the case. It’s no knock against them as a person — it’s just that when you’re new, no one is interested in you and your experiences. People care way more about what you can teach them.
Solution: Show your personality; don’t tell it.
Even though people don’t really care that it’s you that’s writing the post, you can infuse parts of your personality in your writing to make them feel more comfortable with you. How you do that is entirely up to you. Some people like to crack jokes, some like to make pop culture references, and others have a way with vivid descriptions.
Mistake 4: Your topics are too broad.
When people start blogging, they generally want to write on really big topics like:
• “How to Do Social Media Marketing”
• “Business Best Practices”
• “How to Make Money on the Internet”
Topics like these are far too broad. Because there are so many details and nuances in these topics, it’s really hard to do a good job answering them. Plus, more specific topics tend to attract smaller, more targeted audiences, which tend to be higher quality and more likely to convert into leads and customers.
So, to get the most short-term and long-term benefits of blogging, you’ll need to get way more specific.
Solution: Create very specific working titles.
The working title isn’t final — it’s just a concrete angle you can use to keep your writing on track. Once you nail those two things, it’s much easier to write blog posts.
Mistake 5: Your writing is a brain dump.
Sometimes when I get a great idea I’m excited about, it’s really tempting to just sit down and let it flow out of me. But what I get is usually a sub-par blog post.
Why? The stream-of-consciousness style of writing isn’t really a good style for blog posts. Most people are going to scan your blog posts, not read them, so it needs to be organized really well for that to happen.
Solution: Use a specific post type, create an outline, and use headers.
The first thing you should do is choose what type of blog post you’re going to write. Is it a how-to post? A list-based post? A curated collection post? A SlideShare presentation?
Writing an outline makes a big difference. If you put in the time up front to organize your thoughts and create a logical flow in your post, the rest becomes easy — you’re basically just filling in the blanks.
To write a blog post outline, first come up with a list of the top takeaways you want your readers to get from your post. Then, break up those takeaways into larger section headers. When you put in a section header every few paragraphs, your blog post becomes easier and more enjoyable to read.
Mistake 6: You don’t use data as evidence.
Let’s say I’m writing a blog post about why businesses should consider using Instagram for marketing. When I’m making that argument, which is more convincing?
1. “It seems like more people are using Instagram nowadays.”
2. “Instagram’s user base is growing far faster than social network usage in general in the U.S. Instagram will grow 15.1% this year, compared to just 3.1% growth for the social network sector as a whole.”
The second, of course. Arguments and claims are much more compelling when rooted in data and research. As marketers, we don’t just have to convince people to be on our side about an issue — we need to convince them to take action. Data-driven content catches people’s attention in a way that fluffy arguments do not.
Solution: Use data and research to back up the claims you make in your posts.
Mistake 7: You think you’re done once the writing’s done.
Most people make the mistake of not editing their writing. It sounded so fluid in their head when they were writing that it must be great to read … right?
Nope — it still needs editing. And maybe a lot of it.
Solution: Take 30 minutes to edit your piece.
Everyone needs to edit their writing — even the most experienced writers. Most times, our first drafts aren’t all that great. So take the time you need to shape up your post. Fix typos, run-on sentences, and accidental its/it’s mistakes. Make sure your story flows just as well as it did in your outline.
Mistake 8: You try to make every post perfect.
I hate to break it to you, but your blog post is never going to be perfect. Ever.
There will always be more things you can do to make your posts better. More images. Better phrasing. Wittier jokes. The best writers I know, know when to stop obsessing and just hit “publish.”
Solution: At a certain point, just ship the post.
Mistake 9: You don’t blog consistently.
By now, you’ve probably heard that the more often you blog, the more traffic you’ll get to your website — and the more subscribers and leads you’ll generate from your posts. But as important as volume is, it’s actually more important that you’re blogging consistently when you’re just getting started. If you publish five posts in one week and then only one or two in the next few weeks, it’ll be hard to form a consistent habit. And inconsistency could really confuse your subscribers.
Solution: Use an editorial calendar.
Use it to get into the habit of planning your blog post topics ahead of time, publishing consistently, and even scheduling posts in advance if you’re finding yourself having a particularly productive week.
Mistake 10: You concentrate your analytics on immediate traffic.
Both beginner bloggers and advanced bloggers are guilty of this blogging mistake. If you concentrate your analysis on immediate traffic (traffic from email subscribers, RSS feeds, and social shares), then it’s going to be hard to prove the enduring value of your blog. After all, the half-life for those sources is very brief — usually a day or two.
When marketers who are just starting their business blogs see that their blog posts aren’t generating any new traffic after a few days, many of them get frustrated. They think their blog is failing, and they end up abandoning it prematurely.
Solution: Focus on the cumulative potential of organic traffic.
Over time, as you write more evergreen content and build search authority, those posts will end up being responsible for a large percentage of your blog traffic. It all starts with a slight shift in perspective from daily traffic to cumulative traffic so you can reframe the way you view your blog and its ROI entirely.
Content courtesy of HubSpot Marketing