by Edie Melson @EdieMelson
Blogging can be a great way to build a platform and connect with our audience—if we do it right. Doing it wrong can often do more harm than good.
- Not having a focus for your blog.One of the first things beginners do is write posts about anything they’re interested in. They assume by having a little bit of everything, they’ll appeal to a wider audience. Actually the opposite is true. Blog visibility is built through SEO – search engine optimization. (Meaning where a post or site shows up in an internet search.) When we write about everything, search engines don’t know how to categorize the site because there’s no consistency or focus. So we’ll show up toward the bottom of a search.
- Not following a schedule.Beginning a blog is a lot like opening a business. Our readers are like our customers. They expect us to show up on a regular basis. When our business doesn’t keep regular hours (posting on a schedule) then our customers drift away. There are just too many other sites that have regularly updated content for our readers to stay loyal to one that doesn’t. Beyond that, we expect our readers to visit regularly. Isn’t it reasonable for them to expect the same thing from us?One note: I recommend you begin slowly—posting once or twice a week. It’s easier to keep a schedule when it’s reasonable and blogging every day is tough to sustain.
- Not using Your name as the site URL.I know, most of you know me through my site, www.thewriteconversation.blogspot.com. This is an instance of please learn from my mistake. I should have opened that blog under www.EdieMelson.com. It would have given me strong name recognition from the start and would have been much easier. Trust me, this is experience speaking. It’s fine to have a cool blog name, but give use your name for the URL.
- Not spending enough time on blog post titles. I spend as much or more time coming up with a blog title than I do writing the entire post. It’s that important. We want our blog post titles to be as close as possible to something someone would type into a search engine to find our post. For this post, I could have chosen something catchier for a title, like DON’T MAKE THESE MISTAKES. But that’s not something someone would type into a search engine if they were trying to find out what blogging mistakes to avoid. It’s fine to be clever with your headings or in the body of the post. When you make sure your post title works with the search engine, you’ll rise to the top faster.
- Not having a way to subscribe. We all want our audience to return again and again to read our posts. The best (and often only) way to ensure that is by having them subscribe to your blog. You need a way for them to subscribe through email sign ups and through RSS. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what RSS is (it’s a way of reading blogs through something called a reader). You still need a way to sign up for those who only use readers. Generally that’s about thirty percent of your audience.
- Not having a way to follow you on social media in your sidebar. People like to connect in many ways—one of the big ones is through social media. This isn’t the little buttons that often show up at the end of a post. What I’m talking about is a way for the to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Not including an image at the top of your post. It doesn’t have to stretch across the entire top of your post, but every post should have an image in line with the beginning of the text—like this post does. This gives a welcoming feel to your post and keeps the page from feeling like an entire page of text. It also helps to include the title of the post on the image (called a meme). If you’re not sure how to do that, here’s a screencast on how to add text to images.
- Not keeping the posts short enough. We are all way too busy, and that includes the audience we’re trying to connect with. If we offer them long posts, they’re less likely to read them. The optimum length is between 600 and 800 words. If they’re longer than that, consider breaking them into parts.
- Not ending a post with an open-ended question or call to action.Most of us want people to comment on our posts. It’s our responsibility to start that conversation ball rolling. By asking a question, we give them something to respond to. If your posts are more devotional in nature, often a call to action or request to share a similar experience work just as well.
- Not breaking up the text with images, bold headings, bullet points, and lists.People are more likely to read a post if they can scan it first to make sure it’s relevant to their situation. Learn how to format posts with the computer and mobile reader in mind.
- Short sentences.
- Short paragraphs.
- Bold headings, bullet points, numbered lists.
- Sans Serif fonts.
- Images that illustrate, instead of break up, the text.
These are ten common mistakes that will keep your blog from success. Avoid them and it’s much easier to rise to the top in a world with millions of blogging options.
What are some things you wish you’d done differently when you began blogging? Or what are somethings you wish others would do differently? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent fiction – Alone, and nonfiction – While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and has just been named as one of the 2017 Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, as well as the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine.