There are a lot of things you can do to make your blog successful; there are also a lot of things not to do on your blog. So far during this series we’ve remained pretty positive, focusing on all the key this you can do to make blogging a successful endeavor for you. Now, let’s try framing it another way.
Sometimes it takes a different perspective to really drive a point home. So, here’s my list of what NOT to do on your blog, both for your own blogging success and your readership’s sanity.
1. Have a cluttered, busy, unprofessional design.
I listed this first because you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that’s exactly what your design is: A first impression. If it’s clunky, garish, has a ton of erroneous content in the sidebars, lacks branded social media icons or your header is fuzzy, it’s time for a makeover. Most bloggers want people to actually, read their content, leave a comment or two and ultimately return when they publish new content. If you make a bad first impression with a messy design, your audience will simply click away and find another site that looks (and feels) better. Make sure your design reflects you and your brand yet simultaneously appeals to the audience you want to reach – your blog will grow and so will your following.
2. Neglect comments.
Ouch. Neglecting comments is akin to neglecting your house guests. Imagine someone takes time out of their busy schedule to swing by and say hello, all the while you just lay there on the couch like a bump on a log, watching television, scratching your ass. How rude is that?! Replying to comments in a timely fashion shows that you care about the people who stop in to see you and that you appreciate them. If you want a blog that generates any kind of loyalty (and if you want a successful blog, you do) you have to make sure that you validate your guests. It’s your house – be the hostess!
3. Post terrible photographs.
This is especially important for food, fashion or travel related blogs but really applies to everyone. It isn’t difficult to learn how to take decent pictures. In fact, it’s quite simple. They don’t have to be terribly elaborate with a ton of props and professionally lit staging areas – but they should be better than the pictures I took when I first started blogging. With a little planning, you can go from producing images that look dark and unappealing to photographs that entice people to read your written content.. And once you start taking better pictures, you can also benefit from websites like Pinterest and Instagram – both can be highly influential in driving traffic to your website.
4. Publish sporadically.
I have a good friend who has told me on multiple occasions that if she clicks onto a blog that hasn’t updated in over a week, she won’t return. Now, she may represent the more impatient (love you) of readers, but it’s a signal of how often you should post and what I tell my clients: Aim for once a week, on the same day every week – be consistent. Your audience wants to know what to expect from you. Posting sporadically not only negates any authority, trust or influence you might have with your audience, but it also causes them to not check back = they don’t return. It might suit you to post every day, a couple times a week, once a week or even once a month – the key is to be consistent!
5. Allow spelling or grammatical errors to slip though.
(Special thanks to Lindsey for pointing this one out!) Bloggers communicate through writing. One of the most disrespectful ways to speak with your audience is to not take the time to edit. We can’t get it perfect every time and mistakes will happen. That’s okay. But regularly missing this stuff just because you couldn’t be bothered to read, edit, re-read, edit, re-read, edit and re-read will just show that you don’t care. And if you don’t care, why should we?
6. Have really long run on life stories that take forever to read.
I mean this in two ways:
- A. Really long posts full of content no one cares about. Stay on topic. More or less.
- B. Big giant pieces of text without breaks. You can break in many ways that will make your content much more easy to read and more interesting like bullet points, pictures, simple space breaks… Your post might be a mother-whopping 3000 words but if it’s broken up into smaller segments, it’s much more manageable for your audience.
7. Write in a really “professional” voice so you sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Bitch, please. People want to be spoken with, not at. Writing in a conversational way is more pleasant to read, empowers others and ultimately gets you return visitors. It’s not an easy thing to do, but with time, you can build up a loyal following and be viewed as a trusted resource in your field by writing in ways that engage with your audience rather than trying to set yourself above them.
8.. Ignore SEO best practices (namely, the in-post meta-description and title).
I’ve said this before in this series but WP offers a free plugin – WordPress SEO – that makes your life as a blogger (and not so expert SEOer) much easier. Blogger, on the other hand, is a little more tricky. There is a description area in the editor and you should definitely fill it out. I wrote an article on SEO that explicates this better than I’ll go into here. The point is, if you ignore SEO best practices, you won’t move up in the Google search.
9. View other bloggers as competition.
This is the quickest way to make what should be an opportunity to connect into an alienating and lonely experience. Plus it’s just bad form. There’s no reason to be petty or competitive; There is plenty of traffic to go around. Not only does aligning yourself with other bloggers create community, it also:
- Allows for good in-post SEO through linking to other quality content.
- Create yourself as an “authority” voice in your niche.
- Coaxes others to your blog to increase traffic.
- Provides a chance to practice your networking skills & discover new personal and professional opportunities.
- Avoids plagiarism.
- Gives credit where credit is due.
- Generates creativity.
- Generates new content for your readers in ways you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
Be true to yourself, help each other out, connect and build the community – it’s better for everyone.
10. Pretend that social media doesn’t exist.
Moving from your blog to the larger social arena, I have to pay note to social media. What’s the point of working so hard if no one is going to see it? If your blog is solely for you, that’s fine – but if you’re reading this article right now and managed to get through all my rambling to reach point 10, chances are, you want to reach someone out there. And if that’s the case, you’ve gotta put in the extra work to get to them. Sharing your own content on these forums isn’t going to be enough, you’ll need to engage with them in a strategic and meaningful way. And be patient. This kind of marketing takes investment – time, if you’re going to do it yourself, or money, if you’re willing to hire someone to train or do it for you. It will pay off – I promise. Just stick with it. Just like blogging!
What do you think? What are the blogging faux pas in your opinion? What shouldn’t we do on our blogs? Do you agree with my points? Disagree? Be social and share your comments below!
In the meantime, read:
- Part 1: 10 Reasons Why You Need A Blog
- Part 2: 7 Easy Steps to Start A Blog
- Part 3: How To Create A Blog Schedule (Free Printables!)
- Part 4: How to Write Great Shit (& Own It!)
- Part 5: How to Build Your Blog Audience
- Part 6: 10 Things your Blog Should Definitely Have (Free Infographic!)
- Part 7: Keep Your Blog Fresh!
- Part 8: What NOT To Do To Your Blog
- Part 9: Beyond Blogging: What To Do Moving Forward
- Part 10: How to Do It: Free Ebook for Entrepreneurs, Bloggers and Brands!