The great thing about blogging is that anyone with a computer device and an internet connection can do it. The bad thing? Anyone with a computer device and an internet connection can do it.
The amount of competition your blog faces for attention is monumental. The upside of the “anyone can do it” issue is that, while it’s true, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to make it good.
A sloppy blog isn’t going to get followers, and worse, will make your company look less than competent. To stand out, your blog needs to have personality, appeal, and credibility.
All of these things are lost if you don’t craft your posts well. The biggest blogging pitfalls you’ve got to avoid if you want to stand out include:
The sky isn’t going to fall if your blog has an occasional (preferably rare) typo. It happens. But not using spellcheck before posting is unacceptable, especially since every writing tool from Microsoft Office to Google Docs has a built-in spellchecker.
Don’t mistake this point to mean that your posts should read like a college term paper.
Blog posts should be conversational in most cases, so using phrases or even slang that don’t follow strict grammar rules is OK (as long as you know how to use them correctly).
But posts with flat-out bad grammar are difficult to read and likely to have visitors hitting the back button. You can check your grammar as you write with the Grammarly extension.
Text That is Difficult For the Average Reader to Understand
In most cases, your blog audience will be regular folks looking for useful information. Speak plainly, without a lot of technical jargon — or, if you can’t avoid jargon, define it.
Keep sentences on the short side and don’t use complicated words when simple words will do. In general, your blog should read at about a grade 8 – 10 reading level. You can check the general readability on the Hemingway app.
This is a tricky one, because, when writing conversationally, sometimes it’s appropriate (again, you want to avoid sounding like a term paper). Still, and active voice often has more clarity.
Use Hemingway app too see if you use passive voice excessively, and adjust if necessary.
Probably the biggest turnoff for readers after bad spelling and grammar is phoniness.
Trying to sound hipper, younger, or smarter than you are will likely only make you look like you’re trying too hard. Blogging is meant to have a personal edge: Be yourself.
You’re the expert — be confident. Unless you’re writing a how-to, everything you say is your opinion, no need to stress that by over-using terms like “I think” and “in my opinion.” Writing with confidence gives you credibility.
A good blog post should be structured so that it’s easy on the eyes, both on web and mobile. Avoid long blocks of text, and break things up as much as possible with sections, numbered lists, and bullet points.
Posting Without Proofreading
Blogging is a relatively casual form of publishing, but you’re running a business blog, not a hobby or fan blog. Everything you post should be proofread and edited.
That means you should always have a second set of eyes on your posts, even after checking the post with a tool like Grammarly or Hemingway.
If you can afford a professional editor, great — but at the very least, you should be running your posts by an employee or partner.
Laying Out An Effective Blog Post
All effective blog posts have three main components: The title, the body, and the featured image.
Select a title that is appealing, search engine-friendly, and succinct. The title may seem like a small thing, but it can make or break your whole post. Once you’ve decided on a topic, think about what the post will offer.
Is it a how-to? A list? Advice? A Promotion? Word your title in a way that makes it clear. Originality isn’t what you should be going for here.
It can also be helpful to use a keyword research tool such a Google Adwords to find frequently-searched keywords. That’s a whole other post, but it can give your blog titles an edge. The title should never be an afterthought.
Plan out the body and text layout, keeping in mind that the text should be visually uncluttered and easy to read, even if a reader is skimming.
The body should be well-researched (your experience counts). Don’t say anything you can’t back up — for example, don’t say something vague like “studies show…” unless you can link to the studies in question.
Blog posts should be long enough to be useful, informative, or entertaining. A promotion post might be 350 words, while a tutorial or list can effectively exceed 1,000 words.
A featured image not only makes the blog look professional on the page, it also serves as a thumbnail image when the post is shared on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms. It should be visually appealing and of high quality.
Unless you’re blogging about your own products or something very specific, you can use stock photos.
There are lots of free stock photo archives out there that offer free photos without risking copyright infringement. Never just pull photos from Google Images — that can be an invitation for trouble.
Since this image is meant to draw people to your blog on social media, it doesn’t hurt to add the title itself, as well as your business URL, to the image. This can be done very quickly using Canva — you don’t even have to search for photos beforehand.
Finding Your Voice, Defining Your Content
So, you have the tools to create a pitfall-free, well-structured blog post — what about the actual content?
When you consider that you should be updating your blog at minimum a couple of times a week, you might start running out of ideas fast. Here are some ways you can keep your blog moving without publishing low value content:
- Keep up with what other blogs in your industry are talking about, and put your own take on it.
- Always stay on top of industry news, both for blog ideas and to keep your content fresh.
- Is there a new tool or website that might be of value to your readers? Try it out and blog about it.
- Readers love Top 10 lists — and with your expertise, they can be fairly easy to put together.
- Blog how tos for your products or products pertaining to your industry.
- Create contests to draw in new readers using a plugin such as Comment Contest.
- If your business is involved with any events, don’t let them go by without blog posts.
Most importantly, be natural and be confident. The more readers relate to you, the more they will want to come back. One last thing:
One of the quickest ways to make your professional blog look completely unprofessional is to lose your cool in the comments. When your readers comment, respond whenever possible, and be graceful about criticism.
Even online, you are providing customer service. If someone has an issue, address it, and, if possible, work to solve it.
Likewise, if someone takes the time to praise your business, don’t ignore them (unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to have more positive interaction than you can personally respond to — and even then, a mass acknowledgement is in order).
Maintaining a professional blog takes work, but it pays off. Once you get your blog running smoothly, you should be able to put out valuable content without a hitch.
Are you a business blogger? Share your blogging tips in the comments!
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