The benefits of having a business blog are immense — your blog is a source of traffic, a spot where people can interact, and a means to build your authority as an expert in your field.
At least is should be. Many business owners who run their own blogs see little traffic or interaction, leaving their reputation unchanged.
When it comes to blogging, there a lot of things that can make or break you, and it’s all too easy to do things you shouldn’t and not do the things you should.
Who decides what you should and shouldn’t do as a blogger? Google, for one. Blogs that don’t offer high quality, engaging content that abides by current SEO best practices get low rankings.
But beyond that, the applied practices of successful bloggers have demonstrated what you should and shouldn’t do — virtually all successful bloggers follow these do’s and don’t’s, whether they make a point to or not.
The Do’s of the Most Successful Bloggers
Do Show Personality
People keep coming back to their favorite blogs because they like the blogger — maybe they’re relatable, or an expert with a sense of humor, or a great storyteller.
Finding your blogging “voice” can be one of the biggest challenges of successful blogging. One way to start is to simply write they way you talk — not the way you were taught to write an essay in school.
That doesn’t mean no structure, just that no one is going to go out of their way to read a blog that sounds like a term paper or an instruction manual.
Do Be Consistent
Consistency is key to keeping readers interested. Consistency in your style and voice, consistency in your advice, and consistency in your schedule.
That last one can’t be overstated — if you post on an inconsistent basis, you’ll lose regular readers.
If it’s a challenge for you to post regularly, ideally at least a couple of times a week, make a spreadsheet with a list of evergreen blog post ideas (ie posts that stay fresh for a long time because the information isn’t timely), create as many posts as you can, and queue them to post at a regular designated time.
If you have a team, this is even easier.
Do Check Your Facts
People have a tendency to believe what they read on the internet — but if what they read turns out not to be true, the credibility of the source is tarnished. This is especially true for bloggers, who aren’t quality-controlled by anyone but themselves.
Any time you repeat a fact you’ve heard, do a quick Google search or check Snopes to make sure you’re not spreading a falsehood.
Never put statistics on your blog without a link to the source — another blog post doesn’t count. If you can’t find the source of a statistic, whether it sounds right or is unexpected, ditch it.
Your reputation can’t afford to have you looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about, or, worse, like you’re spreading falsehoods to support an agenda.
Do Offer Something Unique
Being “unique” on the Internet is a challenge. If you go too far trying to be different from your peers, you risk pushing people away.
Think about those over-the-top websites from the ‘90s, complete with animated backgrounds, glitter-trailing pointers, and autoplay music files (and if you don’t remember such websites, yes, even some business and product sites delivered sensory overload, like the still active dgraph software site below)
Over-the-top websites were an attempt to stand out from the crowd, but usually they just gave visitors a headache. Trying too hard to be different or to stand out can backfire.
Instead of trying to come up with a unique hook, think about how you do things differently in the first place. Your company isn’t identical to your competitors — what is it about you that is already unique? Take it from there.
It’s not about being the biggest attention grabber, but being the business that fits an underserved need.
Do Share Your Expertise
You may be hesitant to dole out free expert advice on your blog. After all, you’d rather they hire you first, then ask questions.
But giving out free advice — within reason — can be terrific for your business. It helps to build your reputation as an expert in your industry, it gives you an opportunity to interact directly with readers, and it gives readers something of value that they can, in turn, share with their friends, increasing your reach.
Do Check Spelling and Grammar
This one should be a no-brainer, but (trust me!) it’s easy to click publish before realizing you’ve skipped that crucial step.
One way to make sure you don’t miss typos is to use an extension like Grammarly, which highlights spelling and grammar errors as you go. The red and green lines are so annoying you’ll never forget to spellcheck again.
That’s a good thing, because spelling and grammar contribute to the quality of the content, and Google doesn’t like low-quality content.
Do Stick With It
It’s easy to get frustrated after posting a few regular blogs and seeing little to no activity on them, even after sharing on social media. Your following won’t be instant.
But if you keep posting good, effective, valuable content and keep working to put it in front of the people who can use it, you’ll see progress.
As soon as you dial it back because it seems like it’s not worth it, you’re giving up on your own growth — and, yes, future revenue.
Most blog platforms like WordPress have options that will alert you by email if anyone posts a comment to your blog.
These alerts allow you to review comments before posting if you have moderation turned on, but they’re also great for letting you know that you need to read and reply to a reader.
Replying to comments makes you an active, engaged blogger who readers will come to trust, especially if you respond to questions and other issues quickly.
Do Show Gratitude
When you’ve gained a following and an interactive community on your blog, even a small one, show them some love.
Give them coupon codes, free ebook downloads, sneak peeks at new products, etc, just to say thanks. Appreciated readers are readers who are likely to sing your praises to their friends.
At the same time, don’t fall into these blog-damaging habits:
The Don’ts of Successful Bloggers
Don’t Use Images Without Permission
As a business and a professional, you should always, always respect copyrights, no matter how much you love that photo you found on Google Images.
If you can’t get permission to use a found photo, don’t use it.
Instead, obtain all of your images from legal sources, including paid stock photo sites, free stock photo sites, and Flickr, which allows you to search photos by Creative Commons license, which allows you to use photos with credit to the photographer for free.
To find Creative Commons photos, search by keyword then select Creative Commons from the License drop down on the left (see below)
Don’t Mislead Your Audience
We talked about fact-checking above; your followers finding out you’re a sloppy fact checker is humiliating — your followers finding out you intentionally misled them can be reputation ruining.
Don’t Treat Blog Posts like Ads
You want people to come and read your blog for information and enjoyment. The Super Bowl aside, few people go out of their way to see an advertisement.
And people don’t necessarily trust the information in an ad versus a non-promotional piece of content. After all, you’re saying what you’re saying to make money.
You may reason that you’re blogging as part of a marketing plan to make money — sure, but it’s all in the delivery. If people feel as if they’re being sold to, they’ll move on.
Don’t Use out-of Date SEO
Keeping current with SEO best practices is vital. The days when the search engines could be gamed by jamming as many keywords as possible into a nearly unreadable post are long gone. Quality is king.
If you want to keep readers’ attention, keep things clear and succinct, not roundabout and confusing. Few things will cause you to lose readers faster.
Don’t Come Off as Dry and Clinical
The flip side of show your personality — even if the standard style in your industry is clinical and without personality, make it relatable on your blog by working it into a more conversational style.
Dry is boring, and boring doesn’t lead to shares and interaction.
Don’t Let it Get to Your Head
When you do become a success (because you’re going to stick it out, right?), stay humble. Nothing turns people off like a self-satisfied know-it-all.
Blogging is one of the most free and open public platforms out there, and nothing is forcing you to follow any set of rules. If you look at what works, however, a pattern emerges that can be used as a simple guide to blogging — a secret rule book, if you will.
Do you have any blogger secrets you want to share? Let us know in the comments!
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