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All you need is a great URL, an eye catching blog site and shed loads of great ideas (oh, and writing talent).
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
Well, to be honest, there’s a bit more to it than that, including avoiding these 12 common rookie blogger mistakes.
1. Who is Your Audience?
You can’t write about the stuff your audience wants to know about if you don’t know who they are. I don’t mean their names and addresses, rather what’s important to them.
As a copywriter, I write about stuff to do with copywriting, marketing and social media, because that’s my area of expertise and that’s what my readers want to read about.
If I started writing about jewellery and shoes, I’d lose readers by the busload because that’s not why they read my blog. They are marketers, would-be copywriters and business owners who want tips on how to market themselves online.
2. Stick to Your Niche
If you know your audience, you must write what they want to learn about and that means sticking to your niche. Granted, if your business offering expands there’s no reason why you can’t start offering tips about that because, presumably, it’s going to be closely related to what you do anyway.
You don’t want to come across as a Jack-of-all-trades. You want to be the go-to expert in your field.
If you have completely ignored by advice in points 1 and 2, you are bombarding your dwindling blog audience with all manner of articles written on a vast array of subjects.
Before you stamp your feet and say that you’re just trying to give them variety, think about what you’re doing.
People seek out and read blogs because they want to learn and/or are interested in that particular subject. If they like celebrities they’ll search for celebrity gossip blogs, if they’re into marketing they’ll look for marketing blogs, if they love fashion they’ll look for fashion blogs etc.
If your blog covers anything and everything how will they find you? It will be impossible for you to optimise it for every subject you cover leaving your blog floundering in an Internet black hole.
If you want to write about 2 or 3 unrelated topics, set up a blog for each.
Most bloggers write amazing stuff to start with, but then as their enthusiasm wanes the quality slides.
Your standards must be high at all times. Yes, you’re only human and the odd error is likely to slip through, which can be forgiven, but sloppy writing without any conviction or heart won’t.
But it’s not only the quality that must remain constant, so must your posting frequency. Regular readers will get to know when you post and will be ready and waiting for your next instalment. That’s why it’s important to decide on a posting schedule that you can stick to, no matter how busy you get.
There’s no point in starting a blog if you’re going to get bored and ditch it after a few months or years. You and your business will get a lot from it, but it takes time to see results.
You wouldn’t close down your business within a month or two if you weren’t making millions because you know that’s not how business works. Well the same goes for your blog.
Harking back to number 4, every blog post you write must be of the highest quality.
To build your following it’s important to blog regularly, but too many rookie bloggers focus on the quantity of their posts rather than quality. If you churn stuff out regularly, but it’s poor, people won’t read it. They would much rather you posted less often, but offered valuable and well written information.
7. It’s All About You
Actually, no it’s not.
Too many first time bloggers write about what they want to talk about rather than focusing on what their readers want to know. That’s why it’s essential you get to know your audience and write about stuff they want to know about.
It can be very lonely running a blog that no one reads.
Even if you are a class writer, your posts won’t get read if the headline isn’t eye-catching.
The title you write is the hook that will get people to read. If it’s a bit lame, no one will bother reading it. Make sure it’s catchy, but at the same time also reflects what the blog post is about.
9. Me, Me, Me
I mentioned earlier about writing stuff that your audience wants to read well that doesn’t include blatant self-promotion.
You blog is an information platform, not a sales outlet. If every post is a thinly veiled advert for your products and services people will get wise and look elsewhere for an expert they can trust.
That doesn’t mean you can’t link out to your website; if it adds value and helps illustrate your point there’s nothing wrong with that. If the post doesn’t warrant a link, there’s nothing stopping you adding a short author’s bio at the end with a link to your website.
The only way you will get people coming back to your blog over time is to write in an engaging style that resonates with them.
A lot of business bloggers tend to opt for a ‘business-like’ tone that can be quite dull. The best option is to write in a conversational style in the second person. This casual approach and the use of ‘you’ opens up your writing to your reader and involves them because it feels as though you are talking to them directly.
If your readers like your stuff they’ll comment on it, so make sure you respond to them. There’s nothing worse than leaving a comment only to never have it acknowledged.
Show your readers you care and that you appreciate their loyalty by saying thank you or answering their questions.
12. Get Social
No one is going to read your blog if they can’t find it. That’s where social media comes in. Make sure every post you publish is tweeted about and promoted on Facebook and Google+. Also, by having the social sharing buttons visible at the end of every post, your readers can spread the word for you too. It’s also a great idea to add a link to your blog in your email signature, newsletter and even your business card.
Blogging sounds a simple concept, but there’s a lot to it including the need for stamina.
It will take time and commitment to turn your fledging blog into a market leader, but with patience, great content and promotion you will achieve great things.
About the Author: Sally Ormond is an independent copywriter and owner of Briar Copywriting Ltd. For tips on copywriting, marketing and social media, you can also read her words of wisdom on Briar Copywriting's Blog.