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13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy

bored business bloggerI admit it.

My first business blog was lackluster. Without sparkle. No fun.

Well, that was in the beginning.

Haven’t we all been there?

Writing posts, because you’re supposed to write something. Struggling to make boring stuff interesting. Worrying about finding time to keep your blog going.

Or just sitting in front of your computer unable to write your next post. Completely stuck. And full of doubt.

Does it make sense to spend time writing a business blog? Will your efforts pay off? Will your blog generate business?

Feeling like you want to give up is normal. Almost everyone wants to give up after six or twelve months of blogging. But giving up just before your blog is going to be successful is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Let’s have a look at the thirteen dumbest business blogging mistakes.

Dumb mistake #1: Not starting a blog or giving up too soon

Let’s be honest. Creating a blog is tough.

Blogging requires writing skills; enthusiasm about your company; and industry expertise. It requires energy, creativity, and perseverance.

You can’t expect your blog to produce results straightaway. Depending on your industry and online competition, it may take three to six months, or sometimes even longer to generate results.

Let’s have a quick look why you should create and continue your blog:

  1. Increase your web traffic because you enhance your visibility in Google;
  2. Generate leads at relatively low cost (source: Hubspot);
  3. Provide quality content for lead nurturing;
  4. Share your expertise; build your authority and influence;
  5. Add a human face to your brand;
  6. Support your email and social media marketing with shareable content;
  7. Connect with influencers – bloggers, journalists, social media power users, and industry experts;
  8. Provide a basis for your online PR.

Don’t give up. Keep blogging and celebrate your blog successes – even small achievements.

Dumb mistake #2: Publishing old-style press releases

Old-style press releases are written for journalists and editors, who – if you’re lucky – translate your press release into engaging information for their readers.

Old-style press releases are full of gobbledygook and wishy-washy talk.

Your blog is written for and read by potential buyers. So skip the gobbledygook. Cut the wishy-washiness. And turn self-congratulatory text into fascinating news stories.

Dumb mistake #3: Writing your blog for SEO

Worrying about Google kills your creativity, destroys your blog personality, and slaughters your passion. Click to tweet this.

Write your blog for your customers rather than for Google:

  1. Use the same words and phrases your customers use;
  2. Answer your customers’ questions;
  3. Help your customers make buying decisions;
  4. Answer just one question or discuss one problem in each blog post;
  5. Publish high-quality content.

Google wants you to provide helpful information to your customers. Observe the five rules outlined above, and you’ll have most of your on-page SEO requirements covered. You’ll make Google happy.

Stop worrying about Google. Start writing for your target audience.

Dumb mistake #4: Being corporate and faceless

Come on. Put that zing into your writing.

Be passionate. Use strong emotional words. Stand for something and share your opinion.

Your blog should show the human side of your company and make you more approachable.

Nobody likes reading your corporate blurb. Loosen up and have some fun!

The MailChimp blog makes boring stuff fun

The MailChimp blog makes boring stuff like data analysis fun.

Dumb mistake #5: Publishing sleazy sales talk

Writing directly to your buyers doesn’t mean you should turn into a sleazy salesman.

Don’t keep rambling on about your wonderful products, fantastic features, and awesome specifications. Instead, address your customers’ problems, discuss their pain points, and show the benefits of your products.

Don’t gloss over your negatives. Customers can read about them somewhere on the web, so why not be honest?

Don’t sell. Provide genuine buying advice. Help your customers make purchasing decisions.

Dumb mistake #6: Being self-indulgent

Your business blog should help build your authority online. But if you just write about your own products, your own achievements, and your own company, how can your readers learn to trust you?

To become a credible source of information you need to widen the scope of your business blog. Don’t be a windbag. Comment on industry events, share your thoughts on industry news, or analyze the latest trends. Become a trusted source of industry information.

Dumb mistake #7: Making your blog a daily chore

Who said you need to blog daily?

Publish weekly, or only monthly. Decide on the frequency you can cope with and be consistent.

Quality content provided monthly easily beats an incessant stream of daily drab posts that recycle the same stuff again, and again.

Dumb mistake #8: Underestimating the power of images

Images add pizzazz to your posts. They make your web pages more attractive and inviting. But there’s more:

Visuals can illustrate your text or become the main feature of your post. Visuals can be serious or fun:

  • Poke fun of your industry with cartoons;
  • Create an info-doodle or sketchnote from a presentation;
  • Show diagrams of how your products work, or pictures of how they’re made;
  • Display flow charts of the buying process;
  • Turn an instruction manual into a visual how-to.

And why not interview industry experts or create client testimonials on video?

The Evernote blog features customer videos

The Evernote blog includes videos highlighting how customers use Evernote.

Dumb mistake #9: Not promoting your blog

Don’t launch your blog and expect people to turn up to read it. That’s like launching a newspaper and keeping it secret.

Don’t rely solely on search engine optimization for web traffic. That’s like launching a book and expecting it to become a bestseller by putting it in your local bookstore.

A few ideas for promoting your blog:

  • Mention your blog in your printed brochure;
  • Include a link to your latest blog post in your email signature or e-newsletter;
  • Show the headlines of your latest blog post(s) on your home page;
  • Refer to relevant blog posts on other web pages;
  • Share your posts on social networks;
  • Comment on other blogs;
  • Write guest posts for other blogs;

No time to promote your blog? Start writing less often and make time to promote. A few popular posts are more valuable than an archive full of posts nobody is reading.

Dumb mistake #10: Committing crimes against readability

Why discourage your web visitors from reading?

Make your content enticing and avoid these dumb design mistakes:

  • Long lines feel cumbersome because they require readers to move their heads as if they’re watching a tennis match. Use a maximum length of 600 pixels.
  • Tiny fonts strain your readers’ eyes. Increase your font size to at least 16px.
  • Blocks of texts kill your readers’ interest. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, and sub headlines to introduce white space.

Promote readability and make your posts more inviting, attractive, and seductive.

Dumb mistake #11: Tolerating stinky blog posts

Stinky blog posts?

Yep, stale information. Like blog posts about discontinued products or old promotions; and out-dated advice. Makes your blog look like a hoarder’s house full of old newspapers, magazines, and other useless stuff.

If you’ve been writing a blog for 12 months, start your audit now! Audit your content once a year or plan a running audit: review a selection of old posts each month.

Don’t just write new posts. Spring-clean your smelly old posts, too.

Dumb mistake #12: Failing to measure results

Why are you writing your blog?

Define your objective and measure how well you’re performing. A few examples:

  • If your objective is to reduce cost per lead (compared to other marketing activities), then measure the cost of leads. For a fair comparison include the cost of staff hours, too.
  • If you’re objective is to grow brand awareness, measure non-branded organic traffic;
  • If you want to increase leads, define what a lead is and measure your number of leads (e.g. email subscribers, webinar participants, or white paper downloads).

Measure how you’re doing on a monthly or quarterly basis. Analyze which posts perform best, and which perform less well. Learn what your target audience is looking for. Improve your blog. And celebrate getting more readers, more leads, and more business.

Dumb mistake #13: Creating dead ends

Potential customers are finding your posts. That’s great.

Potential customers are reading your posts. That’s even better.

But what’s happening next?

You need to tell your readers exactly what they should do next. Otherwise, they’ll just click away; and you’ll lose them.

You need a call-to-action. You need to encourage your readers to take the next step. A few options:

  • Read related posts;
  • Subscribe to an email newsletter;
  • Sign up for a webinar;
  • Download a brochure, specification sheet, or white paper.

Be as clear as possible. Have one super-obvious call-to-action and ensure other calls-to-action look less important.

The truth about blogging for business

Instead of waiting for your blog to become successful, get to work.

Become the most comprehensive source of information in your industry. Build your authority. Share your expertise. Answer all questions you’ve been asked by customers. Be helpful.

Add personality to your blog. Share a strong opinion. Tell stories. And most importantly, ensure your blog posts are engaging. Fascinating. Enchanting.

Need some help?

Leave a comment and tell me what you’re struggling with.

Let me know why you want to give up. Or why you haven’t started a business blog yet.

Tell me how I can help.

Just let me know. Okay?

This blog post is part of a free tutorial about business blogging.

Image courtesy of Bigstockphoto: Bored blogger

Comments

  1. This is a smashing post. Well done! Of course I agree with everything, so I need to get to work straightaway!

  2. The bad news is that I’ve probably made 12 of the 13 mistakes! The good news is that I now know what to do to put things right.

    Thanks Henneke, a fantastic article again. I really enjoy your blog and find it very informative and easy to understand.

    James

    • I’ve probably made 12 out of 13, too. So don’t worry, as long as you’re putting things right.

      Thank you for your comment, James. I’m glad you’re finding my blog useful. :)

  3. Excellent information – as usual Henneke! I’ve already forwarded your post to friends. Keep ‘em coming!

  4. Thanks for this post! I’m just getting started managing online content for a photography startup and this will be a big help!

  5. I think I violate a few of these lol.

    Mostly though, it comes down to not having enough time to commit to starting a blog. My main interest is web development and design, so I feel extra pressure to make sure my blog not only has great content but looks fantastic and is easy to use. Then I have to figure out what my CTA will be – probably a newsletter, which I then have to set up and get the first few written out.

    Once I get over the hurdle of creating a blog I am proud of, I think it will be easier to maintain, probably with one or two quality posts per month. The frustrating part is that I am not without ideas for awesome posts that I am excited to write – I just don’t have the time to get over that initial hurdle!

    • Sometimes we just have to accept things aren’t going to be perfect.

      You don’t need a few newsletters ready to go before you start your blog. You can just have a simple welcome message and then use your newsletter to announce new blog posts as you go. And if all you can do is post every other week, that’s fine, too.

      Or start the other way around. This blog started just as an e-newsletter before I had a website. The key is to start somewhere, and then refine things as you progress.

  6. Suzanne Burton says:

    Excellent advice, Henneke. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise with me.

  7. Ah, just the reminders I needed…especially since I’m still in the process of launching my site. Sigh. Back to work!

  8. Just found Enchanted Marketing today and felt like you were talking to ME with this blog. Thank you for such a straightforward and succinct list of mistakes that need correcting. Definitely warrants rereading followed by some focused actions. Appreciate the tips.

  9. This is just the butt kicking article I need to take a hard look at my blog and improve it. Thanks!

  10. Like some of your readers have hinted at, it’s a trial and error thing. I think it’s pretty much a mandatory thing to launch your blog making 12 out of these 13 mistakes. It’s just taking them piece by piece and improving on them.

    Adding your own personality to things is crucial. That post about the five essential tips has been done. Tell us what you really think about them, or add your own language to describe them. Find some way to make them your own and go!

    • Oh, yes. That’s true. We’re all making mistakes; and are learning by doing. Most probably I’m still making lots of other mistakes – I just haven’t figured out what they are yet. ;-)

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Matt. I appreciate it.

  11. Hey! I enjoyed your post very much! I’ve been blogging since July 2012 (www.Betsy-V.com/nav/blog/). I did it first just for fun and I loved it. I wrote everyday minus weekends about my life, motherhood, relationships, news, photography and so on. I’d like to know where to generate more traffic. For instance I’ll post my work on STumbleupon of course also all my social media outlets, but what other sites are there? Ultimately, I’d like to work for a magazine. Any words of wisdom and help?

    Thanks!

    • Thank you, Betsy.

      The way I generate traffic is a combination of guest blogging and email. With guest blogging you can find new readers; and email can encourage existing readers to come back.

      To guest post I find blogs that my target audience is reading – and that have a big audience. You can do a Google search, check out Technorati or Alltop to find blogs. In the bio of my guest posts I encourage readers to sign up for my e-newsletter.

      I checked out your blog. You do have a good, big subscribe button. But you don’t really give people a good reason to sign up. What are they going to learn? How are you going to make them feel better? Or how are you going to entertain them?

      Let me know if you want to discuss this further. :)

  12. One thing that a lot of people neglect to talk about is what you need to do if you hire someone to write your blog for you. Since you’re writing here about writing your own blog, it doesn’t really fit in your post but having a point person for a company you’ve hired to write your business blog is important! If you don’t have a clear contact person and a person who approves of blog content, hoping that you can be as hands-off as possible, it can really bite you in the rear. Having a strong editorial direction that fits your business and industry comes from great content curation and a point person can help achieve that. After all, no one knows your business as well as you do. If you are writing your own blog, making sure that you have an individual in your business who’s in charge of the blog can make sure no one forgets about it too.
    Kim recently posted…Creating Your LogoMy Profile

    • Good point, Kim. Absolutely true. If you’re hiring someone to blog on your behalf, then one way to solve this is doing interviews. These interview can either be published as podcasts or just written down and edited as blog posts – that’s a good way to use external resources and still preserve a company’s tone of voice.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

  13. Hi Henneke,

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing valuable tips to spruce up anyone’s blog. You makean eexcellent point about cleaning up old posts. It makes since to do this because some old posts can work like GOLD:)

    I really like your blog and look forward to your upcoming posts.

    Many blessings,

    Stacie Walker
    Stacie Walker recently posted…Financial Advice: The World’s Most Powerful and Wealthy Business Women are on the Rise by Gabriel NelsonMy Profile

    • Thank you, Stacie.

      Always useful to check which old posts are doing well and seeing whether they need updating… It’s just one of those things that easily drops off the to-do list, isn’t it?

  14. Hey Henneke,
    Superb post. I am blogging since 6 months from now but I am struggling to get get good readers. Can you suggest something?
    Ansh recently posted…22+ Best WordPress Wedding Themes 2013My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Hi Ansh
      I gain almost all traffic from guest blogging and my email list.

      In guest post bios I encourage readers to sign up to my email list for free content marketing and copywriting tips. Then they receive weekly emails when I have a new blog post live.

      I notice you encourage people to sign up to your RSS feed instead. Have you thought about setting up an email list? I use Aweber, but you can also use MailChimp (their service is free up to 2k subscribers).

      Who is your target audience?

  15. Jade Campbell says:

    Great post, really enjoyed it, yes I follow a few I admire Jon Morrow, Sonia Simone and Sophie Lizard in particular, I have just added Henneke to the list!!
    Question: I there any stats on number of blogs per week per industry, ie Internet marketers, Vs Artists, vs Authors etc.. ?

    • Henneke says:

      It’s a great honor to be added to your list, Jade :)

      I’m not sure about stats on number of posts per week. I can remember seeing some stats on HubSpot quite a long time ago, but I’m not sure they were split up by industry.

  16. I’d also add being careful with images. Using copyright images can land you in a spot of trouble, especially if you are a business and the owner feels you profited from their image. Use RF images from 123RF or other such markets or use CC images from Flickr (or any other platform) and use proper attribution.

    Thanks.

    Mike
    Mike from DigiWriteIt recently posted…Infographic: State of Content Marketing in 2013My Profile

  17. Great post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gaining a loyal readership for your blog is the most challenging aspect of blogging. By following these tips, I hope to run a successful blog. Thanks for sharing !
    David Taylor recently posted…Five Outstanding Premium Classifieds WordPress ThemesMy Profile

  18. Writing for SEO by not intentionally appearing to write for SEO has been one of the largest hurdles with my growth as a blogger. #3
    Justin McClelland recently posted…You Have Cancer in Your Lotions. Like for RealMy Profile

    • Writing a good blog post for readers first and optimising later, works best for me. When I try to write with keywords in mind, the post becomes too bland or uninteresting.

      Thank you for stopping by, Justin :)

  19. Most of my time goes in writing articles for the blogs and honestly at end of the day… I hardly have time or energy left, to promote those blogs.. But your suggestion of blogging weekly is really nice.. I’ll try that and rest of the time I can work on promoting my blog…

    Thanks…

  20. Thanks so much for this post. I have just started a new blog and found your site when I was researching blogging mistakes. I have made a number of these mistakes in previous blogs I’ve started. I decided to book mark this page and refer to your blog in my own post so that I can revisit and monitor my progress in overcoming these mistakes.

  21. I’m very happy to have found this article. I just started my own personal blog and this post gives some great tips on how to make it successful and avoid some mistakes.

    Thanks!

  22. Giving up too soon was my dumb mistake. I gave up on my first blog before it had time to get off the ground properly. This was because I let myself be duped by all the hype hinting that it was easy. I learned a lot from this mistake. So, maybe it wasn’t so dumb after all, even if it was a big mistake.

    • Henneke says:

      You’re not the only one. I hate all the talk about overnight success, because the truth is that blogging is hard work. It’s fun, too. But it requires a lot of effort and perseverance.

      We all learn from our mistakes. Keep going! Thank you for stopping by again, Tom.

  23. I haven’t started a blog since it is quite hard to come up with first post topics. How did you decide on what topics you should write at first, Henneke?

    • Henneke says:

      To be honest, I didn’t have that many ideas for my first post. I just started and hoped that I could write another post a week later :)

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