In another post in my series all about blogging, I wanted to share with you the things you could do (aka the mistakes you could make) if you wanted to have the *worst* blog…. Because that’s totally what you want… right?
Ok so I’m guessing probably not, but as someone who is always very interested in learning from their own and other people’s mistakes, I wanted to share a few common blogging ones, and a few ways to make sure you don’t fall into their trap. Some (I admit) I have done myself in the past, and others I’ve noticed out there in the blogosphere and wanted to share with you. If you’re new to blogging, keen to reinvigorate your blog or perhaps your blog has plateaued and you can’t understand why, have a read of the below.
Post, like, whenever you want.
I mean, the last thing you would want is for people to know when to expect a blog post and come looking for it, right? So, keep it interesting by posting sporadically, and then a bunch of posts at the same time and then none for a while. Keep those readers on their toes!
In case you want the best blog… Be consistent in your posting so that your readers know when to drop by and what to expect. Make sure to develop a realistic posting schedule that you stick to (more on this here). If you’re really organised, select popular themes for different days of the week.
Whatever you do, don’t be helpful.
When planning your blog content, whatever you do try to avoid informational posts that your readers might find helpful. I mean, this could lead them to read more of your work. Instead, focus on you rather than your audience, or cover topics without analysis and try to avoid meaningful discussion. And instead of posting seasonal content that might reflect the lives of your readers, mix it up! Confusing is better. Ps don’t even think about including a printable or map!
In case you want the best blog… When brainstorming and developing your posts, your number one priority should be that it’s useful for people. Whether that be a shopping post, a motherhood discussion or a DIY – ask yourself ‘is this helpful?’. If you find that maybe it’s not (it happens), think about how you can reframe your content to be more valuable to your audience and their lives. After all, it’s this type of content that people will share with their friends and networks.
Write about every topic known to (wo)man.
Why talk about a few things when you can cover everything? I mean, you wouldn’t want to be known for anything in particular would you? Then people might come back or, heaven forbid, even bookmark you! So, make sure to cover a discombobulating amount of topics and have varying opinions and approaches to all of them. That way just when people think they’ve got you figured out, they’ll be surprised to find they haven’t at all. Ps Don’t do any series that might tie any posts together, ok?
In case you want the best blog… Hone your niche! If you’re just starting out, focus your blog in on the key passions you have, and work hard to analyse these in detail. That way you will become known for your something, even somewhat of an expert in that thing, which will allow people to know what to expect and use your site as a resource. It’s useful for SEO too! And when developing an idea, think about how you can build your content into series so people are excited to read more and have lots of posts to read if they find it later.
Make it really, really hard to get around.
Navigation is for fools who want good blogs, you hear me? Instead, eschew the top navigation bar, any decipherable categories and the use of tags and instead go for a what-a-mess approach. And if you were considering using a theme or having someone design a blog for you, forget about it! Instead, choose the oldest layout you can find, preferably one without any page titles or tags. And the more 404 dead links the better! When people are on your blog you want them to feel like they’re lost in a 10 storey parking garage with no clue where they left their car.
In case you want the best blog… Invest in the layout and organisation of your blog, so that people find it easy to get around and understand the content. You don’t need to pay a web designer if your budget is tight, there are plenty of cheap themes out there these days designed to look expensive. Also, work hard to develop categories and sub categories for your blog, and make sure that all posts fit within these so that people can a) understand what you write about and b) find other items that might interest them.
Don’t bother with imagery
Ok so you could work with a photographer (or develop your own skills) so that you can create great imagery for your blog, but that’s just going to make it better which we want to avoid. Instead, take a few snaps on your phone, the darker and grainer the better! And put them up, making them nice and small. Better yet, don’t use any imagery all at, that way there won’t be anything for people to pin which will mean virtually no shares. Perfect!
In case you want the best blog… Set aside money to either develop your own skills or work with a photographer so that the imagery and/or graphics on your site are top notch – meaning nice to look at and good for sharing. Learn how to edit photos using Lightroom or Photoshop so that you can easily update images yourself.
Avoid conversations with your readers
Firstly, don’t even bother checking the comments section of your blog, because who cares what your readers think or feel anyway? It’s all you baby! And if you find people asking you questions via email or comment, just delete and move on. The last thing you would want is for people to feel like a) you’re an ok kinda person b) you have any actual knowledge and c) you respect them. Put your fingers in your ears, head in the sand and away you go. Unless of course someone challenges you, then you should definitely go off like a rocket and come across as crazy as possible. Ok?
In case you want the best blog... Treat your blog and social platforms as a two way street where you’re having a conversation, rather than screaming into the void. This means replying to comments, taking time to help people via email and building rapport with your audience. This will not only help them get to know you but also encourages them to come back. Set time aside in your day to do this as it’s a big part of your job! And when faced with constructive criticism from your readers, face it head on and turn it into a discussion – it’s a good way to learn what they need!
More is more, right?
If something can be said in 300 words, make sure that you say it in 1300. This way people will be so exhausted by your longwinded discussions that they click off virtually straight away. A little tip? Make sure that every noun has at least two adjectives before it, the more flowery your writing the better! What you want is for people to feel as though they are climbing Mt Everest when they read your blog. They should be so lucky to get to the top right?
In case you want the best blog… Get to the point as quickly as possible – people have very limited time to read these days so tighten up your copy – delete sentences if they’re not needed. Update: As per the discussion that we’ve had in the comments below, I probably need to clarify that this isn’t about your blog post needing to be short, but more about your content being concise so that people can easily understand it. Whilst my travel guides could easily blow out to 20k words, I keep them tight so that you can find what you need, whilst also trying to include enough detail so you can enjoy them. It’s a balancing act!
Focus on the money honey
Make sure that monetising is the number one goal for your site. Whatever you do don’t be picky when it comes to what brands you work with and try to avoid organic content – you don’t have time for that! And when you do work with a brand, make sure you create the driest, most boring content possible and avoid creative ideas that people might find useful/interesting.
In case you want the best blog… Making money from your blog is no doubt the dream (totally doable btw), but you need to make sure that you keep it authentic or people won’t read anymore. Focusing on developing genuine and shareable content will allow you to turn your blog into a business whilst still keeping your integrity, and your readers. And when a company approaches you, don’t be scared to come up with a really creative idea – consider how you can put the budget towards content that you might not usually be able to afford to do on your site and which will be an asset to your readers. Then it’s a win win!
Finally, don’t freak out!
If you’ve made a few mistakes. Know that when you’re on your blogging journey you’re going to – I certainly did! The key is having a plan for how you will move forward and have the best blog (rather than the worst one). Whether it be replying more to your audience, being more consistent in your posting or tightening up your wording, there’s always room for improvement :). Onwards and upwards!