Who the hell am I to critique other people’s blogs anyway?
I am hardly a well-established or famous blogger. I don’t have a track record of building and launching big-name blogs. I’ve never judged blogs at competitions before.
But blogging is a big part of my life. I’ve produced and supervised the production of numerous blog posts for clients in various industries. I’ve been blogging since I was a teen. I enjoy reading blogs, especially blogs written by people I like and respect.
So, while I’m no expert, I’m certainly what they call a practitioner.
Mistake #1: “Dead” Blogs
“Dead” company blogs are common. I’ve even seen the blogs of content marketing service providers meet this fate. The irony!
Going “dead” tends to happen after a marketing campaign ends. Everyone is serious about using the blog to attract traffic/boost SEO rankings/increase brand awareness at first. Once the team hits their KPIs, blog updates dwindle to zero.
Here’s what to do about a “dead” blog if you have one:
Axe it. Having one on your website screams “Yo look at this web project that I don’t give a damn about anymore!”
Repurpose blog posts that are still useful or relevant into eBooks
Set up landing pages to download those eBooks. Or house them under a “resources library” section of your website
Mistake #2: Lack of Promotion
If a tree falls in the digital world and no one hears, it never happened.
You don’t set up a blog, write a bunch of blog posts, and hope your target audience beat a path to your homepage. No one will notice the birth of one more website in the Wild Wild Web! No matter how groundbreaking your blog content!
Content creation is one half of content marketing. The other half is reaching out to your desired readers and promoting your blog. Try:
- Announcing new blog posts on social media
- Including a snippet of the blog post and a link in an e-newsletter
- Letting people know your blog exists by putting links in all your online profiles
Mistake #3: Ignoring User Experience (UX)
Three words: walls of text.
Remember, writing for the web is different from writing for print publications. Folks on the web have short attention spans and tend to scan through content. If they see long essays without anything to break up the text, they might get put off from reading. Don’t forget that long blog posts look even longer when viewed on mobile than on desktop!
Not to say that blog posts should be short. The key is to think about how to keep the reader engaged throughout your blog posts, no matter how long they might be.
Here’s an excellent 1,000+ words long article on the rising popularity of Ultra-HD video formats. Notice the use of high quality visuals, subtle animation, and thoughtful information architecture. What could have been a long essay on a “boring” topic comes to life thanks to these elements.
- Break up text with visuals, videos, graphs, bullet lists, numbered lists, etc.
- Consider turning a section of the blog post into an infographic
- Ensure that your blog is mobile responsive
From Better Blog to Best Blog
I can think of more common mistakes aside from these top three. Like, not using data analytics to track blog performance. Or not following search engine optimisation (SEO) principles.
But a lot of these are about getting (important) basics right. Having solid basics will get you this far at best:
- A decent stream of traffic
- A few star blog posts ranking high on the search engine results pages
- Satisfactory call-to-action conversions
- Some backlinks from other websites
That’s already better than the average blog in the World Wide Web! But what if you want more; you want your blog to stand out from competition?
Looking at some of the most successful and popular blogs out there, it all boils down to:
Expertise + Personality
Expertise is having solid substance and credibility. You’ve got the experience. You’ve got the skills and knowledge. You’ve been in the trenches. You’ve gone through trials and tribulations to get to where you are today.
Personality is imbuing your blog with your unique character and truth. Have your own “voice”, motifs, or storytelling style. The “truth” part is much harder to nail. It involves being genuine, introspective, and unafraid to talk about flaws and failures.
One blogger that displays excellent expertise+personality is James Altucher. James is an author, speaker, chess master, former hedge fund manager, and entrepreneur. With impressive accomplishments in each field. Yet, he is painfully open about his many failures (lost millions of dollars, failed relationships, getting fired) and what people can learn from them.
Blogging is Not Easy
Sure, blogs are simple and cheap to set up. But they are high on commitment. It takes effort to blog on a regular basis, promote after publishing, and ensure good user experiences. Plus all the extra effort needed to make your blog stand out from the rest!
I think it helps to ask yourself from the start, why do I blog? Having enthusiasm and some clear guiding principles will keep you going in the long haul. But don’t overthink. It’s better to start, and then iterate along the way.
In case you’re wondering, here are my reasons for blogging, which I talked about in my very first blog post. They haven’t changed. I work towards becoming a better blogger and writer, every day.
Image sources: Pexels