Lately, I've been reviewing dozens of business blogs for a new project I'm working on. The good news is that many businesses are catching on to the blogging thing fast...Others are still missing the mark. Here are some common missteps that everyone can learn from.
You are free to use this post anyway you like just give me some link love here. To make the list easier for you to digest, I divided the list into Strategy and Purpose, Posting, Promotion, Participation, and Nuts and Bolts.
Here we go -
Failing to Start:
Yep. The #1 mistake is not launching a blog. I don’t care if you don’t know what your doing. Just get started, fail fast, and adapt. Don’t be a wus.
Launching without a Purpose or Voice:
Know who you are before you launch your blog. What do you stand for? What will you fight against? Are you sassy? Contrarian? An optimist? Once you've chosen, maximize your impact by sticking with your voice (even if you get tired of it).
Believing a Logo is a Substitute for Personality:
I believe that blogs should express a voice and a personality. It’s lame to enlist your logo as your voice. People want to talk with people not graphic artifacts.
Focusing on the Wrong Audience:
Frankly people want to hear your solutions to their problems. Don’t forget that your blog should speak to your customers and not just yourself.
Promoting Instead of Connecting:
As a general rule, cool corporate blogs build considerable goodwill with their readers before they promote products and services. This is a wise choice. Do the same.
Avoiding A Good Fight:
Sometimes you’ve got to fight. For your brand to mean something it has to be against something. Bad service, arrogant policies, complicated processes, etc. Your blog readers should know what you will fight for. By the way, When In Doubt fight for your customers.
Making Your Blog a Solo Performance:
Showcase your talent – Please, Please, Please, don’t assign your blog to one hip person in the marketing department. That’s stupid and will just burn out your best talent. Motivate your entire company to contribute content to your blog. Zappos is a great place to start for inspiration.
Failing to Set a Regular Blogging Schedule:
If you post sporadically, your audience won’t bother to return. Do yourself a favor and make a habit of posting on a regular schedule.
Are you blogging on purpose or just writing on any topic that tickles your fancy? Scattershot topics confuse your readers and make it difficult for you to gather a consistent following.
Overlooking the Power of Blog Titles:
I’ve fallen into this trap – spending hours crafting a beautiful post and then slapping a hand-me down title on it.Well considered blog titles are the secret sauce that turns an good blog post into a great blog post. Become a student of writing eyeball-hijacking blog titles and watch your readership jump.
Your blog is your opportunity to create something great for your readers. They are giving you their attention. Reward them with your very best. Original content should be your default blog post not an exception.
Tagging your post with the wrong keywords:
Tags are your ticket to getting love from the search engines. Add 5 minutes to your blog writing process to add pre-researched and relevant keywords to your tag list.
Expecting Your Readers to Find You:
You can post until you are blue in the face but people will not visit your blog until you start marketing. Your blog is an important brand asset so promote it like your company depended on it.
Repeatedly Writing the Same Type of Post:
A great blog is really a tossed salad of diverse posts. Pay close attention to the type of post your are writing – and vary them if you get caught in a rut.As a rule of thumb, I rely on How-To Posts to form the foundation of PushingSocial. Next, I use List Posts to attract readers and encourage retweets. From time to time, I season the mix with an opinion post that expresses my personality and let’s me get my vent a little.… How about you?
Poor Writing, structure, and mechanics (lead paragraphs, rambling):
I could spout off for days on this…and frankly there are other blogs that do a fantastic job of covering this topic. Head over to Copyblogger, Problogger, and Blogussion to get started.
Not using images in your posts:
Adding attention getting images to your posts are a quick way to amp up the appeal of your blog. Images break up the text and add a splash of color . You can get Common License images from Flickr or pay for them at istockphoto.com
Not Linking Outside Your Blog:
When appropriate link to 3rd party blogs that add value to your post. This is a great way to be a resource and build credibility.
Ignoring Retweets and Facebook Likes:
Add Facebook Likes and Tweetmeme to each of your posts. Next, encourage readers to retweet posts they enjoy. You’ll see an instant bump in your readership. Do this now.
Not Creating Resource (AKA Sneeze) Pages:
If you are kicking out tons of great posts then your readers may be missing your best content. Sneeze pages are mini-directories to specific topics. They are cool way to create and crazy-effective linkbait.
Not Guest Posting:
Tsk, Tsk. Pound for Pound, Guest Posts are the best way to get eyeballs to your blog. As a rule, I suggest you devote 40-50% of your time in the beginning to getting your best work published on other blogs. The relationships, learning, and traffic you’ll get will make the time investment worth it.
Overlooking Email Opt-Ins:
You need email addresses to start a relationship. It may be a pain to initially set-up an email list but it’s worth it. Your email list will be your first best tool for monetizing your traffic.
Relying on Feedburner to manage email signups:
Feedburner is good for the occasional (read:weak) blog. Heavy duty world changing blogs need a real email solution to manage your reader database.
Writing Books Instead of Posts:
I recommend keeping your posts between 500-800 words. Readers consume blogs in quick sessions. Deliver your point and let your readers get on with their business.
Forgetting to Solicit Participation:
Remember that your posts are a conversation starter. Ask questions, encourage sharing, embrace disagreement. Don’t let a post get published until it has a strong participation hook.
Turning Off Comments:
Sometimes the bigwigs get scared that they will get flamed by a disgruntled customer and decide to turn off blog comments. This is…lame. Turn the comments back on and tackle the concerns. You might even learn something. Believe me, your business won’t go up in flames. I promise.
Not Answering Comments:
Readers who leave thoughtful comments are precious. Not responding to their questions is disrespectful and will kill your blog. Just make it a policy to respond.
Not allowing others to Guest Blog:
Guest posts add variety and different view points to your post line-up. You can go one step-further and actually solicit guest posts within your blog.
Nuts & Bolts
Complicating your blogging platform:
Sometimes the IT group can’t help but complicate things…just use WordPress for your blog. It has all of the functionality you need to make a world-class blog.
Forgetting to install analytics (Google Analytics works):
I’ve actually done this so don’t beat yourself up. Google Analytics is free and there are great WordPress plugins that make this integration a snap. The Thesis Theme also makes adding tracking to your blog easy.
Picking a Bad Theme:
A complicated theme make look nice but slow you down with unnecessary nonsense. Pick a simple theme that will let you customize to your heart’s content but look great out of the box. I use Thesis. (I also get paid if you use them too – just so you know).
Not paying attention to meta tags and titles:
Use the option to customize your meta description, keywords, and title if possible. This will take an extra few minutes to configure but will give you an SEO advantage.
Your graphics express your brand. Skimp on them and you’ll look like a clown to your readers. Nobody wants to rely on a clown.
Looking like a corporate blog:
Let your hair down a little. Your corporate blog doesn’t have to look like a text book. Give your people permission to make your blog a great place to hang out. Boring is bad and will just scare away your best readers
Strategy & Purpose
What about you? Have you learned any lessons the hard way with your business blog?