Content marketing is the most commercially important digital marketing trend.
When executed properly, it helps generate inbound traffic, increase engagement with target market, generate leads, increase sales, boost SEO, build brand awareness, establish thought leadership – all at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and marketing:
- 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content.
- 7 in 10 consumers prefer to learn about a company through articles, not ads.
- 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content want to build good relationships.
- 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in.
- Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.
At the core of content marketing is your company blog, as most content marketing strategies focus on driving traffic back to the blog.]
Content marketing tops the list of important digital marketing trends in 2015.
Blogging is so a critical part for any content marketing effort.
However, in this day and age of information overload, just posting a few bullet points saturated with keywords is not going to work anymore.
Readers are getting more and more savvy, and they look for advanced content that is relevant and useful for them.
It could be daunting when you’re just dipping your toes into the blogosphere. There are many moving parts, and one little misstep can sabotage your post or even the entire blogging effort.
In this article, we’ll explore 16 mistakes many beginner bloggers make when using blogging to support their businesses, and what you can do to avoid them: Lack of Focus
1. Lack of Focus
Many beginner bloggers worry that they’d run out of topic to write about, so they come up with any and every idea possible and post stuff about it.
If you do this, your blog lacks focus. Your readers would have no idea what your brand is about, and why they need to read your blog instead of the many others out there.
To give focus to your blog, get clear on how your blog aligns with and support your business goals. Do you want to establish thought leadership? Do you aim to provide educational information that leads to sales? Or do you want to strengthen your brand personality and cultivate a relationship?
Some key goals for blogging and content marketing.
Your blog articles should naturally tie-in with issues in your area of expertise or your industry, and address specific questions or concerns your prospects have about your products and services, to make sure it’s supporting your business and marketing goals.
Some bloggers manage to hone in on one topic, but they fail to narrow it down into a meaningful scope. They try to be everything for everyone when they try to cover everything they can find under the sun about a certain topic.
Defining a niche can help narrow down your topic, and using your keyword research results to formulate a working title can help you further hone in on the specificity of your content so it’s useful and valuable to your target audience.
2. Content-Audience Mismatch
Even if you manage to hone in on a specific topic, you’d find readers that range from beginners to advanced in your area of expertise.
Readers want information that is useful and relevant to them. You want to make sure that you provide information that matches their level of knowledge.
If your ideal audience knows very little about the topic, you may need to start with some elementary information so they can get educated on the basics in order to take advantage of your products and services.
On the other hand, if your ideal customers and readers are more advanced but you serve up elementary content, they would decide that your offerings are not for them and leave your website altogether.
To make sure you are creating content to meet your ideal audience where they are at, create a persona to help you understand how best to communicate with them.
3. Stiff and Un-relatable
One of the main goals of blogging is to build a relationship and express your brand personality.
What you’ve learned about writing term papers and formal communication is probably not going to make you sound relatable.
To make your brand voice approachable and relatable, write conversationally.
Loosen up when you write (nobody is grading you anymore!), and write like real people talk. Get rid of jargons and use plain English. Introduce a sense of humor and crack a joke or two, when appropriate.
You can even talk and record your article to make it sound natural.
Evernote allows you to record and save as text.
Many beginning bloggers make their blog all about them, their brand and offerings. This can become a real turn off for readers, who frankly, would care less about you unless you show them why they should listen to you.
How are you relevant? What do you have to teach them? What problem are you solving for them?
It is not to say that you can’t use stories about your brand and products in your content. However, make sure you relate it back to your readers and their needs.
Use your stories to illustrate a point, or share a lesson relevant to your audience.
You’d want to strike a balance between showing your personality, and talking about yourself or your brand.
Brand personality is better shown, not told. For example, infuse your personality in your writing to make your brand relatable, instead of hitting your readers on the head with the “3 things our brand stands for.”
5. Being Goldilocks about SEO
Many beginner bloggers suffer from either paying too much or not enough attention to keywords and SEO.
Not enough attention to SEO: one common mistakes bloggers make is using clever titles instead of keyword-rich ones. As a result, their posts get overlooked by search engines and are not getting organic search traffic.
To strike a balance and get the best of both worlds, put your keyword on the title first, then use a colon and add an attention grabber.
Too much attention to SEO: at the other end of the spectrum, some bloggers stuff their articles with keywords without paying much attention to building relationships with and delivering value to readers.
Review your reader persona, focus on your content marketing goals, and use your post to connect with and deliver value for this person, instead of writing for keyword crawling robot.
6. Lack of Organization
Many bloggers do their research and then simply regurgitate the facts and data.
This is less than helpful for most readers who are not looking for more information, but hoping to find guidance on how to make existing information useful for them so they can take actions and see results.
Before you start writing, create an outline that maps out how you want to take your readers from problem to solution. This structure gives you a framework to organize your thoughts and materials in a way that is relevant to your ideal audience.
7. Misconception About Word Count
Different “gurus” would tell you something slightly different about optimal word count of blog articles.
Even though the current trend shows that long-form blog posts (1,500 – 2,000 words) seem to be yielding better results, word count alone doesn’t determine the success or failure of your post.
According to Buffer, 1,600 seems to be the ideal word count for blog posts.
Image source: https://blog.bufferapp.com/optimal-length-social-media
People don’t read for word count. Your focus should be on getting the point through and delivering value, instead of stuffing your post with less-than-relevant information just so it hits the 1,600-word mark.
Case in point: Seth Godin delivers the most enlightening gems in 200 words or less.
A 108-word pithy, powerful post by Seth Godin.
8. Playing Fast & Loose with Editing
Typos and grammatical mistakes make you look amateurish. It can also distract the readers and disrupt the flow, taking the attention away from your content to your mistakes.
Here are a few ways to improve the quality of your writing:
- Make it a habit to take a break and reread your piece so you can look for typos, run-on sentences, and other grammatical mistakes with fresh eyes.
- Include editing in your production timeline so you don’t run out of time and have to rush through this critical step.
- Read your piece out loud, to yourself or a colleague, to make sure you are writing conversationally and that the sentences flow smoothly.
- Create an editing checklist you can refer to every time to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Too many writers and bloggers get held up by perfectionism and never get their pieces published.
Don’t spend 90% of your time tweaking that last 5% that 99% of your readers won’t even notice.
The only way to tell whether your readers are resonating with your content is to put it out there, get feedback and gather metrics.
You can’t steer a car when it’s in “P”. If you don’t put your content out there, you will never know if it’s working.
Here are a few ways to get over perfectionism:
- Make a point to write and share your content regularly.
- Make writing a fun learning experience. Challenge and reward yourself.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Know that mistakes happen, and with the ease of editing in WordPress, you can correct most mishaps quickly and easily.Lack of Consistency
10. Lack of Consistency
You want to show up consistently on your audience’s radar if you want to be seen as the authority and go-to resource on the topic of your expertise.
You can’t expect to build rewarding relationships if you publish a few posts then go on hiatus for the next 3 months.
Create a publication schedule, and stick with it.
A blog publication calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.
Image source: https://blog.bufferapp.com/all-about-content-calendar
Consistency also refers to the quality of your post. If writing 3 posts per week is going to make you sacrifice quality, reduce it to two per week.
Publishing sub-par content will diminish your credibility, which is not something you want if you aim to build trust with your readers and grow your business.
A handful of outstanding articles for which you take the time to research, write and edit are going to take you further than just throwing out a ton of mediocre posts.
Finding the balance between the need to be consistently publishing and that for consistent quality is the key to successful long-term blogging strategy.
11. Thinking It’s a Magic Bullet
Most bloggers don’t get famous overnight.
If you don’t commit to the process as a long-term strategy, blogging probably won’t work for you.
Commit to writing and promoting 2 – 3 posts per week for at least six months, and more if you’re in a competitive market, before you can expect to see results.
12. Lack of Promotion
The most successful bloggers spend 20% of their time producing content and 80% of their time PROMOTING content.
If you write a piece, let it sit on the blog and do nothing about it, it probably won’t do anything for you.
You need to put your content in front of the right audience to drive traffic back to your blog.
Make sure you put in place a content promotion system so that when a new post goes live, you know exactly what to do to share it out – e.g. posting on social media, sending out your email list, or posting to article directories.
Have a social sharing schedule to promote your post.
13. Not Capturing Leads
You work so hard to write and promote your post, wouldn’t it be a shame that visitors come to your site, read the article and leave without you being able to send them more content in the future?
Consistency is key when it comes to building trust and relationship with an audience so you need to show up consistently on their radar.
Instead of crossing your fingers that they will bookmark your site and come back often, show up regularly in their inbox with value-packed content by getting them to sign up to your mailing list.
Lead capture is often done by offering a piece of content useful to your target market (e.g. ebook, special report, video series, audio training.) Your visitors will provide their name, email and other information to get that piece of content.
To put this piece of lead magnet on your website and get visitors to join your list, you can do the following:
- Use plug-ins that serve up lightbox, scroll box or smart bar to promote your opt-in gift and capture visitors’ information:
Example of a “lightbox”
Example of scrollbox
Example of a “smart bar”
- Create a content upgrade for an article by developing a resource to add value. It could be content that goes deeper into the topic, or a checklist to make the information in the article actionable. And example of a content upgrade.
Image source: http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions
14. No Call-To-Action
Adding a CTA on your post helps engage your readers.
Your CTA doesn’t have to be a sales message. By asking your readers to take small actions, you are leveraging the science of micro-commitment to train them to take more actions with you in the future.
Your CTA could be subscribing to your list, signing up for a content upgrade, sharing the article or leaving a comment.
15. Not Engaging In Comments
Blogging is the granddaddy of social media, and that means interaction!
Instead of a one-way street, make your blog an active conversation with your community. Having back-and-forth in the comment section adds richness to the conversation. You can also turn it into a handy tool for some informal market research.
Take the time to write thoughtful replies. Acknowledging your readers’ participation helps build relationship. Moreover, when other see that you reply to comments, they are more likely to participate.
Replying to comments not only helps you foster interaction and a sense of community, they are good for SEO as well!
An example of a thoughtful comment.
Image source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/blog-comments/
16. A Wall of Text
Very few readers (with today’s internet attention span) would appreciate running into a wall of text.
Formatting can make the difference between visitors staying to read your post, or clicking away and never come back.
Here are a few tips to use formatting to improve readability and user experience.
- Use font size and typography that are easy to read.
- Use bold type and colors – sparingly and strategically – to call out important information.
- Use short paragraphs and ample line spacing between.
- Use bulleted lists.
- Break up content into sections with subheads. Many people scan subheads to determine if they want to read the full text, so subheads should give your readers the “big picture” view and entice them to read on.
- Use visual and graphic to convey information and enhance storytelling.
Beginner bloggers often don’t get the results they want because they’re not focusing on the right thing.
By putting the effort in making sure your blog supports your business goals, defining your reader persona, creating useful and relevant content in a relatable voice, staying consistent with your effort and paying attention to details, you can cut through the clutter and position your brand as the authority in front of your ideal audience.
What mistake are you making that you'd like to change? Tell us in the comments!