How much thought do you put into your blog?
As an English major, managing your own content through a blog is a great way to build your skills, find your voice, and get your writing out to a wider audience.
But more than that, blogging can serve as the basis for marketable skills that employers in a range of industries look for. For this reason, learning what makes a successful blog (and what drives one to ruin) can have a powerful impact on your career aspirations.
As a marketing agency Head of Copy at Search It Local, I read blogs almost every single day. Time and time again I’m struck by the quality of writing. But also the lack of direction, strategy and execution.
But it can also do the opposite.
You can lose a lot of time and money by doing the wrong things when it comes to your blog.
While blogging requires creativity, it is still similar to any other type of business operation - it creatives preparation and planning. Which makes getting a blog off the ground quite a challenge.
Before you hit the panic button though, mistakes are a vital part of your blogging journey. They will help you to grow and better yourself as a writer, so the odd mistake or two shouldn’t worry you.
However, if you’re making any of the following 5 mistakes without rectifying them, your blogging experience may not take flight the way you hope.
With this in mind, here’s how you can avoid the worst mistakes in blogging in 2020.
Mistake #1 - You don’t have a clear strategy
Achieving your goal as a blogger will be challenging if you don’t know what that goal actually is.
For any blogger, a clear strategy is a must. Not only will this help you identify the steps you need to take, but through monitoring your progress over time it will become much easier to see where you need to apply more effort.
You wouldn’t start running a marathon without knowing where the finish line was.
In the same way, you shouldn’t operate a blog without a clear strategy.
Start by answering the following questions towards building a blogging strategy:
What is your reason for wanting to start a blog?
Are you targeting a certain audience?
What type of content will you be creating?
What are your goals after 6 months, or a year?
Break down your goals into smaller bite sized pieces. This will make them easier to achieve.
PRO TIP: Divide and Conquer
Try dividing 2020 into four separate quarters, each being three months long. From here, identify a main topic, as well as a secondary topic, to be covered throughout each quarter.
These will become your focus. With individual projects to focus on you’ll be able to create micro-strategies and not get lost in the bigger picture.
From there you can work up incrementally will ensure you don’t burn out, or feel overwhelmed.
Mistake #2 -
You have unrealistic expectations
Starting a new blog can be exhilarating.
You’ll be looking to make your new blog a success as soon as possible.
It’s important to realize that this takes time. Depending on your goal, you should always be realistic about the timeframe for success.
Do you want to start making money through your blog? Or expand your subscriber’s list? Or get featured by other prominent bloggers in your niche?
Being realistic about these goals can help you stay focused. It’s easy to get frustrated and quit if you believe you’re not making progress. And the quickest way to have this feeling is to set the goalposts too close, then get frustrated when you don’t reach them.
Avoid setting yourself up for disappointment as much as possible to ensure that you remain motivated for what might turn out to be a long journey to success.
All you need to do is set yourself small goals that you can measure at specific periods. These should be achievable and tangible.
Whether quarterly, half year, yearly or after a couple of years, your goals should be able to be tracked and updated.
Mistake #3 - You don’t have consistency
For your first blog post of 2020, your head will likely be full of great ideas.
However, after a while, your normal life becomes a distraction. Maybe you start losing focus. And your motivation drops through the floor. Sound familiar?
Don’t worry if that describes you. It happens to the best of us.
In addition to blogging, it’s normal to have other things on your mind. It’s good to balance out your passions with other work/life distractions. But finding the balance is key to ensure your productivity doesn’t take a nosedive.
Going weeks without posting new content happens quickly once you stop writing consistently. And these weeks can quickly turn into months in no time.
You will find that it becomes increasingly challenging for you to get back into writing the longer you wait. As your blog followers take notice of your absence, your reputation may suffer
Struggling for ideas?
Proper planning is the key to producing new content on a consistent basis. When you don’t know what to write about, your output can become inconsistent.
Identify what your audience wants to read, any relevant keywords and explore complementary various ideas. This aspect of blog writing - keyword research - is too often overlooked.
After all, if no one is searching for the things you’re writing about then you’re limiting yourself to the audience you have without giving yourself a fair chance at growing.
You can take these searches and create content based around this real-world data to ensure people are actively searching for the things you’re writing about.
Mistake #4 - You don’t edit (or promote) your work
How much time do you spend writing each blog post?
An hour, two hours, more?
Now how much time do you spend editing that same content? Chances are that figure isn’t nearly as high.
When it comes to blogging, more time should be spent on editing posts than writing them. This is something that many beginners are unaware of, which disrupts their productivity and places a barrier on how much their blog could grow.
Once you have written your first draft, take a break and come back with fresh eyes. If possible, find someone else to provide editing feedback for you. Your posts become infinitely more readable with a touch of editing.
Overall this translates into more readers visiting your blog and staying longer. Not only are these user metrics a sign that your content is speaking to your audience in the way you wanted, but they also benefit you from an SEO perspective - which is a great way to increase your reach and exposure.
With this in mind, how much time should you actually spend on editing your blog posts?
Here are some tips to help you answer this question.
The time you devote to content creation should be divided into 3 portions
Around 40% of your time should go to planning and research. During this time you explore different ideas for your posts.
20% of your time should go towards content creation. This time is typically spent on typing out your winning ideas.
The final 40% should go towards editing and marketing your blogs. This is the last and most important part of the content creation process.
Mistake #5 - You’re writing about highly generalized topics
Coming up with a new story, angle or perspective isn’t easy.
But it is necessary.
Each blog post should be as focused as possible, covering narrow topics.
Remember, your followers consider your posts to be worth their time. Don’t fall into the trap of writing in generalities just to get something on the page. Your audience found you because you cover a specific niche.
With that in mind, it is important that you use each blog post to address a single issue or question.
The more you get sidetracked, the more you dilute your message, and the more you risk losing readers who wanted a singular approach, but got multiple.
Ready to make 2020 your best blogging year yet?
Being a blogger is easy. Being a successful blogger is hard.
While writing skills will be the basis for your successful blog - and any potential career in marketing you may pursue - your ability to strategize, formulate plans, set realistic goals and stay consistent will ensure you take your talent and turn it into a tangible outcome.
And if you’re struggling for direction or clarity, just remember - your readers are your leaders.
They’ll tell you what they love, and what they want more of. From there all you have to do, is give it to them.
Do you have any blogging secrets that you swear by?
Let everyone know in the comments!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexander Porter is Head of Copy at Sydney marketing agency Search It Local. An experienced digital marketer, Alexander started as a freelance copywriter and was lucky enough to grow from there.
Running a travel blog in his spare time, he harbours dreams of becoming the next great travel writer of our generation. But will settle for a one page article in the back of a Delta Airlines in-flight magazine.
He’s also got an unfinished version of a book that he’s “fairly sure isn’t derivative” though he’s still not certain. When not reading, you’ll find Alexander on Quora or reading about 20th century political history.