Quick question: Do you know anyone who doesn’t suffer from information overload?
We live in a world full of cheap information. At the push of a button we can get our eyes on far more ideas, blog posts, and news stories than we could ever possibly consume.
It’s hard to remember — or imagine, if you’re a lot younger than me — when information was a scarce resource. But time is a scarce resource. It always will be. And with information everywhere, it is imperative that you treat your readers’ time with respect when they give it to you.
Especially if you want to build trust with your audience so they give you more of their time in the future.
Nowadays, words can seem cheap. It doesn’t really cost anything to publish more blog posts, send more emails, share our life with even more social media updates.
But the idea that pixels don’t cost much is flawed.
Occupying more pixels means taking up more time from potential readers. If you’re not adding value with those pixels, you could be wasting the time of your readers.
And time is an irreplaceable resource. Time is precious. We all know it.
So avoid the 11 common blogging mistakes below at all costs. They waste the time of your readers by contributing to information overload without offering value in return …
Blogging Mistake #1: You love complexity
It’s often thought that complexity is a sign of academic achievement, intelligence, or sophistication.
But the opposite is actually true.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
A sophisticated blogger uses metaphors to illustrate abstract ideas. She tells simple stories to explain complex concepts. She appreciates the time of her readers.
Next time you write, see how you can simplify your message. There’s no need to dumb down your ideas. Just help your readers process your post and be inspired by you in less reading time.
Blogging Mistake #2: You’re self-indulgent
Let’s not pussyfoot around it.
The harsh truth is this: Your readers aren’t interested in you, your life, or your stories.
As a blogger and content marketer it’s your job to help your readers, to guide them, and inspire them. Talking about your experiences is fine — it can add color and personality to your posts — but only if it helps your readers become healthier, happier, or more productive.
When you want to write a story about your life, ask yourself this: What’s in it for my readers? How can my experience help them?
Blogging Mistake #3: You think you need to publish daily
Are you clogging up people’s inboxes with your announcement of yet another post? Or are your readers excited to see another email of yours arrive?
When you publish blog posts without adding any value to conversations, you end up wasting space. You waste precious pixels.
Don’t waste people’s time with an endless stream of blog posts. Only write when you have something to say. Your audience would rather read one post that inspires them than 20 crappy posts with recycled content.
Blogging Mistake #4: You write purely for SEO
Writing exclusively for Google will bore the boots off your readers. If you’re only writing for robots, then you might be wasting human time. Your readers aren’t interested in regurgitated keywords that exist for crawling robots.
Don’t allow Google to turn you into a keyword-processing machine. Don’t allow Google to kill your creativity.
Always write for your audience first, then optimize for search engines later.
Blogging Mistake #5: You focus on word count
Does this sound familiar …
You’re staring at your computer monitor. At the bottom left hand corner you see you’ve written 537 words. You wonder what else you can write.
The idea that more content is always better has been heavily promoted by some, but this is wrong. The task of a writer is not to write more “text”. The task of a writer is to communicate a message in the length it takes to fully communicate that message.
Got your message across in 537 words? Well done. Now, try to do it in less than 400.
Blogging Mistake #6: You don’t write in plain English
Jargon, gobbledygook, and bombast slow your readers down.
Jargon requires your readers to stop and think about the meaning of your words. Gobbledygook takes up their time without adding meaning. Bombastic sentences slow them down because they’re full of unnecessary words.
When you cut excess words from your sentences, you’re doing your readers a favor. When you replace long words with simpler words, you’re delighting your readers.
Make your posts as easy to read as possible. Write as if you’re writing for a 12-year old. Show your readers you value their time by writing in plain English.
Blogging Mistake #7: Your conclusions are stale
It’s an easy mistake to make.
You’ve poured all your energy into writing your post. Now you’ve gotten to the end, and you wiz through writing your conclusion so all is done.
But serving up an uninspiring conclusion is like presenting the cheapest supermarket ice-cream after a lavish home-cooked meal. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Don’t disappoint your readers with a bland conclusion. Try writing your conclusion first. Or write it the day after you’ve written your post.
Put all of your enthusiasm into a conclusion that inspires, motivates, and energizes your readers.
Blogging Mistake #8: You don’t know who you’re writing for
The idea that you’re writing for hundreds (or thousands) of readers may sound great, but it can kill your writing voice … fast.
When you don’t know who your audience is, your blog posts become generic. They end up speaking to no one and just taking up space.
Instead of addressing a crowd, write as if you’re having a conversation with your favorite reader. If you’re not sure who that is, make up an imaginary friend:
- Write down what she’s dreaming of and what keeps her up at night
- Consider what you can do to help her realize her dreams and take away her worries
- Write down at least 20 ideas for how you can help in your blog posts
Having lots of people read your posts is great (of course!). But when you write your next blog post, just think of one person. Your post will instantly become more personal, more conversational, and more engaging.
Blogging Mistake #9: You don’t care about your topic (anymore)
If you don’t care, why would your readers care?
Boring text slaughters people’s appetites for reading. A good blog post is written with passion. When your enthusiasm shines through, you invigorate your readers.
But how can you get excited when you’ve grown bored with your topic?
- Talk to clients and understand how you can make their lives better
- Find a good salesman and ask how he or she would sell your ideas
- Look for an expert and learn about fascinating details
- Explore other topics and see how they can be related to yours
- Challenge yourself to write your most inspirational post ever
- Take up a writing challenge—come up with a new metaphor, write an ultra-short post, or write a poetic post
Write when you feel enthusiastic. Get blissfully happy and share your excitement. Get angry and passionately argue your case.
You can’t make a dull draft exciting, but you can improve the structure and polish a text dripping with your enthusiasm.
Blogging Mistake #10: You edit your posts in less than five minutes
Are you a super-writer who writes almost impeccable posts in one go?
Most of us can’t even edit in one go. Consider at least four rounds of editing:
- Review the flow of the post. Can you remove any paragraphs without impacting your story or argument? Does each paragraph naturally follow the paragraph before it?
- Take out the funny asides that aren’t funny or aren’t relevant.
- Polish each sentence. Cut overly long sentences in two; replace difficult words with simple ones; and cross out redundant words.
- Correct any grammar or spelling mistakes
The more effort you put into editing, the easier your post becomes to read. Your message becomes clearer, and your readers will be grateful.
Blogging Mistake #11: You don’t show your personality
Let’s be honest.
Hundreds — maybe thousands — of bloggers write about exactly the same topic as you. What makes you different? What makes you stand out?
When you share useful tips without letting your personality shine through, you become interchangeable with any other blogger in your niche. You become a “me-too” blog, a commodity.
How can you let your personality shine through and increase the value of your blog posts?
- View topics from a fresh perspective
- Present arguments to suggest an opposite approach to what most people believe is right
- Share your personal experiences to guide your readers
- Entertain with your unique sense of humor
- Develop your own blogging voice that speaks strongly to your tribe
- Share a glimpse of who you are to bond with your audience
Your personality, your experiences, and your voice make your posts unique. Your readers don’t just come back for more useful tips. They engage with you because of who you are.
The harsh truth about blogging …
Your readers don’t need another blog post.
Your readers don’t need even more tips.
What your readers need is you — your wisdom, your ideas, your unique stories on your chosen area of expertise.
Never take your readers’ attention for granted. Their time is precious. Use it wisely.
About the Author: About the author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs charming. Her new book Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers is out now.