The five biggest mistakes bloggers make – and how to avoid them

Donna Moritz is a social media strategist and visual marketing specialist whose blog for Socially Sorted won Best Business Blog 2014 from the Australian Writers’ Centre. In part one of this two-part article, she explains the five biggest mistakes business blogs make and how to avoid them. (4 min read)

Socially Sorted’s blog is a great source of tips and ideas on how to use visual content to supercharge blogs and social media channels. Socially Sorted’s founder Donna Moritz took time out of her busy schedule to explain the most common mistakes business bloggers make – and how to avoid them.

What are some of the key challenges for business bloggers?

For many bloggers, it is consistency and staying the distance. I have seen time and time again that a business that posts consistent content, addressing the needs, challenges or inspirations of a particular target audience, will usually experience growth in readers and opportunity.

I believe there are a few tipping points, and one of those is the first 1,000 readers – many bloggers or businesses give up before they reach this point. It can seem like forever to get your first 1,000 unique readers or users per month (you can track this with Google Analytics). But once you get there, readers tend to grow and take exponential jumps at certain points.

What are the top five mistakes businesses make with their blogs?

1. Not being yourself

Don’t be afraid to show your personality. It’s what people want to know about: the person or people behind the business.

2. Writing for everyone and reaching nobody

Try to have an ideal audience or customer in mind when you write a blog, otherwise you will aim for everybody and hit nobody. Even if you have to dream up your ideal imaginary reader to start with, write to that person. It will help your writing to be more relatable and real. People buy from people. If you are a business blog, you can instantly become readable and of interest to your ideal customer by making them feel important. If they are thinking “wow you just read my mind” or “it’s like you wrote that for me” when they read your article, then they will be more likely to subscribe and come back for more.

3. Focusing on likes, not subscribers

Many businesses spend way too much time on Facebook collecting likes when they should be attracting blog subscribers. Subscribers are much more important (and better for your business) than social media likes. I would rather have 1,000 engaged subscribers than 10,000 or even 50,000 fans, likes or followers who don’t care. One of the biggest mistakes I see is a lack of a way to subscribe on blogs and not encouraging people to subscribe – either by asking them or by providing some sort of downloadable content as a reward for opting in. Once you get your subscribers, treat them like gold. Keep giving them more great value, including more fabulous blog posts.

4. A lack of great images

The web has become the “visual web”. Sites like Pinterest mean that your ideal customer could be on your website “pinning” an image from your article or page back to Pinterest. Those Pins (the visual content) have more longevity than most other pieces of content on the web, and they get shared and reshared for months or even years. It’s a much longer shelf life than a tweet or a Facebook post. Having a great header image on every page or at least an image that is “pinnable” or optimised for sharing to Pinterest, Facebook or Google+ is smart. Ideally, a portrait-sized image is great for sharing to Pinterest and also shares well to Google+. A landscape-sized image will share well to Facebook and Twitter. Adding some text overlay to your images can also help to give context to readers, especially for a blog header. That way, if someone spots the image, they can see immediately what your article will be about when clicking through from Pinterest.

“Subscribers are much more important (and better for your business) than social media likes. I would rather have 1,000 engaged subscribers than 10,000 or even 50,000 fans, likes or followers who don’t care.”

Donna Moritz, Socially Sorted  

5. Not promoting your blog

It’s important to promote your blog. You need to share the link and the posts on your email newsletters, on social media sites and through any other marketing channels you have. Remember that the more you give, the more you get back – go out there and find blogs in your industry or related topics to follow, and share their content, too. It’s a great way to get noticed. The Australian blogging community is a very supportive one, so venture outside of your own blog to see what others are doing in your industry and in related industries – and say hi!

Has something that should have been a blogging mistake turning into a success for you?

I would say that writing about everything that caught my interest (like a bright, shiny object) was a blessing, even though it was too general for my blog. Without doing that, I would not have found those chance posts that resonated, so sometimes you have to widen the net before you can focus in.

I also did guest posts for the wrong blogs, where the audience was not for me, they did not promote the post well or, for various other reasons, I was left feeling that I was wasting my time. It made me really evaluate each blog that I contributed to and start looking for the ones that also resonated with my readers and provided great content already – it was often the ones that I was reading! I now only guest post for a few key blogs, but I value my writing time a lot more now. Writing a guest post takes time so I am very respectful of people’s time when contributing to my blog and I will promote the heck out of any posts that I have contributors for.

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