15 blogging mistakes to avoid (and what you should do instead)
Updated: May 4
What’s the last blog you read? Do you remember which friend, organization, business, or influencer shared it? (Go ahead, we’ll wait.) 💅🏼
Here’s the thing: not all posts are written so that you remember them. And that’s a shame.
Too many writers share the Field of Dreams mentality: “If I build it, they will come.” Well, sure, that could happen. Except there are a whole bunch of magical cornfields (blogs) out there these days.
GrowthBadger counts over 600 million blogs floating around the internet today.
Despite blogging being the third most popular content strategy (just behind videos and eBooks, if you’re curious), people aren’t putting the kinds of forethought and attention into these efforts.
When prioritized, blogs are audience-builders. Valuable ones.
Organizations report they’re more likely to see 13x more favorable ROI from a blog.
When done right, blogging engages organizations with their desired audience (customers, prospects, partners, etc.). Just like an earworm you can’t get out of your head. 🎶
Blogs give you a personable voice, bridge a communication gap, and offer an informal, low maintenance way to build trust and share:
compelling* program and product updates,
exciting* company news and announcements, and
surprising* research findings or industry expertise (to name a few).
*if it’s not superlative in some way, why share it?
Blogs can also increase traffic to your website and improve your organic search results. Hubspot reports that blogs result in stronger marketing results, specifically, 55% more visitors. Good content is king and the more content you have in the digital realm, the further your reach.
"As long as you create insatiable content on your site or blog, you'll keep the visitors coming back for more and more. Also, the better your content is, the more engaged your visitors will be." — R.L. Adams, Forbes contributor
We could go on and on. But you didn’t come here to hear about the benefits!
You came here because you’ve discovered that the MERE ACT of having a blog won’t produce the results mentioned above. We’ve compiled 15 common pitfalls we’ve seen organizations make with their blogs, as well as how to fix them.
Let’s get down to business. 👇
1. No Personality
Want to read a stuffy, stiffly written blog post? Didn’t think so! And hey--neither does your audience. Organizations’ blogs often try to sound too academic or loaded with jargon. Yet injecting too much personality can muddle your brand voice. You have to find that sweet spot between a bit of pizzazz and your coherent brand vision.
Start at the beginning. Your lede sentence should pop 🌟so you draw readers in instantly. Nix the book report style, and craft content that’s conversational and infused with character and storytelling. The fun part of adding personality to your posts: how you do it is completely up to you (so make it your own).
2. Sporadic Blogging
A blog post here, a blog post there, but not a blog post everywhere? A blogging strategy that includes five posts one week and none the next will leave your audience confused and wondering what to expect. Inconsistent blogging only hurts your content marketing strategy because it results in reader dropoff.
🧭Have a strategy that guides your efforts. Plan ahead and use an editorial calendar with a cadence that you can adhere to: 3x/week, weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Select topics ahead of time that are aligned with your goals. Put them on a calendar, and set deadlines to have your content written and scheduled. (We’ve simplified this, but if it’s something you’d like help with, first--we plan to write a more in-depth post soon. And you can always hire us to supercharge your blogging efforts.) ⚡️
Pro-tip: Use an online editorial calendar such as CoSchedule to schedule and keep your blog posts organized.
3. Undefined Editorial Strategy
Speaking of an editorial calendar and strategy, blogs that don’t have a vision or theme leave readers lost. Random posts on an array of topics doesn’t support your marketing strategy and will not increase clicks, views, engagement, or traffic.
Blogging just to blog? Stop. 🛑 Think about your organization’s mission, your products, your audience and develop a blog strategy with an overarching theme aligned with your goals. Are you an educational organization? Create blog content centered around what you provide: consulting services, training or networking events.
4. Nonexistent Author Diversity
It’s 2021. Your blog shouldn’t be written by one or two people, and it’d be best if those folks came from different walks of life. This mistake is all-too-common and hurts your marketing strategy. It signals a missed opportunity to share diverse voices and reach a broader audience. It also impacts the amount and quality of content you can share in the digital universe.
Have a medium-to-large business? Invite multiple members of your organization to write for and contribute to your blog.
Have a small business or operate as a team of one or two? Reach out to trusted colleagues in your field and include guest bloggers. (Psst! Even larger organizations can have guest bloggers!)
Multiple contributors = more content, but even more importantly, it gives your blog a better chance at connecting with more people. Author diversity enables your blog to be recognized as a trusted source, because it features a wider range of expertise, experience and perspectives.
5. No Distribution Strategy
We see this a lot. A blog is published and then...nothing. That thing is not going to market and share itself! With no effort or strategy to generate views (and no, that one Facebook post doesn’t count), it’s going to fall flat. The internet is too big and you’re too obscure. How will your potential audience find your blog if you’re not actively promoting it?
Create a distribution strategy that thoughtfully includes promotion on all of your social media channels. Decide how many posts or tweets should be crafted and add them to your social media schedule. Share not only on your business pages, but your personal LinkedIn and Twitter accounts as well. (Don’t forget to include quote graphics or images!)
Have a digital newsletter? Include one or two of your blog posts in your newsletter each time you hit send.
Pro-tip: Need more time in the day? Don’t we all. Free social media scheduling platforms can help you create a robust social media calendar. We like Buffer and Crowdfire.
6. Non-Skimmable Content
You’re reading this word-for-word, aren’t you?
Just 43% of readers admit to skimming blog posts, says Hubspot. But we all do it. And the blogging pros at Buffer found that 55% of their readers only read for 15 seconds or less. Content that seemingly runs down the page in one long, daunting paragraph will send your audience on to the next interesting read in seconds.
Make sure to:
write in short paragraphs,
include plenty of paragraph breaks,
use meaningful headings and subheadings,
break up content with relevant imagery or callouts,
and use a clear, uncluttered format.
"While it's nice to imagine that your readers hang on your every word, the reality is that they're probably mostly skimming your posts... make it easy to find the piece of information they likely came for." — Karla Cook, Sr. Manager of the HubSpot Blog Team
7. Inconsistent Subheadings
While including subheadings is great (see #6), look again. If they seem random, you’re still missing the point. Many subheadings lack consistency in tone and don’t connect with the content they introduce. (Oops.)
Use clear and consistent subheadings throughout your post to communicate your main ideas. Ask yourself: is each of my subheadings using the same voice and tone. Does it offer a preview of the information below?
8. Poor SEO Strategy
Search engine optimization (SEO) has been characterized as a mysterious black box. But this blogging best practice isn’t hard to incorporate. SEO mistakes can include using too many or too few keywords, the wrong length or word count, or when a post is blatantly written for SEO purposes only. (If it sounds like a bot, it’s probably a bot. 🤖Or an SEO post from a content factory.)
Let’s start with word count. With SEO in mind, the optimal length of a post should be between 2,100 - 2,400 words. (Hey! This post is killing it. 🤘)
There are, of course, a few other recommendations not solely based on SEO; you can read more about those here.
What about keywords? SearchEngine® Journal has a helpful post that includes 7 tips to help with blog keyword strategy. Start with intent; what do you want your blog to do and how would readers search for that? From there, develop your keyword list.
Your post should be thoughtful and mean something to your brand and services. A post only written with SEO in mind will lack substance and won’t connect with readers.
9. Lack of Supported Data
Here’s a no-brainer (we all learned this in middle school, right?) However, there are too many blog posts that cavalierly don’t back up their claims. You cannot be deemed trustworthy if you don’t include data or research that supports your content.
Cite your sources, use embedded links and back up your arguments or claims with research from other trusted authors, posts, articles, and so on. By doing so, your credibility, arguments, and statements become stronger and more convincing.
Pro-tip: Looking for reliable data sources? Here are a few of our favorites: HubSpot Research, Pew Research Center, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Buffer.
10. Forgotten CTA (call-to-action)
Remember #8 where we spoke about intent? It’s not only important for SEO, but for what you expect your audience to do after reading your post. Too many posts just end without a prompt to do something further. A giant opportunity is wasted.
Ensure each post includes some type of CTA at the end. Ask yourself: What do we want people to do as a result of reading this? (Such as: read related posts, contact us, complete a survey, sign up for a webinar, etc.)
11. “In Conclusion”
Oof. Let’s leave this segue where it belongs: in 4th-grade book reports. There are wiser ways to use your blog’s real estate than a generic subheading like this one (or its cousin, the dreaded “Introduction”).
Get creative and try out ‘a talking headline’ that tells your readers. Your readers see the end coming; there’s no need to make it painfully obvious.
12. Lackadaisical Revisions
🔎It’s tough to catch every minuscule detail and revision that should be made. But a thorough revision process is your knight in shining armor here. We’ve too often reviewed posts where the flow is off, weak or confusing phrasing is used, or there are noticeable typos. Credibility takes a hit. And it all could’ve been remedied with more attentive revisions.
Invite people to the party! Set up a revision process that includes more than just you. Have one (or two) others who are knowledgeable about your topic and writing in general review and offer edits. Spell check, run the post through a plagiarism checker, resolve any grammar issues with Grammarly, and read it aloud to see if it flows logically.
13. Erratic Imagery
What are those inconsistent hero images telling readers? A mix of “we didn’t care enough to select or create something uniform, and we’re pretty much counting on you not noticing.”
Some posts start with a solid, non-cheesy stock photo that draws attention and accentuates the overall post...good...but then it gets muddled with random clipart or low-quality graphics in the content.
Put some thought into what images beautifully represent your message (even metaphorically) and don’t settle for clipart from a web search simply because it’s free. With as much time as you’re investing in carefully and thoughtfully crafting your content, you should also carefully select the kind of visually arresting images that best support your content.
Pro-tip: Sites such as Rawpixel or Unsplash have free and affordable paid options to find those perfect images and graphics.
14. Overcrowded Layout
The last thing you want for your audience? To open your blog and feel woefully lost in an overcrowded or underwhelming layout. Blogs that don’t follow a clean layout across categories and within posts are guilty of this, as are those with line spacing that’s too close or too far apart, or those with inconsistent fonts, sizes, and colors.
Stop👏 confusing👏 your👏 readers.
This isn’t the place for a stream of consciousness or a brain dump. Ensure your blog has a consistent layout that is both pleasing to the eye and enables readers to land on what’s most important. Your audience’s experience should be at the forefront of your mind and be aligned with your visual brand, including themes, motifs, colors, fonts, and sizing.
15. Absent Search & Sort
“But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” said rock legends U2 and every reader encountering a blog without search. Every blog should have an option to sort posts logically as well as a search function to hunt for keywords that matter to them. Readers seeking expertise on a certain topic will get frustrated if they can’t quickly find what they’ve come to read. (Then they’ll leave, and your bounce rate will rise accordingly.)
Use a blog theme that’s not only clearly laid out but also enables you to sort posts by type, tags, categories, or keyword and includes a search function. Don’t lose readers before they begin to check out your content!
Time to Reap Those Blog Benefits ⚡
Creating a blog that supports your brand won’t happen overnight; it takes time, thoughtfulness, persistence and consistency to get it just right. But you can have a good start by developing a strategy that includes the ‘fixes’ to the common mistakes listed above.
And remember, we’ve all made these mistakes (no one is perfect, right?) Keep up the good work, incorporate these best practices and you'll reap the benefits of your efforts.
Have additional tips on these common mistakes? Share them with us in the comments or with the Founders team on LinkedIn.