During my past few years as a blogger, I’ve made a number of mistakes. As an avid blog reader, I’ve also seen other bloggers make mistakes of their own.
Here are 17 blogging blunders you should try to avoid. Please add to this list by leaving a comment.
1. Not having a unique voice. With so many blogs saturating the internet, why should someone read yours? The best way to stand out from the crowd is to have a totally unique voice readers can’t find anywhere else. How can you do that? Write like you talk, and be yourself. It’s that simple.
2. Having an awful design. For the love of all things holy, don’t use the default WordPress theme. It makes you look like a total amateur, and readers won’t take you seriously. There are plenty of great free WordPress themes you can download.
3. Posting infrequently. Keeping your readers’ attention is key to building a loyal following. It’s pretty difficult to do this if you post every few weeks or just whenever you get around to it. I’m not saying you need to post every day, you don’t, but post regularly enough that you don’t slip from your audience’s awareness.
4. Giving up too soon. Building a successful blog takes time. It can be a slow process, but if you avoid the blunders in this list, you should be well on your way to achieving something great.
5. Making it difficult to subscribe. You can’t expect everyone to come back to your blog on a daily basis. You need to make it so you can deliver your new content to them. That’s why you should place RSS feed signup buttons above the fold on your blog. You can also put a reminder at the end of each post asking people to sign up for your feed.
6. Not opening things up for conversation. Blogging is about creating a conversation with readers. Your job is to get the conversation started and to get people talking. Some ways to achieve this are to have a clear opinion on topics, write about timely issues, and ask readers to share their thoughts.
7. Not responding to comments. Of course, what incentive does a reader have to leave a comment if they know the author will just ignore it? You need to respond to all comments so you can keep the conversation going and build relationships with your readers.
8. Responding angrily to negative comments. People are going to disagree with you at some point. That’s just how it goes, and that’s actually a good thing. This starts conversations, and it keeps things interesting. Just make sure you have thick skin and respond to negative comments professionally.
9. Over-moderating comments. One of the great things about blogging—and all social media—is that everyone gets a voice. Readers get to voice their opinions, and those opinions should count just as much as those of the author. By moderating your comments too heavily (deleting all negative comments), you remove this important element, causing you to lose readers.
10. Adding nothing new to exhausted topics. Let’s face it: Whatever you plan on writing about has probably already been covered by someone else. That’s fine. Just make sure you add your own unique perspective to the topic to keep it interesting.
11. Distracting advertisements. If you’re going to have ads on your blog, keep them separated from the content. Place them in a sidebar or in a banner along the top or bottom of the page. Your content should always be the main focus of your blog.
12. Not tagging and categorizing content. Your readers may have particular subjects that they’re interested in reading more about. By categorizing your content, you make it easy for them to find the info they need fast. It’s Usability 101.
13. Bad headlines. A killer headline is the foundation of hot social media content. If your headline sucks, most people won’t even bother reading the rest of your post.
14. Never linking out. Linking out is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps you turn your blog into a resource for your readers. In other words, when you link out, readers know you’re giving them all the info they need. Second, linking out captures the attention of other bloggers with a trackback, helping you build your network.
15. Being an unproductive blogger. Blogging can take up a lot of your time, especially if you lack basic productivity skills. One of the things I recommend is to set aside a specific time for handling blog maintenance tasks like approving comments. This keeps you from getting distracted each time a new comment is posted. You can also outline your posts ahead of time, so that when you’re ready to write you only have a few details to fill in.
16. Reposting content without asking permission. Never repost someone else’s blog post unless you talk to the blogger first. The only time you can repost content without permission is if it’s a short (few sentences at most) excerpt from the post. In this case, you should still link back to the original post.
17. Not optimizing posts for the search engines. If your posts aren’t targeting specific keywords, you’re missing out on long-term search engine traffic. Stick to the SEO basics of including keywords in headlines, body content, and back links.
What are some other blogging blunders you’d add to this list?