Whether your blog is part of your marketing strategy or your site’s main product offering, it can be a challenge to bring your content the traffic that you want. While it’s simple enough to get a blog started, there are a number of hurdles on the way to a successful site, and a few small mistakes can crush a blog before it even gets off the ground.
To help avoid those traps, we’ve put together a list of some of the major pitfalls that content creators often encounter. From planning and execution through distribution, make sure you avoid these mistakes at all costs.
One of the biggest dangers to blog success is running out of steam. If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to build up a content library before your full launch. The longer you can build out a runway of posts, the more leeway you’ll have with your schedule. Putting together written content can be very time consuming, and it’s good to have insulation for the periods of time when you won’t be able to tend to it. A loss of momentum can be a crushing blow to online publications. Plus, the deeper your article history goes, the better; a blog without a backlog of posts doesn’t look like a substantial or reputable source of information.
Mismanaging your calendar
Setting an unrealistic publishing calendar can also be a drag on your blog. Your editorial calendar should be a tool with multiple benefits. It gives you a clear publishing plan and can make it easier to visualize your entire content strategy. It also helps you stay on topic, especially during specific parts of the year. For example, a retail blog would want stories for specific holidays, a travel blog would want pieces for specific times of year, and so on. The publishing calendar also helps you establish a cadence of writing, editing, and publishing your work, so you can become a consistent poster.
Not having a metric to gauge success, or focusing on the wrong metrics, can be a major problem. As you launch or revamp your pages, you’ll want to keep an eye out for noticeable changes in your numbers, whether it’s standard page traffic, bounce rate, time on page, or another gauge of progress. But avoid tunnel vision when you look at your analytics; becoming fixated on a single performance indicator can cause you to lose sight of other positive impacts your work may have.
Likewise, you should be confident in you ability to interpret the data your blog generates. If you feel in over your head, it’s time to do some additional research and studying. If you still feel overwhelmed, it may be time to turn to a third party for additional consultation.
Low content value
What can you provide that other blogs can’t? If the quality of your content is lacking, reading your pages is essentially a waste of time. Readers are searching for value, for information that they cannot find elsewhere. If you’re providing information that’s readily available on other sites, or too vague to be of real use, you have a problem.
Remember, not all of your readers will necessarily care what happens to your business, but they are interested in the analysis of what’s happening in your business. If you can provide information that your readers can apply to their own work or lives, you’re providing valuable content.
You should always endeavor to offer content that other competitors in your space don’t or can’t supply. The value of your content increases if you’re the only one supplying it. This principle works both ways, however, and it’s easy to fall into a position where you are only echoing content already found on other pages. While breaking news, industry or otherwise, frequently results in multiple outlets covering the same information, always try to distinguish your blog by finding an unexplored angle.
It’s also good to bring in outside opinions. Find experts in fields adjacent to yours and bring them in for interviews. Research case studies in your space or try to identify larger trends with data from other companies. Bringing in outside contributors will help with content distribution and give you exposure to new opinions and perspectives in your industry.
Even though you want to promote your own products and services, remember that part of the purpose of having a blog is to build a relationship with customers and potential customers. If the content you’re posting is overly promotional, you’re going to hurt that relationship. Honesty and subjective opinions are greatly valued on a blog. Remember, your aim is to provide information and establish yourself as an authority.
Writing on a topic with which you have little experience or limited knowledge about can harm your blog too. If you’re diving into unfamiliar territory with a post, it’s usually a good idea to back up your hypotheses with plenty of data. Don’t start in on a topic that you’re unwilling to extensively research. Remember, reputation is key, and the lack of a sufficiently thought out and developed offering can harm your public perception.
You also need to make sure that your content is directed at the right audience. If there are gaps in the connections between your product, content offering, and readers, you need to reassess your strategy.
To the point, if you don’t write well, readers may not take you seriously. Typos, grammatical errors, poor formatting, and misspelled words can all diminish the authority you have established. Though this may seem obvious, it’s especially important to remember if you’re sharing blogging duties. If you have a coworker or a freelancer involved in creating content for your blog, make sure you’re reviewing their work as well. You might even find some inspiration for upcoming pieces in the process.
Lost in layout
Don’t get lost in your site design. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of A/B testing, color schemes, wireframing, and plugins. Remember, your content is what will ultimately bring people to your site. To start, make sure your pages are aesthetically pleasing and consistent, well-formatted, and easy to navigate. If ad revenue or sales conversion is part of your strategy, make sure these assets are implemented as well. From there on, though, make sure to allocate as many resources as possible to developing your content offerings. More than your site design, the content you provide may be applicable to readers for years after you post it, so think of your articles as a long term investment.
Lack of movement
No matter how inspiring and insightful your blog posts may be, you still need to develop a readership. While search engines may index and rank your pages, it can be hard to rise to the top in a competitive market, so it’s a good practice to take distribution into your own hands as well. The easiest methods of distribution are typically social media channels, though you should also be prepared to adapt your pages to maximize their SEO potential. However, remember that SEO is in theory value-based, so if you’re not providing useful content, you’re already at a major disadvantage.
The failure to self-promote can be an absolute content killer. Think about your own Facebook newsfeed; It’s a cascade of self-promotion. Your social media presence, like your blog posts, should be planned in advance when possible, topical, and consistent. Don’t be bashful about getting the word out. If you’re putting together quality posts, there’s no shame in sharing information. However, make sure you’re not overwhelming people’s feeds with your posts; two or three a day should be plenty to get you started.
Not making friends
If you’re not reaching out to other experts in your space, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In addition to bringing in outsiders for interviews and blog content, you should be making an effort to interact with your peers. This may be limited to social media interaction, but that’s more than enough; it’s a great way to increase your exposure to their audiences and build your inbound traffic.
Remember, it only takes one outstanding post to drive your page traffic through the roof, and hopefully sales as a result. It will take more than that to build out a consistent readership, but the reward for building a well-curated and professional blog can be immense.