“When it comes to blogging, what are the ‘don’ts’?”
That was the first question I heard at a recent blogging presentation to a group of small business owners. (Blogging hint: Questions are a great source of blog post ideas.)
I know that if one person asked, others are wondering the same thing – no one wants to look foolish, make mistakes, damage their credibility or waste their time or money.
She asked. I listened. Here they are:
#10: Setting up a blog that’s separate from your business website. For consistent branding, your blog must look and feel like your website. More importantly, when people read your content, you want them on your site, where they’re one click away from doing business with you.
#9: Blogging for therapeutic release. A business blog must be more than a diary. Notable exceptions are wellness practitioners or business coaches, who naturally bring their own life/business lessons into their daily work with clients. Otherwise, focus on providing valuable, relevant and practical information.
#8: Adding too many new categories. When tempted to add a new category (and please don’t choose “uncategorized”), consider whether this is a topic you’ll have more to say about in the future. Better still, plan your categories from the start.
#7: Leaving your excerpt to chance. Your site’s blog archives page displays, by default, the beginning of each blog post. This will be cut off after a certain number of words (on search engines it may be as few as 25 words). Write your own brief excerpt that gives people a reason to click through.
#6: Publishing your first draft. It’s natural that as you write you’ll clarify your ideas and think of new ones. That’s why it’s crucial to review your post to make sure you’re making one clear point, and that your title, introduction and conclusion still apply.
#5: Trying to be everything to everybody. Write every post as if you are talking to one person – the ideal client you want to be doing business with. If you have more than one client group, you can use categories or tags to help people find their relevant posts.
#4: Being too generic. Prospective clients want and need to see some personality in your blog posts. Ideally, you want the experience of reading your blog to mirror the experience of doing business with you. Write authentically in your own voice, and be clear and strong about your opinions.
#3: Waiting to start blogging until…(insert myths and excuses here). Blogging seems like an easy thing to drop off the list when you get busy. What if you were to put blogging at the top of your list instead of the bottom? How many blog posts would you have under your belt if you’d been blogging consistently this whole year?
#2: Posting too quickly. While point #6 was about reviewing your content, you must also proofread each post before publishing. Ideally you will have an outside editor (hey, we do that!), but the next best thing is to walk away from your desk, come back with fresh eyes and read your post out loud. Listen and watch for typos, awkwardly-worded sentences and whether or not it “sounds like you.”
#1: Starting a business blog only to abandon it later. When people see a “blog” button on your website, or a few articles in your sidebar, you create the expectation that there will be fresh content. How you do anything is how you do everything. If people see that you haven’t followed through with your blogging, they may wonder if you follow through with other things. So plan before you start, and keep it up!
Linda Dessau is the founder and creative director of Content Mastery Guide, offering hands-free blogging services to businesses who want to reach and connect with more clients and customers online. Follow her on Twitter @lindadessau.