By this point, you should know just how important it is to blog. It’s a great way to get content out there for search engines, and it’s a great way to get people interested in your website. You have a voice that’s worth listening to—especially if you know something about your industry. People love reading new information about the things they’re interested in.
Mandy Boyle’s recent article on 10 Tips for Beginner Bloggers helped to get you started. Now that you know what to do, you can start thinking about the things you should avoid doing. Because, after all, it’s one thing to get people to start reading your blog. It’s a completely different thing to get them to stay. Human beings are fickle (I’m allowed to say that because I’m a fickle human being), and they won’t stick around for something that isn’t interesting.
So . . . let’s take a look at 10 things you should avoid doing:
- Thou shalt not bash thy competition. That sounds simple enough, right? People aren’t going to your blog to hear you talk about how bad the other guy is. They’re going there for great information about the products or services offered by your business. Your blog gets ugly when you start mudslinging. It reminds me of ads around election time, when we’re inundated with ads that pit one candidate against the other. Nobody comes out looking good. Stay positive and stay informative. Trust that the public is smart enough to decide for themselves.
- Thou shalt not be full of thyself. People aren’t going to your blog to hear you tell them how awesome you are. One of the cardinal rules of writing (not just blogging) is this: Show me; don’t tell me. Prove your awesomeness through knowledge of your industry. Make yourself a resource of valuable information. Show your readers things they might not have seen otherwise.
- Thou shalt not be redundant. We’ve all done it. You’re flipping through the channels on TV and you see that your favorite show is on. But it’s a rerun. You say, “Oh, I’ve seen this before,” and you change the channel. Don’t let people do that to your blog. Keep your information fresh. You can write about the same topic again; just find new ways to spin it.
- Thou shalt not rely on spell check. Nothing turns people off like typos, spelling errors, and bad grammar. It makes your blog difficult to read, and it has a tendency to devalue some of your credible information. If you know that spelling and grammar are weak points for you, have someone proofread your blog posts before you hit that “publish” button. They might catch something you didn’t see.
- Thou shalt not overuse jargon. It’s important to remember that your customers will come to your blog to learn about your industry. Your readers aren’t necessarily going to be industry professionals. No matter how comfortable you are using the lingo, it’s a good idea to tone it down to make sure your readers are up-to-speed with you. If you’re writing a blog about myocardial infarctions, for example, just say “heart attack.” More people will understand you, and your readership will grow.
- Thou shalt not blog as an island. The saying goes that no man is an island. Well, no blog is an island either. Don’t discount your readers’ opinions. Get interactive—ask your readers for their opinions. If you get a conversation going, you’ll get more people reading.
- Thou shalt not forget about thine blog. There’s nothing worse than a blog that might as well have cobwebs on it. You set out to write an informative blog, so write it. And do it regularly.
- Thou shalt not have other blogs before me. Unless, of course, you feel like you can keep up with it. This is sort of an offshoot of #7. If you don’t have the time to cultivate a readership for one blog, what makes you think you can have two? The best blogs take time, attention, and a little bit of love.
- Thou shalt not lie. Don’t make promises that you’re not going to keep. If you tell your readers that you’re going to have a post up on Thursday, then put the post up on Thursday. You want your readers to trust you, so you need to stay honest with them. Don’t lie about your business either. Don’t say that you sell a certain product if you don’t. Lying to gain readership is going to backfire on you in the end.
- Thou shalt not be stale. The best blogs have personality. If I wanted textbook information about your industry, I’d read a textbook. Use images and formatting to change the look of your posts. Be engaging—be yourself!
Once you get out there and start interacting with your readers, you’ll know what they want to hear. Nothing about blogging is etched in stone. Just stay open and honest, and your readers will trust you as a source of valuable industry information.
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