2015 is over and I (sadly) still see a lot of small business blogging mistakes made across the blogosphere. It makes me want to cringe and cry at the same time.
Many entrepreneurs pour their heart and soul into their businesses but when it comes to their blog, for whatever reason, they think they can quickly slap some sentences together, hit publish, sit back and watch their content marketing hub work for them. Then, when “nothing” happens, they abandon the blog only after a few posts.
That’s not how blogging works.
I get it – you’re an entrepreneur and you’re pressed for time! As a small business owner, you HAVE to be the Jack or Jill of ALL trades or you won’t make money. If you already have a set a clients to start, then blogging can wait until later right?
What happens when your first set of clients have come and gone and the dust has settled? Sure, you might get a referral or two but when those come and go, what’s next? How do you intend to get more leads and prospects after that?
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@jenneewrites” url=”http://wp.me/p6R74a-3R”]The thing about blogging for SMB is that it can be your biggest source of leads and new customers.[/tweetthis]
But if you don’t spend time on the strategy and execution of your blog to begin with, it won’t give you the results you’re looking for.
If you’re going to get serious about blogging for your business in 2016, here are 9 basic – but very common – small business blogging mistakes to avoid.
This happens A LOT.
You know what I’m talking about – that small business that confuses their blog for a PR outlet, broadcasting only press releases and the latest company news as “content”. While your blog is kind of a like another promotional tool, it really isn’t. The whole point of blogging is to connect, engage and educate your customers.
How to avoid this: Write content that’s relatable, fun and informative drawing readers in. Think about what your readers want to read, not necessarily what you want to write.
Many businesses choose to host their blogs on the .com version of WordPress, or test out content marketing on Tumblr or Blogger. Maybe it’s because when you’re in startup mode, any kind of free marketing you can do is worth taking and you can always switch a self-hosted blog later on, right?
Technically, yes. But the caveat here is that you’re building a platform…on someone else’s property. So you’re creating content on someone else’s site, building links on someone else’s site and ultimately, increasing traffic to someone else’s site.
How to avoid this: go self-hosted with your blog from the jump. If you already have a website, you’re likely already paying for hosting so it should be fairly simple to add it. Here’s a good primer on how to add a blog to your website.
This really speaks for itself – no one likes to read a poorly written piece of communication, regardless of the medium. Poor choice of words, bad grammar and spelling or even the wrong punctuation can drive prospects away.
[tweetthis url=”http://wp.me/p6R74a-3R”]No one likes to read a poorly written piece of communication, regardless of the medium. #swcwritingtips[/tweetthis]
How to avoid this: no matter the size of your company, there’s a good chance that someone on your team has decent writing skills. Open up the company blog to everyone and let them write under their own name so they get credit – employees will feel good about their contributions to the organization and readers will have different voices to connect with. If you’re a solopreneur and writing isn’t one of your strengths, consider outsourcing to someone who is.
You’re excited about this new marketing asset and have a slew of post ideas to launch the blog. You write all your content, schedule the posts for the next 8 weeks then let the blog collect dust for a month or two (or three). When readers don’t hear from you regularly, they’ll be less inclined to read your blog.
How to avoid this: become a regular presence in their lives and inboxes. You’re probably wondering just how often you should post and the answer is: it depends. Two factors play a part here: how often you actually can blog and how often your readers want to hear from you. In the beginning, if you can only afford to create one high-quality long form blog post, then stick with that.
If you prefer to break it down to two shorter blog posts a week, then that’s great too. Find the frequency that works for you and your audience. The point here is to get your readers used to hearing from you regularly and consistently.
When you’re trying to gain traction, you might be tempted to write on a broad range of topics so you can appeal to an even wider range of audience. Your blog will easily get lost in the noise and no one will end up reading it.
How to avoid this: You actually only need to write for your ideal customer. Create content that earns their trust, educations them about your business and addresses their pain points. Write what they need to understand to like and trust you and the rest will be history.
If you’re not making it easy for your readers to subscribe to your email list, you’re losing out on a game-changing opportunity. At the end of the day, all content marketing leads to building that very important email list.
How to avoid this: add opt-in email forms throughout your content. Whether it’s a prominent call-to-action at the end of every blog post, or adding a pop-up to your homepage, test out different CTA locations to find the one that works best for you and your audience.
You only promote the content when it’s initially published. After that, it’s like the content was never created. Maybe you think ‘if you write it, readers will come’ – they don’t.
How to avoid this: keep promoting your content! In order to get your stuff read, you have to let people know it’s there. And one tweet or share when it’s first published isn’t going to cut it. Develop a social sharing schedule timeline and watch your blog traffic increase nicely.
Deciding to build a business blog, a successful one at that, is a huge undertaking. And while writing content IS important, it really shouldn’t consume more than 50% of your time. I can speak from experience on this one – you need to spend as much time promoting your content as you do actually writing it.
How to avoid this: develop a promotion plan for your blog content. How is this related to writing time? If you’re spending too much time on writing content, you won’t have enough time (or energy) to promote your content properly. Your content has to be scannable, relatable and enjoyable to read – not perfect.
Research key industry influencers and start building relationships with them – once you’ve built a rapport, you can ask them to help spread the word when you publish valuable content.
Yes, you read that right – blogging isn’t just about the words, it’s also about the graphics. And good graphics aren’t optional anymore, they’re necessary if you want to a) get your content read and b) get your content shared.
How to avoid this: since readers naturally gravitate to towards image, it’s important that you pay attention to the kinds of images you use within your content – throwing in a few random stock photos won’t do you any good.
And yes, I realize that you probably don’t have a design background but that doesn’t mean you can’t create customized images to go with your custom content. There are many simple blog graphics that you can learn to create with free design software – so there’s no excuse to make this mistake.
Okay, so there are 10 small business blogging mistakes listed here but this one is really important to avoid. You work hard to write, edit, format, create visuals, promote and promote with purpose but you don’t stop to analyze the data. Analytics can give you insight into what titles, topics and types of blog content work. When you don’t analyze your blog’s effectiveness, you’re ignoring data that can take your content marketing to the next level.
How to avoid this: start looking at your metrics! Every small business has different blogging goals but a few key ones to measure are: high-performing keywords, monthly visitors, comments, leads and conversion, inbound links (where other people link to your content) and social media shares.
Blogging for your business will be hard, no one said it would be easy. You need to give it lots of time, effort and thought in order to increase your chances of having a successful blog – and once you gain traction, your blog can be a serious driver of new leads and customers.
But just like anything else in marketing, blogging is a learned skill – so if you’ve been making these mistakes, there’s no need to throw in the towel. Now you that know what to avoid, you can move on and do better next time.
Are you struggling to get the results you’re looking for with blogging? If so, could you be making any of these mistakes?
Let me know in the comments below what other small business blogging mistakes you’ve noticed that we should avoid in 2016?