I hate to say this … but your business blog might well suck. Sadly, quite a few do – and often for the same reasons.
When used right, blogging is a fantastic way to bring in new leads, boost your SEO, keep existing customers loyal, build a reputation in your field, and more. But used badly, it’s just a waste of time – for you, and for your readers (if you have any).
Here are the eight most common reasons why business blogs suck. Do any of them apply to yours?
#1: All your posts are self-promotional
Your blog shouldn’t be a repository for your press releases or new product announcements. It’s fine to let readers know when you have something new and exciting things available – but if every single post is about how great your products are and how great your company is, readers will switch off fast.
Even if you try to be a little sneaky about it, readers can spot self-promotional content a mile off. If every post leads up to a sales pitch, for instance, instead of actually offering helpful advice, you’re not going to keep people reading for long.
Instead of thinking about what your next post could do for your company, focus on what it could do for the reader. What problems do your customers typically struggle with? What useful information could you provide them with?
#2: You don’t have a clear blog topic that reaches customers
Your blog needs to have a topic – a core focus that allows you to target your ideal customers. Writing about anything and everything that vaguely relates to your industry won’t do you any favours. Yes, you might think it’ll appeal to a wider range of people – but the chances are that it’ll just put most of them off reading.
If you sell printer ink cartridges, for instance, your blog doesn’t need to cover everything from the CMYK colour pallet to the variable thicknesses of paper to the latest printer-related conference news. You might choose instead to think about who your core customers are, and what they might need – perhaps they’re mainly small businesses who’d appreciate tips and advice on issues like hiring staff or finding great office space.
Spend some time thinking about your ideal customers. (A great place to start is with your existing real customers – which ones tend to stick around and spend money month after month?) Consider the age, gender, career, education level, and even hobbies that your ideal customers tend to have – and plan blog content that will be of interest to them.
#3: You haven’t posted anything in six months
If readers land on your blog and find that your last post was six months ago, they may think that the blog is abandoned. If they subscribe and don’t hear from you in months, they’ll forget about you – and you’ll lose potential business.
Over time, too, your blog won’t build up much content if you’re posting very sporadically. The more blog posts you have, the more chances you have for someone to find your blog through a search engine query. You’ll also have the opportunity to build more internal links within your site, between your posts and from your posts to your product or services pages.
Although you certainly don’t need to post every day to have a successful blog, you do need to establish a regular routine. That might mean posting once every couple of weeks – or at least once every month. If you really can’t manage this, modify your blog’s theme so that the date of a post isn’t shown (or is less prominent).
4: Your posts are boring readers before they even begin
Do readers take one look at your posts and promptly head elsewhere? They might well do so if you don’t know how to write well for the web. After all, there are plenty of other websites they could be reading instead.
Boring posts have dull, general headlines (like “Small Business Tips” instead of “10 Crucial Tips for Turning Your Awesome Idea into a Thriving Small Business”). They look off-putting on the screen, consisting of long paragraphs and little formatting to help readers scan through for the information most relevant to them.
Our free guide:
Attention-Grabbing Blog Titles
by Zen Optimise
Write engaging titles that offer something specific and clear. Break up long paragraphs of text. Add subheadings to your post to help readers scan and skim. Include at least one image to help draw attention.
#5: Your posts are brain-dumps rather than coherent articles
You might have a huge amount of knowledge about your particular topic … but if you simply dump all that knowledge onto the page, it’s not going to be much help to readers. While this sort of free-flow writing can be very useful when you’re warming up for a writing session, or when you’re brainstorming, it’s not a good way to create a blog post.
You may well have some wonderful nuggets of information in these types of posts, but readers are unlikely to stick around long enough to find those. Unstructured, rambling posts aren’t good for your professional image, either – they may give readers the impression that your services and/or products will be similarly slap-dash.
Before you start writing your next post, create a plan. You might like to use a mindmap to help you get all your ideas onto paper: once you’ve done that, decide which ideas belong in this post and which ones might be best saved for later. Think about the best order to present your information, too.
#6: Your posts have poor introductions and conclusions
Even if you get the middle part of your post right, there’s plenty of scope for going wrong at the start and end. The most common mistakes are:
- Having a bland, rambling, or confusing introduction
- Missing off the conclusion altogether
A great title is wasted if readers don’t make it through the introduction, but all too often, business blogs will have post introductions that only serve to put people off. If your post starts with with five paragraphs about what inspired you to write it, or reads like the opening paragraph of an essay, you’ll have people clicking away almost instantly.
Conclusions matter too: sure, the lack of one won’t stop anyone reading the post, but it will affect their next actions. Without a conclusion, there’s nothing to direct your readers’ attention – meaning you’ve lost an ideal opportunity to encourage comments, or to offer them further reading from your blog.
Look at one of your recent blog posts. Try cutting the first paragraph of the introduction: does the post still work? (Some bloggers produce a “warm up” paragraph without any real content when writing.) If your post doesn’t have a conclusion, add one in – and make sure it offers your readers something to do next.
#7: You don’t engage through comments
Like other forms of social media, blogs are most effective when they’re used as a two-way medium.
Some business blogs, though, do a very poor job of actually engaging with readers. They might turn off comments completely, or ignore the comments that they do get. They may also let spam comments hang around for far too long, which makes their blog look neglected. A blog with lots of unanswered comments – especially if these contain questions – implies that your business doesn’t really care about customers. No comments at all can also be off-putting to readers (and it may result in a vicious circle where readers feel uncomfortable about “breaking the ice” to leave the first comment).
Encourage comments by asking specific questions at the end of your posts. Make sure you respond to comments in a timely fashion: replying two weeks later really isn’t good enough. Consider using readers’ comments (or tweets, etc) as a prompt for future posts – and acknowledge the reader who left the comment that inspired you.
#8: You gave up too soon
It’s especially sad when a business simply abandons their attempts at blogging, leaving a few scrappy old posts on the blog, or simply posting a link or a couple of lines about a new product once in a while. Some businesses even delete their blog altogether.
Blogging requires time, energy and attention, and doesn’t always deliver instant results. It’s understandable that some business decide they’re too busy to continue devoting resources to their blog … but this means missing out on a huge number of potential benefits.
Don’t burn yourself out: there’s no need to post every single day or craft 3,000 word epics for your blog. Get into a steady, comfortable blogging routine that you can keep up week after week. Focus on small, immediate goals (like bringing in one new client from your blog, or reaching 200 RSS subscribers) as well as considering your longer-term aims and strategy.
If one of the above reasons struck a chord and you suspect that your blog might suck, plan to take action this week to turn things around.
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