As a blogger and a marketer I spend a lot of time reading other blogs. I have the “regulars” that I make sure I read every day. I have the blogs in my RSS feed which I scan through regularly, looking at titles, and deciding which ones I want to read. And then throughout the week I have other blogs that I either find on my own, or someone recommends via a link.
So I see a lot of blogs. I see a lot of good blogs. But every once in awhile I stumble on a blog that just…rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes it’s the entire blog, and other time’s it’s a particular post. As I write this I’m thinking primarily of business blogs, but my points can also apply to personal blogs.
Here’s my list of things I don’t want to see on your blog:
1. Don’t spend more time on the look and feel and title of your blog than on the content – There is something to be said for consistency. Don’t make TOO many changes. I’ve seen blogs where every other month or so they change they theme, the layout, the colors, and even the title. And yet, they only post real content very infrequently. Yes, the title and look of your blog are important. But in the end, the content is much more important. If you spend more time obsessing over the layout and title, thinking that it will drive your content, you’re wrong. Just write. If I had to choose, I’d rather see a hideously ugly blog with great content, than a pretty blog, with a clever title, and very little content. Think of a restaurant that spends all of their time focusing on the decor, but their food is still horrible. No, thank you!
2. Don’t write what I call the “mea culpa ad nauseum” posts – Yeah, that’s right…I whipped out the Latin (and yes, I’m sure I used it incorrectly). Put simply, don’t write a post. Then stop posting for weeks or months, come back and have your next post be an apology for not posting, saying you’ll post more, then post again, then not post for awhile, then apologize in a post again. I see this pattern a lot. “Hey, I’m back. Sorry I haven’t posted, but now I’ve found my focus and I’ll be posting more now” First off, you’ve wasted a post. And the only ones reading your blog who can hold you accountable are your mom and a few close friends. And you probably won’t post tomorrow, but if you do, it will last a few days and then we can eagerly await your next apology post…a few months down the line. If you get out of the habit of blogging, don’t return with an apology, or at least more than a one sentence apology. Give us real content, the kind that makes us come to you and say “Hey, you were missed. Please post more often!”… Now that’s a much better motivator. And in full disclosure, I admit that I have done this in the past on my now mostly deceased personal blog.
3. Don’t over think it – I’m guilty of this myself. Sometimes I agonize over a post just trying to get the right thoughts and the right words in just the right places. In fact, I’ve been working on this particular post for nearly two weeks. I need to remember that I just need to strive for excellence. I need to remember that while I need to shoot for something more than adequacy, my posts will never be perfect. As my friend Erica Allison commented on a recent post here:
I have been sitting on a blog post all week agonizing over the right way to say it, do it, pitch it and rather than get something up, I’ve gone most of the week with a blank page! Striving for excellence sounds good, but it can be a terrible beast when it comes to action and results.
We need to remember that we’re blogging. While we should do our best and strive for excellence, it’s not an academic journal or paper. It’s not a book. It’s a work in progress. Most blogs should be rather informal and reflect your personality. If you over think, you’ll never be happy with your work, and you’ll also end up not posting as much as you like, or should.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously – This is similar to the previous point, but if you are going to live here in the blogosphere, you need to have a sense of humor, especially about yourself. We can tell if you are in love with yourself and your words too much. Give the thesaurus a break. Lighten up and have fun. One of the things I’ve learned from other bloggers in my community, particularly Gini Dietrich, is that you can create good, solid, serious content, and still have fun. The comment section over at Spin Sucksis filled with great discussions as well as a lot of goofing off. I have no problem with that. It’s what makes it a great community.
5. Don’t be too focused– Don’t be so narrow in your focus that all you blog about is exactly what you do. Are you really that one-dimensional? Mix it up a bit. I think most business bloggers tend to focus a bit too narrowly on their own business category, when they need to broaden it a bit.
6. Don’t drift too far– The opposite of the above are those bloggers who are all over the place. You DO need to have a focus of some sort that “centers” you. If you’re all over the place, blogging about everything and anything, you’re readers will lose interest.
7. Don’t sell, sell, sell – It seems some businesses only blog when they are introducing a new product or service. That’s no way to build readership. I’m OK with a call to action in a post, but it can’t be heavy handed. A blog isn’t just about you. It’s about your customers and providing them with great information and a great experience. If you tell me your post is about how to save time in my life, and the post is actually about some new product you’re selling, then it becomes nothing more than an advertisement. A commercial. And you know how we feel about commercials! We can change the channel or turn you off online, just as if we had a remote.
8. Don’t Bait and switch – Similar to number 7, don’t give me a title like “5 Ways To Make Sure You blah blah blah” only to find out that you are only giving me two ways, followed by an invite to PAY to see your webinar or buy your ebook to find out the other three points. That’s dirty pool. Do that too often, and I won’t be back.
Are there any other things that bloggers do that distract from the actual content? I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, and am probably guilty of quite a few of them as well!