This is the last new post of the month of September, and the only one I didn’t write within 3 days of making the decision that I was going to do it. I wanted the last post to be, well, kind of epic, which means it took some deep thought on what I wanted to write.
I’m thinking that 30 mistakes people are making with their blogs is a nice followup to a post I did back in March on 31 mistakes people make blogging and in social media. In that post, which ended up being 4,600+ words, I wrote 15 things about blogging, and I’m not guaranteeing that I won’t touch upon any of those recommendations on this one. I’m not even going to guarantee that this post won’t end up being that long… but I hope not. 🙂
These are in no particular order except for the last one. I tried keeping themes together as much as possible, but I’m not lying when I say that my eyes started to cross as I was putting the list together. By the way, when I talk about images below, you’ll understand why I’m using the images I’m using on this post. Doing the best I can; let’s get started.
1. Not writing enough content
Very rarely is a paragraph a blog post. Neither are two or three. The only time that seems to work out is if you’re breaking news that no one else has and you get that post out quickly. That happened for me back in ’08 or ’09 and it took off… then six months later I had to make it private because it had no meaning at that point.
Even though there are a lot of big time bloggers saying that posts should be around 3K words these days, I’m going to call that a bunch of rubbish. While a lot of those posts do very well, blogging is about message more than length.
In other words, if you believe you can explain a concept you’re writing about in 200 words or less, go ahead and do it; just don’t do it often if you want the search engines to take you seriously. If you don’t care… you do you Boo!
2. Not writing regularly
I know a few people who write every single day. I know some people who write one post every 3 months. I also know some people who only write when they feel the urge to write… even if that’s less than once a year.
Understanding that it’s your blog and that you can do anything you want with it is one thing; trying to figure out why you have a blog that you don’t feel like contributing to is another.
No one builds up an audience if writing is sporadic and sparse. Someone who visited your blog 3 months ago is probably going to write you off if you don’t have something at least once a month… and that post better be epic.
3. Not enough white space
Writing online is much different than writing in books. The biggest complaint I’ve seen from people who read blogs is that there’s too much text in a paragraph for their tastes way too often.
At first I didn’t get that because when I went to school, I was taught that your paragraph should contain everything your first line states it should be, no matter how long it is. Then I started visiting a lot of blogs and I got it.
For whatever reason too much text in a small space, especially on mobile, is hard to process. Thus, it’s better if you can make your paragraphs shorter and make your thoughts a bit more concise.
4. Every paragraph is one line
There are times when having a one-line paragraph makes sense. If you have a long sentence then it looks good having it be the only line in a paragraph. If you’re setting something up, a one-line paragraph is a nice way to do it.
From my perspective however, having every single thing on your site being one line is irritating. It makes me think that the writer couldn’t keep a cohesive thought together for longer than a sentence, especially when those sentences are short.
If you have sentences that seem to go 3 lines, go for it. If you have one line 10 times in a row… please, please, don’t do it!
5. Not putting your social media information in your share buttons
This is mainly a Twitter gripe for me, but if it’s happening for Twitter then it’s probably happening with the rest of your share buttons.
I share a lot of content, and at least half of what I’m sharing comes from blogs. It’s amazing how many share buttons I click on where there’s no Twitter handle attached to it.
If I’m on a blog where I know the person, it’s not that big a deal. However, a lot of articles I share either came from seeing a post on Twitter that someone else has shared or finding it on Flipboard. This means that, if I want to give attribution to the person whose blog it is, I have to go searching for it.
The other reason you want to have your Twitter handle on there is so you can see who’s sharing your content. When people share, they usually post your title, the link and your Twitter handle. If it’s there, you get a notification telling you it was shared; that’s pretty cool. Without it, you have no idea how well your articles are doing or who’s possibly sharing your stuff. You miss out on a lot of engagement possibilities by not having your handle in there.
6. Not having your social media accounts listed on your blog
You know what else I see? People have these share buttons with every single social media possibility showing… but don’t have accounts on those sites.
At the same time, I notice that a lot of people don’t have a way for others to subscribe or at least go look at what they might be putting on their other social media accounts (since I consider blogging part of social media).
Look over to the right of this blog. You see my Instagram link, my YouTube, my Flipboard and my Facebook business accounts. I want people to check those things out and possibly subscribe. I have my Google Plus link on my left sidebar; I need to think about moving that. If you’re trying to grow an audience, you need to share the places you can be found with those folks who visit your blog.
7. Not responding to comments… even if you respond on day one
I’ve gotten into the habit of not leaving comments on blogs where the owners don’t respond to comments. A lot of those blogs I refuse to even read anymore, even if I think they’re pretty good, because it feels like they’re taking visitors for granted.
Something else I’ve seen are blog owners who only respond to those comments that show up on day one. I’m sure they feel confident in saying “hey, I responded to some comments”, but in my eyes it shows that the writer wrote something and has already moved on to the next thing. If you’re writing a story blog then cool. If you’re writing content with the intention that it’s going to be evergreen, you need to treat your visitors better.
8. Moderating comments for too long a period
I hate comment moderation. On my blogs, if your comment is being moderated it’s either because my GASP plugin thinks your comment is spam, or because you’re commenting from Chrome (I still haven’t figured that one out; it’s bugging me lol). This means that the majority of comments flow through properly, so I don’t have to do anything with them.
People who moderate comments on purpose are either worried about spam (number one reason) or the type of content someone’s comment might contain that they’re worried about. I get it; if that’s your comfort level then go for it, but I can tell you that unless you’re really big on social media and getting hundreds of comments you’re putting too much work into it.
How do I know this? Because it seems like there’s way too many blogs that moderate comments where the owner takes close to a week or even longer to make those comments live. Wow, that a great way of making people feel a part of your community… NOT!
There’s so many more ways of protecting your site from spam or the types of comments you don’t want to see, either using a plugin or going into your Admin panel (if you’re using WordPress software) and changing a few settings. You should probably be using a lot of those things for security anyway. In any case, it’ll take a load off you and be more friendly for your visitors.
9. Too much profanity
As someone who’s never uttered a profane word in his life (lots of witnesses to that lol), I can say this isn’t a problem I have. I recognize that for some people there’s a time for using profanity to express themselves and I don’t have a problem with that. Heck, it’s in too many movies I like for me to be prudish about it. 🙂
Yet… when I see it written on a blog, where it sometimes feels like every paragraph is littered with it… I often leave without continuing to read it. I always think subject matter should be the determiner for language.
For instance, I was reading a Cracked article about Dolemite (aka, Rudy Ray Moore, for those of you who don’t know who he is) and his first movie. The movie… well, back in the 70’s it was considered an X-rated movie (not like today’s XXX movies, just to be clear). This means it had a lot of sex and violence… and every other word was foul.
Reading an article with a lot of cursing in it fit because it took on the tone of the movie it was reviewing (trust me, worst movie ever lol). However, if the article was on puppies and kittens and babies not getting along… come on, who wouldn’t agree with me that it would feel out of place?
10. Not moderating for bad language, attacks, trolls etc
When I talk about the need to moderate comments, I mean you should be looking at the comments that show up on your blog to see if they’re addressing the content. If they’re not, it’s probably spam and you should remove it. If there’s a lot of bad language and your audience isn’t meant to be quite that adult, you should remove it. If you see one person personally attacking someone else on your blog, you should remove it.
Why? Unless you’re an online newspaper (y’all know those comments are the worst thing right?), I’m assuming your intention is to draw the audience you want to interact with and have your blog be a safe harbor for anyone who wants to talk to you. Debating the merits of the last presidential debate (don’t even!) while staying civil, if that’s the topic you wrote on, is one thing; having it devolve into petty arguments with no substance and someone being potentially threatened… no one wants to deal with that. If you don’t moderate it your visitors will… by leaving and never coming back.
I’ve always made a clarification that my biggest gripe is having those suckers show up before I’ve even had a chance to see if your content is worth my time. Nowadays some of you are using the trick of dropping your site down almost to what’s known as the “above the fold content” to make us scroll down to see your content. Frankly, I don’t think anyone’s worth that much time and effort to see if you have anything worthwhile to say.
If everyone’s popup was nearer the bottom of a post, I could get behind that. Since that’s not the majority, not even close… well, you know what’s coming…
13. Too much selling/ads
I’m not against people trying to make money by any means. I do think that some people will go to the extreme in trying to sell products though.
Look at my left sidebar for a minute. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff over there. Three of those things are books I’ve written; one is a webinar I created. One of those things is actually a free download. The only “real” product that doesn’t belong to me is the Mailwasher thing. On the right side, the only product thing I have is a link to take you to a Fitbit page on one of my other websites.
Some people sell, sell, and sell some more within every post. I think it’s a put-off because it becomes more of a commercial than an actual blog. Then again, it might explain why some of those folks make more money online than I do; personal preference (like popups). I’ll just ask you to think about it from the perspective of a reader/visitor, even yourself, to see if that’s the kind of content you want to be constantly absorbing.
14. Having more guest posts than your own content
Having guest posts on your blog is an intriguing strategy. When I was taking them on my finance blog it was one of the highest ranked online. That’s because I was able to consistently have at least 2 articles a week on it, sometimes 3, and it allowed me to only have to write once every couple of weeks.
The problem? Well, it wasn’t a blog like this. Many of the articles I accepted on that site I knew nothing about… I even got paid for some of them. However, I got very few comments, very few returning visitors, thus little engagement.
In essence, what I eventually felt one of the problems was (there were many problems) that there wasn’t anyone coming to the blog to see what I had to say. Why would they; I mean, no one really knew when I was going to write any of the articles there. If anyone was coming to see what I had to say or wondered what Mitchell was going to write about next… I didn’t have a clue about it.
I’m seeing more blogs lately, blogs I used to visit a lot, where there’s almost never an article from the person who owns the blog. Frankly, I’ve stopped visiting almost all of those blogs because you never know who’s writing the content. There are a couple I still visit because it turns out that sometimes I know the person who’s writing the guest post; I’m nothing if not loyal. If I visit and don’t know the person… I’m outta there!
I think if people like having guest posts it will definitely help get their sites ranked better; it might even help them make more money. What gets lost is the personal touch. On my finance blog, I was initially making sure the ratio was 50-50; a guest post, one from me, a guest post, one from me… that faltered when I started traveling a lot for business; instead of writing, now I was editing all the time… and the thrill was gone.
If you’re going to accept guest posts, you also need to remember why people started coming to your blog in the first place. As I said, I’m loyal… but only to people I know. I bet I’m not the only one who feels this way.
15. Making it too hard to comment on your blog
I hate funky blog commenting systems (Disqus, Livefyre, etc…). I hate captcha. I hate having to create an account or log in to leave a comment on a blog. So I won’t do it; never have, never will.
I have a setting on my blog that makes you write at least 10 words to leave a comment. I ask you to use your name, first and/or last if you wish, but a third name will reject you. You’re also going to get a notification if you don’t have an avatar, but your comment will still go through.
You need to have some standards on your blog, and a commenting policy should be a part of it (look above the comment window & you’ll see mine). If you ask me, those are pretty simple rules to follow; the only one that trips some people up is the one about the avatar, but I tell people all the time how easy it is to get one and why it’s important.
Making people prove who they are in other ways, having funky commenting systems… way harder than my way. Still, once again it’s a personal choice.
16. Not verifying that people know you’ve responded to their comments
This post is being written on Tuesday. In the last 3 days I’ve left comments on 11 blogs. To date, I’ve only received notice from one of those blogs that I got a response back (thanks Rummuser). On two of the blogs I know I got a response because I remembered I’d left a comment and went back to look. The other 8… no idea. That means I have no idea whether my comment will be responded to or not; isn’t that a shame?
This one is a relatively easy fix, which I wrote about in an article asking people if they knew if their visitors were getting responses back showing you responded to them. I’m not going to go through the process again but you should check out the article, and then check out your blog.
17. Not fully answering questions/fleshing out your meaning you or others posed as your topic
First, let me thank all those people who try to help others; you’re fully appreciated. One of the things I also do is try to help people when I can.
With that said, one of my biggest gripes on many of the sites that do offer tips is that their information is incomplete. I’ve been having major frustrations trying to find the answers to a lot of questions I have regarding some of the recommendations to increase the mobile speed of my websites. The problem I have is that no one gives you complete information, so I keep having to bounce around from site to site, picking up something here and there; that’s quite irksome.
Is it possible those posts will be a bit long? Absolutely! Can they also be short? Yup, that works also. Still, it’s always better to tell everything about a process you’re sharing, whether it’s a tutorial or you telling someone how you do things, like I did when I was talking about how I schedule posts to show up on Twitter last year, even though I now use Tweeten, which follows the same exact process. You become a more valuable resource when your visitors know you’re not leaving out potentially valuable information they may need.
18. Not linking to other articles you’ve written on your blog
Something I covered in my article giving 55 blogging tips and ideas was this concept of internal linking. That’s what I just did; I linked to another article I wrote on this blog that I believe will be helpful to you readers and helps the search engines know what I believe is related content; they like that. 🙂
Thus, its beneficial to at least 3 sources; you, your visitors and search engines. This is a SEO practice many people forget to employ. Some people use a related posts plugin that lists some articles at the end of the article. That’s nice… I guess. lol You’ll get more benefit if you take a little bit of time to go through your archives and post something you know is pertinent instead of trusting it to something else.
19. Not giving attribution or linking to other articles when you bust on their topic
A good recommendation for finding things to talk about is to visit other blogs and websites. If you find inspiration, not only is it good to write about it but it helps your cause and theirs if you’ll link back to them… and if it’s a blog let them know you’ve done it.
You may have read about the topic of “influencer marketing”. I’m not a big proponent of that, but I am a proponent of sharing and giving attribution to people who help me in some way, whether they know it or not. It’s about networking, courtesy and fairness… along with being smart. 🙂
20. Not editing your articles
I’m the last person to be one of the grammar police because I know I learned some lessons that others learned differently when it comes to grammar. Regardless of that fact, there are some universal rules that all of us should think about following for readability.
The same goes for misspellings, incorrect usage of words, typos, etc. Look, all of us make mistakes and all of us miss things; that’s human nature. But if you wrote 400 words and 50 of them don’t make any sense, or are misspelled… credibility goes out the window.
I believe all browsers now have some sort of spell checker that highlights words in red that shows you when you’re spelled something wrong; or at least it thinks you have. Isn’t it worth the effort to verify that? For most of us all it takes is a right-click on the word and the proper spelling will come up. If it doesn’t, it either means that’s not a word or it’s not so common a word that you’ll want to add it to the dictionary, or tell your program to allow it for the day… or just ignore the red line entirely. At least you’ll have done something.
21. Stupid commenting systems
22. Making people subscribe to comments when they already have
I’ve complained about this one often enough. If I’ve already clicked the button after leaving my comment telling you I want to see responses to my comment, please, PLEASE, turn off the autoresponder that sends me a stupid email asking me to confirm it. Really? REALLY?!?!? Y’all know I’m not going to do it, and if I’m not, I know I’m not the only one. It’s so irritating…
23. Not checking to see if everything’s working from time to time
Some of you know about my three weeks of a mobile speed quest for all my blogs and websites. I did a lot of testing on all my sites, trying to make sure everything I did still left the blogs working properly.
I ended up removing some plugins I’d had for a long time because, for one reason or another, they no longer worked. Even with that, just last week I learned that another tweak I’d made left 3 of my blogs without the ability to comment. I didn’t know it until Arlee Bird send me an email informing me of the problem. It was related to an older plugin that I’d meant to remove and had forgotten about. Once it was removed, everything was back to normal.
One of the things we don’t do often enough is keep up with our plugins. This is an older blog, and it turns out there were a lot of old plugins I was still using here that I’d also added to some of my other blogs that had never been updated for one reason or another. Some of those conflicted with mobile speed; some of them conflicted with a couple newer plugins I wanted to use to increase mobile speed.
One in particular, Akismet, turned out to not be working for, what, years, because they had gone to a paid model and I never knew it because WordPress had added it years ago, it kept updating, but I’d never seen anything come through saying they’d changed things on me. I’m throwing this out there because I’m betting most of you who might think you’re using it might not be.
24. Not checking dead links on your blog
You know what? It turns out that search engines will penalize your site if you have too many dead links on them. They don’t have to be links that you’ve shut down on your own; often it’s links that you’re included in your content or, believe it or not, dead links from people who’ve commented on your blog.
I go back and forth on this one but at this juncture I’m back in its corner… with some reservations. There’s a plugin called Broken Link Checker that can help you find all the broken links on your blog… even if some of them turn out not to actually be broken. What you need to do is activate it every once in a while, let it do its thing, eliminate or fix those links, then deactivate it. Otherwise, it’ll slow down your blog and potentially cause some issues with your other plugins, which was an issue I was having a few years ago.
If you’re running CommentLuv Premium, there’s also a CommentLuv Link Checker you should think about running every so often, since Broken Link Checker won’t remove those particular links.
By the way, a sidebar; Andy Bailey, the guy who developed CommentLuv Premium and the original, is physically unable to update the plugin any longer. If you have a problem and write a ticket, you’ll get an email telling you that and giving you some tips on what might be wrong. That’s the best you’re going to get from now on, but those tips turn out to be pretty good. I have a belief that this plugin won’t ever be updated again; that’s not as important as wishing the best for Andy, who’s a great guy.
25. Not promoting your blog in other places
This is the only issue I’m talking about that takes you directly off your blog. It’s also something I had to learn that I’ve now gotten way better about.
Your blog isn’t Field Of Dreams. Just because you write it doesn’t mean they’ll come, whoever “they’ll” is supposed to be. You need to market it, share it, publicize it… that’s pretty much it. Share buttons are nice, but if no one’s coming to your blog then no one’s going to be sharing any of it.
There’s all types of social media sites to share your content on. There’s all types of ways to get it done. You can automate or you can share when you’re ready. It doesn’t matter how you do it (well, it does, but it’s not as important as making sure you share), just figure it out and start doing it.
26. Not having images in your content
If you haven’t gotten the message that having an image within your blog post is a good idea you’re either new to the game or just don’t care. lol I don’t know the science behind it but visitors are drawn to images, and if it’s in your content they’ll give it a look. The new question is what to do if you can’t find images that match what you’re writing about; I addressed it by saying it’s more important to have an image than what it actually is, and I gave some examples of why I believe it.
27. Not checking your mobile speed
I just learned in August that when Google was talking about mobile friendly sites they were actually talking about mobile speed friendly sites. I went on a quest, which I wrote about in 3 posts in August, to correct that issue with my blogs and websites.
28. Not being original
You know what? Being original doesn’t only mean you have to write about something that no one else has ever written about. What it means is being creative enough so that if you end up writing about something someone else has already touched upon, or something you’ve mentioned previously, you’re able to write about it in a different way so that it comes across as being unique.
I bashed someone on a post about writing something different because all she did was copy what others had written about and wrote almost word for word what I’d seen lots of time before. I was so aggravated that I refused to even link to the blog. lol
If you want to write like everyone else be unique… like everyone else! 🙂
29. Sharing too much of your private business
As much as I work on convincing people that I’m an open book I’m really not. There’s lots of things you don’t know about me because, frankly, it’s none of your business. 🙂 Something else I’ve done is protect the privacy of my wife as much as possible. Out of over 1,700 posts, I’ve mentioned her name 10 times over the years; that’s it.
When you bring people into your private circle like that, it should be a privilege for just a few people. Telling too much allows people to use it against you when they’re angry, make you feel bad for something you were hoping would show how honest you are, and once it’s out there you not only can’t control it but it never goes away… people like me will always know how to find that information if you try to take it down.
Be honest and upfront with your readers… but always hold back the most intimate stuff, especially where it concerns your family.
30. Not being yourself
Whew, it’s taken a while to get here hasn’t it? I hope it’s been worth the journey; at over 5,000 words if you’ve made it this far I want to thank you and commend you on your stamina.
This is my last and final point, and I’m not going to beat it into the ground. People hate phonies. If you’re phony you might think you’re getting away with something but you’re not. Unfortunately, it’s hard for most people to be something they’re not.
If you’re not rich, don’t write as if you are because people will see through it. Don’t give out false information to make yourself look more impressive; don’t tell lies about others. If you’re actually a jerk… well, try to learn not to be a jerk because people don’t like jerks any better than phonies. lol
I own up to a lot of things on this blog and my other blogs. I’m not rich. I sometimes have anger issues. I’m diabetic. I’m starting to feel really old, even though I walk almost 20K steps a day and my wife says I still act like a 12-year old (what is it wives have against 12-year olds anyway?).
I will always be authentic and talk in my own voice. I’ve been doing it too long to change now. I’ll also always be honest and open… but you’re not going to know everything about it… ever!
If you can live with that, then I can live with it from you. If I can live with it, others can live with it. Be yourself; it’s so much easier than being anyone else.
That’s it; that’s all I’ve got. I hope you liked this, I hope you’ve learned some things, I hope you comment whether you liked what I had to say or not. Please share this post; I don’t ask that often enough. I love you all (okay, no I don’t, but that’s what entertainers are supposed to say lol)! 😉
(PS – This post turns out to be just under 5,800 words; sorry for that lol)