The first step in improving your blog is identifying its shortcomings. Does the introductory line or graph draw readers in and make them want to continue? Is the piece grammatically and structurally sound? Does it have a purpose? Does it provide value? While it’s natural for writers to make mistakes, the following four stand out.
The good news: They're easily fixable.
The Mistake: Blogging for Blogging’s Sake
For the purpose of inbound marketing, blogging rarely exists as an end unto itself. It’s part of a greater content strategy with an emphasis on both words: The strategy is just as important as the content.
You may grow frustrated if you focus on the latter without considering the former, not just in time spent writing without seeing results, but also in not being able to contextualize your work. You should outline clear goals for your blogs. Identify what you’re writing and whom you are writing for.
In doing so, you can measure the success of your blogging and adjust where necessary: Are you including sufficient inbound and outbound links? Do you need to alter your headings to feature more keywords while offering a better reader experience?
The more you think about the purpose of your blogging, the more effective it will be.
The Solution: Outline clear goals when you implement your blogging strategy and build out a plan to hit them.
The Mistake: Blogging Without a Process
Blank pages can stifle the most experienced writers. A thousand words don’t just appear on the screen, and it’s a rare gift to be able to pull them from nowhere. Writer’s block will get you at some point, but you can fight it by establishing, and sticking to, a consistent writing process.
Think about the steps it takes to publish a blog. It might look something like this:
- Keyword Research
Trying to check off multiple steps at once—say, outlining, drafting, and editing—is daunting. It can lead to writer’s block or just good old-fashioned procrastination. By physically keeping track of the steps, you can progress through the blog without focusing solely on the end product.
There are also mental breaks built into this process if you involve colleagues or friends. Have someone else edit the piece once you’re content with the draft. Seek an outside opinion when it comes to design—how does the blog look to them? Does it guide the reader?
Blogging, then, becomes a team effort rather than a solo endeavor. And the result is more consistent, quality work.
The Solution: Come up with a process that works for you. Stick to it. Involve others.
The Mistake: Lacking Clear Style
The quality of your writing matters. Sloppy grammar and spelling or syntactic errors reduce your blog’s credibility in the eyes of your readers and search engines. And that hurts your business. But writing well is about more than hitting spell check.
This is where a good editor can help you. They’ll catch common mistakes but can also lend an eye on less obvious issues like parallel structure, tense changes, and switches in perspective (going from first to second person and back, for example).
Then again, not everyone has a good editor. So what can you do to produce cleaner, clearer copy?
Focus on shorter sentences and paragraphs. When you’ve completed your draft, go back and delete unnecessary words and look for places to add line breaks. Long paragraphs may roll off the keyboard, and may even look good on a desktop screen, but they’ll stop users in their tracks if they’re reading on their phones.
If you’re still unsure of the quality of your writing, read it out loud to yourself. You’ll be surprised by what you may have missed.
The Solution: The editorial stage is important here. If you don’t have an editor readily available, focus on shorter sentences and short paragraphs. Then read your work out loud.
The Mistake: Not Writing at All or Infrequent Writing
Are you procrastinating? Or just being lazy? You hurt more than yourself when you put off writing. Search engines like to see updated websites with relevant information, especially in industries that change frequently. Long stretches between blog posts can stunt any progress you’ve made.
When you set out to publish once every two weeks and you miss those deadlines, don’t be surprised when the traffic reflects those gaps.
Beyond that, writing consistently is the best way to improve your skills. You’ll not only optimize your process, but you’ll also catch and fix mistakes quicker as you develop a blogging eye, so to speak.
You’ll worry less about word count and more about a well-placed call-to-action or inbound link. You’ll spend time tinkering with word choice in a heading rather than getting stuck on an introduction.
And that’s the key to taking your blogs from okay to good, and from good to great.
The Solution: Stick to a schedule, and plan it out for weeks, not days. Also, write.
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On this episode of 'Inbound & Down,' co-hosts Jon Sasala and Danielle Esposito discuss methods of creating complete and comprehensive content with strategist Joe Whearty. Read More