This post forms part of a double act with an earlier post I wrote about commercial blogging mistakes. In this post though I’m focussing only on blogging mistakes most beginner bloggers make with content and writing.
To be honest, many veteran bloggers make some of these too… I’m guilty of some of them myself at times.
My aim in this post is to draw your attention to these most common content mistakes in the hope you’ll head them off at the pass before they become a problem for you.
You’ll possibly be aware of some of them already, but some of them might be eye-openers for you.
Common Blogging Mistakes Most Beginner Bloggers Make With Their Content
The following content misfires aren’t listed in order of importance of severity. I’m listing them as they enter my head!
I’ll provide detail for each one and explain what the impact is in terms of your readers, search engines or anything else that comes to mind.
So let’s get to the meat of this post.
1. Not Writing About Things People Want to Read
You might be the best writer in history. Your words might compel people to change their lives or they make the world a better place.
But if no-one ever reads what you write… what’s the point?
Before you ever start writing anything, you need to know that people will want to read what you write about.
How do you know what people want to read?
In one word: research.
When you’re considering ideas for blog posts, carry out keyword research to see how frequently people make searches around your topic.
- You’ll find some keyword research tools on my Blogging Resources page that’ll help.
- You can also run searches in Google, Bing and Quora to see if there appears to be an appetite for the content you’re planning.
- Look for forums in your niche and see if people seem to be looking for solutions your post ideas might cover.
Cross referencing these techniques will help you avoid the mistake of writing about something no-one is interested in reading.
2. Infrequent Publishing
You’re going to need content… and lots of it.
Publishing one post every other week is unlikely to make a dent on your traffic growth. If you were to publish two blog posts a month over the course of a year you’ll have twenty four posts.
That may sound like a lot to you… but it’s not. Although it certainly takes time to produce twenty four high quality blog posts, in the grand scheme of the Internet it’s not a lot.
You’ll need to publish lots of content and do so with consistency.
It’s no good publishing five posts one week and then nothing for another month. Search engines don’t see this as keeping your blog current… and neither do human visitors.
When you publish content on a frequent and consistent basis, your visitors will understand it’s always worth coming back to see what else you’re up to… the same goes for search engines.
If you have a list of blog post ideas you’ve researched, add them into a publishing schedule or blogging plan and stick to it as closely as possible.
Try to publish as often as you can too. If you struggle with meeting a writing schedule, and have some available cash, consider outsourcing. Alternatively, read this post on how to write blog posts quickly.
One of the most common blogging mistakes I come across with new bloggers is over concern about making their blog posts perfect.
One the one hand, a desire to make your content as good as it can be is totally desirable. On the other hand, trying to attain perfection will kill your productivity.
Nobody’s perfect and as a new blogger you’ll not be as proficient in producing quality content as you will be a year down the line.
Of course strive to produce the very best content you can, but don’t let a perfectionist streak stop you publishing.
Blogging is a doing word. Perfectionism is a thing.
Spend time focusing on doing!
4. Low Quality Content
The flipside of perfectionism is crappy content… nobody wants to read a bunch of junk and search engines won’t reward you for it either.
High quality content is an extremely important signal to search engines that your blog is worth taking notice of.
But how do you produce high quality content?
Obviously accurate spelling and grammar are important, since they indicate what you say can be taken seriously.
However, content quality is much more than this.
Style and format play a part (I’ll come on to this in a while), as do research and provable data. If you can back up what you say with evidence, that’s a quality signal right there.
I’ve spoken at length about how and why high content quality is important for SEO so I won’t harp on about it again now.
Suffice to say that no-one will thank you for writing sub-standard blog content and not focusing on quality is a blogging mistake you’ll likely regret making.
5. Short Articles
You’ve heard the saying less is more? Sometimes this is true… but not when it comes to content.
It’s well documented that long form posts tend to attract more traffic than shorter pieces. This doesn’t mean you should fill your blog posts with fluff and padding since you should always strive to produce high quality content as I’ve mentioned already.
Sometimes a short 500 word post is sufficient to get across the pertinent points you want to make.
However, would a 500 word blog post be sufficient to explain the rules of poker or American Football?
Many types of blog posts such as “how to” guides and tutorials require a certain level of detail to achieve their purpose.
Taking on blog post topics that require depth and then skimming on the detail is one of the most stupid blogging mistakes you can make.
It’s one your readers won’t thank you for.
Make sure you produce content that explains the subject appropriately and don’t try to shortcut it because it’s easier.
6. Failure to Use a Clear Blog Post Format
Do you have a clear blog post format you use for each and every post you write?
You should always adhere to a clear structure before you ever put pen to paper… okay, it’s not a great analogy for the digital world but you get my point I hope.
Adhering to a blog post format helps you to write your posts in a logical way and can provide the structure to your posts that makes them much easier to write.
A well-defined blog post format helps you to break your posts down into logical sections… and this DOES make writing much easier.
Not only this, it makes your posts much easier to read since they’ll have a clear beginning, middle and end.
Working without a format for your blog posts is a mistake that will cost you time in the long run… and the truth is, it’s not that hard to develop a structure you can use for most posts you write.
Heck, I even give away the blog post format I use, which you can use too.
Poor blog post formatting is a mistake I see often and it leads to:
- Content that can be difficult to read as it doesn’t flow.
- Loss of time, since a clear format in advance makes the writing process faster.
- Blogger burnout… the more difficult you find content production, the more of a struggle you’ll find the entire blogging process.
Download my blog post formatting guide to help you get things right from the get go.
7. Writing Uninspiring Blog Post Titles
A dull title for your post will not set the world on fire… and it won’t encourage anyone to read what you’ve written.
Your title is the primary mechanism for pulling your visitors’ attention towards your content… as long as it sounds compelling.
Why on earth would you ever read anything that didn’t sound interesting to you?
You wouldn’t… would you?
Work on producing post titles when you’re scoping out your blog post ideas. There are some excellent free tools available online that can help you craft something click-worthy, such as:
- Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Generator
- Answer the Public
- BYOB’s Blog Post Ideas Generator
- HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
Don’t make the classic blogging mistake of writing an awesome post, only to build in a crappy title.
8. Copying Others
There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from others… we all find inspiration in what other bloggers do.
However there’s a big difference between inspiration and copying and if you simply reproduce what another blogger does you’re not adding any value whatsoever.
There is nothing new under the sun, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a unique take on what’s been said before.
Of course it’s practically impossible to find subjects for your blog posts that have never been covered before, but they haven’t all been covered with your perspective, experiences and writing style.
Make a search on any keyword and look at the search results for it. You’ll likely see dozens of cookie-cutter articles that add nothing new.
Then take a look at the ones at the top of the results. How are they different? Do they present data or analysis in a way that’s different to everyone else? Do they pull their personal experience into their posts?
Copying what others say and do is a mistake that won’t gain you any followers or love from search engines.
Be inspired by other bloggers, but don’t copy them!
9. Publishing Comment Spam
It’s lovely to get comments on your blog posts. You work hard writing and publishing so it’s great to get comment love.
But not all comments are created equally.
Comment spam is the bane of my blogging life… I hate it and I can’t stand comment spammers either.
If you run a WordPress blog, or any other actually, you can configure it to automatically publish any comment you ever get.
But why on earth would you ever do that?
It may seem obvious that you’d want to hold your comments in a moderation queue for you to approve. But many bloggers leave the comment tap open and just let everything through.
The result of this is you end up with junk filling up your comments section and crappy links dropped all over the place.
This isn’t just a begginner blogging mistake though. I regularly see awesome blogs that appear to be letting all comments go live without moderating them.
Not only does this make your discussion thread trashy, it won’t add any valuable optimization to the content on your page.
Blog comments should be relevant to the content they relate to… otherwise they’re probably just spam.
Delete anything that appears to be comment spam and always follow correct blog commenting etiquette yourself!
10. Neglecting Affiliate Disclosure
Are you promoting affiliate products? Do you tell your visitors that you do?
Failing to disclose your affiliate relationships is not simply a blogging mistake that’ll make you look daft… it could land you in hot water too.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) might start legal proceedings against you.
- Affiliate merchants can remove you from their programs.
- You could damage your blogger reputation.
If you promote any product as an affiliate and receive a commission or some other payment (actual or potential) as a result, you must declare that you do so with a clear affiliate disclosure.
Failure to disclose your affiliate relationships is actually misleading since it means your readers don’t get the full picture as to why you’re dropping links to products or recommending them.
Not only do the FTC monitor this but so do affiliate networks and merchants because they have a legal responsibility to do so.
Imagine losing your best converting affiliate program simply because you failed to disclose your affiliate status.
That would be one of the most stupid mistakes you could make as a blogger.
Finally, how would any of your visitors ever be able to trust you if you don’t fess up about how you get kickbacks?
Most people that visit blogs know that bloggers earn affiliate commissions so if you don’t declare this it makes you look like an amateur.
Even worse it makes you look like a huckster.
Transparency is your friend so don’t try to cover up how you make money blogging.
11. Failing to Produce Evergreen Content
It’s exciting to be on trend… but trends don’t last.
If you write mostly content that’s relevant right now, it probably won’t be relevant in six months time… so people won’t be searching for it.
Of course there’s a place for the things that mean something to people today. But if all your blog posts rely on this type of temporally relevant content, you’re going to have to produce lots of it everyday to remain at the top of the heap.
This might be fine for a news blog, but for most bloggers it’s a mistake to dedicate so much time to content topics that fall out of fashion over time.
Instead you must strive to produce content that remains relevant all the time.
Evergreen content focuses on topics that people will always want to read:
- How to guides
There are of course some exceptions but for most bloggers you’ll need to ensure your blog includes a heavy leaning towards evergreen content topics.
12. Not Proofreading Before Publishing
One of the biggest blogging mistakes most beginner bloggers make… and one I’m occasionally guilty of too.
Sometimes we can be so fired up to publish our posts that we neglect to check them properly. This means we leave spelling mistakes, poor grammar and awkward phrases in the mix.
Whenever you write a blog post it makes sense to keep your itchy trigger finger away from the publish button and proofread it first.
For me, this means stepping away from the post for a time and then coming back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. The difference in the quality of my published writing is clear.
The approach of publishing and being damned is a mistake. Take time away from your final drafts before you hit publish and read them thoroughly before you put your posts live.
13. Ignoring Calls to Action
If you’re trying to make money blogging it’s likely that you’ll want to:
- Encourage affiliate sales
- Increase newsletter sign ups
- Grow followers
- Promote your own digital products
You’ll struggle to do any of these without using calls to action.
A call to action (CTA) is a marketing technique designed to compel people to do something you’d like them to do.
It’s no use adding a newsletter sign up form or a banner linking to your digital product without giving your visitors a little nudge to take the action you’d like.
A CTA can be something as simple as telling your visitors explicitly what you’d like them to do:
- Click this to read more
- Sign up to my newsletter to receive this free download
- Read my review of this affiliate product
Usually you’ll want to drive your visitors into some kind of conversion funnel where you stand a chance of achieving a conversion goal, like a sale or sign up.
If you’re not presently using CTAs in your content, you’re making a mistake that is likely costing you… even if only in a small way.
14. Not Updating Old Posts
When you’ve published a post, do you remove it from your memory?
It’s super important to revisit your older posts and update anything that might require tweaking. This might include facts and figures, dates or opinions based on more recent understanding.
Your older posts have matured and are possibly pulling in more visitors. Perhaps they could be optimized further to push them up the search results and gain more visits.
Maybe there are opportunities to monetize your blog posts in a more efficient way or it could be you need to add links to affiliate programs you joined recently.
It could just be that your posts contain information that’s no longer relevant or out of date and if you leave them as they are you’ll look amateur and lose credibility.
Whatever the motivation, be sure to check back and update older posts to keep them current.
15. Not Optimizing Content
Beginner bloggers often make this mistake, which can affect your ability to rank in search results.
The whole purpose of blogging for anyone who wants to make money is to attract visitors. If you don’t get lots of visitors gobbling up your content, you won’t make a dime.
Optimizing your content does not mean repeating the same keyword phrases over and over. The days of just filling up your page with lots of references to the keywords you’re hoping to rank for are long gone.
At one time this worked very well… but search engines like Google are highly capable of understanding if you’re trying to manipulate search results in this way nowadays.
You certainly won’t rank by stuffing your pages with your keyword phrases and more likely you’ll end up with a Google SEO penalty.
Trust me when I say you don’t want one of those.
Optimizing your content for SEO is a fine balancing act. You need to make sure you include your target keyword and related phrases in your:
- Blog post copy
- Images names and ALT tags
You’ll also need to pepper your posts with internal links to related content on your blog.
More importantly, all the content you produce should read completely naturally so your visitors enjoy reading what you have to say.
More than anything, optimizing your content takes practise and over time you’ll get better at it.
However, failing to address content optimization from the outset is a mistake on the road to blogging failure.
Beginner bloggers are will make blogging mistakes: as with anything new it’s inevitable.
The smart move is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can to mitigate them.
You can either do this to the “nth” degree before you ever start doing anything, as a perfectionist might.
Or you can learn what we can, get started and then refine as you go along. This is probably a better way to go to get things done.
As a beginner you will make mistakes with your content… we all do. You’ll likely still make content writing mistakes even as a seasoned blogger.
The point is you should always strive to learn… and a process of continuous learning is good for all of us.
That’s all for now.
Are you a beginner blogger? Have you made some of the content mistakes I’ve mentioned here? Perhaps you have some others to add? Drop me a comment below and add to the list!