Guest post by Eric Brantner.
Having an online presence is all but a necessity for businesses today. Some would even go as far as saying that if you’re not online with a regular stream of fresh content, you don’t exist. While this may seem a bit harsh, there is some validity to that statement.
So what’s a small business owner like you going to do about it? You can always set up a Facebook page or establish a company Twitter account, but these platforms may not be the best for every type of business. That’s why a regularly maintained blog is a must-have for every business.
Anyone can start a blog for their business. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. Blogs are hard work. Unfortunately, many people become discouraged and abandon their blogs in frustration. But not you.
You’re more tenacious than that. And with the know-how and a little elbow grease, you can make it better. Read on to figure out which mistakes you may have made, and how to set things right.
#1 You Don’t Update Consistently
We get it, you’re busy. But so is everyone else. If you want to build your blog readership, you have to publish content consistently. You competition is literally a mouse click away, so you really have to prove to your readers that you will be reliable.
Even if your content is amazing/useful/insightful, if your readers can’t trust you to post regularly, they have no reason to visit regularly.
When you start your blog, create a posting schedule. Are you going to post everyday? Every other day? Only Tuesdays and Thursdays? Whatever you decide make sure you stick to it. Your readers will come to expect posts on those days.
If you’re the forgetful type, check out an editorial calendar like CoSchedule to help you get organized.
#2 No One Can Understand You
Blogging allows you to connect directly to your customer, so your blog should be written in a conversational tone. If you pepper your language with industry terms and business jargon, it’s very likely that you’ll alienate those potential customers.
It also makes you sound condescending, and approximately zero people on the planet like to be spoken down to.
#3 It’s Not Shareable
How many times per day do you double-tap an Instagram photo or “like” a Facebook post? Probably quite a few, so why doesn’t your blog have any social media integration?
When people see something they like online, their first instinct is to share it. Sharing posts is a great way to increase your readership (and your potential customer base). If your blog doesn’t have social media share buttons then you’re making it very difficult for your readers to share your content with others. In fact, people are so used to seeing those little share buttons everywhere that if your blog doesn’t have them, chances are pretty slim that they will share you post at all.
Now that you’ve got that out of the way, you want to make sure that you’re pumping out the kind of stuff that people actually want to share. That means posts that are engaging, interesting and useful.
#4 You’re Self-Absorbed
Everyone knows that your business blog is there to promote your business, but your readers don’t want to hear about it every time you post. If your idea of blogging is constantly telling your readers how awesome your product is or how amazing your services are, you can be sure you won’t have readers for long.
A blog is a way to connect with your customers in a more personal way. Make sure that your blog is offering useful information first and foremost, and then figure out ways to organically tie it back to whatever you’re selling. For example let’s say that you sell exercise equipment. You might write a post like “5 Ways to Tone Your Arms and Chest” and while you are doling out valuable information, you also link to some of your equipment that will get the job done.
As long as you remember that shameless self-promotion is totally transparent, and that your readers will be able to see straight through you, you should be able to easily avoid it while getting your product out there more organically.
#5 The Content Isn’t Useful
This may come as a shock, but there are other blogs out there that are producing the exact same content as you. So, ask yourself what it is about your blog that makes it stand out from your competitors. It certainly isn’t unique, so it must be the content. We keep harping on how your content has to be useful, and we can’t stress that enough. Does your post solve a problem? Does it answer a question? Is it even interesting? If the answer is “no” then it’s back to the drawing board.
For example, say you’re in the TV business. Maybe you sell antennas or streaming video equipment. If you have a blog onsite, simply talking about your own products over and over isn’t going to be useful. However, maybe an actionable article like this for how to stream a specific channel would interest your readers. It’s actionable and provides info they can use.
#6 You Don’t Engage With Your Readers
Again, blogging is a great way to connect with your customers. It can be an invaluable tool for growing your business and keeping an eye on what your customers are looking for, which is why you have to interact with them.
Coming up with a useful post that blows your readers socks off is great, but you’re still only halfway there. When your readers comment on your posts, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but it is absolutely imperative that you respond. This creates a sense of community among your readers, and really helps to put a “face” to your business.
#7 It Doesn’t Look Appealing
People are very visual creatures. If your blog looks like a Geocities website circa 1995, you can be sure that people will avoid it like the plague. Every website should be designed to be aesthetically pleasing, including hi-res photos to break up chunks of text.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to get a web designer to build a custom site for you, but you shouldn’t settle for the default template used by countless other sites. There are literally thousands of ready-made themes for content management systems like WordPress that are professional and inexpensive.
In addition to making your blog look snazzy, remember to make it easy to navigate and functional. The last thing you want to do it make a beautiful website that no one can figure out how to use. Luckily, hosting sites like WordPress and Blogger make it easy for the average Joe to make an attractive blog with minimal know-how.
Anyone can start a blog, but it takes a lot of effort and hard work to make it something that people actually want to read (and keep coming back to). Now that you’ve identified some of the most common mistakes that the average blogger makes, you can take the necessary steps to correct them and make your blog stand above the rest.
Eric Brantner is a veteran copy writer and blogpreneur. Find his advice for new bloggers on Scribblrs.com.