Small business owners have a lot to deal with, so it’s hardly surprising that secondary tasks like blogging can sometimes fall prey to bad habits. It can feel like there’s not enough time to do things differently, and ‘getting something up’ is better than nothing at all. You need to learn how to write a blog post effectively – it’s a skill like any other. These 4 mistakes can make the whole thing harder than it needs to be, use up more of your time in the long run, and could even damage your professional reputation.
The ‘What shall I write about today’ conundrum
You should never find yourself sitting down to stare at a blinking cursor on a blank page, and wondering what on earth to write about this time.
In order to be a useful resource for your customers, and an effective marketing tool for your business, you need to consider what you write about as a matter of business strategy, not momentary inspiration. Tie your blog posts into your wider plan for your business so you can write about topics in a way that leads your readers towards your next step, and invites them along for the journey.
What to do instead
Spend some time planning out content to align with your business objectives. If you already have a plan for your next 6 months of business, and you know who your target customers are, it shouldn’t take long to draft a basic content plan that lists which topics you’d like to cover each month.
Even if you don’t have the time to plan a content calendar each month, having this rough guide will keep your blog posts relevant to your business and your audience.
The ‘I already know everything I need to about this topic’ fallacy
As a business owner, you’re already an expert in your field. You almost certainly know more than your customers do about the topic you’re blogging on. Research takes extra time, and all it’s going to do is tell you things you already know. Right?
First, if you don’t include any links to other content to support what you’re saying in your post, new customers may have no reason to trust your expertise in a vacuum.
Secondly, it’s unlikely that you do know everything there is to know about a topic, so you need to fact-check your assertions to make sure you’re not misleading your audience or sharing outdated information.
Finally, linking to other experts in your field, and sharing your content with them, is a key for building useful backlinks from reputable websites, which is a cornerstone of search engine optimisation (SEO). It also helps to build personal connections and enhance your professional network.
What to do instead
Research before you write by searching your article topic and key points. See what others are saying on the subject. Then research again after you’ve written, looking for statistics or evidence to back up your arguments.
The ‘Editing just means proofreading’ misconception
Editing and proofreading are not the same thing.
To edit is to review and improve your writing, not just to correct spelling mistakes.
This process takes longer than proof reading, but it is far more important. When your writing is properly edited, it’s more enjoyable to read. So, people are more likely to read the whole way through, to take on board your message, and even to share it with others.
What to do instead
Write your blog post more than a few hours in advance. After writing, take a break. Then come back with fresh eyes and make sure that
- each paragraph contains a single key point
- each sentence adds something to the overall ‘point’ of your article
- you’ve not added in fluff, or used complicated words where simple language will do
- the article is the right length – it reflects how long people spend reading on your site.
As well as your own edits, use a service like the Hemingway App to analyse your writing for complex sentences, weak language, and long words. Use the feedback to help you craft a better post.
The ‘If I write it, they will come’ delusion
No one is going to read your content unless they know about it. Search engines are unlikely to be feeding back your content in the top results for competitive keywords before it’s had any attention from users.
It would be nice to think that all you need to do is publish useful content, and then wait. Unfortunately, the competition for attention is too steep, and others are doing much more. Without a little bit of promotion, I’m afraid you really don’t stand a chance.
What to do instead
Right now, grab some paper and write down:
- which social media channels you use
- how many times to promote a post on each channel (2 or 3 should be your default answer)
- how long to wait between promos for that topic (which varies by channel)
This is your basic structure for promoting your content. No more guess work or forgetting to do it.
As a bonus, with a consistent plan, you can measure success on each channel and make changes down the line. If you don’t know what you’re posting on each channel, then it’s hard to know how you can improve.
‘How to write a blog post’ checklist
The easiest way to make sure you’re writing and promoting your blog posts effectively is to use a checklist that covers the entire process – from your initial idea for a blog right through to tweeting and posting the link.
We’ve got two checklists to download for free – one for creating a blog post, and another for creating your social media posts to go with it.
If you like using these you might also be interested in the Content Café – the next workshop is running on Wednesday 27 September.