We teach a class called blogging boot camp. It's a six-week course that's designed to take corporate bloggers and accelerate their learning curve on blogs to seem they've been blogging for a year. We cover content, tone, software, community, traffic and a bunch of basic stuff that most bloggers acquire from just jumping in.
Our goal is not to teach "blogging," but to teach corporate clients how to learn. The class is based on the idea that there is no one "right" way to blog, but there are hundreds of wrong ways to blog.
In that spirit, and because our RSS feeds have doubled in the last two weeks, let my present my Top 6 Blogging Mistakes, in no particular order, but based on whether it makes my head hurt to read them.
1) Writing! with Exclamation! Points! !
We see this a lot. Beginning bloggers are really excited about what they're doing, and their enthusiasm generally leads to overemphasis of their first blog posts. We teach in the class that exclamation points, italics, bold, and font color and size changes are not allowed for three months. Your writing should convey enthusiasm without the use of crutches, and like pounding your shoe on the table to make a point, exclamation points usually mean you have weak writing (ed. Writing sentences that need exclamation points, but leaving them out - while clever - is lazy writing with bad punctuation. But nice try
2) The Obligatory Get Back to Writing For Myself Post:
This is more of a social blog problem. When you build up a small audience, it's customary in about the third of fourth month to despair that your writing has gone from self-exploration to shameless pandering to your audience. Most bloggers (myself included), have written the oh-so-silly "I feel like I'm writing for the audience instead of myself" blogpost. Usually some of your readers come to your comments and tell you how great you are, or give you advice on how to write. It's really sad. Like a cry for help (Bonus fact: Some bloggers learn that the only way to get comments is to write such a post. That clearly is a cry for help
3) Excessive Use of Pictures and Videos:
Pictures and video are great, and it's wonderful that we have the ability to mashup our media, but sometimes, we use pictures and video to make up for a lack of writing. Once is okay, but when you start posting content just to pretend that you haven't really fallen off the blogwagon, it's time to write post number 4:
4) The I'm Back, but Not Really Post:
Blogging isn't for everyone, but some people, mostly three month burnouts, feel the need to go on unannounced hiatus, return with an I'm back post, and then go back on hiatus. Although abandoning your blog for months is usually the most effective traffic killer, we feel like announcing that we're going to return, and apologizing to the no-longer-existent audience, is the content that any straggler readers might really want to finally hear.
5) No Contact Info
It's understandable if you are a social blogger, and don't want people e-mailing you. It's understandable if you're an anonymous blogger, and are afraid of getting found out. But if you're a business blogger, and you haven't figured out how to add an e-mail or contact piece to your blog, then you're in the wrong business.
What's the point of blogging to build your reputation if you're afraid to tell people who you are? What if they want to pay for your services? A big part of what I do is assemble groups of blogs to study trends and information in niche communities. When bloggers, who ostensibly have something to sell, don't list contact information, I shake my head and wonder if they thought this through. (If you don't like spam, make it an image and post it on the site)
Top Lists on Slow Days
Lists of Information That I Meant To Write, But Someone Else Beat Me To:
When someone in one of my blog communities finds an article I wanted to write about, it's a positive thing. Either I get someone to contrast my views with, or if they say what I wanted to say, they've saved me the time of writing it, and I can just link to it. But when someone writes about a subject, and makes a list that I was going to write about, but left it in my draft file, then I feel stupid. I can't write my own at that point, because them I'm a copycat, and I can't just link to them, because them I'm being lazy. It's usually better just to post a video on those days. Maybe two.
So there you have it. My top list of blogging cliches that make me want to groan. It's not a good list for business, but hopefully some of you can learn from my mistakes, and move forward.
Labels: blogging advice, blogging mistakes