Happy Wednesday! It's time for another Industry Hump post. Ready? Here we go!
Here's a fun fact: This Friday marks my TWO-AND-A-HALF YEAR blog anniversary. Wowza. I can't believe it's been that long!
Yes I can. I can totally believe it's been that long. The past two-and-a-half years have been a rather epic writing journey for me. When I look back on some of my first posts, I can't help but giggle and shed a proud tear for how far I've come.
So, apparently. Blogging for two-and-a-half years gives you the right to be a self-proclaimed pro. Sweet. I can get down with that. As a self-proclaimed-blogging-pro I'd like to take today to discuss some of the biggest mistakes bloggers make. Don't freak out - I've made and overcome all of these mistakes at some point or another in my writing career. And if I can overcome them, ANYONE can.
- Not proofreading. As a grammar nut this is my biggest pet peeve, whether it be in my own blog, other people's blogs or on news sites (this last one irks me the most). Proofread, proofread, proofread! Proofread before posting, and definitely proofread again after posting. (Thank goodness for that handy-dandy edit feature.) I often find that reading my posts out loud helps catch any errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Everyone makes mistakes, but as a writer it's your job to try and make as few as possible. And as your own editor, it's your job to review your work and fix any mistakes. That being said, sometimes little things do slip through the cracks - if you ever find an error in one of my posts, please don't hesitate to kindly point it out to me!
- Choosing bad headlines. The headline of your post is the first thing that people are going to read. Headlines can make or break you, and they typically range from "Been there done that" to "What the eff is she talking about?" A good headline never wants to be on either end of this spectrum. You want something that's clever, inviting, and (most importantly) RELEVANT. If you can't get the wit, at least go with something that clearly outlines your topic of discussion. A dull headline is infinitely better than "UNICORNS, RAINBOWS, AND FLUFFER NUTTERS" (unless of course your post really is about unicorns, rainbows and/or fluffer nutters).
- Not using any images. Confession time: I used to be guilty of this. I was scrolling through old posts and realized that quite a few of my posts didn't have even one image. Even I didn't want to click those posts and read more. Text and content are paramount, but imagery is what catches the Internet browser's eye and spikes their curiosity. Use images as often as you can! Try to keep them relevant, but don't be afraid to use a photo that you think is particularly awesome just because.
- Forgetting to give credit where credit is due. Speaking of using images - if you're not using your own images, don't forget to give credit! Giving credit is so easy and can be in the form of a caption or a hover over. I'm really bad at remembering to snap photos of all the crazy cool things I want to write about. My friends, however, are Instagram obsessed and are way better at documenting our shenanigans than I will ever be. They're also way more talented than me. I ask their permission to use their photos, post 'em up, and give them credit/link out to their websites and portfolios. More often than not, they're thrilled and honored to be featured on my site. If you're using images from Google, be sure to name your source, and as always linking out with a click is always appreciated by any image provider.
- Posting sporadically. Guilty guilty guilty (until recently). Blogging ain't easy. It's that unpaid job that often gets pushed to the back burner. It's that additional deadline looming over your head. Sometimes, life happens. People get busy with work, and family, and friends... and then you miss a post. And you feel bad for a little, but eventually you get over it. Why? Because you are your own boss and nobody's going to slap you on the wrist for missing a post. Or five. Or twenty. Or just taking a 6 month hiatus from your blog. But in reality, you're losing credibility with your readership. If you disappeared off the face of the blog-o-sphere for 6 months and didn't really bat an eyelid, who's to say you won't do it again? And that's just not OK with your readers. Try to give yourself a posting goal. Start with one post a week. Work the ritual into your routine bit by bit. Build yourself an editorial calendar and put the deadlines on your phone, in your Google calendar, and on post-its all over your bathroom window. Don't let yourself push blogging to the back burner!!
- Duplicating content. Have you ever written a particularly fantastic guest post that you just HAD to share on your own blog? That's great! You should absolutely share it with your loyal readership, but there's a way to do it. Clicking the oh-so-easy copy and paste buttons is not the way to do it. You'll become redundant on the Internet to both your readers and search engines. (I'll be diving more into this SEO thing in next week's Industry Hump post for those of you interested, so be sure to check back next Wednesday!) So what's the right way? Write a fantastic intro outlining your inspiration for the piece, or why you chose to write for that particular outlet, or how honored and thrilled you are with the reaction you've gotten and then LINK OUT to the original piece. Feel free to reuse the image, or better yet, take a screenshot of the piece and use that. Never, ever duplicate content!
- Not linking (externally and internally). Yeah, this is such a prevalent issue that I had to give it a separate note. All too often I find myself reading a piece and coming across something/someone that I've never heard of and I'm DYING to know more. So then I open a new tab and do a Google search for it/them. But then I get distracted in my search and sometimes I'll forget to finish reading the original piece. How much does that suck? So much. By inserting links to what you're referencing you can help direct eyes to exactly what you want your readers to see. Additionally, inserting links gives the reader the option to click, open in the link in a new tab, and do their research after finishing reading YOUR piece. Even more important than linking externally, bloggers should always be linking to their older posts. Why? Because it shows readers that you have a theme. It makes them want to go back and explore your older posts. It gives them another example of your awesome-saucity, which makes you stick out in their mind more, and keeps them on the look out for your future posts. Yeah. Linking. It's the best.
- Constantly checking stats. I AM SO GUILTY OF THIS. I'm a stat-addict. I'll check my site stats three, four, five times a day to see how many eyes I've gotten on my latest post. Where are those clicks coming from? What are people clicking out to the most? There's nothing wrong with checking your stats, but don't do it obsessively. Check it once or even twice in the day. The rest of it is just silly and that time could be much better spent elsewhere - like out in the real world gathering inspiration for your next great post.
- Forgetting to use social media. You may be blogging every day or every week, but are you reaching your peeps? The truth of the matter is that very few people actually subscribe to have blog posts delivered to their inboxes. If they aren't subscribed to your mailing list and you aren't posting to your Twitter and Facebook, you're not really reaching ANY audience at all, are you? At the very least, you should always be promoting your posts on your Facebook so that your friends and family can shower you with praise. (P.S. - I love you guys. Thanks so much for always reading and always giving me fantastic feedback.)
- Not replying to comments. Did your latest and greatest post get an avalanche of comments? That's awesome. I'm only slightly jeally. Did you respond to all of them? If not, SHAME ON YOU. When people take the time to let you know that they love your writing style, you should take the time to thank them. When people ask you a question in reference to something you wrote, you need to answer them. Interacting with your readership makes your readers feel special and recognized and loved, just like receiving those comments makes you feel. Take the time to respond to your fan base. It can only help you.
Phew. Well. That was exhausting.
Loved this post? Got questions? Want to start an intellectual debate about blogging with me? Drop it all in the comments below!
Celebrating my two-and-a-half year blogiversary a little early, xx Nikbear