Blogging isn’t rocket science, but it can certainly start to feel like it, as you struggle to find the magic formula that takes you from a handful of subscribers to hundreds of thousands. The truth is: there is no magic formula. Building a blog takes a lot of time, effort, creativity, and even capital investment. It doesn’t just become a success overnight.
Even so, there are some awful mistakes many new bloggers make that can turn attracting and keeping followers into an ordeal. If you’re not guilty of these, then you’re likely already on the right track. If not, it might just be time for a change.
There will always be a handful of readers – or more – who disagree with the opinions you put forward on your blog. There will also be trolls who come along looking for anything to disagree with, just for the hell of it.
While it’s fine to debate with followers, and to handle trolls as effectively as possible, being disrespectful to readers looking to connect is a no-no. Learn to agree to disagree and move forward.
Otherwise, not only are you likely to lose that follower, but other followers who come by and notice the squabbling will either unfollow, or keep their comments to themselves.
You want to ensure that no matter what opinion people may have about your blog and social media posts, the comments are a safe haven to air those opinions.
No one is too high and mighty for criticism, and objective feedback can do wonders to help you improve, grow, and produce better content for your readers. Comments also help to boost SEO ranking.
Paragraphs were invented for the same reason the Lord of the Rings movies came in three parts, and not one. No matter how great your content is, it’s difficult to consume the whole thing in one breath. It’s also difficult to find your place again, when you look away for a moment to check a message or help someone nearby.
In essence, paragraphs help to break the text up into bite-sized pieces people can more easily digest and follow. As a rule, your paragraphs should also be as short as possible – with five lines being the maximum.
Keep in mind that many people read on smaller screens, like tablets and smartphones, and even three lines on a PC can translate into six on a smaller screen.
Subheadings serve almost exactly the same purpose as paragraphs. Perhaps for this reason, many people use one without the other – as I did. This can seem especially tempting if you’re not writing an informative post. Maybe you’re just discussing your stance on a controversial topic, or telling the tale of your most recent travel adventure. So, why bother?
But subheadings are like little chapters in a book. They act as checkpoints for readers, while also conveying what specific information the reader can expect to see in that spot. This helps readers to skim through posts, and skip over parts they don’t need to read.
For instance, in this post, maybe you’ve never disrespected readers and you always edit your work. Since I’ve organised the text into sub-headings, you can easily skip over those and move on to what’s important to you. No offence taken!
I mentioned this before in 10 Tips for New Bloggers, but this is such a common problem that it’s worth bringing up again. Blogging is fun and editing is often not, but to make the experience fun for readers, it’s important to clean up the formatting and text, and get rid of the typos.
Editing should also involve cleaning up the colloquial and ‘shorthand’ way we sometimes express ourselves in text messages, tweets, and journal entries. It’s understandable that people often type up blog posts on their phone, but that’s no excuse not to edit. In fact, all my final edits are done on my smartphone.
While editing, bloggers should also try to ensure they haven’t rambled on too much in the beginning and wasted words. I’ve seen many “10 ways to do this” and “5 ways to improve that” articles, only to have the actual list start 500 words in. By then, I have no desire to continue.
Ideally an introduction should be about 100 words – maybe 300 tops, depending on the topic and your writing style.
Crazy Text Colours
One suggestion I frequently make to new bloggers is to stick to regular text colours. It might seem creative to feature a black background with red and yellow text, but this is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
Firstly, neon-coloured fonts strain our eyes over time, and may cause pain and discomfort after prolonged reading. Thus, you may lose a lot of readers who would rather not strain their eyes to make out your words.
Secondly, WordPress reader and the mobile app shows all backgrounds as white. So if you got creative with white text on a black background, all we see is a blank page. What about yellow or baby blue font? All we see is a reason to squint and scroll quickly so we can get relief.
There’s a reason big websites like CNN, Facebook, and even Instagram use white backgrounds and dark-coloured fonts. Simply put, it works.
Blogging gives writers a direct line to readers, and as such, every action can either make or break that readership base. What’s important is identifying the errors of our ways, recovering quickly, and moving forward.