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.
101 thoughts on “5 Awful Mistakes Bloggers Make”
Thank you very much Alexis for the advice, didn’t know that paragraphing can make ones blog either interesting or boring . Its good to learn new things as day passes by.
Thank you. Yes, dividing the information into blocks can make all the difference if even just for aesthetics.
I do so wish everyone I follow had read this post, Alexis. With intermittent cognitive dysfunction (health related) and poor eyesight (despite prescription glasses), I can’t read long paragraphs or certain coloured fonts on black backgrounds.
I’m a visual person (with an art/design education 45 years ago), so short paragraphs, between images (if possible), is the best way to attract a following from me.
Secondly, I’ve mostly dropped following writers for the simple reason that they write too much and I don’t have the time to read such a long missive. Seriously. Be concise.
Poets……keep your verse to no more than 5 verses. That’s about the time and limit of my attention span. Writers, give your post an introduction, middle and end. It helps to let readers know if you’re writing fact or fiction too. More than once I’ve expressed concern and worry over a blogger, who I know well, but failed to tell me his work about a serious health matter was pure fiction. He mixes fact and fiction posts regularly and to be honest, his writing style is the same for both.
Remember that many of your followers come from all over the globe and don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about if you use slang, and don’t give some clue about your location. This may mean that occasionally you have to repeat information already shared in posts from last month or last year (unless you’ve got an About page). When a new blogger starts to follow you, they may not have the inclination or time to read your past posts.
I currently need to update my About page, so I’ve temporarily deleted it.
I ALWAYS look to see who has liked my post or started to follow me.
…..and I always try to call commenters by their Christian name in reply. It lets them know I have taken the time to find out who they are and although I may not have the time to follow their own blog, it lets them know I’m interested in them and appreciate their interest in me.
Hi Vicki. I’m glad to know the post resonated with you. I wish a lot more people read it myself haha. The excuse people often give is that their blog is their creative outlet and that this kind of advice makes it more “marketable” which dilutes the blog. As an artist myself with a PR firm, this is hogwash.
Your tactics all sound great. And that but about using slangs is also important. I’m Jamaican and always ensure I use the English translation when I mention proverbs, or I translate it after the original.
I want to educate people about the Jamaican lifestyle here and there, not wow them with my “exoticness” and lose them in the process.
FYI there are more of these on my company website, so feel free to check them out or forward them on to the people who need them haha.
The site is http://www.alexischateaullc.com
Thank you Alexis 🙂 it was really helpful
You’re welcome. Glad to hear it 🙂
Reblogged this on Alexis Chateau LLC.
Well done. Good advice.
Thank you. 🙂
Definitely good points here. Coming from a writing blog perspective I’ve got to drive the editing point. Please, please, please edit your posts. I’m not the best at it, though…
Haha. Even a read over for typos is a good idea. Sometimes typos aren’t very obvious, and instead just change the meaning of what you meant to say – sometimes to an embarassing degree.
Reblogged this on Wag 'n Bietjie.
Thanks for sharing! Keep an eye out for more of these this month 🙂
It’s a pleasure! I will visit your again.. 🙂
I look forward to it. 😉
I don’t disagree with any of your five points. Methinks more people out there need to read this post.
Thank you Pattison! Feel free to hit that reblog button! 🙂
This is such a fantastic blog post…I learnt a lot…
Thank you. I’m glad you found it helpful.
Great blog, really good advice.
Thanks Jason! 🙂