Let’s get to the point:
You’re either new to blogging or you’ve been doing this for a while now.
You probably think you have the basics covered.
You’ve learned how to use WordPress and you’ve played around with your blog’s theme and found one you like.
You have several blog posts published and every time you put out a new post, you think, this is the one that will generate traffic, engagement, and social shares.
But, something isn’t right. Somewhere deep down you’re thinking – even though you’re dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s – something isn’t clicking.
You’ve been blogging for a while now without much success.
No one is coming to your blog. No one cares about your content. No one likes what you wrote.
You may not realize it, but you’re probably pushing your readers away from your site.
The blogging blunder trap
With tons of WordPress themes to choose from, widgets to use and plugins to activate, you run the risk of getting caught in the blogging blunder trap – having too many “bells and whistles” and forgetting about what’s important:
So, to save you from making any more blogging mistakes, here are some common rookie slipups new and even seasoned bloggers could be unknowingly making – and how to fix them.
Mistake 1: You’re writing for yourself
I bet your life is fan-freakin’-tastic, right? The places you’ve been to, the people you’ve met and the food you’ve tasted – great stories for your blog.
I mean your blog is about you, right? Each post is in your voice and has your personality all over it.
It’s your blog and it’s all about you.
Well, not really.
While there are many different types of blogs out there, the ones that have traffic, shares and comments are the ones that are useful to their readers.
These types of blogs speak to their audience and the blogger does it in a way that injects their personality while still focusing on connecting with their audience.
So, if you start most of your sentences with,
Guess what I did?
I tried these exercises…
I know how to…
Let me show you my way…
You’re leaving someone out – your audience.
People go to blogs to learn valuable tips to help them solve a problem in their lives.
It’s not surprising that one of the most popular types of blog posts are ‘How-To’ posts. These types of blog posts are educational and aim to help readers with a problem.
Aside from writing tutorial-based posts, what else can you do to ditch the diary entries and form a connection with your readers?
- Ask questions in your post to engage with your audience. This makes it more conversational and treats your readers as being a part of your post.
- Get in the heads of your readers. Tell a problem a reader is having and empathize with their struggle.
- Use more ‘you’ language and less ‘I’ language.
- Have a call-to-action, or CTA, at the end of each blog post. This is a directive or question you give your audience such as, sign up for my newsletter, or what are your tips for the perfect cup of coffee?
So, next time you want to write a post about your family trip to Disneyland, spin it around to write about easy tips you used to stay sane while traveling to Disneyland with your family.
You get to share your experience at Disneyland while also giving away some tips to help other moms enjoy a hassle-free vacation.
Mistake 2: You don’t have a niche
What’s your blog about?
Do you write about whatever you’re feeling that day, or do you have a common theme that you stick to?
If you find yourself writing about fashion one day and career the next, and wonder why no one is commenting, it’s probably because they haven’t a clue what your blog is about.
A niche, or passion, can help boost traffic on your blog and grow your audience.
It does this by helping you:
- Stay focused – Having a core topic keeps you laser-focused on creating content around your niche.
- Find a highly targeted audience – Readers will come to your blog if they know your blog is about a certain And, if your niche is narrowed down, you’ll have a better chance of attracting certain readers. For example, if your niche is business traveling, your posts will attract business people who frequently travel, rather than people who travel.
- Develop your expertise in your niche – Coming up with blog topics in your niche and sharing your experiences about your topic can help build your expertise and authority in your niche. Someone like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income took the time to develop his niche and is now known as an authority on generating passive income.
- Make money – When you have a dedicated following, they’ll develop a level of trust with what you have to say, and listen to your advice. This opens the door to monetizing your blog, from selling eBooks or eCourses to writing sponsored posts.
If you’re stuck on what to write about, ask yourself,
“What do I know a lot about, have a passion for or want to learn more about?”
This might be hard for you because you’re probably thinking why would anyone what to read another food blog or another (fill-in-the-blank) blog?
Most people won’t want to read another blog about food, but people may want to learn more about how to raise their children on the Paleo lifestyle, for example.
The key is once you pick your niche, narrow it down to attract a particular audience. This ensures you are providing the best information to those who want it the most.
Read Adam’s post on how to find a niche to get started.
Mistake 3: Your blog isn’t user-friendly
A guaranteed way to scare readers away is a blog that requires an instruction manual to navigate around.
Your blog should be easy to find information and view when readers stop by.
Not sure what elements on your blog need fine-tuning? Here’s a checklist of common mistakes newbie bloggers make:
Take a look at a WordPress theme called Exposition Lite.
To the experienced blogger, this is a simple and modern blog design that would please any creative thinker.
But, for someone who doesn’t go to blogs very often, they would find this landing page difficult to navigate.
Where is the menu? Where do I go from here?
If you weren’t familiar with these types of themes, you wouldn’t know the menu is hidden behind the “hamburger icon” in the top, right-hand corner of the site.
This screams confusion to readers, making them want to ditch your blog quickly.
To decrease your bounce rate and improve user friendliness, consider having a noticeable, descriptive and concise navigation panel. This makes it easier for your readers to find their way around your site.
Here’s a look at our old navigation menu. It is straightforward, obvious and serves to direct readers to the important pages of the site:
Our new version is similarly straightforward.
If there’s anything else you need to link to, make use of the footer section of your blog. That’s a great place for slightly less important pages.
Blogs are primarily text-based and designed for reading. If you have a hard-to-read font, it can make the user experience difficult to enjoy.
But, isn’t it fun to search for elaborate and fun-looking fonts?
With so many to choose from, don’t you want a font that reflects your personality, your brand or the overall tone of your blog?
Well, if people are trying to read your blog and having trouble, you likely picked the wrong font.
So, what’s the best font to use? According to Social Triggers, you want a font that’s:
- Easy to read on a screen
- A simple sans serif or serif font – avoid script or decorative fonts for your main body copy
- 14px to 16px or even larger with an ample line-height (leading)
For comfortable on-screen reading, it’s also beneficial for your main paragraphs to have a content width, or line length, of between 480-600 pixels.
In fact, there is a mathematical equation that can help you come up with the optimal typography for your blog called the Golden Ratio.
Have you noticed most popular blogs have a white background with dark or black text?
This is because it’s much easier to read dark text on a white background than white text on a dark background.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t put a little personality into your color scheme. Color looks best in your menu bar, your headings, and your logo – not painted everywhere on your blog.
Here are some examples of blogs that balanced their color choices to attract readers – not scare them off.
Mistake 4: Your blog post isn’t properly formatted
Raise your hand if you’ve ever whipped out a blog post without editing it, optimizing it or failing to pay much attention to the process because you needed to put up content – like yesterday.
If you find yourself not really spending the time to properly format your blog post, you run the risk of people taking one look and leaving – even if you have a magnetic headline to grab their attention.
Check out these formatting tips you can use next time you sit down to blog:
Proofread and edit your blog posts before publication
No one likes to read a post littered with grammar mistakes or misspellings. Having someone else proofread your post is the best option, but if you have no one to help you, here are two free editing tools you can use:
- Grammarly – Download their free chrome extension to have Grammarly review your typed content on most social media platforms, blogs, Gmail and WordPress before submitting.
- PaperRater – Copy and paste your post into PaperRater and it will check your spelling, grammar, and word choice. It also checks for plagiarism and reports back with an overall grade.
Spruce up your copy
There are some tricks you can use to entice a reader to keep reading your post and increase the likelihood they will share it.
For example, you want your post to flow smoothly – making it easy to read and easy to understand. You can do this by:
- Using transition words like so, overall, but, and, also, or, etc…
- Using what Brian Dean from Backlinko calls bucket brigades. These are short phrases that entice readers to keep on reading.
- Use subheadings. This helps readers know what you are talking about and it breaks up your post into easy-to-read snippets. This can also increase your SEO power by having keywords in your subheadings.
Customize your blog’s permalinks for better usability and search engine crawlability
It’s generally recommended you customize or change the default permalink settings. A short, concise, well-crafted permalink – the URL of your blog post – will:
- Be easy to read
- Be simple to type and remember
- Look better to potential visitors on Google’s SERPs
- Be a part of your overall branding message
For example, in WordPress, if you don’t customize your default permalink structure, you will probably end up having URLs like this:
If, on the other hand, you are using “pretty permalink,” but fail to customize the URL, you may end up with a default link like:
As of WordPress 4.2, the installer may try to enable “pretty permalinks,” however, it’s best to double-check your permalink structure is set correctly.
For search engine purposes, Google likes friendly permalinks. Google states in their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide that URL’s with a structured hierarchy and keywords will make it easier for them to crawl your pages.
In WordPress, under Settings à Permalinks, you can customize your URL. Using the post slug of your post or a customized structure is a friendlier URL.
Wrapping it up
With these tips, you’re on your way from rookie to rock star status. Whether you’ve been blogging for two months or two years, everyone at some point in their blogging career makes classic mistakes on their blog.
But, you don’t have to anymore.
When you write for your audience, secure a niche and have a user-friendly blog that’s properly formatted, there’s no reason you won’t soon be sitting on a blog with social shares, traffic, and engagement you crave.