I get a lot of inquiries about blogging. Most people ask me to visit their blog and tell them how they can improve it.
Unfortunately, the answer is rarely cut and dry.
But I have noticed some common mistakes that turn off would be readers and also happen to be the secrets top bloggers know…
Before I talk about mistakes, allow me to clarify something about top bloggers which will help explain why they attract the most attention.
First, it’s not because they use lists or bullets, and it’s not because their blog posts are long or short, or that they teach something.
If you look at Seth Godin’s blog, who is considered the top blogger in the world, he rarely uses lists and bullets, and some of his posts are only a paragraph long.
Seth also rarely uses pictures and his comments are turned off, and yet, he’s the world’s greatest blogger. Why?
If you research more top bloggers you’ll likely find something very interesting about them if you know what you are looking for.
It’s the reason professional writers, editors and journalists are not typically the top bloggers as you might expect them to be.
As a matter of fact, there are some great bloggers out there who are not what you might consider great writers, but they have tons of readers.
Seth Godin is considered one of the foremost marketing experts in the world, in no small part thanks to a little free eBook he wrote titled “The Idea Virus” (note that he calls it an eBook, not a manifesto), and his blog.
Seth was also the Vice President of Permission Marketing for Yahoo.
If you look at another popular blog by Michael Hyatt you’ll find on his about page that he is not only the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, but he was also the Vice President of Marketing at Thomas Nelson in the 80’s.
Not all top bloggers are marketing experts like Seth or Michael, but a lot of them have marketing experience, like yours truly.
So here’s what’s important to know:
Blogging is not just about writing and writing well. (Tweet This.)
It’s about knowing people and considering what appeals to readers from a marketing perspective.
How does this help?
Well, to give you a simple example, marketing experts know terminology and how the words they use affect different people in different ways.
One HUGE mistake some bloggers make is that they use terminology specific to their niche that no one else understands.
Marketers know the importance of using evergreen words that everyone can relate to and immediately understand.
Let’s what? Are we going to the docks?
Bloggers who blog for other bloggers, industry experts and even writers use the word “ship” a lot, which for a writer would translate to mean they completed their work and published it.
Ship sounds totally cool and works for a specific audience, but if you’re writing for people who are not in the know or for a wider audience, it likely means nothing to them and could potentially rub them the wrong way because it may seem like you are trying to write over their head.
Don’t kill the message you are trying to convey with terminology your readers don’t get, or worse, puts them off.
Terminology is one of the critical reasons you must find your own voice that connects with your audience and not copy someone else’s.
If your audience doesn’t connect and what you really mean is published then use the word published.
Consider the word “Manifesto”
Have you written a free eBook that you give away to your readers?
Do you call it a manifesto?
Did you know this is another word that rubs the general public the wrong way?
If you’re using the term for an audience of writers and bloggers they’ll get it, but you’re likely to leave the rest feeling like you are a snob. After all, the public opinion of the term manifesto is, well, considered of snobbish, high class I-am-better-than-you origin.
(I hate to mention this, but you know I will, manifesto also has a pejorative meaning associated with reclusive bombers and serial killers due to media and popular procedural crime shows.)
Of course you are not a snob, or arrogant, or self-righteous (or, heaven forbid, a killer) if you use it, but if that’s the way people feel about it don’t you think it is a good idea to adjust accordingly?
Know the meanings that are associated with the words you often use.
Marketers adjust their language and syntax. Marketers use words just as writers with a specific purpose in mind, but not necessarily the same purpose.
If you’re writing for every day readers, like me, consider calling your manifesto a free eBook, because free eBook sounds much more appealing and generous. Think about it. You could even call it a report, if you want to send your readers to school or a board meeting (Yikes!).
Beware of technically sound writing
Even when something is written correctly it can still come off the wrong way.
I’ve had editors correct me many times when I write “good enough” to “well enough”. Of course, when they make this change they are right technically, but from a marketing standpoint it can be less effective.
“Good enough” has a different connotation than “well enough”. Editors might argue with me, and at times I do change it, but not usually.
Here’s the thing, if you’re a blogger who wants to get noticed, you absolutely must go beyond writing “well” and write in a down-to-earth way that your audience will get and relate to immediately, even if it is not technically right.
Marketers use words and phrases, and even clichés in ways that drive editors up the wall, and writers who are blogging, but have no marketing experience are hard pressed to write that way.
Cliché’s, seriously? Are they crazy? Not hardly.
Bullets and lists
(Gosh, don’t get me started.)
They might work for specific blog posts teaching specific lessons, but often don’t work for telling a story or sharing personal experiences, and yet because bloggers have read hundreds of times to use them they try to use them on nearly every post.
No. Don’t do that.
Sure, many readers only scan posts, I get that, but if your writing is compelling enough and phrased right, you can not only turn scanners into readers, but gain an audience that matters.
You want people to come back, and scanners rarely come back.
Only use bullets and lists when they work for the content and are needed. Over use them and your blog will lack depth and personality.
Bullets and lists are great for blogs with many authors providing lessons, but not for individual bloggers who want to establish a readership for their message.
Writers vs. Marketers
Mediocre writers with marketing experience are far more likely to do well blogging than expert writers with no marketing experience.
And if you’re an expert writer like say Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt or Jeff Goins who all also have marketing experience you’re more likely to shoot to the top of the blog rankings.
So if you’ve ever wondered why the best writers are not typically the best bloggers, now you know.
You might not need to become a better writer for your blog. What you may actually need is a better understanding of marketing.
My advice to writers who have become bloggers, but are having a hard time finding success, is to consider taking some marketing courses.
Why few bloggers write about the marketing aspect of blog writing.
Most how-to-blog-better articles do not talk about the marketing aspect because marketing gets a bad rap and because most people automatically assume marketing means advertising.
And honestly, it is much easier to offer posts on writing. After all, what do writers want to do?
Become better writers.
I know I want to become a better writer.
Writing lessons help you become a better writer, but not necessarily a better blogger.
You need marketing knowledge
Marketing is an understanding of human nature and appealing to people the way they want to be appealed to. Isn’t that what we all want?
It doesn’t mean you should change your blog’s niche, topic or core message, it means using better, more effective ways to relate to your audience.
And you can do that!
As you might know I am a member of Jeff Goins Tribe Writers blogging course and I am an affiliate. But the reason I mention his blogging course more than any other is because he has incorporated marketing strategies into his blogging course, even though he never actually comes right out and says it.
As a blogger, it is imperative to understand the way people perceive and relate to what you are writing. (Tweet This)
The more you know about marketing the better your blog will serve your audience and the larger your audience will become.
The Ultimate Super Secret to succeeding in blogging is marketing knowledge. (It’s a secret, but you can tweet it.)
Don’t let the idea of marketing put you off from blogging.
If you were brave enough to become a blogger, then you are more than capable of learning how to incorporate the marketing perspective into your blog posts.
Awareness is the first step, and I hope I have helped raise your awareness a little.
Did this blog post help you consider your blog writing differently? Share in the comments.