If you’re new to blogging, there’s enough advice out there in the blogosphere (and here at Performancing as well) to make your head swim. Information overload leads to analysis paralysis and in minutes you’re back where you started – at the beginning, with no idea what to do.
In an effort to simplify the blogging process, here are 5 key mistakes bloggers (new, old, established, popular and unpopular) make, and how you can avoid them.
There are few worse things in life than sitting back and watching life roll by in front of you without taking advantage of the opportunities that keep knocking on your door. Sometimes we have limiting beliefs that hold us back (such as “I don’t know how to write!”), other times we’ve got fears holding us back.
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. – Mark Twain
The key is to take action on the ideas you have. You’ll fail in 100% of the plans you never implement, but every plan you implement has a chance of success (and if you follow the next four tips, you can greatly increase that chance).
What are you going to do today?
Stop thinking about it, just start blogging (or working out, or writing that business plan, or calling on your business network; whatever it is you have to do to make your ideas and plans a reality.
2. Lack of Focus
Seth Godin wrote an excellent post today on creating micro hysteria in your audience. As a blogger (new or old), you need to accept a simple truth – big successes where your blog will have a mass appeal are rare and the exception. The real opportunities, as Seth puts it, lie in niche audiences who are passionate about a particular subject.
“Far better to obsess about owning the micro audience, at least for a moment, then to waste your energy trying to be everything to everyone.”
3. Lack of Value
Seems to me that the ‘experts’ have been shouting themselves hoarse talking about the advantages of concentrating on delivering value to your readers, but too often bloggers ignore this advice (or find it too hard to implement).
There is enough material on ‘providing value’ here at Performancing than I can remember, but the best advice is this:
Before you write, evaluate your topic from the perspective of your target audience. Do you think they need this information? Do you think they can use it?
Once you’ve written it, evaluate again. Do you think it is easy to grasp? Usable? Worth sharing?
If your topic and subsequent post gets a ‘Yes’, you’re in business.
If this sounds daunting, think of it this way – whatever topic you want to blog about, you will either have strong opinions (sports, news, politics) or expertise in the area (blogging, SEO, web design). In both cases, you will ‘know’ enough about the industry to figure out what is important and what is not important to your audience (and if not, you can always do some research and find out instead of giving up).
4. No Networking
Are you ‘putting yourself out there’ and talking to other bloggers in your niche? Participating in forums and talking to your audience? Talking to people offline who share the same interests?
The only way to build a readership and get traffic to your blog is if other bloggers and the community around that niche knows who you are. Bloggers are more likely to read your blog if they know you, and if they read your blog (AND you’ve done step 3 right) they will be more likely to link to you. Links will bring in traffic and search engine ranking benefits.
No one will link to your blog or talk about it if they don’t know about it. And how are they going to know about it?
If you get up, get out and start talking to other bloggers in your niche.
In fact, all of blogging can be summed up in two words. Value & Networking. Get this right and you’ve got it made.
5. Stuck in a Pattern
Technology changes. Communities shift and evolve. People change, opinions change.
If you apply the four strategies above, you will succeed, but only for a while. Eventually, you’ll be set and comfortable in your pattern and BOOM!, the landscape of your niche will start changing. Imperceptibly at first, but change it will.
Scott Adams talks about how artists can only produce quality material for a period of time before the ‘big hits’ stop coming. It’s the same with bloggers – there’s a life cycle for each subject, and once you’ve exhausted it from start to end all that’s left for you is to rehash the same ‘news’ everyone else is talking about, or start repeating yourself.
Embrace change and learn to reinvent yourself (something that is easier than it sounds). Nick and Chris have done it after moving on from Performancing, and there are many such examples in the blogging and SEO industry.
Learn to anticipate, prepare and act on changes in your niche. Lead the change instead of reacting to it. You’ll be much better placed as a result, and your blog stock will continue to rise.
Nothing – just start blogging!
If you’re NOT so new to blogging, I hope you can use this as a reference for your blogging efforts – we all need reminders and nudges in the right direction from time to time.