You’re blogging, and blogging, and blogging.
But sometimes you wonder … are your efforts paying off?
You’ve heard the stories of business blogging success—more traffic, more leads, and more business.
But you don’t seem to get the shares, the comments, and the leads, that your efforts deserve.
Should you just be patient and wait for traffic and leads to snowball? Or could it perhaps be that your business blog is on the wrong track? Is your blog not as good as you think?
Let’s look at 16 warning signs that your blog is a bit smelly, sleazy, or drab.
Wonderful blog posts without seductive headlines languish in the dark corners of the web, forgotten and covered in spider webs.
To generate more traffic to your posts, learn how to write delicious headlines that seduce people to click through:
Study the headlines of popular blogs to learn and re-use the templates that work.
Read: How to Write Great Headlines: 21 Creative Headline Examples
Let’s be straight.
Nobody is interested in your company, your products, and you.
What readers want to know is this: What’s in it for them? How do you take away problems, hassle, and glitches? How do you help them make their life more enjoyable?
Writing a business blog isn’t about direct sales; you’re starting a conversation with potential clients. You’re building a connection, a relationship.
When writing, always think: How will my readers benefit from this?
Are you selling your products or services to algorithms and robots?
Go ahead and keep writing for SEO.
Otherwise: reconsider. Humans don’t like to be treated as automatons. Real readers don’t enjoy content sagging under keyword sludge.
To engage and enchant real-life readers, write for humans first, and optimize for robots later.
The quickest way to kill your voice is to write for a crowd or a vague target audience.
When you don’t know whom you’re writing for, your blog posts become wishy-washy, generic, and dull. You end up talking to no one at all.
Before you write your next post, think about your ideal reader or buyer persona. Picture her and imagine picking up the phone to have a chat. How can your blog post help her? What advice is she looking for? What questions can you answer?
Writing for one ideal reader makes your content conversational and easy to read. It makes your reader feel you’re writing especially for her—to help her overcome her problems and achieve her dreams.
Have you noticed how comfortable it is to read blogs like Medium or Forbes?
Their font sizes are big (resp. 22px and 18px) and their line length is comfortable—about 75 characters including spaces.
What about your blog design? Does it promote readability? Or do you make it hard for people to read your text?
The white space between paragraphs gives readers breathing space—a chance to rest their eyes.
Readers get the feeling they glide effortlessly through your text.
Big blocks of text make reading a chore. Readers feel tired—even before they attempt reading your text. So, mix short with long paragraphs and don’t exceed 7 sentences in one paragraph.
Images add pizzazz to your posts. Images can have a strong impact on your readers:
What impression do your images make? Do they make your pages more attractive and inviting? Or do they make your blog look drab?
You might be writing on behalf of a company, but that doesn’t mean you should sound like one.
Nobody like chatting with a corporation. Nobody gossips with a call center. So why use gobbledygook, jargon, and dull words?
Before publishing your blog post read your text aloud. Does it sound like you?
A blog on its own is like a city without transport links. People may drop in by parachute, but you make it difficult to come back.
Email helps you to develop a relationship with your readers. You’re inviting them to come back each time you publish a post. Your subscribers can get to know you, like you, and trust you before you start selling your products and services.
Even pro-writers can’t write in one go. Advertising great David Ogilvy said:
I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft.
Editing is more than just fixing a few typos and grammar mistakes. Review the flow of your article. Cut paragraphs and sentences that don’t add to your story. Slaughter jargon and kill gobbledygook.
Your readers deserve a blog post that’s been carefully polished. Don’t waste your readers’ time with rambling and undulating posts.
Writing a blog post without studying copywriting is like jumping into a pool and attempting butterfly stroke without ever taking a swimming lesson.
Learn the copywriting techniques and tricks that make your content more readable, more engaging, and more seductive.
Facts are cold.
Facts can add credibility to your arguments, but on their own they’re boring. There’s no feeling, no emotion.
Stories, however, are engaging. Our brains are wired to enjoy stories. We can’t picture abstract concepts, but we can experience a story.
Use stories to engage your readers; and provide facts to increase your credibility. Like yin and yang stories and facts interact and strengthen each other.
Your readers face endless online distractions. Emails popping up. Tweets, Facebook updates, new posts on Google Plus, and hundreds of unread blog posts in their RSS feed.
How can you keep them concentrated on reading your blog posts?
Ensure your content is easy to read by using simple words and by mixing long with short sentences. Use subheadings to entice scanners to start reading.
Make your content so fascinating, so spellbinding that your readers want to gobble it up word by word.
Unless you write blog posts of 5 thousand words or more, you don’t need to summarize your key lessons at the end. You’re not writing an academic essay.
Use your closing paragraphs to inspire your readers. What action would you like them to take? How would you like them to change their beliefs?
Serving up an uninspiring conclusion is like presenting the cheapest supermarket ice-cream after a lavish home-cooked meal. It leaves a bad taste in your reader’s mouth.
A quick summary is dull. A quick pep talk inspires.
Smelly blog posts?
Yep, stale information—blog posts about discontinued products or old promotions; and outdated advice. These make your blog a hoarder’s house full of old newspapers, magazines, and other useless stuff.
If you’ve been writing a blog for 12 months, start an audit to spring-clean your blog.
If you’re bored with blogging, then rest assured, you’re boring the boots off your readers, too.
Reinvigorate your writing by changing or expanding your topic. Take a break or simply reduce your blogging schedule. You don’t have to write each day.
Don’t waste your audience’s time with yet another piece of recycled content dripping with boredom and drivel. Instead, write when you feel enthusiastic because your passion and personality will shine through and inspire your readers.
I’d love to say winning business with an enchanting business blog is easy.
But the truth is that it’s hard work. Damn hard work.
Writing an engaging and lead-generating blog, starts with getting to know your readers.
Get to know them so well that you can see them shaking their heads when you hit a typo. Hear them laughing at your jokes. Notice them nodding their heads when they agree with you.
Understand how you can fulfill your readers’ desires. Understand which problems you can take away.
Make sure your blog is incredibly useful, and your traffic will skyrocket, your leads will explode, and your business will grow.
Be helpful and inspire your readers.
Good stuff, Henneke!
Thank you, Sonia 🙂
Thanks so much for contributing, Henneke. I’ve been a fan for a long time. I’m one of your many enchanted readers.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of a few of these points. I’ve written quick headlines and silly summaries. But this post will ring in my ears before I do those things again…
Thanks again, Henneke. Honored to have you here on the Orbit site!
My pleasure, Andy. Thank you for having me.
And yep, I’ve made most of these mistakes, too. That’s how we learn, don’t we? 🙂
Oufff, writing purely for SEO is the a sure death for any blog. It makes it completely unprofessional!
Thanks for the article!
Agreed. Just a little SEO polish 🙂
I think the best advice especially for business people who are not designers or writers is: “To engage and enchant real-life readers, write for humans first, and optimize for robots later.”
Yes! When I do a blogging workshop, I always start with creating an ideal reader profile. When you know who you’re writing for, it becomes much easier to write engaging blog posts.
Thank you for stopping by, Sarah.
I appreciated the information provided here. I do believe sometimes blogging for a corporate site is sometimes seen as a mundane daily task – just throw another 600 words up on the web in between making the coffee and setting up a meeting.
I am a bit curious in regards to item 15 – the spring cleaning of the blog. Are you advocating the deletion of material from the blog or archiving it in some way?
Yes, I agree. Too often people think “nobody reads it anyway, so it doesn’t matter what we write”. But if they keep thinking like that, nobody will ever read it. 🙂
Regarding item 15: Quite often I see articles under popular posts or even under most recent posts that are totally irrelevant because they’re announcing events that have already taken place. In such a case, the minimum to do is remove them from the popular list (that’s why I prefer creating a list manually rather than using a plug-in). Even better would be to update the article with a review of an event – as long as it’s interesting for readers.
It’s useful to look at your Google Analytics to establish which older posts get a lot of traffic. Maybe one of them is a post about e.g. SEO trends – that would be a typical post to update with the latest recommendations for SEO.
Thank you for the clarification, that makes sense.
What are your thoughts?