If you have a website for your business, you’ve probably heard the advice that you should have a blog.
And if you’re like most business owners, your response is likely, “How can I possibly fit that into my schedule?”
Blogging for your business can seem overwhelming and even like a poor return on your investment of time. Until, that is, you realize that you’re thinking about blogging all wrong.
There are a few big mistakes that most business owners make when starting a blog. This post will show you how to avoid them so you can use blogging to grow your business without wasting your time.
Mistake #1: Blog Posts are Too Long
Blog posts are intended to be short-form reading. While it’s true that posts can sometimes run up to 2,500 words, many are as short as 500 words.
There are advantages to both long and short posts, based on whether your goal is being found by search engines or shared by readers on social media platforms.
The bottom line, though, is that if you’re not a natural writer who can easily churn out 1,000+ words on a weekly basis, you don’t have to in order to make blogging work for your business.
As long as you’re writing at least 300 words (considered the minimum for being recognized by Google as valuable content), use a word count you’ll be able to produce on a consistent basis.
After all, a long, in-depth post you never publish does nothing for your business.
The more you blog, the better you’ll get at it. Cut yourself some slack and don’t try to be great at blogging right out of the gate. There’s a learning curve, so get your feet wet, knowing that you’ll improve as you write and publish more posts.
Starting your blog is more important than getting it perfect.
Pro Tip: Remove the pressure to write long posts when you’re just starting out. When you first begin your blog, your main goal should be publishing posts weekly. Aim for 300 to 500 words. Frequency trumps length.
Mistake #2: Blog Posts are Too Formal
If you come from a background in academic or technical writing, you may find it tricky to switch to blogging. You’ll notice that blogging tosses out many conventions of formal writing, replacing them with a conversational, informal style.
This means a blog usually has…
- short paragraphs (often only one or two sentences)
- short sentences for readability
- contractions (“They’ll” “You’d” “Let’s”)
- interjections (“Well,” “So,”)
- first- and second-person (“I” and “you”)
- sentences that begin with conjunctions (“And…” “But…”)
- and even sentence fragments used for emphasis
Why is this? There are two key reasons.
The first is that people read online content differently than print content.
Readers generally skim and scan blog posts. They move their eyes quickly over the post looking for elements that grab their attention. This is why short paragraphs, section headings, and lists are key in blogging. They allow the eye to move easily from section to section.
The second reason for shorter, more conversational writing is that a blog is intended to represent the brand of the business.
From your blog posts, readers should begin to get a sense of what it would be like to be your customer. That means the business owner’s voice or the company culture should come through loud and clear in posts, even if you outsource blogging to a ghostwriter or marketing firm.
This is great news for beginning bloggers! Formal writing takes much longer to plan and polish than casual, conversational writing. Yes, you still need to edit and proofread your blog posts. But you don’t need to agonize over word choice and sentence structure. If the idea is conveyed clearly and concisely, you’re doing it right.
Pro Tip: Blog the way you would speak to customers. Let your voice and your passion for your company come through in a personable way. This gets customers started down the path to knowing, liking, and trusting you and your brand. Try talking out a topic into a voice recording app or using voice-to-text software to capture how you naturally explain ideas.
Mistake #3: Blog Posts Cover Too Many Topics
Even if you follow the Pro Tips for length and writing style, if you’re covering too much content, you blog posts will be hard to write and harder to read.
Each blog post should serve a single purpose, such as:
- offer a quick tip people can use
- answer a common question customers have
- introduce a new product or service your business is offering
- inspire readers with a success story or some kind of uplifting message
- educate readers about your industry or the history of your business
Whether you’re informing, educating, entertaining, or inspiring readers, you should have a single focus. If you can’t clearly state that purpose, your topic is too big.
Your topic may also be too big if you’re trying to provide a comprehensive view of a concept or process. You may need to break up the topic into a series, covering one step or stage at a time.
Remember, the goal is to publish a new post each week. That means you have time to ease readers into complex ideas. It’s more effective to give them a bite-sized learning experience than to present an entire course on a subject.
Shorter, highly-focused posts give readers a sense of satisfaction and value because they can easily summarize what they’ve just learned. Plus, posts like these keep readers returning week after week to learn more from you.
Pro Tip: Once you have an idea for a blog post, come up with a working title. This will help focus your ideas. If you can’t settle on a title, that might be a warning sign you’re biting off more than you can chew in one post.
Make Your Blog Work for Your Business
Your business blog is an effective and free way to promote your business and build trust with potential customers.
If you avoid the three most common mistakes made on new business blogs, you’ll be ahead of the game. Remember to keep posts short, conversational, and focused on a single topic.
If you’re following that advice and you still feel stuck, SCORE mentors are here to help. Talk to a SCORE mentor today and get started on the road to a profitable business.
SCORE is also hosting an upcoming workshop about blogging with the author of this post, Megan Barnhard. You’ll get practical tips for how to beat blog block and turn your business blog into an asset. Learn more and register for the workshop.
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