I work with a lot of clients on their business blogs. I also read a lot of blog posts, do a fair share of writing myself, and regularly teach a blog writing workshop. What I’ve discovered in my time blogging is that there are some very common areas that people get wrong or just plain ignore. Sometimes this is intentional – they don’t want to be bothered about one aspect or another. In other cases, they may not be aware that they’re skimping in an important area. So, let’s talk about these three “Blogging #fails” (hashtag for emphasis!).
Too many times, I see a blog post without any visuals (#fail) or with really low quality or irrelevant visuals. On the other hand, I occasionally see blog posts that have taken the time to carefully select, create or customize a visual just for that post. Well, you don’t have to go that far, but visuals for your blog posts are important.
Why are visuals important?
- Emotion: Pictures often set a tone for your post and trigger an emotional response. No picture = no response.
- Supporting your message: Your picture can quickly reinforce your key message – even before they read your post!
- Social Media thumbnail: When you (or others) share on social media, your picture is often the thumbnail that shows up with the post title. A great picture can get attention and bring people to your post.
- Pinterest: People are collecting (curating) content in Pinterest. You need a (good) picture to have your post shared in Pinterest.
How do I find pictures or graphics?
- Make it or take it yourself – see examples here of visuals I made or shot: Peter Shankman, Content Curation, Move to WordPress?
- Stock photo sites like istockphoto, fotalia and dreamstime
- Creative Commons: Go here and you can use Flickr – just make sure you search for pictures that are licensed for business use
So take some time to get the right picture and don’t just skip it!
Have you ever had a conversation where the energy just dies? The person you’re speaking with seems bored or ready to move on to the next conversation. Or the conversation just trails off. If so, you know how annoying that can be.
A bad blog post closing is like a conversation that trails off awkwardly. Most of us have poured our hearts into the actual post so by the time we reach the end, we may be anxious to wrap up. That’s a mistake.
What I learned from one of my mentors, John Morrow (of Copyblogger and Guest Blogging course), was that getting people into action – getting their “butts off the couch” is something that will get their attention. This is what people will remember and appreciate.
So, get them off their butts! Encourage or challenge them to use what they’re just learned. Have them tell you in the comments what they’ve got planned. Ask them to come back and tell you what they did!
3) Call to action
The third part that is often lacking is the “Call to Action”. In this part of the post, it’s not just about motivating them to get off their butts. This is the part where you try to drive some activity that ties to your business model. In the case of a nonprofit or industry organization, this is something that ties to the goals of the organization.
You can embed your call to action at the appropriate spot in your blog post (in context), in the closing, or after the closing – or in multiple places.
The Call to Action #fails that I see quite often include:
- No call to action
- Too many calls to action – too many choices may cause them to take none!
- Calls to action that are not compelling – you need to provide something that incentivizes them to act
- An unclear call to action – not having a clear “path” to follow will result in low conversion rates
- An unrelated call to action – having a call to action completely unrelated to the topic of the blog can be problematic
Are you doing any of these #fails?
Based on what you see here, which of these #fails have you been guilty of? What are you going to do about it going forward? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I also don’t pretend to have all the answers. Do you see other common #fails out there?
Will you join me for a blog writing workshop?
Oh, and while we’re at it, I’m teaching a free Blog Writing Workshop for the Social Buzz Club on May 1st where we’ll create a blog post together. Will you join me there? Click here to learn more: Blogging Made Easy – Blog Writing Workshop