Three common Blogging #Fails and what to do about them

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 areablogging fails. So, let’s talk about these three “Blogging #fails” (hashtag for emphasis!).

1) Visuals

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?

  1. Make it or take it yourself – see examples here of visuals I made or shot: Peter Shankman, Content Curation, Move to WordPress?
  2. Stock photo sites like istockphoto, fotalia and dreamstime
  3. 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!

2) Closing

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



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  1. Hi Tom,

    I’ve done all three… But that all changed with the new design :)

    The new design is at least in my opinion quite good. (#fail number 1)
    I write all posts with the idea that there’s at least one call to action and it’s usually at the end. (#fail number 2 and 3)

    I think one more common fail is to over-promote your products OR forgetting them completely :)
    Peter Sandeen recently posted..101 Headline Formulas that Capture Attention and Get Your Message ReadMy Profile

  2. Spot on! Will share this everywhere :)
    I used to have a hard time with the call to action and I think that can often be a confidence thing – but it is absolutely worth doing. Now I do it I find I get a lot more great comments and support but more importantly I get more business!
    Gemma Thompson recently posted..Is Your Business Website Legal?My Profile

  3. Great stuff Tom! Not much more to add, except like everyone else, my call to action can be terrible sometimes. I am working on making that better.

    I guess the only other thing I can add is maybe when writing any piece of content, try and focus on the utilizing the AIDA method
    A – Attention
    I – Interest
    D – Desire
    A – Action

    I am also a big believer of what Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recommends and that is giving the reader something they can take action on and have an immediate result!
    Chris Nadeau recently posted..How I Will Make Amends For Putting My Brother In The Dryer & Turning It OnMy Profile

  4. My ‘fail’ (I’ll admit) is the call to action. This is something that I’ve been working on getting better over the last 6 months. I did notice however that after I started including a call to action at the end of my articles I get more feedback. More readers send me emails with questions and more of my posts get shared. Might not seem like it but this is some really powerful stuff!
    Hector Avellaneda recently posted..Accepting Credit Cards as an E-Commerce EntrepreneurMy Profile

  5. cmichaelsny says:

    The most successful blogs are filled with knowledgeable information and updated regularly. Choose a niche that you know a lot about and design your blog to fit the subject.

  6. Another great eye-opener Tom! Sadly, I am oftentimes one of the many who are guilty of committing fail #1 and #3, #1 most especially. Looking for the right visuals to add to your post can be time consuming but it does trigger an emotional response that can directly or indirectly emphasize your call to action.
    Karen recently posted..How the Tria Laser Hair Removal Device WorksMy Profile

  7. Tom,

    I have been committing two of the 3 mistakes – visuals and closing. I don’t use images for my blog (I used to, but stopped it due to laziness – to finding good images. Another reason is because many of the images drive me junk traffic – traffic that I don’t need for my blog. I guess it can be a good thing because I can still convince those people to subscribe, but then again, those most of them are just here for image).

    As far as conclusions goes, I tend to stop my posts when I think I have said enough. I don’t actually have a conclusions section (I used to, but not anymore). I removed the conclusion section because I want the topic to continue, with the comments.

    But, I have been following of these things in my new collaborative blog (I have to, because I am just a writer and it is expected of me to do so).

    I do agree with all of your points about images and conclusion. They are really important and helpful (I might get back with images, but as for conclusion, I would have to think over it).

    Anyways, thank you for sharing the info,

    Jeevanjacobjohn recently posted..Building Influence: Comments and Commenting ChallengeMy Profile