Blogging: This Is How You’re Ruining It
I see you’ve stopped by our blog. These days, everyone has a blog. And no, I’m not being facetious. In fact, Tumblr alone reported having an astounding 441 million active blog accounts in 2018 (up from 373M the previous year). It seems a lot of people have the same idea — and that’s half the problem.
Some brands post frequently, but when it’s mostly filler and fluff, consumers soon hit the “unsubscribe” button. Others try on their blogging hat and find it’s just not full of enough ideas to produce regular content. So their blogs hang on by a thread, disconnected posts sprinkling in here and there as fleeting moments of genius strike.
Still, there are companies (like RSM) that set up a blog and open it to numerous contributors from their team to provide diversified flair and insight into their brand. Fewer blogs yet are established as a narrow window into the professional psyche of a business owner, company culture ambassador, or anointed thought leader.
While a blog creates a unique space to develop relationships with candidates, employees, and consumers, it can have a devastating effect on relations and marketing if not executed correctly. Whether you’re looking into options to establish your professional or company blog or you’re currently wondering why your readership and shares are so embarrassingly low, consider these factors before you bury the blogging hatchet:
It’s just plain ugly
Let’s start with the most obvious observation you make about any new blog you come across: aesthetics. Humans, by nature, love pleasing, visual stimulation. And yet, everyone has seen one — the ugly blog.
Unfortunately, this tale does not end like the ugly duckling. Your blog will be judged by its appearance. And not every misunderstood, ugly blog is destined to make the killer-blog cut.
Aesthetics are very important. Readers look for pleasing colors, logical formatting, readable fonts, and impressionable imagery. If your blog looks like the pamphlet the podiatrist gave you, you’re not likely to see recurring readers.
Your site visitors are looking for graphics and images they can relate to. Fonts should be simple, clean, and large enough to read without straining. And reserve the fun colors for your background design. You want a balance between the content copy and the bells and whistles you choose to showcase it with.
Most importantly, each new post should not be a science experiment in reader experience. Make the feelings you elicit through your blog style deliberate — your brand should come across as consistent, well-thought-out, and well-developed through your blog.
It’s difficult to navigate
Our blog might not be the first place you stopped — but it could have been. If you found us organically, you probably clicked the big “Blog” button out of pure curiosity. I know when I visit a new website, I instinctively look for a company blog.
Your blog should neither be buried deep within your site nor should it be a labyrinth of illogical twists and turns. Readers want to be able to breeze through an inspiring post relevant to their current need for information, not exhaust themselves — and their precious free time — meandering through all of your musings.
There is no hard-set rule about offering category options or a functional search bar, but there are plenty of ways you can make navigation more difficult. If you get too clever with headings, visitors will X out rather than look for a cipher. Titles and subheads should be clear and concise. And you can cut scrolling time in half by using a ‘read more’ function, offering visitors enticing intros and informative bites of content.
If you offer an interactive category menu, be sure to file all of your posts correctly. You really only need a few simple categories that target specific audiences in your sales and/or talent funnels. Not only will these tactics make your blog more user-friendly, but also they enhance your SEO, making it easier for new readers to find you.
While pop-ups are a great way to remind readers of what you want them to do, your persistence is a major turnoff if it’s interrupting what they really want to be doing — devouring your content. C’mon, dream big.
Minimize pop-ups and time them appropriately, when necessary. Make them engaging and relevant, but easy-to-close. Analytics offers valuable insight into the best time to prompt readers to sign up for your email list or create a user account on your site.
Don’t be tempted to post your blog through free web hosts. If you don’t have a web developer on board, look for a web host that offers the benefit of complete integration with your current site and can be fully branded. And pay for, at least, a basic version that eliminates unrelated ads.
You get a link, you get a link, everybody gets a link. There is a right and wrong way to use linking in your blog posts. Too many links is a major distraction. Period.
The same goes for supporting graphics. Prioritize putting the power in your words and enhance your narrative with just enough evidence to establish credibility.
It’s “been there, blogged that” boring
Blogs open a door to incredible opportunities for reaching clients and peers on a very personal level. Your blog is a place where you have the freedom to express yourself and prove your expertise in your own way, bringing a human element to your brand. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re original, though. In a sea of hundreds of millions of bloggers, you’re probably not.
If you’re going to blog, you should be reading your favorite thought leaders’ blogs, your clients’ blogs, and your competitors’ blogs. Devour as many examples as you can and pay careful attention to how the various nuances between them affect your perception of their brands. Make note of how different bloggers in your industry approach trending topics and how distinct their voice and vision comes through when they blog about them.
A blog is a place where you can show off your knowledge and experience and connect your brand with your readers, but only if you own it. Make it clear you are not just another cookie-cutter business blog. Determine what defines you by familiarizing yourself with what you’re not and what you aspire to be, what you want to avoid, and what inspires you to lead.