How To Avoid Blogging Blarney: 17 Ways To Change Your Blog

Blogging BlarneyWhen social shares decline and content saturation sets in, you need to forget the once dependable blogging blarney.

At this point the luck of the Irish won’t help your blog. (Although my colleague RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary may tell you differently.)

Rather adjust your blogging approach to focus on building an engaged community where the depth of your relationship with your readers matters most.

To make your blog into an owned media entity that your audience visits regularly, you need grit and a success-oriented outlook as defined by Angela Duckworth. Of course, in addition to perseverance and hard work, some Irish luck doesn’t hurt!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, assess how 17 pieces of blogging blarney have become part of  your blog. Then use the related actionable blogging tactics to make your blog competitive despite content saturation.

Don’t get fooled into being complacent. 

You need to proactively build and support your blog for it to continue thriving.

 

17 Pieces of Blogging Blarney You Need To Change (& How To Succeed)blogging blarney

 

As bloggers, we get complacent.

Once you’ve set your blog on a path to success as part of your larger business plans, it winds up on autopilot. Hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Yet the world is dynamic. As technology, devices and communications evolve, so must your blog.

By not remaining current, your blog falls behind.

To meet your current reader and business needs examine these 17 pieces of blogging blarney to understand how to improve your blog.

 

1. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Skip developing a blog mission statement

When you’re eager to start blogging, it’s easy to skip this crucial first step.

Every blog needs a mission statement aligned with your audience, offering and  business. Otherwise how do you know if what you write is of importance to your readers or your business?

By staking out a defensible content niche, your blog mission statement provides focus. This increases content relevance and decreases wasted marketing resources.

Don’t worry—your blog mission statement can evolve over time. Lee Odden and his Top Rank team’s blog has evolved and grown over the last 14 years and provides a great example of how to create consistent blog content.

Craft your blog mission statement by defining the type of content you’re going to create, for whom you’re going to write, and why you’re doing this. Beyond short-term measurable marketing outcomes, appeal to a higher motive than revenue.

Maximize b2b blog results

Actionable Blogging Tactics:

  • Develop your blog mission statement.  Fill in the blanks to create a rough draft and modify it based on feedback.
  • Distribute your blog mission statement across your organization and on your blog. Make your mission statement public to build community.

 

2. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Assume you know your audience without getting input

If you want to write content that resonates with an audience beyond your mother, you really have to know them.

Addressing high level attributes like demographic won’t cut it. Writing in general terms hurts your blogging. It lacks power and sounds empty. By trying to appeal to a lot of people, you appeal to no one.

Contrary to what many writers, bloggers and content creators believe, specificity makes your content come alive and appeal to a larger audience. 

To write with vivid details that makes your content relevant you must know your audience and care about them.

As you understand your readers better, create a persona or avatar to flesh out your audience’s specific attributes. To create content they actively seek, determine what their  challenges and problems are as well as their goals and desires.

Entrepreneur On Fire’s John Lee Dumas focuses on one key reader named Jimmy. Dumas created a short video about Jimmy so potential readers they identify with him. By clearly stating these needs and desires he starts to build a rapport with potential readers.


Entrepreneur’s One Perfect Listener-Jimmy (From About Page)

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Create a reader avatar or marketing persona. While you may need to make assumptions in the beginning, go back to real details.
  • Use your Welcome Email to get new reader input. Connect with people when they’re most interested in your content. Ask readers to tell you their biggest problem by responding to your welcome email. Respond to these emails to build relationships.
  • Write like you’re talking to your reader. Use the second person and address him or her as “you”.

 

3. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Forget to introduce yourself to readers

Don’t skip creating an About Page based on the blarney that it will make you look like you’ve got a bigger team. Given eroding trust, showing that you’re a real person is even more important.

Remember your manners and let readers know who you are. If readers like your blog posts, they’ll want to get to know you better.

Use your About Page to build deeper reader relations. Remember people connect with other people not organizations or things. 

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Include an About Page. Give your readers insight into what makes the people behind your blog tick. I love that Peg Fitzpatrick has a smiling welcoming photo on her About Page and a contact form.  (BTW—Fitzpatrick is that friendly and bubbly in person!)

    Blogging Blarney

    Peg Fitzpatrick smiles from her About Page

 

4. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Skip giving your blog a uniform (aka branding)

Blog branding isn’t blogging blarney!

By defining your blog brand you ensure that its consistently presented regardless of where your content appears.

More than just a logo, your blog brand supports your content structure, presentation, voice, and visuals.

Like a blog mission statement, blog branding reduces decision making. It also sets constraints on blog related creativity that can help inspire new ideas.

For example, Henneke’s Enchanted Marketing Blog has a friendly, easy-to-follow style that leads readers through complex topics. Additionally, she adds her own light-hearted, hand drawn images to each post.

What makes your blog stand out?

Blogging Blarney

Branding isn’t blog blarney- Example of Henneke’s blog branding with hand drawn images

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Extend your business brand to your blog. Even with a limited budget, use every element of your blog to support your brand. (Here are fixes for 31 blog design issues.)
  • Pay attention to your blog voice. The way you write and the language your use reflects your brand. Create a set of branding guidelines to ensure that your blog brand is consistent regardless of who’s writing.

 

5. BLOGGING BLARNEY:  Blog about whatever topic strikes your fancy

To keep your blog focused, categorize your content across a few topics. Otherwise your blog will confuse both prospectives reader and search engines. (Remember—no matter what she says, even your mother doesn’t want to know everything that pops into your mind.)

While the underlying blog technology helps search, optimize your blog content for readers, social media followers, search engines, influencers and your business. 

To accomplish this, plan your content using content hubs as defined by Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina. This focuses your blog content on core topics including your main topic and keywords (central hub), answers to the main questions around this term (related sub-topics), and broader information on related topics (supportive base).

Focus content on core topics improves search visibility – Orbit Media

As a result, search engines can distinguish how your content relates to similar content on your blog.

Integrate your content hubs with what Bruce Clay calls content siloes to further support your search topics by linking related content in each hub to other related content on your

How not to organize your content-Chart

Blog Topic Search Help: Select core blog topics where you have expertise and your audience is interested – Graphic

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Use a variety of search tools to support your blogging. In addition to Google Analytics include Moz, Open Site Explorer, SimilarWeb.com, Ahrefs, SimplyMeasured and RivalIQ.
  • Optimize each post for a keyword phrase. Include that word or pharse in your title and URL. To improve blog search optimization use a tool like Yoast’s SEO plugin for WordPress. Also, link to reliable resources and your foundational content. (Here are more blog search recommendations.)

 

6. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Write only when the spirit moves you

To develop a community around your blog, consistently show up at the blog page and publish content on a regular basis so readers expect it.

In today’s post-appointment media era, you must become part of your readers’ regular content consumption. Consistently publishing blog content on a regular schedule achieves this objective. To this end, an editorial calendar is key.

While bloggers and content creators such as Content Marketing Institute and Convince and Convert have reduce their publishing schedule, they still publish on a regular basis.  

Actionable Blogging Tactics:

 

7. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Fill your blog with marketing promotions

Face it: Your audience can smell an ad or promotion a mile away.

So skip the marketing-speak and give them quality information that they want and need to keep them coming back. Remember: Even if it’s unstated, one of your blogging goals is to build trust with your readers, some of whom may be potential customers.

Create the 5 types of content customers actively seek  including Product Detail, Customer Questions, How-to Training, Customer Stories and Customer Fit. 

5 Types of Content Customers Actively Seek & Need – Chart

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Give your readers red meat content. Answer their questions and provide useful information. Answer every question your prospective customer has including price. For more information, read Marcus Sheridan’s book, They Ask, You Answer.

 

8. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Restrict blog posts to text only

Nothing scares prospective readers away faster than long blocks of uninterrupted text. No surprise—it’s looks hard to read!

According to usability expert Jakob Nielsen, your audience will read about 20% of the text on a webpage. Further, he found that chunking information made it easier to consume and remember. (Here’s a deeper explanation of content chunking.)

 Visual content attracts 94% more total views on average than text, include images and videos to draw readers in.  Where appropriate add audio to reach listeners.

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Use eye candy. Include images, video, audio and presentation. I recommend using one visual per point to lead readers through your content.
  • Optimize visuals for readers and search. Include relevant metadata and add a caption since people read captions.

 

9. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Ignore how your blog content looks

Dress for success applies to your blog.

If your blog content looks too difficult to read, visitors move onto the next shiny piece. It’s TH;DR (aka: Too Hard; Didn’t Read.)

Most people read about 60% of an article but they see all of the video and visual content! (Chartbeat)

Most people read about 60% of an article but they see all of the video and visual content! via Chartbeat #blogging #contentmarketingClick To Tweet

 

Include eye candy in the form of visuals, photos, GIFs and videos to attract attention.

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Make your blog content visually appealing to readers. Use bolding, outlining and images to guide readers through. Ensure that they can understand your content if they scan your sub-heads and images.
  • Narrow the width of the body of your blog content. Nielsen recommends 50 to 75 characters to facilitate readability.
  • Write for an 8th grade reading level. Write short sentences with short words.
    US Adult Reading Level Is 8th Grade

 

10. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Use any content you find on the Internet

If you believe this blogging blarney, know that online content including images and videos are subject to IP laws. Even worse, using them without permission can result in real costs (as I know from painful experience!)

Check out what Lawyer Kerry O’Shea Gorgone has to say about copyright and content in her post on Businesses Grow.

Take care when using other people’s content or images. If you have any doubts about who owns the content, don’t use it! (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Get permission to use other people’s content including user-generated content (aka: UGC). Allow employees and customers decide if they want to let you use their images and text.
  • Always give appropriate attribution and references. Let your readers know where your facts come from. This makes your blog posts more credible.

 

11. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Be lazy about checking spelling, grammar or facts

While early bloggers wrote quickly for immediate publication, often overlooking mistakes that an eagle-eyed editor would catch, blogging now requires more rigorous fact checking and grammar.

42.5% of UK respondents believed that poor grammar and spelling on social media diminishes their opinion of a firm (Disruptive Communications.)

Customers Hate Poor Grammar - UK Research

Remember first impressions count. So don’t give prospects move onto another resource without giving your blog a chance! 

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Let your draft rest. Walk away from The First Ugly Draft (or TFUD as Ann Handley calls it in Everybody Writes,) and let the ideas simmer in your brain.
  • Ruthlessly edit your blog post. Cut out all of the excess words. Also use products like Hemingway or Grammarly.

 

12. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Magically spreads across social media when published

While the content well-established bloggers seems to get amplified and distributed effortlessly, that’s far from true. Even worse, content saturation hinders your blog posts ability to break through.

You need content amplification during the first few days after publication. This includes owned media, influencers, amplification platforms and paid options (notably Facebook ads). You have a very small window of opportunity to maximize the reach of each piece of content.

If you’ve invested a lot of resources in key blog posts, then use Facebook ads to determine the best titles. Larry Kim and Priceonomics do this since titles are  a make-or-break element of your blog. Only 20% of readers get beyond the title!

Then continue content distribution more widely across platforms. Where appropriate support it with paid advertising.

If your blog content performance is less than stellar, consider improving it to make it more appealing (but don’t change your URL!) This content update and renovation approach is gaining traction among marketers.  I call it Cinderella Content(Yes like the fairy tale!) Cinderella Make Over Content Marketing

Actionable Blogging Tactics:

  • Have a distribution system in place to deliver your blog content across platforms. Remember email distribution is key! Break out the different components of each article before you hit publish and batch your content creation.
  • Email the people you mention in your post. But don’t expect them to share your content. Your goal is to stay top of mind.
  • Include social sharing within your blog posts. Use Click-To-Tweet and PinThis.

 

13. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Only appear on social media to push your blog posts

Avoid this is the me-me-me approach to social media. It doesn’t work over the long-term.

At a minimum,  be an active member of the social media community as well as specific groups or platforms. Participate in the social media discussion and curate other people’s content before thinking about showcasing your latest article.

Take another cue from Spin Sucks’s Gini Dietrich, she doesn’t just curate other people’s fun content. She gives a shout out and links to the readers who surfaced it.

No more blog blarneyGini Dietrich Gives Shout Out To Readers On Gin & Topics

 

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Share other bloggers’ content in a ratio of roughly 1 piece of your content to 10 pieces of other people’s content. Use hashtags and mentions to broaden your reach.
  • Be generous in mentioning and linking to other people on your blog. Make readers and others you respect feel special.

 

14. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Save time-don’t respond to blog comments

While answering blog comments isn’t required, taking the time to respond shows not only that there’s a person behind your blog, but also that you care about your audience.

Blogs like Social Media Examiner and Content Marketing Institute require guest bloggers to be available to respond to comments on the day their post is published.

Smart Blogger gets a ton of comments. Jon Morrow weighed in on his post where appropriate. This is an amazing blog post on its own but the conversation helped it to garner 18k+ social shares!

Skip the blog blarneyIf Jon Morrow Can Respond to Comments, So Can You

 

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Respond to meaty comments. Encourage other readers to join the conversation on your blog. Mark Schaefer does a great job of this. Its adds value and extends the conversation.

 

15. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Only track shares and comments 

Skip the vanity metrics such as blog comments and social shares. BuzzSumo’s 2018 Content Marketing Report showed that social shares had diminished 50% (and that’s the median!)

The reality is that comments and social shares don’t track your blog’s progress towards your business goals. 

Instead include calls-to-action and interrelated content and off-ramps to encourage readers to act! 

Actionable Marketing Tactic:

  • Define measurable goals aligned with your business objectives. Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi tracks email registrations as his top priority. (Here are 65 blog metrics to help you.)
  • Always use a call-to-action aligned with your post topic and content. Don’t assume your readers will naturally take action.

 

16. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Let existing blog content get stale

Get off your blog content creation hamster wheel by enhancing your existing content before creating new blog posts. Use this update and renovate approach to keep your blog content fresh and visible.

The great part of this advice is that you need less resources to update an existing post than to create a new from scratch. Even better, it shows Google that you’re content is still relevant.

Long playing content-enhanced content chart

Here are 5 types of long playing or enhanced content that keep it visible over time – Chart via HeidiCohen.com

 

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Audit your blog content at least once a year. Eliminate redundant content and redirect it to the prime URL.
  • Update content. Add new information to keep it relevant. Then promote it to keep it visible.

 

17. BLOGGING BLARNEY: Stop blogging after a year 

Blogging is a long-term investment of time and resources.

As Rand Fishkin points out, many bloggers drop out of the blogging marathon at about 12 months. As his wife’s blog The Everywherist shows the benefits are reaped over time.

You need to blog for the long term

I get it. Starting a blog and building a readership is hard work on a consistent basis over time.

But don’t give up!  

Keep going. In Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi says that it takes about 18 months for your blog to gain traction as a business driver.

Actionable Blogging Tactic:

  • Plan to blog for the long term. Don’t try to prove you can do it overnight. That’s planning to fail and you don’t want to do that.
  • Get additional resources to support you, especially if you’ve got a business blog. Use your blog to provide the information your audience including your customers need.

 

Blogging Blarney Conclusion

A lot of blogging blarney still exists. It passes for advice and guidelines.

But don’t let it fool you.

Blogging requires work and resources to yield measurable results.

Follow this list of actionable blogging tactics to improve your blogging luck and transform your blog into a marketing machine.

Remember you don’t have to do them all at once.

Wait until after you’ve celebrated St. Paddy’s Day.

What’s your favorite piece of blogging blarney and why?

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on March 17, 2013 and was updated on March 17,. 2016 and March 17, 2017.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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https://www.pexels.com/photo/ireland-saint-patrick-s-day-6631/ cc Zero

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5 Responses to How To Avoid Blogging Blarney: 17 Ways To Change Your Blog

  1. Pingback: Blogging Blarney (& How You Can Fix It!)  - C4 Smart Marketing Solutions

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  3. Matt Gallant says:

    Nice list you got here. I’ve been searching for tips and tricks to boost my blogs and this article seems to have added some ideas on what im going to do. Great read!

  4. Huba Hamza says:

    I didn’t know how to actually run a successful blog till i learned that i must be myself and must be more social.
    You shared some very important points here, i’m looking forward to learn more from your articles.

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    • heidicohen says:

      Huba,

      As with any social media entity, it’s important to be yourself. That said, you shouldn’t only talk about yourself.

      Further, blogging requires that you be an active social media participant.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen