I’m asked to review a ton of blogs. Some of them are pretty sorry. But with just a few little tweaks, they could be really great. Here are the three biggest beginner blogging mistakes I see every day …
1) Blogging upside down.
When most people tell a story, it’s linear. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Problem is, people who read blogs have ADD. They are not going to wait until the end to get to the punchline. You have to give them the punchline first and THEN tell them who, what, when, where and why. Turn your blog upside down!
In journalism school they used to call this “burying the lead” — making readers work for the main point of the story. Most blogs can be improved by wiping out the first third of the story. Have the courage to put your blog under the knife.
2) Length matters
I have a theory about building a blog community. You have to earn the right to go long. The more credibility you have, the more time people will stay on your blog. If you are just beginning, new readers are going to give you just a few moments to make your case — if you’re lucky. If you’re Malcolm Gladwell, you can write 10,000 words without a care.
Respect your readers and their precious time. Get in, make your point, get out.
3) Grab them hard
Headlines are the most important part of a blog. Without a scintillating, compelling, tweetable headline, your hard work will never see the light of day.
Here is a bad headline: “My biggest blogging challenge.”
Somebody set the alarm to wake me when it’s over. It might be a GREAT blog, but the headline is just a snoozer. Plus it can’t be easily tweeted. When you use the word “my” it will look like it is the tweeter’s biggest blogging challenge, not yours.
Headlines are among my biggest struggles too. I’ll work hard on a post and then have no idea what the headline should be. I tend to give myself a headline deadline. At some point you have to push that publish button and get on with your life.
Today is a perfect case study. I could have gone for the obvious “Three Ideas to Make Your Blog Better.” This would have been a safe bet and it would have received a lot of tweets because when you put a number in the headline, it’s usually a hit. But I just hate settling for the ordinary. If you’re going to commit to providing insanely great content, eschew the obvious. Take some risks.
I was captivated by the “blog upside down” notion. Then this little rhyme got stuck in my head, “turn the beat around” — which sounded like a disco song. So I found a disco picture to go with it. Is it insanely great? No. Honestly, it doesn’t even make sense. But at least I’m trying to push it out there just a little bit further!
Here’s something I think about. If headlines are so important … maybe we should write the headlines first? Anybody do that?
How are you working through these obstacles? If you had to add a fourth item, what do you struggle with? Join the blogging boogie in the comment section, won’t you?