Blogging can feel like a chore. Writing is heavy mental labor, and we want to see a reward for our efforts. Unfortunately, most new bloggers begin with the same five engagement-limiting mistakes.
I’m a long blogger. My friends are long bloggers. My older posts were l-o-n-g. 2,579 words. A 4-part series with each post at least 1,500 words. As a result I wrote a measly 17 posts over 3 years.
I had a hard time getting started, as I pictured the gargantuan task of finishing. My posts were highly irregular and so was my number of readers. The problem with writing this way is that it leads to monologues instead of conversations. Monologues that are few and far between.
We’ve all read a long post. There is so much content that it makes it hard to respond. I’ve been drafting a follow up to a friend’s long post for 6 months! Almost every new blogger makes 5 mistakes that add work and cause lower engagement from their readers. Bloggers should eliminate these mistakes immediately.
Mistake 1: Writing posts that are too long. Solution: aim for 500-700 words.
Long posts are interesting because they can deeply explore a topic. But they are harder to read. They include so much material that readers can’t figure out which nugget they want to respond to. Think firehose.
We tend to feel the need to cover every aspect of our thinking about a topic in a single post. The fear of leaving something out can cause people to never publish. Instead, write small posts with one central idea that people can discuss easier. Then publish more frequently. You’ll find more people reading more of your ideas.
Things like blogging have an interesting property: the more regularly you post the more traffic you see. A short post several days each week is better than one long post every few weeks. Don’t believe me? Check out Seth Godin.
Now for the fun part for you “long bloggers”: write one long post and break it into several stand alone pieces that link to each other. Then, instead of publishing right away, use a service like WordPress to schedule your posts to release on a regular basis. You can publish one every day, or every other day, with no extra input on your part. You’ll see more people engage.
Mistake 2: Too much text. Solution: Make your posts more scannable.
Everyone is turned off by a wall of text. Use short paragraphs, simple sentences, bullet points and lists. Think white space. The more the better.
Mistake 3: No invitation for the reader to participate. Solution: End your posts with an italicized question inviting comments.
Something open-ended that grabs people and makes them want to share.
Mistake 4: No invitation for the reader to share. Solution: Add social media share buttons.
Not in an obnoxious place, but certainly prominent.
Mistake 5: Not sharing your own posts. Solution: Advertise a little.
People shrink away from this one. We feel egotistical when we self-promote. Here’s an attitude shift that may help: Write things that you truly believe matter to someone. If you’re producing content that is meaningful or helpful, then the selfish thing would be NOT to share it.
Share links to new posts with a snippet or picture on social media. Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and such. Even if only your family reads it, a liked link invites the network effect to begin. Who knows what friend of a friend works at your dream company and clicks to read.
The Bottom Line
The large majority of bloggers give up after a few months. The main reason is that they make it too much work and they reap little reward in the form of engagement. I know you’re excited about that idea that leads to a 2000-word post. But hold some back. Most of your initial posts will probably become entire categories of posts in the future.
What blogging habits have you unintentionally picked up that are sabotaging your ability to consistently produce quality content? Share in a comment below.