Beginner bloggers make lots of errors. Don’t sweat it, all beginners do. And besides figuring it out as you go along, what can you do? Making mistakes is how we learn. Well, some mistakes startup bloggers make are so common that you can learn from them. Here are a few things you can do to get a leg up on the competition early on.
It’s cool that you have a few people in the community that you look up to. In fact, it’s great! What’s not-so-great is copying them. If you feel tempted to “borrow” something like their style, layout or topics they cover, think again. You’re not going to be more like them when you do this, because however intelligent or cool you think they are, they are, before anything else, original.
Besides, you made your own blog to do your own thing, right? So why do you want to be more like others?
In the war of digital vs. print, the web has definitely won. There’s no one who doesn’t take bloggers seriously anymore, save, maybe, for magazine writers. And the only thing they have on most bloggers is quality. This is no surprise — they have weeks to write their pieces, access that name recognition of their publication gives them, and a small army of professional editors that can turn any writing into gold.
That high quality is now the bar you must reach. There’s a million ideas out there that will help you grow your readership, increase shares and encourage comments, but none of that is going to be worth anything if a potential reader comes to your blog and finds crappy posts.
If you’re writing every blog post on your own, this is going to be difficult. You’ll need to do high-quality research quickly, reach out to experts and create interesting material at high rates. 90% of your working time will be spent on research and writing, but it’s way more worthwhile than trying to drum up Twitter followers, that is for sure.
Write How You Talk
The best style you can adopt for your blog writing is easy, breezy and approachable. Remember, successful blogs (even ones that cater to professionals in one niche or another) regularly post stuff that’s interesting to novices and experts alike, and part of being interesting to everyone is having an approachable style.
Ever come across some writing where the author is clearly adopting a style that they don’t know how to operate? Using words that they don’t know to seem like something they’re not is very off-putting. Write how you talk, and your writing will instantly become friendly and sociable. Your readers will appreciate that you’re not talking down to them!
For the record, writing how you talk doesn’t mean writing in a stream-of-consciousness style or putting out under-edited work. You still need to work hard on your posts, but that doesn’t include straining your vocabulary or making mile-long sentences.
A great blog is a community of the author and their readers. It’s not a one-way conversation where you post something and leave your readers to make of it what they will. Invite disagreement, ask them to share personal experiences, answer comments, and, in general, make it all about them. This is especially true on social media comments, where it’s all about engaging with the community in the first place.
Be Current, But Don’t Rely on Buzz to Propel You
Commenting on news that’s happening right now is very tempting. Sure, if everyone’s talking about something, they’ll be likelier to click the link, but what happens in a week or two once the buzz has died down?
Unless your blog is dedicated to covering the latest trends and news, you should avoid posting any information that’s going to be outdated in a month or less. Even if you’re commenting on something that’s going on right now, make sure that the comment is applicable in other situations and only use the news story as a jumping off point for what you want to say.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t become a celebrity blogger quickly, either. It takes time to build your skill as a writer, and it takes time to build an audience that trusts you. All that can be attained if you’re patient and dedicated to your craft.