Before we created our Blog Surgery service, we conducted a small research project. We wanted to know whether it was something people would be interested in, how useful they’d find it, and whether we could tweak our initial ideas in some way to make it even more beneficial.
The idea of the Blog Surgery is simple. A business owner sends in a blog post plus a completed mini brand questionnaire so we understand things like their audience and their goals. Then we provide feedback and advice to help them improve their content writing skills.
We chose six individuals from those who applied to take part in the trial, covering a wide range of businesses – a photographer, a health and fitness coach, a growing consultancy practice. The funny thing was that despite the businesses being so different and despite them writing such different styles of post, there were some common themes that crept up a lot.
Here are the most common blogging mistakes we saw and how you can fix them.
1) Forgetting to make it about the reader, not you
It’s natural that when you approach writing a blog for your business, you have an end goal in mind. But if you only consider what you want to promote then you’ll most likely find yourself entirely without readers.
The phrase to bear in mind is WIIFM: “What’s in it for me?” We’re all tight on time and if you’re asking someone to spend several minutes giving their attention to your blog, you need to be able to reward them with something.
That could be tips and tricks to help them do their job better, or the secret to dropping a dress size in a week, or a good giggle or a bit of therapy… The “what” will depend on your audience. And that’s why it’s so important that with everything you create, you bear your client personas in mind.
2) Not angling the blog title enough
When you brainstorm ideas for your blog, you’ll probably start with fairly broad subject areas. For example, I might think, “I can write something about blogging.” Which is great but it’s not specific enough.
Here’s another example which I used in some blogging training I did with the marketing team at the Bath Fashion Museum.
Vague: The history of dresses
Bit more specific: The history of the flapper dress
More specific and engaging: How the flapper dress became a 1920s icon
Best: How the flapper dress liberated the women of the 1920s
By spending that little bit more time honing your angle, you get something much more engaging and clickable.
3) Overly long paragraphs and sentences
If you’re stuck into your favourite novel, you probably won’t mind ploughing your way through a long sentence or a chunky paragraph. The trouble is that when it comes to reading online, a big block of text feels intimidating and off putting.
If a sentence gets beyond 25 or so words, you need to start thinking about whether you can split it. Likewise a paragraph that gets to more than about five lines can start to make your page feel heavy.
As important as individual sentence and paragraph length is the overall structure of your blog. Use subheads to break up your text and make it easier to scan and navigate. Use bullet points for lists, images, pull quotes, infographics. Anything to break up an endless stream of text.
Need some detailed feedback on your blog?
The Blog Surgery has generated some lovely client feedback from business owners who finally have more than theory to go on when it comes to improving their blog.
When Giles Male, director of Excel specialists Clarity Consulting, first read his feedback he emailed us to say, “I’ve just read your feedback for the first time… my mind is blown! Thanks so much for this.”
And Victoria Williams, founder of Terptree, a consultancy specialising in improving customer experience for deaf people, said, “The blog feedback proved super useful, as Rin gave constructive feedback. This enabled me to understand the areas of my blog that needed improving and directed me to how I could make these changes.It allowed me to put together a well written article which made the point I set out to in the first place.”
If you’d like detailed feedback on your blog writing as well as actionable advice to help you level up your blogging skills, check out the Blog Surgery today.
Journalist turned copywriter Rin Hamburgh (formerly Rin Simpson) is the founder of RH&Co, a Bristol-based strategic brand copywriting agency working with expert-led businesses across the South West, UK and Europe.