By Jonathan Howe
For more than a decade, I’ve subscribed to, built, read, marketed, launched, and authored blogs. If there were a sixth love language, for me it would be social media and blogs. I’ve seen what works for bloggers…and what doesn’t.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been encouraging you to start blogging in 2017. If you’re considering starting or restarting your blog in 2017 or even continuing your current blog, here are seven mistakes you need to avoid.
- Lack of consistency. This is by far the biggest mistake bloggers make—they don’t stick with a plan. Like anything else in life, strategy pays off. If you have a plan and stick with it, good results usually follow. There are certainly times when adjustments can and should be made with your blog schedule. Ultimately, however, a structured blog regimen will be good for both the writer and the reader.
- Poor writing. This can be misspellings, poor grammar, poor subject-verb agreement, or even confusing thought flow. Readers will not tolerate writing that confuses them or is obviously bad. However, there’s another end to the poor writing spectrum—overly theological or academic writing. If you’re writing above the heads of your intended audience, it will turn readers away. And pastors are notorious for this. They sometimes use blogs to show off their theological education. Unfortunately for many readers, it comes across like you’re beating them over the head with a dictionary. While pastors should challenge readers theologically, there’s a difference in challenging them and using your education as a weapon.
- Not engaging the audience. If you simply write a post and never visit your site or respond to comments, your readers will simply stop engaging. Blogs should be used for dialogue. Offer open-ended questions at the end of posts to engage comments. Not every online comment section has to turn into a dumpster fire. In fact, many times blog comment sections can be where people learn the most.
- Not promoting the blog. For many pastors and church leaders, the idea of promoting their blog can be uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Simply let people know what you’re writing about and where to find it. Social media followers understand it’s part of being a blogger. Don’t overdo your blog promotion, but don’t apologize for it either.
- Overthinking and overworking every post. Analysis paralysis is often the downfall of too many bloggers. They edit and edit and edit a post to death trying to find every last pithy statement or specific detail to include. They spend so much work on editing that their writing suffers. Sometimes you just have to hit publish. This is also why shorter posts are often better for blogging. Focus on one specific part of a topic in each post instead of trying to cover more ground. By doing this, you always have another post to write.
- Poor web design. If you’re going to put the effort into writing and blogging, then put the effort into having somewhere attractive to publish your thoughts. Again, Mere Agency is one of the best web design companies for Christian bloggers (and churches). If you can’t afford a professional designer, at least spend the money to have a self-hosted blog instead of using Xanga or something like that.
- Photos are low quality or not used legally. Finally, photo quality and legality are always an issue with bloggers. Don’t just grab any image off the Internet for your site. Chances are, it’s copyrighted or not eligible for use without royalties. Consider sites like pexels.com or unsplash.com. There are more than a few free photo sites for bloggers. Use them.
What would you add to this list? Have you seen any other major mistakes that bloggers make?