This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti of SparringMind.com.
You have the ideas.
You have the expertise.
You have the ability to project them well on your blog, and you are quite confident in your writing ability.
Yet, unknowingly, you could be building a sinking ship, punctured by these ten writing mistakes that will doom any blog to failure.
You needn’t be disheartened, however, as any blogger can avoid them. It just takes awareness of their existence, and a keen focus on giving the reader what they want, at all costs.
Do you make any of these ten fatal writing mistakes on your blog?
1. You have nothing to say
When blogging, you have to understand that in order to succeed, you need to give your readers what they want.
So then, what is it that readers really want?
They want you to provide them a solution to what they are seeking, even if what they are seeking is nothing but entertainment.
They also want to hear what you have to say. This doesn’t mean that they are intrigued about what you had for lunch. But they do want a personality behind the words they are reading. Otherwise, there is no connection that they can make to the words, and what they are reading becomes empty.
Making sure you have something to say makes writing easier and faster. When you have nothing to say, you are forced to write sentences that sound meaningful but deliver nothing.
2. You’re not specific
Consider the following two headlines:
- How I Got A Lot Of Facebook Fans
- How I Grew My Facebook Fan Page To 6,683 Fans In 4 Months
Which one of those do you think is going to offer the most in-depth information? The second one, as it called to our innate desire to hear the specifics.
The reason readers love to see details and examples is because they value their time, and they are not interested in hearing another cookie cutter “how-to” that provides no examples to show whether or not it works.
In your writing, your examples can sell your whole post. If you can back up the claims of your headline with a detailed example, you will have your readers reading from top to bottom, and then anxiously awaiting your next post.
How can you lead your readers if you don’t lead by example?
3. Your word choice is too complex
Almost any time I encourage people to write simply on blogs, they always disagree by saying that simple writing is boring. But they fail to see my point.
Articulate and meticulously crafted writing very much has its place, but sometimes bloggers fail to realize their medium and their audience.
It’s not that the web is only suited for simple writing, but it definitely benefits from it.
Getting your point across can be much more effective if you cut out the fluff, and will guarantee more people will read your posts from beginning to end—a critical part of being a successful blogger that people await updates from.
Why not put this to the test yourself? In your next post, keep it simple, using longer words only when other more direct options will not do. I guarantee you will find writing on your topic more enjoyable, and you will get to the point of each post far more quickly.
4. Your paragraphs are too wordy
This point is very closely related to the one above. Again, I feel a disclaimer is needed here. I’m not saying a long, comprehensive post is not suited for the blogospohere—in fact these types of posts add a lot of value and are often a great way to show your talent.
What I’m talking about is the dreaded fluff. In the same way fluff causes you to write with unnecessary adjectives and words you had to use a dictionary to look up, it can also wreak havoc on your writing structure.
In blogging, you should keep your paragraphs short for the same reason you should keep your wording simple: they are easier for people to read and understand.
The last thing you want to create on your posts is confusion. Your writing style needs to give people what they want, and people do not want to be confused—they want information. Give it to them.
5. You keep using the passive voice
Speaking of what readers want, did you know that in English, readers prefer the Subject, Verb, Object sentence structure? This is called the “active voice.”
“Long sentences annoy readers.” English readers like that.
“Readers are annoyed by long sentences.” That..? Not so much.
Did you also notice how the second option there—the passive voice—makes simple statements use a couple of unnecessary words? This can add up over a long blog post.
Although you cannot always use the active voice, as a blogger, you should try to as often as possible.
6. Your descriptions are empty
Worse than lacking details, is trying to force descriptions onto examples that don’t need them.
In writing these are known as “qualifying words,” and they include the likes of: very, little, rather. They add nothing to the meaning of your sentences, and take away their impact by lengthening them for no reason.
For instance, you could say this style of writing “is basically a little annoying, rather, there is very little reason you should be writing like this.”
Yikes! As Mark Twain once said:
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
7. You don’t embrace what works
Surprisingly, in a world where many bloggers try to copy the success of others, a growing problem that has recently surfaced is the faction of bloggers trying to be too “different,” embracing the call of being a “purple cow” while ignoring the tried and true standards that work.
Simply put, your blog shouldn’t be above doing list posts, round-ups, interviews, and so on.
These methods work, and writing to give your readers what they want isn’t a bad thing. Don’t think you won’t stand out just because you create a few posts using formats that have been proven effective time and time again.
8. You often ramble in your writing
Let me tell you about rambling, it’s like this one time I was trying to come up with a post for problogger.net about huge writing mistakes bloggers make, and the power ended up going out before I could save my post, and I thought maybe I should write an entire post about saving your writing, because it’s really important for bloggers to make sure that there best thoughts aren’t erased by some sort of haphazard…
Okay, I’ll stop.
Notice a trend in these writing problems? You aren’t giving readers what they want. Maybe, maybe, you run a blog where readers come around just for your rants. Most likely, however, you don’t—your readers come for information, and they come for examples, as always.
Don’t ramble: give them what they want.
9. Your blog is repetitive
Bloggers with specific niches everywhere just did a double-take.
No my fellow blogger, you can keep writing about tech, food, fitness, or naked skydiving until the end of your days for all I care. The danger in repetitiveness is not the subject matter, but the presentation.
How-to posts, all day, every day, may be what you want to do, but it can become a drag for readers who come back often. As you progress and continue writing for your blog, you may find yourself sick of writing these posts as well.
Instead, mix up the type of posts you put out. Text interviews, critiques, a huge resource list—the types of post that you can write are endless. Even better, change the entire medium in which you present your writing. I’m talking about writing for podcasts and videos, specifically.
Writing a script for a podcast or a video session can be a totally unique take on your writing.Not only that, it gets your blog out on different media, allowing people to discover your site through your external videos and podcasts, and gives long time readers another way to “hear your voice,” quite literally in this instance!
So don’ be boring, mix up writing style, and mix up presentation media. Your writing, and your blog, will be better for it.
10. You don’t edit
Have I driven the point home that you need to be thoughtful of your reader? Maybe I should re-read my section on repetitiveness!
Honestly, it may feel good to simply “crank out” a successful post, but you are placing too much faith in your talents and not enough importance on your reader if you don’t go back and edit even your best “one-shot” works.
This goes beyond simple grammar and spelling edits as well. No reader of yours will ever expect for you to be the perfect writer, and it’s okay to add a touch of personality into your blog. In fact it is quite welcome.
You should, however, not be afraid to edit your own thoughts. Re-read posts and cut out anything that doesn’t add to the post in a meaningful way.
Read the post as best as you can from the perspective of a reader: “Would I care about this section?” is a question that should come into your mind often.
Write for your reader
The running theme through all of these mistakes is the lack of attention being paid to the reader.
While writing may be an expression of your†thoughts, you won’t be the only one reading them (if you aspire for your blog to be read by more than you and your cat, that is!).
Sit back after each post, after each line, and ask yourself: does this benefit my reader? Do they get something out of this line? Is it needed for the post as a whole to be a success?
You can’t make your blogging style flawless, but you can darn well try to make your reader happy!
Are you a WordPress user like Darren Rowse? Then you definitely need to check out Sparring Mind, the WordPress content marketing blog, which shows you that you don’t need to be a tech geek to create amazing content on a superb WordPress site.