Does your blogging suffer from these common mistakes?

I recently asked the Twittersphere for suggestions of things I could blog about. Raj Anand requested something on mistakes that bloggers make.

Better to blog and suck than never blog at all

Before I launch into a few of the typical mistakes that bloggers make, I’d like to state that blogging is an open activity, designed to be free for everyone to do. So there aren’t really any rules to blogging. My points below are related to communicating, and it should be noted that the quality of your blogging becomes more important when you are blogging for your business.

So don’t feel too bad for breaking these or any other rules. It’s better to contribute and fall short of perfection than to fail to contribute.

#1 Writing in long tedious paragraphs, without any sub-headings for relief

Be kind to your readers and give them plenty of white space. Try to vary the length of your paragraphs and insert regular headings and sub-headings. This will break up your copy and help everyone who skim-reads. It’s worth reminding ourselves that headings are also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

#2 Failing to explain TLAs

WTF is a TLA? Sorry, I’ll stop that right now. WTF is an acronym for What The F@ck. And TLA is a facetious acronym for Three Letter Acronym.

My point here is that modern life is rife with TLAs. They might save everyone time, and allow us to feel clever and important, but they also exclude the uninitiated, obscure meaning and devalue your blogging. Every time you use an acronym you should explain what it means. So if you write ‘RSS’, be sure to write (Really Simple Syndication) after it.

Of course, some may argue that web users should understand TLAs and we shouldn’t have to explain them. Well, those people are wrong. If you’re blogging it’s either because you have something to share or because you love your own writing. Clearly, any reasonable person writes to communicate – in which case they must want the maximum number of people to understand them.

Even commonplace TLAs like ROI (Return On Investment) and GUI (Graphical User Interface) should be explained. Don’t assume that because something is obvious to you, it will be to everyone who reads your blog.

#3 Assuming that everyone has heard of the latest web meme/application/gimmick

If you’re blogging about cutting-edge technology, or brand new web services, or anything new, then explain WTF you’re talking about! Don’t assume that everyone has heard of it. Provide links and evidence.

#4 Not making much sense

Blog readers are charitable folk, who’ll probably tolerate your bad spelling and misuse of apostrophes, but you really should try to make sense. Re-read your posts. Does everything make sense?

Ask yourself: what am I trying to say? If you can’t remember, delete the blog post and start again. If you realise you have nothing to say, delete the blog post and start again. If you can’t work out what you’re trying to say by reading the blog post, delete and start again.

If you’re not sure if your blog post makes sense, ask someone to read. Ask them if they understand your meaning. If they don’t… DELETE!

#5 Meaningless post titles

I often see blog posts with titles that don’t mean very much. Now that might be because I’m not the right kind of reader – but every blogger should aim to make their posts understandable by every kind of reader.

#6 Theoretical nonsense.

In theory, it’s fine to cogitate on ethereal matters, but in practice, it’s much better to give your readers cold hard facts and real life examples so they can put your theory into practice.

Even better is the blogger who can ruminate on complex theories while connecting their ideas to real world examples. Give your readers something they can use, not empty ideas that waste their time.

#7 Pointless posts

Re-read every blog post, and every sentence of every blog post. Every word you write in a blog post should serve a purpose. Every word must earn its keep by communicating. Delete those words that do nothing.

And if you can’t answer this question: What is the point of this blog post? – then you should delete the post.

#8 Vocabulary porn

Keep your big words to yourself, unless they serve a purpose. And be aware that obscure words may hinder your ability to communicate.

This doesn’t mean you have to dumb-down your writing, but you must consider the effect of your word choices.

Comments

  1. Excellent blog post ! Almost feels like you have been reading the Kwiqq Blog and pointed out some the mistakes I have made (several times).

    My favourite bit is: ‘..Ask yourself: what am I trying to say? If you can’t remember, delete the blog post and start again…’

    I really need to stick to your guide, next time I blog. Thanks very much for the post, much appreciated !

    Comment by Raj Anand — November 14, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

  2. Hey Raj – no worries. Glad you found it useful! And thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully other people will find it useful too.

    Comment by Leif Kendall — November 14, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  3. Hi Leif – good post, I’ll bear all these in mind.

    I am VERY new to blogging as you know and will probably make some of the above mistakes! In fact, your comment on my last post was the very first (apart from a test one from my designer), so thanks for taking the time and starting things off!

    Claire

    Comment by Claire McCarthy — February 5, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  4. Hi Claire, glad you found the post useful. Blogging is great fun, and very rewarding – I look forward to reading your future posts! Have you read my very short guide to blogging? It’s here: http://kendallcopywriting.co.uk/2009/01/06/writing-for-bloggers-in-blog-form/ (feel free to pass it on if you find it useful)

    Comment by Leif Kendall — February 5, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  5. “Better to blog and suck than never blog at all”

    Now there’s some inspiration. Will be posting that on my wall for motivation next time I get blog anxiety!

    Comment by Jasmine Wilkinson — May 13, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  6. Hi Jasmine,

    Glad you found it useful! I think lots of people get ‘blog anxiety’ – something we all have to overcome.

    Comment by Leif Kendall — May 13, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  7. Great blog – very useful comments, thank you.

    Comment by Sue Edwards — November 25, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  8. Thanks for the helpful tips!

    Comment by Dorri Olds — May 7, 2010 @ 9:15 am

  9. Nice to actually read something you have written and it helps me with my blog too. I love the WTF acronym. Have already put into practice deleting blogs after I’d written them! Thanks son!

    Comment by Ma — June 18, 2010 @ 8:44 am

  10. I admit for this crime – Meaningless post titles. Sometimes I have a hard time giving out a juicy title and end up a somewhat senseless title. Got great tips here in blogging – http://www.alistbloggingbootcamps.com/goodKarma/signup.php

    Comment by 3D design portfolio — July 23, 2010 @ 9:17 am

  11. Thank you so much for this article, your website is very very helpful, thank you!

    Comment by Cina Aissa — January 19, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

Leave a comment

Let’s chat about your projectContact us