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5 Classic Blogging Mistakes Small Businesses Make (And How To Avoid Them)

You’ve got a beautiful business blog, full of white space and full bleed imagery. It’s responsive, a pleasure to scroll through and sure looks a whole lot snazzier than what your competitors are pushing out on a regular basis. You know you’re getting traffic because comments are surfacing every now and again, “likes” are trickling from your social feeds – but all in all it’s not really converting to new business or opportunities. 

What are you doing wrong?

1 – You have no plan

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” Isabel Allende

You have a small team and don’t necessarily have the resources for an editor or website manager. We hear you. When I worked for a creative agency, finding time to attend to the website in between paying client work was always an interesting challenge.

You also want to write freely, about whatever is interesting or topical at the time. The only problem is, this results in a blog that is slightly schizophrenic, catering to everyone (and hence no one) with no specific viewpoint or “stand out” content.

So, what can you do?

  • Start at the beginning. Ask yourself: What’s the purpose of your blog? Is the content you’re writing going to help achieve your business goals? Is it a medium for you to communicate with your customers about product updates, or is it more focused on thought leadership, reviews? Is it a place where you document inspiration? None of the above need to be mutually exclusive, but narrowing the focus will help significantly towards your blog’s success.

    For example if you check out the blog of Wolff Olins, globally renowned strategic creative agency, you’ll find posts that position them as thought leaders and trendsetters, whereas Slack has a much more specific approach, organising its content by relevance. Interested in product updates? Engineering posts? You can follow the stream of content more appropriate to you.
  • Bring it back to your area of expertise. Are you blogging about what you know rather than an obscure topic which absorbs a huge amount of resources and time (research, verifying information, collecting and attributing sources etc.)? Ideally you want your blog to reflect your authority/expertise in a particular field. And if you’re stuck, think about your customers – what do they care about? What would they be interested in reading? Do they even spend time online reading? (See last point below). Do some keyword research to understand what your target audience is searching for – can you write blog topics that answer their questions?
  • Create a simple editorial calendar (you can find Google Docs templates for pretty much anything). You’ll need to think about publishing frequency (for example 3 x posts per week like we do on the WorkflowMax blog), topics or themes, titles, due dates, keywords and authors. Plan ahead so you can be consistent and you’re not struggling for content. Make the calendar shareable with the rest of your team so you’re held accountable to it!
  • Don’t assume you need to write everything yourself. Guest blogging on other influential blogs can be a great way of getting traffic coming back to your site and depending on the blog you choose, over time you can build a robust network of your own. Also source posts from other members in your team. In addition to myself, our Product Team, Marketing Manager, and Email Specialist blog for us on the regular! Put their names down in the calendar and don’t take no for an answer!
  • Be consistent. The lack of a plan (or something to hold you accountable) will mean other work gets prioritised and the cumbersome blog all too often gets pushed to one side. 

**Interested in guest blogging for WorkflowMax? Email mallika.goel@xero.com for more information!**

2 – You’re not maximising your promotion strategy

The point of a promotion strategy is to be smarter about how you promote content and will help you maximise the reach and impact of your blog posts. A promotion strategy can help you build a support network around the great content you’re producing.

So, what can you do?

  • Shift your focus. Instead of the primary focus being on constantly creating content, shift the focus to promoting the content you already have. If you’ve taken step 1 into account and adjusted your content to be relevant and engaging, but you’re STILL suffering from low views or engagement, you might want to adopt an 80/20 or 70/30 split between creating content and time spent marketing it.
  • Create a tailored approach to every channel. The same marketing strategies you use for one medium won’t necessarily be appropriate for the other.

3 – You don’t have a unique point of view

The internet can be cruel, my friends! People have even shorter attention span when they’re flicking through your site, likely in between doing five other moderately urgent things. You want to capture their attention and keep them there – is it content they can find anywhere else? Is it presented in a way that looks spectacular? If the answer is no...read on!

So, what can you do?

  • Be authentic. Write from a place that is genuine, without trying to adopt an unnatural tone of voice or personality that you think your readers will appreciate – it won’t work!

4 – You aren’t listening to what the data is telling you.

“Data is neutral. There are no personal opinions, biases or judgements. It helps you make better blogging decisions” – howtomakemyblog.com

Coming from the creative agency world, numbers and data were the last things I wanted to look at. But as a writer and content producer, the value of understanding the data, owning the metrics is incredibly valuable – not to mention empowering! I’m still learning how to dig deeper into it every day, but boy, does it feel amazing to understand now!

So, what can you do?

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the data can be incomprehensible.

  • Start by asking questions. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the data can be incomprehensible. It helps to go in with a few solid hypotheses you want to prove/disprove. For example, is the most popular content being read by the industry it was intended for? Do you write short-form, bite-sized content but the most popular content is long-form 1000+ thought-leadership pieces?
  • Use an analytics tool to find some answers. Your CRM software will generally have level of analytics functionality built into it, or you can use Google Analytics.
  • Conduct a monthly data analysis and share the findings with the wider team. Ask them what they would like to find out as well!
  • Create a dashboard of the most common things you’re measuring so you can automate the process and don't have to manually generate reports every month.

5 – You’re measuring the wrong thing

Great! So you’re getting the hang of what Google Analytics does. But are you measuring the right metrics? Yikes! For example, will tracking “shares”, “likes” and “comments” really give you an indication of how people are engaging with your content? It’s too easy to hit the “like” button or “react” on Facebook without absorbing what the post is about. Time on page and blog views also have their place – but they are often what we call “vanity metrics”, which don’t account for engagement with your blog. This blog post asks some great questions about what we should actually be measuring.

And finally (I know I said 5, but here’s a bonus 6th mistake to avoid!): You’re doing it because everyone else is

This is never a great reason to do anything and when it comes to your blog especially so. A lot of businesses blog because they feel like they must, either because it’s the cool new thing in the industry or because they don’t know how else to communicate with their audience.

So, what can you do?

  • Conduct a competitor analysis. Figure out whether there is a gap your competitors aren’t filling.
  • Re-examine whether having a blog the right strategy for your business. The data will give you the answer here. Create a simple pros and cons list. Maybe your audience actually sits on LinkedIn and you need to be publishing LinkedIn posts instead. 
  • Consider hiring a ghostwriter or a content agency to create awesome content for your blog.

So there you have it, 5 (+1) classic mistakes businesses make with their blog. Do you have others and did this help? We would love to know!

Further reading and resources:

How-to-be-productive-CTA