The Internet has made it possible for us to live in a world of “information overload.” A few clicks, a few swipes on a smartphone, and we have access to more ideas, blog posts, and news stories than we could ever possibly consume.
It’s hard to remember — or imagine, if you’re that young — when information was a scarce resource. But time is still a scarce resource. And with this much information easily available, you must treat your readers’ time with respect when they give it to you.
Especially if you want to build trust with your audience so they give you more of their time in the future.
The curious paradox is that even though it doesn’t cost anything to publish blog posts, send emails, share our life with others through social media updates, if you’re not adding value with those pixels, you’re wasting the time of your readers.
And time is an irreplaceable resource. Time is precious. We all know it.
So avoid these eight common blogging mistakes below at all costs. At all costs.
1. You love complexity
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci
A great blogger tells simple stories to explain complex concepts, because they appreciate the time of their readers.
Next time you write, figure out ways to be as concise and precise as possible. Simplify. There’s no need to dumb down your ideas, but try to help your readers process your post and be inspired by you in less reading time.
2. You’re self-indulgent
The harsh truth is this: Your readers aren’t interested in you, your life, or your stories.
As a blogger it’s your job to help your readers, to guide them, and inspire them. Talking about your experiences is fine — it can add color and personality to your posts — but only if it helps your readers become healthier, happier, or more productive.
When you want to write a story about your life, ask yourself this: What’s in it for my readers? How can my experience help them?
3. You think more is better
The idea that more content is always better has been heavily promoted by some, but this is wrong. The task of a writer is not to write more “words”. The task of a writer is to communicate a message in the length it takes to fully communicate that message.
Got your message across in 537 words? Well done. Now, try to do it in less than 400.
When you cut excess words from your sentences, you’re doing your readers a favor. When you replace long words with simpler words, you’re delighting your readers.
Make your posts as easy to read as possible. Write as if you’re writing for a 12-year old. Show your readers you value their time by writing in plain English.
4. Your conclusions are stale
You pour your heart and soul into writing your post, but when you reach the end… you just write a lame question or serve an uninspiring conclusion.
Just like introductions, the way you end your post matters immensely.
Don’t disappoint your readers with a lukewarm conclusion. Put all of your enthusiasm into an ending that inspires, motivates, and energizes your readers.
5. You don’t know who your readers are
The idea that you’re writing for thousands of readers may sound great, but it can kill your writing voice … fast.
When you don’t know who your audience is, your blog posts become generic. They end up speaking to no one in particular.
If you try to please everyone, you’re far more likely to please no one at all.
That’s another paradox of writing.
Try to write for an ideal reader. Someone you know, or someone you have to imagine into existence. But write to please just one person. Your post will be more personal, more conversational, and more engaging.
6. You don’t care about your topic (anymore)
If you don’t care, why would your readers care?
And, yes, this has happened to me in the past.
Passion is the foundation of any great blog post. People can sense enthusiasm.
You must never lose your fire.
7. You edit your posts (or don’t edit them) in ten minutes or so
Are you the Chosen One? The one who’ll write impeccable first drafts? The one who’ll bring balance to the Universe?
Well, we all have to edit. Writing is a lot more about rewriting, than it is about writing that fantastic first draft.
Out of over a few million words I wrote in fourteen years, I only have a 2 page chapter from The Writer that I never had to edit much. And I spent 9 hours working on just the opening sentence.
The more effort you put into editing, the easier your post becomes to read. Your message becomes clearer, and your readers will be grateful.
8. You don’t write like yourself
Let’s be real for a second. There are at least a few hundred other bloggers write about exactly the same topic as you. What makes you different? What makes you stand out?
It’s not what you write, but how you write.
If you write like yourself, letting your personality shine through, you become a brand. You write about topics from a different perspective, share your own personal experiences in order to inspire your readers, you add your own sense of humor, metaphors, and analogies.
Your personality, your experiences, and your voice make your posts unique. Your readers don’t just come back for more useful tips. They engage with you because of who you are.
The harsh truth about blogging …
Your readers don’t need another blog post. They really don’t. Your readers need you — your wisdom, your ideas, your unique stories on your chosen area of expertise.
Never take your readers’ attention for granted. Their time is precious. Use it wisely.