Avoid blog disasters: top 7 mistakes

Awoken to the terrible news of typhoon Haiyan, I set about immediately contacting my Filipina cousin to check on her family. Thankfully, they are fine. But the plight of millions of other inhabitants of Cebu and its surrounding areas caught my attention. I’m a big fan of Shelter Box – and organisation from Cornwall who provide aid to the many people evacuated from their homes when natural disasters strike.

Writing disasters, fortunately, are more easily avoided. Particularly if you look at this simple top 7 mistakes list. Start eliminating these errors from your copy and you’ll be delivering outstanding copy to clients as quickly as Shelterbox’s quick-response team arrived on the scene in the Philippines.

 

We build our towns on our people

 

Disaster 1: Addressing the ‘bots

 

Gone are the days when rankings were solely boosted by repetitive use of  keywords; liberating copywriters and words to create interesting narrative again! Hurrah! However, a hangover from this era is that many writers are still writing for Google. Writing, effectively, for robots! Remember your audience are people. Appeal to their humanity and you’re instantly creating a connection.

Disaster 2: It’s all about you

 

My earlier posts show I was guilty of this one. Whereas it’s a nice idea to try and build a relationship with your audience; they are there for a reason. They want to read your pearls of wisdom. Be it confidence, tips or even entertainment, they want to gain something from reading your posts. A short anecdote may provide an interesting hook, but you need to always have your audience in mind. What do they take away from your posts? Keeping the audience in mind will make your writing instantly more interesting.

Disaster 3: Too much

 

Almost everyone who comes to your site will consider themselves a busy person. Whatever occupies us, we often feel that we don’t have enough time. The thing that immediately puts people off is a dense labyrinth of writing, with no safety exits. Not only should posts remain within the 400(ish) words bracket; they should also be laid out accessibly. Which brings us to…

Disaster 4: Not breaking it down

 

Again, my early posts evidence this. Readers, like you and I, want to scan posts. We want to be active in our reading and sift through to choose which bits are relevant for us. If the post is just one monotonous paragraph, we can’t see an escape route and lose interest. With the addition of subheadings, bullet points and lists; readers can select what to read. As a result, they engage more fully with the text.

Disaster 5: Curbing creativity

 

Partly for the SEO bots and partly due to lack of confidence: one of the most common mistakes people make in writing is to hold back their creativity. As kids, we wouldn’t dream of picking up a book with no pictures. As adults, relevant pictures used at the right time; attract us to blog pages. Add something in to get your readers’ attention. They can’t help but read on once they’ve been lured in by your excellent writing skills.

 

Disaster 6: You praise intricacy

So… you‘re a creative writer. You have an English degree. You‘ve written a play. You‘ve published a novel. Starting to make sense yet? No matter how wonderful your writing is capable of being, it’s not about YOU! Of course, excellent writing will shine through even the most dense content, but a hard lesson I had to learn is the most complicated word is not always the best. Readers don’t want to be reaching for a dictionary to tackle your posts. As Schopenhauer (see I went to University too!) put it “One should use common words to say uncommon things”. Copy writing is often criticised for being childlike. Choose intentional simplicity, so your writing is accessible to everyone.

 

Disaster 7: You forget to end well

In a rush to release your carefully coiffed content into the wild abyss of terra internetica, you sign off with a flat conclusion. And the whole thing disappears into the ether, like a dropped ice cream on Brighton beach. Remember your elders bleating “all’s well that ends well.” at you? Me too. OK, I’m re-purposing its meaning here but sign off with a strong resolution; and your readers will remember your posts as long as we remember Shakespeare’s sayings.

 

Have I told you the one about when I sent the bitchy email about my colleague to her? Or the time I wrote FLICKS on the board so quickly that the ‘L’ and the ‘I’ joined? Both writing disasters that could have been avoided if I’d taken my time.

 

Share your writing disasters, or top mistakes below.