In preparation for Wednesday’s Social Media Club Chicago speaking engagement, I asked the prospective attendees via the Facebook Event Page Wall if there were any questions they wanted me to prepare to answer at the event. Fausto FernÃ³s was the only real respondent, but he asked a great question:
“What are the ten common mistakes bloggers make when getting people interested in their blog?”
At first I could only come up with three or four, but thought more about it and did come up with 10 (okay nine, but I
through threw number 10 in for fun). Here’s the list of what to avoid as a new blogger, corporate, independent or otherwise:
1. Self-promoting over sharing
Too many new bloggers dive right into promoting their posts by bookmarking them on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, sending emails out to people they know and even Tweeting their new blog posts. None of this is totally wrong, but in order to achieve influence in the social media space you have to share more than your own content or you become, by definition, a spammer. Make sure you’re promoting good content from around the web, friends’ blogs, funny things you find on YouTube, etc., before you start pimping your own stuff. Even then, keep your self-promotion to a lull. Most smart bloggers make friends with fellow bloggers who have good profiles and influence on the social bookmarking sites and trade off submission favors or find someone they can simply ask to submit the post to the various sites.
2. Focusing on promotion over content
I don’t care how good of a salesman or promoter you are, if you aren’t focused first on pushing out good content, you won’t be optimally successful as a blogger. You have to deliver what the audience is coming for or the audience will stop coming back.
3. Shot-gunning promotions to too many communities
MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter … where do you start? Unfortunately, most new bloggers start with all or more of them. A more effective way to build your blog following is to focus on the ones that make most sense to your audience. If you blog about women’s issues, for instance, you might focus your community building and promotional activity on Kirtsy or by participating on similar BlogHer network blogs. Those are the audiences you want because those are the ones that will come back, comment and share your blog with others.
4. Not targeting other bloggers
Many new bloggers tend to forget that it doesn’t take a full blown social network for there to be a vibrant community to target. Blogs, or more specifically the comments sections of good blogs, are micro-communities in and of themselves. When I started Social Media Explorer, I began reading the top blogs in social media, interacting with the authors, arranging to meet them at conferences and so on. By engaging them on a one-on-one basis, I put myself, and thus by blog, top-of-mind for them. The mentions and links naturally followed.
5. Not commenting on other blogs
A carry over from No. 4 above, you should participate in the communities around blogs related to your topic by commenting on them. By showing off your expertise interacting with others there, they’ll naturally click through to your blog and start interacting on your new community as well.
6. Not valuing the face-to-face
Nothing makes me read someone else’s blog more than having a face-to-face interaction with them. Having a true-life, personal connection gives me the notion that a I know them, even if not well. I’m much more apt to remember or want to read their blog. Whether it’s a Tweet-up, a lunch or a conference, networking for your blog isn’t limited to the online type.
7. Thinking you’re smarter than everyone else
Closely aligned with my guidelines to promoting your blog rule No. 5 (Don’t be a dick.), the moment you start being condescending or argumentative about your blog topic to others is the moment you start losing readers. This isn’t just true for bloggers, but for people. Think of the person at your office or friend of the family who’s a little on the arrogant side. The guy who always butts in and corrects people’s stories at parties and comes off as a Mr. Know-it-all. Do you really like him? Do you care what he thinks? Me either. Don’t be that guy (or gal).
8. Looking to get and not give
Sharing is the essence of social media. If you’re totally focused on your blog and not willing to write guest posts for others, allow bloggers to guest post on yours, you’re missing a whole world of opportunity to promote your blog properly. Besides, karma has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass. When someone asks for advice, volunteer it. If someone asks you to guest post or contribute to their website, volunteer it. Don’t ask for anything in return and it will come back to you in multiples.
9. Turning your blog into an whore house for ads
There’s nothing wrong with having advertising on your blog. But when you go to a new blog you’ve discovered and there are 50 affiliate ads, a couple of “buy this” widgets and flashing banners and buttons all over the place, you probably won’t come back. Yes, we understand that you are under the impression that everyone can make six figures as a blogger, but the $13.68 you get at the end of the month for your seven different Google ads on your blog’s home page isn’t worth all the folks who clicked, saw and bolted.
10. You forget to floss
Okay, this is a throw-away one because Fausto asked for 10, though I highly recommend flossing. Nothing says, “Don’t read this guys blog,” louder than chunks of crap in someone’s teeth. I couldn’t think of another good one, so help me by offering your suggestion in the comments.
Thanks Fausto. Appreciate the inspiration.
IMAGE: “Error” by Nick J. Webb on Flickr.