If you’re anything like I was when I started blogging online, you might often think to yourself:
I know I’m a good writer, so why the heck aren’t my blog posts resulting in social shares and traffic?
How come other bloggers get thousands of readers and shares EVERY time they publish – all while my blog posts collect dust in the deserted corner of the internet otherwise known as my website?
It’s frustrating. I get it.
Years ago, I had a psychology blog.
I was passionate about the topic. I was a good writer. And I knew my shit.
…So that meant I was going to be able to grow my blog and build an online presence fast, right?
That blog totally flopped. I was tired of putting in so much work with nothing to show for it, so I shut it down.
Fast forward to today.
The blog you’re reading right has resulted in a full-time income within less than 1 year of me actively growing my audience/list.
It made about $8,000 just last month alone – and I don’t have a team OR work crazy hours every week!
(That’s WAY more than I made at my previous/shitty full-time job. I’m not saying this to brag – just want you to know what’s possible!)
Plus, it’s allowed me to build a career and community I love.
So, what’s the difference?
Why is this blog successful, even though my past blogs failed miserably?
Because I learned content marketing + how to write from a marketing perspective.
I stopped giving too many fucks about writing in a self-indulgent way and started writing for my readers.
Not only did learning content marketing allow me to grow this blog – it allowed me to grow a successful freelance blogging business where I worked for awesome clients (like Marketing Zen Group and Neil Patel) and charged hundreds of dollars for a single client blog post.
Whether you want to grow your own blog OR a freelance blogging business, you need to start approaching blog post creation like a marketer.
Let’s talk about 7 of the main blogging mistakes you’re making that are costing you traffic, social shares, and email subscribers.
And along the way, I’ll teach you how to fix each mistake so you can get better blogging results.
1. You don’t make your target reader/niche clear.
Right now, I want you to pull up your blog AND your 3 most recently published posts.
Then, ask yourself this question:
Is it immediately clear WHAT kind of advice I offer and WHO the advice is for?
If not, well… you’ve got some work to do.
That’s because everyone wants content that’s consistently tailored to their specific situation.
Let’s go over an example.
Imagine you’re a stay-at-home mom.
You want to start a virtual assistant business, so you grab your laptop and start researching.
You come across these 2 blog posts:
- How to Start Your Virtual Assistant Business From Home
- How to Start Your Virtual Assistant Business as a Stay-at-home Mom
You’re going to be a lot more attracted to the second post, right?
That’s not to say the first post is “bad” or “not helpful” – it’s just that the second blogger has perfectly positioned their post to attract stay-at-home moms like you.
Since it speaks directly to your situation/needs, you’re going to be a lot more likely to click on and read it.
When someone sees one of your blog posts online, they’re going to look for signals that it’s tailored to them too.
Same thing goes for people who land on your blog homepage or look through your post archives – they need to know that your content is going to be consistently relevant to them to keep coming back (and sign up for your email list).
HOW TO FIX IT:
Start by getting clear on your blog niche (you can learn how to do that here) and defining exactly who your ideal reader is.
With your ideal reader, I encourage you to go more niche than something like “aspiring virtual assistants” or “female travelers.”
Are they also broke college students? Millennials who want to quit their job?
Figure it out, and make sure your ideal readers who land on your site (and blog posts) understand right away that your blog is relevant to them.
The more you know about your ideal reader, the better you can tailor your content to them.
And the better you tailor your content, the better equipped you’ll be to attract + retain loyal readers consistently.
2. You aren’t writing for your target audience.
A lot of writers make this mistake.
They’re used to writing poetry, fiction, essays – all kinds of stuff that is TOTALLY different from blog post writing.
Successful bloggers know that their blog isn’t really about them. It’s about their readers.
For example, when you’re writing blog posts, you don’t need to showcase your wide vocabulary or make your writing as artistically impressive as possible.
You need to simplify your content to make it easy to read and digest.
Writers who aren’t marketers call this “dumbing down your writing.”
Content marketers call it “writing from a marketing perspective.”
HOW TO FIX IT:
When you write a blog post, do it with your ideal reader in mind.
Make your blog post about relating to them & meeting their needs. Not about showing off your writing skills.
Don’t get me wrong – you absolutely should showcase your personality/brand in your writing, and you can even use personal stories in your posts to build a connection with readers.
But the main focus should always be on helping your ideal reader and delivering information in a clear, easy-to-understand way.
Not on being self-indulgent.
3. You’re not marketing your posts the right way.
You don’t have to look very far to find blog marketing advice online.
But here’s the thing…
You can’t just blindly follow all of the random advice you find online and expect to succeed.
At some point, you have to step up and be the business owner.
You have to do the research and figure out the marketing method that works best for your brand AND your audience.
Sure, there are some marketing methods that’ll work for just about any niche.
But there are also a lot that are most effective for certain niches/brands.
For example, I’ve seen TONS of advice to get on Instagram and start marketing myself there.
But I don’t spend much time/effort on Instagram.
Because I’ve tested multiple marketing methods, and right now, Instagram isn’t the one that gives me the best return on my investment.
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all better for my brand and target audience.
That might not be the case for you. (For example, if you’re a fashion blogger or have an eCommerce shop where you sell products, Instagram can be KEY to your success.)
HOW TO FIX IT:
Realize that you have to put in the work and figure out how to market your blog.
Yes, reading advice online is still valuable and can help you get some clarity/direction.
But at the end of the day, you have to figure out the most effective methods for marketing to your particular target audience.
Trial and error. Decision-making. Failing sometimes, and succeeding other times.
It’s all part of being a business owner.
4. You have no USP or personal brand.
Your USP (unique selling proposition) is what makes you stand out from other bloggers.
It’s what makes readers choose YOU over other similar blogs every time.
(For example, maybe it’s your personality/writing style. Maybe it’s the fact that you go really in-depth in your blog posts while others in your industry just offer surface-level info.)
These are some of the most common reasons blogs don’t have a USP in place:
- They’re too afraid of being judged/disliked to show their brand personality online. So, they tone down their voice and end up attracting a bunch of “lukewarm” followers instead of a loyal community. You can’t build a community around your blog if you don’t show people who you are.
- They’ve built their brand mostly on copying another blogger/writer. (Ouch, right? It’s true though.) You can’t beat who you copy. It’s cool to be inspired and follow patterns/strategies that work, but if you build your entire brand/writing tone around copying someone else, you won’t stand out enough to build a successful blog.
- They haven’t created a content strategy and/or brand guidelines. You don’t need some fancy-schmancy book full of rules and guidelines, but you SHOULD have a clear content strategy based on your blog goals. And you should have brand guidelines – both from a design perspective and a writing perspective.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Take some time to figure out your USP. You need to give people a reason to choose your blog over others.
And be sure to define your personal brand.
A good way to start is to make a big list of adjectives that define your personality.
Create a Johari Window and ask family/friends to help by submitting the adjectives they think describe you.
The Johari Window shows you how you see yourself vs. how others see you.
I did this a while back, and these were my results:
You can see the “sweet spot” in the blue box – adjectives that are both known to me and known to others who know me.
And then the bolded text represents the most common adjectives people chose from the list.
Pretty cool, right?
Seeing these adjectives can help give you a better idea of how people see you.
And then, you can amplify your strongest personality traits as you build your blog brand and writing style.
Taking this kind of approach can go a long way in helping you develop an original brand that’s truly based on your strongest personality traits.
And when you create a brand around your strongest personality traits, you set yourself up to attract a community who genuinely likes you for who you are.
5. You don’t care about your audience.
I know, I know.
This doesn’t seem like one of those “practical, actionable” tips.
But make no mistake – genuinely caring about & empathizing with your readers is one of the best things you’ll do to grow your blog.
Seriously. Empathy is everything.
That means when you first start growing your blog, you need to:
- Answer reader emails
- Answer reader comments
- Thank people for sharing your work
…And not just for the sake of doing it.
Like, genuinely care about helping your tribe, and put yourself in their shoes.
HOW TO FIX IT:
What does your blog help people accomplish?
Think about that, and remember where you were in life BEFORE you accomplished that thing.
For example, when I started Writing Revolt as a freelance writing advice blog, I’d often think back and remember sitting at my old 9-to-5 job.
The job that made me miserable to the point of being physically ill.
The job where the work environment was more toxic than a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland.
When I worked there, I got stressed out just THINKING about going into work every day.
Remembering those times helps me empathize with my audience and genuinely care about helping them, even when I’m tired or having a tough day.
I want to help everyone who hates their job and wants to make an escape.
Everyone who’s in that workplace where they think:
I can’t stand one more day of this bullshit.
I want people to realize that they CAN make a change.
That’s what keeps me going.
So make sure you’re putting yourself in your readers’ shoes and truly doing your best to help them out.
(Because remember, your blog isn’t about you – it’s about your readers and how you can best meet their needs.)
No, you won’t always be able to answer every email and comment when your blog grows to a certain point and your inbox explodes. But do what you can to help, and make your audience’s needs your main priority.
6. Your headlines suck.
You can write amazing content all you want, but if your headline sucks, no one’s going to click and read it.
Think about it. Which of the following headlines would you be more likely to click on?
- How I Lost Weight
- How I Lost 20 Pounds in 3 Months (Without Cutting Out Carbs!)
The second one is a lot more compelling, right?
(YASSSS. Because carbs. *eats 5 baskets of Olive Garden breadsticks*)
Even if these two blog posts had the EXACT same content, I can guarantee you that the second one would drive a TON more traffic.
It might even go viral. All because of the headline.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Be more intentional about the headlines you use.
Don’t just focus on writing like an artist – focus on writing like a marketer.
Figure out formulas you can use to drive more traffic/shares.
Learn headline copywriting.
Look at the most popular blog posts in your industry, and see if you can find a common theme as far as the headlines.
You should spend a significant amount of time writing and testing your headlines.
I suggest brainstorming a list of headlines for every blog post you write. Because your headline will play a BIG role in how much traffic you get from your post.
And you’ve gotta get traffic to get shares, engagement, email subscribers, etc.
7. Your blog posts aren’t written from a marketing perspective.
We’ve already talked about this a little, but here are some more examples of how you may be failing to write your blog posts from a marketing perspective:
- Not creating a content strategy based on your blog end goals
- Not using SEO
- Not optimizing posts for readability/shares
- Not developing and using a unique brand / writing tone
- Not optimizing your headlines for maximum clicks/shares
Now, you might be over there like:
OH SHIT. I’m not doing ANY of these things.
If that’s the case, you’re not alone.
When I started writing online content, I didn’t know shit about marketing.
I just thought that, because I was a good writer, that automatically meant my blog posts would get read and shared a lot.
That’s not how it works.
Let me be clear:
Spelling/grammar knowledge alone is NOT enough to make your blog successful.
You HAVE to know how to write from a marketing perspective too.
HOW TO FIX IT:
Learn content marketing, and make sure you know how to write blog posts from a marketing perspective.
Instead of obsessing over tiny business details for months (“Should I move this element of my logo over one pixel?” *rolls eyes dramatically*), study stuff like content strategy and online marketing.
Because obsessing over shit that doesn’t matter is a waste of time.
No one gives a crap about one pixel of your logo being off. That won’t affect your sales or growth.
Learning content marketing, on the other hand, will affect your sales and growth. And it’ll give you a good ROI (even if your only investment is time).
Being a content marketer – not just a writer – is 100% necessary if you’re a blogger or a freelance blogger.
Ready to learn content marketing/how to create popular and profitable blog posts?
Don’t do what I did and waste years wondering why your blog posts aren’t growing your business.
Once I learned content marketing, I started getting results like these:
If you’re ready to stop fucking around and start getting results, allow me to introduce you to my new course:
This course is THE step-by-step, actionable system designed to take your blog posts from “just words on a page” to CRAZY valuable pieces of content that drive business results (like traffic, social shares, and email subscribers!).
Super valuable stuff, whether you’re a freelance blogger or growing your own blog (or both!).
Learn more and enroll right here. (Doors close July 14th, and the price of the course is going up $100 next time it’s available!)
In this course, you’ll learn:
- How to create a reader profile and create content that resonates with your target audience
- The entire step-by-step blog post writing process I use to consistently get engagement, social shares, and traffic (for my own blog AND for clients)
- How to create EPIC content / the best content in your industry
- How to create and deliver a lead magnet that explodes your email list
- How to develop your own unique writing voice and brand
- How to promote your blog posts to get them in front of your target readers
- …And a whole lot more
Plus, you get access to a private, students-only Facebook community (which I’m VERY active in!), and I’ll be holding 2 group coaching calls for students to make sure you can get your content marketing questions answered.
Ready to stop feeling unconfident in your blog post results and start getting awesome results every time you publish a post?
See ya there. 🙂