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facepalmWe’re big believers in content marketing as a traffic driver. We’ve built our agency, in part, on its effectiveness at locating prospects and generating valuable leads. And if you want your blog to serve as an effective marketing tool, there are some valuable, essential practices you need to be practicing.

That’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Instead, let’s drill down and discuss things you shouldn’t be doing, but probably are anyway – rookie mistakes that bloggers make out of the gates. Rather than overload you with best practices, I want to show you how you’re hurting your blogging efforts. 

What you shouldn’t be doing is at least as important as what you should.

So here are seven things that you should only do if your goal is to actively drive people away from your business.

1. Blog infrequently

Your blog is, in many ways, your face to the world. It’s where you stop talking about your service offerings, and just….talk. It’s an opportunity to appear human to your potential clients, to talk about their concerns, their interests, and their worries. And you can’t do that if you blog twice a year.

It’s a common problem; a company starts a corporate blog, but it’s never prioritized. So it languishes in the background, periodically updated with a bit of corporate news, or the release of a new product – but it’s never utilized as a marketing tool, and nobody involved seems to have any idea what to do with it.

This is a problem. If your blog hasn’t updated since 2011, it looks like your business might not even exist anymore. It a) raises doubts about your ability to plan ahead, b) raises questions about your ongoing viability, and c) makes you look like you can’t be bothered to maintain your own website – all of which drive business away.

There’s no formula to follow – blog once a week, once a month, whatever – but do it regularly. Make your blog a priority, or scrap it entirely.

2. Don’t proof

Nothing says “I don’t give a crap” like a bunch of typos. That’s not to say that typos never happen, but if you’re publishing content, it has to look professional – and that means it needs thorough proofing.

Now, this should go without saying, but unproofed content goes up all the time because lots of businesses don’t take blogging seriously. Someone just dumps some text into the blogging platform and publishes it, without any effort, and without any correction.

A corporate blog that’s riddled with mistakes is a corporate blog by a company I don’t want to do business with; why should I trust them with something important when they can’t quality-control their own public voice?

3. Don’t plan

If you want to use your blog effectively (and presumably you want to, or you wouldn’t be reading this post at all, would you? No, you would not), you need to plan ahead. But too many corporate or businesses don’t; content is posted on the fly, with no strategy, no direction, and no meaningful purpose.

Not knowing how to use your blog as part of a larger marketing strategy is a great way for you to waste resources. Blogging isn’t free; you’re paying for it in time, in labor, in bandwidth, and in server space. Operating without a plan means you’re dumping that down the drain. When you don’t think ahead, you haven’t optimized your topics or thought about how to use them effectively to communicate with your customers and attract them to your website. You haven’t considered how to turn them into lead generation.

Instead, you’re just blogging into the void about whatever strikes your fancy.

How can you expect that to be anything but a waste of resources?

4.Talk about yourself constantly, & 5. Don’t blog about relevant matters

Nobody cares about you.

I don’t mean that to be cruel, but it’s true. Nobody is so invested in Things Incorporated or the American Stuff Company as to want to see photos of Joyce’s birthday party. And nobody just wants to read posts about your latest sale or your latest innovation. And that’s because you haven’t really given them reason to read your blog at all.

We generally advocate something called the “cocktail rule,” which is to make sure you talk about things other than yourself a solid majority of the time. If you talk about yourself all the time, you aren’t creating the awesome content you need to be creating – the sorts of things your ideal customers would want to read anyway. Because that’s the goal of your content marketing blog: creating great stuff that will draw them to you.

But nobody out there is googling “Things Incorporated Press Releases” except perhaps an in-house staffer tasked with writing the next one. And it’s gonna be the rare Google search for “Office Birthday Parties.” That’s not to say you never talk about that sort of thing – but it can’t be the only thing you post.

Your readers will care about Joyce’s birthday when you’ve successfully connected with them and turned them into brand. Heck, it’s why fans of Spider-Man love taking tours of the Marvel Comics’ offices or hearing from the people who work there: they’re emotionally invested in the business.

And that’s something you have to earn.

6. Refer people to exterior websites

You want your website to be a resource for people – and your blog to serve them the content they need. That’s actually the whole point of the blog: to offer altruistic content that engages and delights your customers, and most importantly, keeps them coming back.

Your blog content is supposed to solves specific problems and engage specific interests while showing prospects that you’re a thought leader in your field. So why on earth are you sending them elsewhere?

I’m not saying to exclude external links; even in the modern SEO landscape, external links are valuable contributors to your PageRank. But anything important you source from another blog needs to be included in the blog post itself. If you simply refer prospects to an external website and send them on their merry way, all you’ve done is told them that you can’t help them.

So why would they ever come back?

7. Talk smack

In addition to not spending a lot of time talking about yourself, you also shouldn’t spent a ton of time talking about your competitors. One, because you don’t want to remind your customers they exist, and two, because nobody likes smack talk except the person talking smack.

I’ve seen corporate blogs that just descend into increasingly vitriolic condemnations of the competition, and man, that just leaves a nasty taste in everyone’s mouth. You end up looking mean-spirited and petty, and all you do is turn people away. It’s worse than content that nobody wants to read; it’s content that drives your customers from you as effectively as chasing them out with a whip.

Conclusion

So there you go. A veritable Who’s Who of What Not to Do. Avoid these Blogging Worst Practices and you’ll end up picking up the Best Practices on your own. So go back, look at your existing blog posts, and see which of these mistakes apply to you – and I guarantee one of them does.

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