6 Common Blogging Blunders (And How To Fix Them)
In the Summit for Content Marketing, I was asked to discuss Blogging Blunders. Because I manage the content seen on Curatti, the title was chosen for me. I grew to like the idea because it’s true that I’ve seen my share of blunders. Plus, I love helping people to learn from the mistakes of others (including me!).
In a moment, I’ll paraphrase some aspects of the interview and throw in something I didn’t think of in that hour. Before I do so, I’d have liked to name a few of the other speakers, as it’s a great cast. But I’m loath to miss anyone out. So instead, I’m posting 3 screenshots of the keynote speakers throughout this article. Click on any of them for more details. I will name one person not in the pictures, purely because she has contributed to Curatti. Cheryl Tan, who hosts our Curatti On Air interviews, appears on May 30th – beating me by 2 days. Her topic is “How to Look and Sound Great on Camera: Seven Truths of Video.”
Learning From Others
I’m a firm believer that you can learn far more from seeing how people do things wrong, than by what they do right. At least that has worked for me. Sure, I’ve picked up great tips on the positive side. But both as a programmer (that’s what developers used to be called!), and a blogger more recently, the lessons from what I didn’t like, or what were just plain wrong, instantly stuck.
So here are just a few.
6 Common Blogging Blunders
Poor grammar and spelling bug a lot of people. I excuse poor spelling in texts, because I frequently make my own fat thumb mistakes. Over the years, I’ve become near-fluent in typo. Nobody needs to explain what they really meant, unless predictive text has taken a simple slip of a finger onto a completely unexpected (and unnoticed) tangent.
Rushed emails are also likely to go out with little mistakes. Not sure anyone holds that against anyone else.
Blog posts are another matter, of course. This isn’t a one-to-one interaction. Hopefully, a lot of people will see these. Does that mean every piece must go out 100% perfect? I don’t think that’s possible. But certainly, you shouldn’t hurriedly write and post anything that may have a wide audience.
You’ve heard this advice before. Perhaps you’ve discounted it. But it really is good advice: Read your content out loud! Simple, right? Doing that once will locate errors any number of re-reads might miss. If you think it’s silly, just try it on your next article. Let me know if you find anything.
2. Poor English
For a long time, I had suspected that people with names you could certainly suspect as originating in English speaking countries, yet who write as if it is their second language, have adopted these names to ‘sound less foreign’. I’m sure there is still some of that. It certainly wouldn’t be anything new. My own name was changed from Germanic to Russian when some of my ancestors moved east in Europe.
It hit me, however, that perhaps some people are using Fiverr, or highly affordable writing services for their content. And guess what? A lot of the bargain content mills are offshore. Not everyone can write. Still others don’t feel that they can or don’t have the time. Let me just caution though. If you buy an article for $15, it will surely need some serious proofreading.If you buy an article on the cheap, it will surely need some serious proofreadingClick To Tweet
I’m certainly not the only person to caution against this practice. In an early Curatti On Air interview with Ana Hoffman, she and I had a laugh over some forms of overwriting.
In some respects, it is a likely holdover from high school essay writing. It may also work in some genres of literature. But in blogging? Flowery language is akin to waffling. We (almost) all do it when talking with people, but it’s one of the things we have to cut out when blogging.
Barb Sawyer’s book title “Write like you talk – Only better”, really says it all. Particularly in our specific world of information exchange, there’s simply no time to read the waffle. Which isn’t to say you can’t make what you write fun. It’s actually quite important that you do entertain to some extent. People will click off your piece before they fall asleep through boredom.
4. Dating Your Articles
It’s May. I know by now that it’s 2017. Why do you insist on putting the year in your article heading? Is it really relevant? Is what you are writing something that only happened this year or will be history next year? No? So why date your article by basically making it for historical reference only in a little over 7 months from now?
5. Using Passé Words and Phrases
One term I see less of these days, is “In this day and age”. It was a favourite among Brits. Maybe still is for some. It’s actually the same as saying “these days”, but with a side order of waffles. It is rarely used in the correct manner, as 90+% of anything that is likely to follow it, isn’t relevant only to these days. It’s exactly the same as starting a sentence with “In 2017”, then continuing with something that was equally true last year, or even 5 years ago. It’s one of the things I’m most likely to edit out while proofreading any submissions to Curatti.
I actually find usage of the word literally to be amusing. Is there a word in the English language that is so commonly misused or abused? It’s another favourite of Brits. “There were literally millions of people there”, probably means a few thousand. People in America are more used to such exaggerations than they used to be, but perhaps they are not preceded by this word?
If there are any words or phrases that bug you, please share them in the comments. Could make for a fun discussion! 😉
6. Don’t Blog To Prove Your Brilliance!
Here’s another parallel to my programming days. There were always some programmers who made everything they wrote look like a work of pure genius. You had to study it – may have felt the need to look up manuals to figure some obscure things out. These people infuriated me, as quite simply, in 23 years in that profession, I never needed to write anything that complex. And I had some real problems to program around. On the rare occasion I couldn’t make it simple, I inserted comments to explain what I did and why.
Writing a blog post in a manner that proves you to be in the top couple of percentiles in intelligence may not have the effect of making debugging it next to impossible. But it will have the effect of making many click off your article. Remember, people are time challenged. Don’t make them work too hard to understand what you’re trying to impart. That’s not to say you should dumb it way down. Just remember, yours is unlikely to be the only article on its subject. Make it the best for your audience.
One last thought on this. Articles where the primary goal was to display the writer’s undoubted genius are nothing new. I had to stop reading many a Village Voice album review because the person wasn’t actually talking about the music or artist. They sought to prove their brilliance. I just thought they were jerks. Don’t fall into that trap!
There are so many more things that could be written about here. By all means, if you’d like me to expand on anything here or talk about any other common blogging blunders, please leave a comment. Feel free to also share your other pet peeves. I’ll respond and maybe even write a follow up article.
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