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Everyone understands that you’re probably not a writer. You’re a doctor or a dry cleaner, a hairstylist or a restaurant owner. You don’t always know what you’re doing when you sit down to write your blog. No big deal. No one expects you to.
Your business blog doesn’t have to win a Pulitzer Prize or go viral to be consistently bringing leads into your website.
However, there are a few cringe-inducing traps you should avoid at all costs. We’ve all fallen victim to these at some point, but the trick is to not make them a habit. They’re not all that obvious and will definitely impact your conversion rates. Here’s a quick review of my top five:
1. Reaching Beyond Your Vocabulary – Or Your Reader’s Vocabulary
We all want to sound smart, or at least sound like we know what we’re talking about.
The danger in that is accidentally coming across like you’re trying to sound smart, or boring your readers with language that requires a dictionary. It’s great if you have an advanced degree, just don’t expect everyone else to.
A good rule to to stick to a sixth grade reading level. Use a tool like the Hemingway Editor to check your writing for complexity.
This is the holy grail of petty deal breakers. Whether you like it or not, a simple typo, wrong use of your/you’re, or misspelling, will make a huge amount of your readers click away immediately. In this world of fake news, clickbait and sneaky adverts, can you really blame them?
Typos are a red flag for readers. They can signal poor quality content or advice, an ad being passed off as content, false information or a source whose information we can’t trust.
Read your writing out loud and have one or two other people do the same. Pick a style guide, like the Associated Press Style Guide, and use it to look up every grammar question you have.
3. Not Keeping It Simple
A blog is a digital conversation, keep it simple. Regardless of your audience, you’ll want to share information clearly without anyone having to think too hard. Cut out unnecessary words, rewrite complex sentences, use commas and short paragraphs.
No good can come from overcomplicating your blog. The best and most popular content on the Internet is incredibly simple. This is especially important for businesses. If you’re blogging educational and informational content, and you should be, your readers or viewers will praise you for simplicity.
In fact, some bloggers and businesses have made themselves famous just for simplifying complicated subjects. Think about the Idiot’s Guide book series and its millions of digital equivalents. Keep it simple.
4. Trying To Sound Cool
Don’t. Just don’t.
If you’re Googling “trendy words”, stop immediately, slowly walk away from your keyboard and reevaluate your life choices. Do not ask the nearest teenager, “What’s the new YOLO?” Please, do not write outside of your knowledge of what’s hip. It is horrifying to read.
If your business is founded in the principals of being cool, simply hire a college student to write your blog. If it’s not, just be yourself. When your voice is authentic and your content is valuable, you’ll gain a multi-generational following naturally.
5. Getting Too Personal
This is the virtual equivalent of your parents making out in front of you, or your weird aunt telling a loud, gross surgical story in public. Yes, there are many emotionally-charged and self-deprecating stories on social media that go viral, affect us all deeply or make us laugh. But you always risk sharing too much information and making your readers cringe.
Avoid this trap by having several people read your idea or story before you publish. Get honest, unfiltered feedback before you share personal information. Even when it’s well thought out and approved for sharing by your confidants, understand that the Internet is not universally kind or agreeable.
It doesn’t matter if you lost a limb while saving a bunch of orphaned baby ducks. Someone somewhere is going to criticize you and everything you believe in. Grow a thick skin and learn to embrace the engagement, or choose not to share at all.
You don’t have to be a pro writer to avoid cringe-worthy traps. Keeps these tips in mind, make sure you edit before you publish, and always, #beauthentic.