5 Blogging Mistakes That Make You Look like an Amateur and Cost You Sales

Could it really be possible that your blog is costing you sales?

Well, imagine this: a potential client searches Google for products or services like yours, picks a likely-looking site from the search results, and lands on a site that displays… a bunch of articles.

You can guess what happens next: “What is this? Am I in the right place? I was looking for a store… I must have the wrong site.” And they click away. They go back to Google and click the link to your competitor’s site, where the home page content promises them exactly what they want.

Sadly, it happens all the time. You look bad, and you lose sales to a savvier competitor.

But it doesn’t have to go that way. Here are seven common mistakes businesses make, as well as advice on how to present your business website and blog in a way that helps you get customers and sales:

Mistake #1: Making Your Blog the First Thing People See

Visitors expect to see a home page when visiting a business site, not a blog.

The home page tells them where they are, what the site is about, and what they’ll find if they hang around. In only a few seconds, they can decide if they’re interested, and if they are, the home page tells them exactly what to do next.

But a blog? It just confuses them.

Which post should they click? Where do they find the price? What do they do next?

Those aren’t questions you want your customers asking. So get your blog off your home page and tell them what you want them to know: that you’re a business first, and your blog is just a secondary feature.

Mistake #2: Your Blog Isn’t Integrated with Your Website

Sometimes you visit a business website that has “Blog” in its main navigation, but when you click the link, three common problems occur:

  • You’re taken off the main site and sent somewhere completely different. You don’t expect it, and you wonder, “What happened here? Where’d I go?”
  • The blog you land on doesn’t even look like the main site. It has a completely different design, which doubles your confusion about whether you are where you want to be.
  • The blog is often on a free platform like Blogger.com or WordPress.com, and you can’t help but think the business is a tiny one that’s bootstrapping. Even if it isn’t.</li>

Typically, these problems happen when someone started blogging before they got serious about having a business. Their blog was on a free platform or already had design, but they knew they couldn’t have their business on the same site, for appearances’ sake. So they built a business site elsewhere, had it professionally designed, and decided just to link to their blog.

That’s a mistake. If you want to have a blog for your business, integrate both into the same site with consistent branding and design. Keep visitors in one location, and don’t send them to a different URL.

Mistake #3: Your Blog Is Cluttered

Another issue that makes visitors leave a site is visual clutter.

There’s nothing more painful to the eyes or harder on the brain than a blog all cluttered up with gadgets or widgets or too much information. Overly busy sites get really overwhelming for visitors, and they can’t quickly and easily find what they want.

It’s the result of trying to do too much with your blog. You think you need everything in plain view, but the problem is it doesn’t work.

When visitors have too many choices, they slow down and get confused about what they should choose. Very often, they don’t choose anything. They just leave.

The solution?

Keep your blog neat, clean and simple. Give your text a nice, clear font for easy reading. Have a single sidebar on the right and make sure there are only a few items within it. You want to give everything plenty of space and room to breathe.

Mistake #4: Hesitating to Promote Your Products and Services

Yes, social media is about giving. Yes, blogging is a great way to showcase your experience and expertise. Yes, educating potential customers can help create sales.

But it’s all for nothing if you don’t promote your products and services.

Talk about what you do. Add links in your sidebar to your services and products page. Blog about case studies or past clients you’ve helped. Mention specials and promotions, or pitch new services.

You don’t have to be pushy about it, but don’t be shy about reminding people that you have something to sell. You have a product or service that you genuinely believe will help them, right? Then talk about it, shamelessly and without remorse.

Mistake #5: Getting Sidetracked from Building a Business

This point is very important, which is why I left it for last.

I see so many business owners decide their blog needs to be a huge success. That’s fine, but then they make the mistake of pouring all their time and energy into their blog and completely neglecting their business. They spend hours learning technical stuff they don’t need to know, worrying about how to get hundreds of readers, writing article after article to feed their blog…

Hey. You have a business. That business needs you. It needs customers and clients and prospects. It needs administration and management. It needs to be promoted and turned into a huge success.

But it will never be a success if you get sidetracked by your blog.

Imagine how much more your business could be bringing in if you poured all that time and energy you’re devoting to your blog into following up on leads or preparing a great marketing campaign or developing a new product. Your blog doesn’t deserve all the attention and focus. Sure, it’s important, but what good does it do you if you never get around to developing a marketing funnel that turns readers into buyers?

So don’t take your eye off the ball. Remember that business comes first.

About the Author: James Chartrand is the owner of the leading copywriting and web design agency, Men with Pens.

  1. #3 will have me running so fast, it’s like a Speedy Gonzales moment! If I can’t read a blog post because there are blinking affiliate ads that keep making my eyes jump off to the sidebar I simply give up and move on.

    I’m not sure how you solve the problem of wanting your prospect to SEE EVERYTHING when they get to your site but likely when they get there to read your post it should be the most important thing. If they can’t get through it then they won’t have a reason to look around.

    Great tips!

    Thanks!

    • You solve the problem of wanting everyone to see everything by acknowledging that you actually only want them to do ONE thing while on your site – and with a business blog, that’s usually convert to a client. So you lead them to that one best place to do so!

  2. Uh oh… I know I’m definitely doing a couple of these. You make some excellent points, though – especially about hesitating to promote yourself! Looks like I’ve got work to do….

  3. #1 – What if all you’re doing is running a blog? I mean – look at KISSmetrics homepage. It’s the blog. Yeah, they do a better job than most (including me) in having a section at the top… but it’s still just a blog.

    Is this really a big problem?

    What about Seth Godin’s blog. It’s… just a blog. No homepage, no landing page, yet it does it’s job.

    I guess maybe you’re just talking about business websites. It seems that way by the end of your intro and the URL snippet “business-blogging-mistakes” – but the headline was written in a way that seems it talks about all blogs. Maybe that’s a headline mistake? Maybe it should say “5 Business Blogging Mistakes…”?

    • Actually, Chad, if you visit Kissmetrics.com, you’ll see that there’s nearly no mention of the blog. It’s business, ALL business. This blog is part of that site, not the first thing that regular visitors see. (You came in throught the back door, my friend!)

      And, even considering this page, what do you see? A free trial for the business services in the sidebar. Can’t miss it :)

  4. Heather Allard Sep 10, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Hmmm…sounds familiar, James. I think that’s the sound of a business bitch-slap. Lol. ;)

    • Hehehe, can you tell that’s been on my mind a lot this week?

      • Business bitch-slap, indeed! Funny, I read this post thinking Jon wrote it, and toward the end I was reminded of something you tweeted last week, about email lists being important but only a tool. And I thought, “James would agree with this – a *blog* is important but only a tool.” And there was your name at the end, heh. Got some cleaning up to do on my blog!

  5. Antonia Chavez Sep 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Men with Pens, the site, seems to contradict #1 and #3 though. Blog on the homepage and all sorts of cluster fu*& badness happening.

    The bitch slapping is pretty amateur too.

    • Our site’s a bit special, but if you go check it again, you’ll notice that the first thing visitors see is that we’re a business. It’s only if they scroll down that they notice part of our blog – and the reason that’s there is because of our positioning as a leader in the blogging world. We couldn’t remove it.

      But it’s very clear – even to amateurs – that the site is about business first, blog second.

      :)

      • Antonia Chavez Sep 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

        I guess, but…that’s sort of my problem with the post: big old generalities. I like Neil’s posts here because they’re specific and practical. This one is sort of okay, but then you look around on the web and you get exactly what you responded: “special cases.”

        Like…Copyblogger. Big fat blog. ProBlogger. Big fat blog and ultra-cluttered. Yaro Starak. Big cluttered blog. 37Signals…big ol’ mess.

        The important part of the equation is giving people the information they need. If they’re getting it, I’d venture it doesn’t much matter where they get the information or how much gunk it’s surrounded by.

        So yeah, I get your bullet points. It’s just that the contradictions are so prevalent it sort makes the reading…irrelevant. Hence the low share numbers. As opposed to Neil’s stuff.

  6. @Antonia – But that’s the thing. Copyblogger, Problogger, Men with Pens… they *are* the exceptions that can get away with a lot more than regular people trying to earn a living because of who they are on the internet.

    And most people try to be like them… and don’t make it, because they can’t BE Copyblogger or Problogger or Men with Pens. There will always be exceptions to the rules.

    What this post covers isn’t exceptions. It’s the best practices that most people should follow as they try to start, grow and build their online business. That may not be you, which is why you feel you don’t need this info.

    And Neil’s stuff is good – I wouldn’t want to compete with him on share numbers :)

    • Antonia Chavez Sep 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      James, you’re missing the point entirely. I know what ProBlogger et al. *are* now. My point is what there *were*.

      They STARTED as blogs, with hardly a product in sight. They grew to what they *are* basically by ignoring each of the “mistakes” you listed above and doing nothing but providing solid content. And each of the blogs cited has become more and more cluttered along the way.

      Lastly, pointing out to people “which is why you feel…” is an extremely bad habit to get into.

      A “regular” person…signing off.

      • Hey Antonia,

        I’m really trying to see your side of things, but I think that part of your confusion is what you mentioned – what they *were*, and the situation *now*. It’s like comparing Mazda 5s off the line with early Fords that replaced horses – you just can’t compare those two things and expect early Fords to race on today’s highways.

        You see, back when all these sites began, they had relatively little to no competition, they were early adopters of blogging and because of the continual content they produced, they rose in Google ranks quickly to become what most new people online saw first. This continued to build their subscriber base…

        And then everyone clued in. But by that time, these sites already had the numbers, the people and the social proof. The ones who wanted to replicate their success had difficulty, because already the game was changing.

        A year or two later and the game has changed again. Now it’s even more difficult for any new blog starting to replicated what the A-listers have done – and the A-listers have become the exception, not the norm. They can get away with a great deal of things simply because of what they are *now*.

        Does that make more sense?

  7. Hi James

    #1 came as a bit of a shocker to me. But while it goes against the grain of some of the advice I’ve ever been given, with my business hat on and standing in the 2010 blogosphere, I absolutely get what you mean. Smart websites with good blogs are the new blogsites…

    Is swearing allowed on this blog?!?

  8. I agree with you about the last statement you talked about. The business is what needs to be focused on because that’s what brings in the money and that’s what should be helping people. There’s a problem to be solved and the business is the solution.

    The blog is just a form of social media yet so many people want their blog to make the money or be the business. It can’t. It’s just a form of social media, yet a strong one that will hopefully keep people coming back who will hopefully turn into buyers, but in the end, if there’s just a blog, there’s nothing more than reading for the customer to do.

    Good point.

  9. Thanks for writing this article. These are great suggestions. After reading tons of articles about blogging that often leave me feeling I’ve done everything “wrong”, the suggestions in this article have affirmed that I’ve actually done a few things “right”. :-) I don’t have the blog as my landing page and I don’t spend a ton of time on my blog–either writing for it or tinkering with it. I know a lot of people see a blog as a way of bringing in readers as potential clients, or as passive income ventures, but I view the pieces on my blog as a sort of “portfolio”. Since I offer both editing and research services, I make darned sure that my blog articles are well written, edited carefully, and researched properly! :-)

  10. on James’ conversation with Antonia… I think that’s spot on. It applies outside of the blogging world just as much. Monstrosity corporations get away with tactics and practices that would kill a start up business because they have been around long enough, and built such a foundation, that in a sense, they sit outside the rules.

  11. Important points. No fear to self promote is special. If you give something valuable, is natural recieve something in return.

  12. These are amazing and very useful tips. These points really make me thinking where I am actually wrong. I always try to place as many information as possible on the main page.

    Thanks James for making me correct.

  13. I’m confused – Copyblogger.com is great example of an uber-successful website which makes mistake #1. Does its success and immense social proof invalidate & supersede the mistake? Is that how they get away with it? Or is this mistake not necessarily a universal rule? So many questions, I know :)

Comments are closed.

← Previous ArticleNext Article →
Buffer