Guest post from Danielle McGaw of the Social Freelance Writer
I’ve always been very pro-blogging. I think that when blogging is done right it can be beneficial for any career. Notice that I said when it is done right – because there is a wrong way to blog if you want to be taken seriously. If you don’t have a plan, your blog is more likely to prevent you from getting clients than it is to help.
1. Your blog has no identifiable theme or purpose. You have 100 categories and none of them are really connected in anyway. Someone who visits your blog one day might think it is a mom blog while someone that stops at your blog a week later might think it is a blog about homeschooling. Stop by in a few more days and it might appear to be a blog about blogging. Find a central theme and focus on it. That way, when potential clients find your blog they will see that you are able to concentrate on a topic for more than a day at a time.
2. You talk about your kids all the time. Now, if you have kids, you’re bound to talk about them once in awhile but if you talk about them all the time, clients are going to just see you as a “work at home mom” – not a professional freelance writer. If all they see on your blog is that the baby has the mumps and the older children are taking up all your time with sports activities, they are likely to believe that the work that they might potentially assign you will fit in between the kids. This might be true but clients don’t want to believe that. They want to believe that they come first.
3. Your blog is pink and lime green. If you love these colors, that is fine – wear them or design rooms in your house around them, but don’t make them the prime colors on your blog! Use bright colors for accents if you want to but keep the main colors easy to look at and subtle. A blog with a pink background and lime green polka dots will never be seen as a serious business blog and you will not be seen as a serious business person.
4. Your blog is filled with ads for pay-per-click programs and lures to “get a free iPod”. Advertising on a blog can be expected from most sites these days but keep it subtle and keep it professional. If you use Google Adsense on your blog, make it match your theme so that it is not so obvious. If you have products that you promote, make sure that they are products you can be stand behind. At the very least, try to keep all ads below the fold (in other words, people have to scroll down before they see them).
5. You have no contact form. How do you expect people to be able to contact you if you don’t make it easy for them? If you use WordPress there are many plugins that you can use. My favourite is Contact-7.
6. You are boring. You’re writing the same stuff that everyone else is writing about and there is nothing original to read. You don’t have to write 1000 word posts every time to be unique but you do have to put some thought into it.
7. Your blog is slow to load. You can’t expect potential clients to stick around long enough to get a feel for your writing skills if it takes more than a few seconds for pages to load. Too many plugins or outdated software can slow your blog down. So can graphics that are too big or incorrect code. If your blog is running slow, start by changing your theme. If that doesn’t work, deactivate each plug in one by one. If you are still having problems and you don’t know how to examine the code, you might have to hire someone to do some trouble shooting for you.
8. Your navigation is lacking. If potential clients cannot find what they are looking for – a resume, a contact page, an About Me page – they won’t stick around for long.
9. Automatic audio or video. There’s nothing that will send someone away from your page faster than an audio or video file that plays as soon as they get on the site. Set audio and video files to play on demand, not automatically.
10. Poorly written text. This one shouldn’t need to be said if you are a writer but I can’t tell you how many writer’s blogs and web sites I’ve looked at that appear to have been written by a third grader. Treat each blog post as if it is going to be read by your next big client – because it might be.