Okay let’s take the mickey out of serious writing and explore some things I’ve personally declared as ‘blogging mistakes you need to avoid’, thanks to the 18 or so months I’ve spent on the WordPress Reader.
Read enough blog posts and you start to see a pattern. Sometimes said patterns are pleasant, like the blogger who asks thoughtful questions at the end of their posts.
Other times, I find myself wondering if I’m turning into a WordPress geezer, yelling at people to get off my (digital) lawn.
So based on my anecdotal experience, I’m now highlighting the things that grind my gears when it’s time to browse the Reader, and if you find any of your habits listed here, don’t take it too seriously, because I’ve clearly run out of topics to write about if it’s come to this.
1. Leaving ‘nice’ comments
I get it. I should be happy that someone even took the time to reply to my posts, but if you’ve ever left comments like ‘nice site’ or worse, ‘pls follow me at [insert website here]’, do note that it’s going straight to trash.
That’s not because I have a big ego, but because I can’t tell if you’re a bot or not. And after using AI to write this post, I don’t even know if any of you are really human.
Still, if robots can write so well, there’s no reason why you—as a human—can’t come up with at least one coherent sentence.
As someone who’s relied primarily on comments to build an audience, I can tell you that it’s much better to write one great comment a day than to post twenty ‘nice’s in the same timespan.
Fortunately, I’ve been fortunate to have a bunch of awesome blogging friends who not only drop entertaining demonstrations of their wit, but also their constant encouragement, and I’m thankful for that.
Now, back to the trash-talking.
2. Making your readers jump through hoops
On the flip side of the above point is you requiring my name, email address, zodiac sign, mother’s maiden name, and the serial number on my microwave before I can comment on your blog post.
I get it. You’re worried about spam. Maybe you’re like me and think we’re all just AIs talking to each other. But that’s what the moderation feature is for, isn’t it?
At least once a day I come across a well-written post that I’d like to comment on, only to come across the dreaded Form Of Scrutiny that leads me to close that tab.
Maybe someone will prove me wrong. Maybe you’ll come up with a legitimate use for requiring your audience’s details. But until that happens, I’m just going to say that this is definitely a blogging mistake you’ll want to avoid.
3. Using cliffhangers
Nothing cheeses me off more than a title promising ‘the best ways to write a blog post’ that starts with their troubles with insomnia, and ends with ‘stay tuned for my next post where I reveal how to write an amazing blog post’.
Get outta here with that Charles Dickens tomfoolery. This ain’t no paid-per-word serial. I’d just taken the time to scroll through your entire post on how loud your clock ticked last night, and the only payoff I get is a vague promise of what’s going to happen happen in your next post? What is this, the end of a Breaking Bad episode?
Using cliffhangers to end your novel chapters is awesome. Doing it in your blog post just gives everyone a bad time.
4. Selling services you suck at
We have lots of talent here on WordPress. Most of it self-proclaimed. I, for one, am a professional learner. That’s a nice way of saying I suck at everything.
But when you start charging money for skills you seem to lack, that’s when I lose control over the twitch in my eye.
I’m talking to you, book editor with seven typos in your sales pitch. Or you, digital marketer with twenty followers and no way of finding you on social media.
Don’t get me wrong. The internet is amazing, and we’ve become a borderless world thanks to its wonders.
But that also means that anybody with an entrepreneurial flame lit by the tinders of their last DMT trip can set up a website and call themselves an award-winning life coach. And it’ll $500 per hour of their time, portfolios be damned.
I love a good rags-to-riches story as much as the next person, but if you look like you’re the one that needs your own services, then maybe we need to go back to the drawing board for a bit.
5. Plagiarising, and not even hiding it
I tend to do a bit of due diligence before connecting with a blogger I don’t know. Because again, who knows if you’re real?
Sometimes though, it’s not just the bots that are doing the spamming. There have been times when I’d come across actual humans who’d left sincere replies on my blog, but their voice in their comments totally didn’t match the articles they put out.
Worse, each of their articles had a distinctly different voice.
Cue “Google search with quote marks”. In about 0.43 seconds, I’d found the websites said blogger had copy-and-pasted their article from.
Some of them even think they’re gaming the system by copying one paragraph from Wikipedia and another from a random blog. I see right through you.
You want some advice? Learn to steal like a professional. I can show you how. It’s just going to cost you $500 on the hour.
6. You keep breaking your own promises
“Oops, it’s been four months since I last posted. But I’m back now. From now on, it’s going to be weekly posts. Every week. Week after week. No exceptions. Stay tuned for my post next week!”
Then another four months go by and your next post reads “So I totally had no time to blog. But whatever, because I’m doing me.”
Look, I get it. The Hiatus claims us all. I’ve fallen victim to it too (just check out my posting schedule pre-2020), but you gotta give me something to work with here. We need to get you an arc.
Do you have a quest that you’ll actually follow through on? Something that readers can also experience alongside you? Or are you going to once more break your own promise of wanting to write that novel, or get in shape, or quit your toxic job?
You don’t need to be perfect. I fail all the time. But maybe fail trying, instead of not attempting anything in the first place. I just want to root for you, you know? Give me something I can comment ‘nice’ on!
7. No paragraphs
Can’t believe this is still a thing. I don’t mind if your formatting’s a little off, because hey, Block Editor, am I right? I don’t mind a post that’s devoid of subheadings or images. But by golly I have no idea how some of you can write thousand-word articles without once pressing Enter. That’s like singing Bohemian Rhapsody in 2x speed without pausing to take a breath. If you find that you’re paragraphically-challenged, then perhaps you can seek out the wealth of editors we have here on WordPress. They’ll help you sort things out. Provided they’re not robots. And that they’re programmed to use the Enter key.
8. You’re an SEO specialist
“Do you want to know the top skills all bloggers need? I’ll tell you what are the top skills all bloggers need. The first top skill all bloggers need is to not leave lacklustre comments. Hope this helps you in your quest to learning the top skills all bloggers need!”
I get your enthusiasm for digital skills, but there’s a reason why SEO is half-analytical, half-creative. Knowing the technical aspects of it is only part of the puzzle. The other part is remembering that it’s always about the reader.
Sure, we may be catering to an algorithm, but the algorithm was built to give users a better time when on Google. How else do you think I managed to catch the plagiarisers red-handed?
Yes, SEO is good, and yes, there are certain guidelines you’ll have to follow, but if your SEO efforts result in you sounding like a bot, guess what’s going to happen to your Google rankings?
9. #hashtagging everything
This ain’t Instagram. You don’t need hashtags in your post, because all that does is add a few more numbers to your word count. Seriously.
Hashtags do work in social media, where users can browse all posts listed under said tags, but on WordPress, #hashtags #like #these only serve to clutter your posts.
And it irks me to no end when I come across posts with more hashtags than actual content. Wow, I really do sound like a WordPress geezer now.
Anyway, you want the same functionality on WordPress without the spammy aesthetic? Use the Tags feature instead. You can find it in the Post section when you’re drafting your article.
10. Taking advice, especially from me
If you’ve found yourself nodding your head to some of the blogging mistakes you’ve been committing, and you’re considering changing your ways, I’d implore you to rethink your life choices because some random dude from Malaysia shouldn’t be able to sway you so easily.
Always do your own due diligence and improve on your own accord, because WordPress should be the last place you go to for any advice.
I know I keep repeating this point, but somebody’s gotta say it.
I really hope you aren’t in the group of people who commit these blogging mistakes, but if you are, maybe just take it with a grain of salt and only change if you want to.
Because this is just one guy’s view on WordPress, and right after I draft this post, I’m going to head back to the Reader and continue shaking my fist at both bots and humans alike.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll end up with an entirely new list to write about. But I guess you’ll have to check in next week to find out.
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