Someone else posted an enthusiastic link to Michael Hyatt's Do You Make These 10 Mistakes When You Blog?  That I am not so enthusiastic is probably due to having a serious problem with the first sentence, which reads, 

Assuming you want to increase your blog traffic, there are certain mistakes you must avoid to be successful.

After reading Hyatt's article I realized that not only do I make several of the mistakes, but I often make them on purpose.  That's when I realized the real problem:  I'm not convinced I want to increase my blog traffic.

Neither am I convinced I don't.   What writer puts that much effort into his work and doesn't want it read?  I like to hope that each post manages to inspire, inform, or encourage someone, somewhere.  It's a big world out there, so I don't think that's a vain hope.  Nonetheless, "going viral" is not my idea of a good thing.  Staying under the radar is much more my style.  Fortunately, my blog is likely to keep its low profile, as long as I continue to score well on Hyatt's list of mistakes.

Mistake #1: You don’t post enough.

Mistake #2: You post too much.

I'm guilty of both, thanks to life constraints, a varied audience, and an inner conviction that if something exists, it requires my commentary.  It's impossible to please both those who check my blog once a week, if that often, and those who check more than once a day.  So I mostly post as I have time and inspiration, though I have been known to write a post but hold back from publishing it for a day or two, just to spread things out.

Mistake #3: Your post is too long.

Guilty, though not as much as I thought.  I frequently exceed his recommended limit of 500 words, but include enough short posts to keep the average in line.  Considering only my last 10 posts, I averaged 450 words, with the maximum being nearly 1200 and the minimum a mere 18.  I could learn something from his suggestion to make longer posts "scannable" by including such devices as subheadings and lists.

Mistake #4: You don’t invite engagement.

I want engagement, comments, and discussions, but then again I don't like controversy and acrimony, which permanently excludes me from major blog status, I guess.

Mistake #5: You don’t participate in the conversation.

Ha!  That's not my problem!

Mistake #6: You don’t make your content accessible.

By this he means catering to people with short attention spans who like the fragmented style that drives me nuts in newspapers and magazines:  short paragraphs, side bars, pull quotes, lists, etc.  I can learn a bit from this; in fact, I've notice my style changing somewhat in this direction, but in general I consider it a vice.

Mistake #7: You don’t create catchy headlines.

Not gonna change here.  The site he recommends for learning to write good headlines made me gag.  However, I do need to learn to make the headline more informative of the content.

Mistake #8: Your first paragraph is weak.

Definitely a problem.  I often prefer to use the first paragraph for background or to set up the main point, but that's because I egotistically assume people want to read everything I write.  I need to learn to put more relevant information content up front, so people will know sooner whether or not they are interested.

Mistake #9: Your post is off-brand. 

If you are a hobby blogger, you can get away with the occasional post that strays from your primary message or brand. But if you are trying to build traffic, you need to find an editorial focus and stick to it. A tighter focus leads to higher traffic.

Hobby blogger it is.  I would have to have a lot more time to devote to writing to pull this one off, because I could only do it by having several blogs, each with a different focus.  I guess my brand is "eclectic."

Mistake #10: Your post is about YOU.

Yep.  Self-centered and egotistical as it may be, I write about what I know best.  My first, largest, and most important audience is family and friends, and they really do want to know what's going on in our lives.

I realize this makes it boring for the wider audience, but so be it; they have Google.  That kind of reader comes here via search engines, thus finding the posts that might be helpful without having to wade through the rest.  These readers are as eclectic in their tastes as I am.  If my statistics are accurate, they are most especially interested in converting between Celsius and Fahrenheit, why Firefox might suddenly seem invisible, xylitol, American Sign Language, the dangers of epidural anesthesia in childbirth, and the connection between homosexuality and fertility. Who'd have thought?
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Edit
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The analogy I use is that, for most family and friends authors, a blog is like a garden. You can come by and admire it, you can come by and dig around with me, you can come by and say I should have more tomatoes and less cucumbers (and you might be right!). . .but even if you don't come by, I still like to dig in the dirt and I'm still going to have a garden. If I have to follow rules and make money, I'm going out to dig in the real garden. . .:) (Nice post!)

Posted by Eric on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Good analogy; thanks, Eric.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, February 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm

I just laid claim to #1 and #2 this weekend by following up a longish dry spell with five posts... and they're all over the board as to content.

Posted by Stephan on Sunday, March 07, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Which means you can claim #9, too. :)

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, March 07, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I can claim about all but #5.

Posted by Stephan on Monday, March 08, 2010 at 3:19 pm
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