For too long, the act of blogging has been (wrongly) perceived as the domain of “the writer”. If you’re someone who doesn’t consider yourself a writer, the idea of sitting down and putting together a lengthy blog post every week seems a daunting chore (especially if your target audience is teachers who might be more likely to spot writing errors!). You might be wondering if there are more beneficial ways to get your company’s mission out to prospects so that your blog can quietly dissolve into the ether. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

More recently, many business owners have been utilising other methods of information sharing – video content and social media are proving to do an excellent job in attracting customers. As Hubspot Academy recently stated in their article, ‘With all the hype around video content, it’s tempting to think that blogging is over. But don't let this popular notion short-change your content strategy.’ In fact, recent research has shown that businesses have a 434% higher chance of being ranked highly on search engines, if you have a blog associated with your website.

So why does blogging often feel like a burden? Why aren’t school leaders reading your blog posts? And why aren’t your posts turning readers into leads?

Chances are your blogging strategy only needs a few small tweaks to go from average to extraordinary. Here are five bad habits to avoid when writing your blog, and a few ways you can easily change them to help make it a successful selling tool.

Bad habit #1: Not posting regularly

Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, your blog needs to be updated regularly. In order to build trust with your readership, prospective customers need to know that on a certain day, at a certain time, they’re likely to see something useful and interesting from you drop into their inbox.

Think of your own subscriptions – perhaps you read a monthly magazine, a daily newspaper or subscribe to a weekly podcast. Not receiving your delivery on the expected day – whether you’re paying for the service or not – is a sure-fire way to feel disappointed and lose trust in that product, as they haven't kept to their pre-established timeline.

‘Checking in’ with customers keeps you at the forefront of their mind, making them more likely to work with you in the future. Posting regularly builds trust, showing that you’re going to follow through with the things you say you will. It shows you care; if you’re consistently sharing useful, easy-to-use tips, it shows customers you are always researching on their behalf, taking the hard work out of their busy days and putting new information into a clean, helpful blog post for them.

Bad habit #2: Rushing your content

As the philosopher, Voltaire once said: ‘The secret of being boring is to say everything.’ If you spew out your content into a quick, dashed-off blog post, not sifting through what is helpful and what is not first, your post will be unwieldy, or worse, boring. If your post imitates the bulk of publications teachers already find themselves trawing through every day as part of their jobs, they just won’t read it and your blog post will vanish into obscurity.

Your content needs to stand out, not be another chore for teachers to get through. This means taking time to hone and structure your posts into carefully considered resources. Don’t just chuck all of your research into a stream-of-consciousness piece, check the word count is over 500 and click ‘post’. People – and especially busy, hardworking teachers – want exciting, funny, engaging blogs to read that they’ll enjoy. These interesting blog statistics, including how long readers are likely to spend on your blog post, will help you shape your content.

Use listicles and helpful ‘How to’ articles. If the content is snappy in easy-to-read bullet points or has a ‘Top 10 tips’ format, you’re far more likely to get school workers to a) open your blog in the first place and b) actually read the content within the post. The average blog post takes 3 hours 16 minutes to write; if you want this platform to work for you, and you’re already putting time into producing a blog, it’s worth spending that bit of extra time honing it.

Bad habit #3: Not knowing your audience

Identifying your audience is one of the most important things you can do when starting the blog-writing process. If your audience is ‘schools’ you need to narrow it down – who exactly within those schools are you targeting? Is it teachers, senior leaders, governors, students, office staff or parents who are going to benefit from your product? Perhaps it’s more than one group? How do you speak to the different groups? How do you target them at different stages of their buyer journey? Where do they already download or read materials online?

All of these questions need to be addressed as early as possible – an easy way to do this is to create semi-fictional Customer Personas to help you drill down to the nitty-gritty specifics of the people you’re writing for. Think about it – if you went to a department store to take a look at which toasters are on the market and one of the sales assistants kept forcing you to buy a fridge, you’d probably leave. They wouldn’t have considered what you were there for or which stage of the buying process you were at. If you bombard the wrong person with the wrong information at the wrong time, they’re going to stop reading your blog.

In order to write brilliant blog posts, you need to really know your customers – empathise with them as people, not statistics. Don’t target everyone in one blog post; picture that one customer and write to them. This becomes a much easier and more enjoyable approach for you as the writer, too.

Bad habit #4: Selling, not educating

People don’t like to be sold to. The second a sales assistant comes over and asks if they can help you in a shop, how often do you tell them you’re “fine, thanks” then quickly walk away? Pushiness is a style of the past, so why do so many people still use this approach to sell online? Nobody wants to read 1,000 words about how fantastic your product is when they were merely browsing your website for research purposes.

What education workers do enjoy is education. They want to learn new things quickly that will help them and their colleagues to teach young people. What’s more, because they already work in education, they have an existing inclination towards learning new things; chances are they love learning. You have a ‘captive audience’ so don’t mistreat them by selling to them: educate them.

This might mean your product doesn’t even get mentioned in your blog post, or at least, not until right at the end of the post. This shows you are more interested in identifying their problems and discussing those first, coming up with a range of solutions. People who work in schools ultimately care about the young people they support every day, so remember to keep students at the heart of everything you write about.

Bad habit #5: Not being interactive

If someone calls you for a phone conversation, spends 20 minutes talking about themselves, then puts the phone down, you naturally ask, “What did I get out of this?”. It’s the same with blogging. This isn’t a chance to talk ‘at’ your reader for 1,200 words then sign off; you need to provide plenty of ways for them to interact with your posts.

Include social media sharing buttons so your blog is easy for readers to share and get a discussion going. Include a couple of CTAs (Call-to-Action) buttons so they can click on a free download to find out more, as outlined in our Content is King blog post. Link to external articles that you yourself have found interesting, and hyperlink to other pages on your site or previous blog posts they might not have seen. There are loads of other easy and cheap ways to make your blog interactive, too.

This blog isn’t all about you, it’s about the reader, so make them feel involved. Identify what they find difficult and explain how you want to help. Too often, businesses use their blog as an extension of their news channel, alerting readers to ‘things we’ve done in the last month’. With all due respect, they don’t care and don’t have time to read about your company’s latest awards event (unless it explicitly helps them and forges a trusting bond between you.)

These are just five of the common mistakes businesses make on their blogs; to discover more about what you can do to make your blog more effective, click the link below.