How to Nail Your First Blog Post: 10 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid
Did you know home builders who blog 11+ times a month get four times as many leads as those who only blog once a week? Or that, on average, prospective home buyers need to view three to five pieces of content before they'll even consider approaching a sales rep? (Hubspot, Content Marketing Statistics).
These stats don't paint a full picture, either. We could go on to provide more numbers on the importance of blogging for home builder brands, but they would all amount to the same thing: start blogging or miss out on selling more homes.
Time: 10 minutes
Skip to the section you're most interested in:
- #1: Ignoring the Basics
- #2: Failing to Master Your Niche
- #3: Thinking You Have Multiple Opportunities to Impress
- #4: Not Mastering the Art of Writing for the Web
- #5: Ignoring SEO Best Practices
- #6: Failing to Urge Action
- #7: Hitting "Publish" and Walking Away
- #8: Ignoring Comments
- #9: Not Sharing on Social Networks
- #10: Failing to Keep Enhancing Your Industry Knowledge
Because learning the tricks of the trade for your blog are essential to bringing in more traffic to your website (and more traffic to your show homes), you need to start with a solid understanding of what makes a blog post worthy of your prospects' time.
In this article, we'd like to share a few tips on how to get your first blog post spot-on while avoiding the common blogging mistakes newbies make.
Why Focus on Nailing the First Blog Post, Anyway?
Your first blog post sets the tone for your audience. First impressions matter to prospective home buyers and they matter when it comes to blogging.
For example: let's say you hit the bookstore, grab a couple of books, and start skimming through them to find the best read. Which book are you most likely to read first? The one with a killer introduction, right?
Your first blog post is a lot like a great intro to a book - the first post you publish will determine what people think about your home builder brand. If you set the bar high right out the gate, you'll earn a decent number of bookmarks and even subscriptions for future posts.
Mistake #1: Ignoring the Basics
It's easy to think all you need to create an outstanding first blog post is well-researched content, a witty sense of humour, and a sharp turn of phrase. While these are essential, the path to a great post begins before you write a single word.
Before you can publish, you need to build the blog. This is where optimal blog design comes in.
When browsing the web, you'll find yourself on multiple websites and blogs. A well-designed blog will catch your attention before you even start reading. Not only is it attractive, but it also enhances the content consumption experience. On the other hand, poorly-designed blogs look cluttered and deter readers, regardless of the quality of the content.
When designing your blog, keep the following things in mind:
- Include more white space - This involves leaving more spaces between elements such as margins, footers and headers. The Google homepage is a perfect example.
- Embrace a responsive design - More people are accessing the web on mobile devices than desktop computers. Your blog should load properly and quickly on mobile devices.
- Minimalism in blog design is a growing trend - If an element is unnecessary, strongly consider leaving it out. This means a simple, clean layout and theme.
- Font and typography matter - The text must be easy to read.
Hubspot, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, Squarespace and Wix are all top blogging platforms you can use on your blog. But which should you choose?
HubSpot is a great go-to option because it's easy to use and customize. HubSpot is also fully integrated and offers homebuilders a whole variety of software including a free Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing, customer service and sales software.
Mistake #2: Failing to Master Your Niche
Start by asking yourself, "Who is my audience?".
Since you're building a blog for your home building business, it's safe to assume you already know who your prospects are. Are they first-time homebuyers? Move-up buyers? Downsizers? You must have your audience clearly identified; it's the only way you can create content they're interested in.
Once you've clearly identified your buyer personas, you'll want to get an understanding of their average annual incomes, where they're located, and how frequently they access the internet. With this information, you're in a better position to create killer content that most matters to them - and the best time to post it. Naturally, your topics should revolve around home building, real estate trends, industry regulations and other similar themes.
Be sure to have a firm grasp on the people you're blogging to. Otherwise, you'll end up creating content that's not helpful to the people who are most likely to read it. And when you make the mistake of creating irrelevant content in your first blog post, you'll blow your opportunity to give your brand an authoritative voice.
Mistake #3: Thinking You Have Multiple Opportunities to Impress
Speaking of blowing opportunities, a common mistake many new bloggers make is using the first post to say irrelevant stuff, like telling readers this is the beginning of your blogging journey and asking them to stay tuned for more!
For a personal blog, that might be remotely acceptable, but for a home builder blog, it's a costly mistake. In fact, the most recent blogging statistics have uncovered that there are over two million new blogs that go live every day - all competing for our attention! With all that data, do you think readers have the time to consume irrelevant information?
Your first blog post is an opportunity to impress with informative content that hits all the right spots. Don't start the journey on the premise that you'll build authority with your subsequent posts.
Mistake #4: Not Mastering the Art of Writing for the Web
Writing a blog post is quite different from writing an academic essay or any other type of content not typically consumed online. Before you write your first blog post, understand what it takes to write content online readers can easily and readily consume. Here are a few things you need to know:
Grab your readers' attention with an opening sentence that gives them a taste of what's to come; something that makes them want more.
For instance, if you're writing about home building trends in a certain local market -let's say Orlando, you could begin "Did you know home building costs in Orlando are set to increase this year?!"
- Put out your message in simple words - words your readers use
- Use short sentences and paragraphs (2-3 sentences per paragraph)
- Use active voice
- Craft a shareable title
- Chunk out your content to make it scannable
- Use clear headlines and sub-headlines
- Address the reader as "you" (write in the second person)
- Use white spaces (space out your content)
- Uses the right images and other visuals where applicable
We understand, crafting quality content takes time. Now that you know the importance of content, if you don't the time or skills, don't force it. Hiring an expert will be the best way to give your home building brand an edge in a competitive digital world.
Mistake #5: Ignoring SEO Best Practices
A lot can be said on what search engine optimization is and what it isn't, but one thing is clear; brands, especially small and medium-sized, need search engines to succeed. That coveted top spot on Google can help your business increase sales triple-fold.
When writing your first blog post - and indeed many others after that - it's important to adhere to best SEO practices:
Keywords are the heart and soul of SEO; they are the words or phrases internet users type into search engines when looking for certain information, products or services.
Home building related keyword research will help you find these words and phrases. Create your content around them, but be sure to use them sparingly and as naturally as possible. Title tags, meta descriptions and headers are used by search engines to determine if your post is relevant to a search query - so be sure to use keywords there as well.
When you're just getting started out, link building might not be top on your priority list, but it helps you get off on the right foot.
External links are links that point at another blog from your own blog. When you link externally, the owners of those blogs could notice and return the favour by backlinking to your site when their content allows.
The more backlinks you get, the more search engines will view you as an authority and reward you with a higher ranking (hello #1 spot!). Just be sure your anchor texts are in context.
Mistake #6: Failing to Urge Action
Besides writing to inform your audience, you also want to engage them. A call to action within your content (beginning, middle, end - you'll need to do some heatmapping to figure out where to put it) is the best way to subtly persuade your readers to move further into your marketing funnel.
One of the best call to actions for a first blog post? Subscription for an email newsletter!
By the way, don't think including a CTA in your first blog post will make your business come off as pushy or sales-y. As long as the contents strike all the right chords, readers will be more than willing to subscribe for more posts. And in return, you'll collect their precious email addresses, right from day one!
Mistake #7: Hitting "Publish" and Walking Away
So you have done much of the hard work, and now the post is edited and ready to go live. You hit publish and you're done.
Not quite... stopping at this point is a big mistake!
How does it look? Is everything perfect? After publishing your first blog post, access it from outside your content management system. This way, you'll be able to catch any errors from the reader's point of view and make changes while it's still early. If it goes live with mistakes here and there - perhaps there are uneven spaces between paragraphs - you risk creating a bad brand image.
Mistake #8: Ignoring Comments
A good blog post is bound to get a few comments - DON'T IGNORE THEM! Believe it or not, comments are part of a blog post. In fact, there are readers who pay more attention to comments than the content itself!
As such, it's best practice to keep looking out for new comments and responding to them. You don't always have to say something insightful. Sometimes, a simple "thank you for reading" is enough to make the reader feel appreciated.
Mistake #9: Not Sharing on Social Networks
It doesn't matter how groundbreaking the content in your first blog post is, if nobody knows the blog exists, it won't see any traffic.
This is why one of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to share your published post on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms. If the company already has social media pages, post the link to the blog. Gradually, you'll grow a readership.
Mistake #10: Failing to Keep Enhancing Your Industry Knowledge
Blogging is all about sharing your knowledge with others. The fact that you run a home-building business already means you have the relevant expertise, so readers are inclined to trust your views.
But, as you'll soon realize, the demands for keeping an active blog beat the demands of writing the perfect first post. To meet this demand, you must keep enhancing your knowledge. Read industry publications and attend conferences and trade shows - you'll even want to look outside your market for further inspiration and ideas.
In today's digital world, blogging is one of the best ways for home builders to educate, engage and entertain their target audiences.
In choosing to start a blog, you've made a smart decision. Now all that remains is to wow your prospects with a well written first post. If you have any questions or concerns or need any help along the way reach out to us, we're here to help!