We’ve all seen her or been her at one time or another.
You know: the lady who leaves the ladies’ room clueless to the fact that she has stepped on tissue, and is dragging a stream of it behind her with designer pumps. Ouch.
Some folks simply giggle while others turn their heads and look away. They’re either too embarrassed to tap her on the shoulder or they feel it’s none of their business to alert her.
A similar “imposed blindness” sometimes happens with blog readers. They “follow” your blog because they like your personality, dig your voice, and are enlightened by your views. Still, there are some oversights and blog blunders you’re making that put you in…well, a less than favorable light. Worse, they can be detrimental in building your “platform,” a positive online image, and your bottom line.
Let’s face it: as a writer competing with millions of blogs, in a very crowded niche, the last thing you want to do is stand out in a bad way! And, many of us are too close to the problem to be truly objective.
Case in Point
A friend of mine, who blogs religiously, “overshares” in many of her blog posts. Whether it’s bouts with her clients, or bouts of diarrhea, it can be like watching a train wreck. Though it’s certainly good to show one’s personal side, and seek to establish a connection with readers, discernment still applies. You just never know who could be reading.
She’s the lady with tissue dragging from her shoe. Don’t let it be you.
Accordingly, here are ten of the most common blog blunders unsavvy bloggers make today, and how you can “save face” by avoiding them.
1. INAPPROPRIATE HUMOR — The funny thing about humor is that its subjective nature can sometimes backfire, and have quite the opposite effect. Unfortunately, what tickles your funny bone may be offensive to others. We need look no further than the cautionary tales provided by celebrities who have been forced to make public apologies for comments or comedic routines that ridiculed certain groups or lifestyles. To be on the safe side, keep your content P-G rated and refrain from mean spirited attacks on others.
2. PROFANITY INSANITY — Sometimes, using a four-letter word might feel like the best approach to convey anger or describe a frustrating situation in as few words as possible. I’ve even come across a few blogs where “curse” words came across as befitting and funny. But, it’s really rare. More often than not, excessive and inappropriate usage reflects negatively on the blogger, and causes others to believe that he or she has a limited vocabulary. Keep in mind as well that, unless your site has restricted access, anybody can view your “colorful language,” including future clients, prospective employers, and even advertisers.
3. INAPPROPRIATE IMAGES/PHOTOS — (i.e. poorly dressed, dirty dishes in background, bra strap showing, provocative poses, margarita in hand, etc.) Even though blogs by their very nature are intended to capture your personal side, your offline activities and the people and places behind your online personality, conservatism is crucial. The wrong pictures can provide bad “exposure,” and leave an indelible impression in the minds of your readers.
4. GRAMMATICAL/SPELLING ERRORS — Although everyone makes mistakes, writers are typically held to higher standards when it comes to communicating. Depending on the nature and the gravity of the error, it can spell disaster. Some time ago, for example, a university came under fire because they sent out invitations requesting that people attend a “pubic” affair instead of a “public” one. Get the idea?
5. POLITICAL POSTS AND PROPAGANDA — If your blog topic isn’t political, inserting politics where it doesn’t belong pretty much guarantees you’re going to offend or disappoint half of your reading audience. It’s not worth it.
6. OVERTLY RELIGIOUS REFERENCES — The same concept applies here as with political posts. Unless your blog is a religious site, it’s usually not a good idea to “sermonize” to people, or challenge their spiritual beliefs. There’s great truth to the adage, “One should never discuss religion or politics in a public forum.”
7. “BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?” OR EXCESSIVE BEGGING — If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked for a dollar online, I’d be rich. Don’t get me wrong, some causes are reputable and worthy. However, not everyone will be receptive. Constant financial requests for assistance can be off-putting for some of your reading audience. While for others, it may simply not be something they can afford. Sometimes an “offline fundraiser” might be a better alternative.
8. CONSTANT COMPLAINTS — Let’s face it: everybody has the occasional bad day. But, nobody likes a “Debbie Downer” who always complains about her “bad breaks,” and has a general bad attitude. Don’t cause readers to run in a different direction. Strive to be perceived as a winner, not a whiner.
9. RANTS AND BAD MOUTHING OF OTHERS — Nobody wants to be humiliated in your blog, even if you don’t name them. Doing so can get you sued. Word to the wise: “Freedom of speech” can prove costly. Don’t go public with your private battles.
10. INAPPROPRIATE SHARING — Some bloggers, in an effort to keep readers in the loop and “befriend” them, share in excess. It’s called T.M.I. (or too much information). This blogging approach can come across as desperate and lacking proper social graces. (You’re better than that.) For this reason, details behind your bathroom routine and your bedroom routine should remain behind doors.
Follow these timely tips to maintain a positive online image, and to avoid “flushing” your blogging career right down the drain.
Jennifer Brown Banks is an award-winning blogger, veteran freelance writer, and relationship columnist. Publishing credits include: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, The Well-Fed Writer, Funds for Writers and Writing World. To learn more on how to hone your craft and increase your cash, visit her site: http://penandprosper.blogspot.com/