according to mr. hyatt, i'm a lousy blogger.

Now, before my loyal friends (and mother) all rush to my defense, let me just say I agree with him. And no, Michael Hyatt didn’t actually call me a lousy blogger to my face (or otherwise). (And no, I’m not going to mention Monsieur Hyatt in every post from here to forevermore.)

Here’s the deal. Mr. H. wrote a post on Saturday entitled, “Do You Make These 10 Mistakes When You Blog?” Sadly, I’m guilty of roughly eight of them on a regular basis. Boo. And I’m re-posting his Mistakes List without permission, which is most likely Mistake #11, but I’ll write now and ask forgiveness tomorrow. Here’s Mr. Hyatt’s list (in bold type) followed by my comments.

Mistake #1: You don’t post enough. Well, bless my soul. I got this one right. I post just about every single weekday and sometimes on weekends. Score.

Mistake #2: You post too much. Well.

Mistake #3: Your post is too long. Yes. Guilty. Apparently, the goal is 500 words per post. I’ve already written 181, and I’m just getting started.

Mistake #4: You don’t invite engagement. The posts that invite the most engagement are those that are “controversial, transparent and open-ended.” I agree. And yet, I shy away from the controversial many times because I’m often still licking my wounds from the last time I dipped my toes in the pool of controversy.

Mistake #5: You don’t participate in the conversation. Mr. Hyatt does an amazing job of replying to the comments on his blog (right in the comments section). I do talk back but not a lot.

Mistake #6: You don’t make your content accessible. In other words, do you write in such a way that people can scan your content and items of interest will catch their attention? (subheads, bulleted lists, shorter paragraphs.) On rare occasions, I’ll nail this one. Like today.

Mistake #7: You don’t create catchy headlines. Not with any frequency.

Mistake #8: Your first paragraph is weak. Most days? Guilty.

Mistake #9: Your post is off-brand. What does this mean in plain English? Well, bloggers who are trying to build traffic (get more blog readers) are supposed to stick to a primary message. “Hobby bloggers” can get away with a little more random, but they’re not going to get tons of people coming back (except for friends and family). Herein lies my biggest quandary. (stay tuned later this week for an entire post devoted to Mistake Number Nine)

Mistake #10: Your post is about YOU. Gulp. Mr. Hyatt asserts that readers of this blog don’t care about Marla Taviano; they care about themselves. “What’s in this post for ME?” you ask. This one’s a biggie. Even if you’re someone who comes here because you know and love me, it’d still be nice to get something out of the blog, eh?

Please keep in mind that he’s talking specifically to bloggers who want to increase traffic to their site for one reason or another.

Which of these mistakes do you think is most important to avoid?

500 words on the nose! Rock on!

28 thoughts on “according to mr. hyatt, i'm a lousy blogger.

  1. Dina

    I followed you from your post on Sorta Crunchy’s Babes in Toyland post with, I must admit, some wonder on why so many people comment on her amazing post but so few on my original one. Thanks to this checklist of dos and don’ts I am now clear on all my shortcomings as a blogger! As a blogger who mostly blogs for me (a journal to chronicle life) about me and mine (a journal is after all about you!) I see the value of posting in such a way that it engages others. I might just try a few of these tips…thanks for sharing!!

  2. Pingback: Marla Taviano | Christian author and speaker » Blog Archive » friends vs. fans

  3. Shari Risoff

    I love reading your blog and Seth Godin’s and Michael Hyatt’s, etc… if they were all identically designed why should there be more than one!

    Love your final line! 🙂

  4. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    I care about you. If you stop blogging about you, I’ll be ever so sad.

    Eh. I’m a pretty lousy blogger, too, according to these standards. It’s still pretty much a lot of fun for me though. So apologies all around for the lousiness!

  5. Amy

    I don’t think you should listen to that guy. I like your blog and read it everyday. So- you must be doing something right!!! Love you!

  6. Kimberly

    Well, he wouldn’t like me and that is just fine! By the way, I am here to hear about YOU! Why would I visit your blog if I didn’t want an update on your life? That’s silly!!

  7. Joy in the Journey

    I think the last two mistakes: being off-brand and writing only about yourself are the most critical to developing a blog following… if that’s the goal. I’m working on those slowly, but I’m definitely in a transition period. I started out writing about being the mother of a child with special needs. Since she passed away a year ago, I’ve been casting around for what do with the blog now that I’m no longer that kind of mom. This year I’ve been writing a lot about grief and wrestling with God, but at some point I pray that stops dominating my life and then I have to find some new “brand.” I’m just not sure what that is yet!

  8. O mom

    Yours is one of my favorite and I love to read it. You give so much information and give us some of your private life and have fun.
    By the way, the young new mother I gave ‘expecting’ to, cried!!! 🙂

  9. Liza Tucker

    I had to laugh because my first thought was…Mr. Hyatt’s still alive? He was my 7th grade history teacher and he retired the year after I went through, so I couldn’t imagine him being blog (or even internet) savvy. Glad to know this is another Hyatt. 🙂

    As for my blog? I don’t post enough…all of my family wants more updates, but boy 3 kids makes that hard! Besides, it’s hard to psych myself up when no one leaves comments.

  10. Elizabeth

    I know and love you, so whatever mistakes you do make I’m not even aware of. I understand why professional bloggers need to do all those things right, but who cares about being like them? You blog for different (better!) reasons, I think. At least less superficial ones!

  11. Cassandra Frear

    I really enjoy your posts. I had read Michael Hyatt’s post. I enjoy his writing and his ideas, too. I am still trying to find my way, so to speak, in blog writing. I have so many competing wishes and tendencies. It’s hard for me to pick a direction and stay with it. Perhaps I am doomed to the obscure, small blog experience.

    However, I keep blogging. Why? Well, there are many reasons, none of which have ANYTHING to do with my traffic numbers. I started a series about this recently, and I have enjoyed writing it. I prefer to stay outside of the “build your traffic, watch your numbers, attract and keep your readers” so enthusiastically promoted on excellent blogs which advise the rest of us.

    I may be still figuring it all out, but one thing I do know — I am not Wal-mart.

  12. Ali

    I read your blog religiously – every post from start to finish, at least once.

    I don’t know which mistakes your making or not making, but I know you’re doing something right.

  13. sarah g

    marla, i look forward to your post everyday. i have shared your blog with several of my friends. you blog the way that i want to read. please do not change. please. i feel as if i am a part of your life. i am actually sad when the blog is not about you and your family. your willingness to open your life to your readers and share with us what God is teaching you is such a blessing to me.

  14. Gaylene

    I think it depends on the reason why one blogs. I love your page and visit often. I may not post a response, but I read it. I understand about numbers (going after my doctorate in business administration right now, so I best understand), but also know that numbers is NOT what life is all about. Keep blogging your way- I like it!

  15. Denise N.

    for me, I post to enjoy myself and let others know about the Northern Family. Blogging is my outlet I don’t see anything wrong with making a blog about YOU! Heck I like YOU Marla I come here to hear about you…

    Perhaps you could talk to your commenters more…but eh, I am not gonna come back and see if you said anything to me!

    Love you!

  16. Marla Taviano

    Helen and Gitz–Yes! I’m totally with you! Here’s my problem (and I’m going to blog about it soon): I’m an author and need to sell books to make ends meet. And publishers want to know I have a “platform” (lots of blog followers) before they’ll publish more of my books. HOWEVER, I am also a “regular person” who wants FRIENDS, not FANS. I wish numbers didn’t matter. Boo.

    Kat–you’re so sly.

  17. gitz

    I think this list depends on whether or not people blog with a focus on it being a business or if it’s a personal thing. I’ve stopped reading the “how to blog” posts because I don’t want to worry about rules. I want to worry about people I have come to care about, people who maybe relate to my life in some way or people who just need a distraction. It would be fun to get a kajillion hits every day, but I wouldn’t trade the relationships that have developed for anything in the world.

  18. Helen

    Well, I’m sure Mr. Hyatt’s list explains why I have only 31 “followers” after almost two years, several of whom haven’t blogged themselves for ages and probably don’t look at my blog anymore.
    That’s okay, though. The people who do have become my friends, and I wouldn’t trade one of them for a zillion followers.
    I am going to stay random, and blog about my likes and dislikes. I may try to improve on word count and accessibility though.

  19. Peter P

    Your blog posts are some of my favorite.. because you’ve created your own style and brand identity.

    That might not work as well as some writing styles to capture new readers, but it sure makes for a welcome break from all the other blogs I read!

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