It’s 4pm. Your blog post was supposed to go live at 9am.
But you forgot. Or procrastinated. Or didn’t know what to write about.
It all amounts to the same thing: that at 4pm, you’re frantically scrambling around trying to get something—anything—written so that you don’t have to post a day late or (blog forbid) miss a week of posting. (I may be speaking from experience here.)
Your mouse hovers over the “Publish” button. A little voice in the back of your head is screaming, “Don’t do it!” But, your schedule…
You publish and heave a sigh of relief.
Except, it’s not over… Not really… Not by a long shot.
Because in this Internet age, that post will live in infamy long after you’ve moved on, long after you’ve hit publish and gone on with your day. It’s out there. Waiting.
Waiting to screw you over.
The unintended consequences of a bad blog post.
Ok, I’m being a teensy bit dramatic. One bad blog post does not make or break your business.
But repeated crappy posts, over time, add up to a crappy blog.
And a crappy blog has a lot of unintended consequences.
- You’ve squandered a first impression (actually, a whole lot of them). If you’re doing your social media well, and there are people thinking about you, talking about you, Googling around for an answer to a problem you solve, you’re going to have brand spanking new visitors to your website every day. What happens when that crappy blog post is the first thing they see? How long is a blog post at the top of the page on your site? A week? So you just lost a week’s worth of first impressions with one blog post. Good job!
- You’ve turned somebody off. Content marketing is a lot like dating. You’ve got to show up and woo your potential customers over time before they’re going to
hop into bed, er, buy from you. A bad blog post is like showing up for your date with stinky breath in yesterday’s gym clothes singing a Justin Beiber song—in other words, while they might not dump you on the spot, you’re going to have to work a lot harder from here on out to win them over.
- You’ve lost a sale. You can’t tell from one moment to the next who is on your blog (yet! I’m sure big data is working on it!) or where they are in their decision making about your product. If they’re looking for a reason to buy from you, and you give them a shoddy post or a cat meme instead, they may decide to look somewhere else. A friend of mine recently got a phone call from a major insurance company—but before they gave their sales pitch, she heard the operator bad-mouthing the previous caller to one of his coworkers. She’s vowed never to do business with that company because of their inept customer service. All that to say: sometimes it really does only take one post.
- You’ve lost momentum. Authority tends to build on itself. You post one great post, a few people notice. You post five great posts, more people notice. You post a dozen or more great posts and loads of people are going to start sitting up and taking notice. But you put more than a couple out and out stinkers in there, and people are going to start reconsidering. Imagine some industry thought leader happens across your blog that week; is that the first post you really want them to read?
- You’ve lost newsletter readers. Do you send out your blog posts via email newsletter each week? People have to be interested and engaged to click on the content and go to your site. If they click this week and are disappointed, what do you think the odds are that they’ll click again next week? Disappoint them more than a few times and what are the odds they’ll unsubscribe?
Is this a lot of pressure? You bet it is.
“Blogging” is easy; creating compelling content is much, much harder.
How to avoid writing crappy posts
It doesn’t have to be rocket science, though. You can create a system through which you can ensure that—even if every single week isn’t going to win you a Pulitzer (do they have Pulitzers for blogging yet?) it will at least be a solid effort on your part.
- Plan what you’re going to write about ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to write, with a deadline looming, and having no idea what the flying zucchini you’re going to write about. Talk about a recipe for writer’s block! Having an editorial calendar in which you’ve strategically planned out your blog posts ahead of time can take a lot of the pressure off.
- Make time to write. So, you’ve got a blogging “schedule” that you post every Tuesday at 9am. Good for you! Do you also have writing time blocked out before, say Tuesday at 8:59am? Hmmm… That might be a hole in your plan. Great content doesn’t just happen (or, if you figure out how to make it just happen, please tell me how!). You need to schedule time for it just like any other business task.
- Leave time to edit. The other problem with writing content at the last minute is that you don’t have time for editing. You know that famous Hemingway quote, “Write drunk. Edit sober”? Well, he wanted to be sober because he knew that editing is where most great writing happens. And I’m not talking about scanning for spelling errors and errant commas, but really reading through your work with a critical eye and—novel concept!—making it even better.
Notice what all three of those things have in common? Time. Great content takes time, and you can’t rush yourself through the actual writing. That’s why having a strategic editorial calendar can help speed the process. Does it take time to create? Sure it does. But you spend a few concentrated hours putting it together now, and you’ll save weeks of panic and stress over the next six months or so, when you know for certain that your blog is truly working as hard for your business as you do.
Have you ever had any unintended consequences from a bad blog post? Spill the juicy details in the comments. (I promise we’ll commiserate with you!)