social media how toWhy do some blogs thrive and others fail? Do you blog? Have you been working hard to build a loyal following for your business, but it’s just not happening for you?

The good news is you’re not alone. Most blogs don’t get the traffic or the attention they desire.

What follows are the top mistakes made by bloggers (and how to fix them).

Mistake #1: It’s all about you

When I first started blogging, this discovery surprised me: Nobody gives a hoot about my products, my services or me. This also means most people don’t care about you, your company or your products, either.

What do people really care about? Solving their problems, getting access to great information and recognition. If you can provide content that focuses on the challenges faced by your readers, you’ll grow much quicker.

Mistake #2: You’re overselling

oversellingHave you ever been to a blog that contains so many ads that there’s almost no room left for the content? People are repelled by marketing messages. You wouldn’t wrap a wedding gift with coupons, would you? If you want to keep readers, tone down the selling.

Great blogs deliver commercial-free gifts in the form of valuable content. That means very subtle ads. And when you do use ads, promote free content, such as a newsletter subscription or a white paper.

Mistake #3: You’re not embracing outside experts

Whether you’re a one-person show or you have employees, have you ever considered shining the spotlight on outside pros? If you’re not working with experts who could bring value to your audience, you’re missing out.

These are people who have great knowledge to share with your audience. Why not interview book authors, experts working at familiar companies or even your peers? When you work with outside experts you can grow a bigger following and form potential strategic alliances with the experts.

Mistake #4: You don’t produce useful information.

Perhaps you buy into the notion that your blog shouldn’t be about your products. The next mistake is producing content people don’t find valuable.

For example, let’s say you produced an article titled, “10 Things to Look for in a Wedding Planner.” Now that might be useful to people who’ve already decided they need a wedding planner, but what about couples who aren’t sure of the value?

If you instead produced an article titled, “The Ultimate Guide to Picking Wedding Music,” or “5 Ways to Prepare the Bride and Groom’s Reception Table,” you’ll get a lot more interest. And just maybe some people will decide to hire you to help with their wedding.

Demonstrate your expertise by producing highly valuable content.

Mistake #5: You haven’t made it easy for people to share

You might have great content that people love. But if you don’t give folks an effortless way to share the content with their friends, that content won’t live up to its full potential.

Be sure to include relevant sharing buttons for your audience. Here’s a video that shows you the most popular social sharing options.

#6: You aren’t engaging people

Have you ever entered a small store only to find the cashier on the phone behind a desk, fully ignoring you? When people leave comments on your blog, you should engage them.

Try replying to nearly every comment left on your blog post and watch how quickly you create loyal followers.

#7: You’re not giving people a reason to return

A surprising 80% of people who visit your blog are first-timers, according to some recent research (source). That means only 20% are returning!

If you want people to return, you need to encourage them to do so. We offer people a free video tutorial if they sign up for our email updates (see example below). We also employ social proof by showing how many people are on our subscriber list.

I’ve been blogging since 2006 and I’m guilty of every one of the mistakes listed. So don’t worry—it happens to all of us. With a few fixes mentioned above, yours could become a top blog.

A quick read…

If you want to learn how to grow a large and loyal following, check out the free first chapter of my new book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition. Click here for free and immediate access to the first chapter of Launch (no registration required).

What do you think? Have you made any of these mistakes? What tips would you add? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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  • Great advice Michael.  And I think we’ve all been guilty of these at least sometimes.  But I’d like to add a few more to your list.

    Inconsistency – writing a blog is hard work and staring at a blank screen can be daunting, but if you don’t write consistently on your blog it will never draw traffic.  That doesn’t mean you write every day, but 3 times a week is about the minimum.

    Disorganized blog – it should be easy to find things on your blog, especially if you want to encourage folks to read several pages in one visit.  1 thing I find helps is adding a plugin suggesting other articles on the topic so readers are encouraged to get more information on the topic.  I use Yet Another Related Post, but there are lots more.  

    Also, your theme makes a difference.  On Let’s Blog for Money (, I provide step-by-step instructions for small businesses to create a profitable blog, but it was hard to follow from 1 step to the next after the first couple of weeks.  Sure, readers could use the categories, but my target audience weren’t pros.  So, I changed themes to 1 that is organized like a newspaper with regular columns with each category in its own space on the homepage. Now all the step-by-step instructions are organized in one place in reverse order.  Tips are organized in a different section, as are other types of posts.

    Angela Hausman,PhD
    Hausman Marketing Letter

  • Overselling may be the one that takes the cake for have to be on a level of given away from information to get something back down the road. Not throwing ads in thier faces all day..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Thanks for the great post Michael!
    Very useful stuff but… what about a non-business blog?
    I mean, if I write about cultural questions or just things related not to business but to lifestyle…
    Are the mistakes above the same?

  • Definitely agree with all of these. It’s interesting because when I started my blog the whole point was to share the advice I received with college students; people advising me started offering positions to me and I lost track of the entire goal to the blog. It did become all about ME. Thank goodness that didn’t last long.

    Either way, thanks!

  • Angela – All wonderful points 🙂

  • That is a big one for sure 🙂

  • Hi Luca – I guess the question is which of these would not apply to a non-business blog.  I don’t think the category matters.  These are mistakes made by blogger everywhere.

  • Thanks Cat – Focus on others “again” and watch what happens…

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  • Mike, I find your blog to be one of the absolutely most informative out there – and I subscribe to several dozen.

    I am ALWAYS finding relevant content on here, and not only that, you concentrate on sending out a good deal of “instant pudding” for readers – something that is instantly gratifying with little ingredients or effort!  I am always promoting your site to my clients and workshop participants – your blog is definitely a “must have” for those interested in Social Media growth, in my opinion and experience.

    The best piece of advice you gave for me is the “outside experts” option – this is what I have been concentrating on gathering people to interview for my own blog, and being interviewed for others.  Again, this produced instant results, and I am always looking to your blog updates when I get them.  

    Thanks for your dedicated efforts, I and all my network people do enjoy and use the information here.


    Chris K.

  • LeoWid

    Hi Michael, 

    Fantastic read here. I particularly like your point on bringing outside experts in. After all it might be the only way to show credibility if you start out. If you are inexperienced at the start you will have a hard time otherwise to bring something compelling.

    What I might want to add here is to care about your readers as an 8th point, as this blog is a fantastic example of this. The way SME readers and authors engage is a brilliant example.

    Thanks for a great read and in the Buffer it goes! 🙂 

  • Thanks a million Chris!

  • Leo – Thanks so much!!  Outsiders is a key underpinning to our success.

  • All good points – think that bloggers should also consider the “visual” impact of their blog — “all type” blogs can be boring — adding visuals (images, charts, graphics)  that illustrate the blog topic make the overall blog more interesting and attract readers (images can also be optimized).  Making copy more readable – bullets, bolding, numbers, italics – also really helps.

  • I’m commenting just to see if Michael will reply to my comment. 😉

  • Thanks for the great post, Mike. But over the years, we’ve learned many painful lessons and our blog, Fearless Competitor ( has grown wildly popular. We feature great guest bloggers, write great articles, have fun and the world shows up. We were even invited to review your book, Launch.


  • Sure is shareable content, as always, great primary fuel 🙂 Thanks Mike.

  • Michael, TY! Guilty of all! Will share 7 reasons blogs fail.

  • This is all very helpful. I loved the video with Mari Smith! Wonderful information
    presented in an easily understandable way. Thank you SME and Mari!!! I
    will be checking here more often and watching more of Mari’s videos. You
    are supplying an amazingly beneficial service for FREE! Very generous.
    Thank you!

  • Great wealth of advice for this week’s newsletter Michael. I’m helping some friends launch their blog into the website they’ve envisioned for a long time. They have great content for their audience, but don’t know how to optimize it to the masses. I’m sharing this as soon as I hit ‘enter’.

  • Very helpful information. I’m a (gasp) Mommy Blogger and I try and find the proper balance between sharing my experiences (without oversharing) and engaging the readers to share with me as well! When I do product reviews and giveaways I try not to clutter my blog with hawking products. It can all be very overwhelming, but I’m learning a lot as I go!

  • These tips are great, but #1 seems to be contradictory to my experience.

    I’ve found that the only blog posts that gain me any traffic, re-posts, or comments are the MOST personal ones. They’re the ones people seem to relate to the most, while industry-specific or tip-based articles get almost no feedback.

    My feeling is that with the market so overly saturated with industry-specific blogs, it’s just become increasingly difficult to draw an audience at all if you’re a smaller company. I only have so many resources, but I feel like sometimes it’s an exercise in futility to spend what I think are quality hours putting together a great blog post that clients and colleagues should find helpful, and then see it just sit there despite all efforts to promote it.

  • Thanks Michael… my blog is relatively new…and I get a lot of comments but it appears as the majority are spam comments.  How do you handle these??? 

  • Shari Stauch

    All of these AND: Not having a specific audience in mind! Every blog is not going to appeal to every person – too many clients are looking for the magic answer that’s going to get millions to their blog, when really they might only need to reach the 10,000 that want to read what they’re writing… Thanks for this!

  • Hi from Canada, Michael.
    I’m a marketer working with a magazine – Senior Living Magazine. I’ve given a few social media workshops to organizations that want to learn how to communicate with seniors and boomers. Mostly the same but with some obvious differences.
    Anyway, I wanted to take time out of my hectic schedule to give you kudos. I’ve been researching social media (finally convinced the publishers to jump into it) and I’ve found your information to be the most useful and I’m promoting your blog and forwarding your “Social Media Examiner” emails. Well done sir.
    If you are ever coming to Victoria, BC, do let me know. We’ll set up a seminar.
    Mathieu Powell –

  • Thanks much Mathieu!

  • Enve – I didn’t say you can’t get personal.  But if your content is all focused on you, in the long run you won’t grow.  Most people don’t care about you or I.  They want someone who helps them.

  • Heather R. Huhman

    Michael, thanks for the helpful blog post! Blogging is my life, the company blog (, the personal blog (, and a slew of client blogs have helped me learn what exactly makes or breaks blogs. 
    One thing I’ve come to realize is that certain stats (i.e. comments) aren’t always necessarily relevant, unfortunately. It all depends on your audience.

  • Hey James! 🙂

  • Martha – To get to the mind you first must go through the eyes 🙂

  • Jeff – Sounds like you are on the right track 🙂

  • Thanks Juan!

  • Now go change…

  • Mari is awesome!

  • Thanks Saïd

  • Pam – Sharing experiences is cool.  Just make it valuable to people

  • You simply delete those as they come in…

  • Real good one Shari!

  • Very true! You need a metric you care about to track (like new email subscribers)

  • I think the main reason why blogs fail is due to the fact that they don’t understand what their users want to learn

  • Akismet on WP works wonders for spam!

  • Great reminders Michael!  Given the topic I blog about, I try for the Erma Bombeck humor plus observation plus info plus personal experience.  Just started the blog, so I’m sure I’m making all the mistakes!  At least I know where to go for help: You and your team are terrific at engaging – if I ever have a question, it’s answered immediately.  Thank you!

  •  I would just add inconsistency – there’s something off-putting when you arrive at a blog and the last post was a month ago!

    Also, just wanted to let you know that ‘Launch’ is an extremely generous, useful, and engaging read.

  • My blogs rock along okay for the most part, but even with the content that results in lots of comments and hits, it still doesn’t get shared around as much as I’d like. I have asked our FB followers what they’d like us to write about though, and I think that has helped us gain some clarity about what small home-based businesses need info on. But it’s such a diverse bunch of businesses, it’s really hard to know sometimes. Anyway, thanks for the post Michael.

  • I’ve been blogging — perhaps more accurately, learning blogging — for a little over a year now. I’ve had both pleasant and unpleasant surprises in terms of performance.  It sounds to me like you may have had a blog or two before this one.  Is this one a runaway success compared to the others?  Did you put the others to rest? I’m asking because I’m wondering whether I want to continue with the same blog or start another on an entirely different subject.  Did you encounter something similar at some point in your blogging history?  If so, what ultimately convinced you stop one in order to start another? 

  • yes and that is why asking is so important

  • Thanks Andrea – We try 🙂

  • Thanks so much Becky!  Glad you like Launch

  • Sure thing Cas!  Not all content is super sharable.  Try and create something super useful to your readers and watch what happens

  • Kenneth – This is my 2nd blog. Both were popular in their industries. But this one is huge and I put the other one to rest…

  • Great Suggestions and tips !  Thanks you! 

  • Great points, Michael, and all true, but I wouldn’t call them the top reasons. As I see it, the top reasons why blogs fail are:

    –Not really narrowing down the market enough and so creating content which is too broad to rise above the noise (will never get found or shared). People are afraid to narrow down their market because they fear cutting off options, but you can’t be all things to all people. You can be the right thing for the right people.

    –No unique or clearly defined position. This is related to my first point, because without a clear sense of audience, you can’t clearly define your position in the marketplace. With no “people” and no position, you have nothing relevant to write. And speaking of writing…

    –Bad writing. Although we can (and often should) offer content in other media besides text, writing is primarily how blog content is created. And most of it is terrible. I don’t mean just grammar or spelling mistakes, but also writing which has no point or conclusion and rambles. The biggest casualty of this is poor headlines no one would ever feel compelled to click on.

    Address these three points first, and then addressing the points you brought up will yield far, far greater results. Thanks again for such a great article and cheers. 🙂

  • Michael, great post. I’ve forwarded a link of this article to a few business owners who are ready to start a blog.

  • Pam

    I am totaly new to this and feel like a ‘sponge’ that has taken on so much useful information that it’s not being retained!!  I need to go back and start at the beginning and remind myself to crawl;  before I try to run. Replies to your blog, Mike, mostly make sense to a beginner so thanks to everyone for sharing their views. 

  • Great points! I am guilty of a few myself 🙂
    I would add that often times I forget that people are actually reading/visiting even when they don’t comment. So it makes it easy to feel like no one is noticing if I don’t post for awhile. Thanks for the post and good reminders!

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk

    Great tips. For people starting out or relatively new, your posts are so helpful to zero in on what is important to make our blog grow. There is so much to choose from with social media, so it really helps to have some guidance. Thanks.

  • Nice additions Michael

  • Thanks Pam – A reply goes a long way in building relationships

  • These tips are extremely beneficial. These are things that anyone can easily do to improve a blog. It seems self-evident to write what you love, to direct your content toward your community, etc. but these simple goals can often be pushed to the side in pursuit of sheer number of readers.

  • What you fail to discuss is the amount of money spent by top blogs pushing their brand, the affiliates they associate with and the controversial posts many of them use to engage the reader.  The next mistake is thinking 10,000 visitors a fay means your content is any good. 

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  • Love the video!  She has the perfect voice with a great inflection for teaching.  Terrific and helpful…

    thanks a bunch and I’ll be using your tips on my blog!

  • Catherine – We don’t spend any money doing those things

  • Keri S Abbott

    Hi Angela,
    Thanks for the tips…Where is the best place to set up a searchable blog
    (in your opinion)? 

     Keri S. Abbott

  • Great Article – this should be required reading before anyone gets their “blog license”, which unfortunately is not required. 
    I would definitely highlight Point 4 – useful info as the # 1 reason. Too many blogs produce little or zero useful content to make a person bookmark, subscribe or even revisit. Maybe it is me, but after reading one of “those” blogs, I  am mad that the author would waste my time and provided zero ROI on my invested time. Included in your Point 4 should be – Information that was not relevant to the “Headline” provided. Too many blogs provide a headline that says “read me” and then zero relevancy to what captured your attention. At that moment you feel cheated- “I was hoping to learn #### and got 0000!. -Bill 

  • I agree. I think blogging became one of the new get rich quick schemes. Many bloggers use the same cookie cutter approach and somehow expect to get rich: write every day even if you have nothing substantial to say, put up bunch of ads, profit… Blogging shouldn’t be about making money, it should be about sharing something with the community. There is already bunch of junk on the internet, no need to add to it. I used to have ads on my cooking site ( but took them down about a year ago. The site is about the traditional way of life, but most of the ads were for health supplements and other manufactured products I would not endorse. The ad revenue wasn’t all that substantial anyway, some hundred bucks a month at best, basically beer money. I now fund the site through donations, which although do not completely cover the lost ad revenue, at least help cover basic hosting expenses.

  • Great info thanks. The video with Mari has superb info in it. I now have wibiya on my blog – didn’t know about it before now I do – fantastic. Cheers

  • Awesome, Karl, thanks!

  • So glad to hear that, Joanne! Mari is a treasure. 🙂

  • Useful tips
    Also, design of this blog is very nice…

  • Paolo Pugni

    Thank you for your very wise post. I have to check profoundly about mistakes #1 to #4 because at first sight they seem not to apply to me, that’s a good reason to check once more.
    I’m more focused on mistakes #5 and #7 and would like to know where I can fill the technological gap… I mean, I will look very carefully to the video once more for #5 but how can I install in my blog what you are suggesting as the solution of #7? 
    Any suggestions? Any hints?
    Thanks a lot
    Paolo Pugni also to Angela Hausman for her wise addendum which I liked a lot

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  • Excellent article!  So much of what you point is is equally relevant for other portions of your online / Social presence such as Facebook Page and Twitter.  Great list.

  • Michela

    Thanks for these useful advices. I am very new in this world. I love blogging but I still have so much to learn…….
    This is my new blog : I will try to act on your tips.
    I have to admit that I have already thought about your point nr. 3 : my idea is to introduce designers or architects interviews in my blog.

  • These are all great topics of advice Michael.  I especially want to highlight #6. You aren’t engaging people.  It is easy to write posts and then think your job is done.  If you have a fan base that respects your copy enough to write a comment or ask a question, then you need to respect your fan base enough to take the time to reply.  

    This is a great way to gain loyal readers.  I know I feel the slightest bit of a connection when the author of the blog took time to respond to my post.  Even if it just to say “thanks for the post!”  It still 1) Brings me back to the post through my email notification 2) Starts a conversational connection or loyalty with that author and 3) Let’s me get to see further thoughts from the author on the topic that I may have been confused about.

  • Kutztown SBDC

    As a Small Business Development Center advising clients with business help, we are really emphasizing the importance and value of using social media to help promote and market business. Definitely agree with #7, there has to be some kind of call to action for your reader, why should they come back? Where is the value? Also, the importance of embracing outside experts shows that you are not the end all on a given topic (especially if the person doesn’t know you personally)…something always tends to have more worth when it is backed up by what someone with experience is agreeing with a thought you have.

    We’ve found that ‘theme days’ are a nice hook for readers, breaking it down into “Social Media Mondays” or “Financial Fridays”. And people LOVE lists…top five reason to this, top ten pitfalls of that, etc.

  • Michael, have these failures been identified based on past experiences of SocialMediaExaminer? However, thanks for sharing the top reasons – I have identified that my blog is not giving the people a reason to return, so I would work on it & I am personally not interested in embracing outside experts!

  • You definitely want to find reasons for people to return, or at least get their contact info for a newsletter, that is the key to any successful website, blog or internet based business. Even offline businesses strive on return business. Try giving away products, having contests, events, guest posts, etc…

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  • I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • Henry – These mostly come from my experience with my own blogs before SME


  • urvin thusu

    Strongly agree to all things mentioned so far in this post certainly one should take these points in mind  and proceed ,will eventually only give fruitful results .

    Well came across an interesting blog post on url, do check out.

  • CaseyWarren95628715

    I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

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  • Great post Micheal, follow your blog and has helped me a lot

  • Blogging is not easy, we need to promote it to get more readers, visitors. And we may have a long term plan, if we want to make money. This is a great post for me.

  • sandeep kumar

    Hi,I totally agree with your point which describe why a blog fail.I am a live example of it and i have learnt a lot from my past failures.I have also tried to summarize my last blog failure reason hope you will add your feedback to guide me for future…

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  • Felix Brown

    I think in future Social Media will take the place of Seo. It gives signals to search engines that how popular the post is among the social networks and search engine like Google takes it very seriously.

  • Nyamache Joshua

    This has been my best blog to learn about using social media and also to gain information about social media.

    I have seen many blogs fail and there is a time my blog also failed. You see, a blog will not grow if it fails to attract the right people it is targeting. Adequate targeted traffic is crucial for a blog to be successful.

    To add to what has already been said here, I will say that blogs fail because they use mostly internet marketing techniques that readers find annoying. For instance, relying or overusing Clickbait as a way of driving traffic to a blog.

  • Social proof is very important. And like always, the beggining is the hardest. : (((

  • I think that is ok to sell as long as you are fixing your audience’s problems. If your blog is constantly selling an ebook of how to get 1,000 instagram followers and I don’t have instagram I’m probably never coming back.