you don’t need me to tell you that a company blog plays a critical role in your content marketing strategy. you’re a smart person, you knew that already.

but when it comes time to actually sit down and put pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard or vocal sounds to voice recognition software, even the best-intentioned business bloggers lose their way.

no doubt you’ve read your fair share of articles that give advice on how to approach blogging for business, but what about the other side of that coin? do you know what common mistakes to avoid? because there are plenty of examples of company blogs that lost the thread, each one more embarrassing than the last.

if you want your company blog to succeed, you need to pay just as much attention to what not to do when blogging for business.

focusing too much on your business

take a look around at the best company blogs – what do they have in common? they rarely talk about themselves. unfortunately, many businesses fail to follow that lead, and wind up with a never-ending stream of blog posts that center around their organization.

it’s an easy trap to fall into: you’re writing a company blog, after all, so naturally you’re going to write about your company. but, that approach to blogging for business misses the point of this exercise entirely. company blogs need to be all about the reader, not the business.

think of it this way: why are people reading your blog in the first place? are they such huge fans of your company that they want to know everything you’re doing? now, i suppose there could be people like that out there, but that’s not your target audience – or at least it shouldn’t be.

you’re writing to people with problems who are looking for the right solutions. make it about them, not you. the benefits of blogging – increasing organic search, getting people on your site, building customer engagement, etc. – will be stunted if your blog is more interested in talking about how great your company is than discussing topics that are actually relevant to your target audience.

now, that’s not to say that you should never talk about yourself. it’s good practice to pepper in posts about past successes or offer a unique take on the latest industry news. and pieces that build up your company culture can be valuable recruitment tools. but those should be used sparingly, and never as strategies unto themselves.

writing for the wrong audience

on the big list of blog writing crimes, writing for the wrong audience is right up there alongside focusing too much on your business. your audience should dictate just about every aspect of your content marketing strategy, which is why we’re always harping on customer personas.

there are a lot of different ways to approach a topic or theme, depending on who the intended audience is. c-level executives may want to hear about business value, but will your ground-level employees care too much about that? not likely. those people want to learn how they can improve the day-to-day realities of their jobs and get rid of all the little headaches they have to deal with on a regular basis.

who you’re writing to should determine what you talk about, how you talk about it and what message you’re trying to convey. get that wrong, and your blog will not find its intended audience.

never updating your content

even the best blog content is susceptible to the ravages of age. new industry developments can quickly leave formerly high-quality content feeling a little inadequate or outdated. that doesn’t even take into account advancements in seo and content marketing that immediately impact the performance of older blogs.

never think of a blog as “complete” – there’s always more you can do to improve its quality, relevance and seo. does that mean you should rework every single blog on a monthly basis? no, of course not. but, it doesn’t hurt to routinely run content audits to check which of your blog posts are the biggest missed opportunities.

digital marketing tools like marketmuse can be a big help here, reviewing individual blogs and assessing where the content can be improved. for instance, maybe that blog on cloud computing you wrote back in 2015 fails to mention the internet of things or network function virtualization (unthinkable, i know). marketmuse and its ilk can flag related discussion points that would increase the overall performance of your content.

from that perspective, it pays to revamp your blog content every now and then and stay up to date. a good content marketer’s job is never finished.

creating boring content

this is an issue that many companies working in highly technical fields struggle with, and for good reason: how do you make inherently dry and complex topics interesting and readable to audience members who don’t hold advanced degrees in engineering, mathematics or computer science?

of course, the phenomenon that is boring blog content is not limited to such complicated subject matters. brands in all industries struggle with creating content that is engaging and interesting. even a blog about the discovery of alien lifeforms could be a total slog in the wrong hands.

no one sets out to write a boring company blog, but somewhere along the way between that first brainchild and publication, inspiration dries up and you’re left with something that’s the content marketing equivalent of rob schneider – it’s just there.

the most likely culprit for stodgy, uninteresting blog content? stiff writing. no matter how inherently interesting your topic may be, if the writing plods along, people are not going to get through the whole thing.

so, what can you do to punch up the writing on your company blog? for starters, consider getting a full-fledged copywriter to help you out.

even if you’re not a natural wordsmith yourself, there are still some steps you can take to give your blog content a little more pop and/or zing:

  • loosen up: don’t be afraid to be more casual, dare i say even conversational when blogging for business. just because a topic is complex doesn’t force you into some kind of academic writing corner. try to have fun with it, but be wary of going too far in the other direction. you want to find a balance between readability and credibility.
  • play with the format: not every blog needs to be written the same way. try to approach topics from different angles to get your creative juices flowing.
  • mix up the layout: as important as the quality of writing is to blog readability, it’s far from being the only determining factor. a block of text would be an absolute bear to get through, even if it’s an incredibly well-written block of text. change up the layout of your blog to keep things interesting and varied as the readers’ eyes move down the page. call out important lines with pull quotes or dedicated line breaks, compile data and statistics into bulleted lists and use gifs or custom images to add a huge visual pop to the page. oh, and subheads. you definitely want to break up the sections of your blog with subheads so your readers don’t feel like they’re getting hit with a massive text dump.

letting it sit in a vacuum

remember how we said a good content marketer’s job is never finished? (c’mon, it wasn’t that long ago.) well, that applies to more than just writing. every blog has a purpose, whether it’s to drive organic traffic to the site, build thought leadership or direct site visitors to other pages.

you are doing yourself a massive disservice if you let your blogs exist as standalone content that’s completely cut off from your other digital marketing initiatives. considering how easy it is to make those connections, there’s absolutely no reason to put off integrating your blog content into an overarching content marketing strategy.

internal links, for instance, are an easy way to guide readers around your site. it takes, what, 5 seconds to add a link to your copy? if someone has demonstrated their interest in a particular topic by reading a business blog about it, satisfy that curiosity with more information on your site. that’s why it’s so important to update your old content: you never know when it may come in handy.

you can even use dedicated cta buttons to direct visitors to asset download pages if you think they may be ready to dive into an ebook or white paper on that particular subject.

and then there’s social media to consider. are you sharing your latest blogs on twitter and linkedin? those are valuable touch points you can’t let go to waste. organic search is great and all, but there’s something to be said for taking the initiative and getting the word out about all of your great content yourself.

look, we don’t like going negative. we’d rather focus on all the great work being done by the content marketers of the world. but we’ve seen way too many brands fumble their blog execution to let this slide any longer. be mindful of these particular missteps, and you’ll always be able to keep your blog fresh, interesting, optimized and valuable.

jeff keleher is a writer and editor at brafton. a man of simple tastes, he enjoys playing guitar, playing video games and playing with his dog - sometimes all at once. he still hasn't gotten over illinois' loss in the 2005 ncaa national championship game, and he probably never will.