Once I Find Your Blog, Don’t Make Me…

WordPress blog mistakes

I am always finding new blogs to read. I won’t even tell you how many I subscribe to. There are so many hidden gems out there, and once I find one, well you now have a new fan.

At least sometimes.

Because even though your blog might have the most fantastic content in the world, unfortunately, I may not become a reader. And while the content is the main reason I’m there, it’s the middle stuff. What happens before I read it and after I read it is just as important.

Now some of you might be saying,  this is my blog and I’ll do what I want. Hmmm, so you don’t care about your readers? You are writing for yourself then?  You are writing what you want to, and damn those pesky readers?

The problem is this: Unless you just want to vent or share life experiences no one but your mom cares about, then you need to care about your readers. If you don’t, then why not just keep a journal?

So here’s the deal. Whether I find your blog through a link, a comment you left on another blog, a Google search, or just by accidentally ending up on your site…

Once I find your blog, don’t make me…

Wonder what your blog is about

It drives me crazy  when I first land on a blog and the title, tagline, and header picture don’t tell me, “This blog is  about XYZ.” I am not going to assume anything from the link or even your description in the search engine listings. When I arrive at your site, within a second or two, my eyes are drawn to the header. If you talk about social media, say so. Because the photo in your header? The one of a quiet stream in the woods? That does nothing for me.

Get distracted by too many shiny objects

We all love fun stuff, shiny objects, cool things. But don’t put too many of them ‘above the fold.’ Sure, if there is a huge ad before your post, if it’s something I really need at the time, maybe I’ll click on it. But will I come back to read your post after you have taken me away from your blog? Probably not. Yes, you want people to take action when they land on your homepage, but engage them with your wonderful content first.

Hack my way through long, unformatted paragraphs

It’s a fact, people, the majority of our readers are skimmers and scanners. They are attention disordered and are looking for just the specific information they need.  They may not even read the whole post.  But your post length is not the issue. It’s the formatting.

Are you using numbers, bullets and a large enough font size? Are you breaking up text with decent sized sub-heads. Do you include great photos? All of these things will make your reader’s experience more enjoyable.

Click through several times to read the whole post

Okay,  this is my personal rant. I know the news sites do this is boost their click throughs, but nothing drives me crazier than to have to click through 10 times to see 10 photos in a single post. If you need to bump up your numbers, don’t do it at the risk of losing readers.

And when I’m finished reading your blog, don’t make me…

Wonder how to share your post

Share buttons are simple to install, yet I still find many good blogs out there without them. Please let me share. I was told as a kid that it’s a good thing. Because you have lost me if you are making me copy the title of your post, open Twitter or Facebook, create a nice little message, paste in your title, go back and copy the URL, return to my update, paste that in and send. I wouldn’t even do that for my best friend.

Not find a way to subscribe to your blog

I realize that you are more interested in growing your newsletter list, so that opt-in box is prominent. I also get it that you would rather have people subscribe to your blog via email, so you can build that list. But please give me that little RSS subscribe button so I can add your wonderful blog to my reader. We may be in the minority, but don’t ignore us.

Wonder about who you are

Most of us readers want to know about the blogger. That is why blogs have about pages. Add one to your blog. Give me some insights into who you are. Because if I am looking for more info on you, that’s a good thing, right?  I’m not a stalker. I simply want to learn more about the fascinating person behind the words.

Struggle to connect with you

So I have read your post. I like what you say. I’m thinking that maybe you would be worth following on Twitter. Hopefully I’ll be able to find those shiny social connect buttons. Or maybe I want to do more than connect with you. I want to hire you. Yes, you impressed me that much. I should have no problem finding the contact button in your navigation bar, right? I won’t need to drop down to the footer and find the words “email me” in 6-point font.
So there you have it. I know there are other things that are just as critical, but just wanted to share my thoughts. And the next time I land on your blog, welcome me with open arms, I’m really not such a bad guy.

What about you?

Is the before and after experience just as important to you as reading the post?

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24 Comments

  1. Deborah January 28, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Hi Bob,

    You voice many of my frustrations I have when I visit a blog, but you describe it more eloquently than I do. Thank you, Bob.

    One of my frustrations when I read posts is when there is no publish date. The first thing I do when I visit a new post is check the title, author, and published date. The date adds valuable information to me.

    Unfortunately, not including dates on posts seems to have caught on for several sites. Have you noticed it?

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      Deborah, thanks so much!

      And yes, have I not only seen it more but have been in discussions on the date issue. My thoughts in a nutshell.

      Some will say that their content is evergreen content. It can stand the test of time and because of that they don’t want to date it. Others do this and will go in and occasionally update the content in places.

      Others just don’t want you to notice the irregularity of their blogging habits. :)

      Now where it really is a killer is time sensitive info. Especially tech sites. I make sure I have mine on because, well, some do become outdated. But at the same time there are several that have stood the test of time, and even though they are 1 or 2 years old, they still get a lot of views and yes, comments.

      So there is that fine line. I even hear some of the bigger bloggers argue now for no dates. In this world of blogging, I swear, everything keeps circling back around, one day it’s good to do it, the next it’s not. And around and around and around we go.

      I think we will continue to see it.

    • Oz January 28, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      Dates on blogposts. Yup! That’s an interesting one. In some ways a date can just be more clutter. If it’s good content, it’s good content. But some kind of date, somewhere on the blog lets me know if the blog is still alive and if the blogger regularly maintains it. It’s disappointing to come across a great article and see that the blogger has posted 3 times in the past year.

      This does get me thinking about technical blogs, and my own blog which is partially techie.

      It helps to know when a tech tip was written because it may be completely obsolete or, the concepts are the same but the layout and interface have changed since the original post.

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Yep, that’s exactly my point also with tech blogs. Especially mind :)

      And that also extends to blogs that have a lot of tutorials – those should really be dated.

      I get the point about an article and only discovering that it was 3 years back and they haven’t blogged since. One way around this is most still leave dates on comments, so if there are comments, you can tell from that.

      Now food for thought… literally. How about a blog that does recipes 😉

  2. Kathy Paul January 28, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    OK, Bob! I have more work to do on my blog… because I agree with you 100% (as usual). Thanks for these reminders.

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      Well then, my work is done here 😀

  3. Aaron January 28, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    I definitely need to work on many of these aspects. Thanks for an enlightening post!

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      You are very welcome… sometimes I even need to revisit my own sites :) And if I do find something on a blog of a person I know, I have sent an email with a friendly suggestion. Most people have appreciated that…

  4. Bill Ciari January 28, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Nice article. From someone who is just starting a blog on my business site this will be a good guideline to help me along.

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks Bill. Glad to hear you found this at the perfect time…. cheers!

  5. Michael Belfry January 28, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Another article full of useful insights, Bob! As I was reading it, I thought of the phrase “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Be clear about your focus, make it easy for people to share your content, and provide an easy / obvious way for people to keep in touch!

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 9:49 am #

      Hey Michael, thank you! Yes, I can remember as far back into my days of marketing and graphic design, when I was doing the majority of print projects. Even then we talked about the “first impression”. No matter the media, it still is so important.

  6. Oz January 28, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Good post.
    I shared it with my sister who’s a new blogger with TWO whole posts over the past week.

    I shared it because this is a decent bare-bones checklist. She’s not a professional blogger and she has a day job. So, I’m trying to guide her away from getting overwhelmed with H1 and H2 tags, SEO, etc. Right now, she needs a “good enough” site, and encouragement.

    But there’s one thing that comes up for new bloggers: do they even know what their blog is about? It can take a year or more to figure that out.

    To get my own sense of a blog’s mission, I look for a list of blog titles or tags. What a blog does vs what it says it does can be very different.

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      So true, establishing the blogs goal and your audience is so important to do at the very beginning. And then you fine-tune along the way. Otherwise without that foundation nothing makes sense.

  7. Linda Powell January 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Thank you for this, it made interesting reading for me. I am new to contributing to my blog and also new to looking for and reading what other’s have to blog about. I have only been blogging for about 6 months and already I have learnt a lot but I know there is still a lot more for me to learn about social media.

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      You are very welcome and great to hear it was helpful. And to be honest, when it comes to all of this, there is always something new to learn now matter how long you have been blogging :)

  8. Matthew Goldsbrough January 28, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Bob,

    A really good post and discussion. I’m trying to do much of what you recommend already, but you’ve provided a useful push for me to try harder.

    Thanks,

    Matthew

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 29, 2014 at 7:54 am #

      Hey Matthew, great to hear. Even myself needs a nudge from time to time on some of these things… cheers!

  9. Karen Bain January 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Thanks again … I’ll use your post as a check list on my soon to be published blog.

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

      You go Karen!!

  10. Valerie Rind January 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Hey Bob, thanks for setting up my blog so I haven’t made these mistakes! :)

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn January 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Hey Valerie, you bet! I’m always glad to hear that something didn’t slip by either of us 😉

  11. Zienna February 2, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    Hi Bob,
    Me again..The angels must have like you. I keep on landing to your post. Once again another very informative blog you’ve got here. I can tick all the boxes, I’m one of them.

    Well it’s obvious that we beginners will have all that annoying criteria that you mentioned. If you are getting frustrated, just imagine how I feel.
    When I check my feedback there were so many comments posted, at one time there’s about 200 of them and they were all very long and written in all languages that I don’t even understand, didn’t even know what to do with it, so I just deleted them. I guessed my panic-attack mode gets in the way. Then reading so many notes on the forum I’ve decided to put it on e-mail me instead.

    I’m not complaining if there’s no one there. I would rather not let people come and get angry with their comments because they couldn’t log in. And most of the comments I reckoned were spam. (Sorry anyone, I didn’t mean to offend you). Then navigating on explorer I found a site that copied the first paragraph of my blog. I’m upset but I don’t even know how to deal with it.

    RSS, Dates, Subscribe, Themes, Widgets…I need all the Dummies books I can gather. Right now! would be the best time. I’ll bookmark this post so I can get back to it again and again and make sure it stick to my pint-size head..LOL

    Thanks again. Isn’t it amazing some people can just explain it easily in their own words, the questions that’s been whirling through my head?

    I’ll definitely come back to read and learn from you. By the way, just to make it clear it’s not because I want you to subscribe to my post. I’m looking to learn from people that can explain it as simple as it should be. Not an Einstein that’s telling me Wp= (blogs)$+500=10,000 subscription/whatever. You know what I mean?

    Hope you’re having a good laugh.
    Thank you.

    Zienna

    Reply

    • Bob Dunn February 2, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Zienna,

      You sound like you have an open mind and are ready to learn. That’s really the most important thing. Take it one step at a time and you will get there. Feel free to poke around the older posts on my blog and the judyleedunn.com site also has lots of posts on how to be e better blogger. Best of luck to you.

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