Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve had a fair number of people ask me to take a look at their blog sites. There are usually a few things that I look for as potential problems when I’m asked to do this kind of analysis. I’ve come up with 15 of these bloggy growth stoppers, in fact. If you suffer from any (or all) of these, take heart. Noticing them is the hardest part.
1. Your blog topics are all over the map: When I first started blogging, I took great liberty with the word “musings.” The problem is that if your topics are all over the board, no single demographic will feel like your site is the right home for them. Settle on a general theme, and then diversify within that over-arching theme.
2. Your posts aren’t easy to share: I know it might seem like a bummer, but if you don’t have really easy ways to share your posts, people will probably not take the time to do it for you. That means a Facebook like button, a retweet button, and then maybe other share buttons like Stumbleupon.
3. Your blog identity is difficult to link to your Twitter identity: It’s very difficult for people to keep track of Twitter handles versus Facebook identities versus blog writer names. It’s not intuitive that Mary Smith the blogger is also KittyMama17 on Twitter. Somewhere on your site, you should have an easy-to-find indication of who you are in Twitter world.
4. It’s difficult to comment on your posts: I love a lot of blogs that are on posterous, but the fact that I have to sign into an account that I don’t use in order to comment drives me nuts. Same thing with Blogger. Make it easy for people to comment. Otherwise they will move on.
5. You’re on Blogger: I hate to say this one because I have many fond memories of blogging on Blogger. It would seem like it’s the ideal place to blog because of the whole “I’m owned by Google” thing. However, Blogger simply is not set up for social sharing as well as other platforms. Sad but true.
6. Your masthead still says “Just another WordPress site:” There are so many details when you are starting a blog. If you’re on WordPress.com, the default tagline for your site is “Just another WordPress site.” Make sure you go into your settings and either delete that line or replace it what you actually want to say about your site.
7. Your posts don’t seem to have a point: Sometimes, a blogger will write a post that is kind of like their brain vomiting up some excess thoughts. Now that you’re thinking about that attractive image, what I mean is that sometimes we start writing, we hit “publish,” and people have no idea why we took the time to write that post. What does it mean to them? Why did they just spend time clicking over to see what you were talking about? Have a point. Sharp points preferred.
8. Your posts are over-populated with links to big names: On occasion, it’s great to reference a post by an “A-Lister,” especially if that post is particularly pertinent to what you’re talking about. If, however, you link to 5 blog posts in every post that you write, people will assume you’re just trying to start a link bait shop. Be confident in your own thoughts. You’ll do just fine.
9. Your images take up half the page: I like to think of blog sites like newspapers. When I click to your site, I want to see your headlines pretty quickly. As beautiful as that image is that you chose for your post, it isn’t informing me of anything, and it’s shoving your actual content further down the page. Try to shrink those images down a bit, or put them on one side or the other of your content. Your content is most likely the intended star.
10. Your blog site is like a wild jungle, and I don’t have my machete: Sometimes, we get so excited by widgets and plug-ins that our actual content gets buried like the mystical 7 cities of gold. If you have about 5 different columns of dynamic “stuff” going on when I click to your page, I might get distracted. This is especially true if you have your live Twitter feed on your site. While I’m not against that widget, make sure it isn’t overshadowing your actual blog posts.
11. You have too many spelling or grammar errors: I know this one sounds mean, but let’s be perfectly blunt for a moment. Lots of spelling errors or grammar errors make a post look sloppy. If your posts repeatedly have lots of errors, your whole site will look sloppy. It will look like you aren’t taking the time to make sure you’re doing a good job. Spell check. Read out loud what you are saying.
12. Your site is like a black hole of negativity: Sometimes, bloggers use their blogs as a means for uh…getting some things off their chests. Doing this once in awhile is ok, especially if it happens to be relevant to your audience. However, if every post ranges in mood from death to suffering, people might stop coming over. We all like a little light sometimes, I think. Blog is for writing, couch is for lamenting.
13. You are incorporating a hard sell into every post: I found a post the other day that was actually pretty interesting. I was reading along thinking, “OK, I like what you’ve got going on here.” Then, suddenly, without warning, a huge “and if you like this you can buy my book” message came out of nowhere. It’s kind of like being awakened from a super sweet nap because someone dumped ice cold water you. That’s not to say that you can’t sell in your posts, but if you do it every time, or if you start with a story and end up as a car salesman, your readers may feel confused.
14. Every post is about you: It’s your blog and you can self-indulge if you want to, but bear in mind that everyone who comes to your site – they’re the most interesting people they can think of, not you. If you talk about I and me and mine in every post, people will politely refrain from intruding on your monologue. We’re all a bit narcissistic, non?
15. Every post is about why your readers are failing: Sometimes, in an effort to help, a blogger goes off on tangents about why their readers are failing or stinking or not doing well or things like that. Once in awhile, these posts can be super helpful. If you keep beating up your readers and offer no carrot, they might get kind of bummed out, and they will go to sites where they can feel like okay human beings.
These are 15 obstacles I’ve seen people stumble over in the blogosphere. Are any of these holding you back? Can you think of any others? Let’s talk about it in the comments section!
First Image by enrico nunziati. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/pinzino
Second Image by Timo Laaksonen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Tmou