I’ve been blogging for the past 4 years and got pretty involved in the phenomenon. Let’s say my reading list is never under 150 blogs/day, I follow all of them, comment and see how they’re all doing. At the same time I’m an active member in forums that deal with web design, forum management and, of course, blogging.
In all these years there are various tricks I learned and was also able to clarify what puts me off when it comes to a blog and why some bloggers just seem to never make it, no matter how wonderful their plans are or how much they’ve worked so far. Here are some of the reasons your blog will most likely fail:
1. You’re using a free hosted solution (Blogspot is the worst)
Hold on! A domain name is as low as 3 bucks. You can get hosting for $12/year. I can give you such a plan, not to mention the plethora or hosting providers. Come on. Is it that difficult? Is $15 such a huge deal for you?
If you have ANY intention with that blog, get yourself a domain name and a hosting account. And get wordpress installed. Then start blogging.
No serious advertiser will take you seriously. You will LOSE exposure just because your seem ‘unprofessional’. If I had a nickle for every ‘why can’t my blog succeed‘ thread I read lately, I’d afford the nose job I’d like to have done. Yes, most of them are on blogspot.com, a site I REFUSE to visit, because of the inflation of idiotic posts and spam blogs.
Do you want ME to take you seriously? Do you want readers, community, money? Then get yourself a domain name and BRAND YOUR SITE.
I run a blog named ‘dojoblog.net’. Easy to remember, right? Simple, nice, it’s a short ‘name’ and then blog. Imagine now I’d call it ‘mywonderfulblog.blogspot.com’. Phew, I aged a little just writing the entire address.
This is one of the most important aspects that can SAVE your blog: a nice domain name and a proper blog.
2. Your design is ugly
I can understand not all people are web designers like me, so it’s not that easy to pay hundreds of dollars for a unique design. Not to mention that, for a starting blog, this does seem like a huge investment. If you can’t afford a decent design, use a free theme. But do try to find something that’s not ugly.
Most of the time a simple elegant theme will do it. Modify few things and ask around in the specialized forums, for more ideas and feedback. Don’t use ugly themes and, if you’re not good with Photoshop, refrain from making a horrible header for instance. Ask for feedback and act accordingly.
An ugly blog won’t attract attention, or at least not the kind of attention you’d like.
3. You don’t have anything to say
This sounds tough, but I’ve seen so many bad blogs it makes my head spin. If you can’t post a decent article and only put ‘funny images’, youtube videos or articles you’ve ‘stolen’ from others, please do us all a favor and find something else to do.
An interesting article has to give me something to think about. Some information presented in your personal way. It’s not hard to write good posts, just be sincere and ask yourself: ‘would I read this article?’. If you’re honest enough with yourself, you’ll learn what to say and how to do it, so that people read your articles and comment.
4. You don’t share, you sell
It’s clear to me that MOST bloggers are into this for some money too. Yes, I blog because I like it and to earn money from it. There you have it, I was sincere enough. Still, when all you write seems just an attempt to sell me something, I’ll just ignore you from that moment.
You run a blog because you want to share ideas and help people in a certain niche. Or just write from your heart, if it’s a personal blog. NEVER FORGET THAT. You’re here to entertain and inform. The moment your blog has TOO MANY promotional articles, people will leave. I don’t read John Chow anymore, because I have to wade through 15 advertorials to get to one decent post like the ones that made him who he is.
Try to provide good content and promote something from time to time. Don’t try to sell it, just present it and let me, your reader, decide what to do. Write more advertorials than actual content and your traffic will plummet. Not everyone is John Chow.
5. Ads, ads, popups, ads
If you’re not destroying any trace of interest in your writing with advertorials, you might kill your readers with ads. Banners of all colors and sizes, popups, all that jazz.
We have ads here too. No one said ‘don’t put a banner’ on your site, we’re all here to earn some money too. But don’t ruin your readers’ experience with too many banners. And links in the text. And popups to sell your book. Or someone else’s book. Many people found Ad-Block and are using it successfully. Many people (self included), un-bookmark sites with popups.
I don’t care about your ‘free book’ offer. I don’t want to read your book that costs money either. I am an avid reader of various freelancing blogs and even bought some books. BAD choice. I wasted tens of dollars for nothing, since most of them were just ‘rehashing’ the content I already read in the blog. And that was free. I don’t think I read two DECENT freelancing books, so I made it a habit to just ignore the books on their sites. Most are a waste of time.
Not all people want to subscribe, so please don’t put a huge popup under my nose. I bookmark sites and visit them daily. I don’t read feeds. I don’t care about feeds on my blogs either. I have hundreds of visitors daily and don’t think my subscription rate is over 100 people. I don’t care. You are here for the content, I want you here and not in Google Reader. I have ads here, I have a nice design that took me days to finish, so my goal is to attract people to MY site and not a reader.
This is why I ignore most of the ‘subscribe’ ads. And, if you’re promoting another useless book to trick me to ‘subscribe’ and that ad happens to be a popup, you just got rid of another reader. I know, one is not important, but, if more people are like me, you’re not looking too good.
6. You don’t know how to engage your readers
While I’m not always right, I’m sincere enough to get a reaction from you. Maybe you don’t agree with my ideas in this article, maybe you feel like I just took the words right out of your mouth. But you’ll surely react.
Don’t write for ‘robots’. I know most of you guys count keywords and think how to apply the latest SEO trick. This is a good thing to do, but never forget you’re readers ARE HUMANS. If you cannot write something they can easily read and comment on, then 1000 amazingly well chosen keywords won’t do you any good. You’ll have traffic and a nice juicy bounce rate that comes close to 100%.
7. You’re making commenting difficult
Captcha, Disqus etc. Useless things that make commenting a little more difficult. And this means some people might not bother. I know you fear spam, but it can be avoided. All you need for me to comment is: name / email / URL / message and SUBMIT. Don’t put anything there, except for these wordpress default elements. Don’t ask me to write a captcha code. I don’t have the time nor the willingness. Don’t install disqus since not all people use it. Your blog has everything it needs out of the box, don’t make my life complicated.
DO APPROVE COMMENTS THIS WEEK AND NOT THE NEXT YEAR.
I’ve seen in some other blogs that comments are approved in days or weeks. I am all for comment moderation for first time commenters, but, if you let me wait for 3 days till my comment is posted, you might not get a second one. Or, the case of the famous Mint blog, if you’re not publishing my comment at all, I’ll never bother again.
Reply to your commenters, welcome them in the community, make their life easier.
8. You don’t seem to care
Community is a very important aspect for a blog. I had tens of articles promoted by my readers, I had people comment and share their views. Some posted HUNDREDS of comments all these years. But you do need to care about them. Ask for opinions, share views, approve comments and interact with your readers.
If you seem involved and active, they’ll come back. Everyone loves a good talk and an active blog admin. Make sure you provide them with that ‘something’ and they’ll visit you daily. CARE and they’ll care back.
9. Your posting schedule is all over the place
You can blog daily. Or at least get a decent schedule and make it happen. It helps with that writer’s block and most importantly it helps you community. If you can’t post daily, then schedule your posts for every 3 days. Or once a week. Then set a day in the week you’re posting the article. SCHEDULE the article so that we can find an article every Monday. Or Thursday and Sunday. It doesn’t matter what schedule you’re on, as long as you’re not posting today and nothing for the next 2 months.
If I see an inactive blog, I take it off my bookmarks. I don’t have time to waste with blogs that are active today and inactive for the next 3 months.
I’VE DONE IT MYSELF. Yes, I try to practice what I preach, after doing it all wrong. I had very active days and weeks when I just didn’t post anything. Wanna know how my traffic went? Let’s imagine someone jumped from the Empire State Building into the street. Maybe the angle is a little smaller, but you get the idea.
10. You come up with excuses.
I’ve helped people with their blogs all these years. All these years since I’ve been a webmaster (almost 10) and a blogger (more than 4), I’ve learned a lot. And I like to share this knowledge, since people helped me in the past too. But it really drives me nuts when, after I try to give solutions, I read ‘yeah, but …’
NO BUTS. Excuses don’t solve any problems. If some experienced bloggers share their time and ideas with you, LEARN something. Don’t say .. but, because you won’t do anything. You solve your problems by getting those ideas into your head and working your butt, not by inventing excuses.
The web is filled with ‘recipes’ for success, just as it’s filled with information and tips. You need to learn and APPLY, because, while I might give you some solutions, it’s not my job to apply them.