Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: How To Make Me HATE (and LOVE) Your Blog

If you're here, you know I'm a long-time blogger, and if you've been coming here for any length of time, then you know I'm also a romance author. Writing is my number one favorite thing to do - you know those old bumper stickers you could get that said, "I'd rather be fishing?" Well, me? Almost anytime, almost any day, I'd almost always rather be writing.

Except for when I'm reading, which for me, is a major part of writing. I tend to pull a lot of my writing inspiration from things I've read, whether it's a quote from a story that turns into a whole new book, or a blog post that touched me so deeply I had to write my own.

So as you can imagine, I read a lot of books - and I read A LOT of blogs. Usually, I love them. But sometimes ... well, sometimes, I don't.

Just in case you were wondering, here are the top ten ways to make me HATE (and LOVE) your blog.


First, let's go ahead and get the bad news out of the way, shall we? Let me tell you the top ways to make me absolutely, irrevocably, 100% HATE your blog.

1. Ignore the rules of grammar and punctuation, thereby making your blog annoying (if not outright impossible) to read. This is one of the worst things you can do - but don't get me wrong, okay? There's definitely room for stylistic choice in your writing. I mean, it's not like you're writing a textbook, right? And I don't mean typos, either; I'm sure if you look back through my archives, you'll find a great number of typos and missed errors. But you can generally tell the difference between an error and willful ignorance.

Remember that if you're writing for the world to see, you're speaking to a world full of people. It's worth the effort to make sure you're doing it well.

2. Speaking of archives - don't bother with having one. After all, one of your biggest goals is to get people reading your content and then KEEP them reading your content. You can do this in a lot of ways, like labeling your blog posts so that people can find similar content on your site. You can do it by adding "related articles" things at the bottoms of your posts. You can do it simply by adding links to old posts as you write your new posts, pointing readers of your new content toward other, relevant content. The bonus with this last method is that nothing is random - you're hand-picking your own recommendations. But there is one other way, and I will HATE your blog if you're not using it.

Listen to me, you need an archive, okay? A visible, easily-accessed archive.

Because if you don't have one, and I find and love your blog, but I can't find your archive so that I can go back and read it all from the beginning ... well then, I probably won't come back. And it's even worse when I like your blog enough to go all the way back to the first post (often with much digging and annoyance) only to find out that there's nothing even closely resembling a "next post" button.

3. And while you're busily making your blog both annoying AND impossible to read, here's another tip - don't answer your comments either.

One of the best things about building a website is that you're building your very own small community, where loyal readers come back over and over again, looking to learn from you, to experience something alongside you, or simply because they like you. If your readers take the time to respond to you in the comments, you need to be taking the time to answer those comments (even if it takes you a while and you're always behind, like me), because if your readers see that you consistently don't respond to THEM, it won't be long before they figure out there's no point responding to YOU.

4. Another way to make me HATE your blog instantly is to divide your posts into multiple pages. I like countdowns and slideshows now and then myself, but if I came to your site looking for 35 ways to feel better using old coffee grounds (which is ridiculous, but you get the point), the last thing I want to do is click through 35 "next page" links, plus the ones I have to click to skip the intrusive ads. I have a life too, and every one of those pages takes time to load. Ain't nobody got time for that. And really - long articles don't bother me, I promise. I'm a big girl with a big-girl attention span. Just put it all on one page. Maybe two, if you're really wordy like me and you don't want your readers to get bored.

5. Click. Bait. Don't do this, seriously. Don't write a blog or send a newsletter with a headline or subject that says, "I almost DIED!!!" or something like that, unless you really did almost die - and even then, don't just tell me so that I'll feel sorry for you. Tell me what you learned from it, how your life is enriched by your experience, and how you sharing that experience with me will alter something about my world. Or at the very least, be funny about it - because otherwise, it makes you look like you're so desperate for views that you're willing to swindle people in order to trick them into your site. This is both rude and disrespectful. So seriously. If you really want a community of loyal readers ... don't do this.



But, for real though - with all that being said ... I truly love reading blogs. There's so much variety to be found there, and the blogging world is spilling over with talented writers who have something valuable to contribute. So, now that I've given the five best ways to make me HATE your blog, let me give you the five best ways to make me LOVE your blog.

1. Make it easy for me to interact with you, because if I'm spending my time reading your content, you can bet I care at least a little. Schedule time to answer your comments, even if you're always behind like me and you're just going through them for an hour a week. Because if I truly care about your blog, you can bet that when I spend my time reading and then spend more of my time commenting, I'm probably going to check that little box that lets me know if you respond. And I'll eventually notice if you don't respond.

2. Have a readable, clickable archive. Allow me to go all the way back to the beginning of your story, because you can bet that if I truly like your blog, I'm going to want to read it all and watch you grow as a person. Which brings me to ...

3. Be a likable person. Don't dumb things down for me when you're writing, because I'm not dumb. Give me quality content that's interesting and funny, or deep and inspiring, or at the very least, genuine and helpful. Be a friend, someone I can look forward to interacting with. Write posts that make me laugh, cry ... feel. Teach me something, because I'm hungry for knowledge. Give me something to relate to - as a mom, as a woman. As a parent, a human. Post rants that make me laugh because I feel the same way. Post reviews that help me decide whether I'll like XX-Product or YY-Movie - because if I like and trust you as a person, then I'm likely to value your opinion. Which will, of course, keep me coming back for more.

4. Write on purpose. Have something to say. Don't just blog because you think it's a good way to make some money or because you want to feel popular - do it because you want to, because you have something to share, because you're passionate not only about your writing but about your message. This is guaranteed to keep me coming back, even if you're someone I mostly can't relate to personally.

5. Share with me. I know I kind of said this with point #3, but it truly bears repeating. If you want me to come back to your blog consistently, you MUST be a person I can care about - and while I really want to think I'm super special and unique, I'm really not all that different from other people in this. So open up to your readers and share bits of yourself with them. Let them know you so that they can care about you - and let them know that you care about them, too. This one thing, even if you haven't yet mastered the others, will ALWAYS keep people coming back for more.

Or at least, that's what works for me.

Now it's your turn: What do you love (and hate) about blogs?

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