I truly love finding new blogs. I read a lot of them, and I specifically enjoy connecting with smaller or medium sized bloggers who I can form real relationships with. That being said, there are a lot of beginner mistakes bloggers make that turn people off their blog and can be easily avoided. I’m not going to go into my personal preferences, but instead focus on the widely agreed upon, less-than-best practices.
These are the big reasons why I don’t stick around when I land on a new blog and why I might stick around for a while and then leave:
You don’t have a strong blog design
This one isn’t rocket science. The moment I land on your site, I’m making assessments. Part of that assessment is “how professional and skilled this blogger,” and the big way I first determine that is the way your blog looks. #1, for heaven’s sake, implement a white background. Stop reading this post and go do that right now. If you need further evidence, think of all the bloggers who use white backgrounds: Cupcakes and Cashmere, A Beautiful Mess, and Love Taza, just to name a few. White immediately makes your blog look more clean and will help people take you seriously. If you don’t feel confident in your design capabilities (I certainly don’t in mine), either buy a template that comes with an installation or hire an amateur-professional. It’s easy and you’ll be blown away by how much better your blog looks.
Your photos are tiny or not consistently sized
This goes along with blog design, yet it seems even people with beautiful, professional looking sites fail to do this. Use big, beautiful photos, people! Download yourself a photo editing tool (I use Photoshop, but people swear by PicMonkey as the freebie option) and make sure your photos are consistently sized and sized large. I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I say photos can make or break a blog. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or anything – Helene from Helene in Between and Sarah from Venus Trapped in Mars are both perfect examples of bloggers who aren’t trained photographers, but who still make their photography work for them. Follow their example.
You don’t have complete posts on your page and instead use the “Read More” feature
You know what I’m taking about, when instead of including the full posts on their homepage, a blogger just has the first paragraph and then a “read more” button. I know, I know, it gets you more pageviews, but you know what, it gets me to stop reading. Ain’t no one care enough about your blog when they first arrive to click through all those pages. I might do that if I’m really in love with your blog already, but I think you’re significantly less likely to entice new readers to stay if they can’t just mosey down your homepage and flip through all your most recent posts.
You have massive paragraphs
A good rule of thumb to follow in blogging: paragraphs should be no more than seven sentences, but ideally closer to five. In blog land, giant blocks of text just mean my eyes glaze over the words. I have been known to break this rule (such as in this very post), but you’re more likely to get viewers to actually read if the paragraphs are just bite-sized. Another tip is to break paragraphs up visually with frequent sub-headers (like in this post), photos, or even gifs.
You only share personal posts
I don’t mean you shouldn’t share personal anecdotes and stories, I mean if every post is about what’s going on in your life, I’m just not going to care that much. Sometimes bloggers are incredible at talking about themselves and the simple events of their lives, but most of the time, I also want recipes, DIY projects, movie/book/TV recommendations, etc. Personally, I think a healthy mix is good. Tutorial and recommendation posts are also more likely to get shares on social platforms like Pinterest and thus increase your readers. That being said, the occasional personal post helps us get to know and bond with you.
You don’t respond to my comments (or you don’t use a program that tells me when you do)
Look, unless you’re a rockstar blogger, I expect to form some kind of a relationship if I’m following and commenting on your posts religiously. Frankly, it kind of hurts my feelings if I spend time writing a super thoughtful comment and you can’t even be troubled to respond. It’s like, girl, I know you only got five comments on this post, you definitely have two minutes to respond and connect with me. And on that note, some of you guys are using programs that don’t email me to tell me when you respond! That means all that time you’ve put into thoughtful responses to my comments, I have no idea you even tried. WordPress.Org uses a stupid comment system that does that. I highly recommend switching to Disqus for the sole reason your readers will actually be informed that you commented back.
You’re not on Twitter
It may seem silly, but Twitter is where the bloggerverse goes to connect with each other. We follow each other’s blogs for the essays, but we follow each other on Twitter for the goofy one-on-one conversations and connections. Those are the places we form the real relationships – by connecting in chats, sharing each other’s content, and just checking in on each other. If you want to form real, lasting relationships, Twitter is a place you need to be.
Do you agree or disagree with any of my reasons? What turns you off a blog?