Reader feedback is a blogger’s most important tool. By reading comments, emails and survey results pertaining to our blog, we’re receiving valuable information. Stats also provide a gold mine of information.
For the most part, the feedback received regarding the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network is extremely positive. However, that doesn’t mean the negative feedback we receive isn’t treated with the same respect. Every comment, every criticism and every stat is given the same consideration.
It’s from our regular survey and from reading feedback regarding this and other blogs that inspired today’s list. If you’re struggling with traffic or you can’t seem to get a regular community together, it may be folks are turned off by something at your blog. Maybe you can learn by some of my mistakes.
Here are some things blog turnoffs I learned over five years of blogging for and running Freelance Writing Jobs.
Disclosure: There are a lot of “I’s” in this post. I made it about me.That’s because I’m speaking about my experience as a blogger. I’m also sharing many personal anecdotes which I hope doesn’t turn into yet another turnoff. This blog has always been about sharing personal (rather than general) experiences.
I hope you’ll also share your experiences and let me know if you agree or disagree.
1. It has no defined purpose
Readers like to come to a blog and know what it’s about. They don’t want to have to search to see if there’s a theme and they don’t want to read a mishmash of ideas each day. They want to know a blog’s purpose. If it’s a personal blog, they expect varied thoughts. If there’s no indication of whether or not your blog is personal , or really what you’re going for, you’re going to lose some very confused readers. We can blog about anything we want. However, if your blog is just disorganized ramblings, it may not make it to the top of the rankings. I once had a blog that was supposed to be about the life of a work at home mom, but turned out to be anything but. It didn’t last long.
2. It doesn’t stay on topic
If your blog is about tomatoes but you spend too much time focusing on your two year old’s potty training, you’re going to lose some people. All bloggers go off topic now and again, and that’s kind of to be expected. When it happens on a regular basis your community might go to a competitor’s blog to learn all the stuff you’re not teaching. If you have trouble finding things to write about in your niche, it’s probably the wrong niche. If you write more about another topic, that’s probably the one you should be going for. All blogs have a niche. If you can’t stay true to your own, your readers won’t stick around.
3.It doesn’t teach
Sometimes blog posts hint at a point but never quite get to it. For example, if I’m going to write posts about freelance writing that talk about writing in a general way but never give you actual tips you can use, you really don’t have a reason to visit. If I wrote a post entitled “How to Land Your First Freelance Writing Job,” but gave a pep talk instead of actual practices to put into play, I’d be pandering to traffic, but I wouldn’t teach. My community would quickly realize that I didn’t have anything to offer. The people who come to this blog want me to help them to become successful freelance writers. They want to leave their office jobs and work at home full time. If I can’t share my methods, they’re going to call b.s. and move on.
4. It’s too negative
Rants are fun. They inspire discussion and bring in traffic. Ranty blog posts have dozens, if not hundreds of comments and everyone wants to weigh in. Who doesn’t love a good rant?
People who see them every day.
Hear me out on this one, I promise this won’t be another kumbaya. If you read this blog for the past few years you’ll know I’ve spoken out against places that offer residual income such as Examiner, Associated Content and eHow. You know that I think residual gigs are not my favorite way to earn an income and very few can make it work. However, my community didn’t appreciate my strong thoughts regarding this and I alienated many.
My community told me they don’t want my venom, they want me to share my tips. No one wants me to tell them I feel they’re making poor choices. So I stopped. I didn’t change my mind, instead I focused my passion on offering tips for success. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Why worry about those writers, they’re not who you’re speaking to anyway.” That’s where you’re wrong, they’re exactly who I’m reaching out to. This blog is for all freelance writers and if I can’t build a welcoming community for all, then I’m not achieving this blog’s goal. The negativity scared people away and that’s why I stopped.
5. It’s too positive
Too much positivity can also be a turnoff and I can speak from experience here too. After taking a vow of positivity this year, I received a flood of criticism. When you’re too positive people don’t feel you’re honestly presenting all sides of the issue. I totally get this. Being around a Perky Polly all day can get a little annoying. I’m not saying I’m going negative because I learned some very good lessons, but balance is always good. If I see something I don’t like, I’ll make it known but I’ll always try to be respectful about it. I don’t think that blogging is about being positive or negative, I think it’s about being human.
6. It’s misleading
Don’t you hate when a headline sucks you in but once you get to the blog post you realize it has no bearing on the headline? People don’t like to be misled. They want the drapes to match the carpet.
7. There’s no clear comment policy
Whenever I discuss a comment policy I receive cries of “censorship!” or “you don’t let people disagree!” Not true at all. I personally feel disagreement makes the world go ’round. However, I don’t believe in anarchy. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with a blogger as long as you’re respectful. When folks start attacking and cursing in the comments, I lose people. I hate “Oh you’re so wonderful and I agree” comments all the time. I enjoy lively discussion and I want comments with substance. “You’re a butthead and don’t know any better” isn’t a good rebuttal, though. If a blog’s comment section is a free for all with all sides hurtling insults, it keeps people away.
8. It’s sponsor driven
Whoa, Nellie. Just back the truck up. Where do I get off talking about sponsor driven blogs when I talk about my own sponsor every day?
Personally, I feel having an obvious sponsor kind of puts me in a perfect position to discuss it.
I can tell you from experience that having an prominent sponsor will turn some people off and drive them away. It can even cause rifts in the community. If you’re going to choose a sponsor make sure you really believe in said sponsor and it’s worth the loss in traffic. I make no bones about it, this blog is heavily monetized and until I can get more personal passive income projects off the ground, it’s going to be heavily monetized. Many other bloggers and community members don’t approve of or agree with this. Before you decide to heavily monetize your blog, remember what happened here.
9. It’s poorly written
I talk about my typos all the time, but a there’s more to a poorly written blog than typos. When words are constantly misspelled and sentences aren’t structured properly, folks notice. I’m called out all the time for not properly proofreading this blog. People notice. Trust me, they notice.
10. Every post is an attempt at link bait
I love writing lists. If you search around this blog, you’ll find tons of them. I don’t necessarily write them as linkbait, but more because I enjoy the list format and try to have a little fun with my writing. Because I make a lot of lists, I’ve been called out as a linkbait whore. I can totally see that. Now before I discuss why this is a turnoff, I want to say that I’m confused at why linkbait is such a terrible thing. I mean, don’t we want traffic and don’t we want other bloggers to link to us? I guess wanting it and being public about are two different things.
A blog’s community wants to feel intimate. They want to be like the small fan base that enjoyed a club band before landing a record contract and going Top 40. They want to feel as if we’re sharing tips and ideas, not looking for traffic and links. In all honesty, I do try and make every post here useful, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want others outside of this community to take notice, either.
I used to blog for me, but now I blog for the Freelance Writing Jobs community. Through their valuable feedback I know why they come here – and what keeps them away.
What does your community tell you? What are some of your blog turnoffs? Do you agree with the above?