I love finding new blogs to read. I won’t even tell you how many I subscribe to (hint: it’s in the hundreds). There are so many hidden gems out there, and once I find one, a big smile spreads across my face.
At least sometimes.
Because even though your blog might have the most fantastic content in the world, unfortunately, I may not become a reader. And while the content is the main reason I’m there, it’s the middle stuff. What happens before I read it and after I read it is just as important.
Now some of you might be saying, this is my blog and I’ll do what I want. Hmmm, so you don’t care about your readers? You are writing for yourself then? You are writing what you want to, and damn those pesky readers?
The problem is this: Unless you just want to vent or share life experiences no one but your mom cares about, then you need to care about your readers. If you don’t, then why not just keep a journal?
So here’s the deal. Whether I find your blog through a link, a comment you left on another blog, a Google search, or just by accidentally ending up on your site…
When I land on your blog, don’t make me…
Wonder what your blog is about
It drives me crazy when I first land on a blog and the title, tagline, and header picture don’t tell me, “This blog is about XYZ.” I am not going to assume anything from the link or even your description in the search engine listings. When I arrive at your site, within a second or two, my eyes are drawn to the header. If you talk about social media, say so. Because the photo in your header? The one of a quiet stream in the woods? That does nothing for me.
Get distracted by too many shiny objects
We all love fun stuff, shiny objects, cool things. But don’t put too many of them ‘above the fold.’ Sure, if there is a huge ad before your post, if it’s something I really need at the time, maybe I’ll click on it. But will I come back to read your post after you have taken me away from your blog? Probably not. Yes, you want people to take action when they land on your homepage, but engage them with your wonderful content first.
Hack my way through long, unformatted paragraphs
It’s a fact, people, the majority of our readers are skimmers and scanners. They are attention disordered and are looking for just the specific information they need. They may not even read the whole post. But your post length is not the issue. It’s the formatting.
Are you using numbers, bullets and a large enough font size? Are you breaking up text with decent sized sub-heads. Do you include great photos? All of these things will make your reader’s experience more enjoyable.
Have to close a pop-up window
Okay, this is my personal rant. Yes, I have a marketing background and understand how effective they can be. And yes, you can grow a decent list that way. But personally, I think they suck. I have landed on your blog for the very first time and you expect me to say, “Well, duh, I don’t know you from Adam, but sure, I’ll sign up for your newsletter, though it may be nothing but crap.” You might also say, everyone does it, so it must work. Well, my mom had a saying about that.
And when I’m finished reading your blog, don’t make me…
Wonder how to share your post
Share buttons are simple to install, yet I still find many good blogs out there without them. Please let me share. I was told as a kid that it’s a good thing. Because you have lost me if you are making me copy the title of your post, open Twitter or Facebook, create a nice little message, paste in your title, go back and copy the URL, return to my update, paste that in and send. I wouldn’t even do that for my best friend.
Not find a way to subscribe to your blog
I realize that you are more interested in growing your newsletter list, so that opt-in box is prominent. I also get it that you would rather have people subscribe to your blog via email, so you can build that list. But please give me that little RSS subscribe button so I can add your wonderful blog to my reader. We may be in the minority, but don’t ignore us.
Wonder about who you are
Most of us readers want to know about the blogger. That is why blogs have about pages. Add one to your blog. Give me some insights into who you are. Because if I am looking for more info on you, that’s a good thing, right? I’m not a stalker. I simply want to learn more about the fascinating person behind the words.
Struggle to connect with you
So I have read your post. I like what you say. I’m thinking that maybe you would be worth following on Twitter. Hopefully I’ll be able to find those shiny social connect buttons. Or maybe I want to do more than connect with you. I want to hire you. Yes, you impressed me that much. I should have no problem finding the contact button in your navigation bar, right? I won’t need to drop down to the footer and find the words “email me” in 6-point font.
So there you have it. I know there are other things that are just as critical, but just wanted to share my thoughts. And the next time I land on your blog, welcome me with open arms, I’m really not such a bad guy.
What about you?
Is the before and after experience just as important to you as reading the post?