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Why No One Reads Your Blog

Blogs I Can't Read - the anti-social mediaYou’re blogging about your cat Fluffy, and it’s so awesome. You’ve got adorable pictures, cute writing, and even a video where you you say something and she meows back at you. Still only 5 people are reading your blog, and one of them is your Mom. What are you doing wrong? Should you make Fluffy jump through a flaming hoop?

Unless you are running a mega-blog with lots of daily posts that have a wide, general appeal, you will never have a huge audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice big readership, you just shouldn’t get you  hopes up that you’ll have millions of hits a day.

So what are you doing wrong? Why are your readers fleeing at the sight of your blog, rather than hanging to your every beautiful word?

Here are 5 reasons I cower when I start trying to read a blog that’s new to me:

  • Your blog looks like shit – It’s not hard to make a blog look decent these days. If I roll into your URL, and you have a theme that looks like you murdered a neon yellow tiger that was covered with banner ads, I’m more worried about clicking on the wrong thing than absorbing the information you’re writing. People come to blogs to read, not to go blind. Choose a layout that’s clean and easy to read, and add your personality to it. Just make sure I can still read it without burning out my retinas.
  • Your writing doesn’t make sense – We all make typos, spelling and grammar errors. We’re human, we don’t have editors, and we all spend so much time looking at the post we’re working on. That happens. Still, take the extra two minutes when you are done writing to read your post out loud. You’ll catch anything that sounds funny, and you’ll make sure it has the voice you want.
  • You’re obviously trying to sell me crap – You have a decadent life of iPads and HDTV’s to support. You want your blog to help pay for that. I get it. Still, you can’t expect every single person on the internet who’s coming to your site to sign up for your half-assed newsletter, buy your ebook, and throw money at you to give them a bunch of half-baked blog topics. If you’re going to sell something from your blog, go for it, but make sure it is an awesome product you are willing to stand behind 100%. Don’t just sell crap because you can and you know some sucker will buy it.
  • You have the personality of a piece of cardboard – People read blogs because they like perspective from other people. No one wants to read a text book or a scientific paper. That takes work and brainpower we just don’t have. Write like a human being. Again, read your post out loud. If it sounds like a lecture, you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • You have no information or entertainment value – Your readers’ time is valuable. Are you making your blog worth their while? Entertain them, inform them, or stop blogging.

Think about what scares you away from reading a blog? What about your blog or your writing is keeping people from actually absorbing and enjoying the information you share?

Stop trying to make your cat play with fire, and start sharing your experience in fun, informative and human ways. You and your blog deserve readers.

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54 Responses to Why No One Reads Your Blog

  1. Yancy Scot Strickland February 21, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    Nailed it. Again. Great piece.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      I just get lucky when I swing my virtual hammer.

  2. Mich February 21, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Excellent advise! I don’t read blogs with black background, or hardly. They are difficult and annoying, so it is much easier to skip. I also agree with spelling and grammar mistakes. There are so many tools to help. I bang my head against the wall when I discover a spelling mistake I have missed. It happens, but should be very rare. Excellent tip to try and read the blog out loud. Will try that next time 🙂

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:03 am #

      I make mistakes all the time. It doesn’t matter how many times I use spell check, grammar check, or anything else. I’m just a terrible typist.

  3. MKR February 21, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    My blog has no readers because it’s too good for hideous plebeians.

    Wait no I have no idea.

    Probably the lack of readers. Except those three people who read it.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      If I were a normal social media guru-ninja-maverick, I’d say you need to empower and evangelize your readers.

      Instead, I’ll say you need to get to work marketing your blog.

    • Krista February 22, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      OK, “My blog has no readers because it’s too good for hideous plebeians.”
      You just made me want to go read your blog.
      🙂

  4. Miguel Camacho February 21, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Yet another great post of a master mind, love the “your blog looks like shit” item, how you switch from a serious writing type to those sentences make me LOL. Thanks again

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:10 am #

      Laughter is a serious tool.

  5. John Morrow February 21, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    What’s funny is that when I started my blog, the first HUGE spike in visits I got was when I felt lazy and posted a cure picture of my dog. (By huge, I mean 40 people). The first comments on my blog? The dog post. Still in the top 10 in pageviews? The dog.

    Don’t think I didn’t consider an entire blog devoted to that one picture.

    • John Morrow February 21, 2011 at 8:17 am #

      er, a “cute” picture of my dog. Doh.

      • Joshua S Sweeney February 21, 2011 at 9:18 am #

        And here I was hoping to see a picture of a dog dressed up like Robert Smith. Oh well. No clicks for you!

        • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:13 am #

          Me too. Mecha-Streisand Dog will kill us all.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:16 am #

      One of my first big posts was a post on Conan O’Brien. It took me months to get more traffic than bashing Team CoCo.

  6. Janet M. Kennedy February 21, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    My cat is too cool to blog. My cat is actually too cool for me.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:17 am #

      Most cats are that way. Mine only puts up with me because of your domestic partnership.

  7. Jon-Erik Lido February 21, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Number 1 and 5 are the ones that I see the most. There are an astounding number of ugly blogs with absolutely no content of value. In fact I now believe that ugly is a strong indicator of a blog with no content of value. It takes my brain just a split second to realize that a blog is going to be useless to me- just by how ugly it is.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:19 am #

      Beautiful blogs are an indication that the writing is healthy and fertile.

      • Jon-Erik Lido February 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

        Fertile? Well, now I’m looking forward to a future post about how to perform an ineffectual blogging fertility rite, Jay.

    • MKR February 22, 2011 at 8:46 am #

      I just accepted that I’m not a designer and went with a lightly edited Copyblogger theme. Saves time and retinas.

  8. Deidre Brathwaite February 21, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Hiya Jay,

    Totally agree with you. Two of my main pet peeves. Blogs overwhelmed with ad spots and those pop-out boxes trying to get me to sign up for something, anything, nothing.

    Usually if you are committing those two offences it will be my back you see as I race for the hills.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      I hate pop-up boxes. What makes a blogger think I want to sign up for his or her “newsletter” when I just stumbled upon their blog. It’s so arrogant and spammy.

  9. Terry Elisabeth February 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    The biggest number of visits I had to date was when I was blogging about cupcakes ! And Romy Schneider’s wedding dress for Sissi. Snort.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:21 am #

      Because everyone loves cupcakes. 🙂

  10. Maggie February 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    “What are you doing wrong? Should you make Fluffy jump through a flaming hoop?”

    NO! Make Fluffy play the piano. Duh.

    • Maggie February 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      also searches for “how to not become a crazy cat lady” have lead people to my blog (with good reason … don’t do what I do, kids).

      • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:22 am #

        That’s SEO gold right there.

  11. David Houston February 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    …but what if my cat is really, really good at fire tricks? Ever think of that?

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:22 am #

      I don’t trust my cat near anything, especially fire.

  12. Liz Hover February 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh Jay! You make me laugh once again. I think point 4 is responsible for many failing blogs: You have the personality of a piece of cardboard.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:26 am #

      The blogs I’ve been reading for YEARS are in my reader because I love the author’s point of view. Everything else is secondary.

  13. Lee Calisti February 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Cat blogs are what made me wait for four years before starting my own. I promise not to blog about cats.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 8:26 am #

      I wish I could make that promise.

  14. By Word of Mouth Musings February 22, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    People like animals and cute babies, its a fact.
    I’m almost sure of it.
    Last week in a photo link up, a door got over 150 comments – a door for crying out loud!
    Next week I may enter that link up with a picture of a baby, wearing a dog sweater, taped to a door – and wait for my moment of glory.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Nothing spells success like a baby in dog clothes taped to a door.

  15. Jessica February 22, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    First time visiting and so glad I did, excellent piece. Off to tweet this in hopes that a few people will get rid of their blinding blog decor.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      I hope they took our combined passive-aggressive advice. 🙂

  16. Danielle Smith February 22, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Yes! Yes! I’ve caught so many errors – just by reading my posts out loud…. I tend to write as I speak – and sometimes it doesn’t translate. Also, I love opinions, emotions, humor…. it is what keeps me coming back…..

  17. Mommylebron February 22, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Great tips, I love your humor! i think I need to work on number one. I don’t have ads, but I think my soild background is too much.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      Yeah, sometimes small switches like that can make all the difference between readability and OH GOD MY EYES.

  18. Mattieologie February 22, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Perfection. Every point that needed to made was made. I hope everyone who wants to blog better gets the chance to read this.

    • Mattieologie February 22, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Perfection. Every point that needed to be* made was made. I hope everyone who
      wants to blog better gets the chance to read this.

      *I should’ve taken two extra seconds to catch that

  19. Phil Kessler February 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    My blog looks good, my posts are well-written and topical (politics) and my personality is slightly cardboardish, but not completely. I tweet to my 80 followers every post and I only have one comment – there must be something else.

    • MKR February 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

      You need to incentivize the commentariat to comment copiously with a curious call to action.

      ow

    • MKR February 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

      And if you can’t get a bunch of people pissed off enough to link and comment with that theme and tagline, there’s something critically wrong.

      Promoting in the wrong places, maybe.

    • Jay February 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

      It takes time and marketing. It took me a year to get to the fanbase I have now.

      Also, a tip – stronger headlines and leading sentences would help you. 🙂

      • MKR February 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

        The fact that he only has three posts probably isn’t helping much. And the long interval between posts could do with a shortening until the body of posts is bigger.

  20. SomeHooker February 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    I only read blogs written by individuals that I would sit down & have a beer with. Simple as that. If I am going to spend my free time (ok or my “busy” time at work) reading your blog, you would get a beer from my corner time cash-stash.

    Too many “things n’ stuff” on a blog, taking my eyes away from content, will have me running for the hills. Ohhh & cats, not down with the cats.

    I agree on the personality factor. I don’t care how small or big your blog is, DO NOT EVER act as if it is a priviledge for a reader to be reading you blog.

  21. Jamaica My Way February 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    LOLLLLL!! I read YOUR blog based on the title alone for this post. This is so funny but TRUE! I try to get into my friend’s blogs sometimes and it’s just exhausting reading what some people put out there.

    Anyways, this is a great post, I laughed. I like laughing. Thanks!

  22. Mark February 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    While I loved this post in general, I wonder if you read this sentence aloud: “People read blogs because they like to perspective from people.”

    • Jay February 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      I actually skipped over just that one sentence to see who was paying attention.

      • Mark February 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

        I was! I was!

  23. Susie February 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    But Fluffy sings now. And she’s SUPER cute.

  24. Sergio Felix March 3, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    It looks like I’m doing EXACTLY what I shouldn’t be doing… ¬¬

    Thanks for writing this article, it was a real eye opener!

    ~Sergio