Suffice it to say, 2014 is almost over. Last Friday I put out a post talking about my goals for 2015. Those were mainly personal goals, mainly for myself, though sometimes I like to share because they might inspire others to do the same.
This post is a little different, some quick hitters. There are things I’ve seen over the past year, both good and bad, from bloggers all over the place. There are some things I needed to do myself, some I did, some I didn’t. I figure if I’m going to pick on others then I might as well call myself out where I can.
I don’t expect anyone to change a thing because I don’t like it; people will do what people do. Still, at least I’ll be on record once again, in case some people who are doing some of these things wonder why I don’t stop by all that often, or do stop by more often than not. I’m doing 15 since the upcoming year has “15” in it; kind of cheesy but I’m going with it anyway.
Enough of the preamble. Let’s get to it:
1. Stop sending notices to people asking them to subscribe to comments when they leave one. That’s one of the most irksome things in the world to me. I hate when I get something asking me to subscribe to the blog but I can deal with that. Telling me, after I checked the box, that I have to now subscribe to comments to get a response to my comment… ugh. You’re wasting my time because I’m never subscribing; I wouldn’t have left a comment if I thought you could care less if I saw it.
2. Please check to see if your comment notifications work. I comment on lots of blogs. I don’t keep a list of blogs I comment on. Therefore, unless I get an email telling me you’ve responded to me I may never know that you responded, and I won’t be alone.
The way to test this is to either log off your blog or use a different browser, go to a post and leave a comment. If you don’t get an email from your blog then you know it’s not working and should fix it. I test my blogs at least 3 times a year; it only takes a couple of minutes to do.
3. Respond to comments, and not just the new ones. I’m sometimes late to visiting a blog. It might only be a day, it might be a couple of weeks. Either way, all of us who talk about blogging tell you how important it is to respond to comments. However, some of the bloggers who talk about it only respond to comments left the day the post goes live.
If you don’t care about comments after that or the people who leave them why not set your blog up to not accept comments after one day? I can tell you how to do it. What, you think that would make your blog look like an unfriendly place? Same with not responding to almost all comments in my opinion.
4. Leave real comments. Here’s a truth; sometimes, if you know the person, a one line comment isn’t such a bad thing. However, if you’re not known by the blog owner, a one line comment looks like spam. Even a two line comment can look like spam. Sometimes I delete those comments, sometimes I’ll leave them, but if you haven’t really said anything I’m probably not responding to your comment. As always, if the comment doesn’t address anything within the post, it’s probably being deleted.
5. Misleading titles; stop that! In all the years I’ve had this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever left a misleading title just to get visitors. I’m not going to lie; I’m not great at titles anyway, so maybe I have a bias against being mislead.
Still, if you tell me something is going to be shocking, it had better be. If you tell me there’s one thing that’s the most important thing ever, I hope you make your case for it instead of going around the bush, mentioning it once, then going off on a tangent.
6. If you accept guest posts, do two things: write at least half of the content on your blog; read the posts before they’re released. First off, I’m probably coming to your blog because I liked your writing style or reading what you had to say. However, if you’re only writing a post every once in a while and everything else is from someone else, and they’re not regular contributors, I feel cheated. Second, if someone else’s article isn’t up to your writing standard, realize that it can only bring you down eventually, even if traffic numbers stay up because of the new content consistently being posted.
When I was accepting guest posts on my finance blog, I spent lots of time reading those things, editing some of them and sending the rest back to the writer to fix them. Frankly, that was time consuming, but I knew someone else’s bad writing would reflect on me. Please don’t give up quality for expediency and traffic.
7. It’s okay to revisit topics and thoughts you’ve previously written about if they’re timely or evergreen. Above I linked to my post talking about 7 years of writing this blog. Linking back to old posts makes a lot of sense, both because of SEO and because people who like your content will want to check out things related to new articles.
Thing is, as I was looking back through some of my content I realized that there are things I touched upon once years ago that are still pertinent, but few people are going to go searching for those old posts unless I guide them there through a new post. Thus, writing about a topic again, even if some things haven’t changed all that much, can work wonders. If you’ve changed a point of view or added something new you can always link to the old article. I need to do this more often, especially with nearly 1,600 articles here.
8. Your popups are irritating; at least let me finish reading your article. Along with some other gripes I had about blogs I was visiting in 2013, the biggest was pop-ups. I really hated it, as I addressed two versions of it in that post.
I get it; some guru told you that even though they irritate people, you’ll get lots of them to sign up for it and it’s better to care about people you’re probably going to market to and irritate a different way instead of worrying about popups irritating people who actually might want to read your blog; sigh…
Fine. If you’re going to do it anyway, why not at least think about those who are reading your content? Don’t have your popup jump out when someone gets to your page. Don’t have your popup jump up when people might be 30 seconds into reading your article, unless it’s extremely short. Don’t have your popup hiding the X we’re hoping to find as quickly as possible to close it if we’re not interested.
If it’s going to pop up every single time people stop by tell them, instead of the “lie” (misstatement) I’ve been told that it will only pop up the first time I visit. Because it’s either a lie or you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m probably not coming back… probably, since sometimes I forget and visit a second time, have that sucker pop up and immediately leave.
9. Learn the difference between fact and opinion. Most of us write opinions on our blog; that’s a fact. lol A fact is more along the lines of a tutorial where you’re telling someone how to do something, or the results of a study you’ve conducted and what your results are. Even then that’s just your fact, since for both of those examples someone might be doing those things a different way or coming up with different results.
Debating whether content is king (which I believe) or not is really more opinion than anything else. Telling someone that writing “butter” 50 times in every single blog post they write will not only hurt their website but will eventually get them delisted from Google is fact because Google told us so.
10. Worry more about your content than about keywords and SEO. This is a tough one for many bloggers but I’m going to clarify my position here. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for keywords in a post, just like we try to go with our websites. But I read many posts that feel “fake” because the writer isn’t writing naturally.
Readability is the biggest thing in the eyes of search engines these days. If their algorithms can discern what you’re talking about, it’s all good. Helping them by adding some keywords or keyword phrases will definitely help, but if it’s the only thing you’re worried about then you’re missing the concept of blogging which, in the long run, is about readers.
11. Being contrarian; don’t always write “for” the readers. I’m going against #10 but only for this one reason. I’ve had conversations with some bloggers where many of them feel their content isn’t worth anything if they don’t write to their audience. This often means condescending 3rd grade level content that either says nothing or repeats exactly what a reader can find elsewhere.
My reasoning here is to look at your writing style, your errors, your misspellings, and ask yourself this question; would you want to read this? Then ask yourself the next question; will you ever go back and read this?
As with my videos, I always go back and read my own content at least once after its published. I’ll read it when comments start to come in, or else if it’s a post that didn’t get many comments I’ll go back to see what it looks like.
This might sound like braggadocio but I tend to like most of what I write and most of my videos. There are some posts and videos that I’m not crazy about and I might go in and change a sentence or two (with videos I might go back and make them private).
One should feel comfortable with their own content; if not, your audience probably won’t be comfortable with it either.
12. Share more of what you read, and offer commentary when possible. Did you read this post? Even if you didn’t comment on it did you share it?
I’m big on sharing stuff I read, especially blogs. I share mostly on Twitter, though occasionally I’ll share on Google Plus or Facebook (rare for blog posts). When I share in other spaces, if there’s room left I’ll almost always make a little comment, whether I commented on the actual post or not. Even if I can only squeeze in a couple of words I’ll do it.
Why? I want people to know that I read it and where I might be leaning as far as my opinion of it. I tend to believe that goes a long way towards encouraging people to check it out. It helps other bloggers and helps to encourage them to write more. Also, it’s a way to get some reciprocation because people know they can trust you and trust what you write. That’s not the reason I do it but it’s a nice side benefit.
13. There are true “ranking lists” posts and then there’s linkbait. I’ve not hidden the fact that I want to be more known for blogging. I’ve started my campaign on Twitter and, in 2015, I’ll be expanding it to other social media circles, as well as making sure I highlight things from at least 3 of my blogs more often.
I also want to be mentioned on more blogs that have top 25, 50 or 100 blogs, no matter the topic. However, I recognize that some of the lists are what we call linkbait, which means you’re trying to get attention from the people who you’re highlighting and pretty much nothing else.
What’s the difference? People who are giving it real attention will say something about those blogs rather than just list them. For instance, back in 2012 I wrote a series of 19 posts on the topic Black Web Friday where I highlighted black bloggers and websites. I didn’t just pop up links to sites without commentary. I gave a bit of explanation for each link and, when possible, something about the writer.
In my opinion that was true value to the readers and not just linkbait which, if that had been my intention I’d have failed miserably because most of the bloggers and websites I highlighted never found out about it. lol
14. Don’t only be kinder in 2015 but acknowledge social issues as well. I’ve got to tell you, 2014 was a tough year for me mentally. Forget the fact that politics didn’t quite go how I had envisioned and go straight to the fact that the biggest issue that could have potentially affected me were all the stories of bad police conduct and black people… okay, black males mainly, although if I were to be fully truthful it was minorities in general.
I was bothered a lot about it. However, I didn’t write about any of it on this blog, though I really wanted to. I did address it once on my business blog and in a couple of my YouTube videos because I had to get things off my chest.
How many blogs did I visit that touched upon the subject? Not a single one. Did I visit any blogs? Lots! That’s a shame people; we can’t fix stuff if we don’t talk about it.
That one scare you? This year I participated in the Blog Action Day project, where the topic was inequality. How many of my blogging friends were a part of it? None. Did I visit any of the blogs I usually visit on that day looking for it? Yes, lots. I at least got to visit blogs of people I didn’t know to see how they wrote about it and enjoyed that, but it would have been nice to talk about the subject with people I knew. Oh yeah; that post only got 2 real comments also, which is a major shame.
I get it; social issues are scary. Here’s the problem; if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. Not only that but if you don’t let people know where you stand on something that’s important for you here and there, you run the risk of being bogarted without knowing it or without knowing who else might support your position or might even be against your position. Taking a stand takes some bravery, and even if your blog is considered a niche blog every once in a while diverting to something else makes you look like a real person.
And yes, this one is totally opinion (see #9). 🙂
Still, we can address issues like these and still be relatively nice. There are lots of very nice people online who complain about this or that every once in a while. I like to think I’m one of those people. I’ll never shy away from an opinion but it’s rare that I’ll specifically call someone out here or anywhere else. That’s not necessary; neither is bad language. You’ll always be safe visiting this blog, even if I touch upon something I know will be truly controversial to someone.
15. At the end of the day, blog because you enjoy it, comment on other people’s blogs because you enjoy the camaraderie, and share because you enjoy helping others. When I started blogging almost 10 years ago (my business blog turns 10 in February), I’ll admit that I had a business purpose for it. Thing is, almost no one was writing the types of things about blogging that I, Adrienne, Brian, Peter (he’ll be getting back to more blogging and making money tips when he has time lol) and a host of other long time friends do or have done. In a way, we were part of the first wave of bloggers writing about blogging; how cool is that?
We’re still at it all these years later. Can’t do that if you don’t enjoy it. I’ve seen lots of blogs that have left the blogosphere, never to be heard from again. Those folks didn’t enjoy it enough to continue, or got into it for a reason other than enjoyment and couldn’t flip the switch.
When it’s done for pure purposes, with other things such as making money in some fashion as a side benefit, you’ll find that writing becomes easier, sharing becomes easier, and reading other blogs isn’t a chore but a pleasure… unless the blog you’re trying to read is written badly or has too many popups.
That’s for reading. For commenting, it’s fun unless the blog moderates comments (I hate that), has captcha (hate that also), or uses commenting systems that try to manipulate you into having to create new passwords (Disqus, Livefyre… nope, not me) or is using you to help promote their blog (by having your comments show up on Google + or Facebook only).
If you don’t enjoy blogging or reading blogs or commenting on blogs… don’t participate at all. That is, unless you’re famous enough to get away with it, like Seth Godin (whose “blog” I still won’t visit), who openly admits he could care less if anyone reads it and doesn’t care what you have to say about what he’s writing. That’s okay; I may not visit his blog for that reason but I have read one of his books and liked it. See, I said something most people might find controversial then ended it with something nice (see #14 lol).
I think that’s enough; I wonder how many people will read this to the end. At least there are pictures. 🙂 These are my wishes; do you have any you’d like to mention? Enjoy your day!