Regardless, I read A LOT of blogs. Blogs about blogging, food blogs, design blogs, personal blogs, fitness blogs, gardening blogs… Many have millions of readers. Some only have five or six. And while many smaller sites will abso-freaking-lutely take off, you can always tell a newbie from a pro, and not because of the design or content. No, newbies often make such basic, ridiculous mistakes it makes readers never want to come back. So here are the six habits I see over and over, making any blogger look like they have no idea what they’re doing:
Habit #1: The Introduction
About page saying, “Hi, I’m Bob.” Just get into it please? Or, even worse…
About pages starting off in the third person then joking about how lame it is to write in the third person when it’s obvious who’s writing it, then switching to the first person. This was funny the first time. And I remember the first time. I did a little chuckle. But then I started reading it on a dozen other blogs and it started getting old. Raise your hand if you’ve seen this neat little trick? It’s 100% clever and hilarious the 16th time, isn’t it? [insert sarcasm here]
Habit #2: The Contact Info
Few people start blogs simply to write – there’s a reason blogging is public. We have journals for journaling, so you either want to chronicle a journey friends and family can read, promote a business and/or share what you love with the world. Whatever your reasoning, you need a way for people to get in touch. Mostly because so many fabulous opportunities come your way when you blog – interviews, books, features, jobs… Just read the backlog of jargon-free interviews to see amazing things that have happened simply because people have put themselves out there.
If you’re adamant you only blog for yourself, fine. But what if you write something someone doesn’t like? Or you’ve used an image you weren’t supposed to use? Posting contact information makes sure you don’t make any silly legal mistakes.
Habit #3: The Navigation Menu
I know you want to stand out, and part of this post rags on bloggers who look like replicas of each other, but a navigation menu is like a table of contents or index in a book. Why-oh-why would you make it difficult for people to find their way around?
I’ve seen bloggers play with the title of their about page and instead of calling it “About” they say “Me” or “What’s Up?” These are okay because it’s sort of obvious, but I’ve seen some of the most random titles for an about page that not only confuses the reader, but results in a lot of random clicking around, eventually leading to clicking out of the blog entirely.
Habit #4: The Share Buttons
You NEED to make your content shareable. Or else, guess what? No one will share it. Problem is, too many new bloggers add 50,000 buttons to their posts. One of the button sets that puts me into a fierce rage is the one that expands when you hover over it. Because some times they won’t close or they block the content and way too often slow down your site.
Pick three to four buttons and MAKE SURE THEY WORK. Half the time these epic share bars don’t function when you click. Or, they take you to Twitter, with only the long link in the comment field. Meaning you still need to shorten the link, copy the headline, find the person’s Twitter handle… It’s a frustrating process that means your content simply won’t get shared.
Habit #5: The Links
I’ve found an interesting phenomenon with linking – new bloggers and massive bloggers (like news sites) won’t link out. I guess the beginners are too worried readers will leave their blog, but I bet most of them either don’t know how to link or don’t see the value. The bigger blogs don’t need to link out and are also scared of losing traffic. It’s interesting. (I’m I the only one who’s fascinated by people who don’t link?) For more on why linking is so important, read this ancient post on getting over it.
Habit #6: The Apology
It’s shocking how many new bloggers post something along the lines of “Well, I haven’t posted in a while” or “Sorry it’s been so long!” Do you EVER see professional blogs do this? Or even those Hit Personal Blogs? No. You don’t.
Why? First of all, hit blogs don’t get neglected. But it’s also because a) it sounds like you think the world has been waiting with bated breath for your next post and b) it calls your inconsistency to attention. Both show you in a negative light.
Habit #7: The Musings
Musings. Ramblings. Observations. Or, even worse, naming your blog after Eat, Pray, Love. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m baffled people keep doing this.
Here’s all I’m going to say about this:
1. Define your niche. “Musings” isn’t a niche unless you’re totally okay with only your mom and Auntie Barb reading it.
2. Be a little more creative. Please. If I see one more blog repeating this pattern I might scream. Or call their hosting company.