Recently I put up a post on twitter looking for new people to follow because I love seeing new faces on my feed, and I love seeing everyone's crazy writing talents and what they're doing with their life. I was expecting maybe one or two replies, but man, there's been nearly 100 as of this post to come up (Super popular over here!)
I wanted to endeavour to check out all the blogs that people had commented, because really that's the nice thing to do, and how do you learn new things if you don't read? And after reading over sixty of them (I'm still going!) - I've noticed a few deterrents.
Coming from both a photography and design background, and also just as a general viewer, there's a few things that jumped out that caused me to abandon a blog page and I'm going to cover them off here, and hopefully if you're just starting out, or looking at reviewing your layout - these might help!
Having a cluttered layout
Whilst this almost seems like a bit of a no brainer, our brains don't cope very well with a lot of clutter in one space. Having a landing page (home screen) that screams that you are REALLY REALLY BUSY is enough to put anyone off, and I don't mean in the sense that you're busy with life - because power to you if you're keeping everything updated, but having too much information, or not having it sit coherently, is not going to be winning you any favours.
Not having a sign up/subscribe option (including social channels)
I came across a number of blogs through my travels that I absolutely loved, but when I went to go subscribe to their feed - there was no sign up form anywhere. I searched, and searched, and no avail. I can't emphasise this enough, if you're wanting returning readers, you need to get a subscription or mailing list going. I use Mailchimp for my mailing list, and is super easy to use. If you're using WordPress.com, or WordPress.org, there is also multiple different plug ins that you can use to get people on board!
The next call out on the same topic is using your socials. Whilst I understand not everyone has a blog tied to Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or Twitter - at the very least I know each blog had at least a Twitter as that's how I found them in the first place! Being able to see smaller snippets of someones life on the social channels is a massive thing and I know from personal experience that I'm much more likely to revisit a blog of someone's journey I see on a semi-regular basis.
Too MANY sign up options
On the flip side to the above, there was also a couple of blogs where I was FLOODED with sign up requests. There was one as soon as I got onto the page, there was one when I scrolled half way down, two on the side - man, it was over kill. Again on personal preference, I'd suggest giving your viewers a chance to read at least some of your blog before prompting them with a sign up form, unless you're offering a free product or download incentive.
There's three reasons for having a delayed pop up:
1. There is an amazing article which I will find and link that goes into detail about writing to an audience with mental illnesses. I myself suffer from anxiety terribly, and I'm not great at making rash decisions if they're suddenly pushed on me. Having a pop up straight away is 90% of the time going to make me freak out, and is a common trait for people like myself.
2. Giving your readers a chance to work out if your blog is right for them. Sometimes it won't be - and that's okay! But if you're prompting a sign up on exit, or in the middle of a blog piece, you're much more likely to capture them if they're interested in your content.
3. Lastly, if you have a pop up sign up form, it doesn't then re-pop up again, and if you're missing another sign up option, you're back up to the last point.
Marketing for days
This one might be a bit of a controversial because understandably, bloggers need to make a living. I am all for affiliate links. I'm all for promos in the side bars. What I'm not all for, and me instantly click out of one person's blog with just pure advertising. It wasn't coherent advertising either; it honestly just had a bit of everything thrown together and hoped it'd stick. Nah, if I'm investing in a quality blog, I want to be able to relate to the content and read the author, if I wanted ads - I'd spend an hour on Youtube.
This is not doing anything for your blog.
Red in general, it shouldn't be a primary colour scheme of your blog - unless you're doing a bit of a Christmas theme. It's just simple colour theory. You want your blog space to be cohesive and clear and easy to read. Fancy fonts are great in small doses, and to make a point if required, but shouldn't be the full text. Stick to a serif, or sans serif font, and a fairly neutral colour tone.
Spell check is your best friend on blogs. Using anything from Grammarly through to your trusty Word document to check your spelling is pretty essential. I saw one blog that had a blog banner with the wrong spelling "thier" - and it was such a big thing to have as something that's potentially going to be shared around social media. So please check your spelling.
Not communicating with your readers
I proactively told someone that I thought something on their blog was broken. I'd gone onto it, and knew it didn't look quite right. There was weird purple bars everywhere, where I thought photos should have been there was instead distorted images. I refreshed it, went back into it - but no bueno. What I got a response was a shrug emoji.
Kindness and politeness are traits that as humans we should all possess. If I give constructive criticism or feedback to someone, it's not out of spite. I was honestly hurt over this response, and promptly unfollowed them. Just as a blogger you're a human behind the screen, so is your reader. Respect goes both ways.
And we are done! I hope you've found this list interesting, and hopefully picked up some new things to implement in your blog. What's your tips on how to keep your readers coming back (or staying a bit longer?) Leave a comment below! And if you've found this helpful - we'd love a share!
No clickable links from the landing screen or in the posts
Unless your blog has no posts at all - there should be zero reason why you shouldn't be providing options for your readers to be clicking on, at the very least, a "previous post" button. On the front page, there should also be clickable links to your top posts. If someone is just finding your page off the internet, the likelihood of them clicking through multiple links to find your content is pretty low. Do yourself a big favour and add those bad boys onto your front page.
The landing/home screen not having any info on yourself or your blog
A few blogs that I visited had no information on what the blog was about, or the blogger. I didn't know if I was visiting a mental health blog or a travel blog - it really was a bit of a guess until you got into the articles (which I'm going to admit wasn't a stage I got to.)
Having at least something on your home page introducing either yourself, and/or your blog - is going to at least give that 10 second first impression to your reader to know what you're about. It might seem like something really small - but it's something I'd absolute have on there.