10 Reasons Why Your Blog Sucks
Your Blog Sucks
Yep, I said it but we were all thinking it. Wanna know why? Keep reading.
Okay, so I'm no blogging expert but I write a blog and I read a LOT of blogs. I read blogs about blogging, coupons/deals/freebies, married life, writing and video games. I also research a lot and inevitably my research brings me to blogs. I've noticed over the years that many bloggers are making some pretty big mistakes. Some of these mistakes make your blog suck. Are you making any of these critical blogging faux pas?
Blog Mistake #1 - Not Crediting Image Sources or STEALING Images
Okay, so this isn't going to make your blog hard to read or ruin the reader experience but unless you shot every picture on your blog, it's ILLEGAL to post images without crediting sources. On the same subject, just because you cite your source does not make it legal. In fact, unless you have permission or posting the image falls under Fair Use laws, you're actually STEALING! Under Fair Use laws, you can post images copyrighted to someone else but only if it meets certain criteria. I'm not a lawyer and will not give advice on what images you can use, so I suggest you read up on copyrights and fair use at the US Copyright Office.
Blogging Mistake #2 - Not Using Spell Check or Proofreading
We're all human and we all make mistakes whether in typing, writing or even speech. But when you're a blogger, you need to make sure your posts are as polished as possible. This means proofreading, using spell check, and/or using a grammar checking service. Honestly, I hate proofreading so I usually just skim to make sure there are no blatant errors. Then, I use the spelling and grammar plugin that comes built-in to Jetpack (for Wordpress blogs). The plugin is powered by the After the Deadline Proofreading Service. My blog posts are checked for spelling mistakes, grammar errors and typos and I'm given the opportunity to fix the errors before publishing the post. I HIGHLY recommend it if you blog or even if you're writing papers.
Blogging Mistake #3 - Forgetting to Check for Dead Links
While I understand that the internet is constantly changing and links go dead every day, it annoys me when I read a blog and click a link only to find a 404 error or something completely different from what I was expecting. You're probably wondering, how on earth can I check hundreds of links on my blog? It's simple - use a plugin. I use Broken Link Checker. Every 24 hours, the plugin checks my blog for broken links. If the plugin finds any, I'm notified and I can fix them immediately.
Mistakes #4 & 5 - Not Citing Sources and Using Poor Sources
Citing your sources can mean citing image sources but it also means telling your readers where you found your information. I read several coupon/deal blogs and it really bothers me when I see a blog posting obviously copied deals without citing sources. This is very poor etiquette and it can also get you into trouble if you copy a deal that is not on the up and up. This actually just happened a few days ago.
A blogger that I follow on Facebook posted a deal for FREE Nerf guns when using a $5 off coupon. I was already suspicious of the deal because it seemed too good to be true so I followed the link to her blog to check it out. It turned out that my suspicions were correct. The coupon was good on select Nerf guns (ones that cost $20+) and the "deal" worked by using the coupons on a Nerf gun that was not included on the coupon. That is coupon fraud. I promptly notified the blogger and she responded by saying she was simply sharing another blogger's deal. The problem was that she did not cite her source and this source was not very reliable.
She had copied the information almost verbatim and posted it as her own. After receiving my message, she immediately removed the post. If I had not seen the post, it could have ended badly for her. Coupon fraud holds a penalty of up to $5 million in fines and 17 years in prison (source). She contacted the original source of the post to inform them that the deal wasn't correct. What happened? They laughed at her, blocked her from their Facebook page and left the post up. So take this as a warning: always research your source to make sure it's legitimate.
How Long Have you Been Blogging?
Blogger Mistake #6 - Leaving Your Readers Hanging
If you go several days or even weeks without posting any blog posts, your readers will likely go elsewhere but may not return whenever you do. If you never finish a series of posts, your readers will run to a new blog and probably never look back. There are several things you can do to make sure this never happens. The Simple Dollar has a great post explaining how NOT to leave your readers hanging.
This does NOT mean that you shouldn't write series posts that you finish up the next day or even a few days later. You can certainly do that as long as you actually follow up.
Blog Mistake #7 - Too Many Ads
This is not just a pet peeve - it's a legitimate complaint that you should address. If you have more ads than readable content, your blog sucks. Yes, I know that you need to make money off your blog. Yes, I know that ads are one of the few ways to do that. But no, I will not stand for being bombarded with 50 ads on one page.
If you must have ads, follow these simple rules: keep them relevant; keep them small and keep them separate from your content. Keep them relevant means don't advertise golf bags if you blog about books. Keep them small means don't hog the entire page with ads. Keep them separate means make sure the reader can tell the difference between advertisements and content.
Blog Mistake #8 - Too Much Selling
If you want your blog to make money, chances are that you're selling something. You could be selling an eBook that you wrote. Or you could be selling that awesome product that Company XYZ sent you to review. Either way, you're probably selling something. That's typically not a problem, unless that's ALL you do.
People don't read blogs just to buy things. They read them to learn or to be motivated. If all you write about is some new gadget to buy or a new book that you supposedly "love" (more about that later), people will probably get annoyed. Give your readers a reason to come back. Write a tutorial or share a family recipe. Write about a product or service that you hated. Whatever you do, make sure you're honest and helpful. Don't write blog posts just so you can sell Avon, Beachbody, DoTerra, or whatever MLM product line you sell.
Blogger Mistake #9 - Dishonesty
I'm sad that I even have to cover this topic but I see it WAY too much. If a company sends you a product to review, you should be 100% completely honest in your review of that product. If you didn't like it, say so. You are doing your readers a complete disservice if you say that you liked a product when you really did not like it at all. You are also making yourself look bad. You look like all you're doing is selling, regardless of what the product is. If you don't like writing negative reviews, that's perfectly alright (don't post that review), but please make sure you're being honest when you do post reviews.
Blog Problem #10 - Your Blog Takes Too Long to Load
Along with reason #7, this is also a legitimate complaint that most bloggers need to address. I'm on a broadband connection with a 10Mbps download speed and I frequently run into blogs that take 10, 20 or even 30 seconds to fully load. That is completely unacceptable!
If I see a blog is taking too long to load, I immediately hit the back button. I don't want to sit here waiting and waiting to load a page that may or may not even be useful to me. If you didn't already know, this is called "bouncing" and having too many readers do this increases your bounce rate which reduces the worth of your blog.
Bouncing readers aren't the only thing you have to worry about when your blog is slow.Google is starting to penalize websites that load slowly by lowering their search engine placement (source). This is a huge deal if you count on search engines to bring traffic to your blog. You may be wondering "Does my blog load too slowly?"
Guess what - there are several websites that you can use to check that. I use GTmetrix and Pingdom Tools. Once you've tested your site, you can start fixing it. GTmetrix has a good Wordpress Optimization Guide but if you're not very tech savvy, you may want to hire someone to help you. There are some things you can do to speed up your site, regardless of your tech ability:
- Reduce the size of images before uploading - If you have Photoshop, you can use the "save for web and devices" feature. If not, just make sure you're using JPEG images and decrease the dimensions to 800x600 pixels or less.
- Decrease the number of ads - Every ad has to load from another server (unless you uploaded the images to your website first) and this increases load times.
- Decrease the number of badges - Do you really need 100 badges on your site? Like ads, these all load from another server and this can completely tank your site speed.
- Use the Read More Tag and Limit the Number of Posts on the Homepage - We do not need to read the full text of 10 blog posts on your homepage. Not only is it annoying to have to scroll for what seems like forever but it also slows loading. Use the Read More tag and limit yourself to 5 posts on the homepage.
Increase the Speed of Your Website
So there you have it - the top 10 reasons that your blog sucks. How many mistakes were you making? I'll admit that my blog has made some of these mistakes before (ahem, #6) but we've been actively working to make our blog better for our readers. That's part of what prompted this blog post. I love reading blogs, and writing this one, but it drives me nuts to see these mistakes being repeated over and over.
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© 2015 Jessica