As a blogger myself who is trying to eek out a semi-informal career as a starving writer, I love to read blogs. I have a variety of interests and I read a variety of blogs- unschooling, pets, games, theology, natural living, and more.
But there are some times when I reach a blog- whether through a link or a suggestion- and I just can’t read your posts. I’m not trying to sound snarky because I know my little corner of the world is only interesting to a select number of people. I need to work on my own blog as much as I hate to admit it.
So this list is as much for myself as it is for you. There are just some things that turn me off immediately. And the things that I notice about other blogs- I am going to try to work on those things here.
1. The design
This is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t mind if your blog is a cookie cut-out theme as long as it is solid and it works. What irks me is the “flower garden” designs that seem so redundant nowadays.
Pay someone to re-do your blog but please, please don’t make it look like Grandma’s scrapbook page. It seems to be the hotness right now but when I get to your blog I see nothing of your personality. Yes, you like flowers and pretty colors and italic fonts- but so does everyone else! I sometimes find myself wondering if the SAME person designed every single one of these blogs and just changed a color or a font and sold the same idea over and over and over again.
2. Speaking of personality- blogs where you can’t tell who wrote the darn thing.
When I’m reading an article on Huffington Post or another online ‘zine, the author will be either well-known enough to me that I don’t need a bio or I won’t really care.
But when I’m reading a personal blog- I want to know the personality behind the post. Really, I want to see YOU. Whether that is through a bio link somewhere, a picture, some personal posts, or your writing style; I want to connect with you.
Because honestly, if I want information or a recommendation or even just advice, I have to trust the source.
I know some blogging “experts” preach content, content, content. But fellow bloggers can spot a money-pumper blog in a millisecond. I am going to preach to you- personality first, content second.
You have to see the integrity of the messenger before you will listen to the message.
3. Weird fonts and off-color text
Seriously this one should be a no-brainer. And yet I see it all the time.
The bright colorful text- on a dark background.
The GREY (grey!) text on a white background.
The font that is so curly and slanted that it’s harder to read than my Grandma’s hand-written birthday cards.
I can’t read it! There is a reason pens come in 2 colors- black and blue. Because grey, orange, yellow, purple, and aquamarine are hard to read on a white background. They are OK for highlighting parts of your text or for making headlines stand out.
But please, for the love of Josey Wales, don’t make all your text that way!
The grey text really gets me. After a while, the text starts to blur and look like a giant blob. Make your main text black, highlight with bold and italic, and use color for accent.
4. I can’t tell what I’m supposed to be reading
Wow you have lots of sponsors! That is great! But why are your ads and sponsors taking up all the space?
What side is the post and what side is the miscellaneous info?
Or better yet- what links are NOT spammy ads?
After personality comes content. If your buttons, links, and sponsors are taking over and oozing their way into your content and I can’t differentiate between the two I am not going to read or click on anything.
I know you make money off your blog- that is totally cool with me. But like I said above, it’s about trust. If I like you, and your content, I am going to click on an ad I find intriguing or use your affiliate link.
Make sure your blog is clear about what is YOURS and what is NOT.
Ok- now here is where I really get to beat myself up.
If I need to find something on your blog- can I easily access it? Do you have a search button, categories, a nice pretty header navigation?
If I read something I like, chances are I am going to stay around and read some more. And this is important for you too- for your stats and your traffic.
Because Google now ranks sites based on not only their hits, but how many in-site clicks you get. So if I come and read just one post and leave, that is not as powerful as if I read the one post and then click to another.
Plus, you want people to stay and chat awhile right? I mean, unless you have a money-pumper blog you WANT comments and readers and a fan-base.
So make sure people can find your best content, your specific categories of content, and your content at other sites.
That is what I am trying to work on in the coming weeks and months- improving the ole’ “nav” here at These Temporary Tents. Since I didn’t really know the power of categories and tags when I started, I have a huge mess on my hands.
6. Music or video that plays automatically
Just don’t do it. It scares the croutons out of me and it gets really annoying when you can’t find where to turn it off.
It is an evasion of my headphone privacy! Especially if I have tons of tabs open (I have 9 open as I’m writing this) and I can’t figure out which one is making that din.
Check your site. When you are logged out of your admin- when you are on a public computer at the library- and see if any of your videos, ads, or music players cause the librarian to come over and tell you skeedadle. ;0)
Remember, I’m not trying to rag on anyone’s blog here. I read blogs that sometimes meet 1 or 2 of the “pet peeves” I listed above. I might even qualify for a couple of them.
But we can all admit when we can make a few small changes and become better right?
And if you happen to LIKE the way your blog is right now, I have no qualms with you! I am glad you are confident and bold. You probably have more readers than me anyways so who am I to talk?
I admit my personal tastes shouldn’t dictate what you do over on your domain.
Just don’t expect me to “like” it enthusiastically.
Thoughts? Passive aggressive rants?