I surf around quite a lot of blogs, thanks mainly to blog exchanges like Expose Your Blog which are like StumbleUpon but based only on blogs, and have the added bonus of gaining you reciprocal traffic. I used to surf on other exchanges too, but they are all losing traffic and are poorly maintained. Expose Your Blog is relatively new and quite a small but vibrant community of those enthusiasts of personal blogging that haven’t defected to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others.
I thought I’d share a few reasons why I might be put off by blogs, and tune out if I land on them again. If you can think of anything else, I’d be pleased to hear it in the comments. Feel free to share your pet peeves too :).
Reading: If your blog is hard to read, then why read it?
- Don’t use busy backgrounds that interfere with the foreground text, especially if that foreground is not separate from the background because it’s semi transparent.
- Don’t use super-small text or change text size, colour or font mid posting. A different style for quotes, captions and other elements can work, but stick to one style per type of content and make your main text as simple and easy to read as possible.
- Don’t make adverts obscure the key content you’re trying to push. Your blog will not make you rich, get over it.
- Don’t have too many wacky widgets all over the place. Pick the ones that best represent your personality and stick with them if you must have a couple. Try to keep them aligned so that there aren’t loads of different widths of widget all higgledy-piggledy on the page.
- Don’t have so much fixed content at the top of your blog that it’s not obvious where the fresh, unread content starts. This last point is particularly important on blog rotation sites because someone who’s already read your blog wants to identify what’s new since last time!
- Do make sure there is good contrast between your foreground and background. Some people have awful screens; some people are not blessed with good eyesight.
- If you are going to use teasers, make sure I get a good idea of the article content before I click a link to read more.
Writing: that’s what your visitors are here for.
- Don’t apologise for the lack of posts, or make promises you might not keep like posting more often soon. It will only look worse as the most recent posting date recedes into the past.
- Do set a reasonable rhythm of posting and stick to it. No point being one post a day for a while then nothing for ages. Better to set a reasonable goal for yourself and stick to it. I try to make an update about every ten days, I can’t manage more. If I have a great idea for a post a couple of days in a row, I store them up as writing prompts for the next post.
- Commenters: they might want to write too. Don’t make life difficult for them by requiring them to have a specific website ID like Blogger or OpenID. Let them post anonymously, using either a CAPTCHA or moderation to stop spam. I’ve actually typed nice comments to people only to find that I can’t post them anonymously. The nice comment is thus wasted, and my time with it. Yes, I have a Google account but I don’t want it all over the blogosphere.
- Crazy punctuation, over-use of quotes, lots of exclamation and question marks. Tough one this, because some people can do it and it totally fits in with their character and works. Other times it just looks like filler and detracts from an otherwise interesting read.
I edit myself a lot and try to be as good as possible, but obviously I am guilty of some of these crimes. I’m happy to hear your suggestions if you have constructive criticism of this blog.