Sedition.com’s “The 12 biggest problems with your blog” is a brilliant summary of the most commonly found problems, and distractions, on many blogs.
Here are some highlights that had me dancing around the room so much, they bear some repeating:
12) The banner graphic. Regular visitors don’t need 18% of the page space taken up by “MY NAME IS MUDD” or whatever clever bit sums you up as a person. They’d rather have the room to read…
11) Bad opinions. I am a fan of opinions wherever original thought lurks behind them. No one is a fan of the political opinions of a 22-year-old who doesn’t know who was President before Clinton, that we have an electoral college, and that both parties live off of corporate quid pro quo and filthy Political Action Committee money…
9) Proofing you’re grammer spelling. I know “its” and “their” and “comprise” and such are not always automatically typed correctly or used where they belong. Make an effort. It makes you look smart…
7) Wishy-washy hyperbole. If your writing is full of “in my opinion,” “probably,” “it seems to me,” and “it just might turn out,” then you are clearly unconvinced of your own ideas. Don’t waste everyone else’s time with your stream of consciousness angst…
5) Comments. I didn’t come to your site to see how many friends you have who don’t know what a spellchecker is. The percentage of comments worth reading is a generous 4%. So if I suffer through 24 “Don’t you know Jesus died for you, asshole” and “That’s a good one, let me bore you for 8 paragraphs with how I would’ve done it,” I might get to one comment worth reading…
3) Frequency over quality. No one needs to be told it’s Christmas or that you’re on vacation or that the bar was smoky. And while we’re at it, if you need an icon to show what mood you’re in, your writing might not be ready to share with the world…
2) Repetitious redundancy. If it’s been linked at 100 other sites and discussed by writers you know have better points to make than you do, don’t clog up Google’s caches with one more page saying, “Look what I just read on the Drudge Report along with 2 million other people today.”
The sound you hear in the background of your computer right now is applause. Yep, this is brilliant stuff said very brilliantly. Sparkling.
I’ll let you check out the article to get to point number one. I hate to be totally redundant.
I started to think about what would be on my top 12 biggest problems with your blogs list. I agree so much with this list, let’s see how I can be original with my own list.
- Too Many Gizmos and Gadgets: Once you figure out how easy it is to add crap to your blog, you reach that phase of wanting everything and thinking everything is essential to have. This includes polls, asides, showcasing most recent comments, mood graphics, what music I am listening to right now, weather reports, geographic locations and maps, tag clouds (heat maps) everywhere or before content, and anything that blinks, dances, clicks, or whirls. Get past that phase now.
- Lack of Topic Focus: I visit specific blogs for specific information. When you come here you expect to read about WordPress and blogging, and that is the meal that I serve. If you are blogging about your life, then blog about your life and leave computer talk and movie reviews elsewhere. Stay on topic and become the expert on that topic, whatever it is.
- Give Me a Reason to Return: I really think that bloggers don’t concentrate on this aspect enough. You want an audience badly yet you do little to provide us with a reason to return. Tease us with upcoming stories, give us quality content, and give us a reason to return to learn more.
- Original versus Redundant: As pointed out above, if it makes the top of Digg or Slashdot, the odds are that everyone is writing about the same thing, so just give your audience a pointer to it if you have to, but I’d rather see your perspective and opinion on the subject in addition to the heads-up. Tell me why you think this is important and how this information impacted your life and decisions, then I’ll really be interested in it and have more information.
- Comment Obsessed: I’m so tired of seeing blogs with Most Recent Comments highlighted on the front page or all pages. As mentioned above, most comments are totally useless, especially gossipy babble that adds absolutely nothing to your blog other than to make you feel good because someone responded. Most Recent Comments clutters things up. Unless you are running a bulletin board, chat, or other communication service, no one cares who said what except you.
- Stealing Content is Illegal: I’m so thrilled that you like what I have written. LEAVE IT ON MY BLOG and point to it from yours. Don’t copy. Do not copy my entire post. Do not think you are doing me or anyone else a favor by stealing my content and putting it on your blog, even with my name and a link. Don’t do it. Got it? Same applies to everyone else. If you love what they wrote, tell the world why you love it and provide a link and excerpt in a blockquote, but leave the original where it is. Are you sure you got it? Good. I’ve found too many blogs stealing content and showcasing it as it is theirs. Write your own crap, leave ours alone.
- Learn to Write and Learn to Spell: I’ve gone on and on about this before, but honestly, it seems that it can’t be said enough. Spell checking is easy, so do it. Blogging offers you a chance to constantly work at your writing, improving it as you go along. If you aren’t improving your writing, or English or whatever language you are blogging in, over time, then you will lose your audience.
- Eye R a Gr8 Blogger: Cutesy shortcuts in the language and Leet Speak is fine for children, but obnoxious for anyone who somehow graduated from high school. Stop it.
- Teach Me: I love a good opinion, but I like learning things more often. Unless you are an amazingly gifted commentator, satirist, and editorialist with the gift of gab and opinion, then teach us. Tell us how to do things better, or worse. Tell us something we should know or shouldn’t know. Let us sit at the feet of your blog and absorb your knowledge, oh, wise one.
- Be Personal Without Being Personal: Sedition.com said we don’t need a graphic to tell us what mood you are in. Exactly right. Nor do we need to know what music you were listening to at the moment you wrote whatever you wrote. Unless you are selling the music, and you are writing about the music you are listening to, we’re really not interested. We want to know about you, the blogger, your expertise and perspective, but we don’t want to know that you just had a cup of coffee or went to the toilet or anything else along that kind of personal and private information unless the topic at hand is the coffee or public restroom.
- Make Me Think: The biggest problem I see with most blogs is the lack of interaction with the audience, and you get that interaction by getting your audience to stop and think about what you are saying, why you are saying it, and get them to respond on whether or not what you are saying is a good thing or totally nuts. If your blogging has a purpose, then make sure I know what your purpose is and then make me think about it. If you can stop me in my daily, rush around tracks and make me think, you’ve got a fan, and I’ve got a reason to come back.
- Help Me Visit Your Blog: And the number one problem I find with blogs is lack of good site navigation. The premiere WordPress Theme, Kubrick, started a trend that made me crazy. The blog post page (single post view) features no site navigation other than next and previous posts. No sidebar, no recent posts, no most popular posts, no categories, no Pages, no tags, nothing. Unfortunately, a lot of Themes are now based upon Kubrick, spreading this flaw all over the web.
When I arrive on your Kubrick-based blog from a search engines, I’m landing there because that post came up in the search results. If I want to look around and see what else might be of help, and find out more about the author and this blog, the only way is to go to the front page which offers this information is by clicking the header or blog title. That’s not much help.
Help the visitor move around on your blog, find the information they need, and find out what you are all about and what you have to say on all your subjects.
So, do you have a top 12 list of problems you have found with blogs? Let’s hear what your list is so we can all learn what not to do, and then what to do, and how to do it better.
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