Blogging, in the long term is all about growing and getting better. Everyone wants to be read by more people, get more comments and have a huge blog, but not everyone can do that. There are many things you can do to turn a reader away very quickly, and you should really avoid these things. A select few that have me closing my browser faster than you can resize it follow.
5. Widget City
Social bookmarking and networks are great, but when I come to your site for the first time I don’t want to be bombarded by what you Digg, your del.icio.us bookmarks, flickr pictures, Facebook profile, or a big image of how many blogs link to you on Technorati. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of having my latest 10 diggs on my blog, but it’s totally unobtrusive and at the bottom of the page. Things like your Twitter and Pownce status can be integrated very nicely but they will slow you down, keep that in mind.
How to fix this? Just integrate them nicely. Make sure they don’t break up the flow or ruin your layout like those horrible MyBlogLog widgets.
4. Too Many Ads/Monetized too Soon
Many web savvy users are “ad blind”, including my self. I don’t care if a site has a couple ads trying to make some money but if I’m beaten over the head with AdSense, text links, banners, images, ads in the content and PayPerPost, then I’m leaving your site likely to never return. The worst is when all this happens when the site is still young and doesn’t see a lot of visitors. Not everyone is the next John Chow! Just because you put ads on your site doesn’t mean you’ll make money. Every time you put an advertisement on your site, it cheapens what you have to say. That’s not to say advertisements are bad, of course, as they can always be used tastefully.
How to fix this? Don’t cram all your ads above the fold, maybe take a couple out and if your site isn’t ready, don’t monetize!
3. Generic Free Template
When you use a WordPress theme, Blogger template or whatever, and it’s been used thousands of times before you, you’re automatically losing the battle. If readers have seen the design before, the content isn’t going to matter much because they might not even get there.
How to fix this? Even if you can’t afford to have one made for you, there are still great free themes that aren’t used widely. Google it, but look farther into the search. Use the blog search too, to find the release notes from bloggers, this is where the good stuff is.
2. Poor Writing Skills
No one is perfect, and everyone understands that, but a little effort goes a long way. Things like mixing up words, totally misspelling words beyond comprehension and the small stuff. Capitalizing your “I”s and sparing your readers the Leet Speak. Some words that you really shouldn’t mix up:
- your and you’re
- there, they’re and their
- sense, cents and all their misspellings
- scene, seen, etc…
It may be redundant, but mistakes like that are made everyday, even by the most read bloggers.
How to fix this? Just a simple spell check, but even that won’t catch everything, you still need to proofread.
1. Fake Comments or Reader Count
The number one thing that has me closing faster than anything else is when you fake numbers. Faking comment amounts, actual comments and feed numbers in an attempt to get people to think your site is popular and in turn subscribe kills me inside. I have the SearchStatus FireFox plugin that tells me the Alexa Rank and PageRank of each site I visit. If I see PR0, Alexa in the millions and thousands of subscribers, paired by 50 comments on each post, it’s too obvious. Simply checking if their FeedBurner feed chiclet is actually theirs or a static image will usually show their ‘sneakiness’. Doing this doesn’t really work at all, because if you have to do it in the first place chances are your site isn’t worth reading anyways.
How to fix this? Either show the real numbers or don’t show them at all.