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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: Blogging Effectively-Part Three

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Blogging Effectively-Part Three

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Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland: Blogging Effectively-Part Three

Live Beautiful | Courtney Kirkland

December 1, 2010

Blogging Effectively-Part Three

Welcome back to Part Three of the Blogging Effectively with Integrity series that I’ve put together. In case you missed it, you can find the Series Introduction here, Part One here, and Part Two here. The response to this series has been a little more overwhelming than I thought. I’ve had readers emailing and tweeting me thanks and asking questions, and I appreciate those who for taking the time to contact me! I do want to mention again that I am in no way a “professional blogger.” I don’t make thousands of dollars per month writing my blog and I don’t get paid every other day for advertising and giveaways. If you want me to be completely honest, all together, I have only maeffectivewithintegrityde about $55.00 from my blog. But I have seen my audience grow immensely over the past 8 months or so, and I want to share with you how I’ve done that {aside from just a tiny amount of luck, I guess}.

Today I’m going to talk about how to turn your readers away. That’s right…a list of things you may-or may not- be doing that could be driving your readers far away from your blog. These are most likely tiny little things that you may be overlooking and may not even realize are pushing traffic away. This list was compiled via online search and from the answers given to me by YOU in the comment section of my introductory post!

- Loud Music that starts playing when you open your blog.
This is a HUGE blogging pet-peeve for most people. I watch movies on my computer most nights before bed, so usually my volume is turned up pretty high. And I do most of my blogging in the mornings. So when I open a blog and deafening music comes on before I ever even see the content, my reflex is to click out and close the window as soon as I can. Which usually leads me to never come back to that blog. When Little Man was an infant and I was just getting started in the blog world, I would go to blog after blog with music playing and I can’t tell you how many times a blogs music woke my sleeping baby. Not cool. Not saying that you can’t have music on your blog, but if you decide that you must, make sure that you place the music widget close to the top where readers can see it and have it set to pause or stop unless the reader wants to turn it on. Some people-like myself-prefer to read blogs in silence so it’s a nice courtesy to have the option.

- Frequent, unannounced periods of blogging absence.
I understand that everyone has things going on in their lives that keep them busy and sometimes overwhelmed. Believe me. I have been in that “overwhelmed and want to yank my hair out” stage for a few weeks now. It happens to us all. However, leaving your blog audience hanging without a post or a word from you for days upon days or even weeks at a time, is going to hurt your audience severely. Your traffic will slow down, and eventually may even stop. Simply because you lack any new content. This doesn’t mean that you have to write something every single day. There are weeks that come for me where I write every single day, just because the creativity is flowing; and then there are weeks where I only post two or three times. If you have to be away from your blog and aren’t going to be posting for at least three days, then take a few seconds to let your readers know. Just a quick, “Hey! I’ve got some things going on so I won’t be around much this week. I’ll be back soon so continue to watch for a new post!” or something along those lines. If you treat you blog readers like friends and extend the courtesy when you aren’t planning to be around, you will be surprised at how many readers will continue to check back. Just because you let them know that you weren’t going to be around. But when you just disappear, readers tend to delete you from their following list, etc. to cut back on their blog reading load.

- Poor Grammar and laziness in writing.
This isn’t to say that you need to spend hours correcting each sentence and paragraph like an English Professor. We mom bloggers don’t have the time for that. And it isn’t to say that you can’t abbreviate or use slang, especially when you are using it for emphasis on a post. However, constant misuse of grammar and never ending text message abbreviations make your posts hard to read and a headache to decipher. When you write a blog post, you are communicating through words. And while text jargon is apparently okay [not to me…text jargon drives me insane] on a phone to shorten your words and cut down on the length of messages, it is not appropriate for a blog post. Your blog is your essential online presence and is a way for people to genuinely get to know you. If your posts are full of constant, “omg u wud not blieve the [or da-which irks me to no end] day i had. i had sum ppl ova & we 8 lnch. they wil b bck l8r. LOL” Does this sentence give you a headache? Because it does me. And whether you believe it or not, there are blogs out there who write in this context. Better than that, there are blogs with followers who write like that.

Likewise, long run-on paragraphs and sentences show laziness and lack of interest in your writing. If you write one big long sentence like this with no purpose or point and just keep rambling on and on and on for about three or four lines in every single post that you write people are going to become frustrated by the lack of organization and the long-winded sentences in your posts it just shows that you either don’t know how to write correctly or that you don’t take the time to proofread your writing. See what I mean? Again, did that sentence make your eyes hurt? These are small things that we all learned in elementary school. And with spelling and grammar check on every blogging platform [including in Live Writer] there is no excuse for not having a mostly grammatically correct post.

- Poor Design with hard to see/read content.
You don’t have to go out and hire a professional graphic designer to have an eye appealing blog. Places like The Cutest Blog on the Block and Our Free Blog Templates have a ton of free templates, backgrounds and even headers that you can customize for a personal touch and an eye catching design. I will be one of the first people to admit, when I go to a blog if the design displays laziness and clutter, I most likely won’t read the content. This isn’t to say, again, that you have to have a big huge designer create a custom design for you {though, if you are planning to become a professional blogger, at some point you will need a custom design that reflects your branding personality…but that’s a whole different post for a different series.}. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your design isn’t what is turning your readers away. A dark background with light writing is the biggest turn-off when it comes to design. It makes the content hard to read and puts too much strain on the eyes. A light content background [preferably white] with dark text [dark, dark blues or browns or similar colors] make it easier to see your words. Similarly, make sure your words are large enough for most people to read. Tiny text and strange fonts put stress on the eyes and readers most likely won’t stick around to check out everything you have to offer.

Make sure your blog isn’t overrun with buttons and advertisements. They make a blog load slower and it can be frustrating to have your computer freeze up while trying to read a post. Also, keep your blog at a somewhat normal width. Anything overly wide leaves readers having to scroll from side to side to read the content, and that is frustrating and time consuming. You should have an About Me and Contact Page as well as labels and archives visible so that your readers [and potential business clients] can navigate your page with ease and find what they are looking for. A nice “welcome” message is also nice and friendly.

- Overly offensive, Boring Content or a constantly depressing disposition.
Foul language, the “f-bomb” in every sentence and crude, lucrative writing will leave a reader with a gaping mouth and a nasty taste in their mouth. There are very few readers who will continue to read a blog with overly offensive language. The same goes for content that is completely boring. We all go through spells in life where we feel we have nothing to write about. You don’t have to come up with some insightful, philosophical post every time you open your blog to write. But you do need quality content that appeals to your readers. By being in the “mom blog” category, we can get by with writing about things like poop, spit-up, and runny noses more often than other blogging genres can. However, constant posts about little Johnny’s constipation or acid reflux, isn’t good content. I don’t mind reading about your children. I adore reading good content with cute photos about how your child is growing or changing; and I always offer up my advice when a mother requests information on how to deal with a sickness or a phase they are going through. In fact, I frequent posts like this to read other moms’ advice for my own use. But I do this on different blogs. Various blogs. Being a mom is great, and for most of us it is our most important job. But we are women with interests outside of parenting, and those posts are the ones that I enjoy reading.

On a slightly different note, make sure your content is in fact YOUR content. Theft is a crime and plagiarism isn’t cool. If you ever get caught plagiarizing, you can most likely kiss your readership goodbye. People don’t want to read content written by others. They want to read what YOU have to say, otherwise they wouldn’t be at your blog. Too many memes and surveys or fill-ins can be boring to read as well. On occasion it’s okay, but if you fill out a survey or one of those “getting to know you” memes every single day, people will lose interest. And finally, if you write about how miserable you are or about how sad your life is, people won’t read. They just won’t. No one wants to read a blog about how horrible your life is day after day after day. I think the only exception to this is IF your blog is on your battle with depression. And then, you should make sure that your readers are aware of your content out of courtesy.

- Too many reviews and Giveaways.
While occasional product reviews and giveaways may spike your traffic, 99.9% of people will tell you that they hate to visit a blog that writes a product review every single day. Most readers don’t mind advertisements in your sidebars, etc. as long as they don’t slow the page loading time down and don’t distract readers from the content. However, too many sponsored or paid posts for advertising and constant reviews tend to make a reader question your authenticity and your honesty. Are you writing these reviews because you were compensated? Is the review a reflection of what you REALLY think or are you just in it for the money. Here is the first product review I ever did. It’s on the Schick Quattro Trim-Style. I wasn’t paid or compensated for this review. I bought a product, didn’t like it, and wanted to inform my readers. Those of the kind of reviews I like to write. The ones that I discover on my own. Taking advantage of a free product to review is great, but make sure you don’t let those kinds of opportunities overrun your blog.

I hope these tips were helpful! Did I leave anything out? Is there something that isn’t listed here that drives you up the wall when it comes to reading a blog?

Happy Hump Day all! I will be on my way to California a mere TWO WEEKS from today!!!

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