By: Nicki Porter
My name is Nicki, and I’m a blog whore.
Not as in, “I turn tricks on the corner for pageviews,” but as in, “I have over 224 blogs in my Google Reader and I tell myself I can’t add any more but then I see a new blog and it’s smart and funny and well-written and I tell myself just one more can’t hurt and then before I know it I’ve got my laptop under the covers and I’m rocking back and forth and muttering ‘just...one...more...before...bed’ and I’m seriously considering therapy but my psychiatrist says no he still hasn’t developed an RSS detox program and that I should probably stop calling this number until I develop a real psychosis.”
“Blog whore” seemed a lot more concise.
But it’s a problem. My RSS reader regularly has over 300 unread posts, and on the bad days, it’s well over 500. I can’t tell you my all-time record of unread posts. Not because I’m being coy. Because Google Reader stops counting after a thousand.
I’m not proud.
But what I am proud of, however, is that I can judge a blog’s character in five minutes or less. Believe me, I’m being generous: the average reader will give you 30 seconds before he’s back to the SERPs. If you have any chance of hooking that reader - let alone self-proclaimed blog whores like myself - you’ve got to make a strong impression.
And we blog whores know all about strong impressions.
So put your blog through the wringer and give your blog the Patented* Nicki Porter Blog Litmus Test - here are the Nine Reasons I’m Not Reading Your Blog.
*Not actually patented.
1. You Learned Grammar and Spelling From Professor MySpace
It’s not your layout. It’s not your spammy ads. It’s not your sleazy persona or your lack of original content. The first turn-off I see is your grammar.
If you can’t string a sentence together, I’m not wasting my time with you. And if I see the word “LOL” three times in your first paragraph, I’m gone. If I believe an illiterate kitten could spell better than you, I’m hitting the back button. If you have no conception of what a comma is other than to form one eye of your winking emoticon, I’m leaving on the midnight blog train to Georgia, folks.
2. Your Site Trips My Spam and/or Sleaze Detectors
Dude, what’s with the ads? I’m trying to read your writing, not get hit in the face with three ads for Chinese medical supplements. Also, if you’re selling your eBook too hard, if you’re pushing your Free Consultations or your Upcoming Webinar or your New EBook, I’m immediately turned off from your blog.
Don’t sell me. Woo me.
3. Your Layout Sucks (Sorry.)
If you can’t put five minutes into your layout, why should I give you five minutes of my time? If you’re serious about blogging, your blog should reflect that. Premium WordPress themes are really the way to go, but I’ll take just about anything that doesn’t look like it came from MySuperCuteBlogLayouts.com.
We’ve come a long way since Geocities, kids. There’s no excuse for those shoddy, thrown-together blog layouts other than you didn’t care enough to take the time to either a.) learn basic HTML or b.) pay someone who does.
4. There Are No Line Breaks. Anywhere.
Walls of text = not okay.
I don’t care how much of a Very Serious Writer you are, if your sparkling prose and sharp wit goes on for 50 lines, I’m not going to read it - and neither will anyone else.
Internet users don’t read. We skim. To quickly consume and appreciate what you’re saying, we need short paragraphs, eye-catching pictures, and plenty of headers. So find your inner Ronald Reagan and tear down those text walls. Your readers will thank you.
5. Similarly: There Are No Pictures. Anywhere.
I’m not a fan of cheesy stock images, but they’re better than nothing. If you have beautiful pictures on your site, I’ll give you a fast-track pass to the “Subscribe” lane. It’s a two-for-one: not only will I get terrific writing delivered regularly in my RSS reader, but I’ll get beautiful images, too.
6. You. Are. Boring.
Your content says the same thing I’ve seen at all the other blogs. You have zero sense of humor. You have nothing interesting to say and you bring nothing new to the table. You regularly blog about jock itch. I don’t know, dude, you’re just boring.
Step it up! Use your sense of humor. Give me something new. Post something I haven’t seen on all the other blogs. Show me how you can interest me on a daily basis and I’ll stop to listen.
7. You Never Post/You Post Too Often.
If it’s August and you haven’t posted since March, why should I bother? How do I know you haven’t lost interest in this whole blogging thing? You don’t show commitment, so I’m not going to commit to reading your blog.
On the flip side (and something I actually find much worse than posting infrequently), you post too much. It’s blogs like yours that send my unread post count into the stratosphere. If you’re running a massive blog - a news site, for example, or a blog with a full-time staff - that’s different (but if you’re that wildly successful, I don’t think you’d be getting your advice from a 20-something self-admitted blog whore). If you post meaningful, amazing content several times a day, that’s also different.
If you have something meaningful to say, say it. If not - if you’re writing something because It’s Wednesday and I Always Post on Wednesday - don’t waste my time.
8. You’re a Know-It-All.
As a blogger, you want to be the “likable expert:” you know what you’re talking about, sure, but you’re still relatable. You’re human. You’re approachable. I don’t care if you did go to culinary school or major in bedazzling, I’m here at your food/craft blog because I want to learn, not to be lectured. Help me. Teach me. But do it as a peer, not a professor.
9. You Have No Voice.
This is the biggie. There are billions of blogs on the Internet. Why should I read yours? What sets you apart?
With few exceptions, blogs are built on words. If yours are just like everyone else’s, I’ll pass. Show me passion. Show me fire. Show me your killer sense of humor, your self-deprecating jokes, your witty prose. I can get knowledge from a textbook. I want something different from a blog. I want a voice. I want a voice so unique I can tell who wrote it within the first few lines. I want a voice so strong it knocks me off my feet.
Give me that voice, and I’ll give you that blog subscription. End of story.
Do you have a blog? Leave your URL in the comments - I’d love to check it out!