Worst blogging advice, ever

July 31, 2015
Worst bloggingtips ever

I have no ideal what those odd little drips are.

Anyone who blogs has read the zillions of posts chock-full of advice about how to increase readership on your blog.  I’ve read them, too, and have concluded that most of them are full of, well, merde.  Pure shizzle.

Here is some of the worst blogging advice, ever. In my opinion. You let me know what you think.

Write interesting content

I see this exhortation all the time and there’s never any detail about what it means. All by itself, it is the most ridiculous advice I’ve heard.  Interesting is in the eye of the beholder. I may think one of my posts is the best thing since sliced bread; you may be totally uninterested in it.  When someone advises bloggers to write interesting content and offers no further advice, well, they’re just filling space on the screen. In fact, I know a blogger who writes some of the dullest posts I’ve ever read and her traffic is double mine. Trust me, they’re dull.

Better advice is to know your blog’s audience and write content that either helps them, makes them think or that they’d enjoy.

Avoid high bounce rates by writing long copy

All I can say to this is “No.”  Bounce rates mean the length of time between clicking on your link and leaving your website. The thought is that the longer the copy, the longer a reader sticks on your site. Have you ever seen super-long copy composed of meaningless, extraneous words on the screen, repetitive and full of unnecessary verbiage? When I see posts that go and on I simply bounce. Just saying. Buh-bye.

If a post merits length, by all means, write long. But don’t write superfluous copy just to keep people on your site. Because they’ll bounce like I do.

And speaking of avoiding bounce rates, there is a comment program that tells commenters that their comment is “too short” and that they haven’t “spent sufficient time on the blog.”  I follow one blogger that uses this, and I love her, really love her, but I find it just plain wrong to force someone to stay on your site or post a longer comment.  I found myself leaving her screen to go do other things and then hitting post a few minutes later. So, is that really a true calculation of how long I was on her site? It isn’t. I was reading something else. Maybe that’s ok with her because it ups her numbers, but it’s not ok with me. It’s a pain in the rear. Now, I read but rarely comment at all because I don’t feel like being admonished by a comment program.

Reply to every comment

Well, I have to admit, the objective–a dialogue–is good. But it is impractical: a blogger who gets a lot of comments can spend all day thinking of good replies and posting them. Also, the truth that most of the time, I don’t want to get a reply when I post a comment to another blog because it fills my inbox with mail that tells me they said “Thanks so much for your comment.” I pretty much delete those unread. I rarely return to see if anyone has responded to my comment.

The only time that’s different is if a discussion is forming. That does happen on my blog and other blogs, and I do like to participate in them by replying. But let me go on record as saying that unless there’s a discussion fomenting, no need to thank me for my comment. I’m good.

Participate in link drop groups to get more readers

This has its pros and cons. If it’s an affinity link drop group, such as midlife women, you really can get more regular readers from dropping your link for them to comment on. I’ve found numerous blogs that I subscribe to or follow through these affinity groups.  But a sheer link drop group without a commonality other than blogging is another thing. Are you really getting more readers? Or are people just dropping a comment so you’ll drop one on theirs?

A good percentage of the time, link drop readers don’t even read the post. I can always tell because their comments have nothing to do with what I wrote but what they assume from the headline. And then there are the spam-like comments from link droppers that say nothing, like “Awesome post! Thanks for this!”

Link drops bring up ethical questions when it’s a sponsored post on which the blogger wants to show the sponsor traffic and comments.  It’s the rare sponsored link that shows me something I need or want. It’s happened, but not very often. I may click and comment, but I forget about it right away. For example, I really don’t care that one of the 15 ways you can use a Huggie is as yarmulke and I can figure out for myself that one can help clean up a spill. Are sponsors really getting valuable impressions from someone like me, who will never, ever buy a Huggie? Who click and run?

arton86-1You may be wondering why this is on my mind and it’s because I’ve been looking at all this advice as I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to do with this blog. I get that my blog isn’t for everyone and I’m good with that. It’s a blog for people with life experience under their belt or that want to benefit from the experience of their elders (hehehe). I’m never going to have mass appeal. Smart, thoughtful people read it, and I like that fact. But to enjoy most of these posts, you really do have to have time to think and not everyone has that time.  And while I’ve toyed with sponsored posts over the year, I’m doing fewer and fewer because I realize that they don’t fit my mission.

Most bloggers would like to expand their readership and I’m among them. But I’m not so sure I’ve seen much good advice out there, advice that really does build the kind of thoughtful readers I’m seeking.

And as usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you.

40 comments on “Worst blogging advice, ever
  1. Michelle says:

    Love it!

    If a blog post is very long, then it better be REALLY interesting, or I’m not reading it. I have a short attention span, which is why I love reading blogs..short, sweet, entertaining or helpful.

    I agree very much with you.

    I still respond to nearly all of my comments, mostly because I want people to know how much I appreciate that they took the time to read my blog..and also because the interactions are so entertaining….but I agree, that is hard to keep up with..very difficult.

  2. pia says:

    There’s a program that tells you….I would never comment simply because I find that both demeaning and I don’t like to be told what to do.

    That’s why I hate most blogs that tell you how to blog. I know I’m not everybody’s cup of tea and I’m good with that

    When I first began blogging almost 11 years ago I read a lot of blogs that gave advice because I’m a reader, blogging was new and I was looking for hints. Only most advice was so dumb I decided to do the opposite. (The only good advice was not to have music automatically playing–yuck–but blogging was relatively new.) I kept a list of these blog. A year later my blog was doing incredibly well and those blogs—not so good.

    But it was good to read as many blogs as possible to see the great, good, bad and ugly. Also at the time I was doing it for writing practice as I thought people only read political blogs.

    I did find a link exchange. I had no idea what a link was but put my blog in it. Changed my life overnight. If I had only known what a link was, what a blogroll was and much more….didn’t matter. Put me on their blogrolls anyway. And I made great friends. It became self–selective. My friend had a blog rewriting Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary for the modern age. People had even crazier blogs. Two things in common. The writing was uniformly good and the blogs weren’t mainstream.
    Bloggers in that crowd married each other.

    Somebody paid my way so I didn’t have to read other blogs to get credits. When I realized that I felt creeped out and violated. So I do very few link groups now and they consist of mostly women.

    Blogging, to me, is whatever you want it to be, and (because we all want readers–not followers, hate that) what people will read. People should have fun with their blogs

    Oh you aren’t giving an award for longest comment that probably bores people? : )

  3. I think people blog for all kinds of reasons so it’s always going to be what fits them. I think what your saying is that instead of increasing your readers concentrate on increasing your online relationships. Which is always good. I try to do a little of both. I like the money that the sponsored posts bring in if it’s the right fit for me, but my main goal is bringing awareness to Alz while also practicing my craft. Others are all about the money and some I have no idea what they are about.

  4. Laurie Oien says:

    I’ve had slow reader growth mainly because I’ve chosen not to use my blog for sponsored link drops, but to use it to relay my personal thoughts and to improve my writing. I love all the things that you mentioned and agree with them. If people like reading what I have to share that’s a huge bonus for me. However, finding your selective readers can be a challenging and daunting task at times. I must remind myself A LOT why I’m blogging in the first place. I like what your blog has to offer. I can learn from you.

  5. SourgirlOhio says:

    But now I NEED to know how to use a Huggie as a yarmulke before I take my mom to a Shabbat service tonight…

    But seriously, I love this list. I am a self-admitted bad blogger and I would hate blogging if I had to follow a bunch of guidelines. I have found a ton of excellent blogs with 50 followers. And there’s a lot of crap out there that is super popular because society likes crap.

  6. Carol Graham says:

    Good point about the bounce rate. Hadn’t thought of that. When a post is too long I often stop reading it or skim it unless it really grabs my attention. I am also irritated when the flag comes up to tell me I didn’t stay on the site long enough or my comment wasn’t long enough. Sometimes it does not warrant a longer one.

    As far as comments go, I respond to every one on both my blogs. I can’t imagine not responding when someone talks to me — but I do understand what you are saying when the comment is meaningless.

  7. Randy Combs says:

    Many of the how to blog articles are really geared toward the business to business market. Often, business sites create short generalized articles which provide no value to the reader.

    Your story should be as long at it takes to tell your story.

  8. Amy says:

    I have been toying with the idea of “linkups, but only with blogs that are similar in topic to mine. I have read many blogs to try to get a handle on getting.my own blog going. I found some great ones that I read regularly, but others that were duds. Some intimidated me by their brilliance. I thought I could never write like that. Then I decided to just write what I felt like writing. If a blog doesn’t come naturally, isn’t fun, why bother with it? Yes, I want readers. But using all these tools to get them seems somehow contrived. Be honest, real, consistant and the readers who really do enjoy your blog with come and keep coming back. I do comment with a thank you when people comment on my blog. I do like it when conversations get going in comments. But first comes natural content. People can tell when spmething is contrived and forced and really just words fllling space and they move on.

  9. You are so right on the point here. My blog posts tend toward the intellectual, esoteric, and the obscure, so I throw out and ignore blogging tips with great abandon.

  10. I have to agree with you on just about every point. The idea of writing “epic content” especially. Most of the time I spend trying to find the point the author is making or actual steps to accomplish what the post is about. I skim the rest. Who has all day to read a novel online?

    I try to respond to most of my comments but sometimes there just isn’t anything new to say especially when I’m running a giveaway. I find it frustrating if I have to go through hoops to make a comment by signing in to WordPress or Google or whatever. That means having to remember a password. Ugh!

    I just recently tried a couple link drops. They were fairly specific and I made some good connections but I can see what you mean if it’s all pretty general.

    I think it’s most important to be yourself on a blog. Your tribe will find you.

  11. Mary says:

    Carol, you truly have given me a few things to think about, but then again, you always do. I don’t know where I want my blogs to go, I thought I did until a week or so ago.

  12. When I began to blog I signed up for so many “how-to” blogs it stuffed my inbox with advice – and a lot of it was all the same. Now? I go with my instincts most of the time to as to what my readers would like to know, feel or hear. Or what I want/need to write about.

    Good advice, Carol. You and I both have a lot of life under our belts. ( I love that.)

  13. Jacqueline says:

    YES! I think writing what you KNOW is what is most interesting to read. If you are writing to just write… well, not interesting. As for link drop groups – I think they are a waste UNLESS they are your people. If you are just doing that to get more views what is the point. They aren’t really interested in your work or your writing. – Jacqueline

  14. Write whatever you want and your readers will come back again and again if it’s good stuff. That’s about it.

    I’ve read and tried nearly every idea out there, and I spend my days reading blogs as an editor. Some things are fascinating, some are not – but that’s just my opinion.

    If you really want to increase your blog traffic, the only way to do it is use social media effectively and increase subscribers. You can write the next War and Peace, but if no one knows you’re out there it won’t matter.

    Just keep writing!

  15. Estelle says:

    I completely agree with you Carol. That’s why I so rarely do sponsored posts, and if I do them I really, really have to love the product.

  16. Interesting thoughts…the first one is a little funny because like everything…it all depends on your perspective (like you said).
    However, I am one of those that responds to every comment…even if it’s just a thanks. I guess to me, it’s a politeness thing—you’re saying that you actually read what that person was commenting on. But I see what you’re saying too. But there are some blogs where I’ve commented quite a bit and never got a response and it actually annoys me…so I’ll probably keep responding! I guess we all annoy each other some way or another! jodie

  17. Yes to all of the above. Maybe us older folks have actually found the ‘secret’? Being true to ourselves and valuing our readers more then our reach. I’m more then okay with that. And the few times I have landed on a blog that admonishes me for not spending enough time- bye bye. Glad to be one of your readers. Happy company and smart.

  18. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I think longer blog posts are not read, for the most part. People have a very short attention span — including me! As far as writing interesting content, well, isn’t that what we all strive to do?

  19. I’ve only been blogging a couple years, and I don’t have hordes of readers, so I frequently read blogging tips and how-to’s. And a few of them are actually helpful, but many just seem to repeat every other article, be very vague, or just plain dumb advice. I’ve seen some that recommend pop-ups to get the reader’s attention, but I personally hate them so I won’t have them. Some recommend making an article 3 or more pages just to increase your click rate or time spent on the blog. I get annoyed with going through multiple pages, especially if I’m on a mobile site, so I ignore that.
    I really think you have to do what suits you. My blog is not for everyone. I don’t have a mass following. But the people I do interact with are genuinely interested in my posts and enjoy my advice. And I’d rather have quality over quantity any day.

  20. I agree with you, most of the advice out there is the same and it all doesn’t really tell you ‘how to.’ I have been a pretty bad blogger lately and am trying to at least be consistent. I am also contemplating changes and trying to figure out what I want my blog to be when it grows up.
    For me as a blog reader if a post is long and interesting to me I will read it.
    Your posts are always good, all of them. You make me think in color.

  21. I don’t mind trying to get through a long post and if I find it’s going nowhere, I just abandon it. However, what irritates me even more is clicking on a post with an inticing title expecting content with some substance, but it turns out to be without substance and no point. It makes me feel like I’ve just been baited – and my time has been wasted. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

  22. I <3 this post because I just saw another "expert" post on things to do on your blog and many of them were these exact things. I have encountered that "you did not spend enough time here" comment and wondered what that meant when I had read the entire post before I commented. Now it makes total sense. I obviously do not blog for financial gain on my blog or else I would be in very sad shape having to depend up on it to make a living. 🙂 I blog for fun and for the great relationships I have formed as a result of it. Not everyone is going to want to read mine and I am good with that. Would I love to have more readers? Of course but I am not willing to water down my authenticity and my passion for what I write about in order to achieve that. Are you still reading? Was this too long. Bounce away! 🙂

  23. Alana says:

    If you had some of that tracking software, it would be saying I hadn’t spent enough time reading your post. That would be so untrue because I read it on my phone at my worktime lunch but waited until I was home before I commented. I have rarely depended on any of those advice posts for advice. Guess I just do my own thing and the things that I know my readers like (How do I know? I asked them. What a concept.) And, like you, I am irritated by plug ins that track how long you’ve been on the page, or have count down timers that make you wait before you can comment. Perhaps I am fortunate in that I don’t blog for financial gain. I rarely look at my statistics. And, Carol, I have to say that it doesn’t matter if you comment on my comment or not. Like you, I rarely check the box to get emails on subsequent commenters. I used to sporadically respond to the commenters on my blog, but I rarely have time anymore. One thing is true, though – I don’t tell my readers enough how much I appreciate them. So, I wanted you to know I enjoy your blog.

  24. Kim says:

    YES!! To all of this! During my first two years of blogging I read and followed rules and tips that allegedly helped bloggers grow and gain followers. Not surprisingly, I was often miserable. My second 2.5 years were spent still struggling and trying to figure it all out.

    Now, at 5 years, I’m finally okay with where I am at. I cannot follow rules or tips that say you have to have a niche, have to be an expert, have to have interesting content (seriously? who decides that?), have to stand on your head and count to 20 if you want a thousand views, blah blah blah. These days, I write for ME and me alone. If it gets read, commented on and shared, great. If not, well, that does kinda suck but at least these days I’m far more accepting of it than I used to be.

  25. Thanks for this. I am still trying to figure analytics out! So a low bounce percentage is bad?

  26. I don’t know if this counts as blog advice, but my worst was “Writing a blog helps sell novels.” I personally have not found that to be true which is why I don’t blog often anymore. It just gave me two things to promote and took a lot of time away from writing novels. So, now I’m writing novels instead. I could never figure out those link drops/blog hops. Maybe I’m just too technically inept all around!

  27. Roz Warren says:

    Awesome post! Thanks for this. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) But seriously — there is SO much to consider here, both in your post and in the comments. Not sure exactly what a “link drop” is but if it’s akin to the midlife megaphone group, I’m a fan. I love being given a group of blog posts to read and think about, and it has caused me to read outside my own comfort zone. And I’ve learned a lot. Has this made my own writing any better? Who knows? I’d like to think so.

  28. Jo says:

    Thanks for your advice, I totally agree with you. This shows me that I am not doing that bad with my blog.

  29. Linda Roy says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. It’s funny how we take this advice and run with it until down the road we realize how useless south of it is. It really is a matter of what your goals are, what your readership is like, your genre, your style of writing. One size does not fit all, and so true about comments. It’s tricky. Blogging is evolving and changing and all the old school advice is pretty much useless in my opinion.

  30. Perfectly good advice, Carol. I hate long posts too. I’m being presumptious here, but I’m letting you know that I’ve changed the settings on my comment system! 😉

  31. Kerry says:

    I am tired of reading all the blogs out there, where all they do is talk about blogging. Most times their information feels wrong to me. I don’t like to follow the crowd I guess. I prefer to break the rules and do what feels right for me.

  32. I agree with your post and although I too would like more readers, I want them to want to follow me cause, well, they like my blog, not because I have purposefully crafted the post to get more readers. Someone told me once my blog was too personal and had too much of me in it. She said I should have more advice and information for readers.
    It is my blog about my life and I know the readers I have respond to what I say. So that is good. I do try to respond to comments, but I don’t have that many of them so it is quite manageable – I agree that someone like The Bloggess would need 36 hours a day just to respond to all her comments! I should be so lucky.

    I love what you say about your readers. You can count me in as one of them now too!

  33. Carolann says:

    That’s the most cogent explanation for blogging advice I’ve ever read Carol. You are spot on! There are things that bloggers are kinda forced to do if their blog is a source of income for them, so I get that totally. About the comments, I love replying to my readers comments and make sure I read and respond to them all. It’s a form of interaction that I much appreciate and they generally make me smile – so it’s a win-win for me. Yes, it takes a lot of work and time, but I enjoy it so it’s worth it for me personally. I think the points you’ve made are honestly the best I’ve read and I’ve read a lot of blogging advice too over the past year. You really nailed it! Great job and I mean that lol.

  34. This, my friend, is some of the best writing advice I’ve ever read because it is the unvarnished truth about the blogging life. Bravo!

  35. You have raised some really good points, and have addressed some things I have been thinking about recently.

    I began blogging because I thought it would motivate me to write more. I have gained SO much more from this little venture than that – but, I also am finding myself with less and less time to actually write! Growing a blog audience has always seems to be the goal – but now I am less certain of that!

    As for some of the methods you mentioned of avoiding high bounce rates – – I didn’t even know people were doing that!
    I am going to be thinking about this post for the rest of the day!

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