Five Ways to Set Up Your Blog To Chase Readers Away

If you’d just spent a good bit of time getting your place spiffed up for company, and you were really looking forward to having them come and visit for awhile, would you then welcome them by piling some of your furniture in front of the door for them to climb over? Surely not. Yet, metaphorically speaking, this is what some bloggers do to their visitors.

A blogger friend and I were just discussing this very phenomenon; annoying stumbling blocks bloggers select for their blogs. Annoying enough to have us give up reading and commenting there. And since that’s a large reason — oh, all right, the whole reason — why bloggers blog, we wondered why anyone would shoot themselves in the foot like that. I posited that they must not be aware that by making certain choices they’re likely to be discouraging if not outright chasing away some of their readers.

You’ll read everywhere that the magic formula for getting traffic to your blog is to write niche-focused, well-crafted, interesting pieces. Yep, we all know that’s true. You’ll read everywhere that if you get out to visit and comment on other blogs, those bloggers will follow you back to your blog like Hansel and Gretel following bread crumbs home. Yep, we all know that’s true. You’ll read everywhere that having a clean, attractive, easy-to-navigate template will help keep readers on your blog. Yep, we all know that’s true.

You could be doing all that and still be losing readers.

That’s because what you won’t read as much about is how we may be inadvertently chasing people away from our blogs by the seemingly insignificant choices we make to keep our own lives simpler. If you’re making readers jump through any of these hoops you could be diminishing the chances that your readers will leave a comment, nevermind return to your blog. The good news is that these hurdles are easy to remove.

First Hurdle: If you don’t have your blog set up for rss feeds, you’re losing readers.

Remedy: Most blogs come with rss already set up. Just check to make sure you have the rss feed clicked on your dashboard, and then check that your rss buttons are working. If, for some reason your blog is lacking this feature, get the plugin for your blog platform. Type “rss plugin (your platform name)” into Google and you’ll be directed on where to get and install it.

Second Hurdle: If you’ve set your feed to truncate your post in our readers (or even on your own blog), many readers will delete you. Yes, that extra click to your site becomes a major deterrent when most readers have dozens of blogs they’re trying to get through. If you’re doing this to build up your site meter numbers, there’s a better way. If you’re doing this because you don’t know how to set your feed to full post, there’s an easy solution.

Remedy: If it’s about wanting to know your numbers, subscribe to Feedburner, or the like, which will tell you how many rss readers you have. If you just don’t know how to post the full entry, for WordPress go into your dashboard, click on the Options tab and then on Reading Options. Where it says Syndicated Feeds, click on For each article show: full text. On eBlogger click on Settings, then Site Feed, then Full Text. That’s all there is to it.

Third Hurdle: If you’re using Blogger and you make your readers sign in to comment using only a Google or Blogger account, you could be losing readers who don’t have and don’t want a Google or Blogger account. The point is that nearly all readers want to sign in to comment using their chosen username and their URI, both of which typically relate specifically to their blog. They’ve thought carefully about both of these, keeping in mind that they’re another tool to entice readers to click through to their blog.

Remedy: Go into your dashboard, click on Comments. Enable Other.

Fourth Hurdle: If you use a difficult Captcha (word verification) that’s hard to read, you could be losing readers. We all hate spam. But some of the word verifications are so scrambled that they need to be retyped two or three times to get them correct. Word verification alone is enough to make me think twice about commenting. Add a hard-to-read word verification and I’m outta there.

Remedy: Consider clicking off your word verification altogether and instead using a spam filter plugin such as Akismet or a similar program.

Fifth Hurdle: I admit, this is a personal pet-peeve; having music playing when someone clicks on your blog is not everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone has the same taste in music. It’s just plain jarring to have music suddenly blaring out of nowhere.

Remedy: Turn off the automatic music. Listen to your heart’s content, but don’t make us join in.

And, last but not least, if for some reason you aren’t able to remedy these deterrents on your blog platform, consider switching to another free platform that will give you the flexibility.

Anybody else have more to add? What deterrents prevent you from commenting or revisiting a blog?

29 thoughts on “Five Ways to Set Up Your Blog To Chase Readers Away”

  1. I think I am doing good :D I don’t write niche but my blog is my diary so I never intended it to have a set topic. Pretty sure my template is easy enough to navigate.

    Thanks for the list though, I enjoy reading tips from more experienced (and successful) bloggers :D

  2. Gift of Green

    Thank you so much, Karen, for these…er, subtle hints! :) And thank you for the step-by-steps on how to cure these problems. I’ve got a lot to learn!

  3. I get a good many emails from people wanting to know how to increase their traffic. But of course I have no magic formula that I can share. From here on out, I’ll just refer them to this post. :-)

    Great info.

  4. One of the most heartwarming things about blogging is people’s willingness to share. Thank you so much for taking the time to share these things. I’m going to go away and check my blog…
    I too hate music and ads that are too in my face though I will go look if the product/web site looks interesting. I also hate, hate, hate any animation which screws up my computert big time.
    Angela

  5. Rocks In My Dryer

    Really great post. Other “Don’ts” I’d add:

    –Use white font on a dark background. Makes my eyes cross.

    –Write rambly posts without a central theme.

    –Don’t indent. Make your post one nice long paragraph. *shudder*. This may be my biggest pet peeve of them all.

    Just a note on hurdle number 2–I understand your point, but most bloggers (including myself) do not receive “credit” for the ads if the reader reads in Bloglines. That’s why I truncate my posts in Bloglines. Presumably, your readers keep coming back because you entertain/inform/encourage them. It’s a service a blogger provides. I’ve never felt too guilty about asking for one measly little click in return! ;)

  6. Jess @ Making Home

    I, too, am strongly put out by people who put music on their blogs. And the worst thing is when it is halfway down the page and not obvious how to turn the blasted thing off! :) Oops- a little over the top, but it is a big frustration when browsing the blogosphere!

    :)

    Thanks for a great list and fixes for each problem!
    Jess @ Making Home

  7. Millions of ads, ads for “help me” blog for a year, and ads for paying someone to blog! Ads for “please can ya donate to help me with my feed bill for their pets and livestock”. That really gets me going! Creepy cartoon like stuff that moves and jumps around and the music. Swaps and swaps and more swaps. I run for the hills.

  8. Mountain Dweller

    Ok, I admit to being guilty to at least one thing on your list. I shall get cracking on it. Thanks for the advice!

  9. You’ve given some great advice. I am allergic to music on a blog, I always click on to the next blog as soon as I hear music.

  10. I think a bad site design bothers me. I don’t like fifteen ads or gizmos before I get the meat of the weblog. Hate it, in fact. Simple, clean and informative works best!

    Nice post and nice site!

  11. Fuzzy Logic, do you remember the name of your captcha plugin? I’d love to recommend it; it’s the best I’ve seen.

    Rory, thanks for the links. I’ve been trying to fix my comment rss for awhile. Thanks so much for graciously handing me the solution! I also like the way that you bold people’s names in your comments so they can easily find your responses by scanning for their name. And, um, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? :)

    Therese, doesn’t it just drive you crazy when you arrive at a blog and all that’s staring you in the face are reams and reams of ads?! I only recently figured out that if you scrolled down, you’d eventually come to the blog post. I never bothered staying long enough before.

  12. Hey Karen! Great Post! I was going to ask you about my Captcha.. it’s one of my pet peeves as well.

    My captcha is a wordpress plug-in. I can choose my own words *and* choose how difficult it is to read.

    I also hate logging in to post.. some WordPress users insist on it as well.. I just click off their site… annoying!

  13. Jenn, we learn as we go. I’m sure somebody more seasoned than I could look at my blog and point out lots of room for improvement. In fact, anybody? I’m all ears.

  14. Excellent post! I wish everybody with a blog could read it. And what about the blogs that are so loaded with advertising that it’s hard to find the content? I don’t mind advertising on a blog but when it totally overshadows the blog entries, I’m outta there!

  15. Oh sheesh. I don’t think I even know what the first two things mean. I’ve got some work to do. And thanks for coming by mine, even though I’ve broken some golden rules.


  16. Great post, I’m just starting to learn some of this. I also dislike photos that take forever to load and usually don’t even bother with those blogs. Now if only I could write well………….


  17. Guilty Secret

    Hi there, thanks for your advice. I am new to blogging, but I am going to check I’m not making any of these faux pas right away!

  18. I think you covered all of my frustrations. I also dislike the word verifications where I can’t read them and have to try multiple times.

  19. I loved this post. You summed up my 5 top pet peeves beautifully. And then you generously offered remedies to fix them. Brilliant!!!

  20. Excellent suggestions. I have a particular loathing for captcha, since the writers of these programs never seem to realize that a 1 can be taken for a lower case “L” and a 0 and a upper case “O” look the same.

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