Your latest article bombed. Truly it did.
You got zero comments from your usually active participants. No one tweeted your post. Your website seemed like a ghost town for days. Eventually you gave up, replaced the offending post with another article, and everything went back to normal.
What went wrong? Don’t worry, I personally know the feeling of this experience. Sitting. Waiting. Wondering.
All that time to reflect has left me with a list of 11 plausible reasons why a post might bomb. Here they are, plus tips to avoid these pitfalls in the future:
1. Poor Headline
Headlines are meant to capture attention. It’s what compels people to click on a link to your site, or open your article in their feedreader. A well-crafted
headline is the best way to lure readers to what you have to say. If no one shows interest in your post, it could be that your headline lacks power. Does it contain a benefit? Does it make a promise your reader can’t ignore?
2. Doesn’t Solve A Reader Problem
The aim of your article should be to solve a reader’s problem. Which of the following articles would be more likely to gain reader feedback: “5 Reasons It Hurts to Give Birth,” or “5 Tips to Make Your Labour and Delivery A Breeze”? Everyone knows why labour and delivery are painful, but I’m sure people would line up to read how they can make their own birth experience ‘a breeze.’ Write your blog posts based on one thought: “How will this make readers’ lives easier?”
3. No Hook
Maybe your article addresses something really important, but what you’re lacking is a hook to capture your readers’ attention. I probably wouldn’t be interested in reading a post about textiles (snore), but if you claim to have exclusive information on the dirty truth behind organic cotton, my interest would be piqued. Whatever you’re writing about, try to think of a way to hook your readers–a fresh perspective to grab their interest.
4. Unskilled Writing
Although it’s good practice to proofread and edit your writing, I doubt spelling mistakes or grammatical errors will cause readers to shun your post. When I say ‘unskilled writing,’ I mean that which lacks focus. You know what I mean–an article that bounces from one thought to another without adequately developing ideas. Think of each section of your post as being an article in miniature, with a focus topic and key information to address it.
5. Over People’s Heads
If you write simple how-to articles for beginners, then suddenly launch into a topic vastly beyond your readers’ level, expect to get very little feedback. First, people might feel intimidated and not want to read your post at all. Second, they might not want to comment for fear of looking stupid in front of you or other readers. When you’re writing, ask yourself if your article is interesting on many different levels. Even a basic article can be interesting to more advanced readers if the topic is presented from a fresh angle.
6. Not An Engaging Topic
Sometimes a topic just isn’t engaging, though it may be difficult to pinpoint the reasons why. There may be absolutely nothing wrong with the article itself, but it simply may not make the reader feel as if there’s anything left for them to contribute. Maybe you’ve exhausted all the information already. Or, the topic is just not one that interests the majority of your readers. Keep your readers’ needs in mind when writing a new post, and tailor it to promote questioning or feedback.
7. Lacks Authority
Why should we listen to what you have to say about a topic? Because we believe you’re an authority in that area, or you have direct personal experience. For example, if you write an article about children with autism spectrum disorder, I expect you’re a professional (a teacher, a therapist, a special-needs worker), someone with first-hand experience (family member of a child with autism, someone personally affected by autism), or someone who has done extensive research. What reason would I have to believe such an article written by anyone else? When dealing with facts, stick to writing about things you can substantiate with qualifications, experience or research.
8. Absence Of Introduction And/Or Conclusion
What impression do you give when you go straight into the body of your post without adequately introducing it? It seems lazy and unprofessional. What about when you don’t wrap-up your thoughts with a conclusion? Again, lazy and unprofessional. They don’t need to be long, but do include at least a couple of sentences to introduce and conclude your article.
9. Too Dissimilar From Other Content
Faithful readers will instantly sniff out a post that dissents from the usual content on your site. Maybe you got bored of your normal old topics and thought you’d throw something a little different into the mix. Unless you can make a genuine connection between the article in question and the rest of your content, I would be wary about attempting it. Your readers want to know what to expect. Don’t go randomly changing that on them.
10. Poor Choice Of Photo
The photo that accompanies your article is the first thing to catch your reader’s eye. Neglecting to include a photo at all does your article a disservice, and choosing an ineffective image is just as damaging. Pick a photo with a strong subject, preferably a close-up, and one that evokes some kind of instant mental reaction.
11. First-Comment Syndrome
Some blogs are so popular, people will fight to be the first commenter. However, if your site is still in fledgling mode, people might be reluctant to be the first one to comment on a post. They’re probably wondering (like you are) why no one else has written something already. Designate a friend or family member willing to get the ball rolling when things get quiet. It isn’t dishonest if that person has something meaningful to say.
Do any of the former points explain why your blog post flopped? Some of these factors won’t be wholly detrimental on their own, but combine two or more of them in a single article and you might be doomed to failure.
No harm done. In the future, you can prepare yourself by asking:
- Is my headline compelling?
- Am I solving a reader problem?
- Do I have a hook?
- Is my article focused?
- Am I writing to my audience’s skill level?
- Is the subject engaging and question-provoking?
- Can I speak from a position of authority?
- Have I included an effective introduction and conclusion?
- Does the post fit the rest of my content?
- Did I choose the best possible photo?
- Do I need to ask a friend to get the comments going?
Be more aware of your article aims before you start writing, and never write a blog post that sucks again.