As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read a lot of blogs over the years. During that time, I’ve developed some serious likes and dislikes. My personal belief is that every reader is important, and unless you are at the very top of the Technorati 100, you should work hard to retain every reader. Conversely, you should avoid things that may cause readers to unsubscribe from your blog.
I’ll cover the likes in a series of posts when my swivel feeds experiment is over. For now, in honor of 7-7-07, here are the seven quickest ways to get removed from my reading list.
1) Use partial feeds. Unless you write like Cormac McCarthy, you are generally pissing up a rope by trying to force me to your web site in the name of ads, or whatever other illogical and self-defeating reason led you to use partial feeds. This is especially true for newer and less known bloggers. Darren Rowse may be able to get away with it, but you almost certainly can’t. If Scoble can push a full feed out the door, so can you. When my swivel feeds list is complete and I start pruning my personal reading list, partial feeds will be the number one reason blogs get axed. Not only will these blogs lose a reader, they will also lose the potential for links and cross-blog conversation.
2) Engage in excessive self/blog promotion. When someone tells you how smart they are, they are almost always lying. I don’t want to read post after post about what a genius you are. Let me make my own decision based on your writing. I also don’t want to read post after post about your latest give-away or whatever to get people to visit/link/subscribe to your blog. Don’t misunderstand, occasional give-aways, contests, etc. done the right way are both appropriate, fun and productive. But if you’re spending more time acting like a carnival barker than a writer, you are not going to stay on my reading list- or many others.
3) Don’t reciprocate conversation/links. While linking to me and/or commenting here is a very good way to get on my reading list, it’s in no way a prerequisite. It’s simply a polite way to tell me about your blog (I subscribe immediately to the large majority of people who link and/or comment, and those who keep my attention get a permanent place in my feeds). Once you get on my reading list, I will likely reach out to you conversationally. But, over time, if you don’t respond or, even worse, tend to link around me, I’ll conclude that you aren’t interested in conversing with me and I’ll move on.
4) Add scads of junk or filler to your feeds. One common example of this is posting a big series of photos on your otherwise non-photo blog as separate blog posts. This results in the Engadget Effect, whereby I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of posts. Get a Flickr account and post a link to a photo set instead. You might think the photos of trees and buildings and whatnot from your recent trip to Peoria are fascinating. I probably don’t. And even if I do, I can see them better via a Flickr set.
5) Bombard me with ads. I understand about the need to make a little money. Really, I do. But just like TV, if the ads overwhelm the content, I will turn the channel. I am willing to suffer through an unobtrusive ad or two – even in feeds – but I won’t suffer through a bunch of ads for a bit of content. And if you want to get deleted from my reading list immediately, combine partial feeds with banner ads in your feeds. I dive for the unsubscribe button when that happens.
6) Use a lot of gratuitous profanity. Anyone who knows me via my job knows that I have been known to curse like the proverbial sailor when provoked. It’s not one of my better qualities, but it demonstrates that I am far from a prude. Nevertheless, when I’m reading a blog post or watching a video post and every other word is an F-Bomb, it really turns me off. If you can’t make your point without a bunch of gratuitous profanity, then either your point or your writing skills are lacking.
7) Ignore/dismiss the other side of the issue. I can’t stand most talk radio simply because the hosts can only see one side of the issue and either ignore or attack those who feel differently. If there aren’t two sides to an issue, then why write about it? And if there is another side to the issue, then address it logically and rationally. It’s OK to feel strongly, but if you really feel that way (and are not merely regurgitating what someone spoon-fed you), you should be able to explain why.
Those are the fastest ways to get deleted from my reading list.
What are the fastest ways to get deleted from yours?