Your readers are starved for time, which unfortunately means there’s no time to give you lovingly detailed critiques about why they don’t like your blog.
People aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your website, and they’re leaving without a trace.
What’s going wrong? Why don’t they like what they see on your site?
You can’t know the definitive answer because nobody’s giving you feedback. You’re getting nowhere fast, and no one is offering you the slightest clue as to where you’ve gone astray.
Let’s right this ship by correcting a few common but profound content slip-ups, right now …
But I’m doing everything right!
Get over the idea that all you need is to be “discovered.” You’re not a neglected genius patiently awaiting your dutiful fame. Jon Morrow eloquently puts it this way:
… you’re not waiting on the world. The world is waiting on you.
The world is remarkably patient.
If you never get your act together, it will gladly wait on you until the end of time. Should your success never arrive, there are scores of other blogs that will serve its needs nicely.
To put it straight — the world is waiting on you, but it doesn’t need you.
I’m going to assume you read Copyblogger regularly.
- You already know that headlines are tremendously important.
- You’re carefully following The First Rule of Copyblogger — don’t publish content that sucks.
- You understand the basic techniques behind getting more traffic and subscribers.
You’re not doing everything wrong. If anything, you’re doing nearly everything right.
I’ve found six slip-ups that are crushing any chances you ever had of readers taking your blog seriously. These six mistakes are actively keeping your blog from growing.
A single mistake from the list below won’t doom your blog, but when you combine all six, they can create a perfect storm of online failure.
1. Your headline size is too small
You’ve learned that your headlines’ substance is extremely important. But you still haven’t figured out that they need to stand out on your blog.
Make them bigger.
Here at Copyblogger the headlines are at 30 pixels. You could even jump off the deep end and make them really big.
You almost can’t go too big when it comes to headlines.
2. Your photos look like they were taken with a broken iPod
You’re better off using no photos than using bad ones. Strong imagery takes your great content and makes it even stronger.
Unless you’re fiendishly handy at finding the 1% worth using (hint, it takes a lot of time and a very good eye), Flickr isn’t good enough. Try iStockPhoto or DreamsTime.
If you don’t feel like shucking out the bucks for premium pics, try the free gallery at DreamsTime.
Graphics play an incredibly important role — because they create an instant emotional impression, they can make or break an article.
Use something absolutely astounding, or use nothing at all.
3. Your email opt-in form is award-winningly ugly
In my opinion, the default Feedburner signup form doesn’t work. It doesn’t match the rest of your site and very few use it.
You shouldn’t be using Feedburner for your email list anyway (Feedburner is great for RSS, but not email.) If you’re doing this for more than a hobby, you should invest in a professional email service such as Aweber or MailChimp.
But don’t stop there.
You’ve got to customize your opt-in form. See how pretty the form on this site looks? People adore it and they sign up all the time.
It’s hard to overestimate the conversion gap between an ugly opt-in form and a beautiful one. It may seem like a small issue to you, but you’re losing readers — and customers — if you ignore this tip.
4. You’re invisibly whimpering for a subscription instead of confidently insisting on it
Place your signup form at the very top of your site.
Read the comments on this article. I persuaded a “mommy blogger” to move her subscription form to the top of her sidebar — and she’s getting many more subscribers now.
This works. Do it.
5. Your About page is lame
Log into your Google Analytics (or Woopra, if you’re into real time analytics) and look at your top pages.
I guarantee your About page gets a lot of traffic — right behind your home page, perhaps.
Why do you suppose everybody’s going there? Because they want to know what the blog is about, and they want to get to know you.
They want to see the face behind the blog. People use your About page to decide if they’ll subscribe or not. Ideally, you’ll want to let them know that you know what you’re talking about. Readers also like to be assured you’re human.
6. You’re unnecessarily reminding everyone how stale your articles are
How are you making everything look really old on your site?
You’ve got the publish date in your URL, and right under the headline.
Early on, I decided to remove every single date on my blog, including the comments.
As a result, when folks read something I wrote months ago, they feel it’s absolutely relevant to them. Since it doesn’t look like they’re joining the conversation late, they feel okay leaving a comment too.
I’m constantly getting comments on months-old articles because I don’t have the date showing how “stale” the page is.
If a post looks like you wrote it this morning, for all practical purposes you did, and people will treat it as such.
Perception is reality.
Come on Martyn, you know I can’t do that
Some of these will be simple to put into place for virtually anyone with a blog.
But if you’re not too web-savvy, some might be a little trickier to figure out.
Well as it happens, Joseph Wesley and I will be helping folks with that at a brand new site called Blog Tweaks. In fact, we’re dedicated to improving your blog from the ground up.
If you’re hoping to take your digital real estate to the next level, you need to make at least a modest investment in quality solutions. Don’t forget — Brian Clark spent $1,000 on design when he started Copyblogger — before the site was making any money.
Take a writing challenge for a shot at a free blog tweak
To prove we’re not a couple of greedy nickel-squeezers, I’m going to fix a blog for free.
Well, not completely free. You’re going to have to participate in a writing challenge. Nothing serious, just a little exercise proving you’re worth your salt. (As a Copyblogger reader, let’s face it, you have an unfair advantage, right?)
Click here for the details. The best writer wins and gets some free blog tweaks. The rest get their article in an eBook that’ll go viral, so in a sense they win too. Heh.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started.