I mean, what an encouraging start to a Monday, right? As if we're not all struggling hard enough with the constant battle that is the Instagram algorithm or tirelessly searching for the right brands who see real value our work as influencers; let's rip off the bandaid this morning and chat about topic that really isn't the most fun to talk about...why no none is reading your blog.
In today's heavily-focused social media world, many bloggers are starting to shift away from written content, relying solely on social media to maintain their status as influencers. Why put in double the work when you can be landing the same types of brand deals with a single Instagram account? That's a question we should all be asking ourselves. For me personally, I put in double the work because I see triple the return when I land a sponsored blog post versus a single Instagram post; I put in the work because I feel like my blog gives me a more authentic opportunity to connect with my readers; I put in the work because writing is one of my de-stressors.
But what if you're putting in double the work, maintaining both a full-time blog and all of your social media channels, and not seeing the return you want and/or need in order to continue to grow your brand? [return, in this case, being readership.]
In this month's installment of Behind the Blog, I'm breaking down the 6 main reasons why people aren't reading your blog and how to fix them. No one said Mondays were fun.
No brainer, right? Here's what my process looked like during my first month blogging: Come up with great idea. Spend hours writing and editing about said great idea. Publish great idea. Wait a few days. Let >100 social media followers know that great idea is on the blog. Wait for website to crash because of insane traffic. Website doesn't crash because of insane traffic. In fact, website isn't seen by more than immediate family. Contemplate quitting blog because great idea wasn't really that great after all and nobody cared.
Don't pretend like you haven't been there!
Getting the word out about your blog and your new posts isn't a 'one-and-done' kind of deal. Remember, you are the CMO (chief marketing officer) of your brand. You have to wear all of the hats that an entire marketing team does - social media, press, SEO, advertising - not only does that take a ton of time and effort, but it takes balance, organization, planning and follow-through.
If you're not consistently marketing your blog, you will see minimal return and zero new users.
+ Promote, promote, promote. The second you click publish on your blog post, create a routine for yourself to spread the word; publish your post on Instagram stories; let your Instagram followers know that you've published a new post in your next photo caption; share your post on Facebook (remember, this is a platform where people are more likely to read, so give your audience a little extra tidbit from the post to draw them in); share your post in Facebook groups with other bloggers (a great way to get new eyes on your content and possible re-shares); tweet your post on Twitter (keep it short, sweet and catchy); pin your post on Pinterest (use Canva to create a simplistic yet eye-catching vertical graphic). When you're done sharing on your social media platforms, schedule your post to be shared again later that week on all of your platforms in some way, shape or form.
+ Get to know SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the process of drawing organic traffic to your website through both technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines like Google, Yahoo! and BING (moz.com). If you're a WordPress user, the Yoast SEO plug-in is a must. Learn more about SEO here.
2 / Your Content Doesn't Provide Value
Every time I come in contact with a post published by another blogger, I make a decision within a split second whether or not I'm going to take the time to invest in that content.
We are all naturally inclined to seek out solutions to the things we care most about. For some of us, this might mean fashion advice on how to style a new trend. For others, it might mean how to balance motherhood and a full-time job. Of course, there's always the exception for the influencers we care most about and just want to see what they're up to on any given day. However, for the most part, we choose to only invest in content that we see value in.
Where do you find value?
You find value in EDUCATION.
My most-read post to-date with hundreds of hits each day, is "Everything You Need to Know About Using ShopStyle Collective". It remains number 4 on Google search results for "how to use ShopStyle collective" and drives the majority of traffic to my blog on any given day. Why? Because people want to know everything there is to know about using ShopStyle Collective.
People also want to know how to style overalls for Fall, and tips for creating a successful newsletter. Keep this in mind when you're brainstorming your blog posts, and especially, your post titles. Ask yourself, how can I turn this idea into something that educates my readers, with a lead-in that makes them say, 'ooh, i want to learn more about that!'?
You find value in CONNECTION.
My good friend Sylvia recently did some soul-searching centered around her blog's purpose. We talked about how her current content didn't really mirror what's going on in her life right now, and how she struggled to find a connection with what she was writing about and what she was really passionate about.
Sylvia ultimately made the decision to take her blog in a new direction this year, with content that was more true to who she is at her core. She published her first post of the new year, 8 Tips for Making the Most of 2018, candidly talking about some of her bad habits and how she planned to make some lifestyle changes, and got an overwhelming response from her readers. Not only was the post relatable, but it gave her readers a reason to connect with what she was going through and get on board with starting 2018 off on a positive note.
We're all human. We want to feel like we're a part of something bigger, and that 'we're in this together'. We want to feel like we're not alone in our trials and tribulations. Help your readers to feel that personal connection through the content you create.
You find value in INSPIRATION.
Every time I see a DIY post by Lauren Conrad or a new recipe from Sugar and Charm, I feel like quitting my day job and becoming the next Martha Stewart. Think about how the content you're publishing has the potential to impact others, whether it's sharing your fitness journey and inspiring someone to kick-start theirs, or sharing 10 amazing holiday cocktails, and inspiring someone to gather their closest friends and host a kickass party.
Always go through your mental checklist, and make sure that your content checks off one of the three types of valued content of the boxes above. Valuable content translates to loyal readers and loyal readers translate to growth!
3 / Your Titles Aren't Selling Your Content
This one deserves its own headline because it's so important and I see it all the time. Think about the news articles and posts you're most likely to read, and the ones you pass by. Your decision is almost always based on a title, since you're not getting to the actual content until you make the conscious decision to click on a headline to learn more.
Titles sell your content; and just like I wouldn't market a pleated chiffon ivory midi skirt as just a 'white skirt', I wouldn't market a blog post highlighting an outfit featuring textured knit as "textured knit and jeans".
You have to get creative, and you have to convince your readers that your content you worked so hard to create is worth investing in, in 8 words or less, before they even get to the content.
Titles represent your content everywhere they are promoted - on your social media platforms, in search engines, in your newsletters, etc. One of the single worst things you can do when it comes time to title your post is to throw something together last minute and think it's going to work.
+ You've just completed the mental checklist and created a post that you know will be valuable to your readers. If your content educates, so should your post title (ie: 4 Tips for Refreshing Your Wardrobe Before Spring). If your content builds a connection, so should your post title (ie: Why I Made the Decision to Rebrand). If your content inspires, so should your post title (ie: 10 Tablescape Ideas for Your Best Dinner Party Yet).
+ Set a clear expectation for your readers by keeping your title accurate to your content. Don't hook them with a catchy headline and then fail to deliver.
+ Keep it interesting. Use some alliteration (ie: Media Kit Musts: Suggestions Directly from Brands) and think about bold words and strong language.
+ Short and sweet is key. Not only does a title like, "5 Reasons I Decided to Abandon My Bad Habits and Start Fresh with Fitness in 2018" not roll off the tongue, but it will get cut off in search results and can hinder potential readers from getting a clear idea of your content.
4 / Your Posts Are Hard to Read
To be honest, this is the one that gets me the most and turns me away from investing my time in reading a post. Blog posts can be hard to read for a variety of different reasons, and result in a negative user experience along with a drop in user return.
TOO MUCH TEXT
I get it. You spend all this time coming up with a brilliant idea and one thing flows into the next and before you know it, you've written an amateur novel. Our eyes are naturally trained to want to jump from one paragraph to the next, because it gives us a sense of completion as we make our way through. If I'm seeing an 8-line paragraph that spans the entire width of your blog, followed by 3 more, I'm making the decision to abandon that post right then and there.
NON USER-FRIENDLY LAYOUT
Blog readers want a user-friendly, visually pleasing experience when reading a post. They don't want to see globs of text followed by 12 photos back-to-back and then more text at the end. User-experience should be one of your top priorities when creating your post after you've developed your content. How can you create a visually-cohesive layout that helps your readers to easily navigate through your text and your photos?
+ Condense! There is definitely truth in there being too much of a good thing (to be honest, I've condensed this post 3x already and I'm STILL cringing at the word count! That being said, I make exceptions in the length of my posts when I am writing a detailed how-to, a comprehensive tutorial or something of this nature.)
+ As a rule of thumb, keep your posts to under 300 words. Break up your text throughout and keep your paragraphs 1-3 sentences at most.
+ Seek out visual inspiration in blogs that you love and enjoy reading. What is your experience like and how can you recreate it for your readers? I often break up my posts in columns to make for an easier naviation with the PageBuilder widget.
+ House the majority of your text at the very beginning of your post. Most users want to see content first, and then visuals. While it's okay to mix in small amounts of content throughout your post, try to avoid weaving in dense, long paragraphs between photos (like I'm doing here ?. There are always exceptions, guys.)
5 / Your Website is Not Mobile Friendly
Up until a few months ago, I didn't pay too much attention to how people were reading my blog. The fact that they were reading it to begin with was enough for me. Big mistake. When I created my website, I made sure that it was mobile responsive, but I didn't think twice to check how that was actually translating for my mobile readers.
One of my sweet followers reached out via Instagram, after multiple attempts to swipe up on my posts, only to see a ton of poorly laid-out, squished together text (major user dropoff - check). She told me in the kindest way possible that although she loved reading my posts, she often did so on her cell phone, and had a hard time getting through the entire post with such a frustrating layout.
Mortified, I quickly learned that over 50% of my website traffic is mobile, which meant that over half of the people reading my posts were having this same experience!
+ Use your Google Analytics to find out what percentage of your users are mobile by going into your dashboard, adding a segment, and under "all", selecting "mobile users." Not only is this helpful information, but it's great to know.
+ Test out your website on a mobile device! How is the user experience? If it's consistently easy to read, you're good to go. If not, you need to make some design changes, which might require the help of a web designer.
6 / You're Consistently Inconsistent
What's the most important contributor to your success as a blogger? I've gotten asked this question so many times, and my answer always remains the same - consistency.
When your readers know what to expect, they can fall into a routine and will learn to keep coming back to read about x, y & z. But what if they come back and see that you haven't published a post in two weeks? Chances that they're going to come back again the next day? Slim. Chances that they're going to fall out of the routine of visiting your blog? High.
+ Stay consistent with what types of content you post. My readers know they can expect a post in my Behind the Blog series once a month. The rest of the time, they can expect fashion and lifestyle content with tips, tricks, new styles and trends.
+ Stay consistent with how often you post. Of course, life sometimes gets in the way, but do your best to find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. It's a great idea to let your readers know how often they can expect to see a new post from you in your 'about' section too.
+ Your job as the blogger is to create a learned routine that becomes second nature to your readers. Don't make this process harder by being all over the place!
There are so many working parts to a blog that we often don't even think to pay any mind to. These parts contribute whole-heatedly to our blogs success, which is why it's so important that we're strategically marketing our content and creating the best possible user-experiences for our readers!
cover image credit: Kate La Vie