The Biggest Blogging Turnoffs That Send Even Long-Time Readers Away

What makes people stop coming back to a blog they used to love?

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Blogging is hard.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it. There are always new challenges to overcome, especially if you’re trying to grow and change as internet culture shifts seemingly on a weekly basis.

I’ve almost been blogging for 10 years. It took about five of those years to realize what I was doing wasn’t really working. Even today, I’m constantly aware of the topics I cover — and the ways I cover them — depending on what I believe my audience does, and does not, want to read.

Still, that can’t fully prevent every blogger’s worst nightmare: Losing subscribers. Sometimes, it’s one or two. Other times, it’s an alarming amount of accounts. You don’t always know the cause. And that can make you wonder, “What the heck did I do wrong?”

I think a lot about this. Every time I lose a follower, I get paranoid that I’ve done an unforgivable thing (anxiety is awesome!). That’s usually not the case. Over the years, I’ve developed a list of “turnoffs” I’ve noticed in my own reading and writing within the blogosphere.

Here are the turnoffs that, often, send readers straight for that “unfollow” button.

Inconsistency

Staying consistent, as a blogger, is one of my biggest recommendations for newbies and vets alike. A lot of people don’t agree that it’s important — publish whenever you want, it doesn’t matter, they say! I’m not so sure. It’s OK if you couldn’t care less, but there’s this thing called trust. An audience wants to know you’re reliable — otherwise, can they even take your advice or information seriously?

I like to think of publishing schedules like TV lineups. Without having to look it up, I know a new Grey’s Anatomy episode will start playing at 7 p.m. every Thursday on-season. I would be flustered if this did not happen. Similarly, if a blog publishes every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, that’s when I’m going to expect it to be up. If it isn’t — and never is — that just bothers me. There’s a reason I publish daily at the exact same time (with the very occasional delay). I don’t know if any of you really care about that, but I have to assume at least some people appreciate it.

Bad writing

This one might seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. You pretty much know bad writing when you see it … unless it’s your own. Chances are, if you’ve been blogging for a long time, this won’t be a problem for you. But you never know. If you’re trying to make a point, and it’s just not coming together, sometimes it’s worth spending more time on something before hitting publish.

I’m personally pretty forgiving when a blogger doesn’t use perfect English, because I understand English isn’t everyone’s first language and I try not to let that cloud the experience. But I still need to be able to get the point and read through a post without cringing because it’s a train wreck made of words. How do you know if your writing isn’t good? I’d suggest comparing it to other published content in your niche. (If anyone out there has any further advice on that subject, feel free to leave a comment!)

Unhelpful content

Most of the time, when people stumble upon blogs at random, it’s because they’re looking for a specific type of information. If I published a blog post, for example, titled, “10 Ways to Write a Book In 100 Days,” a reader would expect to find information explaining exactly how to accomplish this task.

If I started talking about a family vacation or my dog in the middle of that post, it’d merit a bounce. And I’d deserve it. People don’t want useless tangents and a heavy focus on you. They want to be told how to make their lives better in some way. They want to be helped.

Breaking promises

One of the most important aspects of any publishing project is building trust with your audience. This means that you need to follow through with everything you say you’re going to do, at least to the best of your ability. Sometimes, I see bloggers constantly apologizing for not providing what they promised, and it doesn’t solve the underlying problem. At all.

I personally get annoyed when a blogger constantly says they’re going to start doing something and then consistently doesn’t do it. Or, they make me expect something from a post or email signup and the results don’t match my expectations. This is one reason “clickbait” as it’s most widely understood does not work as a long-term publishing strategy. You cannot deceive people. They will walk away.

These are just the elements that I pay attention to most when reading other blogs (and keeping up with my own, of course). I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this.

What keeps you coming back to a blog? What makes you stop reading or unsubscribe from a blogger’s content, even if you’ve been reading it for awhile? If you’ve built up a solid readership over the years, how did you go about building trust — and how do you maintain it still today?


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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11 thoughts on “The Biggest Blogging Turnoffs That Send Even Long-Time Readers Away

  1. Great tips, Meg! You really do a wonderful job of getting useful content out there. I could work on consistency- I get mine in every week, but I never know which day it will be.
    My biggest blog turn-off is when a writer tries to be funny by insulting others. (And I mean really insulting, not just disagreeing with someone’s choices but angry name-calling etc.) Even if I am not part of the group they’re taking a dig at it’s hard for me not to go into mommy mode and just want to ask them, “Well, did you TALK to them about this before putting it online?” :) No, I don’t actually say that, but I do generally unfollow when it becomes a pattern.

    1. Oh my goodness, I totally get what you mean! That’s also a huge turnoff for me as well. If you’re not creative enough to use humor without putting other people down in an unflattering way, I’m not sure I need to read your work consistently, you know? Ugh.

  2. These are great tips! I think another turn off for me are blog posts that are wayyy too long, or if it’s formatted with random fonts. Ohh and people who post way way too much!! I feel bloggers who want to grow their audience – but it clogs up my feed and I don’t get to see other blogs. I don’t know if WP has a button so you can just not see it in your feed, but I’ve unfollowed people for that. It’s rare if I post 3 times in one day, and I don’t think that’s bad – some people will post 5 or more times a day.

    1. I’ve seen that as well. Every once in awhile I’ll post two things in the same day, but I feel like a lot of people use the WP reader like Tumblr or Twitter or something, and I’m just not into that. Definitely have to agree with you there. If a longer post is broken up into proper subheadings that are all relevant, I can usually stomach it.

  3. Your advice is so helpful!! I’ve only been blogging for a year and some change now and am just coming off of hiatus, so I’m wrestling with the consistency factor right now. I needed to take a step away from my platforms as I finished up the academic year, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was losing potential to interact with my audience. I’d like to think there’s a happy medium.

    1. Been there, finished that. ;) It’s so awesome that you’re trying to find balance here, though. But sometimes you do have to step away, and honestly, that’s probably the best for your audience and your creativity. It’s much better to focus on creative projects when you have time to put 100% effort into them, and hold off when you just can’t. But that’s just my perspective. :)

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