Bloggie Wednesday: 7 Things That Can Hurt Your Blog

Bloggie Wednesday: 7 Things That Can Hurt Your Blog

I’ve learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way, throughout my years of blogging. The time when I accidentally deleted the entire blog (at that time, I had 3 years worth of content) and almost had a heart attack, the time when I didn’t back up my content, broke my blog and couldn’t retrieve most of what I lost, the time when I didn’t reply to a single comment left on my blog … oh, there were many lessons indeed. In hindsight, I’ve done many things that hurt my blog and I only noticed the problems and consequences later.

One of the biggest advantages of blogging now is that you no longer need to fumble like most of us did when we started blogging many years ago. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing back then and there weren’t many tutorials that we could Google for. Nowadays, there’s a solution for almost everything and I’m very thankful for more and more bloggers on the scene that are able to provide free solutions to the problems I have. That knowledge helps to minimise the mistakes I make that can hurt my blog.

Are you doing any of these 7 things that can hurt your blog?

No share buttons

In this day and age of “everything under the sun must be shared”, it’s almost a blogging crime not to have any share buttons on your blog. I’ve lost count of the number of times I wanted to share great articles I’ve read to Twitter only to find that there wasn’t any options for me to share the posts. Of course, I can do it manually but it would be a waste of time out to copy and paste the title and link, especially if it isn’t just one article to share. There are plenty of share button widgets and plugins for every blogging platform that you can try out.

If you do have share buttons, make sure they’re working! I didn’t realise that up to the point when I changed my sharing buttons to Social Warfare‘s, the previous ones I was using weren’t working at all. I had no idea because I didn’t test them out periodically. Goodness knows how many missed sharing opportunities I had because of that!

Missing search bar

Out of all of the pet peeves I have with blogging, this is my biggest. I can overlook many things on a website (even auto-playing music and video) but the one thing I cannot abide that makes me leave the website quicker than you can say “Howdy!” is the lack of a search bar. You need to have the capability for people to be able to search for anything they want on your blog. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the content they want because you can always offer suggestions on your search results page to something similar to what they want. The point is to allow them to be able to search. As I’m writing this, I’m on a blog that doesn’t have a search bar when there’s something I really want to find on that website and it frustrates me to no end. If I have to go to Google to search instead, then rest assured I won’t be coming back to the website. Don’t annoy your readers/potential subscribers by not having a search function on your blog. Google has a good search bar widget that you can use on your blog.

Cluttered sidebar

Have you seen blogs that have sidebars that seem to go on forever? If your sidebar is much longer than the content you offer, then it’s time to rethink if everything that is on the sidebar is necessary. Your sidebar is valuable real estate, especially if you’re monetising your blog. If the affiliate ads/banners aren’t making you any money, I’d recommend removing them and providing the space for those that will actually make you money. Exchanging of blog links might be fun but if you’re not seeing any increase in traffic, followers and subscribers after some time, it’s time to rethink that strategy. Sidebar content must be monitored frequently to make sure what you have in there is valuable to your readers and potential advertisers. If your sidebar is already very long when viewed on a desktop computer, imagine how it would look like on a mobile device. It would be a neverending scrolling!

Too many ads

Personally, I’m not a fan of too many ads on a blog, particularly ads that reskin the entire website (i.e. it changes the background of the blog to show the ad) or auto-play video. Ads can make or break the blog. An example of too many ads would be if there’s one above the header, below the header, between each blog post, many on the sidebar and a couple more on the footer. Ads are distracting (imagine the ones with video or blinky, flashing ones) and the more ads you have, the more options you’re giving to your readers to click AWAY from your blog. Too many ads also make your blog look spammy. Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with having ads on your blog, but discern what’s important and what’s not. It’s also crucial to monitor the types of ads you don’t want to show on your blog. Google Adsense allows you to not display ads of a certain nature (e.g. adult content, gambling, etc).

Too many sponsored posts

This is a bit of a tough one. Back in the day when you can write a short 2-paragraph irrelevant sponsored post for $20 and get away with it, it’s not so easy these days. These days, people can sniff out a sponsored post from a mile away and if there’s too many of them, you can be sure that readers will call you out on it when your blog ends up becoming a commercial zone. I’ve read really, really good sponsored posts (Styling You and Smaggle do the best sponsored posts in my opinion) and unfortunately, I’ve also read ones that insult the intelligence of the blogger’s readers. It’s all right to have sponsored content on your blog as long as you 1) keep them relevant and 2) give value to your readers. Decide the maximum number of sponsored posts you’d do per month and spread them out with more free valuable content.

Not having your own domain from the start

If you’re intending to blog seriously (maybe not enough to give up your day job but enough that you’re spending a lot of your free time working on it), then I’d highly recommend you get your own domain from the moment you decide to publish your first post. Domains are really cheap these days and really, it’s fun to have your own dot com! You can have your own domain and still blog on free platforms like Blogger and WordPress. SEO can be a nightmare if you blog on, say, a Blogspot address and decide to switch to your own domain later. Google isn’t kind to those switches. It’s best to start with your own domain and move forward from there.

Not having a mailing list

This was the biggest mistake I made on my blog, and that was not to start a proper mailing list until after 7 years of blogging. I spent so much time trying to grow my social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest when I could have spent just half that time starting and growing my mailing list that ultimately belongs to me. I cannot recommend builing your mailing list enough. It doesn’t even have to be a weekly newsletter; it could just be an email subscription to your blog posts where subscribers get an email of your latest blog post each time one is published. You just need to get your reader’s name and email address for that. And if you want to do a proper newsletter, why not, it’s fun! However you go about it, just get it started. And don’t wait 7 years like me to get on it. Sigh.

There’s no judgement at all if you do do any or all of these. Blogging is a journey, not a destination. You’ll stumble and fall some time but you’ll pick yourself up again and chug along. You too will be able to share your experience and help newer bloggers who come along, stumble and fall, and they in turn will help even newer bloggers, and so on. That’s the beauty of the blogging cycle. πŸ™‚

What about you? Have you done any of these that may potentially hurt your blog? What lessons have you learned along the way?

Bloggie Wednesdays is a series of articles just on blogging. They contain tips, how-tos, discussions about anything and everything you need to know about blogging and how we can be better bloggers. If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks about blogging you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions you would like me to address, please let us know in the comments.

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16 comments… add one
  1. Asha

    Autoplay video ads are a MAJOR pet peeve of mine because I generally have no less than 10 tabs open, and when one suddenly starts blabbering and playing music, I don’t even check which one it is, I just close it. I have no objection to other types of ads (I’m in advertising, hey it pays my bills!) but I recently installed Ad-block because of autoplay video ads. JUST MAKE THEM STOP!

    1. Tine

      Oh yeah I have the same Ad block thing too. You know which website autoplays music and video loudly? The bloody AGE!!!!

  2. Samantha

    Thank you for such great post. I should think about the mailing list subscription now.

    1. Tine

      My pleasure Samantha, glad it’s been helpful. Try Mailchimp, they’re free for the first 2000 emails sent each month. πŸ™‚

  3. Paris B

    Let me add just a couple more:-

    – Font that is too small
    – Coloured content backgrounds – It’s incredibly hard on the eyes to read anything other than black on white/off white
    – Poorly taken photos e.g too dark, blurry, out of focus – If you can’t be arsed to put up a properly taken photo, I can’t be arsed to read your post. Unfortunately, that’s the truth
    – Too large header – A large header is fine. One featuring you, you and YOU in a gigantic header that takes up half the screen space? I click away. It’s too much for slow connections to handle
    Paris B recently posted..The beautifully executed Guerlain Enchanted Snowflake Meteorites will leave you starry-eyedMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Ding ding ding! Spot on, Peebs. I actually made the mistake of having too large a header when I had my personal blog (remember all those flowers? :P). Sure I thought it was pretty back then but in hindsight, it was a mistake making it so big. Mobile bandwidth these days are better and we already can’t stand the slow loading, can you imagine how terrible it was back then? Yikes!

      I don’t understand why people would post blurry and dark pictures either, especially if they’re reviewing a product. Often I hear that it’s because they don’t have time during the day and they make do with flash photography with their phones in the evenings. The audience at large these days are not so forgiving, I’m afraid. 9 out of 10 (heck, I’d even be so bold as to say 10 out of 10) of people who stumble upon a blog with bad photos aren’t likely to return.

      1. Paris B

        At least your header didn’t have you staring out from it lol! Think blogs like xx :p

        Re: photos. With so many apps on mobile for editing these days there’s really no excuse for poor quality photos. Even WordPress allows you to edit your pix in the programme itself (not sure about blogger but I think they do too) so yes absolutely no excuse whether from camera or phone. It’s just being shoddy :p
        Paris B recently posted..In the L’Occitane x Pierre Hermé Holiday Collection 2015 you can have the macaron maestro without the calories!My Profile

        1. Tine

          I’m as vain as the next person and love having my pictures taken and sharing them online but I draw the line at putting such a big photo of me as a header. Don’t lah scare people early in the morning. πŸ˜›

  4. Mel

    Thanks for the tips Tine! I’m currently experimenting with ADs and affiliate links. Not going to lie, I find it all pretty confusing and scary.
    Mel recently posted..Priceline 40% Off Makeup Haul 2015My Profile

    1. Tine

      Affiliate links can be a pain at times, I hear ya. Even I struggle with them from time to time. As for ads, yeah it takes some experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. Just remember to monitor them regularly and if things like affiliate banners on the sidebar aren’t bringing you any revenue at all, remove them and try something else. Don’t waste precious web real estate.

  5. Yolondi

    Yes to the noisy, flashing ads!! And overly colourful backgrounds/ text. Add colour with good photos I say. I don’t have a blog, although I have always wanted to but I agree with Paris B, if you can’t be bothered, then don’t bother with crappy photos. I can understand photography skills vary but you can see some don’t even try. Another thing I really hate is when people write in their post “excuse the blurry photo/ pimple/ dog photo bombing/ whatever’, it just goes back to that. Either own it, edit it or don’t use it till you have a better one. I am sure many of you bloggers have had to try again on other days when something just won’t work!

    1. Tine

      Spot on Yolondi, spot on. If there’s a need to put the words “excuse the bad photo”, then don’t put it up at all. Many times I’ve had to reschedule content to another day because I’m just not happy with the photos. There’ll be times when I have nothing scheduled on that day but it’s better to pull the post and redo the pictures, text, whatever to publish another day than to put up mediocre content (this includes images). At the end of the day, blogs are only ever as good as their last post.

  6. Winston

    I like your comment about it’s better to delay a post if the content/images need some work. Definitely going to remember that from now on.

    Really helpful tips and advice, thanks Tine!
    Winston recently posted..β€˜SOCIALIZED’ – Toni&Guy’s 2015/2016 CollectionMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Thanks Winston. This is something I always remember after reading a book by the ex-editor of Vogue Australia, Kirstie Clements. She said that an editor is only as good as her last cover, and I can’t help but think the same about bloggers, that we’re only as good as our last blog post. If the content is not really worth putting up, if the images aren’t to our satisfaction, it’s far better to not put anything up than to have anything less than what we are proud of. πŸ™‚

  7. Regina

    Thank you for the tips! They are very helpful to me, seeing that I’m a newbie to blogging. πŸ™‚
    I agree, nothing irks me more than a cluttered sidebar and too many ads.
    Regina recently posted..Too Faced Melted French Kisses Holiday 2015 reviewMy Profile

    1. Tine

      You’re very welcome, Regina. And all the best on your blog! πŸ™‚

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