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Are You Losing Readers? Why?

Are You Losing Readers? Why?

A commenter on my blog recently blamed closing down her blog on her readers abandoning her. She said that was the only reason she gave up on her blog.

I believe the theory that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Blogs are not immune to that theory. Her readers didn’t just abandoned her. Something happened to drive them away.

While I don’t have the facts in her case, it got me thinking about what bloggers may be doing to lose readers.

It’s true that there is more competition than ever among blogs. Readers have tons of blogs from which to choose. With the vast numbers, it’s natural that there will be some attrition as readers have more blogs to read.

However, let’s address the issue of what causes readers to leave and not return.

What Drives Readers Away

In 34 Reasons Why Readers Unsubscribe from Your Blog, Darren Rowse discovered some interesting information when he asked his readers why they unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed. Here is a sampling from the top of the list:

* Too many posts (the post levels are too overwhelming) – 37
* Infrequent Posting (or the blog is effectively dead) – 29
* Partial Excerpts Feeds – 25
* Blog Changes Focus (too much off topic posting) – 23
* Too many posts that I see elsewhere (Redundant, Repeated or Recycled News) – 19
* Uninteresting Content – 16
* Irrelevant Content – 13
* The Blogger’s Ego – Too much self promotion – 11
* Low Quality Content – 11

As I reviewed the list, and have studied this issue for many years, I find that the main reasons readers turn away from a blog revolve around content, expectation, and value.

Poor Content

Content drives a blog. It is the heart of a blog. When the content is poorly written, uninteresting, redundant, irrelevant, doesn’t match the title or the intent, duplicated from other blogs, lacks originality, lacks authenticity, lacks consistency – just lacks – people lose interest. It’s boring.

With all the competition out there, why should readers read boring blogs?

Too Much Too Fast

Called Feed Fade or feed burn out, many are simply overwhelmed by the volume many bloggers produce. Even those with multiple bloggers are shrinking back the number of posts released per day as people are just inundated with too much information all the time.

When your blog content is competing with itself for attention, flooding reader’s feeds, it’s really easy to skip all that stuff today…okay, maybe I’ll read it tomorrow…or the next day…as the published posts pile up on top of each other. Soon, it’s just too much. Instead of taking the time to go through dozens and dozens of unread posts, they will just delete your feed from their list.

Negativity and Abuse

There are very few bloggers who survive on negativity and abusive blogging styles. It’s an art form and specialized skill that few of us can do let alone keep up for long periods of time. In general, while people are attracted to the sensational, the masses are fickle.

However, a blog that began with style, grace, and a consistent writing form, which offered information, intellectual stimulation, and was enjoyable to read, and then changes the tone to angry and resentful, can turn away readers if the tone persists.

If your blog turns negative, whining, condescending, angry, and abusive to yourself, your readers, or other people and things, it exhausts your audience. A tired audience is a gone audience.

Advertising and Self Promotion

If a blog I enjoy reading decides to add ads or add more ads, I want out, don’t you? I want to read blogs for their information, not for their monetization.

Many people are turned off by ever changing ads and the increasing number of ads on blogs. So many, you have to plow through the ads to get to the content.

When a blog becomes focused too much on advertising and too much on ego and self promotion, readers will lose interest very quickly. Readers want to know that you put them first, not the almighty dollar.

Interests Change

It’s normal to have attribution due to reader’s interests changing.

I blog about blogging. Once people get the hang of this blogging thing, I don’t expect them to hang around my blog. There are much more interesting subjects out there worth pursuing. It’s natural.

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It’s also natural for your interests to change, thus your blog content may change, which may drive some readers away as you’ve moved away from what kept them interested in the first place.

Again, it’s part of the process, and hopefully, the changes you make in your content will attract new readers to replace those who leave.

Fails to Meet Expectations

In “When Good Blogs Go Bad” by Problogger Darren Rowse, he analyzes why he was unhappy when a favorite blog changed from original content to blogging for money.

I was surprised by my anger towards this blog. I felt that I’d almost been manipulated or that something underhanded had happened without me actually realizing it. Here was a blogger who had once been known as a thought leader and as someone who had built a reputation by providing useful content who had seemingly sold out and cashed in on his influence.

When a blog changes its writing style and intent, the reader can feel manipulated and leave.

If your blog sets expectations and then changes them, the value of the blog is now gone. The readers will go, feeling a bit cheated. They will most likely not be back to see if you’ve cleaned up your act.

Not Enough to Hold Their Attention

What draws in the most visitors to your blog? Do you have a popular attention-getting blog post? Several of them? Do they deal with related subjects? If this is what brings people to your blog, you’ve found something that your readers are interested in.

If you don’t have, or continue to supply, similar and related subjects to your most popular posts, then what drew them there in the first place isn’t enough. They will go elsewhere as they’ve seen all the good stuff you have on your blog.

On Thursday, I will continue this and give you some ideas for how to keep your readers.

View Comments (16)
  • Thanks for this wonderful post. It was a highly enjoyable read.

    I am still new on the blogging scene and trying to build a readership so it helps to know what not to do. My blog revolves around fashion and style which may be too broad but keeping the majority of the posts related to Kuwait draws interest from Kuwaiti bloggers.

    My current goal is how to build a community around the blog and I’m still trying to figure it out.

    I love reading your blog as I always learn something new here :)

  • I also noticed that if most of the posts are purely emotional most readers ignore it. If the post is too personal and speaks only about the feelings of the blogger, the reader loses his/her interest on it. If the reader continues to read the blog, he might find himself caught in an emotion that doesn’t actually speak about himself.

  • PPA, I came across a new blog just this morning that fit that to a T. The posts were very heartfelt and brutally personal and, well… a little more raw emotion than I was comfortable with. The blogger had obviously spent considerable time, crafting well thought-provoking articles about his spiritual journey through everyday life, but it was at the same time overwhelming and distancing.

    Definitely gives me cause to relfect upon a few of my posts and wonder if any of them have been maybe slightly too personal…

  • I think the fastest thing to send readers away is if they perceive that you’ve sold out. A blog is all about trust, if they think you’re lying to them just to make money, they’ll leave real fast.

  • One of the things I’ve learned through blogging is that all of us improve. I’ve seen bloggers who blog about what they had for lunch and dinner and when that happens if the blog is new, I’d understand. In fact, I admit I used to blog about what I’ve eaten when I started blogging.

    But when you’ve been blogging for 2 or 3 years already, and you’re still accounting to your bodily functions and other Dear Diary entries, I think that’s a little too much.

    And I’ve been unsubscribing to such blogs a lot lately. I can’t help it. I’m improving, the general blogosphere is improving, but if you’re not, I’m out.

  • The part about a blog changing its focus is especially interesting to me… I guess it doesn’t matter so much with new blogs that are still “finding their identity”, so to speak.

    But I do wonder what counts for a negative change in content or style, because there’s a difference between “Okay, I’ve decided to stop writing about WordPress and change this blog’s focus to Pokemon” and a blog that gradually and naturally shifts its focus… like, say, from talking about blogging in general to focusing almost exclusively on plugins or themes.

  • Finding the right balance between too few posts and too many can be difficult, also because the readership might vary widely n their desire. Maybe I should ask directly…

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