A simple Google search will tell you there are many successful writers and bloggers out there, all skillfully weaving words of wisdom and entertainment that others are eager to read and share.
Yet for the number of successful blogs and websites out there, many more fail.
The competition is tough for bloggers – Facebook and Twitter connect people at the speed of light, and convincing someone to sit down and read your content instead of enjoy the instant gratification of social media can be challenging.
So if you want to find out the surefire indicators that signal your content isn’t working, keep reading. Follow this advice and your content will never see the light of day.
Have a Boring Title
A great way to make sure no one will ever read your content is to make it sound as dull as possible. When a reader scans through a list of search engine results and your content pops up as “Seventeen Ways to Stir Paint,” it’s pretty darn likely that the reader will pass over your article in favor of the one below it – “Sign Up to Win Free Money.”
It’s simple: catchy titles attract readers.
How to fix the problem: Present your content with good advertising sense. LinkedIn’s Amanda Clark writes, “If a blog headline tips you off to the fact that the content is likely to be dull, repetitive, or lacking in color, you’re simply not going to wish to read further.”
Even if your content is a bit technical or specific, spice up the title. That’ll help you to at least get people in the door. After that, it’s up to them to consciously decide to go elsewhere.
Expect People to Read Your Blog Because It Exists
If you don’t want much traffic to your site, a great technique to employ is to avoid advertising your site. Simply putting out content or creating a WordPress blog means it’ll magically appear on people’s computers, right? Wrong. Your content will collect dust unless you do something to stand out. These days, there’s so much content out there that doing no promoting will get you the zero readers you always wanted.
How to fix the problem: Find a niche and give yourself time to establish a readership base, while networking like crazy to get views. Writing guru and founder of Marketing Nutz Pam Moore states there are over 5,700 Tweets sent every second. Laura Roeder, writing for Forbes, cites that people on Facebook share 4.75 billion pieces of content daily.
Simply tweeting a message to your followers to check out your blog will probably yield negative results. Instead, contact your followers personally. Or, look into search engine optimization (SEO). The movie Field of Dreams isn’t quite right on this one. If you build it, they probably won’t come – unless they know about it and their interest is piqued.
Write Something You Wouldn’t Read Yourself
Ever read an article that was just the right balance of funny, factual, and feel-good? Write something the opposite of that, and nobody will read your content – guaranteed.
If you really want to be passed over by readers everywhere, make your content sound something like your lawn mower instruction manual. It helps if you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, too…
How to fix the problem: View your content with an eye for what you would read yourself. You can be as factually correct as you want, but the bottom line is that you always have to present content that readers want to choose to read.
Amanda Clark phrased it best: “You make daily choices about which online articles you open and which ones you don’t. And if you do it, you should expect that your own readers will follow suit. To put it another way: If you don’t read boring content, then nobody else is going to read the boring content that you produce on your own blog.”
The best part about great writing is that it sells itself, once it’s seen by somebody. There’s a psychological factor that drives people to want to share great things, and you can leverage this effect to get your content shared by all.
Don’t Worry About Appearances
Another surefire way to guarantee readers don’t see your content is to splotch your work onto the screen without any regard for its appearances. After all, a good picture or graphic doesn’t change what you’ve written, and your content is gold! Steer clear of creating a visually appealing site that is easy to navigate and fun to stay on, if you want to ensure zero readers daily.
How to fix the problem: Realize that appearance is key. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car from a dirty, dilapidated, roofless car dealership (at least, I hope you wouldn’t), readers won’t read content on an eyesore of a website. The design of your content is extremely important for your content site. As blogger Jackson Nwachukwu says, “To an extent [design] determines how well people will feel staying on it.”
Visuals are important in the details as well. Want to give your content a more official look? Try using a scholarly font like Times New Roman. Going for an informal, relaxed tone? Supplement your writing style with Open Sans or something similar to visually please your readers.
Nothing invites a reader to open your content like coming across as a stuffy, pompous, know-it-all. So if driving away readers is what you’re going for, make your writing voice too fancy for consumption. Eloquence is one thing, but you’ll really start to lose readers if you address them in the third person or with Shakespearian sentence structure.
How to fix the problem: Connect with your audience. Write as if you know them and are addressing them directly. Speak as a person, Entrepreneur’s A.J. Agrawal suggests. “You may be wondering what this means,” he writes, “but speaking as a person is a huge part of crafting amazing blog content. Speaking as a person is about making it clear to customers that you are a real person just like them; it is a more conversational tone and has a unique voice.”
Publish Long Blocks of Writing
Writing lengthy, informative paragraphs is a good way to drive readers away as well. There’s nothing like a thirteen-sentence paragraph to make that business executive commuting on the subway put down his mobile device and pick up his Sudoku workbook.
Dejan Marketing’s research shows that “only one if five people read web content word for word. The majority scan, skip and only read items of interest.” Your novel-length content and dense wording will do just the trick to send those readers anywhere but your site.
How to fix the problem: Keep it brief. Donning a clear, informal voice can help, but in the end get right to the point. Dejan Marketing has found that 47% of the group which doesn’t read web content word for word choose to skip and scan because they “find the text to be too long to bother.” A great way to do this is with a web version of the inverted pyramid.
A classic inverted pyramid has you revealing the most important information first, followed by important details and other random tidbits. The web-friendly format is essentially the same, but with hypertext that leads from the important info to the important details, making your content more streamlined and interactive.
Try to Connect with Everyone
If you want your content to really fall on its face, try marketing it to every single demographic out there. Make your content enjoyable to the young and old, the conservative and the liberal, and even to those who don’t speak your language. You’ll have zero shares almost faster than you had zero views.
How to fix the problem: Corner your market. For content to be unique and powerful, it must say something nobody else has said, or it must reframe old information in an entirely fresh way. The Harvard Business review recommends thinking of readers viewing your content as “an exchange of value rather than an interruption. It offers the resources and expertise of an enterprise to customers and partners in a way that holds their attention and builds an ongoing relationship.”
In the same way that you would sell a particular product to a particular market, write your content for a certain kind of content consumer.
Write About the Same Thing Every Week
You know that topic that was trendy a couple of weeks ago? You should probably produce more content revolving around that. That’ll be a great way to show readers your content isn’t fresh and that you’re pretty much out of ideas.
How to fix the problem: Know that your readers are a growing, changing community. You must be aware of the ebb and flow of their lives. You must know your audience. Pam Moore writes, “You must invest time in getting to know them. You must know what keeps them up at night. You must know where they hang out both online and offline. You must figure out how to have a relevant conversation with them that helps them feel good, and helps them meet business and / or life goals.” Know what they want to read about before they even do.
Cover Topics That Solve Nothing
If the other eight items listed above aren’t driving away your readers, you can always make sure that your content itself is garbage. A great way to do this is to cover topics that solve nothing – that do nothing for your target audience. By not addressing any real issues, you’ll ensure your content is pure fluff, ready to be dismissed by readers everywhere.
How to fix the problem: Become a resource to someone’s problem. Jackson Nwachukwu writes, “The idea will be to take your time and think of what problems people in your niche are facing and then try coming up with problem-solving content to match their needs.” Become an expert. Consultants are always in demand. Then, you can formulate some good content marketing and draw in readers daily.
What did I miss on this list? Leave me a note with your best ideas for keeping readers away in the comments below: