Dear Bloggers, Have We Forgotten About The Readers?

Dear Bloggers, Have We Forgotten About The Readers?

Dear bloggers,

I’ve been reading a lot of your sites recently. Having a month without any travel for the first time in yonks has given me the opportunity to catch up on what my favourite bloggers are up to as well as discover some engaging new voices.

It never ceases to amaze me how many talented writers there are out there, sharing their words with the internet and building communities of like-minded people who enjoy the same topic – be it baking, parenting or even Burgers and Bruce Springsteen!

But there was something that struck me during my time as a reader and that’s that we, as bloggers, often put the focus on capturing or converting new readers above nurturing the ones who have already found us.

I mean no disrespect when I say this but on a lot of sites I landed on made me feel like a fish that the blogger was trying to haul into the boat. I’d come for the content, hooked by a good title, but then a box appears asking me to join a newsletter before I’d got through the article. Sometimes I didn’t even get to finish the first sentence.

On some gorgeous sites I was invited to like, share or download an ebook – all before I’d decided if I actually liked what I was reading.

It got me wondering at what point did we decide that readers couldn’t make their own decisions?

I’m all for making it easy for someone to connect with you. If I’ve read a good piece of content I quite naturally scroll to the top right of the side bar, hoping to find a little blurb about the author and the links so that I can follow them. (I know not everyone’s site should be a carbon copy but is it just me who checks this position?)

If you have an ebook or product by all means tell me about it. But maybe you can just gently refer to this in the content or pop a box in the side bar/footer – somewhere I can find it without feeling like I’m being force-fed?

I don’t know about you but if I like something I’ve read I quite naturally start clicking around to see where else I can find the author. I might sign up to the newsletter or follow them on bloglovin. And then once I feel like I know their style and like what they’re offering if they mention in their newsletter or excitedly in a blog post that they have a book, product, e-course etc, I’m all over it.

But this takes time. It happens a little into our relationship. Take me on a first date or two, woo me and generally I’m won over easily. But ask me to commit before we finish the first course at dinner and you’ll probably lose me. (Sorry about this strange analogy!)

Maybe it’s me who is being naïve here? Maybe these sort of strategies are so effective that causing the odd inconvenience to a whinger like me is vastly outweighed by the benefit? Maybe if my blog was a different sort of business and I had a product to sell I would feel a lot differently?

I read a post on Secret Bloggers’ Business recently, which made me think about some of the practises we bloggers use off-site too:

But most bloggers spend so much time and energy on getting just anyone and everyone in the door as quickly as they can, that they forget to actually spend the time creating, nurturing and providing value to the community around their blog.

Kate’s post focuses on how to gain loyal readers instead of chasing traffic and it’s really made me think about my blogging priorities as well as the feelings I had as a reader over the last few weeks.

So I’m opening up the floor. I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject? Do you have any bugbears when it comes to reading blogs? Am I committing some of them?

Should we as bloggers start thinking more like a reader?

Ps I don’t mean this to be some nasty rant on blogging, I’ve been guilty of the lot of the things I mention. I just thought we could have an open discussion. And then get back to championing each other – coz that’s one of the best things about blogging for me, the way we support each other. My words were not meant to offend anybody.

Image thanks to Laurent Peignault on Unsplash

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28 Comments

  1. May 27, 2016 / 7:09 am

    A million times YES! Give me 100 loyal, engaged readers over 10,000 skimmers.

    Refreshing little article Mrs Morris 😉 (Can I keep on sayin CONGRATULATIONS!!)

    x

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 27, 2016 / 7:15 am

      Same! I think I think we all win if we (as bloggers) write and connect with that loyal 100 rather than chasing the 10,000.

      And yes you can totally keep saying that. It might eventually sink in for me then 🙂 xx

  2. May 27, 2016 / 7:27 am

    Yes! And I find it so frustrating when I’m already subscribed and I’ve got the email saying a new post is up, I click the link, it opens a new window and up pops the subscribe box! Every time!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 27, 2016 / 7:29 am

      Yes me too!! I know it only takes a few seconds to click the box (although it’s sometimes trickier on mobile) but it would be good if those pop ups could detect you just came from the newsletter and not try to get you to sign up again!

  3. May 27, 2016 / 7:31 am

    I have to agree.
    It’s all about user experience for me, I have a real gut instinct of things I like and I don’t. I try not to judge a book by its cover but I can usually tell if a blog is going to be for me within 30 seconds or so.

    I also am drawn in my an interesting title, a intriguing topic or great image – but I hate pop up after pop up. Let me read first and get interested myself…. If I like what I see I’ll follow you and explore your other channels. (In my opinion pop-ups never work and everyone hates them, so why annoy your reader with what annoys you?)

    Bloggers should be strategic and have well put together sites so that I can find sign ups and social links when I’m looking for them, but they need balance.

    I love this post and I’m definitely taking some points from it to apply to my own blog.

    I agree with the other comments too, my scale is slightly smaller that is rather have 10 engaged readers, and people who want to leave a wee comment to start a conversation than 100s of readers.

    Another great post Jayne – an interesting topic! I’m looking forward to seeing the comments here.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 27, 2016 / 7:36 am

      Thanks Steph! I’m really interested to see the comments too. Completely agree with you that if a site is well put together a reader should be able to find what they need themselves, or at least find their own little path around the site depending on what they are interested in.

      I’d love to hear from someone who uses pop ups or leads in successfully as I’ve always found them annoying too but they are used quite a bit so they must be getting results for some sites.

      • May 27, 2016 / 8:26 am

        It’s all about a personal journey with a blog, I find once I find one I love I’m back for every post update.
        I’d love to hear from people with pop-up success too!

  4. May 27, 2016 / 8:11 am

    Agreed and thank you!! I hate those pop-ups. If i want to subscribe I will know where to find you. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 27, 2016 / 8:13 am

      Aha so it’s not just me who finds them annoying 🙂

  5. May 27, 2016 / 8:45 am

    I’m pretty anti-popups too, but keep hearing from everyone that they just WORK which makes it difficult to deny. But, like you, I’ve tried to keep it subtle, waiting to the bottom of a post for a prompt, making posts as engaging as possible before asking for an email address – y’know, actually behaving like a human, not a content marketing machine! For me, I’d rather have less readers who give a shit about what I’m writing, than 1000’s who scan and leave and ignore my emails when they go out. It’s tough though when a lot of pressure on bloggers now is to have big numbers and build their list to ‘make it’. The flipside is, without the prompt, how many people are leaving your site without taking any action? All that work put in to drive people to your article and then *poof* gone if you don’t capture them. As bloggers we know to look for signups, but as readers are you really hunting for it? It’s such a precarious balance between pushy and savvy. I’m releasing an ebook next month to entice people to subscribe, so will be interested to see if that impacts anything, but I’m with you, popups in under 10 seconds drive me mad! Thanks for opening up a discussion on this hot topic!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 11:09 pm

      Gosh yes you’ve described so well the balance that’s hard to strike between wanting to focus on good content alone but wanting readers to know how they can come back! And you’re right as an industry there is still a massive focus on the number of followers rather than the sentiment and quality of engagement so it’s hard to get around that mindset. Good luck with the ebook though – I’ll be intrigued to know how that goes!

  6. May 27, 2016 / 9:39 am

    I completely agree with this! It is so important to take care of and truly appreciate your readers, but it’s also easy to get lost in the ‘hunt’ for numbers – especially as a small-ish blogger! Thank you for shedding some light on this! 🙂

  7. May 27, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    Yes! I also feel like this with auto DMs asking to be followed on several other platforms right after I’ve just followed on Twitter. I wish it were more about the writing than the follows for everyone.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 11:05 pm

      OMG Twitter auto-DMs are my number 1 bugbear. I automatically unfollow if I’m sent one because for me that is not the point of social media in the slightest. Let’s be social first please!

  8. May 28, 2016 / 12:22 am

    There are pop-ups that only appear once the mouse hovers away from the site, for example to the address bar or to the browser’s back button. This is the point when readers will leave you anyway so it’s a good time to suggest a subscription to them. You can also fine-tune the pop-up so that it will only ever appear once to a reader, so when he returns he shouldn’t be confronted with it anymore. I used this technique in the past and it did show a slight increase in subscriptions. In fact I dare say it proves more successful than offering a freebie as a thankyou for subscription, which is another technique that I am testing at the moment. Having said that, popups and any other intrusive way of capturing a new visitor appears desperate. I guess we all can’t help it but I love that you Jayney are making us rethink that idea again. Cheers!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 11:04 pm

      I like the idea of using something more intuitive so it reminds people as they go to leave. I guess it’s a bit naive to hope that all readers will naturally subscribe if they like the content – maybe I’m just getting too old-fashioned for the internet haha

  9. May 28, 2016 / 4:53 am

    I dislike the pop ups that appear as you open a site too. Give me a chance to have a look around. If I like what I see I add the blog to Feedly and I follow then via feedly. If in a rush and I have not got time to add a site I will sign up and when the first email arrives add the site to Feedly and the unsubscribe from the email. I think I have seem pop ups that you can tick to say don’t ask me again but perhaps these are not common as you need to pay for them.

  10. E
    May 28, 2016 / 5:18 am

    I totally agree…I sometimes miss the old days when blogs are not overly commercialized. I’m all for turning blogs into business – I gladly read sponsored posts or relevant ads or would even buy e-books, courses, whatever product the blogger has….But yes, first create good & authentic content. Don’t force me to subscribe, opt-in, or buy something – all on the first click. Let’s think of a long term relationship instead of a one night stand 🙂

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 11:01 pm

      Ha love this analogy 😉

  11. May 29, 2016 / 10:44 pm

    Great post Jayne. I totally agree yet I was guilty of having one of these annoying popups on my site. I came home from some blogger event a few months ago feeling like I was the only person in the world who did not have one. An hour later I installed sumo me and did not really dig down into all the options for displaying the pop up. Thanks to this post I have gone in and worked out all the options so now it only pops up to each visitor once and only after they have been beyond the homepage.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 29, 2016 / 11:00 pm

      Ah that’s great! I did the same thing when I realised I had a pop up FB like box running on one of my other sites. I also found an option to delay showing the box until someone has been browsing for a while and only to appear once. It gets pretty decent conversions so I decided to keep it for now but thanks to some of the comments here it reminded me to tweak to be less intrusive.

  12. May 30, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    So much love for this post.

    Sometimes it feels like a lot of bloggers are chasing the stats and forgetting everything else. I am totally fine with people monetising their blog, but keep the authenticity; I hate seeing pop-ups galore begging me to subscribe before I’ve decided if I like something, but what I hate even more is sponsored posts which are clearly just about making money and not about the narrative flow of the blog. I’ve followed blogs for years that aren’t within my usual interests because of the way the blogger writes about their subject, but those small number of bloggers who accept anything to make money make the rest of us look bad.

    Another thing that’s really beginning to bother me is sheer number of bloggers blogging about blogging without anything new to say – or the experience/authority to back it up. I get that I’m at risk of offending you and I don’t mean to, because I think you have the experience and authority to back it up, and your posts often include personal examples. But there seems to be so many bloggers just starting out who are writing these posts, regurgitating the same old advice without anything new to say, or the relevant experience to back it up, and it feels like a cheap ploy to get hits. By all means, I love reading blog posts which are ‘talking shop’ but give me the personal story that goes with it (like you do); isn’t that the whole point of being a blogger, to be an authentic voice?

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 30, 2016 / 11:18 pm

      I agree. I have been lured in by a few posts offering advice on blogging and social media and found a few bullet points where I was expecting explanations. I’ve seen this done on big websites – even the likes of Vogue! – so it must be because blogging about blogging is popular. But I’m with you. I much prefer to hear from someone with personal experience or a unique viewpoint.

  13. May 31, 2016 / 10:17 am

    You know what’s even more annoying than just a regular pop up? A pop up when you are reading a blog on your phone. It is seriously so annoying trying to find the teeny tiny x. I’m with you, if I want to subscribe I know the usual spots to look.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      May 31, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      This is so true. Fighting the pop up on a mobile phone is not fun!

  14. May 31, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    The pop ups, I HATE the pop ups! And especially when it’s sites I like to visit regularly, if I said no once, leave me alone or I’ll stop visiting your site. I also hate hate hate automated twitter messages. They make me want to instantly unfollow someone. I don’t think the success is all that great, yeah you might get someone to quickly subscribe to your newsletter or follow your Facebook, but often it’s more of a ‘like for like’ thing and you aren’t going to get real engagement.

  15. June 8, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Yes! I get annoyed by some of the same things you mentioned here. Well put!

  16. THIS POST. I would much rather have a few engaged readers who enjoy my content that a million people that just come to my site once and never come back. Also, I totally agree with the pop-ups which can be especially annoying on a mobile. Like I’ve come to your blog or site to read a post I thought would be interesting not to be blocked by an email sign up form. That’s pretty annoying, especially when you can’t find the tiny X to get back to the post!

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