10 Blog Irritations

I love blogs. I love that every blog started from nowhere. I love that my friends that I’ve made through this shared love are able to make money, experience things they would never have had the opportunity before, and learn new things.

However, when you read a lot of blogs, you tend to see the same things popping up all the time, and its frustrating to see how blogs follow trends, when we are praised for creating them.

Here’s my top 10 things that turn me off a blog, and ways they can be changed. Its not aimed at any one blog in particular, but when you take a step back and look at a lot of blogs at once, these things stick out.

“PR Friendly”
I find this phrase really odd. I’ve seen it on bloggers PR pages, and its just weird. Do we really need to declare that we are friendly? If a PR contacts you with an offer that you’re not interested in, and you haven’t said you are PR friendly, what exactly are you going to do, tear their head off and explain why they’re so crap? Of course not! Lets retire this silly phrase, before I start saying I’m tea friendly. I just really like tea.

Cliche Posts
The “What I did this week in Instagram photos”. The Glossybox/various other beauty box unboxing. The “Whats in my bag” post. The makeup storage post. I’m guilty of these myself – sometimes, the “whats in my bag” post is conveniently easy to do – empty bag, arrange everything nicely, photo, write whats in there. Boom, done.
Sometimes, when reading through my Google Reader, it feels like 10 posts in a row have done the same topic on the same day, and unfortunately, they all just merge into one giant post that makes me wonder how one person can eat 50 lots of Dominos in a week.
I’m not saying to stop doing these things, especially if you have a certain day that you do them (because sometimes, regular posts like “what I did this week” help to keep you blogging on a regular basis), but perhaps try to mix them up a bit. Make them stand out from the crowd!

Sponsored Posts
Although most of us started blogging because we like writing*, its always a nice bonus when someone offers you money or a product to write or feature a blog post. But.
(There’s always a but.)
Too many sponsored posts, and your blog feels less about you and more like an advertorial. Which doesn’t really interest anyone. I’ve done a few sponsored posts in the past, where I have been paid to write about a certain topic, and I think (hope!) that the posts could stand on their own, without the links back or payments received. Its difficult though to talk about something, especially if you don’t know the actual product. (Which yes, I have seen sponsored posts for a product that hadn’t been sent out for review. Defeats the point a little.)
There’s also the posts that SEO agencies will pay you to post, and those are strange. People read your blog because they like how you put things across. They’re probably not interested in a post written by someone else. However, when you’re offered a prewritten post, why not offer to write the post yourself? I know that Sarah does this, and I think it works really well. Still a sponsored post (and sometimes, you may even be able to negotiate a higher rate because you’re doing the actual work), but at least it sounds like you, and not someone who’s churned out 20 similar articles today.

* Those people who start blogging because OMG FREE STUFF usually don’t keep it up for long.

Disclosure
This is one of the things that will instantly make me unsubscribe from a blog. One of the things thats kinda cool about blogging is that we are offered money and items in return for links and reviews. It is difficult to not enjoy that part of blogging – everyone likes to get something for free. But bloggers seem to forget that we all get the same emails. We all know that certain retailer has sent you that item for free, we know that you were paid to insert that link for SEO purposes, and we know that by not disclosing that, the blogger is essentially lying to their readers. Which is pretty silly. If we think of blogging as a job (and I know that some people do – they put it on their LinkedIn, they dream about blogging full time and getting paid), the reader is your customer. Customers stay as customers when they trust the producer – your readers need to trust you, because without them, you’re unlikely to be sent/paid for posts again.
It isn’t difficult to add at the end of the post “This post was written in collaboration with [brand]” or “I was provided this product for review purposes”.

Self promotion
Self promotion is a good thing. No one else is going to talk about you until YOU talk about you. I actually find it very awkward to talk about my blog, even in places where it’s kinda expected to talk about it.
But theres a difference between tweeting “Hey, I posted a new blog post! It would be lovely if you had a look” and tweeting your blog link every half hour while you’re awake. If I follow you already, I’m probably subscribed to your blog. You really don’t need to keep reminding me that you have a blog. Some blogs have a setting that it can automatically tweet your post when it goes up – this is good sometimes, but if you’ve set up a few different things because at one point they stopped working, then they all start again, you’ll end up auto tweeting the post a few times in a row. I have a separate Twitter account for those sort of things, so I can choose when to tweet them (I also use it for those retweet to win competitions, which helps stop spamming your “real” followers).
If you’re feeling guilty of this, head over to the Twitter applications page and revoke the access for those things that tweet your blog post for you. (While you’re at it, revoke anything you can’t remember using for a while. )
Instead of constantly promoting your blog, why not talk about other blog posts you enjoyed instead? That way, your followers find out about a post that you enjoyed and they might not have seen, and you get a little bit of a warm glow, because you’re helping to share the blogging love. Aah.

Numbers
Those numbers that pop up on our Google Analytics, Facebook page, Twitter account can be addictive. I actually have my stats always open on a tab on one of the spaces on one of my monitors. (Hush, that’s not nerdy) (Other tabs in that window: my WordPress dashboard, and my Facebook Page. Things I don’t need to look at all the time, but want to glance at occasionally.)
Whether its a humble brag, or just a plea for new followers, constantly talking about how you’re only 50 followers away from 1000/100/51 followers is just dull to those who do follow you.
Don’t get so hung up. All blogs started with no followers, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 50 or 50,000. The thing that matters most is that you talk to those followers, respond to comments, talk on Twitter, send emails to say hello!

Advice Posts that don’t make sense
The internet is a great place when you need to know something or want to know about someone elses experience . Isn’t that why we blog, so we can give our opinion on this product, that dress, these shoes? Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?!
There are some things that I wouldn’t give advice on though. What the best skincare regime is. How to care for a horse. How to beat the winter blues. I don’t give this advice because I don’t know myself – which is why I find it really strange when people start off an advice giving post and then at the end essentually say “Well, I don’t really know this topic”.
We can’t all be Gala Darling with her articles – it is much better to be a great version of yourself than trying to copy her style. I know what I’d rather read.

Giveaways
Here’s my thought process when I see a giveaway which I want to enter. “Oooh, thats an awesome prize! Oh, I have to like all these different brands on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, tweet to each of them individually and write a 500 word essay on why they are the bestest brand in the world? I’ll just go buy the damn thing instead.”
Too many rules on a giveaway put people off. Having to do all these things, then prove it in a comment is kinda annoying. The latest thing that many bloggers are using is Rafflecopter. I’ve only used this so far as an enterant, but it seems like such a simple way to collate the entries (so good for the giveaway holder) and makes each rule easy to carry out (so good for the entrant!)

Ending a post
Sometimes it’s difficult to end a blog post. Everything that you learnt about writing essays at Uni and school just don’t seem right in this situation. But please, don’t cop out by putting “Have you ever…” then add something you wrote about in the blog post at the end. (“Have you ever eaten pizza?” “Have you ever worn lipstick?” “Have you ever licked a camel?”…actually, I do want to know if you’ve licked a camel. Also, why?)
Blog posts can just end. They can end with a thought, a proposition and yes, even a question. Or, of course, just BLAMMO. DONE. That will get the point across.

Overcommenting
Ask any “big” blogger how they got their following, and most likely, you’ll hear “I just kept commenting on lots of blogs” Building up those relationships are important – people will want to talk about your post if you want to talk about theirs. All blogging systems will include a way for you to link back to your blog (and why shouldn’t it – you want the blogger to know who you are, right?)
Some people like to leave their link at the end of their comment, like a signature on an email. Personally, I don’t really see the point, but I don’t mind it too much. Its when the links back to your blog, twitter, tumblr, Pinterest, giveaway, hamsters Amazon wish list (damn he wants that ball that looks like a racecar!) end up being twice as long as the comment you leave that it gets a little ridiculous.
Chill! If your comment is interesting, it will get people clicking through to your blog, and on to all those other things. If you’re just leaving “nice outfit! [blog link] [twitter] [etc etc etc]”, so many people wont even bother looking at your site. Which is kinda a shame.

This post grew into a bit of a monster (I wrote this in Google Docs, and ended up being 3 pages long…) but I hope someone finds it useful.

If I were to sum up this blog post in two bullet points, I think it would be

  • Don’t be a dick
  • Share the love

I think those are pretty good pieces of advice to remember in all areas of your life though!

Comments

  1. I love that you wrote about the competition/give-away debacle. If I have to do more than two things to enter, or If I have to follow or like a brand, I actually couldn’t be bothered!

    The only thing you didn’t mention is Captcha. OMW, I flipping hate it. If I want to leave a comment, and I have to jump through hoops to leave a comment (even if it is just to say Lovely dress… etc) then I just leave the page without commenting.

    Nice Post Hayley! I am glad I am not the only one who gets turned off by these things!

    • Captcha is horrendous. Why doesn’t it ever work properly? Half of my comments get lost while trying to prove I’m not a robot!

  2. Hayley, this post is brilliant! I completely agree with all the points you made and found myself laughing at quite a few of them too. I think the most important point is, that it is your blog. If you want to do all these things, then why the hell not? They might not make you very popular but if you’re happy to do them, then why not hey?! It all comes down to being happy with your little slice of the internet and having fun with it.

  3. I love, love, LOVE this post!!

    I totally agree with the giveaway comment – I see one and think “Ooh I’d like that!” Then I see how much effort I have to put in to even submitting to the competition and I decide I cannot.be.bothered.

    My blog is only a little’un and it doesn’t have mammoth hits, but it’s my little piece of the world wide web and I love it like it was a child (… my third child… after my two cats…) When I first started blogging I was totally fixated on the number of hits I was getting, then I realised that I didn’t care if anyone read it, I was still going to carry on posting even if it was to an empty online universe and the only person looking at it was my Mum.

    I’m 100% guilty of doing the “My Week In Pictures” posts, but I have to say, I don’t keep all the photos on my phone, so it’s a good way of me keeping a record of some of the things that I’ve done. I also like to click back to 1-year ago and see what I was doing that week, I find it interesting!

    I stuggle with self-promotion but if I add a new post, I’ll upload the link to Twitter a few times in a day at key times – lunch time, after work, evening. But, I don’t believe in over-doing it otherwise people will get annoyed with it. After all, being British, we’re not really into people blowing their own trumpet, are we?

    Definitely going to coming back here to read more of your posts!

  4. I found this post from Lucy from Grazed Knees tweet and have to agree with everything! I never enter a giveaway if there’s too much to do to gain extra entries and I also rarely enter if I haven’t been following the blog previously. I also don’t enter giveaways if I already own/don’t want/don’t need the things that are been given away. I feel it’s selfish to enter for the pure sake of the winning buzz if the prize won’t go to a good home.

    I can struggle ending my posts but I usually end with a question somewhat relating to the post to encourage people to comment and then we have something to hold a conversation over. If not, I just end it with a simple bye or even just at the end of the sentence.

    Great post! My blog is http://www.j2en.blogspot.co.uk if you want to have a read :) xxx

  5. Agree with this post so much, although I am guilty of a few of them (recent What’s In My Bag post and “xxx” follower giveaways) – but 2/10 ain’t bad!

    I read through google reader and my finger hovers over the ‘skip’ button at the end of the month when all of the ‘glossybox’ and ‘instagram’ posts come out. So boring seeing the same box and products laid out over and over again!

    Another point I’d like to add is pointless blog posts, that involve something like telling everyone what you had for tea or what your planned blog posts are. Fair enough it’s their blog but I read these posts and think… eh?
    Another pet peeve – blog posts that talk about a press event and focus more on the cupcakes and cocktails more than the actual product they were invited to the press event for!

    P.S. I have never licked a camel!
    P.P.S I was never any good at ending essays, so my blog posts always end pretty much the same – question, question, thanks for reading!

  6. Yes! I love reading blogs *because* they’re all different and written by real people and *genuine*. If a blog reads like a glossy magazine I’m just not very interested, I want content that’s produced from passion and interest, not just churned out to fill space.

  7. Fantastic post! I’ve started getting annoyed with the fact that every blog seems to post the same things, at the same time, all the time. Everybody’s giving away the same stuff, getting the same free stuff, taking the same Instagram pictures, banging on about the same Glossybox… ARGH. Also- Dominos, what’s that all about? Are Dominos sponsoring these bloggers? I didn’t know that people actually ate takeaway pizza on that much of a regular basis.

    I’ve been unfollowing blogs like crazy because they’re all pissing me off, but I love this post and I love your blog. Just so you know :)

  8. ‘Which yes, I have seen sponsored posts for a product that hadn’t been sent out for review. Defeats the point a little’ <— you can write about something without reviewing it and just saying what it's supposed to do. You can share your feelings about a product without even having touched it or seen it in real life. xx

    Rafflecopter <— I can't stand rafflecopter.
    1) as a person who advertise people giveaways for free (cos I am nice like that) lots of people forget to write the end date and time in the body of the blog post
    2) there's something a liiiiiiiiiiitle (read: a lot) offputting as the sight of '2578 entries received' as you think to yourself 'umm, like my comment is going to make a difference
    rafflecopter: the giveaway tool for the greedy, the ones who are actually giving away something to get something in return. 14 entries to collect? do you want to give away the stuff or do you want promotion
    3) the rafflecopter technology is a bit limited, you cant change the timezone and it's stuck into PST, making many giveaways ending at something like 5am. how lame.

    I agree with you for all the other things, though :)
    what gets me also is this sequence of tweets:
    – a tweet from your instagram saying you posted something
    – a tweet from twitter saying you have instagrammed something
    – a tweet from tumblr saying you posted a picture
    and then a tweet to say that you've all done that
    all that done in 10 seconds.
    overdose aaaaaaaaaaa

    as far as how many self pimping tweets is acceptable, I don't know. I personally feel uncomfortable about tweeting about a blog post more than 3 times a day, with say, 4 hours of space between them. What happens to your blog traffic if you don't tweet about your blog posts everytime you post something? well it shoots right down. I did an experiement about that last week actually and I was able to experience it first hand. So it feels like that I don't tweet about something i blogged about, i am not giving the blog post its full coverage and letting it down. Every hour is definitely too much for me.

    If I may, I would like to add a few little things which annoy me on a blog
    – when it's a pain in a butt to find the twitter information (i.e the name of the twitter account of the blogger) on their blog. It makes it hard work for me to tweet about their stuff and include their username in the tweet
    – when captchas/word verification is on: how about setting 'comments on approval' if spamming is an issue
    – when it takes ages to find an email address on a blog to be able to contact the person
    – when a blog doesn't have a search button. I know we all start somewhere and I certainly didn't start my blog with all the fancy stuff and a search button but i would expect an established blog (who's been at it for 2 years and blogs at least once a week) to have a search button

    and that's it :)

    xx
    enter my giveaway at http://www.bladibla.com/27entriestocollect
    ;)

  9. Brilliant post – you’ve got so much spot on, especially with the hoops one has to jump through to enter a giveaway. Do like ‘what’s in your bag’ type posts though.

  10. I think this post could easily be aimed at me as I am guilty of a couple of these, especially the questions! I have always ended a post with a question or two since I started blogging (nearly three years) and I try not to be too vague but I’m not sure how I would end it otherwise! And self promotion is difficult, I have had some problems with double or triple postings and they are “under investigation” by Google et al because I have revoked access and yet they still post but often I am at work or unable to access and delete the tweets which IS annoying but I am guilty of tweeting about a new post a lot, especially if I am excited about it. I guess it’s finding a balance that works for you whilst trying not to annoy everyone else!

    Maria xxx

  11. I think this post could easily be aimed at me as I am guilty of a couple of these, especially the questions! I have always ended a post with a question or two since I started blogging (nearly three years) and I try not to be too vague but I’m not sure how I would end it otherwise! And self promotion is difficult, I have had some problems with double or triple postings and they are “under investigation” by Google et al because I have revoked access and yet they still post but often I am at work or unable to access and delete the tweets which IS annoying but I am guilty of tweeting about a new post a lot, especially if I am excited about it. I guess it’s finding a balance that works for you whilst trying not to annoy everyone else!

    Maria xxx

  12. I never comment (EVER), but I agree with every word on this page.

    I actually gave up blogging and don’t even bother reading many blogs now because of most of the things you’ve mentioned here. I felt like I was going out my way to write something that was different and interesting, but all that other people seemed to care about was two-line nail polish reviews, ‘my week in photos’ and “I liked this moisturiser… HAVE YOU EVER USED A MOISTURISER? xoxox” It was all about getting freebies, getting followers and getting internet famous. (Coincidentally, now as a proper grown-up journalist working in magazines, I don’t really get any freebies – I think bloggers get them all. All I get sent is nappies. And I don’t even write about babies.)

    If that’s what people are happy writing and reading, go for it. It just bored me.

    And I did lick a camel once, but only because he asked nicely*.

    * DISCLAIMER – this is a lie.

  13. Really helpful, thanks!
    Yes I did lick a camel actually… Well more like the camel rubbed itself on my mouth when I made a ‘bleugh’ face about an unmentionable thing one of its humped buddies had done. Double ‘bleugh’.

  14. I love this post. I loved it as soon as you spoke out against the evil that is a mundane week in Instagrams. I don’t need to know that you have the same standard issue, laminate covered, faux beech wood desk as me. I don’t need to know that you had a salad and a starbucks today. And It’s not just that I don’t need to know, its that I don’t want to know. I don’t care. Your call centre desk and take away coffee just don’t interest me. I do not follow anyone for either of those things. To be honest, seeing that painting your nails is the high point of your week just reminds me how un eventful and work saturated my own life is. It depresses me. This post on the other hand, I found positively uplifting. Like the way you ended on a high. ;)

  15. This is such a good post! My biggest blogger booboo is ending a post with a question – I really am terrible at ending my posts, so I tend to go with a question to avoid having to think of something else. I think the thing is when I’ve rambled on for two paragraphs about me and what I think about something it seems rude not to ask people their opinions! But then I give my opinion without being asked, so I expect other people will too!

  16. Brilliant post, found you through a tweet of Rosie’s and I too found myself nodding and giggling my rueful way through the whole post.

    Like you, I don’t think people need to stop using Instagram posts altogether, or stop sponsored posts completely – but too many of these feel very much like a one-size-fits-all approach to blogging.

    Definitely end up finishing my posts with a question occasionally though – that is one taboo I break and need to watch ;-)

    Jem xXx

  17. This sums up blogging so perfectly! I am a blogger, and have been for some time, but my blog is small and doesn’t get a huge amount of views. For a while I hated that; I’d watch all the other blogs in my reader grow, and feel horribly jealous. I still feel like it now, sometimes, but mostly I’m happy as I am.

    The worst thing is watching other people’s blogs start out like mine, small, personal, individual to that particular person, and then watch them morph into the blogging blob. There’s one particular young lady, I found her blog by accident when it was two posts old, and I thought it was great, so simple and nice. Now, I read the sponsored posts and the “The lovely people at xxx sent me this…” posts, and I just feel sad! I’d love to get free things, but I won’t compromise my blog to get them.

    As for giveaways, don’t even get me started. I’ve done two giveaways, and both of them have been one comment = one entry, with a tweet for an extra one.

    Now, let me just quickly link you to my hamster’s Amazon wishlist… :)

  18. Haha, this is a good read. I agree with most. I personally get bored with bloggers who are constantly perfect and never get cross. I like bloggers to be human with some personality! Word verification is so unnecessary, I took it off and hardly get any spam. Maybe it’s just because I’m small-time ;) !

  19. Such a great post – completely agree with pretty much everything you’ve said! I have never bothered doing giveaways before because they just seem to be a bit of a ballache but I’ve just done one with Rafflecopter and it worked really well – will definitely use again. 

    I also detest captcha and it really puts me off when a blogger posts only a snippet of their blog on their RSS feed and you have to click through to read the rest; as I read all my blogs on Google Reader I rarely bother.

 

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