5 Simple Ways to Alienate Readers: Content Delivery Edition

I’m not only a blogger, I’m also a blog-reader.  Some things I don’t like but I can handle. Some things are so grossly *ick* that I won’t even consider adding you to my reader despite your great content. I’m sure I lose readers every day from something or other they don’t like from my site, but unless someone tells you, you’ll never know. So for you non-bloggers, this one is not for you… unless you’re secretly planning to go live with a blog in the near future!

1. You Don’t Have an RSS Feed/Twitter/Facebook/E-mail Option

If I can’t subscribe to your blog, through a feed or e-mail, I’m not going to read you. A feed allows me to have your content delivered when you actually post as opposed to me having to go to your site and check to see if you posted today. When you follow 100 blogs, checking every one manually is more trouble than it’s worth. While I initially typed FEED! I realized that a lot of readers also follow blog authors by checking their tweets or facebook for new posts. You don’t have to subscribe to all of these, but if readers can’t be notified of your new posts, they’re not going to read you.

While twitter and facebook followers have to click through to read your content (allowing you to keep up with who’s reading what), how do you manage to keep track of all that content that isn’t directed to your site?  Set up your RSS feed with Feedburner, and prominently display it so people sign up through that service.

2. Truncated Feeds Are Evil

All this means, is that instead of getting your full post delivered,  your reader gets the first 100-200 words and a [Read More] option.  If you do this, you are losing readers. Many readers cannot access websites from their preferred reading spot (usually work) and so only get to read that little snippet and then can’t follow it through for the rest. I don’t particularly have that problem, but I tend to click-through on things I want to comment on, and it ticks me off to have my tabs screwed up with a “I still need to read this” post.

If you want to truncate posts on your site, FEEL FREE.  I do it myself, and I love when other people do it, because I can scan multiple posts per page without having to over-utilize my scroll-wheel.  However, doing this on content delivery sucks, and people who thought to subscribe might not, and those who are reading now might change their minds when the workplace suddenly blocks your site.

If you’re not sure whether your feed is truncated or not you should subscribe to your own feed.

3. My blog background is black, my feed background is white, and I post everything is yellow

See what I did there? If readers can’t read your content, they’re not enjoying your content.  Even if you know whether your feed is truncated or not already, you should be subscribing to your feed, even if you don’t generally use a feedreader. Google is pretty popular, but there are plenty of options.  You need to see your content as your reader sees your content, in any format they may be viewing it!

4. You Don’t Have a Phone Widget

Lots of people read blogs on their itty-bitty handheld devices. Most themes don’t look that great on this type of device.  However, by adding a simple plug-in (I use WPtouch) I have stopped receiving complaints from my phone-readers about their inability to read my stuff when THEY want. I honestly can’t tell you how it looks because I am NOT buying a smart-phone to monitor my blog; however, I DID ask someone I know who does have it to check my site for me, and they gave me the a-ok on accessibility.

5. Advertisements

Although it should be a general rule-of-thumb, finding gold selling adverts in any part of your content can make you lose readership.  I personally disengage from a blogger that cannot monitor their site/respond to complaints, and I’m sure I’m not alone. While advertising is by all means an acceptable practice, again, you should be diligently screening your ads and your content delivery to make sure that the ad placement is not interfering with your content. While I can’t complain about my fellow bloggers earning a buck, I can and have happily unsubscribed from bloggers who 1) allowed advertisements to outshine their content, or 2) allowed advertising for gold-sellers.

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20 thoughts on “5 Simple Ways to Alienate Readers: Content Delivery Edition

  1. Hehe, I thought you were gonna tell us what sort of content, opinions or humor you don't appreciate here, but this was actually quite a merciful focus on the more technical aspects! 😉
    And indeed, I recently got a smartphone and after checking my blog from there, I rushed on to make our page mobile-friendly. it exists for blogger too and is very simple.
    Like the look of the new page btw 🙂

    • I've thought about that… maybe I'll call it the Bitch Edition.

      I see a lot of chatter on these topics among already established bloggers, but I rarely see anyone talking about them. I wouldn't have had a clue about the mobile phone issue if Zelmaru hadn't given me a poke about it!

      And thank you for the compliment on the page! The hubby is calling it the winter edition ^^

  2. It's amazing how I start thinking about the next step I should take, and in the next week you read my mind and give me the answer. I now have my RSS Feed Chicklet running.

    At least, I think I followed the instructions correctly. And I can see my blog through feedburner.

    Thanks again for your timely suggestions!

  3. Speaking of not being able to read font-on-background colors, the grey headers (the menu bar at the top & the comment headers) make the light green link text Owwwwy/hard to read here. The green links on white are fine, just not on that medium a grey.

  4. Some really great guidelines here that I fully endorse. The only thing I'd add is this.

    If you like adding colours to your text for emphasis, consider using CSS to keep the style changes to your site only. That way, readers won't pick up the problem.

    For advertising I have two methods for combating the goldsellers (or anyone who leaves an advert that visitors don't like). The first thing is that I maintain a huge list (about 300) of advertisers that I won't accept ads from. I update this regularly with further info to keep them off the site. I'm happy to share the list if it'd be useful. I also use Contact Form 7 to add a "Bad advert? Report it!" message below the adverts, so that readers can alert me to something they don't like.

    • That's some great advice. I tend to avoid anything that causes me to have an iota bit of more work, so you won't find me in the CSS unless I have a major problem 😛

      Having a pre-made advert list is definitely awesome. The problem always seems to be having people report things they dislike!

  5. You know, not only are those all excellent standards to blog by, but i can feel relieved that i already follow all of them. 🙂

    I would LOVE to read your "bitch edition" post.

    • Can I just have a fan-girl moment "OMG, OMG, OMG /swoon"

      Ok, better now ^^ I read your post earlier about the new phone and the bearwall moment 😛 I don't think I could tackle that on an itty bitty phone!

  6. God, I am so bad at this sort of stuff. I have to admit I always feel apprehensive telling people who they should or shouldn't blog but truncated feeds drive me nuts. Possibly it's just a personal bugbear and I tend to read posts on sites anyway but if I can't see what the post is on my feedreader a little part of me dies of frustration.

    • I just want everyone to be as successful with their blogging project as they want to be — not many of are professionals, we're hobbyists, but if we don't get an audience, we often lose the spark that makes it fun!

  7. These are some really good and helpful points. I personally get annoyed at the trunctuated feeds too. I might still click through and read, but it's still a bit frustrating (like many others I do often read during breaks at work).

    One little pet peeve of mine I'd like to add are blogs that don't allow you to comment without signing in using Google, WordPress, Typepad etc. The reason for my annoyance is of course that being self-hosted I don't have an account with any of those and prefer to just sign with my name/mail/URL.

    The problem mainly seem to be with sites that use Blogger and haven't changed the option to allow ALL to comment.

    It will actually often keep me from commenting if I have to sign in with my personal google account to do so (and I don't want to make a separate one just to be able to comment on a site).

    • I think I'm going to do another one on layout, because I agree, commenting can be a real pita on some of the sites out there!

  8. What drives me nuts about ads is when they appear in the middle of an article and break up the flow of reading. They look like they're supposed to be images related to the topic, but on closer look, they are unrelated ads. Some of them are even inserted in the feed. I know people need to make money for hosting, but… if it's too distracting, I can't pay attention to the content anyway and end up unsubscribing.

    • Agreed! Top or bottom ads, sidebar ads, none of those bother me, but the ones embedded in the text definitely break up my reading experience as I'm trying to figure out what a Brazilian wax has to do with heroic GB.

  9. Question- How do you set up a proper feedburner gadget? I've been trying for a while now and I feel like I'm missing something. All of the blogs I see just have an image to click on to send you to their feedburner address, but… I can't find any such option in Blogger. Help?

    • For a blogger site you'll want to do 2 things:
      1) Go to settings->Site Feed and enter your feedburner address in the second box (Post Feed Redirect URL). This way, if someone tries to pull your feed without clicking something you have showing on your page, they'll always get redirected to your feedburner address, making sure they show up in your data.
      2) I'm not a blogger user, so I'm going to send you to this thread on setting up a bookmark/URL image for your blogger site. http://blogazeroth.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1

      If you'll let me know how it works or even if it doesn't, I don't mind tracking down the answer for you 🙂

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