Why author blogs fail

As authors, we are inclined to think that we know how to write – the truth is most author blogs fail.

The fact is most people will not see the end of your article and a lot of people will never scroll at all. That means that you must get your most important point in right away. Your call to action might never be seen and your book sales could be suffering.

In this post, we are going to take a look at why people don’t read, what you might be doing to stop them, and how you can change things.

Best of all, the same skills you used to write your novel apply here. Keep reading – I’m about to show you how to avoid this catastrophic loss of visitor attention.

Why does it matter?

The effectiveness of a blog as part of your author platform rests on its ability to convert visitors into book readers. Author blogs fail when they cannot do this.

  • If you follow the standard advice you put a call to action at the end of your post. Which most people will miss.
  • If no one sees your call to action, no one will act on it. That means your book sales can suffer if you get it wrong.
  • If you do what a lot of successful blogs do, you may advertise your book after each post. A lot of people don’t see your advert.
  • As a result, most visitors do not bookmark your blog and never come back.
  • If you are banking on your sparkling blogging to win you new fans. Bad news: A lot of visitors don’t stick around to even notice.

That is a lot of effort just to be ignored.

Fortunately, you can do something about it. Keep reading to find out how to keep more people reading and benefit from that.

Why people don’t read your author blog

goldfishThere is a lot of research out there regarding user behaviour on the Internet. Mostly it boils down to a pretty short attention span. That is why I’d be petty surprised if at least 30% of visitors have not already left this post.

Anything on your blog that can trigger this loss of attention may be enough to cost you your visitors. We will look at what these things are and how they can cause author blogs to fail in a moment (so keep reading).

These days more competes for our attention every day than we could do justice to in a lifetime.

Every day.

For example, did you know that a lot of people read at most four paragraphs before sharing your post and leaving?

Did you also know that most people skim posts? More people skim a post than read it.

Things authors do to drive readers away

Author blogs fail and usually for very silly reasons. With this list, you will learn how to avoid some of the more obvious mistakes.

1. You forgot the hook

hookWhat’s the first thing your novel needs? A great opening, right. Something to keep readers invested.

Just like your novel, your blog post needs a hook too.

With the headline and the opening paragraph, you need to make your reader two promises.

  1. This is really interesting.
  2. I’m not wasting your time.

By the time the reader has read the first sentence they should know why they are reading. Within the first few paragraphs, they should have a clear idea of what the post is all about.

This is a self-illustrating blog post. Even if you do not realise it, the hook is what has kept you reading. I promised you answers and now I am giving them to you.

2. You wrote a wall of text

Monkey at a typewriterDo you remember what we said about attention spans and people’s tendency to skim posts?

A big block of text is impossible to skim. The big text makes a reader think, “oh dear god, I’m going to have to work at this!”

Getting to the point is what novel writing is all about. Short stories doubly so. Why would a blog post be different?

If you really cannot get to point quickly – break it up with subheadings and easy to digest paragraphs. Just like you would with a story. Okay, so you might not use headlines but you probably think in chapters. Think of subheadings as chapters for a blog post. Really short chapters.

Studies suggest that you want no more than 300 words between headings.

Don’t waffle on like a bumbling buffoon – drop the bomb and get to the mic drop already.

3. You talked about more than one thing

Yawning catA blog post is a short story; you don’t have time for sub-plots.

Pick a topic and talk about it.

Honestly, it is not that hard.

If you have three or four things that you really want to talk about. Write three or four posts. If the topic does not stand up on its own then it was only holding you back.

A novel that cannot be summed up in a single paragraph is unlikely to sell. A blog post that cannot be summed up entirely in a single paragraph is unlikely to be read.

It is a mistake to pummel your poor readers with more than one topic at a time.

4. You did not write for scanning

InternetWe talked about this. People scan content more than they read.

In fact, if people cannot scan content, they are less likely to read it.

If you only read the bold text and headings (and I bet a lot of you did), you would still know exactly what this blog post was about. You’d have missed some great stuff but you would have the big picture.

I know one author who is a really nice bloke. His books are dead interesting. His blog posts though… Dear me, no. So hard to read. Not because they are not well written (they are), not because they do not make an interesting point (they do), and not because he talks about more than one thing (he rarely does). No, his posts are hard to read because they are impossible to access with a quick scan. Every paragraph is “huge” (for a website) and he rarely uses headlines. It must be killing his read rate.

Author blogs fail if you cannot scan them.

5. You were boring and talked about yourself again

Molly the catI can’t fix this for you. People read things because it offers them something.

My cat being a weirdo is interesting. Me talking about my book for the tenth time this week is not.

There is no shortcut for this – find something that resonates with readers. Discover what matters to them. Write about that.

As an author, you should have some idea what the key themes and emotions are for your work. I suggest you start there.

Blog posts need to be about the reader more than the author. Authors that forget this have author blogs that fail.

6. You forgot to cut excess verbiage – especially adverbs.

beta readingDid you forget how to author? This is writing for beginners. adverbs and excessively wordy sentences need to be trimmed. Not all adverbs are bad but you and I both know that too many is a sign of bad writing.

Edit. Trim. Get beta readers if you have to.

The longer a visitor is on your page, the more likely they are to leave. So, the fewer words between them and the next interesting point the more they are likely to read before that happens.

Just like your latest manuscript – keep it trim.

As I said, these are the same skills you use as an author. Make the most of them.

Slaughter, sacrifice, and strip away words you do not need. Author blogs fail when they are bogged down with words.

7. Your writing is cold and passionless

iceBlogging is not essay writing. Your post is the start of a conversation. Author blogs fail when authors forget this.

Readers already have more choice than they know what to do with. Your passion for the subject could literally be all that keeps them reading.

Passion is contagious.

If you can write about your topic and let your passion shine through, then some readers are going to catch that same passion.

At a party, who would you rather spend time with – a cold stand-off-ish person or someone with a bit of passion?

Think of your blog post as a guest at a busy party. Be the one people want to talk to.

8. You failed to show why a reader should care

Can and dogRemember that show don’t tell rule? It comes up in blogging too.

Show me why I should care about your topic. That’s something your introduction needs to do as fast as possible. Get me on board with the “why” right away.

Show me why your blog post is more interesting than amusing animal pictures.

As writers, we should be all about the showification of our work. Author blogs fail when they do not show why I should care.

Remember, the visitor may have all sorts of important things they should be doing. Show them why your post matters more right now. Author blogs fail when visitors remember they have better things to do.

9. You failed to surprise me

You may have realised that “showification” is a word that I just made up. Which is why you were not expecting it. This element of surprise is vital to make a blog post worth reading.

Sure, my new word might be cheating but you have to admit – it worked.

Better than making up words is to use words in new and interesting ways. And use them to show me ideas I have not thought about before.

If your ideas are surprising enough, readers might not even notice if you forget to maintain a pattern (like having a picture with every point).

10. The adverts on the page were more interesting

FireworksDistractions make author blogs fail.

Hopefully, as an author, your adverts are for your own work. However, if you have third-party ads then you need to be more interesting than the advert. Even if you don’t show ads, there are things calling people away all the time.

You need to be more interesting than:

  • The work the visitor should be doing
  • The visitor’s dog
  • Hunger or thirst
  • Their kids, wife, or other family members who might be in the room
  • The TV
  • A call of nature
  • Social media messages that might pop up

Be interesting.

Wait, there’s more!

There are a lot more things make author blogs fail. There are also a lot of “secrets” that will seem obvious once you learn them. This post is already long enough and, frankly, those cat videos are probably screaming for your attention along with kids, kettle, work, and the rest of your life. This is a topic we cover regularly on Author Buzz so bookmark this site and come back again soon.

Better yet, like us on Facebook, so you can get an update each time we publish. You can also create a free Author Buzz account which gives you access to our forums where you can ask questions and get answers from other authors (and readers too).

Further reading for authors

Congratulations, if you are still reading you are now in the minority. As a reward for sticking with this post, here are some more resources that should prove really helpful to you as a blogging author.

Did you know there is a science to understanding how people read online? Here is a primer and here are some hard facts.

The Science Behind Why People Read Content Online (How to Increase Blog Readership)

Writing and layouts

Here are some guidelines on blog writing and layouts that you can use to keep people engaged and avoid an author blog that fails.

16 Rules of Blog Writing and Layout. Which Ones Are You Breaking? [And Infographic]

What should authors blog about?

This one is a blog we wrote. It looks at the sorts of topics authors should write about.

Should authors blog? What should they blog?

Want to make author blogs fail? Bore the readers.

The exact opposite of being surprising and interesting is being boring. Copyblogger has you covered.

11 Ways to Bore the Boots Off Your Readers

Stop reading and start writing.

Are you still here? Stop reading and start writing. Or maybe even leave us a comment as you love this post so much.

Go, don’t you have a life?

About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative Writers as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.