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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ten Reasons I'm Not Reading Your Blog

I hit hundreds of writers’ blogs every week (except this week, when my Internet connection has been squirrelly. Arrgghh.)  But I do like to keep up with followers and people who comment here.

Thing is—with all those blogs to check—I only have a moment for each one, so some of you are losing me. If I can’t grasp in a moment what your blog is about, who you are, what you write—and comment or follow if I choose, I’m out of there.

I’m not saying this is true of every blog reader. There may be lots of blocked writers leisurely surfers who have time to waste linger in the blogosphere. But most of us have other priorities. Like our own blogs.

In an interesting post last Thursday, social media guru Robert M. Caruso of Bundlepost likened social media to a freeway, where thousands of cars pass by every minute. He says you need to have a fleet of cars of your brand on that freeway, so you can catch the attention of your audience, who are standing by the side of the road for only few short minutes each day.

Excellent advice as far as it goes: Tweet often.

But the truth is, more and more people are like you: driving on the freeway. Fewer and fewer are on the side of the road waiting for great content to come by. So your audience is no longer standing still—even for a few minutes. They’re sailing along on the freeway with you.

So you’d better be able to get your message across in an instant.

Here are some things that aren’t grabbing me during my drive-by visits.

1)     Your site takes too long to load. If you have animation on your site, or lots of graphics, you’re stealing reading time from yourself. If I’ve got a minute, and you take 30 seconds for loading—your content loses out. If you’re an illustrator or write for small children, yes, your blog needs graphics. But if you’re a writer, don’t snail down your loading time with a lot of visuals. And keep in mind that lots of people are reading you in RSS feeds or on other devices, so they don't see the graphics at all. 

2)     No focus. If your name is buried somewhere at the bottom of the page, I can’t see what kind of stuff you write, and you call your blog “meanderings in the mush of my mind,” I’m gone. Your blog is like your book’s first page or your story’s lead—you gotta have a hook.

3)     Music. I’ve yammered about this before. Unless you’re a musician hawking your wares, skip the sound track. If I want to listen to music, I’ll choose my own, thanks—and chances are yours isn’t in the same key.

4)     Your posts are simply snippets of your WIP. This tells me:

a.      You’re a newbie: professionals don’t do this. You’re throwing away your first rights and embarrassing your future, better-writer self.
b.     You’re needy and trolling for praise. (If you want critique, go to forums like Absolute Write or AgentQuery Connect )  
c.      You’re not thinking about your audience. I have no idea what your book is about or who these characters are, and I don’t have time to find out.

The exception to this is blogfests. When everybody’s publishing a “first kiss” scene or whatever, all those entering are reading each other’s posts. That's an excellent way to make friends and find writers whose work you like.

I also enjoy reading the occasional bit of microfiction or a short poem—but remember that’s “publishing” so the piece can’t be submitted to most contests or journals after you’ve posted it.

5)     You thwart comments, with--

a.      No comment button, Apparently there is a new program some bloggers are using that requires a secret handshake to be allowed to read the comment thread or make a comment of your own. If I can see there are “10 comments,” but can’t read them until I search the site for instructions, I probably won’t.
b.     Making us jump through hoops. I’ve said before that word verification is annoying. I’ve never run into any spambots in over a year without it. Some bloggers have told me they do have trouble with bots, so I understand—but realize you’re less likely to get comments when you put up obstacles. And making people “await moderation” eliminates the possibility of interaction with other commenters. So unless your blog is routinely visited by trolls, keep comments open on a new post or “moderate” at least once an hour. Old posts do collect spam, so screen comments on posts more than a week old, but if you’re holding comments in limbo for days, you’re sabotaging yourself. Courtnee Howard has some great tips on blog moderation at the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog 

6)     No follower button. You make people subscribe to your blog by email in order to find you again. My inbox fills with 100s of emails daily, so I’m not going to sign up for one more thing to clog it up unless your content is spectacular—or you’re an industry professional I need to follow. Even then, I’ll read you a whole lot less than if you were a networked blog that appears on my Dashboard. (Interesting that Blogger named it a “dashboard”—in keeping with our freeway theme.) One agency blog switched from WordPress to something that’s not networked a while ago, and I’ve gone from reading it daily to maybe once a month. If I can find where I’ve got it bookmarked.

7)     Your posts are too long, dense, and/or you’ve posted about more than one subject. Even if you have fascinating things to say about your new iphone app, the use of animal imagery in Faulkner, and Kate Middleton’s taste in underwear, if you can’t link them in one spectacular flash of brilliance, discuss them in separate posts. It all coagulates into an unreadable mass when we’re speed reading.

8)     You come across as condescending or narcissistic. Don’t assume all your readers are newbies who don’t know the basics. Or they are fans come to worship at the feet of your greatness. If somebody disagrees with you in a comment, argue respectfully, or delete if it’s offensive, but don’t say— “When you’ve written a whole novel like I have, you ignorant pipsqueak, you’ll know I’m right.” You may be talking to a bestselling author—or an agent’s assistant who’s about to read your query.

      And please NO STATS! Yes. Bloggers love us some stats. We check daily to see how many devoted fans are reading our bon mots. But this is something to do in the privacy of your own dashboard. If you have fewer hits than average, you look like a loser. With more, you look like a narcissist. If anybody gives a rodent’s derriere about your stats, they’ll check with Alexa, blogbiz or another blog rating site.

9)     Your blog is too busy or hard to read. Keep in mind that dark text on a light, solid background is the most reader-friendly. White or pale space is soothing. Don’t make your content a needle in a gadget-stack. Too much going on and a reader doesn’t see any of it. Forest/trees and all that. And I’m not a big fan of the new format some bloggers are using that looks like a newspaper, with a bunch of blogpost headlines you have to click through to get the content. You’re making me load one more page and taking time I haven’t got. It does have a cool look, but it's a barrier to readers. 

10)  Advertising. Ads are distracting, undermine your credibility, and usually pay very little. If you’re a writer and “monetize” with Google, they’re going to post ads for rip-off vanity presses, fake contests, and bogus agencies. Yes, I know some higher-end advertisers do pay pretty well. I’ve reached a high enough Alexa rank that I’m getting offers, but I’m still not going there unless it’s a product I already love. Your blog is like the cover of your book—the hub of your “brand” as a writer. Would you sell advertising space on your book jacket?  

But note: it’s fine to have click-through thumbnails of your own titles or favorite books by other authors. In fact it’s smart. If I like a blog, I’ll take a look at your books, and sometimes I even buy them.

BTW, if I haven’t commented on your blog, it doesn’t mean I think you’re doing anything wrong—or even that I’m not reading you. I haven’t got time for many comments. Also, I tend to hit blogs randomly and I may have not made it to yours yet.  

What about you? What attracts/repels you when blog surfing?

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72 Comments:

Blogger Clarissa Draper said...

I'm with you! One thing I want to post about this week on my blog is email replies to my comments but that said, you've touched on everything else. I think if you want to post excerpts from your WIP make another blog just for that. I've noticed a few posts like this (Talli just wrote one) and think with all the blogfests and crusades going on, we need to be picky with who we follow.

February 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Carol Riggs said...

Excellent points all! I agree. I don't comment if I have to jump through hoops, and I don't read the post if it's overly long and is a manuscript excerpt. (I don't like jumping into the middle of things.)

Also, it's sad when bloggers comment right in the comment section, because I rarely go back to that same post and see what they responded to me. Commenting via email is much better. If someone really wants a reply to his/her comment, they should be sure to have an email listed so that is possible.

February 27, 2011 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne, your right on, as usual! What attracts me (in a blog--lol) is ease, clarity and speed. I go through them at supersonic speed so anything that slows me down means I just skip it. I'm a tough customer but I'm sure not the only one. Most of us are just way too busy.

PS: short paragraphs are always a big plus.

February 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Ann Best said...

All these points you make, Anne, are things I've thought about recently. I hate the white print against black background (there's only one awesome blog that I follow that does this); it's too hard on the eyes. As time goes on and I get more followers, I'm being more and more "picky" as Clarissa says. I need to be. There are important things in life I need to do besides blog!

Keep it simple, in life and in blogging. This is my motto. Like you, I've tried to do this.

Your blog is "right on" in all of these areas! As my daughter Jen would say, Good Job.

Ann @ Long Journey Home

February 27, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Gabriela Pereira said...

All the topics you covered really resonate with me when choosing new blogs to follow (or in this case, choosing which blogs I would rather not follow). Right on!

I'd like to add one more to the list, and it's a biggie for me: Subject.

Let's face it, someone might have the most amazing blog in the world but if the subject isn't something I'm interested in (i.e. writing, creativity, art and design), I probably won't read that blog. It's simply a matter of personal preference.

Also, I tend to get turned off by overly-personal bloggy stuff. Sure, a little bit of personal flair is great, but when bloggers start to move away from professional topics and choose to focus only on personal minutia (like what they had for breakfast) then I start losing interest.

Great post!

BTW, I had a cappuccino for breakfast, in case you were dying to know. :P

February 27, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Clarissa--Good suggestion about posting your WIP elsewhere. It's what I do. I don't know about other platforms, but Blogger gives me ten pages here. I use one for samples of some of my published fiction. You could do it with the unpublished stuff, too, although copyright stuff can get complicated. If you've reached the querying stage, I'd keep the ms. off the Interwebz.

Carol (and Clarissa) You make a good point, but I'm still ambivalent about the email commenting. It's personal and friendly, but it doesn't allow for dialogue in the comment thread, which can stimulate more comments. But personally, I have less and less time go back to see if my comment has had a response, so the emails make sense.

Ruth--(who is one of those bestselling authors I'm talking about) Thanks a bunch. And YES! Short paragraphs are our friends.

Ann--thanks for seconding my comment on reader friendly font color. It may be that younger eyes can read that stuff without fatigue, but it's off-putting for the rest of us. Keep It Simple is always a good rule.

February 27, 2011 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger KarenG said...

These are all the same reasons I'll skip a blog. Like you I speed through the blog highway pretty darn fast. I still worry about my giraffe taking too long to load but I'm so fond of her.

February 27, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Aisha said...

Anne, I agree with you, I enjoy comments in the thread to encourage conversation, plus, if you begin to know that this particular blogger responds in this manner you often will check back to see what their response is, plus most blogs now have "e-mail follow up comments" button you can press to get follow up comments.

As usual great points, but you know, something struck me as I read these comments, about ease for viewers to read, and the lightening speed with which most of flip through our RSS feed, that this is a big reason comments are not "what they used to be". . . do you think this has any bearing on blog sustainability for newbies that enter as comments are often a big motivator to blog for many.

I've heard a lot of blog advice encouraging writers to be focused on a particular topic. I've been blogging about 7 years and my topics have always varied based on the place in my life I'm at (teacher, law student, lawyer, now mother and writer). But while I write mostly about parenting, I write about other things too (tv shows, something funny that happened at the grocery store, etc) I really respect your take on things, and am wondering, do you think I should limit it to just 1-2 topics and not stray? Is doing otherwise too distracting?

February 27, 2011 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Donna Hole said...

I've had to subscribe to a few blogs via e-mail, and I find it distracting to have that post come up EVERY DAY. Its like a command to read the blog . .

And you haven't comented on my posts lately; then again, I've been absent here also. I've been absent everywhere :) Trying to do some actual writing is the surest way to lose connection to the blogsphere.

Have a good week Anne :)

.......dhole

February 27, 2011 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I don't do 9 out of 10 so I think I'm doing okay.

However, I like to post snippets of my work. I don't do it for praise or critique, but I like people to see what I'm working on. Perhaps I think if they like it enough (and I ever get an agent to sell it) someone might buy it (eventually if it ever gets published.)

I know it's a gamble jumping in to the middle, but I think the snippets I post keep people coming back just to see what's going to happen next. I think. I hope.

I rarely do blogfests, I think 3 in the last 2 years, and I was asked to take my published short story off my blog, as it's in an anthology and the publishers want people to buy the book instead of reading the content for free.

Do you really think posting short excerpts (Usually 800 words average) is a really bad idea? A friend of mine posted his and he got an offer from an unsolicited agent after she read his stuff.

February 27, 2011 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gabriela--You're so right. Content is #1. I should have made that clear. I write about content in my How to Blog series, especially "Part Duh"--link on the right in the sidebar. What you had in your latte this AM is not going to keep people coming back. (Cappucinos are so much more interesting:-))

KarenG--I love your giraffe so much I forgive its slowness, but if you could get somebody to shrink the size of that photo for you, it would be a boon to us all.

Aisha--Your content is always interesting: you sat next to Queen Latifah?! But if I were you, I'd consolidate all your blogs into one with your name on it, with maybe a separate page for reviews, if you like to separate them--then declare the blog about your unique perspective as a Pakistani-American. Then everything would be relevant.

Donna--I remember you saying you were going to go off and write for a while, so I haven't dropped in. I guess it's time I did. I hope the muse is being good to you.

February 27, 2011 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Lots of great advice. I think I'm doing most of it right. I've read many posts saying what to do to grow your blog audience but I like hearing what not to do also.

February 27, 2011 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger SavvyD said...

There are alot of bloggers who just disappear. I reflected on that in a recent blog post. Many who are still around, are so bitter and antisocial that it bleeds from every pore, driving others away and leaving them with lots of time to blog. Sad.

There are so many blogs which have the last post being 2007.

If you are still around past 2 months much less 2 years, wow! Pat yourself on the back.

I actually told another blogger I hated her music and she removed it. Also, I had some problems with an annoying poster which made me switch to disallowing anonymous comments.

And even a musician's website I know spammed. So it does happen. But that's why we can moderate.

February 27, 2011 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Lola Sharp said...

I agree with every single point you made here.

I'd also add:

~Make sure your avatar/profile links to your blog. It's frustrating when someone follows me and I can't a least visit them back.

~And when you DO have link(s) to your blog(s), PLEASE make sure your MAIN public writing blog is the first one on top, with a name I know will be your main writing blog. If I have to click and load your family blog, then exit out and WHOOPS now I'm on your dog photography blog...but none of the titles give me a clue as to which is which...I bail out.

I hop you had a lovely weekend, Anne. :)
Hugs,
Lola

February 27, 2011 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great advice, Anne! If I ever...no, when I do start...blogging I will keep these in mind. It's all good (if you can use this term with regards to the blogosphere!) common sense!

February 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Florence said...

The first thing that strikes me is layout. I like it simple and I agree, white lettering on a black background is difficult to read, like red lettering on a black background. Flashing animation and bright neon colors are also a turn-off. Make it neat and dignified ... like yours :)

I like the more upbeat blogs, a blog where I can be assured I am going to learn something useful, or gain insight into the process we all struggle with.

With so much out there, we could be "visiting" all day and get nothing much else done. It means we have to be economical with our blog time.

Thanks for another great post :)

February 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure my blog is guilty of being image-heavy. I keep adjusting and it keeps filling up. I also have a stat counter, way at the bottom, but Dani at BlogBookTours drilled into us last summer that we had to have one for potential guests to see.
Agree with you on word verification and the need for short posts. I'm fast approaching 600 followers and I just don't have the time to read that many blog posts.

February 27, 2011 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger KarenG said...

And Anne, Yours is one of the very few blogs I'll go back to read comments in case you respond to mine and also I like to read what others say after me, because your posts are always so thought provoking that I like to follow through. Will go in and try to shrink my giraffe, just for you!

February 27, 2011 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anne--I've got to admit I'm more likely to read the nonfic stuff than parts of the WIP. I tend to just read the intro and move on, because I've probably missed the previous post and I'm clueless about what's going on. But you have lots of loyal followers who do read and comment, and when it ain't broke, don't fix it. When you do get an agent, she'll probably ask you not to do it, but until then, I'm sure it's fine. If you want to look as if you're already there, you could post the WIP snips on a separate page.

Susan--a lot of blog advice comes from sales people--and their rules don't always apply to writers. I find I need to take some of their more aggressive advice with several grains of salt.

Savvy D--You're so right about the whiners. It's a long process. We all get down. But save it for your journal, people!

I haven't actually been blogging for 2 years, since I started just so I'd have an account so I could post on other blogs. I think it's been more like a year and a half that I've actually been writing stuff here. But I remember you were one of my first commenters. Thanks for sticking around! And congrats on being one of the top 100 Christian bloggers!

Lola--YES!!! Thanks. Such an important piece of advice: If you have six blogs, put the word 'writing' or 'author' in the title. When I click on the pictures of your summer vacation, I'm gone. And probably not coming back.

Christine--you're right. We're all a little nuts out here.

Florence--I agree about upbeat and informative blogs. Always more likely to get my attention.

Alex--If you weren't you, and didn't have such great content, I probably wouldn't come by so often. But you have a more techie audience, so that look may be right for your primary readers.

I'm interested that Dani told you to post your stats. I've been told several times that's considered a newbie mistake. I'll have to check out what her reasoning is.

KarenG--thanks for coming back. And thanks for the petite giraffe!

February 27, 2011 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

"Skip the soundtrack". YES!!!!

Skip the word verification. YES!!!

You read my mind, and summarized my own thoughts so very well. :)

February 27, 2011 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Solvang Sherrie said...

You've said it all so well, as usual :) I do keep the word verification because I got hit with spammers both times I took it off.

February 28, 2011 at 12:32 AM  
OpenID gargimehra said...

Agree with all the reasons you've given, and fervently hope I'm not committing any of the same sins!

February 28, 2011 at 2:05 AM  
Blogger Claudia said...

YES! This is great advice. I'm really glad you mentioned my pet peeve - word verification. UGH. Hate it!

One thing (since you asked)... I do get mega-turned-off by 'serious' bloggers posting about the awards they have received. I came pretty close to un-following you a few weeks ago when you did several 'awards' in a row. (Sorry... but you did ask what repels us!) I'm sure some blog awards are meaningful, but mostly they seem a bit high-schoolish to me, and make me take a blog a whole lot less seriously.

I'm really glad I didn't un-follow; posts like this make me glad I stayed!

February 28, 2011 at 5:00 AM  
Blogger Liz Fichera said...

I'm totally with you on the blogs that take too long too load. Too many graphics will do that. If it doesn't load like, within a second or two, I usually move on to the next blog.

February 28, 2011 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Andi said...

Good wisdom here. I love finding new blogs, but like you, if it's too long, I don't read it. I just don't have time.
Thanks for the advice.

February 28, 2011 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Icy Sedgwick said...

I agree so much about word verification - I've never used it and I've never had any spam! I don't understand why people persist in using it. I also don't like it when I have to trawl through umpteen boxes of blog awards to find the RSS button - I tried to stick mine near the top.

February 28, 2011 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Darke Conteur said...

Thanks for the tips. I re-arranged some of my blog because of these.

What attracts me to blogs are the success/frustration of other writers, with reaching their goals. It's nice to see I'm not the only one having the same experiences.

As to what repels, well I don't mind reading personal posts from writers, but if you're a writer, blog about writing please. At least once a week. Your goldfish might be cute, but I don't want to read about him every day.

February 28, 2011 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Susan Johnston said...

I agree with most of these (especially posting excerpts - a definite don't!) except for ads. If someone is pouring a ton of time into writing quality content for their blog, I don't object to them wanting to earn a little money from that so long as there aren't Google Ads crammed into every corner of the blog.

I used to have a few Google Ads on my blog (nothing too in your face to detract from the content), but I felt uncomfortable with the spamminess of some of the advertisers so I switched to BlogHer Ads. They pay better than Google Ads and they're more selective about advertisers. If you're really offended by ads, you could always use AdBlocker so you don't have to see them.

February 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Angeline said...

Excellent post. It may sound harsh, but you are 100% spot on. I decide in about 3 seconds whether to read/follow a blog or not, and, quite evidently, a lot of other people do too. Brilliant advice.

February 28, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Tawna Fenske said...

Excellent tips all around! I was a journalist many moons ago, and one of the biggest rules of thumb was to write an interesting "lead" that captured the reader's attention within the first ten words. I strive to do that on my blog, and I'll admit I get bored easily if I don't see it right away on others.

Thanks for this post!

Tawna

February 28, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Sierra Godfrey said...

One of the things that made me leave a blog and never return was when the blogger lamented about not being able to keep up with all her tons of commenters--the horror! She certainly didn't need me to comment, I figured. This goes in the narcissistic and failure to actually engage with others bucket.

The key here is that she never even knew it. I never commented-- I just never came back.

February 28, 2011 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger bookspersonally said...

Anne, grand advice as always! As a relative newbie, some of those things (figuring out what buttons to put on) tend to come along with experience. I am surprised how many bloggers use fonts that are hard to read, and please, don't "center" your text- align left! PLEASE!!!! If my eyes can't focus on it, I won't read it. (Your title here is brilliant, who could help but click!)

February 28, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Gabriela Lessa said...

Great advice, and all so true! I particularly agree with number 2. When the blog title and description seem too vague or too up in the clouds, I always get a feeling I'll be reading a whole bunch of random nonsense. That keeps me from following...

February 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Flower Patch, Gargi, Sherrie (yes, you're one who told me you got hit by a spambot) Liz, Andi, Angeline, Gabriela--Thanks!

Claudia and Icy--you've brought up something I've really been wondering about--THANK YOU! It's those blog awards. When I first started blogging, I simply thanked people and didn't post them because they seemed unprofessional. But then I saw them on blogs I admired, so I posted them, but only between my scheduled weekly posts. But they feel a little like those chain emails you get and have to pass on to 20 of your closest friends or have bad luck the rest of your life. It takes way too much time to answer the questions and link to other blogs and notify people. I recently saw a blogger had her awards on a separate page. Very smart. I'll do the same from now on.

Darke--Yes! Keep the personal stuff to a minimum.

Unless you're:
TAWNA FENSKE!! the funniest blogger in the business. She can write about anything and you'll eat it up. And she always has a great lead. Thanks for stopping by, Tawna! Everybody, if you want to know how to do a great author blog, go visit Tawna's. Even Janet Reid is in awe of her.

Susan--thanks for the valuable info on ads! You're right that an ad or two is fine if it's for something useful.

Sierra--I've seen that too. OH, poor little blogger. Too many people love you. Aren't you glad I don't? Bye!

Books, YES! This is something I've been seeing too. Don't center! Our eyes aren't trained to read that way. Thanks for the kudos on my title. It does seem to have sent some new readers my way.

Welcome all!

February 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Brandon (@BrandonPDuncan) said...

WOW! This is an awesome post! So much information... (I love the part where you called the commenter an ignorant pipsqueak... too funny.)

To answer your question, I would have to say pop-ups. I am not an 'in your face' advertiser/salesman. I just don't like or appreciate the pop-up marketing schemes.

Great blog! I will definitely be back!

February 28, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger James Rainsford said...

Would love you to visit and critique my blog. I'm sure you'd spot what I'm doing wrong.

February 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Mizmak said...

Thank you - my blog is only a couple of weeks old so I'm trying to learn how to make it work well for folks, and this post and your earlier ones on How to Blog have been very helpful.

Re: #7 - I started my blog because I kept reading The Literary lab and finding that I had more to say about topics than were appropriate for comments. I don't like the tendency towards drive-by posting (tweets, FB, etc); I do have an attention span and I like to engage it. I'll do my best to keep things entertaining with a clear focus to each post, though. Excellent points!

February 28, 2011 at 12:23 PM  
OpenID bundlepost said...

Thanx for the mention Anne! To be clear, you definitely DON'T want a fleet of your Brand's Posts on the freeway, that will be too much self promotion. You need a fleet of relevant content for your target audience, mixed with your brands content.

Great post!

Robert

February 28, 2011 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger KarenG said...

Ok, my handy hubby shrunk my giraffe. Can you pop over and let me know if that loads easier? Thanks!

February 28, 2011 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Yvonne Osborne said...

Good Advice. I've been guilty of the snippet thing, but not very often. I don't like music either and if a blog doesn't load in seconds I go to my next stop on the freeway. What a ride. Hey, how about that NOTES FROM UNDERGROUD??? Congratulations!

March 1, 2011 at 6:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Brandon--thanks for the kudos and for the ReTweet. Much appreciated.

James--as I said on your blog, it's elegant and serene, with some lovely poetry. I hope you're submitting to magazines and contests.

Mizmak--I jumped over to your blog from Literary Lab last week. Loved it.

Bundlepost--thanks for the drive-by! I guess I got it wrong about the fleet of Acuras. Nobody here is likely to be guilty of too much self-promotion. We're all shy writers.

KarenG--love the shrunken giraffe. Loads like magic.

Yvonne, NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND!!! YAY! Can't wait to read your piece.

March 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
OpenID ninabadzin.com said...

Excellent post! For me the biggest offender is music. Horrible. I personally don't mind if the blog as a whole is about more than one subject (because that's my blog for sure) but more than subject in a single post is something I don't love.

March 1, 2011 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Sierra Gardner said...

Great post Anne! Content is a big one for me. I usually skim blog posts in Google reader, so I only end up commenting on the posts that have really relevant content (umm... like yours =). Otherwise I just take a quick look and move on.

p.s. Your previous suggestions on blog format prompted me to clean up my blog and it really helped - thanks!

March 1, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Anne, these are excellent points. I do have comment moderation in place, but I moderate frequently so that there isn't too much lag time. I've received a few spam comments that made me glad they could be deleted before ever being visible on my blog! My blog is a food blog, so you *will* learn what I had for dinner!

March 1, 2011 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Simon Kewin said...

Great advice Anne : there's nothing I can think of to add. I switched off my word verification a while back because I noticed my comments on other people's blogs sometimes vanished. I was clicking the Comment button and moving on, forgetting about the verification window that might be appearing. Turning this off is definitely recommended!

March 3, 2011 at 4:15 AM  
Blogger Roni Loren said...

Agree with absolutely everything you said! Off to tweet. :)

March 3, 2011 at 1:06 PM  
OpenID stickynotestories said...

I like a clean, simple blog so I can't stand it when I hit a link and there's flashy things and sparkles and blog awards littering the sidebar. Or music. I'm always confused when suddenly something else is clashing with my music (I always have my music on when I'm on the computer). And the quickest way to get rid of the music is to close the window.

Passing this post on to help in the fight against busy blogs! :)

March 3, 2011 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Anne, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head with these. The ones that get me the most are the imbedded music and word verification. Most especially the word verification that pops up AFTER you've hit the submit button and started to close out the browser. If I click out before I see that, sorry Charlie, I'm not retyping it up again.

March 3, 2011 at 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Great post! I'll also add that when there is no evidence of the blogger's interaction with their readers (they never respond in the comments or address them in posts) that it's a turn-off for me. I like the interaction and community feeling at my favorite blogs.

March 3, 2011 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--I meant a single blogpost should have one subject, not necessarily the whole blog. Of course, in the above post, I have two only sort-of related subjects. I guess rules are for breaking.

Sierra--thanks a bunch. Your blog looks elegant!

Yes, Jean, we want to know what you had for dinner! And visuals are more important on a food blog.

Simon and Tracy, you've hit on why the word verification is so deadly. You lose a lot of comments and people leave annoyed. Not good.

Roni--Thanks for the ReTweet!

sticky--thanks for spreading the word.

Amanda--you're so right. Even Nathan Bransford, with his 5000+ followers, sometimes comments in the thread and often bases his subsequent posts on comments. And if he really likes a comment, he copies it into a post.

When in doubt, I always ask myself "What would Nathan do?"

March 3, 2011 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Stina Lindenblatt said...

You've nail a number of things that irritate me about some blogs. The biggest being the ones that take too long to load. I have a limited amount of time to read blogs (like everyone else), so I don't appreciate it when I have to wait for it to load. I also don't like the security words because they slow down my blogging time. I switched my comment settings so that you have to have an account to leave a message which has eliminated spam. The only people to leave comments anyway were the ones with an account of some sort or spammers. So problem solved. :D

March 4, 2011 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger Stephen L. Brayton said...

Commenting from the Google account profile is sometimes difficult if Google is being pissy about getting up that word verification. I agree with the black type on white background. White on black sometimes is too 'busy' or complicated. Bloggers also need a solid background for the text. Small black letters that look like they're on a window overlooking some picture is irritating. I may love pic, but I can't read the type because it blends in with the background or disappears in the glare of some bright color.

March 4, 2011 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I must agree with all of those! I just hope I'm not one of the blogs that you don't read... ;)

When all is said and done, I can only choose a very small percentage of posts and blogs which I actually read and comment on. I have novels to write. :)

March 5, 2011 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Scvhuyler Kaufman said...

Hello, Anne. I edit and produce our writers' group's monthly Journal. I'd like your permission to print this blog entry in the High Country Writers' Journal (Boone, NC), due on March 8th?
Not all of my readers are computer-comfy, and this would interest us and give us something useful and substantial to think/do something about. I see that Maggie Bishop is a frequent reader of yours; she is a member of HCW, and a friend on my facebook page[Schuyler Kaufman]. Maggie counsels us to maintain an InterNet presence, but many of us still tremble before the mighty 'Net.
We need your help
Thank you for your attention ...
--- schuyler kaufman
schuylerkaufman@hotmail.com

March 5, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Susan Whitfield said...

Great post! I'm with you about the music and animation. I have to move along quickly, but I enjoy reading about other authors and industry experts from time to time. I'm not really that interested in every opinion some writers force on me in their blogs. Just say something useful, and let us go. This article was well done with a checklist for us to use. I see that I need to figure out how to do the "Follow" for my blog. Thanks so much for the tips.

I enjoy interviewing other writers and experts on my own blog and seldom write about myself although my sidebar has my biography and tweets. Occasionally, the interview runs longer than I'd like, but we try to keep them short and interesting with a book cover or two and how to learn more about the writers. I hope I don't get a low grade for that:-0

Susan Whitfield
www.susanwhitfieldonline.com
www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com

March 5, 2011 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks Stina!

Stephen--you're right about the pictures. I've also discovered that a design which has good contrast in one platform, like Firefox, may be unreadable in Internet Explorer, so it's important to check other platforms if you can. My Twitter page is like that and I think I need to change my background.

Thanks Michelle! How you manage to keep up such a great blog, plus blog for Literary Lab, edit the anthology, and publish a book a year (maybe more?) I don't know.

Schuyler--As I've written to you, sure: It's OK to reprint stuff from this blog. Just make sure you spell my name right, give the blog address/link (& say I'm awesome, of course.)

Susan--Thanks! Using your blog to promote other writers' work earns you the best possible karma. Interviews can go a little longer: dialogue is always more interesting than monologue.

March 5, 2011 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Jan Markley said...

These are all good points to remember. A blog is a package deal - it's not all about the text (which can often be dense and long as you point out) it's about the whole visual and reading experience.

March 5, 2011 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Dorothy Ann Segovia said...

Thanks! I am revamping my blog!

March 6, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three things turn me off on writers' blogs. One, the blog is a rambling "musings on my mind" of gibberish or takes forever to get to a point. I have a day job and my time for reading blogs is sorely limited. I only look at blogs that make the reading worth my while and give me solid inf. Two, blogs that are "photos of my grandkids" or just chitchat about the blogger's vacation. Nice, but save it for Facebook. Three, I hate going through a dozen "security" hurdles to post a comment or taking 20 minutes to first "set up a Yahoo profile" or whatever first. I haven't posted on several blogs because of that. Bloggers should make blog reading fun, not a pain.
Sally C.

March 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger The Bigger Picture said...

Some really great insights Anne! Some things I think I've done right but you've challenged me to make some adjustments about other things. You ten points is definitely something all bloggers should consider!

March 7, 2011 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Yes, yes, and yes! Long blog posts and word verification slows me down and makes me a bit cranky. Thanks for this great post.

March 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

Fantastic post, as always, Anne! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the freeway analogy. I'm going to check out Bundlepost right now. About the follower button, though - do you mean an RSS feed? Because I don't get notifications when someone I'm following through Google Friend Connect posts to their blog. I just have all the blogs I follow in my Google Reader, and I enter them manually.

March 8, 2011 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--It's a package deal--well put. We take in a blog all at once.

Dot--I'll go check it out!

Sally--I'm with you on all of those.

Bigger--Glad I could help.

Julie--who needs any more cranky in our stressful world?

Meghan--I'm talking about an actual button to "follow" your blog, or at least a way to "subscribe to this blog." Because you only have an RSS feed, you close yourself off to all readers who don't use an RSS feed. I LOVE your blog, but I can only find it when I see a comment from you somewhere and I click through to your profile. Yes, I've got it bookmarked somewhere, but I've got so many, they get buried.

March 9, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Anne, I have no idea how I do it either, honestly.

March 9, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Downith said...

I've been thinking about losing the comment moderation - your blog and the link to Best Damn Creative Writing blog have convinced me. So thanks.

March 10, 2011 at 5:05 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Downith--Glad you decided to try it. You may get a bit of spam, or a troll visit or two, but you might as well moderate the comments after they go up, and you'll have so many more comments, it will be worth it. I think I've had maybe ten mildly spammy posts and four troll visits in the two years I've been blogging.

March 10, 2011 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Leslie Rose said...

I'm basking in all the fantastic information in this post. Love the freeway analogy. When I first started driving I was petrified of the freeway, just like I was of blogging. Your post made more freeway friendly. Thank you.

March 10, 2011 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Lisa Gail Green said...

Leslie (above) recommended I stop here and I'm glad she did! Nice to have found you. And excellent post.

March 10, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

If I were me, I might not find my blog either. When I left blogger for WP I lost all my followers. Every single one because google friend connect and WP are not allowed to be friends. Wah! So I'm starting all over trying to get people to read again. And that's hard. You are very right though, don't just throw anything up to throw something up (I've been guilty of that in the past, except Random Tuesdays, people love when I'm random for some reason) There of course has to be some quantity but it really needs to be quality too.

March 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Kaylee Baldwin said...

Great post!

I love white space in blog posts. I'm usually skimming through the posts and I'll stop if something really interests me, and it's really difficult to skim a marathon paragraph.

Also, I love when the blog author has a ton of personality in their posts. I want to know I'm reading about a person, not a wanna-be textbook.

March 14, 2011 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous KJ Kron said...

Well said - you are too kind to put forth such an effort. I've tried to keep up with other bloggers -as it seems like the polite thing to do, but it's such a time drain. Good advice.

March 15, 2011 at 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post. Especially the part about getting to the point in the blog. I do want to know what the blog is about early. But appears that everyone is not blogging for the same reason, so some people need the other outlets that blogging allows like snippets of content. I agree, I am not interested in the music. But people blog for different reasons.

November 20, 2011 at 8:37 PM  

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