How to Drive People Away from Your Blog (First Impressions Count!)

Posted April 4, 2018 by Sophia
45 Comments

Humans are naturally judgmental of others, even if we like to say we’re not or we try not to. The first time you meet someone, you take a look at what they look like, what they’re wearing, and instantly, your brain sorts them into categories.

The same applies to blogs. We come across hundreds of blogs in and out of our blogging career – some we choose to follow, some we choose not to.

A lot of people will say content matters (and it does!), but the first thing we see when we load up a site is their design, an essential step to keeping your readers just a little longer so they can see your fantastic content.

Let’s talk about why people might avoid your blog.

Oh, please. You know you want to know. 😉

A horrible combination of background color and text color

Confession: when I first started, I was a culprit of this as well (kind of). I had a dark background, but I had a white post background with black text. That’s not too bad considering I’ve seen worse. It was still readable, okay?!

I’ve seen blogs that have a black background (on the post as well) and bright text. I’ve also seen blogs that have a white background and bright text (very rare). The point: don’t use bright text. It is horrible for the eyes, and I will click out within five seconds.

There’s nothing personal against you – I care more about my eyeballs, though. Does this make me sound selfish?

Huge blocks of text with almost no breaks

I once came across a blogger who had great ideas, and I enjoyed reading them, but eventually, their posts became a bit of an issue. Not only did they have a horrible combination of background color and text color, they had huge blocks of texts in their blog posts with virtually no breaks!

The writer in me wanted to take their blog posts and break it up into prettier chunks.

Now imagine this happening in a book… because that has happened, and it was not fun. Bonus: the book was horrible too.

I try to break up my paragraphs as naturally as possible, but also short. WordPress is nicer to me on the phone, so I do a lot of my blog work on my phone rather than my laptop. Phone have smaller screens, so when you have a huge wall of text that takes up two of my phone screens, I’m probably not going to read it.

And well, let me be honest: I skim blog posts sometimes. Hey, hey, take back those tomatoes because you do it too occasionally. Don’t you lie.

I’m not saying to be short and choppy – don’t do that, I like your words flowing – just keep your audience in mind. With so much technology and everyone being on their phones, it’s not wrong to assume most of your audience will be reading from their devices.

The bigger the paragraph, the chunkier it looks, the more daunting it seems. And the smaller the screen, the bigger the paragraph looks. Smartphones are getting bigger screens, but that doesn’t mean everyone has the latest technology – there will always be someone who has a smaller screen.

EDIT: There is always an exception to this one – if you’re writing an amazing post, I want to read it! I’m going to go devour every word of it. I do mean if your entire post is well… one big paragraph when it should be six, then well… no thanks.

Everything is disproportioned

Last week I came across a blog while comment hopping, and I think I got nightmares in less than a second. Everything was unaligned with each other – pictures were falling over into the sidebars…

I couldn’t even find their comments section.

I’m sorry if the owner is reading this. Just know it’s nothing personal, but my brain blew into smithereens. 🙁

All of your posts are promotional

I’m talking about book blitzes, book blasts – that type of thing. And I completely understand because I did the exact same thing when I first started blogging. (Well, not as much as some, but I still did a lot. I deleted most of them after the move to WordPress though…) Book blitzes, blasts – those are basically copy and paste.

Having promotional posts is okay, but there is such a thing as too much (as in every single day, maybe more than once a day). I want original content – I want to learn more about the blogger behind the post, I want to hear your thoughts, I want to hear your voice. Damn, I’ve gotten pickier over the years.

This is something I learned later on in my blogging career, and I almost never participate in blitzes or blasts now unless I have something to spice it up with (like why I’m excited about this book).

Okay, let’s be honest here: it’s super hard to come up with a thoughtful comment when the post is promotional. “This book looks interesting!” or “I really like the cover of this book, and I hope it will live up to expectation!” isn’t something I like saying a lot, but that’s all I have to say unless I’ve read it, right?

It doesn’t start a conversation either. “Me too!” sounds like the typical response.

I’m sorry that sounded a little salty. 🙁

Super tiny font sizes

I’ve come across blogs with large text sizes – which is okay, my eyes are okay, I can handle big text – and I’ve come across blogs with tiny text sizes.

I wear glasses, and I have trouble seeing already. Sorry for sounding like a whiner, but I highly doubt anyone who doesn’t wear contacts can clearly see an 8 pt font without squinting.

Try it for yourself. Can you see this super tiny font?

Honestly though, can you? You probably can. But do you want to see it for this entire blog post? (Just imagine.)

No? I don’t either. I use a 15 pt font. I’m not saying you should go change your font sizes to 15 pt but do pay attention to the size. Ask a few friends to look it over and give you feedback. Heck, I volunteer as tribute.

Crowded sidebar

When I first started blogging, I put a lot of things in my sidebar – blogroll, blog button, ways to follow, archives, rating system, a review queue, favorite book series, etc. etc. I wanted to make things easier for everyone to find right there on the homepage, without having to go from page to page.

It’s too much.

There’s nothing wrong with 3-columns. Some people do it beautifully and have a great layout, which is perfectly fine, and I can’t complain because let me admit it right here: I did it too.

If you go around the internet, you’ll notice a lot of blogs use a 2-column layout rather than a 3-column. All of them probably have different reasons compared to mine, but here’s why I switched to a 2-column:

  • Blog posts don’t appear as long
  • I think most people’s eyes aren’t going to go back and forth, back and forth
  • There’s more space! (This seems to be a pattern in my online and offline projects?)
  • It looks cleaner
  • I read an article about 2-columns and wanted to try it out for myself

No, really. I’m a very curious person, and if I like something I see, I’m probably going to try it out one day. It didn’t help me with relationship problems though, what are you even doing Google. Such a disappointment.

Note: I use caution before proceeding. Will not willingly volunteer for dangerous things. Also note the 2-column is referring to something similar to Bookwyrming Thoughts’ current layout, not a grid or magazine layout.

I’m going to give the same advice as I did with promotional posts: there is such a thing as too much.

And of course, whatever doesn’t work for me, might work for you! If your audience likes 3-columns, keep it. If you think it’s too much and want to try 2-columns, go for it. If you think promotional posts are good, go for it.

It’s your blog in the end. What you change, what you post – it’s all up to you.

Let’s talk, bookwyrms: what makes you stay on a blog? What drives you away from them?

Sophia is a socially awkward Communications major who has a GIF for nearly everything and is frequently in a Hogwarts House Crisis. More of her bookish reviews can be found at The Arts STL.

Categories: Blogging
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45 responses to “How to Drive People Away from Your Blog (First Impressions Count!)

  1. interesting post! For me it is important that the content on the blog is relevant and interesting to me. I am newish to blogging so I’m still looking for interesting people to follow. Therefore I judge a blog on findability of content. If if takes me too long to figure out what’s it about, I’m out. I guess that would mean good titles of posts and a clear lay-out. Also a good ‘about me’ page can do the trick for me.

    • Ah, content. Yes – having interesting content is a must have for me as well, since I like commenting on other blogs when I have the chance. It’s really hard to have a conversation (for me that is) when all the posts are promotional. 🙁

      A search bar is a must-have, especially if there are TONS of blog posts – who has time to go through those? I know that sounds a little cynical, but the reality is people are busy.

      I wish I could say I have a decent about page, but I’m honestly not sure about that. Writing is one of my strengths, but I always struggle with talking about myself on paper.

  2. I agree with all your points, Sophia! I’m super picky when it comes to blog visuals. I mean, of course, it’s the content that matters most! But the visual person inside me silently judges visually unreadable blogs. You’re content won’t be SEEN if your blog is all cluttered! Another very minor issue I have is when bloggers have long posts and don’t use headings/page breaks for their sub-points. The post starts to look intimidating, and sometimes that drives me away from wanting to read it. D:

    • I used to be less picky about visuals, but over time, I’ve become judgemental… But I do agree – while we would love to skip over the aesthetics, it’s harder to get your content read if everything is cluttered and all over the place. 🙁

      Headings is another issue I have as well, depending on the content. If it’s a discussion, headings are a MUST compared to a review. Although reviews can have headings as well depending on the format… I should probably try to incorporate that more often, haha.

  3. Hmmm I do break up my text but it may sometimes get a bit chunky on phones depending on the device…it’s not intentional it’s just I write, format and schedule using my laptop. I do try my best to break down the paragraphs though.

    If the blog is super overcrowded I won’t stay for long…also some blogs have their social media icons fixed to either the side of bottom and it covers part of the post. I can’t cope with them. I like to see the post not have it partially covered. Colours like you said, it’s why my blog doesn’t use bright colours. (if at any point my blog has a bright colour you need to tell me girl, ok! I’m relying on ya here xD)

    Oooo there’s this blog that I’ve come across now and it looks super pretty but…the layout doesn’t agree with me. The posts are mostly book reviews which is fine but they’re displayed as just the picture and you have to hover over to see the title. Loved the post!

    • Definitely! Phones are a little harder since the smaller the screen, the harder it is to make it look pretty on there. I’ll be sure to tell you if your blog hurts my eyeballs in any way. 😉

      Oof. I’m assuming it’s using a similar layout to the one that’s on my portfolio since I use a very similar theme… I’m not too bothered depending on what it is to be honest.

  4. shooting

    Fun post! I really don’t like blogs that are hard to read, so yeah, it’s important to realize what color your background and fonts are in and if they easy to read or not. And yes, please break things up into paragraphs!!

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    • Thanks, Lauren! I think most people have the colors down, fortunately, though there’s still a few that I end up avoiding because of the color usage.

  5. *Me, rushing to looks again at my blog*

    This post is super useful, for newbies and more expert bloggers. Sometimes simple things are forgotten. I can pretty m,uch agree on everything.
    Your words reminds so much of many italian bloggers. Some blogs are just so messy and with absurd post fonts that I just… NO. But in my country looks like people don’t really mind.
    But yes, sometimes the cleaner the better. But it happens to me to find some blogs a little more “crowded” that are quite fine, but sure not the majority

    • Thanks, Camilla! I only know one Italian book blogger, though while hers is colorful, I love reading her posts, so I guess she’s an exception? Haha. I’m sure there are worse though. Some crowded blogs clash together well, though sometimes too much is a bit too much. I suppose the challenge is finding a good balance.

      P.S. I think your blog looks fine the way it is. 😉

  6. This is such an ongoing discussion that I have with so many bloggers who I’ve helped with their blogs over the years. I have compulsion for parallel lines and evenness so when clicking onto a blog with messy sidebars escaping their confounds, I have to click off or I end up feeling distressed. Music is another miss for me. I blog and comment on blogs in the early morning and sudden music has me closing the browser and fleeing the keyboard. I like how blogs are now trying a more minimalist approach, it’s so much more easier on the eyes. I remember my blog when I first started, it was a horrifying pink mess and I had no idea what I was doing.

    • I think I remember that, haha! Mine was the same way – very colorful and I also had no idea what I was doing. We’ve grown in blogging knowledge over the years, XD. I also love the minimalistic approach – it’s much clean and simple and easy on the eyes. ^_^

      Music I usually don’t notice unless I’m already listening to music – it’s like two songs are clashing together horribly and I prefer the one that I chose rather than the one that was “forced” upon me.

  7. […] an interesting and insightful post about points that drive her away from a person’s blog in How To Drive People Away From Your Blog. She brings up some great suggestions for bloggers to consider for the layout of their […]

  8. Ohhh!!! GREAT POST Sophia! I love it.

    I’m suprised you do so much blog work on your phone! That’s impressive. I try to keep up on my phone… But considering I’m like a month behind on blogging you can see how that’s going for me. 😀

    I also LOVE reading more about the person behind the blog. It’s how I connect. I do read promo posts but… I don’t love to do that. I post promo posts though!!!! But I’m becoming very choosy about what I will promote and I make sure it’s something I have read or want to read MYSELF.

    I noticed the other day that MY blog has a tiny mobile reading font!!!! Oops. SORRY!!!!!!!!!!! I need to fix that. Still on my to-do list!

    I’ve moved to a hiding column… I just liked the cleaner look. But again – I haven’t spent enough time on the mobile site. I need to see how everything is translating.

    Again, WONDERFUL POST. 🙂

    • I think that’s the perk of moving to WordPress – I get to blog more often on my phone in a pinch if needed to be honest. Phone is VERY hard on Blogger – both Lupe and I can attest to that. The web version sucks horribly and the app is just as bad. 🙁

      I’m the same way in regards to promo posts. I’ve become more picky as well since I can have something to say baout the book while promoting it at the same time, haha.

      Oh no! Fortunately I’m usually on your blog on a laptop. But do fix that ASAP, lol. 😉

      I think Google Chrome has an option for that and there are a few sites that test the mobile browser. I do know for sure Google Chrome has a way, so let me know if you want me to show you. 😀

  9. Awesome tips!! Lots of new bloggers get overly excited about what they like, and may not cater to their audience. I’m still working on posting more non-review posts and writing more of my opinions.

    • Thank you! True, although some bloggers are simply blogging for themselves as well. Posting nonreviews more is something I continue to struggle with as well, though occasionally I’ll have a few posts up my sleeve.

  10. This is such an interesting post, I love it! I think we share pretty much the same pet-peeves when it comes to blogs, haha. I am not a huge fan of big chunks of texts, but I also know that I tend to write a lot and that my paragraphs are probably too long as well, I really need to work on that. But I read blogs 99,9% of the time on my computer (I never blog from my phone), so big paragraphs don’t bother me as much as they would if I were reading on my phone, I guess 🙂
    I’m with you on the small fonts and the bright colors – bright backgrounds and overall appearance of the blog. It seems superficial, but we do care about our eyeballs and if the blog isn’t… well, it’s not good to navigate in it and we get a headache in two seconds, it’s not worth it :/
    Lovely post!! 🙂

    • Headache > blog, even if you love the blogger.

      I try reading on my computer as much as I can since I type quicker and things don’t get erased (plus I have Notepad up to type my comment in while reading the post) – all the luxuries that a phone doesn’t have I have on a computer, haha.

      Big paragraphs aren’t horrible depending on the situation and the post though USUALLY it bothers me.

  11. I have terrible eyesight, so small text and colorful websites make me go cross-eyed. I just switched my blog from 3-columns to 2-columns. One of my sidebars was mostly empty, so I thought I should just get rid of it. I was also hoping my posts would look smaller with 2 columns because they tend to be really long.

  12. You know what the funny thing is? 😀 I have actually seen some popular bright colored / blinky blogs. They’re usually popular among the older generation though. I wonder if it’s the pull of 1999 or if they just never recovered from it xD

  13. Sophia, this is so helpful! Thank you so much. I am new to your blog (came here through Evelina’s blog), and so I am not sure if you have written more about other things to look out for as bloggers. I am considering GIFs as a way to break up the text and bring humor into a post, but I am not sure about where to start (and how!). Also, do you have tips on headers by any chance? WordPress makes mine zoomed in and gross. I’m going to look for your awesome blog on Bloglovin. Expect to see more of me in the comments! Your post was so helpful.

    • I don’t think so, haha – I’ve written something about content creation and something else.

      GIFs are fantastic since they count as images and images are great for breaking up text (at least in my opinion)! I’d say as long as it’s relevant and not too much (unless that’s the intention) you should be fine. Too much might slow down the page for loading, though.

      Not too sure about the WordPress header though… I usually make my headers large enough, but I’ll look it up in my settings and see… there’s likely to be an option there that avoids auto resizing…

      Also thank you! Looking forward to chatting in the comments. ^_^

  14. I have to really, really agree with the small font. I mean, I know I can zoom in, this is the internet, but it’s annoying to have to adjust the zoom when I am surfing.

  15. Super post Sophia! I agree with you on the points. No matter how much I resist, I always silently judge a blog by it looks. When I started blogging, I researched for many blogs and find a few good ones which were aesthetically pleasing while a few were just horrible.. especially the Blogspot ones. I automatically found myself following the beautiful ones.
    Regarding sidebar, probably you are right. I too sometimes think that even my sidebar is crowded, but at the moment I am okay with it as I have only shared the things which are needed, but let’s see 🙂

    Nice post!

    • Oof, Blogspot is hard to have a nice blog, although there are definitely a few out there that are beautiful as well – those are just few and far between compared to WordPress though, haha. I think your sidebar looks fine the way it is, though. Or maybe it’s just the layout in general and it fits? Sometimes feels a little crowded, but I don’t know – I’ve never had an issue with yours. 😉

  16. Big blocks of text is my biggest turn off! I like short broken up sections. Even if two posts are the exact same word count I am more likely to read the one with broken up sections. (Especially if they have pictures or gifs between the sections!)

    • I think a lot of people will agree! Images and GIFs (assuming they are used correctly) are perfect ways to break up the text into smaller sections and make it more entertaining.

  17. Vee @ Under The Mountain

    I’ve been on a few blogs lately where the two sidebars are like 500px (I’m guessing, go with it) and the actual blog is like 300px, it’s so confusing how someone can do that and be okay with it but each to their own I guess? XD

    Vee @ Under The Mountain

  18. You haven’t scared me away! Oh, who am I kidding? You can’t scare friends away, only sometimes. Honestly, I think out of all the bloggers I know, your design is the only one that hasn’t undergone a makeover… haha.

    Oof, a black background is a no-go for me as well, though I like my Twitter app in night mode rather than day mode. Same for Discord and other apps.

  19. Great post! Ugly blogs are something I can’t do even if I love the blogger to bits. Though if it’s just a dull design I totally can handle that! It’s a matter of taste… I’m also effected by the commenting system. There are some where the comment won’t type anymore if you scroll up after scrolling down… it I should massively irritating and I’ll avoid your blog if it happens toome a couple times. I can’t comment then there’s no point in visiting. ♥️

    • Blog designs depends – there’s a matter of ugly and then there’s also simple… though I suppose huge random splashes of large and bright colors isn’t the prettiest design, haha. (Then again, those tend to hurt my eyes, too.)

      Oh, the commenting system! That can be a pain sometimes – I love commenting (assuming I have the time), but while some blogs I don’t have a reason to comment (probably because their posts are promotion heavy and I’d like to say something other than THIS BOOKS LOOKS INTERESTING SO I’M GOING TO CHECK IT OUT) there are some that like you mentioned, have a commenting system that doesn’t work at all. I think Intense Debate is one of those as I’ve had a few people email me back when we were on Blogger saying they couldn’t comment and all I could say was, “I’m sorry – it’s IntenseDebate’s fault! :(” So far, WordPress commenting I haven’t had an issue with, so that’s a massive perk. 😀