10 Reasons People Aren’t Reading Your Blog

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Hello lovelies,

I was inspired to write this post as I saw a dear friend of mine struggle with getting any readership on his blog. I put a couple of ideas to him, but then I sat back and realised, it’s probably not only him who is struggling with his blog.

Becoming a blogger has been challenging. There are so many little naunces that you have to check off to make your post a success, and admittedly, even I sometimes forget them before I post. Sometimes a post is really popular, and other times your blog just dwindles and struggles to get any attention. Sometimes blogging success really is just a matter of time, But if you’re stuck and you’re looking for some tips to help, here are ten ideas from my own experience.

1. You write about the wrong stuff

As a rule, when people read, they’re looking for something that may be valuable for them. Whether it’s an experience at an attraction, a review of a product, some tips with something or an opinion that they might agree or disagree on, people want something that serves them. You may have had a lovely time with your family and be extremely proud of them, but really, that sort of thing is better kept for social media. Unless there is something that people can take away from your stories, you may struggle to make up the numbers. How about visiting attractions to review together, or trying foods from all over the world?

2. You aren’t on social media

My first question is why not? My second question is which ones would you use? There are so many and it’s important to pick the ones that you feel you would use. Owing to it’s largest user database, then Facebook seems like the best place to begin, but loads of bloggers have Youtube channels and Instagram accounts and that’s cool, too. Ideally, you want to use two or three, so choose the ones that suit you best.

3. You aren’t using any pictures

In the time that I’ve been using Unsplash, my blog has seen quite a large traffic increase, and that tells me something – that adding some pictures is really worth it! Pictures add colour, they add contrast and they make your posts a little bit more appealing. No need to go crazy with it, just try one or two per post and don’t forget to give credit for any free images.

4. You aren’t entertaining (ouch)

Confession time. I’ve read quite a few posts and clicked ‘back’ without reading to the end. Why? Because the author wasn’t very engaging. Maybe you read like a boring college professor or you swamp your audience with information. Imagine that you’re trying to explain something to a reasonably intelligent good friend – how would you word it differently?

5. You aren’t using tags properly

I’m not taliking about hashtags, but blog tags. As a rule of thumb, I aim for around 5-10. Too many can seem like an overkill, too few and your posts might not be noticed. Play around and find a number that works for you. Also, try different words for the same thing (blogs, blogging, writing etc).

6. You aren’t commenting

Comment, people! Visit the blogs of readers that visit you (especially the ones who visit you often) and comment on their posts! It builds friendships and it keeps people coming back to your blog. You don’t need to do it everyday. I schedule half an hour once or twice per week to send out some love, and it works!

7. Your paragraphs are too long

I’ve been there myself. The great wall of text and you just switch off (particularly if it’s poorly punctuated). To help your readers not fatigue from reading the fruits of your labour, try to break your posts down into small, snappy paragraphs to make things more manageable to read. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but a punchier new approach may see you a small increase in traffic.

8. You favour quantity over quality

I fully understand, you think that blogging more often will increase your readers, but sadly that isn’t the case. Remember my first point, people want to read something that serves them, and so quality, informative posts are what people want to read. If you post regular posts that offer your readers nothing besides some temporary boredom relief, there is a chance you may be pushing your readers away. If you’re just starting out, try initially for just one post per day, and make it worth reading.

9. You don’t write often enough

While writing too often may be your problem, the opposite is also true. If you don’t write often enough (at least initially) your blog will struggle against those who write more often. I generally aim for five days a week, with a break on weekends. If your blog is still quite new, you may want to write at least 2-3 times per week.

10. You haven’t been writing long enough

It’s always too easy to try something and give in, but if you’ve only been blogging for a few weeks or months, try changing your approach, and keep going. In the first six months, my blog saw nearly no traffic at all. Even with only five posts per week, it’s now seeing traffic every day. I had to create my logo and get out there and try new things to give me something to share. Why not try some of my other nine tips before you give up on your blog completely?

Of course, none of these tips are a guarantee for success, and that’s probably why they’re free. Play around with your blog and try different types of content and themes. It does take some work to get it right and to feel like your blog has the potential to succeed. But when the likes and comments start to flow in, the blogging community is a truly wonderful place to be.

How have you seen your blog succeed? Why not share some of your tips in the comments?

Keep smiling, everyone!

Helen xx

The Cleaning Drawer: What It Is, And Why You Need Them

Hello lovelies,

I wanted to introduce you to an idea that I was introduced to quite recently by a good friend of mine – the cleaning drawer.

Yes friends, a drawer full of cleaning things, one in every room.

I know, you’re probably thinking right now “but Elena, that’s so silly!! I just keep all of my cleaning things under the sink!” and that’s great! Really! I do that for the most part, too.

But have you ever thought about how often you trudge to the kitchen for a bit of anti-bacterial cleaner? A bit of kitchen roll to wipe a surface or a microfibre cloth to do a smudge of dusting? How much time and energy do you spend walking to and fro, collecting those things? How much energy do you have for cleaning after all of that walking? How much time gets wasted?

This is why you need a cleaning drawer in Every, Single. Room.

I know, even I hadn’t considered it until now and yet, when I thought about it, I too had spent half of my time walking back and forth for bits to clean a room, and then leaving them out because I couldn’t be bothered to walk back to put them away (the shame!). It’s not only energy, but time as well, and time is time I could be blogging, looking after myself or spending time with my family. Time matters, people!

But thanks to my cleaning drawers, that’s not an issue anymore. I can just pop my cleaning supplies away when I’m finished et voila! Whether it be a surprise visitor or a relaxing evening with my husband, I’m ready.

We live in a small flat, so I only really have 4 lots of cleaning supplies – the kitchen, the lounge, the bedroom and a shared one for the bathroom and hallway. They’re small, unobtrusive kits designed only for the cleaning needs of that particular room. For example, the one in the lounge (pictured) has:

  • A small bottle of anti-bacterial spray – A little goes a long way for a quick wipe down or for a spot of moisture for dusting.
  • A small bottle of glass cleaner – For mirrors and windows.
  • A bottle of fabric freshener- the caps do not come off of this stuff, so I had to reluctantly settle for keeping a full-sized bottle in here. For spraying on soft furnishings before guests arrive.
  • A box of tissues – so I can top up the tissue box holder if we run out at 10:30pm during a sad movie.
  • A roll of kitchen roll – For those all-important wipe-downs
  • A couple of microfibre cloths – I adore these for dusting! Use them and toss them in the wash – perfect!

You see? Just this little kit allows me to maintain the lounge, typically within on 10-15 minutes and without having to walk from room to room, saving me time for the bigger tasks like vacuuming.

What’s more, at a pinch, you don’t even need to vacuum before guests arrive. A quick sweep with a broom and they’ll think you spend your days cleaning.

*Giggles* If they only knew..

Here are 5 tips for putting your cleaning drawers together:

  1. Make a list of the rooms that will require them 

For me, I only required four kits. If you have a 3-bedroom house, it might be the lounge, the kitchen, the dining room, the entrance, the master bedroom, the bathroom and two children’s bedrooms, as an example.

2. Create lists of what you will need for each room 

Think about what is in each room and decide what you need to maintain it. For example, anti-bacterial spray and some paper towel is fine for a coffee table, but you’ll want bleach spray for the bathroom and kitchen. Do you have anything that requires regular replenishing, like automated air fresheners or tissue boxes? You might want to make a note to contain supplies for these, too.

3. Reduce the size of your kits, if you can 

For me, space is at a premium and so having smaller bottles of two of the three cleaning products in my lounge was a lot easier than trying to store 3 500ml spray bottles. You may find it necessary for some rooms, for example, you may only want a small kit for a home office. Unfortunately, the fabric freshener couldn’t be reduced and I refuse to buy smaller packets of tissues (which come with an abundance of plastic), so there are some things that I couldn’t reduce the size of. 

I also refuse to use anti-bacterial wipes because of the length of time they take to decompose.  Although anti-bacterial cleaner is still bad for the environment and something I use sparingly, I at least know that it’s not going to sit in landfill for the next 100+ years. If steam wasn’t likely to lift the laminate up on some surfaces, I’d steam everything in my home. Unfortunately, there are some surfaces that steam just isn’t suitable for.

4. Decide where you are going to keep these supplies

A cleaning drawer is a great idea, but naturally you may well want to not leave a bottle of cleaning spray where young children can reach. If children aren’t an issue, then a drawer (or even an attractive box on a shelf) can be a great solution, but if curious little ones are of concern, consider up high places or lockable boxes. 2 of my cleaning drawers are cube storage drawers, the bathroom one is a few supplies simply tucked on the shelf behind the toilet cistern because I don’t need to worry about inquisitive minds. Find what works for you.

5. Now that you have them set up, make sure everyone knows where they are!

It’s great to have these cleaning drawers and boxes, but they should be for the whole family, not just for you. Even if you look at non-toxic, child-safe cleaners (like white vinegar or lemon juice), anyone who is old enough to clean, should be cleaning –  and often!

I hope this little housework tip helps you and I hope it helps you conserve energy for those bigger tasks and those brighter, better moments.

Over to you, what do you do to help make housework easier?

Stay well, everyone!

Helen xx

 

My Help On Monday: Criticism- How To Give It, How To Take It (And Two Times I Was Harshly Criticised)

Last week, Matt and I visited The Inn On The Green, and then reviewed our experience following our visit. As is standard procedure, I write two reviews- one for my blog, and a shorter summary that I post on TripAdvisor, no biggie.

Now, experiences at The Inn On The Green weren’t exactly stellar. As a reviewer, I can only be honest and say what I did and didn’t enjoy, and that’s all I set out to do.

So when I saw the response from the manager to my original review, I was quite surprised.

Most managers that I have reviewed have taken any criticism on the chin, taken my pointers on board and gone back to work unscathed. Not this guy.

According to him, I fabricated dishes and I was hard to please. He pretty much chewed me out for being among the 5% of people who weren’t satisfied with how his pub operates.

Yeesh, now it’s personal.

For a moment, it took my husband and a few deep breaths to stop me bouncing onto my laptop and bashing out exactly what I thought of him. It wouldn’t have resolved the issue, but I would have definitely felt more relieved.

But then it struck me, his excessive use of (sometimes multiple) exclamation marks struck a chord.

This wasn’t about me, this was about him.

Him, and the way he handled criticism.

Badly.

Let me be honest, there are two British celebrities that really resonate with me. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say that they inspire me.

Simon Cowell, and Gordon Ramsay.

Not exactly ‘nice’ guys. Agreed?

But you see, once you get past that tough cookie exterior, they are among some of the nicest, most thoughtful, most genuine people you could ever meet.

And I’m pretty much the same.

I can be a bitch, and I can be a complete asshole. But I’m a bitch and an asshole because I want to see you win and I want to see you succeed. I’m not going to sugar-coat things.

Just like Simon Cowell and Chef Ramsay.

Two Times That I Was Criticised

Make no mistake, I am human, and as a human, it means I am fair game to critique. If you want to criticise what I do and you have a good reason to, feel free! In fact, I welcome your criticism because it allows mo to shape the way I do things and make my blog better for you. Go ahead and criticise me!

Story 1: My Writing Club Story

When I joined my local writing club, I was really hopeful to make lots of fellow writer friends. There were 5 of us, three elderly ladies, one younger girl and me. One of the older ladies was the group leader, and she sort of decided what we were going to do, or what we would write about.

Very early in, I realised that we all had very different writing styles. The young girl liked to write about growing up in Africa, two of the ladies wrote poetry, the leader lady wrote prose and then there was me – who wrote pieces aim to assist, guide and inspire. Leadership stuff.

For whatever reason, the leader lady gave us all ‘homework’ to do at the end of the first week, we all had to write a piece of prose about someone we knew, without saying who that person was.

So, I wrote a piece about my neighbour.

It wasn’t a particularly nice piece, sure, but I wanted to convey the emotion that I felt. I wanted to convey the disgust and detest I felt for him for the way he would stand in front of me and lie so frequently and so prolifically. I had some strong emotions about him, and I took that chance to get them out.

She hated it.

It wasn’t prose at all, she said. But the emotion was there. My detest for my neighbour was apparent.

So, then, even if it wasn’t prose, it was still something.

Emotional, powerful. Hey, that was okay.

Each person in the group was told how bad their work was, they were each, in turn, criticised for the work that they produced. Even the poets who struggled the least with the challenge were told how they could improve. At that point I realised that nothing short of perfect prose would be good enough and I decided to disregard her feedback. I don’t write in poetic styles anyway, so that was fine for me.

Although I’ve never been back, my reaction to her criticism was to calmly and quietly leave the group at the end of the session, and vow never to return. I didn’t attack her, I didn’t berate her and I didn’t shut down to everyone else. I just decided it wasn’t the right place for me, and left.

The last that I heard, the leader lady has now left and the group is now led by someone else. Of what I’ve heard, they’re also doing quite well producing articles for our monthly local newspaper, so kudos to them.

Story 2: A Bad Joke

Sat on the seafront in Northern Cornwall, my brother pointed out the sun and said that the sun was in the sky. Amused by his pointing out the obvious, I made a bad attempt at trying to be funny.

“Is that what it is? I thought it was a giant ball of fire.”

I know, I know, it was painful.

“Well yeah, that’s exactly what it is” he said bluntly.

Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. Awkward.

“I’m sorry sis, but if that was what you call humour then.. wow”

Wow yourself!

I was deeply aggrieved and possibly rightly offended. He just didn’t criticise my joke. He criticised me.

Criticism: How To Take It, How To Give It

In life, anything we can do can be criticised. For as long as we can form opinions, and the opinion isn’t favourable, then we’re likely to dish out some criticism. That’s just what we humans do.

The difference, though, is in how you do it.

If, like the writing group leader lady, you just criticise something that someone did, then that’s fine and fair. You aren’t judging them, you are judging something they said or did. That’s good. If you criticise someone for something about who they are (like my brother did), then you’re likely to lose friends, and your criticism will probably be ignored completely. Throw in a compliment or two with your criticism (who can say no to the “compliment sandwich”?) and you’re good and ready.

The difference between helpful criticism an unhelpful criticism, is how you give it, and the intent.

When I criticised the pub, I was not criticising the pub nor the manager. I was criticising my experience. The pub itself was nice and I’m sure the manager is decent, too. It wasn’t about hurting him, it was about allowing potential paying customers to make a decision based on collective reviews. One bad review on TripAdvisor wouldn’t put me off of visiting an establishment, personally, but ten bad reviews on the first page might change my mind. Places like TripAdvisor require a huge level of honesty.

Most people do not set out to belittle you, nor do they set out to offend or upset you, and so it is important to try and see it that way. Criticism is not, generally, meant as a personal attack against you, but as negative feedback against the thing you did.

When we get criticised, it’s easy to overreact and lash out. Try not to let that be the case. Overreacting to criticism does nothing to preserve your credibility and is likely to make people refuse to give you an opinion again. Instead, smile and say thankyou, then decide exactly what you’re going to do with it.