This Is Why I Don’t Click On Your Blog Posts

dont-click-no-priscilla-du-preez

So the following post is based off my time spent in the WordPress Reader which, in the past couple of years, total up to 15,000 blogs visited (average of 20 blogs per day).

And through that time, I’ve since developed a taste for the type of posts I’d click on and enjoy.

Here’s a quick disclaimer though: I’m just one person in a very small niche, particularly in writing and self-improvement. So take the following points with a grain of salt.

But also know that if you can attract—or repel—one person, you would probably be able to do so for the rest of the WordPress community, so keep that in mind as you scroll through the list!

1. Your titles suck

Let’s start with the most obvious thing: the title. I’m actually a pretty dumb person, which is why I like titles to spell out exactly what’s in your post.

One-worded titles such as Hi or Submerged do nothing for me, so I’ll just scroll right through. Numbers turn me off even more, because I’m generally wary of any posts that look like they’re part of a series. So titles like OLGA Says #257 will usually remain unclicked.

Do note that titles alone aren’t a make or break thing, since they work in tandem with the following points below. So all’s not lost if the title doesn’t do it for me. However, you could also screw up in other places, such as by…

2. Adding irrelevant (to me) tags

Believe it or not, tags play an important role in attracting a reader—or me, at least. They can actually make up for the aforementioned vague titles, or they could totally screw up a decent one.

So blog posts titled Learning To Survive or How To Forge Your Own Path may seem interesting at first glance, but if they’re accompanied by tags I’m not interested in, then I might give the post a pass.

What tags do I avoid?

Well, seeing as to how I’m on WordPress to have fun and not get into pissing contests, I typically steer clear of sensitive topics. So tags such as religion, politics, sexism, and social justice would reduce my desire to click.

I also typically forgo tags like fiction and poetry because I’d much rather connect with bloggers through their life stories, and I have zero knowledge on poetry.

That doesn’t mean that the tags above are bad. They just don’t interest me.

Moral of the story? Make sure your tags are relevant to the audience you want to attract.

A screenshot of the Reader with labels for blog name, tags, preview, title, intro, and comment box

Anatomy of a post on the Reader. Screenshotted off Shandean’s blog. Photo: Stuart Danker

3. Your first paragraphs are dodgy

Another element in putting forward your best foot on the Reader is your post introduction. If your titles and tags have been a miss, you could still attract my interest through a strong first paragraph.

In fact, I’ve been swayed quite a few times by introductions that had me enjoying the entire post—something I wouldn’t have done had I relied on titles and tags alone.

This is the equivalent of me taking a book off the shelf and reading the first chapter. Who knows what happens once I read your work? I don’t even know what I enjoy reading. If your words sing to me, they sing to me.

I don’t mean to sound judgemental (on second thought, this entire post is judgemental), but there are tons of posts on WordPress, and many more cropping up as we speak (4.4 million blog posts every day apparently), so don’t hate me for erring on the side of not clicking.

4. You use stocky stock photos

Don’t panic. I source my photos from stock websites—such as Unsplash—as well, so I totally get the struggle of finding the best images for your posts. But some people tend to use photos that are just… stockier… than others.

You know the ones I’m talking about—the illustrations of flowers or musical notes that look like they belong on a Geocities or Angelfire website. It’s almost as if you need a Nokia 3210 to answer the call from the nineties, where they ask you for their images back.

Then you have photos of professionals in suits looking like they had to hold their pose for three seconds too long, just like the stale smiles from your family gathering when your tech-challenged uncle couldn’t find the shutter button.

Weirdly enough, all that pales in comparison to not having a photo at all. Those posts tend to go unnoticed when I scroll through the Reader. So if you’re not a pics person, now would be a good time to start.

5. You don’t wanna chat

You’d think that disabling comments wouldn’t matter much when it comes to attracting an audience, but people like me browse the Reader to find new friends, so if I don’t see the comment logo at the bottom of your post, then I’m probably not clicking, even it seems interesting.

Because what do you want me to do? Clap my hands, here in Malaysia? Would you feel a tingle down your spine from my telepathic Like? I heard that people tend to sneeze when someone says something nice about them, so maybe I can utter a few praises to get you to sneeze over there in Arizona?

I mean, it’s your prerogative to include or exclude comments, but just know that it does affect your audience’s decision to visit your site, especially if they’re power users like me.

Neon sign of a chatbox logo

If this logo ain’t appearing, I’m not a-clicking. Photo: Jason Leung

6. Your blog name is all business

To be fair, I never knew that blog names even mattered, but that’s until I started sensing a theme when it came to business websites.

Yeah, you’d think that having a blog named ‘Kramer Love Services’ or ‘Top Crypto Finance’ would draw your favourite clientele, and maybe that’s true, but I tend to avoid such blogs from the get go.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like the personal feel here on WordPress. I’m not here to look for random services from a stranger with two posts on their blog.

That doesn’t mean I won’t buy something off you to support you though. If you’ve written a novel, or have an interesting Patreon account, I would contribute to your cause. In fact, I have bought e-books from WordPress bloggers, but only because they seemed genuine.

Business websites on WordPress only seem to be concerned about sales and the products they have to offer though.

So yeah, that’s why I avoid blogs that look like affiliate marketers.

p.s. You know what’s the quickest way to my heart? A punny title.

7. You barely skim the surface

When you browse the Reader long enough, you start to notice patterns. And one pattern I recognise off the bat is a post from someone who just doesn’t care.

One such trope is the quote post. I click on an interesting quote, thinking that there’d be an article that follows it, but nope. That’s it. A quote.

Then there’s the platitude post that’s just common sense disguised as advice. Want to be more productive? Get more sleep. Want to lose weight? Eat less.

I must admit, I do publish my share of platitude posts, so I’m not exactly exempt from this sin right here. But if you’re going to tell me to sleep more, at least do it with a dash of your personality, instead of copy-pasting the advice straight from another website.

8. You make things hard for me

I’ve covered a lot of blogging’s best practices in another post so I won’t go in detail here, but if I land on your website and it seems like you’re hellbent on ruining my reading experience, then I’m going to bounce the hell outta there.

Common blunders include not using paragraphs, no subheadings, blasting me with offers, or leaving me unchanged at the end of the post.

You have to treat blogging like a business. If you want your audience to enjoy your work, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to consume it.

A hand holding up a mobile phone with a GaryVee quote on display

If reading your posts feel like the hustle lifestyle, then you’re doing something wrong. Photo: Jonas Svidras

Here’s some good sauce

There are things that I enjoy stumbling across when browsing the Reader, so thank you if you already do these by default. Know that you’ve brightened a random Malaysian’s day through your kind deeds.

i. Asking a question at the end

Sometimes I really like a blog post, but when I get to the end, I feel like I can’t contribute. Maybe it’s because your post is super comprehensive, or maybe I don’t feel qualified enough to comment. But when I see a question though? That makes it so much easier to jump in and chat with you.

ii. Using personal photos

It doesn’t matter that your photos are grainy, or that they’re not professionally framed. Sometimes, that personal touch does set you apart from the WordPress sea of stock photos. I do try to use personal photos in my newsletter, so make sure to sign up and get your exclusive content!

iii. Using more than four photos

Building on the above point, did you know that the WordPress Reader previews posts differently when there are more than four photos? What this does is give readers a good idea on what your article is about, kinda like visual subheadings.

iv. Clean title punctuation

I know that the colon, quotation marks, and em dash help with clarity, but I find that clean titles are the easiest to process when scrolling the Reader for hours at a time. Thankfully, most titles are pretty straightforward.

v. Caring about the tiny details

Everything counts, and each little detail does conjure certain feelings in me. Don’t acknowledge comments and I’ll feel as though I’m in a hostile environment. That pretty website design doesn’t go unnoticed. And that custom copy at your Contact section (e.g. Stalk Me!) adds a spritz of flavour to the browsing experience, so thanks in advance for the hours of work you spent agonising over things like image alignment or your widget placement.

That’s just, like, my opinion, man

You know what I like to say: please don’t take any of these tips seriously. All the points you see above are tainted with the bias of my opinions.

But also remember that publishing your work on WordPress is a type of performance, and like watching random stand-up comedians on open mic night, I really want you to do well.

So keep on blogging, and keep on improving, and if I’ve never commented on your blog before, just know that it’s not because I didn’t click on it.

It’s because I haven’t.


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll enjoy the newsletter too. I send out exclusive content and the occasional (okay regular) platitude e-mail. And you get a free guide on how to grow your WordPress blog through the art of commenting too!

235 thoughts on “This Is Why I Don’t Click On Your Blog Posts

  1. I’ve got to agree with some of the points, especially the “stocky stock pics”🤣 reminds me of the standard business people in crisp white shirts huddled around a table or something.

  2. Well used pop culture references to add humour are a win for me. Such as your brill use of The Big Lebowski. Win for me! I like reading writers who have a clear voice and style – usually quirky and having a conversational tone.

    • Aww, thanks so much for your kind words! And that’s just me memeing so I’m glad you noticed :D

      It really means a lot that you decided to drop by and show your support!

  3. Wow, best blog post I’ve read in a long time! I agree with all of it. And I’d like to add, I don’t read blog posts that are obviously only “liking” mine to get more readership. Usually when I write a blog, I’m in the mindset of what I wrote, so I seek others that have written on that topic. If I’m not happy with what I’m finding, then I’ll go to my regular “reader.” As for photos, I’ve recently used UnSplash on occasion because I felt maybe it’s “too much” using my own photos. However, I like using my own because years later they don’t “disappear” due to some copyright law. I’d hate to come across as self-absorbed by using my own photos, but, hey it is my blog. And the best thing about using my own photos illustrates that a woman over 50 can still be attractive and dress fun. I love the blogs where others are like that — young or old — just being their most real self. If I want to use a business, I’ll seek it on my own, or use a friend’s business. I don’t need bloggers throwing their business in my face. It’s so uncool.

    • That’s an interesting perspective, that you find it too much to use your own photos. I actually prefer it to seeing stock photos , and it’s something I should actually practice myself, lol.

      We have so many similar preferences for the posts we see on WordPress. I wonder if there are others who are the opposite—who seek out businesses, or who actively put out spam.

      And I totally get the liking for attention thing. It messes up the notification section when they go overboard with it too.

      Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, Maryanne!

  4. Of all the things I do, I forget the tags the most. And I won’t be using any personal photos until I reach one million subscribers!

    • Tags really do help, so have at least six on standby and reuse them each post. I try to keep mine around 10 per post, because having too many tags also does the opposite, and removes you from the Reader. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • I think a writer of your calibre should be able to do whatever they want on the blogosphere, lol. Thanks for your kind words, and I wish you all the best with your pursuits. Thanks for inspiring me with your Patreon journey!

    • I find that without tags, I sometimes can’t work out what genre the post is in, especially when the title’s vague. So I’m very thankful they exist. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Tags do play a vital function in enticing a reader, and you are completely correct. They can either make up for the aforementioned ambiguous titles, or they can completely sabotage a good one.

    • Oh yes. Sometimes, through the tags alone I can decide if I want to click on a post or not. So making sure we don’t neglect them should be one of our blogging priorities. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Pingback: Creative Juice #289 | ARHtistic License

  7. You have ticked all the boxes of what causes you to be repelled or disgusted by a person’s blog and you’re right. For me, it’s the name or title of the site that will make me click on the blog or skip it. A well written blog title is the best way to win readers✔️

    • Oh yeah. And I have to admit, sometimes it’s the combination of everything, and not just one or two elements that make me click. Those who realise how much of blogging is ‘presentation’ will find it much easier to draw an audience. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and great to see you here again!

    • Lol, I myself was browsing the Reader and her posts were a prime example of why I would click on something, so it was definitely an apt demonstration. Anyway, thank YOU for stopping by!

  8. I really like what you said about publishing on Word Press as a type of performance…never thought of it like that but so true. Great points made, and loved the “Stalk Me” as well! Thanks for another post filled with inciteful thoughts.

    • Once we see writing as a performance, it’s so much easier not to waste our audience’s time. Also, it becomes that much easier to realise that we can’t just try it for a week and expect to be good at it. Totally changes perspectives. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Great post! Super helpful!

    This part got me thinking- “it doesn’t matter that your photos are grainy, or that they’re not professionally framed.”

    It’s so true! Even if I need to take a minute to figure out what is going on in a photo, it’s definitely more engaging than a stocky stock photo.

    • Heck yeah. And I’m noticing a zeitgeist shift too. As more people start using ‘trendy’ stock photos, they tend to get repeated a lot, thus sending them right back to ‘stocky’ photo status. But perhaps those are things tainted by my own lens.

      Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by! Also, you might want to update your URL in your Gravatar profile, as it currently points to an old link that’s broken!

  10. Good post, good pointers. Made me realize I’m at least creative enough for you to have deigned to click on and read one of my posts! (wink wink nudge nudge) Hope to hear from you again soon.

    Keep on bloggin’!

  11. Again more awesome tips! I keep starting my blog and then getting busy and frustrated and stop, however I have come back with a resilience to be consistent and reading your articles is helping a lot for sure!

  12. Hey! These are really valid points, and I could relate to almost all of them [tbh I was thinking of my blog in every point you made😅].

    I follow a small number of blogs and one thing I really like about them is the relativity, the little details – and of course, the comments!

  13. Salute!

    Honestly, I was intimidated at first when I saw this post so I clicked the FOLLOW button instead the other day.

    You are an excellent writer. You have every right to express what you feel about these blogging flaws.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. It’s an honor.

    • Oh wow. Please do not feel intimidated, as I’m just some random dude from halfway across the world.

      And I’M honoured that you’d take the time to visit and leave this wonderful comment. Be seeing you around on the blogosphere yeah?

  14. I’m here because you clicked and commented on my blog post so needless to say I’m feeling pretty happy! ;) I love these tips and hope that I incorporate most of them in my posts. The Reader can be overwhelming so it’s nice to make real connections to return to. :)

    • Oh yeah, sifting through the Reader can be a demoralising process sometimes, because it can seem like all that’s published are posts by spammers or bots. But then I meet someone like you and it’s danged awesome. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      • It’s been a few years since I’ve been here but it was an amazing community of supportive people when I left. I’m glad to see that there is still that vibe here. :)

  15. I agree with most of these and the others I am unfortunately guilty of! LOL

    Another thing that will keep me from reading someone’s blog is the length of it. I like little bite-sized nuggets of knowledge- something I can quickly read, digest that elicits some emotions which inspires me to comment! :)

    • Heya Jen! I actually prefer long form articles, but boy do they take some effort sometimes, lol. So I hover around 1,200 words. Do you have a specific word count you follow?

  16. I’m so glad your post came up on my reader. Great tips for a newbie like me starting out! Will definitely take these tips on board in my blogging journey. Thanks :)

  17. HI Stuart!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday! I’m thrilled you did because after reading this post, it means I’m doing something right! LOL! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post about blogging. I took a pretty long hiatus while I was rewriting my novel, so I’m only just getting back into the swing of blogging. It’s like I’d almost forgotten how to write speaking directly to my readers. It’s finally coming back, but it’s quite different from writing fiction. Anyway, I’ll be perusing your posts for more valuable blogging content!
    Thanks again,
    Shannon

    • Lol you’re doing a lot of things well indeed, as I enjoy your blog. Oh yeah, life happens, and sometimes we have to pick one over the other, but what’s important is that you’re back! Will be looking forward to what you have to share. Thanks for stopping by, Shannon, and keep writing!

    • Ah, it’s great to see your comment, Jim, as I saw that you’ll be posting less, and I couldn’t comment since it was turned off. Wishing you all the best with whatever you have to do, and see you soon when you’re done!

  18. Aw Stuart, they say you can’t get better at your craft when you’re so good — but look at you! Each post is better than the last. I still love your blogging posts. This is so good and just inspiring. Thank you. I love your blog. You deserve times infinity the traction you get. THANK YOU. I’m a thirteen-year-old and yet I can say I blog better than many others (namely the idiots who do what you warned against). I still do the common-sense-disguised-as-advice trope, but that’s just me attempting to tackle misty topics. Thank you. Have a nice day. So many people create amazing content that you look at and think ‘aw dude I’m never creating something as good as x writer or photographer or YouTuber.’ but then when you read Stuart Danker everything feels at your fingertips like you can do anything. This is so sappy so let’s leave it here. See you!

    • And I love your comments! You’ve been so supportive since the first comment you left here, and I’m very appreciative of that.

      Yes indeed, you do put out better content than most, and I can safely say that all of your posts do make me feel like clicking.

      I also appreciate how you describe my posts, as something that makes people feel they can do anything. That’s a great thing to do, and I’m honoured to be able to have that effect.

      Thanks again for your kind words always. See you!

  19. I very much have enjoyed this blog post! I’ve been off writing for some time and frankly have lost some of that early touch that I started with. I’ve broken basically everything that you’ve written about, but maybe with time i could polish my work a little (i’d been thinking about this for awhile). I’m currently a fresher at a University in my country, and so time is not in my hands as i would like it, but it’s always a pleasure to see you evolve. I almost quit blogging but you once encouraged me through your blogs, so thanks, and stay safe my friend.

    • I did? I’m so honoured because I too have been encouraged by writers who don’t know how much they did till this day, so I’m going to thank you for letting me know. In fact, your comment has made sure that I keep going, so you have encouraged me today too. Thank you once more, and it’s great of you to stop by!

  20. Ditto to all you’ve said here, especially about boring titles and ho-hum photos. They are not the way to make bloggy friends.

    [I’m here via BosssyBabe, btw. “Hi!” I’m Ally.]

    • Lol, so awesome that we’ve connected because of Jen. I remember your name from last month’s post. Great to see you here, Ally! You’re not classified as my new WordPress friend :)

  21. Hey, I was led to your blog by Jen of Bosssybabe and I’m so glad I found you! Right off the bat I seriously enjoy your most recent blog post. I almost never go on reader to look for new blogs because when I have in the past, I literally couldn’t find any blog of substance that checked all the boxes. I know that sounds jerky but you started it 🤣 so I’m totally validating your feelings! It’s nice to meet you and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • Glad to have you here, Libby! So cool that Jen had connected us, and I love the WordPress because of this. It’s nice to meet you too, and I’m so happy I managed to check some of your boxes. Here’s to filling in more boxes, and to becoming awesome WordPress buddies!

    • And the worst bit is that I’m probably doing the same thing when I use Unsplash pics that have turned ‘stocky’ or cliche due to the number of times they’ve been used, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Do it! Satisfy that itch, lol. And yeah, I’m so blessed to have the support of bloggers like you that culminate into the stacks and stacks of comments in this post. So thanks for stopping by!

    • Haha I don’t understand poetry, despite reading some Bukowski and Plath. I don’t know about metres or whatever-dactyls so I tend not to want to comment on poetry. That means I don’t read them on here. I definitely respect the craft though. Thanks so much for your kind words, Bernie!

  22. Haha! I did ask a question in one of my more recent posts, though I don’t do it very often. Maybe I should. In any case, I guess I’m still “test-driving my blog”; kinda trial & error for want of a better phrase. To figure out what works, what doesn’t and how far I am prepared to go without losing my own voice or style or compromising. Meantime, I do hope of cos that people will click on my blog so this post of yours and its “tips in reverse” are most helpful. Thanks again Stu for always helping others like me pick up good blogging and writing skills!

    • I think you’re doing the exact right thing, because ain’t life just one big series of trial-and-error.

      You already have a ton of best practices in place, as far as I can tell, so perhaps your trial-and-error run is doing you good.

      Thanks so much for always sharing your support, Kelvin!

  23. I love this post! You’ve made same very valid points and I think many people would feel the same on most of them. Which is why, as a new blogger, I will take some notes and try to do better. I do use my own photos and often spend (too much) time on titles. I know I can do better though and I really appreciate your advice. Thank you.

    • And I love your comment! Doing better is always the goal, no? No matter what you do, whose advice you follow, or what your blogging style is, it’s just all about getting better. Regardless of the path you take to get there, I’m always stoked to see a fellow blogger on the same path to constant growth. Here’s to walking that journey together!

  24. I hope I fit all of these categories! This is really great advice and I strive to do these things in my own blog… except that sometimes I only post one image but I try to make it an exceptional one ;-)

      • I usually just do one or two because I put a lot of work into my stuff and I think any more than that gets a little unnecessary 🤪 but I really liked everything else that you had to say and I actually took screenshots of some of it so that way I can make sure I implement it! I certainly want my blog to grow and I enjoy writing immensely

  25. Thank you, Stuart, for the assurances that I basically do what I need to do right. I do admittedly use stock images and not my own, but hey, I am that erotic writer you like chatting to occasionally and we all know what erotica entails, so perhaps you can forgive me? Haha

    • And that’s probably a good choice, because using relevant images for erotica might get you kicked out of WordPress anyway, lol. Friends get a pass from these ‘rules’ though, so as long as we’ve interacted before, all this don’t apply! :P

      Thanks for stopping by again, Helen!

      • Stuart, trust me, I’ve seen some things in my time. I try not to judge because what people do on their blog really is their business, but believe me, I don’t think there’s a lot that WordPress doesn’t allow lol.
        But thank you for the pass. I promise not to let it all slip now, don’t worry :p

      • Yes! If you have tips to get better at writing (copywriting), that would be so much help! If you already wrote about it, just let me know. I’ll crawl through your posts.

  26. Thanks for the leeway on my bad spelling here! I’ll just put me right in the friend category. Ha!
    Oh those pics can take forever! I do agree with you on all counts💕♥️🙌

  27. The ‘the platitude post that’s just common sense disguised as advice’ post winds me up more than any of the others, I think – if I’ve gone in and invested the time to click and read on something and it ends up just saying things like “drink water!” I feel irritated at the time I lost! So worse than not commenting, I’ll close the browser and make sure never to read that blog again 😂 I hear what you say about using photos, though. Personally, I didn’t set out to become ‘a blog that has lots of readers’ so I don’t necessarily always think about trying to catch people’s attention with pictures, but if I change my mind in the future and want to grow my audience more, that is definitely one of the first places I’ll start. Thought-provoking post!

    • Lol. Might I add onto your thoughts about not wanting to be a blog with lots of readers? Perhaps you could look at it as ‘a blog that’s putting its best foot forward for the ideal reader’. That does make me want to do my best, I’ve found. But then again, it’s always best when you do you, so definitely make your own path. Thanks so much for your lovely comment here. And remember to drink more water!

  28. Great points! I definitely need work on my titles and tags, but I like to think I’m slowly making improvements. The one thing I don’t like is when I come across a blog and get bombarded with ads instead of any relevant information; maybe those aren’t really bloggers, though, just robots? IDK…

    • Yeah, I think some of these ad-filled blogs are either people who are trying their luck in ‘making money blogging’, or just black hat sites used for dodgy purposes. It feels pretty unwelcome visiting these sites, no? Like visiting a dodgy part of town. Anyway, thanks for your wonderful comment!

      • Hah, that’s a great comparison! After I visit those dodgy sites, I’ll find I’m missing my wallet or my car’s catalytic converter. I have to stay clear.

  29. I instinctively avoided most of these things, except for sucky titles. I spent approximately three seconds on my titles which I know is really stupid but I don’t want to build up too high of expectations for the post. When I first started, though, I definitely screwed up the tags thing because I didn’t understand what they were. Thanks for all the great tips!

  30. Definitely agreeing with you on No. 6. What pisses me off is the fact that they abuse the Like and Follow function on WP to get people’s attention.

    You nailed it with this one: “Business websites on WordPress only seem to be concerned about sales and the products they have to offer though.” Permit me to add: And if you put your foot down and speak out about their deplorable practice, they have the audacity to play victim. At this point, I just report them for abuse.

    • Lolol. I think that’s why I prefer to choose avoidance on WordPress. Cos I just wanna chill and have fun. I know it’s terrible to admit that I judge people from their blog name, but better that than to go through what you did.

      But then again, these are our biases, and it’s hard to be objective sometimes, yeah? Love your thoughts. Thanks for sharing, Monch!

  31. This is really good advice!! As someone who recently started blogging, I’m sure I commit some of these haha. I always try to take my own pictures, because I enjoy photography. However, I do find it hard sometimes to make the pictures I take fit the post I’m making. Also, didn’t put too much thought on tags and titles, but I definitely will from now on. I started blogging so I could put my thoughts and ideas somewhere concrete. What I write is more niche, and I know many people won’t read. Still I enjoy doing it, and for now do it more for me. I definitely would like to grow my blog and make it more appealing to others though! Thank you for your advice!!

    • You know what I’ve found? Personally, for me, I don’t care if it’s a photo of yourself (or your dog), even in an unrelated post, lol. It just adds some degree of realness to it. Like there’s an actual person on the other side of the post.

      You have the skill of photography though, and that’s so cool. I guess I should start practising too.

      It’s all about finding your tribe. I’m sure you’ll get there!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

    • Lol, they’re not bad things per se though. Just my subjective thoughts on how people can improve their presentation on the Reader. But getting better is always the goal. Let’s do that together. And thanks for stopping by, Michelle!

  32. We look for pretty much the same things. Blogging is an opportunity to meet interesting people. I also understand that many people blog to support their business. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is what we expect, but I lost interest quickly if that’s all a person’s blog is about. When I go to the dentist, my main concern is that she does good work, but we connect because she has good people skills. I want to get to know bloggers as people—just like I don’t want to be a statistic on someone’s blog. Not leaving a place for people to comment is pretty much a dealbreaker. If we write something stimulating, people must have the opportunity to share their thoughts..

    • Lovely thoughts. And it’s important to know that these preferences are limited to WordPress alone, because my browsing habits differ wildly when it comes to places like Instagram.

      And what you said about personal connections is so true. For some reason, that’s what I look for here on WordPress, and not business-y websites, even though it’s within anyone’s right to do that.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Pete!

  33. Hi Stuart, hope you’re passed most of Covid’s effects.
    # 1 blogger pet peeve. No ability to leave a comment, made worse by asking me to join an email list.
    You’ve made great points, Stuart. 😁

    • Oh yeah. For WordPress, I think it’s super important to allow comments. I get that people may be shy, and they fear bad comments, but I think the WordPress community is kind in general, compared to other platforms out there. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  34. As I’ve gotten older, for some reason, my attention span has gotten much shorter, so having a good title and first paragraph is important to me. There has to be something in the beginning that draws me in and makes me want to read more, otherwise I’m off looking for something else. I also agree that using personal photos is a huge plus. Personal photos makes the blog post feel much more intimate, as if I’m having a conversation with a friend.
    Thanks for the post Stuart! Hope you’re feeling better this week.

    • It’s so cool that we share the same browsing habits. And it’s important to highlight these too, because I do notice some bloggers wishing to get better, but perhaps they don’t know how their posts appear on-screen to the typical reader.

      Thanks for your lovely comment, and yes, am definitely feeling much better than the week I posted that COVID piece!

  35. Good post.
    I like your suggestions. Will use them in my future posts.
    But, ultimately, I feel I have to write what comes naturally and from my heart. It may not be a great piece of work to some readers. But, I can’t write to conform to a set of rules or change my style completely to suit others’ expectations, as my writing won’t be authentic then.
    And, I accept the consequence of some of my “not blog-worthy” writing, i.e not many viewers, not many likes, comments or followers.

    • Writing is about finding your tribe, so sticking true to your heart will always garner you an audience who’re looking for works like yours. So don’t feel bad for doing you.

      But to counter-argue your point, I also feel like there’s a performance aspect to writing, and no matter how much we want to write for ourselves, there’s a certain ‘mould’ we need to follow when writing fiction versus blog posts versus magazine articles.

      Then again, don’t let me tell you what to do. I love the fact that you’re unapologetically you!

      • I agree with your second paragraph.
        As a lifelong learner, I believe in learning to progress and totally understand that I need to fit in a “mould” to achieve success.

        Stuart, I must tell you this … I recently wrote a speech for my son’s wedding thinking of what attendees may want to hear. Also, all the speeches I have heard delivered by the parents of the bride or groom always praised their respective children. So I made sure I extolled my son’s virtues. My speech turned out to be a laundry list of my son’s virtues and not an ounce of humor!

        One look at my speech and my daughter said, “Mum, this is not you at all. You have not written from your heart .”
        I have such a wonderfully close, easygoing, and fun relationship with my son, and none of that was evident in my speech.

        I rewrote it from my heart, thinking of some of his shortcomings, his mischievous sense of humor, and how it makes our relationship fun.
        And now my speech has equal quantities of “roast and toast.”

        Best wishes, Stuart

      • Lol, ‘roast and toast’ is so apt for current events. Thankfully, I assume Will Smith didn’t attend your sons’s wedding? Can’t get too roasty nowadays.

        I love your comments because they’re so thoughtful. And I love listening to stories like yours. Slices of life from people like you are now part of me. Isn’t it wonderful how WordPress works? Anyway, thanks once more for the follow up!

  36. Laughing so hard at the sneeze thing! I will steal this reference from you to give to the next person who tries to tell me comments don’t matter. And yes, I”m sneezing lots today, and I’m sure it’s all to do with the winds of Spring and not my blog.

    • Do you know how awesome it is to know that you laughed? I’m guessing it was probably closer to a sharp exhale through your nose, but still. It almost feels like a superpower to be able to make people like you smile through words. Thanks so much for sharing this with me, Latham. These little details really make my day, or life.

  37. Hey Stuart! I love how you manage to make a ‘boring’ list-type post very personal, and because of that, very entertaining to read. I’m still learning ‘as I go’ myself here on WordPress, and love to learn from the people that have clearly investigated the ‘science behind WP’ more than I ever did. Like the difference between zero, less than four, or more than four pictures. Never realized that. I will certainly use that in the future!

    I fully agree with the affiliate marketing bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, if people want to include some of that in their blog, I won’t be the one to judge. But the names: ugh! Still trying to figure out a good blog title myself, I thought I had a fitting one, and upon googling it also turned out to be a religious cult, so I quickly steered clear of it. Whoops.

    Thanks for sharing your insights (and for commenting on my blog every once in a while – I must have ticked some boxes!)

    • Heya Robin! What an awesome comment to come across today. Your comment alone reads so much better than some of the posts I find on the Reader so…

      I definitely do try and personalise things, because not only does it set my—generic, let’s face it, my topics are generic—posts apart from others, but it also makes it harder for weirdos to copy-paste as their own.

      What’s wrong with your current name? I think personal names are a good way to brand yourself in the blogosphere. It seems like all this thinking is just… Robin your time (heh).

      Thank YOU for your lovely comment, and yes, your posts have no trouble drawing me in!

    • I unfortunately jumped into blogging without thinking or researching blog names. I have built up a following. But my blog name gets confused with so many others. Oh well. What to do – I keep blogging regardless.

  38. Very nice and appreciated. It’s not all about you, it’s about your visitors and what you can do for them, make them smile, think, and resonate with your message. Thank you.

    • And you just made me smile with your comment, so maybe it’s not just about posts too eh.

      Writing is a personal thing, and some of us write for ourselves, while others write for others, but I agree that on certain platforms, we need to perform instead of indulge.

      Thanks once again for stopping by!

  39. I’m always looking for ways to do things better. I think I may do some of these things and see what works. Thanks for taking the time to give us a candid look at things and the tips!

    • I too am always looking to better myself, so high five!

      Definitely do and discover what works for you, and if you find better ways of doing things, make sure to share. I can’t wait to hear the stories and results you’ll have!

  40. Great post, Stuart. I’ll be sure to try and add more pictures in the future–I’ve already started to venture into this territory, but great to get this confirmation. I also totally agree about first paragraphs–now that you mention it, I do tend to judge others’ posts by their titles and initial paragraphs.

    By the way, I downloaded your blogging guide recently. Great stuff! I’ve been using the WordPress reader since.

    • I’m glad that the guide helped! In fact, if you continue commenting like this one right here, multiple times per day, you’ll definitely end up with more engagement by the time this week’s done!

      Titles and first paragraphs are so important, ain’t it? We think it’s nothing when we’re writing, but when it comes time to judge other posts on the Reader, then it becomes super obvious.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  41. All good advice, thought I’m sure I commit at least a few of these sins at least some of the time. We have a lot of the same likes/dislike when it comes to reading others’ blogs. I don’t always ask my readers a question at the end, but I always hope they feel like they can comment.

    • Hahaha. That’s me being hypocritical. I love it when others ask questions, but I don’t extend the same courtesy myself. Mainly because I’m already requesting people to join the newsletter, so I don’t want to clutter the CTA. And regarding sins, something something cast the first stone.

  42. Same! Especially the disabled comment section. I want to share my thoughts especially when I find the article insightful. When I started blogging ten years ago, my blogs absolutely sucked. Lol! From cheesy titles to using low-quality photos, you name it. I did it. I continued to improve especially after realizing my blog has become more than just a place for me to rant or ramble. Our words can influence others whether we’re aware of it or not.

    • Heck yeah! I too sometimes browse through my old posts just to remind myself how far I’ve come. It’s not to say I actively chose to fit into the WordPress mould, but with every post, I started noticing things I could do better to make my audience’s stay more comfortable. And you’re so right. Our words do influence others. Thanks so much for your amazing thoughts!

  43. I think I suck when it comes to titles. I also suck in the pictures department, since I can’t see myself, I didn’t want to add photos in my post. Who knows what kind of photos they are? For all I know, I might end up putting porn picks unknowingly. I also wouldn’t know how those pictures are looking over all.

    But hey, at least I know I managed to tempt you to click on my posts. That is something.

    • Quality will always be quality no matter what, and drawing people in is an art. I think this is an important demonstration of finding your tribe too. You certainly connected with me with your posts, particularly the chess ones, even though I’m a noob at it.

      You’ve brought up a great point too, in that some of us have different circumstances, and we navigate WordPress differently.

      Thanks so much for always being a great presence and for adding your perspectives!

  44. I am guilty on most fronts, sorry to admit. I will try harder. One thing I do struggle with is Tags and I haven’t seen any advice or tips on the topic.

    • I’m totally with you on the tags. It’s hard to find solid information on their usefulness. Most of what I found online seemed to suggest that it is mostly there to help people navigate through your blog, but Stuart’s post certainly suggests otherwise!

      • I think the MAIN usefulness of tags is that people like me tend to browse the Reader by searching for topics, such as ‘writing’ or ‘self improvement’.

        So if you inserted said tags, I’d probably see the posts you tagged it as. That’s a good way of getting traffic from the Reader, because I still get a lot of attention on my older posts due to them being featured under the ‘Relevant’ category for tags such as ‘writing’ and ‘blogging.

      • I’m like Stuart and use them in the Reader. If I am on someone’s blog I look for the Search field. So I guess they serve multiple purposes, even other social media sites (Twitter).

    • Please don’t feel guilty, because this is just some dude’s preferences. They’re far from objective, and you’re not doing anything wrong.

      Anyway, are you familiar with hashtags? It’s kinda like the same system here. They do increase discoverability and also help your posts appear when people search for said tags in the Reader.

      Just ask away if there are certain bits of it you still don’t get, and I’ll try to help with my limited knowledge.

      • Your preferences make sense. Thank you for sharing.
        I do know about hashtags just don’t know how to describe posts to get attention. I do use writing, blogging, reading, etc. If everyone uses those, how does one get at the top of the list?

      • I think you get to the top of the Relevance list for a specific tag by getting engagement, but there are no guidelines we can follow. I remember reading a post by WordPress.com themselves saying that you shouldn’t think about the algorithm and should just continue putting up good work.

        The Latest section though, is time-dependent. So the more traffic there is, the less time you’ll appear there. Still, tags definitely offer more traffic than if we didn’t use them.

  45. What a helpful post, Stuart! Thanks so much! I have never given any consideration to my tags whatsoever so I will start doing that in future. I’m always able to take away something positive from each of your posts.

    • The biggest advantage of tags to me is the potential traffic it brings. Telling readers what to expect is a secondary benefit. So yeah, definitely pay more attention to them, and search to see which tags have most traffic so you can utilise them well!

      Thanks for your lovely words, Paula. I always appreciate you stopping by!

  46. Very good blog post about useful blog post things that a blogger would need to make a decent blog post about blogging! 😅

    Lol stocky-stock photos, don’t get me started on them! And then there’s overly filtered photos that every lifestyle blogger seems to do these days. It‘s not original or cool anymore.

    • Lol, I don’t mean to sound like someone who only cares about looks, but looks really do affect how I feel on a certain website. But at the end of the day, I know that the pics I use are also used elsewhere, and that’s inevitable when it comes to using royalty-free sites, but you won’t catch me using pics like MS Word’s Office Assistant!

      • I get what you’re saying. Looks really do matter. It matters less to me if I can read a blog post form the WP reader – at least its standardized. If the website itself is hard to read and looks like a 5-year old designed it, then….yikes.

        My site is rather basic because it’s a free theme. I am not ready to retire it yet because the theme was discontinued. In the beginning I used royalty-free photos. I stopped using them after I saw other bloggers using the exact same ones. 😏

      • Hahaha, that exactly my problem though. I do end up seeing the same images on other blogs, but I’ve since accepted that as part of the job. Maybe I should practise my photography once more.

        I’m on a free theme too! Free themes rock :P

      • I create my graphics Canva. Again there are free stock images, free elements, so can make unique images.

        Canva has a free option too.

        Sorry to plug here, I offer a design service, currently offering a reduced service.

      • I am very familiar with pixabay. In fact, I still use it Pixabay from time to time. I try to keep these kinds of images to a minimum though. 😆

  47. I read many posts on blogging tips. Your’s packed a punch, no holding back. Your advice and tips are useful. It is great insight on how you view tags and things. I think my biggest issues is when blogger have no ability to comment, and then those who never comment back on the comment you left.

    • Lol yeah. Comments can be a touchy thing. I actually wouldn’t know who hasn’t replied to my comments, but when I visit a blog and see many unreplied comments, then that strikes me as rude. But then again, that’s MY perception, one that I fully control, so I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Thanks so much for stopping by, Bella!

  48. Love this post, Stuart! One thing that always makes me “pass” on a blog is just one big block paragraph – as soon as I see a wall of text, I’m outta there 😂

  49. Thanks, Stuart — useful and entertaining. This made me laugh: “It’s almost as if you need a Nokia 3210 to answer the call from the nineties, where they ask you for their images back.” I hear you. Hah!

    • The comment ‘this made me laugh’ always makes me smile, because I believe that humour is so hard to pull off in writing, and having established writers like you say it feels pretty danged amazing, I have to admit. Thank you for making my day, and I didn’t need a Nokia to feel them good vibes!

  50. Absolutely brilliant Stuart and I am in complete agreement. My avoidance tags are also similar to yours. No pissing contests for this girl either.

    • Oh yeah. And I could be the most pious person on WordPress, or I could hold very strong political views, but I wouldn’t take it out on WordPress.

      That doesn’t mean that others won’t, however, and that’s cool too.

      Still, I hope that explains why we avoid or click on certain tags, lol. To the blogger wondering if they should care: Yes, they’re important!

      Thanks so much for stopping by as always, Chris!

  51. Great tips! I don’t read poetry on here much either. I definitely stopped reading posts because they had one word titles, little substance (I’m talking about like a paragraph), and try to sell stuff. I try to use personal photos when I can. I hadn’t thought of using more than four photos. I’ll look into that.

    • I actually think the four-photo thing is a stylistic choice, but it allows people like me to better judge what’s in a post. Maybe other people do things differently, and I’m just being selfish in how I want things to look for me, lol.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Always good for me to learn what types of audiences there on the Reader too, and your insights are useful.

  52. I like how you always have practical, specific advice delivered in an entertaining way. I’m so with you on the first paragraph thing – I have skipped so much WordPress poetry that might have been awesome if the blogger had just started the post with their awesome lines instead of a paragraph of introduction. If I see that intro paragraph in the reader, I am just going to skip it.

    The tags feedback is interesting. I’ve tagged posts as “politics”, “religion” etc. because that’s what I assumed other people were searching for and interested in reading. Eye-opening that I could be totally wrong on that.

    How are you feeling? Are you doing better post-COVID?

      • I think there will be people who will read religious, political. Everyone is different and everyone has likes and dislikes. If one person’s like, another doesn’t. Write what you want with the relevant tag and those who wanna read will read. It is that simple. I read religious, political stuff, I read poetry, and I love productivity, quotes. Variety is the spice of life!

      • I was just about to say don’t worry about tags in that regard, because it’s all about finding your own tribe, but Bella covered it well. I don’t follow finance or computer science tags too, but that doesn’t mean others don’t!

    • Oh yeah. That’s also why I’ve stopped putting captions in my first pic, because it interferes with the first paragraph preview. All the tiny details.

      And when it comes to the tags, people ARE searching for said tags, so don’t worry about it. As long as you know which audience you want to attract to a certain post, then all’s good. For instance, I’d never put Christianity or Judaism for posts like this one (some people do this to get more traffic), because the audiences who are interested in said tags would feel cheated once they scroll the article.

      So yeah, definitely pay attention to tags, but don’t feel bad for loving the topics you enjoy. But I suspect you already know that, with your wide experience on this platform and all.

      Am feeling pretty decent. Thanks so much for checking in, JYP! I appreciate you :)

  53. Great post as always Stuart!👏
    ” So tags such as religion, politics, sexism, and social justice would reduce my desire to click.”
    I’m soooo with ya hete.
    Wait, you don’t like poetry?! Ha 😂 but you read mine and besides you’ll LOVE my son’s rad pic from Monday. 🤷‍♀️ just sayin.
    I hear ya on titles and tags and pics.. So far it’s all working for me there and I don’t have to spend a a lot of time picking titlewhichck would kill me since picking pics takes so long..,,, ugh.

    • Haha. I should also say that friends get more leeway, and some rules don’t apply then.

      Oh yeah! I should also mention that not only does picking the pic take a while, but resizing or in my case, using the Classic block and uploading the images do add a bunch of ‘admin hours’ to the workflow.

      Writing is like only 50% of blogging, I believe. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, Cindy!

      • And thanks for your kind words! Especially Snazzy! I find posts like these great as you can be completely new to the scene yet have the resources to know how best to approach it. Kind of sounds like cheating now i think about it…

  54. Sadly, I use stocky-stock photos all the time 😔 😩..agree, the little details do count. I feel the same way about wanting a blog to feel like a welcoming environment when it comes to comments. Thanks for the food for thought – hope you’re feeling better!

    • That’s the perfect word for it: welcoming. Everything we insert or remove from our blog all add up to either make our website welcoming or scary to our audience. And that’s a journey I will never get to the end of too. Thanks so much for adding your perspective, and yes, I’m feeling better now :)

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