Blog for Your Readers, Not for Yourself

It simply isn’t fair to expect your blog’s visitors to jump through hoops to see your content or share their comments.

Yesterday, I followed a link to a Web site I often visit and read a blog post I wanted to comment on. I filled in the form and was faced with a series of options, all of which would eventually require me to set up an account with the blogger’s current choice of comment platform: Livefyre. I didn’t want an account on yet another commenting platform, so I simply didn’t leave a comment.

I should note a few things here. It was this same blog and blogger that was using Disqus, another commenting platform, a few years back. I wanted to comment and set up a Disqus account. Since then, Disqus has become relatively popular and I use the account a few times a week.

(It wasn’t always like that. I distinctly remember the hassle that followed my Disqus account setup when the system kept sending me email messages every time someone else commented on a post I’d commented on. It took a lot of digging to figure out how to turn off that feature — which I’d never turned on. As for Livefyre, it seemed impossible to post a comment yesterday without giving Livefyre permission to post on my behalf on Twitter or Facebook or use my e-mail address for some other purpose I didn’t want but had no choice but to authorize.)

Of course, I still don’t understand why a blogger doesn’t simply use the commenting feature that’s part of a WordPress installation. That’s what I use here. It’s pretty straightforward: enter your name, e-mail address, website (optional), and comment. If the comment passes muster with my spam prevention software, it’s held for moderation by me. If I approve it, it appears. If I don’t, it’s trashed. I could, of course, require each and every commenter to open an account on this blog, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to make them take that extra step. It’s bad enough that they may have to wait for their comment to appear.

And that brings up the topic of this post: requiring blog readers to do something special just for you so they can see or interact with your blog’s content. I’m talking about requiring an account on an obscure commenting system just because you like it. Or inserting content that depends on a specific plugin or Web browser to view. Or requiring someone to create an account or log in just to read a post. (Don’t get me started on paywalls.)

It’s just not right.

Face it: there are tens of thousands of blogs out there and, if you’re an average blogger, half of them are going to be better than yours. Why would you make your blog readers do something special just to read/reply to your blog? Do you really think it’s fair to have them jump through hoops just for you?

I don’t.

If you’re a serious blogger with content you want to share with the biggest possible audience, stop putting up roadblocks or hurdles for readers. Make content easy to find and read. And yes, that does mean not splitting posts into multiple parts, forcing readers to click through multiple pages to read one post. It also means not littering your blog with obnoxious and distracting ads that make it difficult to find content among blinking, flashing, or animated trash. And content that requires plugins to see is likely to be seen only by the few people who have those plugins or are willing to install them.

If you want feedback from blog readers in the form of comments that can start valuable conversations and build a blog community, stop making it difficult for them to post a comment. Not everyone is happy about setting up accounts all over the Web — especially accounts with third party services that might use contact information for their own purposes.

So who do you blog for? Yourself? Or your readers? Look at your blog from their perspective. Is your content worth the bother of jumping through the hoops you’ve set up for readers?

If there’s any question, maybe it’s time to rethink your priorities. It just might help get your blog a bigger audience and the kind of reader interaction that sets good blogs apart from the rest of the pack.

2 thoughts on “Blog for Your Readers, Not for Yourself

  1. The topic you picked today could open a flood gate of replies. I certainly could write pages of comments here. Many of them would be rants on a number of related topics, but ranting is not something I like to do. But your topic caused me to once again think through the decision I made with respect to a WP site that provides CMS-type content – so I am off-topic in that sense.

    For one, my site is closed to search engines at this time which allows me to populate the site without distractions. In that sense the site serves my purposes. One day late this year (I hope) I will open that site, but when I do I will only provide for feedback which will not be published at all, and I will clearly state that I am not likely to respond to any of it. Instead, I will propose to start an online collaboration system I will participate in. In that sense I will serve my current needs, offer content for the benefit of those that take interest in it while the collaboration mechanism serves as filter that self-selects seriously interested parties, if any. There will also not be any links to social networking venues, present or future ones.

    What I am saying here is that I found it necessary to be very clear in my mind about what I am doing with my site and why. In the end, that is what you are calling for in your topic today.

    BTW – I very much liked you last site design – I thought it was the best possible design for presenting yourself and all those eclectic topics you always come up with. Not that the current theme isn’t great as it is. I just like the busy appearance of the last theme that fits your busy life to a T.

    Always
    Eberhard

    • I think that things are different with a special interest or special purpose site or blog. And now I’m wondering if the blogger I referred to really isn’t interested in reader comments. But if that’s the case, then why open comments at all? He should take an approach like yours. Others do.

      As for the site design, it isn’t quite done yet. I tend to make site redesigns a work in progress for a least the first six months. This site may get a whole new Home page layout and will definitely get sidebars on single post pages. It’ll just take some time to get all the modifications in place. As I mentioned to someone else, it’ll likely get busy again.

What do you think?