Monday, March 28, 2011

When Blogs Lose Readers' Interest

I follow nearly 100 different feeds with Google Reader, nearly all of them blogs. I love not missing a single post, and being able to catch up on my reading whenever I want. I'm pretty quick to add new blogs to my list, and it takes a lot for me to remove one. I just let the posts pile up for months until I'm pretty sure I won't be reading the blog again.

Then there are the feeds I click on as soon as I notice a new post. Some are friends' blogs, some are written by writing industry professionals, and one is my comic strip feeds (daily dose of Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and more). But even on some of these feeds, I've noticed myself skimming instead of reading, searching to find the nuggets of gold that made me put them on my list to begin with, and coming up empty.

One of the blogs that I increasingly skim is Michael Hyatt's blog. (I'm using his blog as an example because he seems very open to reader feedback, and because I'm surprised that a blog that's "doing everything right" isn't holding my interest anymore.) The reason I began follow Michael's blog is because he is the CEO of Thomas Nelson, one of my favorite publishers. I loved the "inside scoop" about the publishing industry, and learned from his posts about leadership and technology. I used to read his posts about fitness and public speaking, but I don't anymore.

Do I just have less time to spend on blog reading? Part of it, perhaps. I almost never watch the videos he posts, and I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it's that I expect to read on Google Reader. If I want to watch videos, I go to YouTube. Also, the intros to the videos (the words before the video embed) rarely compel me to watch the video. I might scan the rest of the post for more information, but I assume that it's supposed to be read after watching the video. It's gotten to the point where if I see a post having a video, I skip it completely, unless the title shouts that it's something interesting about the publishing industry.

Another reason I skim his posts is because so few of them are about the publishing industry anymore (probably less than 10%). A writer friend has started blogging more about organic foods and green living than writing, so I'm less likely to read her posts right away.

I guess what my observations boil down to is this. Dilute or change your original blog topic, and your original readers may start to lost interest in your blog (you may gain a bunch of new readers, though!). I'm not talking about occasional off-topic posts. But if you write 5 posts a week, and 2 of them focus on your original topic and 3 focus on your new topic, why not have a blog for each? Especially if the topics have little relation.

Any thoughts?


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Interesting! My blog reading seems closely aligned to yours, Katie. I actually unsubscribed to Mr. Hyatt's blog for the reasons you mentioned. I just wasn't interested in most of what he posted.

One thing about starting new blogs -- we need to remember to tell our readers. I started an editing blog and put all my writing craft material over there now, but I don't think I say a thing about that decision at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. So could be, my visitors who want writing craft info don't even know why they're not finding it.

Good post.


Beverly Nault said...

I agree with you both. I followed Michael Hyatt closely until he swerved into general business comments. Perhaps he should write two, one for publishing world info and a separate leadership one.

A lesson to always keep the reader in mind when writing!

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