Why I Hate It When A Blog Post Bombs

Every blogger fears that moment when a blog post goes live and then...  nothing.

Not a comment, not a tweet, no significant page hits, nada. You can almost sense the tumbleweed blowing down the street.

Your blog post has bombed. You've missed the mark.

I had one of those moments last week when I wrote a post about life in Sydney. I liked the angle I'd taken and I thought it was a little on the funny side and might elicit a few laughs. I published the post on Wednesday, scheduled a bunch of tweets that same day, shared the post on Facebook and LinkedIn, and watched and waited.

Nothing. Not a peep.

No reactions, a meagre couple of retweets, and Facebook was as quiet as a graveyard.

I was concerned. Was the post that bad? I re-read it to make sure I hadn't offended any person or particular ethnic group, did a quick scout of the blogosphere to check that my fellow bloggers were still alive and breathing, and waited once more for a reaction.

Two days passed and I had one lonely comment and a paltry number of page visits.

The sound of a cricket chirping could be clearly heard and more tumbleweeds blew down the road. Meanwhile, I continued to cringe in my blogger's chair.

What had gone wrong and why did I care?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (jypsygen)

It's not all bad

Who knows what happened.

Maybe I posted too often on that choice of subject and my readers simply weren't interested. I could have overdone the sponsored post angle which was turning people off. Or it could have been a simple case of poor writing and bland content.

Although it gave me some cause for concern and left me a little bruised, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

This poorly performing blog post gave me a gentle kick up the rear.

It made me look at what I'm putting out into the blogosphere. It made me assess the stuff I'm writing about and how well I'm writing it. It made me to sit down and do all of this, which was surely no bad thing.

A healthy thing in fact.

Why I care so much

This blogging business is an uncertain thing.

On any given day, you might think of yourself as a competent writer, putting out killer posts and garnering comments and page views imagined only in your wildest dreams. The next day, it all changes with the push of a button. Your 400-word post chokes and you're thrown violently back to blogging basics.

Last week was a timely reminder that ISOALLO needs to remain interesting and relevant, a good read and unputdownable. This is why I do what I do.

I've worked too hard to create a dedicated community of readers and followers, and to deliver my own individual outlook on life, to see it wasted on the basis of a post that bombed.

I'd like to think that I have a budding reputation to protect - as a writer and creator of this site - and poor readership and participation acts like a flashing headline: 'Russell, be warned!'.

What can be done

All bloggers hate the dud blog post. Me particularly so.

I'd rather pull out my own teeth than experience the quiet that followed last week's post. But, on reflection, it was useful in reminding me of the need to do the following:
  1. Early on, understand what works and what doesn't on the blog - and apply those rules consistently.
  2. Regularly review the content - too repetitive, too obvious, too much navel-gazing?
  3. Refresh the posting strategy from time to time - if it ain't broke, don't fix it; however, if the site is starting to stagnate, it's time to try a different approach. Try posting less often or, conversely, posting more regularly, consider introducing new topics, or try out a different angle to keep the site moving forward and the content fresh. 
  4. Seek feedback from blogging peers - ask them what they think works well or what doesn't work quite so well and seek out suggestions for future content.
  5. Continue to research the subject area - see what others are creating in this field of blogging. It's not about plagiarising or ripping-off from others, but about looking for new ideas and understanding trends and topics that are proving to be a hit with the community out there.

Have you had a blog post bomb recently? What did you do to fix it? As a blog reader, what turns you off and, equally, what floats your boat?

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vegemitevix said... Add Reply

I'll have to go back and have a squiz Russ, I can't remember you posting a blog post last week. Maybe you just missed me, I mean when I was online. I really hate it when a post bombs, it feels like the ultimate rejection. Don't be too hard on yourself though, it happens to all of us, even those of us who have been writing professionally for decades. (Which admittedly makes me feel I should know better..) There is something worse than a blog post than bombs - one that doesn't get written. Oh yes, I'm talking about 'the block'. The choke. The 'what the HELL am I going to blog about today?' panic that results in paralysing performance worry. I have that now. Any hints on how to get out of it?

Lynn Lees said... Add Reply

Hi Russ. I think sometimes people just get caught up in other things, and don't check blog posts at all for a few days. Case in point me this weekend. With the Chinese New Year holiday, hubby has been off for 4 days so I have been doing the barest minimum on the Internet. Some of us are just seriously "old school" and don't walk, breathe and talk with an I-phone attached lol! Keep up the great work. I cannot believe it possible for you to write a bad post.

Jack Scott said... Add Reply

We all have our off days and I'm constantly surprised what grabs the reader's imagination. My most popular post recently was about recycling!

Carrie Sanderson said... Add Reply

Hi Russell, it takes guts to admit how something like this has made you feel. Please be gentle with yourself, for in my opinion you have done nothing wrong or bad. Like Julia Cameron says (I do like to refer to her in times of need), inside we are all artistic children that want to be loved and accepted, and we want to share our art and creativity with everyone. It hurts when we feel no one has noticed us, leaving us to question what have we done wrong, is it me, did I offend anyone etc. A downward negative spiral if we are not careful. May I make a suggestion? Add to your list above number 6) acknowledge feelings and be gentle with yourself, and nurture your inner artist when something like this happens (perhaps revisit glowing feedback from another piece of writing, or remember you were a finalist in Best Australian Blogs).
Why are some posts more popular than others? I have no idea. But keep going, your writing is brilliant and I enjoy reading your posts, and most importantly enjoy the process and as long as you do, it can never be 'bad'!

Emma Caroline Lewis said... Add Reply

I know that feeling really well... But actually, in a way I don't really care all that much, any more. I love to get great responses but a lot of my readers tell me "oh I loved your post," but don't comment online. It really annoys me but I know they are actually reading, from the WordPress stats and from various comments on Facebook and Twitter. I always take a look at the stats to see what my most popular blog posts are/have been. There are all sorts of factors that go into the popularity of a post but it is just a very uncertain thing. Sometimes it's just timing. I often "recycle" posts that I think some of my readers may have missed... But keep up the good work anyway!

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Me too, Jack. It often surprises me. Who knew that recycling could be so interesting!

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

I think you're right, Lynn. How dare they! Pleased to hear you're spending time offline and enjoying the physical world out there. And thanks for the pat on the back - always much appreciated :)

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Perhaps this is all just a cynical ploy of mine to seek positive feedback from my blogging chums?! ;-) I haven't yet suffered from the block as thankfully there's always something that springs to mind but I'm not looking forward to the day when it inevitably arrives. How to get out of it? Have a break from the blog and do something entirely different - while you're doing that entirely different 'thing', you may find ideas pop and fizz into your head. Have a look around at what others are blogging about (particularly themes) and see if anything triggers a similar post with your own twist on it. Failing that, consume a few bottles of wine and see how the ideas spring forth! :)

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Hi Carrie, always love your comments - they're ever thoughtful and considered. Thank you! I think your suggestion is important - revisiting former work can be a positive and motivating experience... and give you a quick perk-up!

I also have no idea why some posts are more popular than others - timing perhaps? A catchy title that pulls people in? Something that resonates or strikes a chord with the majority? Either way, I'll keep doing what I'm doing with a few tweaks and adjustments here and there.

Very pleased you enjoy the writing you read here. It's always a pleasure to see you come back each time :)

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

I get a lot of that too, Emma. It can be frustrating (obviously) but what can you do? Suck it in and get on with the next post. Recycling posts is an interesting concept. I often tweet 'from the archives' but don't re-post my material. Do you get good feedback when you do?

Karen Nager Loethen said... Add Reply

I understand COMPLETELY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why does no one write? How bad IS it? Are my readers bored? Annoyed? Do they find my blog post(s) too insipid? Lame? Weak? Am I too ...nice?

Short of begging, why do few people comment??????? I have no idea!

Well, at least I'm not whining about my blog posts bombing...

Peace. http://taytayhser.blogspot.com.au/

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Great to hear it, Karen!!! And I have no idea either. Maybe we both have far too many 'watchers' and not enough 'participators' or maybe we're just being too hard on ourselves. And you've got to love a good whine... well, at least I do ;-)

Julia said... Add Reply

Oh, this post is just what I needed. I bombed today. And I care. Thanks for putting things back in perspective for me. I really enjoy blogging, and it would be silly for the crickets you mentioned to bully me into silence.

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

Anytime, Julia. Stand up to those crickets - I'm trying to!

Oui In France said... Add Reply

It's funny how blogging works sometimes, right? I've put hours and hours into posts that I'd thought would be hits, from the thought process, a quick outline, then the actual writing and then photography, etc. just to have it get 2 likes on FB and a few comments. And others, the idea would come to me while walking my dog (as they often do), I'd write it up in 30 minutes thinking it wouldn't be too popular, and it would get tons of shares and likes. Sometimes we don't have any control over what will be a hit. But that said, just hitting publish won't do much if we don't do our part and promote. I often email other bloggers a relevant post to put it on their radar, share all over social media and other promotion. Happy holidays!

Russell V J Ward said... Add Reply

I used to think there was a formula for it but now I think that's not the case (as you've also discovered!). Emailing other bloggers is a good idea. Share, share and share alike! Thanks for your comment :)

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