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Why Did Your Last Blog Post Fail? 13 Questions to Ask

FAIL.pngHave you ever had a blog post that you put a lot of time, energy and thought into – that completely flopped?

Nobody comments on it, nobody bookmarks it on Digg, nobody tweets a link to it…. it’s almost like it was never written.

If so – here’s a few questions to ask yourself about the post to help you learn why it might have failed and to help you improve for next time:

  1. could the title have been improved?
  2. did the opening lines of this post draw readers in to read more?
  3. could I have added an image to give the post a visual point of interest?
  4. could I have added a question to draw readers into discussing the post?
  5. was the topic relevant to my readers?
  6. did I promote the post to other bloggers or my network?
  7. did I publish this post at the right time (of day or the week)?
  8. could I have called my readers to perform some kind of action?
  9. was this post useful – did it fulfill a need or solve a problem for readers?
  10. did the post have sufficient depth? – could it have been more interesting with examples, illustrations, opinions, stories, quotes etc?
  11. was this post unique or just a rehash of what others are writing?
  12. did the formatting of this post help readers to read it easily?
  13. was the post concise or could it have been too long winded?

Of course it is also worth saying that sometimes posts just don’t have the success we hope they will and that there’s no real reason for it. Conversely other posts which we don’t think will really work can soar like eagles!

That’s the way the cookie crumbles some days!

Further Reading: Many of the above questions are fleshed out with tips on how to make them a reality in my series – How to Craft a Blog Post.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I never thought of it that way, maybe because my blog is still small and I don’t the same amount of traffic every day. But those are 13 questions I’m going to ask myself before writing very blog post. Thanks Darren.

  2. I agree with this, sometimes I ask myself what did I do wrong that got me where I am.

    Then I realized that my question is wrong, so I ask myself what could I do right.

  3. If any blogger write a post by maintainig this 13 questions…
    The post will never FLOP

    Shajib
    http://www.ebooksdock.co.cc/

  4. I’m always amazed at the unpredictability. On Herbvioracious.com, I mainly do recipes and depend on my photographs to draw people in. But this recent philosophical post I wrote, without a single picture, did 10x the normal page views and drew 10x the normal comments, and best of all the comments were really thoughtful, not just the normal “yum, that looks delicious”. If I only knew what I did right!

  5. What time of the day works the best for people? I schedule my posts for 6:30 AM Central time, which is probably too early. On the other hand, I know some succesful blogs that schedule even earlier than this …

  6. I’m not so sure success of a post can be measured in such a cut and dry way. Sometimes connecting with one ‘non social media’ reader is successful and even if they don’t go on to tweet, blog, link, rank the post it is still in their mind and affecting their thoughts. That is success to me. But we do have different audiences so of course we will measure things differently :) Regardless, your suggestions are sound as always!

  7. Thank You. This post was a useful read.
    There are some things that you have mentioned above that I have not considered myself and I have been a long time blogger. I think I personally need to find the right timing to post my blogs, my postings are just very irregular because sometimes my ideas are flowing at different times.
    Another add is that many bloggers do not join social networks to promote their posts because they think its just too much work. I find it very tedious but it but be done.

  8. I wrote a post on Friday that I thought was going to be a flop, nobody had left a comment but all of a sudden I logged in and there were two comments.

    Many of my earlier posts had no comments or bookmarks but that was when I wasn’t getting much traffic, as it is so many web users are passive.

  9. Excellent post, I have spent hours upon hours doing research and making “what I thought” to be an excellent post to find out my readers are not big fans. On the other hand I have spent twenty minutes pretty much jotting down a couple ideas and it turns out they are extremely helpful to my readers. It is very interesting which posts make it especially the ones you thought were just “filler” and you did not put 100% effort into. Anyway excellent post Darren I am curious do you think in a future post it would be possible to discuss how to do #6 without spamming? I am always afraid to ask a fellow blogger to check out one of my posts feeling it is spammy. Thanks for the tips.

    Kris,

  10. Useful info here. I’m a pretty ‘organic’ process person, but there were a couple of things I’d never thought of before. I’ve printed this off and it’ll be taped next to my monitor for the next while to remind me to think differently as I post! Muchos gracias

    Gwen McCauley
    http://www.ouicoach.com
    follow me at http://www.twitter.com/gwenmccauley

  11. I think its a common problem that every blogger faces. Some posts are quite popular and some are not. Thanks for this post. It highlights all of the main points which can be improved to achieve a better readership.

  12. “….did I promote the post to other bloggers or my network?”

    How would you do that?

  13. Darren,
    You know how to get a post out there and have it be popular across the networks. I am amazed at the number of high page ranking posts your sites have. Incredible job.

  14. The last post that really failed for me was because I was really “wishy-washy” about the action I wanted my readers to take. Instead of making it clear I beat around the bush about it. Several days later while looking at it I realized there was no real call to action in it so people read it and moved on.

  15. Traffic perhaps plays a huge issue on my blog.

    But the post title matters a LOT. I think of each of my posts as a sales proposal. If you don’t hook them at the headline, no one will pay attention.

  16. Darren this is ideal for anyone trying to improve their posts, thanks.

    I’ve been implementing most of these, but points like your final words I found really important. Just to remind all of us that no matter what we do, sometimes a post just doesn’t work.

    That’s when its time to start crafting our next post. ;)

    take care

  17. This is a very useful checklist to review before hitting the Publush button. Very seldom do I have a post that just hits it out of the park. So hopefully I can increase the odds now.

  18. All 13 reasons are extremely relevant when deciding how to better approach your blog audience.

    One more valid point revolves around audiences that are quiet but faithfully read what you post. Those types of readers exist, which I know very well because I cater to one of those niche audiences.

    On this particular blog, I hear little feedback if any at all, so I gauge interest through analytics programs that uncover subjects that get the most attention. The data tells me which case studies, special reports, and ebooks will sell quickly.

  19. For me the reason would be that the last post was not unique and just a rehash of what others are writing. I always ask myself what did I do wrong that got me where I am. But this one slipped!

  20. I think I tend to overwrite things, to the point where the readers are put off or are uninterested anymore. But my blog is still to new to really tell if thats the case. I’ve been trying to edit myself more lately.

  21. Thanks Darren.
    This post can add value in my upcoming blog posts.

  22. Most of my best ones have been when I provide an answer to common Blogging problem individuals are experiencing.

    Why do many of mine bomb?

    Most probably because of several of the 13 points above!

    Andrew

  23. Once I’ve done a blogpost, a really long one, with a procedure for a technical configuration. Step-by-step… really usefull.

    And that post went one of the most visited of my blog.

    Quality matters….

  24. Salman says: 07/14/2009 at 4:02 am

    I never thought in that way Darren thanx Now I can improve a lot.

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  25. Thanks for the tips!

    Do you think sometimes blogs can just be too niche and there aren’t enough people out there with an interest in the subject in order to make money from it?

  26. still i am not thinking about that, but nice article, thanks
    Blogging Tips, SEO and Money Making Tips by http://teratips.com

  27. In terms of comments, ALL of my blog posts fail.

    Yeah, people are reading them, I can tell by the traffic (low) and stickiness (2+ minutes per visit). Then they bounce.

    But I’m not getting even close to 1% comment rate. Maybe 1/10 of that.

    Couple of observations:

    1. I see totally lame blogs that DO rehash material that get a lot of comments.

    2. Pictures, leadins, deep, shallow, the results are uniform across the board: very, very few comments.

    Here’s the kicker: I *know* people are reading the posts… because the post I offered actual money to someone (1500 words into a 3000 word post), I got immediate responses through my contact form. Go figure.

    I’m a smart guy, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’ll use your list to systematically go through selected posts for testing.

  28. Excellent post, I wish I had found this blog sooner. I will print those 13 questions out as an outline for every post. Thank you Darren.

  29. Interesting article. I haven’t though of all those questions when posting my articles and i now have insight into why some of my posts are not followed.

    I also believe that bloggers may need to be a little more particular about which posts they put out there. If the content isn’t interesting and grads the readers attention then they wont come back.

  30. Good list. I think it might be good to ask these questions BEFORE posting it!

  31. Always and always the reason for readers to read them is usefulness. what is in it for them? if we answer that, then BANG! Succesful!

  32. I mentioned God in a post, one that got the least comments in months. I better stick to writing about beer and donuts.

  33. Great questions. I’ve actually been spending a lot of time trying to improve my titles which was your first point.

  34. Amazing Darren! Gets right to the point.

  35. Darren brings up some great points. These 13 questions should definitely be addressed before any blogger pushes the ‘PUBLISH’ button. In addition to what he’s said, make sure the content is compelling and don’t blog fade.

  36. Yeah I really need to work on adding more images to my posts. A shame they’re so time-consuming.

  37. Good tips. Maybe these points should be thought of while writing the post to avoid the flop.

  38. I wish I would have used a checklist like this when I first started blogging. I think I will go back and revise some of my older, less popular posts when I get some free time.

  39. These are great tips to think about. I had a fellow blogger suggest to me that my blog would be better with photos. I had post after post with no art. Now, I try to have a photo with each post. It has really enlivened my blog.

    I’m also taking a lot more photos because I may be able to use them on my blog.

    Rita

    My blog is The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com

    P.S. What is the right time of day to post a blog post?

  40. I don’t really let this sort of thing bother me, because every post I make is planting another seed on Google and on my blog’s history. My hope is that the more seeds I have, the more chance I have that my posts will get picked up and circulated.

    That said you do provide some very good advice here on how to write an eye-grabbing post that improves your chance of getting it circulated.

  41. I found myself asking some of these very questions just last week because for the first time in OVER A YEAR, one of my posts got ZERO comments. Part of the issue was it was only a short, info video and didn’t really spark a discussion but it still felt strange not having any comments — especially since I usually get at least 6 or 7 per post.

    Nevertheless, it was a good wake-up call for me because it did cause me to reflect on some of the points posted here. Thanks Darren.

  42. It would be nice to know how one can still make that post worthwhile and generate comments by visitors.

  43. I read the post and gone back to make necessary changes to my blog. i will post what updates on my blog :)

  44. How can a blog post be a failure if you enjoyed writing it?

    People should stop measuring blogging success purely by traffic numbers.

  45. Because it did not give something informative and was quite similar to what others say!

  46. Some posts “flop” or “fail” from the beginning — get no comments — because they never get read. I have seen bloggers who pour out their writing talents, post after post, without any attempt to generate traffic to their blog. Then they wonder why the blog has no comments. They need to learn to drive traffic, get readers. Yes, content IS king, but if you have no readers, there will be nobody there to read your content!

    krissy knox :)
    follow me on twitter:
    http://twitter.com/iamkrissy

  47. Very good guidence, especially for those just starting out, you really do have to cover all angles and sell yourself.

  48. Since I am new to blogging there is a lot on the list that I find relevant.
    thanks

  49. Ive also found that the rhythm or tone make a difference. In my case, colloquial posts with short sentences seem to work better.

  50. It didn’t fail…

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