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Why Your Blog Sucks

Posted By Guest Blogger 26th of April 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.

Your blog sucks. You just don’t know it yet. On the other hand, my blog is great because my blog really sucks, and I know it.

I know that my blog needs work, and I’m always working to improve it. I wish I had the fan base that Chris Guillebeau from the Art of Non-Conformity has. I wish I could “figure out” social media better. I wish I had apps like Travelfish. I wish I could have better conversions, a better design, and a million other things.

In short, I know that despite getting tons of traffic and being viewed as having one of the biggest travel websites on the Internet, my blog still sucks because I know there’s always room for improvement.

I’m always working on improving my site on every front. I understand that blogging takes time and that no two blogs are equal and, if I am going to make it, I am always going to need to change and constantly improve.

No two blogs are the alike. However, one common trait I see among too many bloggers is the idea that just because we all have blogs, we’re all equal and deserve the same treatment. I think this notion harkens back to the early days of blogging, when the practice was seen as a more egalitarian form of journalism, and everyone was in it together.

Even when the social aspect of blogging is put aside and the business factor comes in, this equality idea still lingers on, and it limits bloggers from developing great websites. Why would you need to improve your website if you think it’s already on par with the best sites on the Internet? You don’t. After all, you’re at the top of your game, right? But the mentality that “all blogs are equal” will only keep you from reaching the true potential of your website.

Think of it this way: is McDonald’s the same as that amazing burger place down the street? Are two pizza places the same? No way! If every sushi restaurant thought they were the famous Nobu, why would they ever bother improving their services or quality? They wouldn’t!

And it’s that kind of attitude that keeps bloggers from developing truly outstanding websites. There’s the assumption that if we all have a blog, we are all equal and deserve the same stuff. We all deserve to guest post on Zen Habits, get advertisers, write for CNN, and receive lots of amazing perks.

I run a travel site and PR folks often remark in their conversations with me that they find too many people demanding a free trip, a free hotel, or a free whatever. Those PR people are going to look at a blog and think, “This person has no readers, but s/he is demanding free stuff. Why would I give them anything?”

They’re right to think this way. You have a blog, but that doesn’t mean you should be entitled anything. Anyone can start a blog. It takes about ten minutes. However, not everyone knows how to make a high-quality blog.

Should the person who just installed WordPress be entitled to the same benefits as the person who has been working two years at building a successful site has? I don’t think. Would you make a guy CEO after he worked for your company for two weeks? You need to prove yourself and show you have value to offer.

I wake up everyday thinking, “How can I be better? What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong?” Unfortunately, too many people don’t do that. They just have a cookie-cutter, free theme and write short, unfocused posts. But blogging is more that.

Blogging, like it or not, is a business. (Sure, you can write a blog just for mom and dad but I suspect most people reading this article want to make a serious business out of their blog.) Blogging is like any other profession. You don’t get better unless you improve yourself. But if you already view yourself as the best, you limit your ability to become great, because you make yourself blind to your limitations.

I think it’s great that you have a blog. You are doing something, and by reading ProBlogger, you are probably already committed to bettering yourself. However, don’t get into the false mindset that all blogs are equal, because they aren’t. Recognize that your blog, just like my blog, needs to be improved constantly. The more you better yourself, the more traffic and readers you will get.

In no other business do you see people say, “Okay, I opened a store and that’s all I need to do. Let the money roll in.” So I’m always baffled that bloggers think, “Well, I just started this blog and even though my mom is the only person reading it, I should still get that all-expenses-paid trip, I should be able to preview the new iPad, speak at SXSW, or write for Mashable.”

Stop thinking that way. Stop thinking you are the cat’s meow just because you blog. Stop thinking you are the same as everyone else. Start thinking about ways to improve your site. Start looking at what is wrong and how to fix it. Set goals for yourself, work at it, and see what other people are doing.

Yeah, it’s going to be a lot more work than it was before. Yeah, blogging will be like a job. But if your goal is to have an awesome website that supports you, simply posting a blog post isn’t going to cut it.

Can your blog do with some improvement? What changes are you making to better your blog today?

Matthew Kepnes has been traveling around the world for the past four years. He runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site and has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian UK, AOL’s Wallet Pop, and Yahoo! Finance. He currently writes for AOL Travel and The Huffington Post For more information, you can visit his Facebook page or sign up for his RSS feed.

About Guest Blogger
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  1. There is always room for improvement even for the best. Even the best of the content blogs needs tweaking in design & vice-versa

    • Eh, I agree, but only to a certain point.

      Yes the age old saying “nobody’s perfect” rings true, but at a certain point, you have to stop messing around with design and focus on content.

      I’m not sure sure it applies the other way around, I mean, you should constantly be working on to improve your content, but not necessarily “tweaking” it: if you keep changing it up, people won’t know what to expect.

      Overall, keep constant the need to pursue, but don’t change up SO much that your blog loses it’s identity.

      • I think it’s admirable to have high-class bloggers come out and say things like this. It’s actually very encouraging for beginners like myself to really work hard at it rather than expect a miracle.

        On the other hand, I do agree that aesthetics can only go so far. “Tweaking” the site is not going to make a difference in the long run because personal preference becomes key. Who is to say one layout is better than another?

        Either way, this provided some very useful information.

        Thank you :)

    • Hi Matt,

      I really enjoyed your article. I would classify myself as a “casual” blogger who is slowly starting to become more serious. Unlike a lot of people I have read about/talked with, I didn’t start my blog with any kind of “success” or “entitlement” in mind. My blog was started out of utter frustration :) and the desire to relieve some of that frustration from others. I also like website design/theming, find SEO very interesting, and am intrigued by the concept of online marketing. My blog has been around for about 6 months now and it attracts about 2,500 visitors/13k pageviews a month. About 30% of that traffic comes from YouTube (it used to be around 90%) 25% from Google, 20% is Direct traffic and finally about another 12% from some forums. I have been really excited because it has grown relatively quickly (based on what I have read on proBlogger and elsewhere) but I am looking ahead now and seeing a major potential issue/problem (probably about 5 years out at the most). My blog was started around helping people with a specific electronic device, (A WDTV Media Player to be exact) and the majority of my visitors still come for that alone. I am not sure exactly how to diversify into other topics now and I was wondering if you would possibly have some ideas? :) I want to keep it as a tech blog that is focused around helping non-techy people figure out rather technical stuff. One way I am trying to diversify at the moment is to find some other tech hobbyist/professionals to write some how-to articles for me :). Right now it is more or less all in the name of fun but if the blog ever actually starts making decent money I plan on figuring out pay-for-work at that point. I wasn’t sure if you had any experience working jointly with other authors?

      I loved your article btw. I am constantly checking out other blogs and comparing mine. I have gone through 3 major revisions since the blogs creation 6 months ago, trying to make it look more clean and professional and easier to navigate and read. If you take a look at it, I more than welcome your criticism :). I definitely agree with another poster on here that it probably isn’t a good idea to constantly be making major revisions, but I justify this with the fact that my blog is still relatively “young” and is going through growing pains.


  2. brilliant. and this is so true SO SO true…

    • I too don’t get much visitors on my blog and sometimes my visitors decrease so much that my blog niche change slowly and i don’t realize it. Congrats that you are getting good offers for your blog.

  3. I am constantly thinking about how to improve my blog on a daily basis. Recently I got asked to help to write articles for a site because the site owner saw my potential through my blog. Well I guess I am somewhat improving. :)

  4. Thanks for this kick in the butt, Matthew! I’m one of those newer bloggers, but am hungry to reach my audience and make an impact.

    I’ve been surprised by the amount of work (never-ending, it seems) that the blog takes since I’m always trying to improve my site and my content and my connections.

    This post helped me realize that I”m on the right track and to keep pursuing excellence. Thanks again!

  5. Hey, it was an inspiring post by Matthew.After reading this I have to do more hard work to get success in blogging.Thanks for wonderful article.

  6. Great post Matthew!

    This is one of the things that I think most people don’t realize when they start their blogs. To have a successful blog, you have to be constantly tweaking it, publishing good content, and be heavily promoting it.

    All of this takes time, patience, and perseverance. If you have all of those qualities…you end up like the PRO’s.

  7. Hahaha! My blog actually does suck! But at least I know it. It’ll get there someday….

    • This post has inspired me and I feel like I have taken a huge stride in the past few days. Thanks for the post man.

  8. Clap, clap. You figured out that blogs just like businesses and services need improvement. Want a cookie? That part about “unfocused posts” — This is perfectly congruent with the exact “direction” (or lack there of) this post just took. Irony. Funny stuff. Can I get the last 2 minutes of my life back? Your blog really does suck.

  9. Ahhh… and the challenge then later on when you are a more seasoned blogger is finding the time to work on your blog, right? Down the road (and if you’re still a blogger), you’ll probably have things like Twitter, Facebook, content for your blog, and many other things to deal with.

    Then the issue becomes one of the most valuable things a blogger must manage… Time.

  10. Hi Matthew,
    This is so insightful! I don’t think enough people ask themselves how they can improve – especially if they’ve seen some success. They may have begun to believe that they don’t need to improve. But the fact is, if you’re not constantly working towards improvement, eventually someone else will come out with something better and you’ll get left in the dust.
    I’ve got a list of improvements I’d like to make for my blog. I really want to create a page where new people can start and really dive into all of the content that I have on my blog. Right now, it seems that one a post leaves the front page it gets buried, and I think creating a page like that will really make it a lot easier to find those old, but highly valuable posts.

    • Keisha —

      I had the same thought a while back. I used the top position on my sidebar to make a “Get Started!” box of core posts to provide a “road map” for new visitors . . . who might just be new to the topic, as well. It has really worked well to decrease the front page bounce rate!


  11. I think I needed to read this, as I grapple with my own blog.

  12. Ha! You’re right Matt, most of our blogs suck, and blogging IS a job. It’s funny that people think making a successful site is as easy as setting up a domain and installing Thesis. I blame all of those blogs that make money by telling people that blogging is as easy as setting up a domain and installing Thesis. Jeez.

  13. This is exactly where I am… just switched over to wordpress.org about a month ago and am working everyday to build it up. Thanks for the pat on the back — I won’t be getting stagnant!

  14. Always comes back down to improving yourself first before anything else.

  15. need to reduce the widget that not really important, and also improve the content time to time.

  16. Nice article Matthew! this article is very helpful carry on writing………..

  17. Love me some tough love. Thanks for the post!

  18. There comes a time when you have to quit worrying about how the blog looks and start producing great content and getting traffic.

    I have found myself tweaking small things here and there on my blog just for the sake of it rather than spending time on driving traffic and producing content.

  19. I have seen people who always tweak in design without knowing this could effect in their traffic. I prefer not to change your design constantly. Thanks!

  20. Thanks for this. Too many people think blogging is easy; it’s not! I worked hard at mine, tweaked my free theme to make it more interesting to my readers, scheduled my blog posts, promoted it, read others blogs and commented on them… It’s fun yeah, but it’s still a hard work to maintain.

  21. Totally true, like most everything else in this world, it takes hard work and effort to succeed. I think some of it has to do with a society, with reality tv, and dot com millionaires, many many people think if they just hop online and start typing they will be rich and famous in a year. Definitely not true. I set myself a goal of thinking if I made one dollar off my blog after a full year, I would be happy, because I expected it to be a long slog of writing good content and attracting the right people. It has been a lot more effort than I thought it would be, but like anything else in life, you have to put in the effort to improve.

  22. I personally think that it’s really hard to focus 100% when you are on the net because information is always being bombarded at us. I get distracted by really little things and being very curious doesn’t help either.
    The other problem that im trying to get over is tweaking my site. It’s amazing how many times i look at another blog and say to myself, Ohh I want that widget on my site etc.

    So now Im trying really hard to focus on producing content. I make video lessons at gcse maths guide. Im wondering wether I should write an accompanying article with each videos since videos do not have any SEO value on their own ??

    appreciate the replies

  23. Thanks Matt for this post. I think we all needed the reality check. Its true that most blogs suck and you have to keep working on your blogs to improve them and take them as a serious business rather than thinking of it as a hobby.

  24. So what your trying to tell us is, never be satisfied because there is always work to do. Good on ya mate.

    Life if good, Live it up!

  25. Constant improvement. Great post Matt.

  26. Although I like the idea of constantly thinking about what one can do better, I don’t quite understand why you think blog owners think they are the same as all other bloggers.

    I’ve only been blogging for six months now (hey, I should celebrate :D!!), but my experience is totally different. I come across lots of bloggers who look up to the big guys and who don’t think they deserve the same amount of money at all. In my experience most bloggers are great people who don’t whine and work hard.

    Maybe you’re talking not so much about bloggers, but about those people who just want a quick fix to get some money? I’ve seen plenty of them too, they start a blog, put up some ads and then become frustrated quickly when they realize they won’t be making any real money that way. But I don’t see those people as real bloggers, I see them as people who will try almost anything in the hope of making a quick buck.

    Anyway, I’m on my way to check out your blog now :)

  27. Glad to know even long established writers need to keep tweaking their blogs. I too just started a new blog about 2 months ago and I agree you can never just sit back and rest on your laurels. Every week I try to add one new item. I try out things I read about blogs. In fact I might have to take something off my blog as my page is loading too slowly lately. But all of this is eating away at my time. Trying to be social on twitter and FB as well as write for my blog is a time hog. But it is worth it when I see my stats improving each week.

  28. Hi Matthew, I agree with your statement “Your blog sucks. You just don’t know it yet. On the other hand, my blog is great because my blog really sucks, and I know it.” Its very easy to find a solution to a known problem. I’ve gained from this. Thanks for sharing

  29. I actually believe design is ABSOLUTELY critical to any blog. Mine definitely needs improvement. In the future, I will pay a Designer to fool around with it. Thanks for this article. If I ever were going to become complacent, I certainly won’t now. LOL

  30. I agree. I am constantly working on heat map and google analytics analysis to make those small improvements that will hopefully slowly bring a blog out of “suckiness”

    A blog is process. Even the A-Listers can get better.

    There is ALWAYS room for improvement and once you are feeling complacent that is just a sign that decay has begun.

    The only thing I would argue is that spending too much time worrying over “design” can be wasted. It will need to be changed and updated. It will never be perfect, but fiddle with it on a long time-line, not a short one. (maybe every 6 mo. or year)

    It can just be too much of a time sink for minimal results otherwise.

  31. You’ve so nailed it, Matt —

    I do Webinar trainings about blogging, and people are always ask me how long it took until my blog was ‘finished,’ or I was satisfied with my blog’s design. To which I’d say, “What makes you think I’m satisfied with it NOW?”

    I had one mentor call me early on and say they wanted to work with me. Later, I asked him why. He said, “I saw how hard you were willing to work on your blog, so I knew it was going to be big.”

    That’s really what it’s all about — that drive to keep making it better makes the difference between the million mediocre, unremarkable blogs and yours.

  32. Great post. I’m new to this blogging thing. It’s articles like these that really help me get direction.

  33. Hey, my blog sucks! And I need to work hard at getting to not suck more each day.

    Focusing on small elements is akin to cleaning one little corner of a room while the rest of the house falls to rack & ruin. I just started a blog a few weeks ago and did find the ‘design’ part of it a bit overwhelming (considering I know very little about that side, it ate up a lot of my time). Now I think more about what I’m going to say v. how I’m going to look ;-)
    And asking for help saves me a ton of time!

    Thanks for this, Matthew :-)

  34. (gotta go for it…)

    You’re right Matt! Your Post sucks! The content and presentation and delivery, all suck.

    Seriously, don’t think you’re kinda preachin to the elect? And while this is a time-honored and totally pithy phrase/homliy/chestnut to stick in a conversation at this point, the trouble with this old ‘saying’ is that it is not being critical enough on the Preacher.
    Telling the faithful that they need to work harder is laudable…once, 3 or more paragraphs…not so much. Someone, above in one of the previous Comments, alluded to how many people start blogs, (as you so correctly inform us, it takes 10 minutes) and give up pretty soon thereafter. They are not here reading this Post, the people who are still working very hard at their blogs are here.

    Anyway. Speaking only for myself, writing a blog has turned out to be an unexpected challenge and surprisingly gratifying way to spend my time. (If only I had paid more attention in English Compostion class).
    Keep up the good work.

  35. Well, room for improvement is a tricky one. There are two different things I’ve been hearing for a long time:

    – There is always room for improvement
    – If it’s good, there is no reason to improve anything

    Till some point, working on the design is crucial – you just don’t want to look like some cheap fool that created a blog for money only and doesn’t care about making it look nice. At some point, you just have to stop worrying about the design and widgets and work on content and traffic. Try to ask a friend or two on their opinion about your sit.

  36. I appreciate your transparency in wanting to be better and admitting that none of the silver bullets you thought would work actually worked (to the extent that you thought they would, anyway). Thoughtful, honest post. Thanks for sharing.

  37. I raced into this post hoping it would give us ways of making our blog better , like how to market it and connect with others who might have interest in the blogs. Or telling us qualities of blogs that “suck” versus ones that didn’t. I think that the vast majority people reading this site know that they need improvement to thier blogs. But the questions are what and how?

    • cant believe I spelled “their” wrong. I do know how to spell it, but didnt notice till after I posted.

  38. I am kind of on the same page as Jay here. I feel like I just got blindsided by a scolding from my boss and I am still not sure exactly what I did wrong.

  39. I LOVE THIS POST! I would high-five you if I could, lol! It’s so true that not all blogs are equal, and it’s those who ask themselves on a daily basis how they can improve and what they can offer their readers that really separate them from the pack. I start every day asking myself what I can add to make my blog better, and am constantly trying to improve it in every way possible. We all start out in the same place, but it’s those who ask this question who step away from the generic term “blogger” and turn into a “professional.”

    Thanks so much for the insight! I’m off for more improvements, lol! :)

  40. This is a great post. I honestly think that regardless of how good others said it is (a blog), there is always room for improvement.

    I feel very fortunate to have access to the content on Problogger because there are always useful posts that can help improve my blogging skills.

    Hopefully I can learn from great bloggers, such as yourself!

  41. This post was full of inspiration, thank you! And I have to compliment your voice. Very well written, easy and fun to read.

  42. I guess I am a moron because I found this post too verbose and skipped reading it after first few lines. Does anyone else think this post could have been improved by categorizing it into well defined points? (Since I haven’t read it in entirety this might not be possible but I would like to hear what others have to say.)

  43. First of all @ the negative people, grow up and leave the man alone. Hes making a point on his and other blogs, like mine it sucks. Am I whining about mine, ok sort of lol. But this is Darren’s blog to help other, Yes Matt is a guest blogger but don’t criticize the poor guy on a public blog. How would you feel if someone went to your blog and left a bad comment? You may delete the comment, because it takes you the blogger to approve or not to approve it. I am sure Darren reads the guest blogs either before or after they are posted, If he didn’t like the guest post I don’t think he would have let them go through. Sorry this comment is so long, but its not right for the ones who don’t think their stuff doesn’t stink is seriously wrong.


  44. Thanks for the excellent reminders and push in the right direction Matt! It’s so easy, especially for a “mom blogger” to become complacent and forget that you’re not just writing for yourself. You still need to entertain and inform!

  45. Thanks for the great inspiration you gave. No two blogs are equal and we need to improve it and dream about a blog that beats Google in rank and make us a billionaire who has more potential than Bill Gates.

  46. I really like this post. Although, I don’t know if I can handle another job on top of the one I have now (already working a 24h shift) but I do enjoy writing about my adventures. The great news is that like you, I’m always trying to find ways to my blog out of sucky land and into okay land. Like you said these things take work. Thank you for the post and message.

  47. Matthew,

    Everyday I am doing something different with my blog. Just when I think I got it right I get a new idea and change or improve something.

  48. How do you know my blog sucks? You’ve never even read it. Nobody has. Oh, wait…

    • If nobody ever read it then that is good news. Nobody will know it sucks and since no one will ever check it out you don’t have to bother to get better. Lucky you!

      Seriously, your reply made me check out your blog right away – so that gives you a reason…

      – Philipp

  49. I have learned to spend more time creating greaat content than worrying about traffic and it is paying off for me

  50. Growth: Plateau: Decline: Avoid.

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