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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.

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Comments

  1. Ben Mapp says:

    All great questions.

    I’m wondering, though, what’s the criteria for success? Number of pageviews? Number of requested actions completed? A high ratio of the above two things?

    Obviously, you want people to read the post. But you also want the requested action(s) to be taken. Personally, I’d take fewer pageviews with a higher percentage of requested action(s) taken. That would indicate that the post itself is “working.”

    The number of pageviews would be more of a function of my promotions. Which I’d be able to impact directly by “getting the word out.”

    Lots of food for thought here.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  2. Dean Saliba says:

    I think the two main blogs I have now are suffering from those problems.

  3. So in the end, the only way to know when a post will make it is to really see them live and in action – and watch how the readers react.

    Well I guess that should be a basis for a “trial and error” key. :D

  4. It’s really interesting. And funny too. Sometimes I will write something that I think people will really like and looking back I realize that it was me that LIKED it… when you write funny its not just about what you think is funny.

  5. Ruchi says:

    Nice points, i will review my failed post with all these criteria.

  6. swag lamps says:

    i always make a post based on free keyword from wordtracker…using the minimum competition keywords …n it works…

  7. Right now we are just getting lurkers, but no Comments. Hopefully our blog improves. Another factor is, we just started with this blog. Google is the only search engine that has us as of right now. But we will not be discouraged and will continue posting, soon we’ll have articles. Right now it’s just horror news. We want writers in the horror genre to be able to showcase their love for horror and submit poetry,short stories and reviews. Hopefully the blog picks up.

    Thank you for your great advice.

    http://www.thehorrorpress.com
    twitter.com/thehorrorpress

    would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this horror blog :)

  8. Jake Rhodes says:

    Excellent points, I’m going to use these as a checklist when I next write a post.

  9. Wakas Mir says:

    I try to make my posts as useful as possible. Since I changed from personal development to marketing sites I am kind of slowly building up the list once again. Since both are totally different niches

  10. Title is such a huge player in this. I learned that the slow and hard way. But as you improve titles everything improves. The world of social media and the internet is fast paced. %80 of the time no one reads past the title think twitter, facebook even my google reader gets skimmed by title.

    Improving titles will get posts more attention.

  11. AutoCritical says:

    Writing an automotive design blog, I’ve noticed more people reading posts about a KIA than cars like a BMW or concept cars, which was quite surprising. In this case I think it’s more related to the intended audience of the car than the blog itself (i hope!)

  12. Scott Gould says:

    My last blog fail…. 3 hours ago.

  13. In a word, yes. I’ve put together a post that fizzled. A few, in fact, which is why I love your list of questions that we can use to ask ourselves “why” the post fizzled. Number 9 is especially important:

    “was this post useful – did it fulfill a need or solve a problem for readers?”

    Sometimes I find myself needing to “get a post up there” to stay consistent with my posting schedule, and I end up writing about something I know rather than something that solves a problem for readers. The post may be good and I may put quite a bit of time into it, but I find that if it doesn’t solve a problem that’s prevalent in the industry, I won’t get retweeted or a comment, etc. The rest of the list is totally pro and useful. Will be passing a select set on to some in my network who are struggling with the value of online promotion via blogging.

  14. Rita says:

    I think that saying that a post is a failure right away isn’t useful. Even if a post doesn’t get a lot of comments, it may still have value and be popular.

    Many of my hits come from Google searches. Since I write for baby boomer consumers, my “how to” articles are often tops in page views.

    For example, I didn’t receive any comments (except on Facebook) on my post , “How to Cut Your Own Hair” at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com/the_survive_and_thrive_bo/2009/07/how-to-cut-your-own-hair.html, but I’ve received a lot of hits on it.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.

  15. Thanks for this informative post. I’ve had a few posts fail for me in the past. Not all of my posts will be great, but I will be referring to this so I will have less and less failures in the future.

  16. MarDeck says:

    I’ve meant to check out your blog since reading your posts on Twitter – and I’m glad I did. This is a nice short concise post that should help everyone, including me, with writing a better post. Every now and then I go back to my posts with little action and try to tweak the title or content. I used to do this with my eBay listings and it worked. Looks like I will have to catch up on more of your blog. Thanks for the good content. BTW – you probably guessed it – I’m MarDeck on Twitter!

  17. Great post again Darren.

    I hope you can follow up with a post in the near future on the following points:

    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)?

    I want to make sure we all understand how we can do this without spamming – in other words without hurting our growing reputation.

    I have a blog on helping small startups to grow and get started on the right path. Have a lot of posts. I get a lot of traffic everyday but not engaging traffic. I am happy to post and let the content be out there. I guess that is also an investment overtime like someone else suggested on a previous comment.

    I am new to the Twitter world though. My followers are growing but slowly – only 5 days now! I am hoping once I establish a bit of social network, my blog will do well.

    -Guna
    Follow me on Twitter:
    http://www.twitter.com/startupbooster

  18. I am new to blogging but the things I am learning to avoid are: rehashing the same topic….people tend to get bored I think with the same topic over and over. Also, I believe there needs to be some kind of call to action. I am still working on that on my own blog but I think it’s important. Thanks for the tips!

  19. Jack says:

    well, the 13 questions are worth us thinking.Sometimes,we never think before doing,but after failure,we just begin to think.I always trying to make the posts as useful as possible,because I keep my eyes on the questions.I know how to answer and how to help.the questions what you list are the common thing that every blogger faces. Some posts are quite useful,helpful,popular but some not.
    Thank you very much for the post. It collects the main points which can be improved to achieve a success.I quite agree your list of questions.
    http://www.socusoft.com

  20. Tadas says:

    Good point. I think every blogger should ask these questions before putting a post online.

    And about time. I think that the time of the day doesn’t really matters. What time matters is that you post something about some event it should be placed on your blog when this article is hot and readable. If you what I’m talking about. However, I think your posts should be timeless. It should be readable a few years later and still make sense. ProBlogger is going this way, I think.

  21. jeux pokemon says:

    Actually i am in searching of this type of article & here only i came to find so thanks to Darren because he always post nice post which is always helping to the bloggers.. I really like this site as well as all the articles, here all article is useful noone is a bad article..

  22. cd rohlinge says:

    Thanks for the nice words and good luck with your blogging endeavors.

    As for the list, thanks for keeping an eye on it, but it would be even better if you could come up with your own at some point