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Why Your Blog Sucks

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.

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Comments

  1. It is an interesting post which is helping us to improve our basic knowledge about blogs and websites. We need to get more details from problogger to help all the newbies and beginners. Thanks.

  2. Santosh says:

    Oh this post was an eye-opener. I have been running a site for over four years now. We have more content than most sites that rank well in our niche. But I guess that is because we haven’t spend time or money in promoting our site.

    When we started out I thought that just adding content was enough. Now I have realized that that is not true. You also need to go out and promote your site. They won’t come just because you have built it.

  3. Great title, and some great reminders. Sometimes I chastise myself for spending too long on the blog making little tweaks here and there, fixing stuff. After all, I’m not “big time” yet… no one is probably going to notice the typo on the post from five weeks ago, but I think you’re right — we’ve got to keep improving everyday. Thanks!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

  4. What are some ways you try to constantly improve your travel blog?

  5. Cherszy says:

    You are absolutely right Matt! The business of blogging also means that we always have to look for where else we can improve, so people can appreciate our blogs more. I’m just on the blogsphere for a year, and I’m really trying to think of ways on how I can be better as a blogger. I don’t want people to classify me as “just another blogger I don’t need to bother with”. I don’t want to classify myself as that either. Although I write stuff that maybe some other entertainment sites may have already written about, I want to make sure that I have something ELSE in my posts that my readers can enjoy. :)

    Thanks for some inspiration here! :)

  6. Dean Saliba says:

    I think that you must always continue to build on your blog, when you stop it will become stale and obsolete.

  7. Wow! Good points! I wonder which point cause my blog sucks now. However, i will do something for my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I always try to improve my writing. Any other improvements would just be superficial, I think.

  9. Jen says:

    Ah, perfection! I’m always dangling between writing too much or writing too little. I want to do more videos/voice because I think my personality connects a little better than my writing so that’s a goal. Other than that I’d like to rework the appearance…make it more wake and alive. I’ll need help with that. I love this post — it’s so where I am. Thanks for creating a space to finally come out and admit that my blog sucks!

  10. I’ve seen a lot of blogs that reached a certain level of design and user experience and stopped right there. Still, they were doing great as then they shifted to focus even more on the content.
    I believe the trick is to find the right balance between working on content and tweaking the appearance.

    What I did was taking quite some time to get the design right. Doing that I noted down each article I wanted to write. When I finally had my new blog online I had a list of 35-40 posts just waiting to be written. Off course I have some new ideas already – actually there has been stuff that I wanted to improve all along but a decision had to be made: Do I want to get online and tweak down the road or do I mean to stay offline forever and be the best blog never to go live.

    This article is a really welcome kick in the … to remember to give our best at al times. I believe that just about anybody can make hugh things happen. But we need to actively “make” it happen. Its not going to come to you just because you are there…

    - Phiilpp

  11. Hello Matthew,
    If Tiger Woods were writing a blog on golf, I think he would espouse the same principles for golfers that you are advocating for bloggers (and that’s a complement). We should never sacrifice our originality and uniqueness; it’s what leads us to play our A game. It’s our primary strength. And again you are right, you can never become complacent about success and rest on your laurels. You have to keep working to improve. Excellent post on a timely issue – thanks
    Riley

  12. Gene says:

    I figure it like this. If you’re not moving ahead, then you’re falling behind.

  13. Y’know, I think I’m really getting over-saturated with list posts demonstrating to my why I’m doing it (blogging) wrong, why my blog sucks, etc.
    Seriously – I think most anyone who’s been blogging online for longer than three months or more recognizes that there’s always room for improvement, at least in content. The problem most writers have is OVER-tweaking, not under-tweaking.
    But honestly, is the only thing that professional bloggers can offer a list of the reasons that everyone’s blog sucks?
    Time to change the subject, gang. Stop telling people their blog sucks – or trying to grab them with that headline and then failing to actually say anything new. Share the ways you made YOUR site better. Teach by example. Change the conversation. Please – before people stop listening.

    • Jay Acunzo says:

      I love this comment. I’m trying to achieve that with my site, but it’s very early on. There’s a lot of good out there – let’s focus on that. I think Matthew was using the negative or the fear of failure or complacency as a similar motivation though.

  14. Yup. Reminds me of how Charlie Parker was often heard to have said that he thought he sucked. But that meant that he was never satisfied, always hungry to get better, not that he truly believed he was a bad alto saxophonist. There is definitely a difference.

    Good realistic take on this. However, I did notice several typos and other editorial mistakes here. Kind of takes away from the post’s potential power, but the overall message shines through clearly in the end.

    Thanks,

    Peter

  15. This couldn’t be more true. My problem is that sometimes I get complacent and forget to improve

  16. Allen Walker says:

    My blog can always do with more improvement. :P Lol.

    Great post!

  17. kelley says:

    Before I started blogging I always thought it was simple. I thought, “I like writing. I talk a lot. I can blog.” Well, I was misinformed. Writing isn’t difficult. Writing well, writing interesting, writing remarkable content is. I never realized how similar blogging is to actually having a job. Well, a job I don’t get paid for, so more like an internship. But, like everything else, the more I’m doing it the better I’m getting. It’s hardwork, but everytime my posts are commented on, retweeted, or read it makes it all worth it.

  18. Katrina says:

    Frankly, I’m a little surprised to hear you’ve encountered any blogger who thinks those things. Most of the travel bloggers I interact with online are all about sharing tips and asking for help in how to improve. I have seen a few established bloggers toot their own horn, but I have yet to encounter anyone expounding their sense of entitlement. Everyone always seems happy to find opportunities for product reviews, discounts on travel, and even guest posting, let alone the much-touted free trip.

    Oh, well. I guess it’s like when you learn a new word: suddenly it’s everywhere. Now that I’ve heard of this blogger entitlement theory, I will come across it. But when I do, I will feel quietly superior because I, too, know my blog sucks.

  19. Jay Acunzo says:

    Matthew – thanks for the awesome post. I shared with my readers (citing you and your blog of course). Just to add one slight disagreement: if you’re grouped into a niche, then blogs in that niche (e.g. sports bloggers who are fans and take a sarcastic angle) need to play off each other, learn from each other, etc. But agreed that no two are equal. It is exactly like business: you might have competitors but you each have unique value propositions.

    Power to the hard working bloggers out there!

  20. Mano says:

    I find this post really helpful. Yes, i have just realized that my blog needs to improve a lot. At least, this is the first step that I should take. And I really need to take action now !

  21. Dawn says:

    I love the “in yo face” style of this post! Certainly got my attention and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the reminder and wake up call!

  22. Somebody just told me that everytime they think about starting a blog, they feel like they’d be adopting a puppy they always had to feed and walk. For some, blogging seems like too much trouble; for others they’d be missing out on a best friend. Yeah, a blog might be flawed, but it’s always there waiting for you!

  23. I find this post really helpful. Just to add one slight disagreement: if you’re grouped into a niche, then blogs in that niche (e.g. sports bloggers who are fans and take a sarcastic angle) need to play off each other, learn from each other, etc.

  24. My blog sucks because i don’t work hard to improve it, but after reading this post, i will defenitely do my best to write and update it regularly, i’m motivated !

  25. Mark says:

    Exactly. This reminds me of when Steve Pavlina said it’s like acting or painting and that it’s easy to get into any of these fields, but only the top 1% actually obtain any success.

    p.s. I think my blog sucks because I’m on blogger still. (though I started about a week ago).

  26. Really good post. It’s actually inspired me to start tackling the – numerous – problems with my own site.

    Thanks,
    Matt