https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery

Click on the image for more information.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Stopped Reading You Today

...and it's all your fault.

Did I get your attention?

As fiction writers, we're always warned to hook the reader right away. But I'm beginning to see that it's equally important to hook your blog reader too.

Feedly and Bloglovin rely on truncated posts. (You can change that in Feedly, but its scrolling feature is terrible so you're almost forced to use the truncated feature.)

My blog reading has been cut almost in half. Not because Feedly is more efficient, but because it only shows me a few lines of text.

The blog's name is teeny-tiny so I'm counting on the title and a few lines of text to lure me into clicking for more. If the first paragraph doesn't grab me, I delete it. And Feedly is soooooo unforgiving about un-deleting. 

If I make a mistake--and I've made plenty--I lose the post without knowing if it belonged to a friend or not. (If it belongs to a friend, I always read the whole post. I may not comment on it, but I always read it.)

Deleting posts based on the title and first paragraph has made me acutely aware that it's more important than ever to hook the reader from the get-go. You may not get a second chance--especially if you have trigger fingers like me.

I write my blog posts like magazine articles. My first goal is to get right to the point of the post. Once I've told you what the post is going to be about, then I can distribute the details. I don't meander from the topic unless it's a newsy post that covers lots of different things.

There are lots of ways to help your blog get noticed in a feed reader. Here are a few:

Use pictures. I'm rather spare with photos. It takes a lot of time to find the right one and then you have to be sure it's copyright-free. But I can't deny that photos always make me pause even if it's a blog I rarely stop to read.

Choose the right photo. Lead with the photo you want to appear first in the feed. If you always use your blog's header as the lead photo, it sends the message that it's an old post and I can bypass it.

Stay on topic. And if you should meander, make sure all your other points are related to the first topic.

Use bulleted lists. If you follow me regularly, you know I use lists frequently. When I'm busy, I like to be able to scan a punch list rather than a long dissertation that covers the same thing.

Use a catchy title. I'll admit, the title I used today is too long for my tastes, but it is catchy and that's what counts.

Get to the point. 'nuff said.

***
Feedly is still out to get me. Recently, I was made aware of a snafu. Apparently, not all my feeds transferred. A friend, whom I read regularly, hadn't been appearing on my feed. At first I didn't worry. She travels a lot and I just assumed she was off on one of her many jaunts.

It took me weeks to realize that Feedly wasn't including her blog. When I manually inserted the blog into the feed, it showed posts that were weeks old even though she'd been blogging faithfully. I'm not sure what's going on, but now that I know something's afoot, I'll track it better.

Have you noticed any problems with your feed reader? Has your blog-reading changed since Google Reader rode off into the sunset?


35 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm still using my blogger Dashboard, and while it does have burps every once in a while, it still works for me. For instance, ome mornings it tells me I don't follow any blogs and I have to keep refreshing until it remembers I follow tons.) And once it wasn't showing new posts from one of my friends. Like you, I went weeks thinking she was too busy to blog. But that fixed itself somehow. :shrug: I'll keep using Dashboard until Google kills that, too.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: Unfortunately, the Dashboard is limited in the number of blogs I can follow so I'm forced to use something that can handle greater volume.

I'm still mad at Google Reader for leaving.

Today, Feedly added some "updates" for a fee. The same stuff Google Reader was doing for free.

It all comes down to money. :(

Angela Brown said...

I'm also using the blogger dashboard but I have several I follow by e-mail so I don't miss them...like this one :-)

I got bloglovin going but I haven't really used it.

Thank you for today's tips as well. Though we're reminded about hooking the reader when it comes to our stories, the same really does apply to our blogs. I'll keep that in mind so I can keep blogging and growing day by day.

R. Mac Wheeler said...

Great post!

Amazing how many snoozer titles I see.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I think I might have to subscribe to more blogs via email. My buddy blogged again today, but it didn't show up in the feed.

I think Feedly is updating their system so I may give it a few more days to see if it works itself out.

Emails tend to get lost in my in-box.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: I need to write a post specifically on titles. People are missing out on getting more exposure with the right title.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I know titles are important, I use them to determine whether or not I click on the blog (if it's an interview, I usually pass--sad, but true). Doesn't mean I have great titles. I probably don't. I do try to make it so I recognize what the blog is about, especially during those times I'm searching for something I said!!! Gotta make my job easier, you know?

Jennifer Shirk said...

Good advice! I think blog reading on average has gone down so readers are being extra picky what they comment on or read.

I use Bloglovin and it basically has the same snippet kind of layout and I scroll down too and see what catches my interest on a blog before going to the site.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great points about catching the attention of a blog reader. I tend to start to skim if my attention isn't caught by a blog.

Rebekah Loper said...

Feedly seems to still be having a few hiccups since it took over for God-knows-how-many readers from Google. I frequently have blog subscriptions that don't show up until a day or two after they were posted, and also have some that show up AGAIN after I mark it as read. I'm pretty sure they'll get that smoothed out eventually.

On the truncated posts in Feedly - are you sure it's a Feedly setting? Some blogging hosts (I know wordpress.com for sure, but I've never used Blogger) have a setting for the RSS feed that the author chooses to "Show only summaries in RSS readers." I'll be honest, I rarely ever click through to read those either, unless it's someone I know.

Gwen Gardner said...

I still haven't chosen a feed reader...

I'm still struggling about what to post. I don't want to do all cover reveals and book releases, although that'd certainly be possible. So much of it is duplication, too. Like I said, still a struggle.

But - you always have interesting things to say, Maria. Thanks for the tips.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I honestly haven't spent much time playing around with Feedly yet

Jackie Burris said...

My reading has gone down as unsubscribed to about a 100 blogs that just seemed to be put in my trash anyway when post came out.

Maria here is hoping everything else Google does not go away, if so we are all up the creek with no paddle.

Why is change better? Seems to me when things work they could leave them alone but that is not how big business thinks unfortunately! :-(

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I do the same thing with my posts. Whenever I'm trying to remember when I did something, I search my blog for specific keywords that I know I would've used.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I agree. I don't read as many blogs as I used to--especially if the subject is something that's been covered numerous times before.



Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I am a world class skimmer. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I'm noticing the same things about Feedly. It really irritates me when a post I deleted resurrects itself.

Re: truncated posts
I really dislike truncated posts--especially when people do it on purpose. It's the fastest way for me to ignore someone--so what good did it do?

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: The struggle to find the right topic is a good topic in itself. If you don't use it, I might. :o)

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Feedly is a pain. And now it wants to charge for things that should be free. If they keep this up, they'll lose me as a customer.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: I am getting ready to unsubscribe from a lot more blogs. A lot of the content is empty. It doesn't entertain, teach, or inspire me, so what's the point?

I've become pickier about FB too. I'm ticked off that I don't see the posts from friends I want to read.

I don't like being manipulated.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I visit blogs individually, but I don't think I read as many as you. I like clicking on the links in my favorites menu. ^_^

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Wish that were feasible for me. But with nearly 1000 blogs I need an efficient machine to keep them in line.

I am planning on downsizing though. My interests have expanded so I might have to drop the less interesting blogs to make room for the new ones I'm finding. Circle of life. LOL!

Darke Conteur said...

I try to make titles interesting. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. I also try to make my posts around 300 words. You'd be surprised how hard that can be.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: You are oh-so-smart keeping your posts short!

I try to go for 500 words. Anything over 700 and my eyes glaze over.

Darke Conteur said...

Yes, same here, but sometimes I feel like I'm cheating the reader by making them so short. It also helps to keep me on schedule. Long posts are draining on the writer too.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: My motto is: Better short and leave them wanting than overly long and put them to sleep. LOL!

Darke Conteur said...

Heh, I like that! I'm going to remember it. :D

Ted Cross said...

I use the blog roll feature in Blogger to see all the new posts, and you're right, if I'm not interested in the title and first little bit, I don't click on the posting to read more.

Shelley Munro said...

Nodding. Great advice, Maria. I notice that I'm doing the same thing. If the title and first few lines don't grab me, I mark it as read and move on to the next.

Dru said...

My blog reading has gone down too. I really miss google reader.

Feedly is so-so. I didn't know they were charging for things. The one thing I do like about Feedly is that it lets me know which blogs are not posting and those are the ones I'm unsubscribing from first.

I tried Bloglovin and I just didn't like it.

raelynbarclay said...

Fabulous topic as usual :) I'm like Gwen in the struggle for subject matter, mostly because it feels like others have said it better than I could.

As for a reader, I haven't landed on one. I backed up Google Reader, loaded everything into WP but I haven't used the WP feed reader or whatever it's called, and subscribed via email for the blogs I really don't want to miss (like yours). Since getting the smartphone I've been reading a lot more blogs than I was but I find it hard to comment via the phone. I'm also realizing it's time to cull the herd again :)

Maria Zannini said...

Ted: I like the blogrolls some people have that show the blog name and the first line of text, but for nearly 1000 blogs (even if Blogger could handle it) is unfeasible.

But you've given me an idea for yet another blog topic! Thanks.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I try to give extra time to friends even if the topic doesn't grab me because I want to know what's important in their lives.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I can't decide if I should be grateful for Feedly forcing me to delete more posts than before. But then I worry I'm missing something important. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: I'm settling for Feedly, but it's really a poor imitation of Google Reader. Google has ruined me for other Readers. LOL.