5 Ways Worthless Content Is Driving Away Your Readers
Think you made a bad post? I promise you, it could be worse.
Based on many of the articles I see every day, it has become apparent to me that bad content is vogue. There is an undeniable trend of people striving to say less, decrease blog traffic and generally irritate their readership.
The reason remains a mystery. It seems counterintuitive, but who am I to judge? We all have our own goals.
In the effort to capitalize on this recent trend, I’ve pulled together some of the most effective ways I’ve discovered to demotivate readers. You might think you already have a bad post, but I promise there is a lot more you can be doing to make your content even more worthless.
So If you’re looking to decrease your blog traffic -- or if you just want to learn what to avoid as you grow your audience -- here are my top five tips for writing the worst blog content ever.
1. Fail with your headline.
Headlines are the very first thing a reader sees. It’s the determining factor between a “hmm, I wonder what this is about” and a “nah.” You’d think that a vague, boring headline would be the most effective way to turn readers away. But you’d be wrong!
There are plenty of ways to lose your readers’ attention. You can make all of your posts a "top 10 list" of something or other to gain short term attention and long-term apathy. You can make your headlines for a mediocre story so misleading that you draw loads of traffic, only to set bounce rate records that would impress even the BuzzFeed knockoffs.
Or, if you’re looking to really aggravate your audience, start by promising them something so extraordinary in the title and wait to reveal your inability to answer that question until the final paragraphs. It’s cruel and unusual, but it works.
2. Format your article as one giant wall of text.
Formatting devices like headers, short paragraphs, bullet points and images all make it much easier for readers to consume your content. So if you’re looking to really demotivate your audience, you’ll want to make your article one giant wall of text. Massive blocks of text are a strain on the eyes, make your content look like crap on mobile and lead to a much shorter time on site.
That’s the magic of poor formatting. Even if your content is incredibly useful, chances are that your readers will give up on the piece before they ever give it a chance.
And you don’t have to ignore formatting to turn your readers off. Formatting abuse works the same way. Whereas selectively bolding and italicizing words can help emphasize important points, overuse can confuse your readers and have them clicking the back button in despair. If less is more, just imagine how much more more is!
3. Write a completely irrelevant introduction.
The best way to draw people into an article is to immediately give them a reason to care. Giving your reader a relevant anecdote or an interesting hook are two ways of doing that effectively.
Instead, to push your readers away, focus on long-winded introductions with no bearing to the article at hand. If you have an interesting anecdote that actually doesn’t relate back to the article at all, that’s even better. There’s nothing more exciting than keeping your audience on their toes!
Remember, from the moment readers see your headline, they are temporarily giving you their trust. A boring, wordy, or completely irrelevant introduction is one of the easiest ways to break that trust and make your reader x out in frustration.
Pro tip -- practice writing your irrelevant intro as a huge wall of text for maximum effect.
4. Promote yourself excessively.
The best way to increase engagement and grow your audience via blogging is by providing value. You find that happy medium between what your audience is truly interested in and where your expertise lies. Delivering that kind of value again and again transforms you from a one-time read into a trusted source of information.
So if you’re looking to glaze your readers’ eyes over or give them a reason to never return, then excessively promotional and spammy blog posts are the way to go. Toot your own horn, and explain why you’re incredible. Completely disregard your readers’ reasons for being on your blog in the first place, and deliver self-promotional junk repackaged as blog content.
Show your audience that you’re so uninterested in developing a long-term relationship with them -- and so desperate for additional business -- that you’ll destroy any medium possible to get your message out there, even if it falls on deaf ears.
5. Say absolutely nothing helpful.
The web is so full of content -- so saturated with blog posts -- that if you don’t elevate your articles above the competition, you’re $&*@ out of luck. Traditionally, I coach people to produce 10x content, content that is 10 times better than the competition. You find out what your competitors are doing well online, determine where you can improve upon it, and then do it so much better that your audience has no choice but to refer to your content instead. The improvement may lie in the depth of your answer, the way you present it or the different angle you take.
But if you’re looking to hop on the bad content train, then I recommend you add nothing of value to the conversation. Go for 0x content. You’ll want to repeat what’s already been said, or better yet, talk about topics you know nothing about. State the facts and offer no solution, thereby ignoring your expertise and giving your readers no reason to share your content.
By writing a cliché blog post with no nuance or opinion, you ensure that you provide as little value as possible. You’ll give your article the depth of a puddle and the utility of a broken faucet. It’s not particularly engaging, but that’s the point.
And if you’re keen on driving traffic to your blog with captivating content that will actually deliver results for your business, then I applaud you, you crazy rascal. Follow the opposite of my advice here and you’ll turn yourself into a content trailblazer, reaping the rewards as you pioneer a rare path on the web.
If you've accidentally produced great content and still want to turn off readers, comic sans font, tons of pop up ads and pages that take forever to load will likely help. Best of luck either way.
Ryan Erskine is a Brand Strategist at BrandYourself and a leading expert in personal branding and online reputation management. He empowers individuals and businesses to develop their personal and corporate brands, take control of their search results, and position themselves as thought leaders in their industries. He's completely rebranded online images for everyone from c-suite executives and entrepreneurs to middle market professionals and college graduates.