I haven’t really written anything about blogging before, mostly because this is a travel/expat life blog, not a blog about blogging. But I do read a lot of different blogs, some about travel, some lifestyle, some about blogging itself; and I like to think that I at least know enough about blogging to know when I have found a really good blog and when I’m looking at a bad one. You know, the types of blogs that are so annoying that you don’t even stay on the page for more than five seconds because you are overpowered with such a surge of annoyance, because they are doing ALL the wrong, most annoying things a blog can possibly do. Want to know what they are so you can NOT do them? Well here are my (highly subjective) five most annoying blogging pet peeves. The things that cause me to leave a blog within 30 seconds and NEVER go back.
1 – Those Annoying Pop-Ups
A lot of people seem to think that this one of my pet peeves is not too bad, because I see them a lot. You know how you go to a blog and before you can even read anything on the page you were looking at a box jumps up in front of everything trying to get you to sign up for the email list? Like, before you have even had a chance to read ONE sentence worth of content you’re supposed to want to sign up for all the updates from this person? Sometimes they are right in your face (like an annoying squawking seagull), sometimes they just pop up in the bottom right corner, but either way they are an annoyance that you have to click away before you can even read anything. If I find a blog and like what I am reading, I can find the sign-up form myself thanks. It does NOT need to be jumping up and down in front of me like a hyperactive chihuahua. Sometimes people have them within a post, or at the end, or in the sidebar. This is fine. I can find this easily, I can see what sort of freebies I might get if I sign up but I’m not going to just close the whole tab in exasperation like I often do when a bloody big pop-up box is obnoxiously in my face at the first second.
2 – Poor Grammar and Spelling/Proof-Reading
I am aware that I am a writing snob. I admit it. I have a Master’s in English and worked as an English teacher for over five years. When there are typos or spelling and grammar mistakes in ANYTHING I will notice it. Usually, I am simply content to point them out to whomever I happen to be with – “Look at that, they can’t even spell menu” – and my friends just roll their eyes and ignore me. But if I am reading a website or a blog, where the author is setting themselves up to be an expert on whatever they are writing about, then one of my biggest blogging pet peeves is seeing that they can’t even write (or sometimes simply proofread) properly. Some people might argue that not everyone is as pedantic or as much of a writing perfectionist as I am, but then I would say, “So why are they trying to make a living from writing?!” If it is an otherwise professional-looking page, where the author is selling things or being compensated for their writing, then it really bugs me that they can’t even be bothered to make their writing as professional as possible as well. Sure, not everyone is naturally good at spelling or grammar, but that is why you PROOFREAD. You use a spell-checker, you read your post aloud, and you get a friend or peer to look over it for you. I’m sure some people would disagree with me, but if I find a blogger who can’t even use you’re and your correctly, then I am not wasting my time reading their content. In this day and age, anyone can become a blogger, and even make money writing; but it boggles my mind why anyone would pay for sub-par, poorly written content.
Obviously, this is one of my biggest blogging pet peeves. The only reason I didn’t put it as number one is that there are exceptions – sort of. There is one amazing Australian blogger I follow, whose spelling is atrocious. But you know what, she is a busy, foul-mouthed, hilarious mother of four who probably doesn’t have time for a lot of spell-checking, and not everyone has been fortunate enough to be both university educated and naturally good at spelling. Part of her charm is that she isn’t ‘high-brow’; she is down-to-earth, genuine and hilarious. And I’m not saying you have to write as though you are a snobby British Lord who says “Old chap” all the time. You can be witty, uncouth, throw around slang, inject your personality into your writing and swear as much as you like. But if you are marketing your blog as something ultra-professional and leading-edge, then typos and spelling mistakes are killers; and make me personally click that x in disgust and never come back.
3 – Bad Design
This is also mostly personal preference, but how your blog looks also greatly impacts how readers interact with your content. If your blog looks bad or is poorly designed, then I am going to get annoyed and leave pretty quickly. One of the most obvious examples of this is when someone is still using Blogger, without any sort of theme so all you see is a white page, ratty-looking headings and small images. Not to bag out Blogger but it is very hard to make it look as professional as say, WordPress. You can be writing the most amazing content ever, but if it looks ugly (or is hard to read) then your readers are going to get annoyed and move on very quickly. Even if you are only using free themes on WordPress, for example, you can keep your blog looking clean and professional.
4 – No Substance
Is it just me or does anyone else hate it when you click on a Pinterest or email link to a blog post promising you “Five Ways to Improve Your Writing!” or something, only to find it’s just a list of five links to separate articles from other sites? This really bugs me when you go in expecting an actual article only to find you have to go to five separate articles that only offer a fraction of what you were looking for. If you are going to publish a post with nothing but links to other people’s content then call it what it is: a round-up of resources (or recipes or whatever). There is nothing wrong with sometimes having those ’round-up’ list/link posts, I quite often like them, especially for recipes. But don’t pretend you’re offering an article of substance for your readers when you’re not.
5 – Clichés
One of my final blogging pet peeves is how rife the blogging world is with clichés. Again, maybe this bothers me more than other people because of my ‘snobby’ background, but oh my gosh do blogs full of clichés annoy the heck out of me. Particularly prevalent on travel blogs, a prime example is how often ‘the road less travelled’ gets thrown around. You know, the most incorrectly understood and quoted Robert Frost poem, which is actually titled “The Road Not Taken”. So many people throw away the last three lines and I don’t think they have ever even read the entire poem, and certainly don’t understand what it actually means.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
That is the bit everyone is always quoting (I’ve even seen a travel blog named after it) and it is not only a massive cliché but it is INCORRECT! The poem isn’t about taking the road ‘less travelled’ (which so many travel writers seem to think is the road of travelling to unknown places like they are doing); it’s about choosing from two identical roads and one day being able to look back and tell people that the one you chose was the best. When you really have no idea, because you didn’t take the other road so you can’t compare the two. Read this article if you want to know a bit more about one of the most misread poems ever written. Obviously, this is not the only cliché to be found in blogging, but I used it as an example of the one I see the most that REALLY bugs me. And even if people were quoting it correctly, the problem of a cliché occurs because everyone is saying it, it’s not new or a fresh way of looking at things. So if a blog is going to be full of clichéd writing then once again I am not going to stick around very long.
What do you think, do you agree or disagree with my biggest blogging pet peeves? What are your biggest blogging pet peeves? Feel free to discuss/argue/agree or disagree in the comments!