Where You Lose Us

What’s on the iPod: The Graveyard Near the House by The Airborne Toxic Event

I love a week like this. In just a few days (long days, but I digress), I managed most of my income for this month. Moreover,started the month hoping for a little more work. I just didn’t expect so much of it.

Recently, I finished a Coursera.org course on Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Two days ago I was asked to fill out a survey and compare it to other courses I’ve taken. No comparison — the ModPo course was head-and-shoulders above any other course even though the workload was just as taxing as the other courses. It was the way in which the professor presented the material. We viewers felt part of the conversation, and we were engaged for ten weeks. How cool is that?

If only we writers were able to engage our audiences in much the same manner. Frankly, that confuses me. We’re writers: why aren’t we better at convincing people to act or read, etc?

It’s kind of disturbing to see how often writers get it wrong when it comes to interacting with clients, readers, and each other. We lose focus, don’t pay attention to details, or miss the mark entirely with our messages. We get lazy. Still, we manage, but what would it take to do more than simply manage to have a career?

Just by understanding where some people go wrong, we can improve our own chances. Here are some of the more heinous ways in which bloggers and writers lose us:

The sales pitch. Did you forget your intended audience? Then why is your pitch full of exclamation points, bolded fonts, and bad grammar? If you want to convince writers to buy your e-book or sign up for your seminar, you need to be proofing your content heavily. Then again, maybe you’re trying to attract people who just have aspirations of being writers?

Rants and insults. I love a good rant. Hell, this blog started as a rant against content mills and low pay. Still, my personal opinion should provide something useful. Teachable moments are plentiful. So if you rant, why not show us how to improve? The same goes for insults. I don’t think I’d venture to insult anyone publicly, though I’ve seen some blogs (and a so-called article, which was awkward) where the blogger calls out people, by name, or calls names of clients or other writers or family or…. I get it. The world is full of shit that makes us angry. But if your readers are squirming or worse, taking it personally, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if that was your intention. If so, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect me to read it.

The sales page. The Internet is split on what long sales pages do. Some think the longer, the better. All the information has to be in there on the front page. Other people, like me, think if you have to use 2,000 words to convince me to buy something, you’re probably over-selling something you’ll under-deliver on. I don’t know how you feel, but when I see a super-long sales page, I hit the Back button. You lost me at “Why you need this!!!”

Bad grammar. You’re a writer. Do not make mistakes with simple things — its/it’s, then/than, who/whom, your/you’re, their/they’re, lose/loose, etc. We try not to judge — everyone makes mistakes — but if you repeat the same mistake, we’re judging.

Not practicing what you preach. I remember a while ago reading a guest post in which the author ripped apart people who weren’t behaving in a certain way. He preached one must follow his example. Yet one week later on his own site, that same poster was going on about he couldn’t follow his own advice because he just didn’t feel motivated that day. Really? Do you hear yourself? He should, for he’s the only person still reading his blog. The rest of us left.

Talking out both sides of your face. I had personal experience with someone who posted here about a topic in which she threw her entire weight behind the argument. Two weeks later, her own blog argued the exact opposite. Yep. You lost me there. I removed the link from my blog roll and never looked back.

Hold yourself up as a superior person. How exhausting it is to be in the presence of those who believe they have all the answers. I know a few people in real life who create that same “run for the exits” response in me that some bloggers and so-called professionals do. How can you relate to someone who can’t be wrong, won’t negotiate, won’t admit there could be another way, won’t shut up, or can’t converse unless they’re dictating The Way It Is? It’s lonely at the top, they say. Ever wonder why?

Where do people lose you?

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  • Cathy Miller November 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Bloggers who regurgitate ideas with nothing new lose me.

    I know how difficult it is to find a topic that has not been blogged about – ad nauseam. It leaves me wondering if there really are no new ideas. However, I am also equally convinced, no matter what the topic, you can make it your own with your unique spin.

    So, when I see the 10 Must-Do that lists what we've read before with no new angle, I click off that blog.

  • Lori November 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    So true, Cathy. I'd much rather see a conversation or a video than read something done to death.

  • Paula November 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Your post and Cathy's comment reminded me of my recent consumer-related experience.

    I had a great deal for 50% cash back on magazine subscriptions so I chose a couple magazines I thought I might want to pitch ideas to. One of the two quickly went on my "I don't want to sully my name with a byline in this rag" list.

    Why? First, its jumbled layout makes it difficult to tell ads from articles. Apparently they don't know the value of a little white space. Second, each issue touts miracle foods or life-changing tips that often counteract things crowed about in previous issues. Is white vinegar the ultimate natural cleaner? Or baking soda? Or hydrogen peroxide? Which of the many super fruits really is the super-duper super fruit?

    All I've taken away from the magazine – aside from a flop of a recipe I tried last week – is that it's a mishmash of hyperbole relying on an excessive use of superlatives.

    Worse yet: After the first issue they were already sending renewal notices. No thanks.

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