5 Reasons Nobody Reads Your Work That Only the Top Bloggers Know
These things can either develop you into a money-making success or drive you to be a complete failure as a writer
For more than two years, I have been trying to figure out why nobody reads my writing. Well, at least not enough people are reading for me to pay the bills. I knew it was because I generally sucked and wasn’t up to par with the successful writers, but I needed to be more specific if I wanted to fix the problem.
So I stopped feeling sorry for myself, put my big boy pants on, and started analyzing everything.
The following is what I found out.
Analyzing the Data
Since I have over 360 articles and essays published on Medium and have statistics to figure out which stories people read and which ones die on the vine, I used the information from them to begin my analysis.
Looking only at the stories that had over 2K reads, I came up with this list (from oldest to newest):
- It’s Time for White Males To Be Honest About Racism — 2.8K reads
- Most Self-help Gurus are Crooks — 2.4K reads
- I Was The Victim Of an Online Romance Scam — 2.5K reads
- A New Way to Write Stories For Medium — 5.5K reads
- I am American, But I Don’t Want to Live in The States Anymore — 5.6K reads
- How to Survive on Disability When You Can’t Work — 3.3K reads
- I Lost 160 LBs Without Breaking a Sweat — 52K reads
- Suicide is an Answer, But Not the Right One — 5.2K reads
- Why Do We Waste Our Lives Working at Jobs We Hate — 2K reads
- Have You Thought About Making Money Selling T-shirts Online? — 6.5K reads
- How Most Bloggers Actually Make Money — 6K reads
- Something is Out There, But Not A Christian God — 2.5K reads
It doesn’t seem like I had very many successes out of 360+ stories. Therein lies one of the problems.
Why is no one clicking to read my work?
#1 Reason — I’ll Bet $100 that Your Headlines Suck
The first major and the most critical issue I found with my work is that as a general rule, my headlines are terrible.
Maria Konnikova of the New Yorker says “everyone knows that a headline determines how many people will read a piece, particularly in this era of social media. But, more interesting, a headline changes the way people read an article and the way they remember it.”
Look at my top 3 stories and their headlines:
- I Lost 160 LBs Without Breaking a Sweat
- Have You Thought About Making Money Selling T-shirts Online?
- How Most Bloggers Actually Make Money
These headlines are fantastic and proven because they performed better than anything else I wrote.
Right off the bat, we can see I was adding curiosity because what is more interesting than making money and losing weight? All three headlines leave the reader wanting to know more, and they cover interesting topics people are reading.
As I scroll through my list of stories on Medium, I see one major thing glaring out at me: I never tell the reader what’s in it for them! Why would they want to click if they don’t get something out of it?
My writing tends to be long essays about my tough life and mental illness, and I leave each story with a lesson. But honestly, in the majority of my headlines, I don’t get them interested in what knowledge or secrets I can offer. I only provide a good read, and they know they can get that elsewhere.
The problem was I wrote too much for myself and not for the reader. It was great therapy but not great if I ever want to make money.
For the most part, my headlines didn’t offer anything of value to the reader, so they never clicked on them in the first place.
Does this sound like the way you do it too?
#2 Reason — Don’t Overlook the Subtitle
Looking at the subtitles of my best performers, the ones that did the best were adding value to the main headline.
- “There are secrets in the universe and phenomena that could not have happened by chance. So what is it?”
- “You will be surprised at how much money you can make”
- “Mostly by lying to you about how to make money blogging”
The headline was the hook that caught them, and the subtitle is jerking back on the fishing pole to set the hook. They are already interested, but I gave them more reason to continue reading.
“The title is what people will remember to look up your book. The subtitle explains the book, telling them what they’ll get out of reading it. The subtitle is at least as important as the title because that last bit — what people will get from your book — is the only thing that will actually sell it.” — Tucker Max — scribewriting.com
As crucial as a subtitle is for a book, it is just as important for an essay, article, or post.
Many people use the subtitle to restate what the headline is saying, which is a waste of valuable space. Add something to their curiosity and draw them into the next part.
#3 Reason — Why Are We All Using The Same Images?
Images aren’t as necessary as the headline, but I guarantee that you will turn off your reader if you use a featured image that has been done to death. Like this one:
There are thousands of images on Unsplash and Pexels at your fingertips for free. Don’t just type in your search word and pick the first image. Please spend some time finding the best photo that adds more information for their decision to read your story.
If you know a little Photoshop or Canva, create your own unique feature images, but make sure you add more than a pretty picture to the conversation.
I noticed that in the more successful posts, most didn’t have full-screen images. It makes you wonder if putting a massive picture at the beginning of your post is like a roadblock they can’t cross.
Something to think about!
#4 Reason — Can You Introduce Yourself?
You spend all that time creating the best headline and subtitle and finding the best feature image for your post, but then toss out a bland and uninspiring introduction. The first few paragraphs’ job is to get the reader interested enough to read the rest of the story or article.
Dan Shewan of WordStream.com says, “you need a tempting headline to catch your reader’s eye, but without a strong, compelling introduction, the best headline ever written won’t save you.”
In the introductions of my best performing posts, I noticed they were unique and created curiosity and interest. For example, the first paragraph of “I Lost 160 Lbs. Without Breaking a Sweat” is one of the more remarkable things I’ve written and maybe the reason this story alone has earned me over $3800.
“When I hear people complain about their weight, I can sympathize. I mean, I’m still not a thin guy in 2019. I tip the scales at around 230 pounds, and there is no way I can call myself skinny, even at 6 feet tall.
But I used to be much worse off.
In January of 2011, I stepped on the scale. I shocked myself because I weighed 360 pounds! This was the most I’d ever weighed in my life, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t like the way I looked. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own body and I didn’t know what a positive body image was.”
Doesn’t it make you want to read more? I took the time to build interest even after this in the next few paragraphs as well. I didn’t know it when I was writing it, but I created my first viral essay.
The introduction was a big part of that.
Try to be funny, engaging, inspiring, shocking, or unique. The beginning is no time to hold back if you want the reader to continue reading.
#5 Reason — Craft an Interesting Conclusion
I have several of my own publications, and as an editor, I see one mistake repeated by new writers. They take the time to create an exciting and engaging essay or article, make their point, and then drop off without warning.
As a reader, that can be jarring, and although they are not expecting a summary with bullet points, they do want a satisfying ending. Bringing your story to a screeching halt may work in fiction, but I have found my best non-fiction performers leave the reader with something to think about in the end.
The Secrets Only Successful Writers Know
Do you know why successful writers are called top writers? Because they find out what makes their pieces perform better and make sure they do that with all their posts, essays, and articles.
When I analyzed my work, I didn’t know I would get a window into what I was doing right and wrong. Now, as I move forward and improve, I know what I need to focus on to create viral or even posts that get read all the way through.
- Add curiosity
- Cover a topic people have an interest in reading like money, blogging, or weight loss
- Stop writing just for yourself
- Tell them what is in it for them. Give them a good reason to click
- Don’t just repeat what you say in the headline. Set the hook and make sure the reader stays hooked
- Don’t use the same images everyone else is using. Create your own or at least spend some time looking before you decide on one everyone else has beat to death
- Unique, funny, inspiring, shocking
- Give them a better reason to want to read more
- Wrap up nicely and don’t drop off suddenly. Give the reader something to think about
I made a checklist so that from now on, I make sure I pay attention to what is essential to get them first to click, then to read all the way through.
“The story must strike a nerve in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk.” — Susan Sontag
The difference between the successful, money-making bloggers and writers and you and me is that they know what works, and they keep following the same formula each time.
It’s time we did the same.