Why Your Negative Blog Posts Are Bringing Me Down

A couple of weeks ago, I made the unfortunate decision to use a sensational headline in the hopes of bringing in more people to take part in the discussion. The post wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it was and I removed it.  It’s a lesson learned over and over again, and a good reminder of why I took a vow of positivity a couple of years ago.

Negativity creates hurt feelings and only contributes to more negativity. Every time I take a sensational approach someone takes my words the wrong way and hurt feelings ensue. I don’t know if that’s a worthwhile trade off for a day of traffic.

The thing is, I should know better. I cringe when I read blog posts with headlines telling me something sucks  (i.e. “Why your blog posts suck”) or is dumb. Even if I’m someone with a sucky dumb blog, I don’t want to hear it. It’s sort of like someone saying, “You’re fat.” I know I’m overweight but I don’t want to anyone to say it to my face. To be told I’m fat by someone who seems angry about it is off putting, confusing, and, yes, hurtful.

Here’s what I learned about negative, angry blog posts

  • It brings in people, but they don’t stick around and can lead to negative or angry comments.
  • It brings in people, but not necessarily the right kind of people.
  • A headline is a first impression.

Here’s what I learned about positive blog posts

  • They don’t bring in as many people at first but the ensuing conversation is more positive.
  • Eventually my blog receives more repeat visitors rather than the one day spike from rubber neckers
  • A headline is a first impression.

How to create positive headlines from negative situations

I get it. The big headlines grab more eyeballs, but in my experience, they also keep a chunk of people away because they’re turned off by the negativity. However, a more positive headline will bring in all kinds of people.

  • Instead of saying: “Top 10 Reasons Your Blog Posts Suck” try saying, “10 Tips for Better Blog Readability.”
  • Instead of saying: “10 Reasons Your Headlines are Stupid” try saying, “How to Write Headlines that Bring Results.”
  • Instead of saying: “Why No One Wants to Follow You On Twitter” try saying “Top 10 Twitter Mistakes.”

Maybe door number two is more positive but it will bring in longer term results over a short term spike. Also, think about the way people search. They’re not searching for “Why My Headlines are Stupid” they search for “How to write headlines.”

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve been doing this for a little over a decade now and I can tell you that my positive headlines bring in more readers in the long run than negative headlines – even though negative headlines sometimes get more retweets.

The majority of readers don’t like it when you make it personal. We want to read a blog post and think, “Hmmm. I make that mistake too, I’ll go fix it.” But we don’t want to get all paranoid because we think you’re talking about us.

We don’t want to exit a post reeling from a smackdown.

Do positive headlines draw you in?  Do they keep you coming back for more? How about the negative blog posts? What do they do for you?

Discuss….

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • http://twitter.com/swoodruff Steve Woodruff

    There’s a fine line between provocative and negative – and we tend to cross over that membrane pretty readily! I like a provocative headline, even if it has a slightly negative cast to it, as long as the actual post is thoughtful.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Agreed, Steve. I’ll argue that many of the bloggers trying to bring in readers with negative headlines might not know the difference and might even feel that all traffic is good traffic.

  • http://twitter.com/swoodruff Steve Woodruff

    There’s a fine line between provocative and negative – and we tend to cross over that membrane pretty readily! I like a provocative headline, even if it has a slightly negative cast to it, as long as the actual post is thoughtful.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Agreed, Steve. I’ll argue that many of the bloggers trying to bring in readers with negative headlines might not know the difference and might even feel that all traffic is good traffic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698061081 Gayla Taylor

    I ran into a similar situation a couple of years ago. Of all the readers I had, my post hurt one person I’d been friends with for several years. I had no idea the impact would be on such a personal level. I’ve kept his email all this time as a reminder to do everything I can to avoid a repeat. Great post Deb! “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless” ~ Mother Teresa

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thanks, Gayla, and a lovely quote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698061081 Gayla Taylor

    I ran into a similar situation a couple of years ago. Of all the readers I had, my post hurt one person I’d been friends with for several years. I had no idea the impact would be on such a personal level. I’ve kept his email all this time as a reminder to do everything I can to avoid a repeat. Great post Deb! “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless” ~ Mother Teresa

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      Thanks, Gayla, and a lovely quote.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanfields Jonathan Fields

    Pretty much any time I post anything provocative or controversial (and I’ve got a doozy coming up), whether it’s negative or not, someone will misunderstand, misattribute and get angry with me. But often it also stirs up a conversation in the comments that opens a new opportunity to go deeper into a topic.

    The big risk, though, it that it opens a new vein just as easily as it opens a conversation, you’ve gotta be willing to ride the comment section to keep the conversation respectful.

    Thanks for making me think on this. :-)

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      I think it take delicate wording to touch on something controversial in order to make sure there are no hurt feelings. But I also feel we need to tackle controversy sometimes so if we keep it respectful a wonderful conversation will ensue, with all sides of the story coming to light. When we write for the shock and awe, that’s what we get. Is that how I want people to view me? I don’t know.

      • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

        Yes, this is a great topic as I have tested a few posts and headlines that were controversial and they have not played well. The challenge is coming up with a way to grab people’s attention so they do not think it is another fluff piece that many less controversial headlines tend to produce so that you can have that deep conversation.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanfields Jonathan Fields

    Pretty much any time I post anything provocative or controversial (and I’ve got a doozy coming up), whether it’s negative or not, someone will misunderstand, misattribute and get angry with me. But often it also stirs up a conversation in the comments that opens a new opportunity to go deeper into a topic.

    The big risk, though, it that it opens a new vein just as easily as it opens a conversation, you’ve gotta be willing to ride the comment section to keep the conversation respectful.

    Thanks for making me think on this. :-)

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      I think it take delicate wording to touch on something controversial in order to make sure there are no hurt feelings. But I also feel we need to tackle controversy sometimes so if we keep it respectful a wonderful conversation will ensue, with all sides of the story coming to light. When we write for the shock and awe, that’s what we get. Is that how I want people to view me? I don’t know.

      • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

        Yes, this is a great topic as I have tested a few posts and headlines that were controversial and they have not played well. The challenge is coming up with a way to grab people’s attention so they do not think it is another fluff piece that many less controversial headlines tend to produce so that you can have that deep conversation.

  • http://www.theantisocialmedia.com/ Jay Dolan

    Deb – this post is like you took a rusty knife, shoved it in my heart, and twisted it until I was smiling. ;)

    Seriously though – I do this every day of the week, and it is a very fine balance to walk. I get people angry all the time, and I get boat loads of retweets, but you’re right, it usually doesn’t bring in traffic that lasts. I have to work my ass off to get the people who stick around.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      It’s different for you, Jay. Your “schtick” is to be the anti-social media and that works and it’s expected. Plus your posts aren’t necessarily angry, finger pointing rants. They’re funny and we can relate – even though we’ll pretend not to. There’s a difference in what you do but mostly because you’re joking and not pointing an angry finger at anyone.

  • http://www.theantisocialmedia.com/ Jay Dolan

    Deb – this post is like you took a rusty knife, shoved it in my heart, and twisted it until I was smiling. ;)

    Seriously though – I do this every day of the week, and it is a very fine balance to walk. I get people angry all the time, and I get boat loads of retweets, but you’re right, it usually doesn’t bring in traffic that lasts. I have to work my ass off to get the people who stick around.

    • http://kommein.com Deb Ng

      It’s different for you, Jay. Your “schtick” is to be the anti-social media and that works and it’s expected. Plus your posts aren’t necessarily angry, finger pointing rants. They’re funny and we can relate – even though we’ll pretend not to. There’s a difference in what you do but mostly because you’re joking and not pointing an angry finger at anyone.

  • http://loveandtrash.com Jessica The Hun

    Couldn’t agree more! I try to always look at the positive side, even when I’m on a negative topic. It just isn’t worth it to complain.

  • http://loveandtrash.com Jessica The Hun

    Couldn’t agree more! I try to always look at the positive side, even when I’m on a negative topic. It just isn’t worth it to complain.

  • http://loveandtrash.com Jessica The Hun

    Couldn’t agree more! I try to always look at the positive side, even when I’m on a negative topic. It just isn’t worth it to complain.

  • http://loveandtrash.com Jessica The Hun

    Couldn’t agree more! I try to always look at the positive side, even when I’m on a negative topic. It just isn’t worth it to complain.

  • http://twitter.com/playactivities Melitsa Avila

    Would love to learn more about headline writing. Anyone point me in the direction of a resource?

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    I don’t like negative people (they have a real good way of quickly bringing you down). So, when I write, I kinda apply the same philosophy, don’t write/say anything negative or you’ll bring people down.

    Funny thing though, as I read this post and got into the examples and post titles, I noticed that I’m guilty of posting something negative. A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled: 10 Reasons Your Website Sucks (and what to do about it). When I sit and think about it, it did come out as a semi-rant. I wanted to provide people with some suggestions for improving their sites. But I suppose I did take somewhat of a sensational approach to it with the headline.

    In this case, I wanted to make a point. Not necessarily bring people down. Then of course, sometimes, folks might not always understand the difference.

  • http://twitter.com/playactivities Melitsa Avila

    Would love to learn more about headline writing. Anyone point me in the direction of a resource?

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    I don’t like negative people (they have a real good way of quickly bringing you down). So, when I write, I kinda apply the same philosophy, don’t write/say anything negative or you’ll bring people down.

    Funny thing though, as I read this post and got into the examples and post titles, I noticed that I’m guilty of posting something negative. A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled: 10 Reasons Your Website Sucks (and what to do about it). When I sit and think about it, it did come out as a semi-rant. I wanted to provide people with some suggestions for improving their sites. But I suppose I did take somewhat of a sensational approach to it with the headline.

    In this case, I wanted to make a point. Not necessarily bring people down. Then of course, sometimes, folks might not always understand the difference.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox/ mariobox

    I really don’t care much as long as it reflects the blogger’s authentic voice. What I dislike is when they just want to trick people into reading something and then the post fails to deliver, in other words when it’s just an obvious ploy to get attention.

  • http://twitter.com/shayrunsthecity Shannon

    Good post. Another offensive thing about “why your blog sucks” and similar titles is the presumption that the author of that kind of blog has all the answers. Have they read every “sucky” blog? No, so their post is immediately lacking. We need to do our best, and be confident that in sticking to our specialty we’ll do well. We all don’t have to be experts from on high.

  • http://twitter.com/shayrunsthecity Shannon N. Johnson

    Good post. Another offensive thing about “why your blog sucks” and similar titles is the presumption that the author of that kind of blog has all the answers. Have they read every “sucky” blog? No, so their post is immediately lacking. We need to do our best, and be confident that in sticking to our specialty we’ll do well. We all don’t have to be experts from on high.

  • notgrannyyet

    Sensationalism sucks !! I recently read a sales page where the guy talks about ‘wood’ in a way my 60 year old ears cringed at hearing, I guess ppl are always gonna push the boundaries.

  • notgrannyyet

    Sensationalism sucks !! I recently read a sales page where the guy talks about ‘wood’ in a way my 60 year old ears cringed at hearing, I guess ppl are always gonna push the boundaries.

  • http://www.miss-britt.com Miss Britt

    I absolutely agree that positivity is a “harder initial sell”, but brings about a deeper connection and loyalty with your readers.

    It’s hard not to go for the quick-fix, but I have much more respect for people who avoid it.

  • http://www.miss-britt.com Miss Britt

    I absolutely agree that positivity is a “harder initial sell”, but brings about a deeper connection and loyalty with your readers.

    It’s hard not to go for the quick-fix, but I have much more respect for people who avoid it.

  • Pingback: Something Old, Something New: A Round Up of Great Posts! — The Mom Writes

  • Pingback: You Can’t Grow a Blog On Negative Linkbait Alone

  • Pingback: Not Responding, Pile Ons and the Me Too Mentality — Kommein