There’s a certain blog that I’m subscribed to
I’ve been reading it for a long time. I used to get a lot of value out of the posts, but lately I’ve noticed the tone of the blog has changed. It seems like a more sensationalized style of writing, and the content isn’t really what I’m used to seeing there.
I’m seeing an awful lot of “shoulds” in the post titles.
As a matter of fact, more than half of the last ten posts on that particular blog have a variation of the word “should” in the title.
“Why you should _____”
“You should be doing _____…”
“If you want _____, you should ______”
“Don’t _____. You should ______ instead”
That’s a lot of time spent pointing out what the reader is doing wrong, don’t you think?
Once I noticed this, it stuck out like a sore thumb.
And now when this particular blog arrives in my inbox, I get excited for a second – then I see the title, get annoyed, and hit delete. Rinse and repeat.
That blogger lost me as a reader
When we subscribe to a blog, we do so because we think the content will be useful or interesting. But even when we subscribe to get tips or instruction on a particular topic, that doesn’t mean we want to be told what to do.
When you use the words “you should”, you immediately create an atmosphere of stress and pressure, and my rebellious self turns a deaf ear to your message. Call me stubborn – but I doubt that I’m alone.
So does that mean we can’t ever offer advice on our blog?
Of course not. That would be silly. “Should” is not a bad word, and there are certainly times when it is appropriate. But I don’t recommend using it in every single message, and not even in 50% of your messages.
Overuse has the potential to be annoying and insulting, and you make your reader feel like an idiot.
Yikes, right? So what’s the alternative?
You can write in a slightly different tone and still get your message across. Instead of pointing your virtual finger with “you should”, here’s a very simple formula:
“If you’d like to (get this result), try (doing this)”.
See the difference? It’s gentler, and gives the reader a feeling of being supported.
For me personally with this particular blog I was reading, the change might not have been so noticeable if I were a new reader. But anytime you make a change, your readers are going to notice. And maybe I’m being picky, but this has rubbed me the wrong way enough that it prompted me to write about it.
Important tip: If you’re annoying (or downright pissing off) your readers, you defeat the purpose of writing to them.
So please, before you hit “publish” on your next blog post, please re-read what you’ve written, and consider the message you’re sending to your readers.
Thoughts? Comments? Aha’s? Share in the comments.