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How to deal with conflicting opinons

s a blogger, you get a huge amount of feedback every day – and that can be a good thing or a bad one, depending on how you look at.

A lot of the time, of course, feedback is really helpful: it lets you know what you’re doing right, where you’re going wrong and – if you’re lucky – what you can do to improve your blog. Other times, though, feedback can just be incredibly confusing. One person tells you one thing, someone else tells you the exact opposite: how do you know who’s telling the truth, and who you can trust? Good question. Here are some of my answers to it…

How to deal with conflicting opinions as a blogger

Identify your target audience

One of my favourite quotes is this one, from Dita Von Teese:

“You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world… but there’ll always be someone who hates peaches.”

What I take from this is that you have to know who you’re writing for – and who you’re NOT writing for. If you’re trying to please absolutely everyone, then that’s obviously not going to work, is it? If you’re trying to reach people who hate peaches, meanwhile (er, assuming that your blog is the “peach” in this situation…), then THAT’S not going to work either. All of that stands to reason: the problem you’re going to have as a blogger, though (or just as a human being), is that sometimes the people who hate peaches will read your blog anyway: and they’ll want to give you “feedback” on it.

Every so often, for instance, I’ll get an email or comment from someone telling me my blog posts are WAY too long, and that I should learn to edit, basically. “Your blog would be so much cooler if you wrote less,” someone told me recently. Ouch.

At first, I used to really take this kind of feedback to heart. I’d start writing short, to-the-point posts… which I didn’t really enjoy writing, but if that was what people wanted, I guessed that was what I should do. Almost immediately, I started getting comments from people telling me they missed the long posts: that those were what had brought them to the blog in the first place, and now that I’d stopped writing them, my blog was just the same as everyone else’s. “I hardly ever read your blog now,” someone tweeted me. “Because it’s just all photos, and I liked the writing.” Again: ouch.

It’s pretty obvious here that I can’t please everyone with this one: some people like reading long posts, some people hate them. I could try writing medium-length posts, I suppose, but that wouldn’t please EITHER group, would it? The short-post people would still think the posts were too long, and the long-post lovers would think they were too short. So, in the end, I had to work out who my ideal audience really is: who am I writing for?

In my case, what I realised is that I like writing long posts. It’s kind of my USP. When I write a long post, you know that I was genuinely really interested in what I was writing about, and that’s the kind of writing I want to do. Not the short, snappy, “Here is an outfit, I hope you like it,” kind of writing, but the long, meandering, “here’s something I’ve been thinking about, and I want to explore it in a bit more depth,” kind.

I’m writing for the type of people who ALSO like that kind of writing. I’m not saying my posts aren’t ever too long, and that they couldn’t use a bit of editing: of course they could. What I AM saying, though, is that if you’re here looking for short, snappy, straight-to-the-point text, you’re in the wrong place. You’re more than welcome to stick around anyway, of course, but you’re probably always going to leave disappointed, because I’m not writing with you in mind. There are lots of blogs out there which publish very short posts: this isn’t one of them.

how to deal with conflicting feedbackGet a second opinion

So, you know you can’t trust the feedback of the people who hate peaches. But who CAN you trust to tell you the truth about your blog?

This is a tricky one, because most of the people who give you feedback on the internet are completely anonymous to you. You have no idea whether their opinion should be taken seriously (That person criticising your outfit could have the worst taste you’ve ever seen), or even what their intentions are. Sure, some people are genuinely trying to help you when they comment critically, but there’s no getting away from the fact that some are just out to hurt you, and they’ll say anything they think will achieve that aim – whether it’s true or not.

For me, the only way around this is to get a second opinion from people I KNOW I can trust.

When it comes to outfits, I trust my mum to tell me the truth – because not only do I trust her taste, I also trust her motivation. If my mum tells me something doesn’t fit properly, for instance, I know she’s not telling me in order to have a jab at my weight, or because she thinks I need “taking down a peg”: just as importantly, I also know she won’t lie just to try to flatter me, so she’s a trustworthy second opinion on all things style-related.

For everything else, meanwhile, there’s Terry. His personality is much more laid back than mine is: he’s very objective, very rational (sometimes annoyingly so: I mean, there are times when you really just want to rant, aren’t there?), and tends to give people the benefit of the doubt. When I get a comment that upsets me, I normally run it by Terry before responding to it: he’ll tell me if he thinks I’m reading too much into it, if the person has a point, or if he thinks they’re just being mean. As with my mum, I know Terry won’t won’t just agree with me to spare my feelings, so if he tells me a comment is out of line, I know it must be pretty bad – and if he tells me I’m just over-reacting, I know he’s totally wrong that’s probably true, too. Unfortunately.

how to deal with conflicting opinions as a bloggerKnow what you want to achieve

Finally, I think one of the most important things you can do as a blogger is work out what you want to achieve from it. Do you want to make friends, and have an outlet for your writing/photography/whatever?  Or do you want to have a business that earns you a living? Those two aims aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive obviously, but identifying your end goal will affect how you deal with the feedback you receive. As a blogger, I obviously want to please my readers and try to keep them happy: as a businesswoman, however, I know it’s not possible to please everyone, and that sometimes what works best for the blog/business might not work for every single reader.

Every few weeks, for instance, I’ll get at least one comment or email from someone complaining about a technical aspect of my website: this doesn’t work, that doesn’t work, I don’t like this, I’d prefer it if it was like that… it goes right down to people telling me they don’t like the fonts I’ve used, or the colour of my logo, or whatever. Some of these complaints are obviously totally justified, and it’s important that I know about them, because they help me identify things that are broken, and which need to be fixed. Other things, however, are just personal taste, which have absolutely no effect on the way the site functions whatsoever: I know this sounds blunt, but whether or not someone likes the font I used in my logo or not is completely irrelevant to me – it’s feedback, yes, but it’s not HELPFUL feedback, because it doesn’t affect the way the site functions. If you’re telling me you can’t read the font, that’s helpful: just telling me you don’t like it, because you think sans-serif fonts are prettier, however? That doesn’t actually help: in fact, it’s more likely to hinder me, because can you imagine what it would be like if every single reader chimed in to tell me which font THEY’D like best?

Similarly, if someone tells me they don’t like something about the way the site functions but I know that functionality is ultimately bringing in more visitors, it would be pretty silly of me to change it just because ONE person didn’t like it. Readers will tell me their personal preferences, and I’ll always do my best to accommodate them if I can. My site analytics however, will give me a totally unbiased view of what works and what doesn’t: and as my blog is a business, THAT’S the information I have to put my trust in.

Are you a blogger? How do you deal with conflicting feedback?

What do you think?

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  • Anna nuttall
    October 23, 2016

    When my mum had her own school (she was a Montessori principal) she would constantly get conflicting opinions from mums and from other teachers, I do remember she would come home and have a massive rant about it to my dad. My dad who had his own publishing/printing business told her not to take everything to heart and keep doing what she want to do. I think she ended up having a staff meeting and told everyone straight on how the school will run. Moral of the story, sometime you need to be a straight up boss and tell people how things will work for now on. I think you need to be a strong person to do that – something I’m not!

  • Allison
    October 23, 2016

    I’ve been told to ease up on posting my personal opinions on my blog…but…no? It’s a PERSONAL blog and my thoughts, feelings and opinions are going to be embedded in every post. The insinuation that I should try to curb that a bit so I don’t offend or piss anyone off doesn’t work for me. Do you, girl!

    • Amber
      October 24, 2016

      I think this is something a lot of people forget about blogging – it’s the fact that it’s NOT like a normal job, and you can’t really expect bloggers to respond the same way you’d expect a customer service rep, say, to respond. I see a lot of talk (not about me specifically, just about bloggers in general) about how, “if this was her REAL job, then…” or “In MY job, I have to…”, and I just think, “why are you insisting on comparing someone who writes about their life on the internet to someone who works in a traditional office job, or whatever?” They’re not the same thing – expecting a blogger to remove every bit of personality from their blog is really missing the point, I think!

  • Heather
    October 23, 2016

    I’m in the group that loves your “meandering” posts, just to let you know 🙂

    It feels like blog readers are a bit like retail customers,they think their opinions have so much weight, and they “pay your salary after all” (I hate this so much, with that logic, don’t we all pay everyone’s salary???) which gives them this entitled feel like they are now your boss. When I worked retail I had customers tell me I shouldn’t stand around doing nothing, it looks poorly on me, or that I should get a brand to make the item in the color they want (cause of course I go to all the meetings with that brand and have input on their product line all at minimum wage) or I’m talking too much, or the line is too long and I really should have thought to have more people on schedule. They have all the answers it seems! It’s such a strange perspective that I have never really managed to understand.

    From the little bit that I’ve seen in your comments, I feel like you manage to deal with the negatives and weirdness with class! I’m always impressed with your tone, where I might have been really snarky 😉

    • Amber
      October 24, 2016

      Oh, thanks for saying that! I find it really, really hard not to just snark right back at people when I think they’re being rude, so I have to physically walk away from the computer sometimes just to stop myself. I’ve always really struggled with the idea that everyone’s allowed an opinion on me (because I “put it out there”), but I’m not allowed to respond to that opinion or defend myself, or I’m being defensive and “unprofessional”. It’s a really difficult balancing act whereby, on the one hand, people want you to share your life and chat with them as if you’re their friend, but the second you do/say/wear something they don’t like, they want you to act like they’re your boss, and you’re in some kind of customer service role or something – very bizarre! Then there are the people who go out of their way to provoke you, and are then absolutely astonished when their comment has the desired effect, and you’re provoked by it – aaargh!

  • Genevieve
    October 23, 2016

    I swear I will never understand the type of personality that comes across a blog, or site, or channel that they don’t personally care for and instead of just moving on then feel the need to bully and belittle the creator. So many people seem to miss the whole “just leave” option. if you don’t like the site you’re on GO TO A DIFFERENT ONE. For the record I usually love the long posts but on the odd occasion that I’m not in the mood I do this amazing thing where I skip it and come back later…

  • Miss Kitty
    October 23, 2016

    Keep doing what you do, something’s obviously working! P.S. I love your blog and your long interesting posts are what keep me coming back every day 🙂

  • Lori
    October 24, 2016

    Amber, I love your writing style, your clothes, assessories, and your adorable doggie!!! I also love getting a peek at your amazing closet😊. Keep it up!!

  • What Lou Wore 365
    October 24, 2016

    My honest and true opinion as a loyal longtime reader is that those mustard shoes are FABULOUS! Oh my, I would happily take them from you in a heartbeat 🙂

    I like the long posts, the medium posts, just the outfits. I tend to save the long ones for when I’m am a PC so I can read them properly rather than squinting at my phone screen. I think I’ve said that before actually….

  • Jaime
    October 24, 2016

    It is so important to know your audience when writing! I love when I get comments on posts saying things like “I would never spend that much on a lipstick it’s such a waste! I don’t bother much with makeup” – but I write a makeup and beauty blog? The negativity gets me more than anything- that person maybe never would spend any money on a lipstick, so why are they coming to my blog leaving a post with a negative connotation that might make my other readers (who would spend $$) second guess themselves. These are things we cant control, but I always try and respond positively prompting them for example to share what they DO like.

    • Amber
      October 24, 2016

      THIS. I almost stopped writing this blog tips column a few months ago, because I felt like the comments were almost all from people saying, “Well, I just blog as a hobby, so I don’t care how well my blog does!” I mean, fair enough, but why are you reading a post about blogging advice if you know it’s not going to be useful to you? And then commenting to TELL me it wasn’t useful? I will never understand people!

  • Tracey
    October 24, 2016

    I only ever email Terry to tell him about technical glitches on the blog, I promise. And even though I don’t blog myself any more, I love reading your blog Amber. So keep up the great work.

  • Emerald
    October 26, 2016

    I love reading long posts! As long as they’re well-written and convey a funny or interesting story I don’t see the problem. I don’t get why people bother to write in and say they don’t like a blog, etc. Surely they should just move on to something they do like? Technical feedback is another matter, of course, but aren’t we all busy people?

    I’ve only had one piece of criticism on an old blog and it was constructive and quite right. She said she enjoyed my writing but I should have a think about how I organised my photos to make the piece more reader-friendly. So I was glad to have that pointed out to me. Artwork-wise though I’ve had some charming feedback which I mentioned in another comment many moons ago. One I didn’t mention said that while they really liked my stained glass it was “a bit hippy”. There’s not really any reply you can give that actually!

  • Szarenne | With Love From Sza
    March 18, 2019

    First time to see your blog and I love how honest you are on your posts and even on the comments. Your blog is “YOU.” <3

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How to deal with conflicting opinons