Monday, November 7, 2011

Blog Critique: Martine Svanevik

Blog Critique Day: In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

Today's blog comes from Norwegian Martine Svanevik's blog Nascent Novelist. Take a look.

Martine, this critique is going to be short and sweet because we only have a few suggestions. First I have to say you are our first wordpress blog. I'm not very savvy when it comes to wordpress but I believe it is generally easier to customize than blogger so hopefully any suggestions we make are compatible.

Overall Look: Your site is clean and straight forward, which is awesome. But it's also really plain. We need some color. Changing the background gray to a bolder color instead of a neutral color could make a major difference. Or you could change the color of the post section so that it pops a little more from the top white section. Another option would be to add a colored header. Just something to attract the eye.

Title: I always love alliteration so yay there. But I also want to see your name in a prominent place. I should see Martine from just a quick glance. You are the most important part of your blog, after all. If you don't want your name in your title (my first choice) then put it in a subtitle. "Featuring the adventures of Martine Svanevik" underneath your blog title is all you need.

Contact Information: This is very important yet it's missing. Give us a page with your contact info or at least a  box in your sidebar. This should include a valid email if nothing else.

Social Media: I know you are on Twitter - I'm following you! And you tell us in your blog. So why not put your social media links on your side bar?

Writing Samples: From your profile box I get that you might be published but I don't see any bio about your work. Give us a list of where your writing has been featured and/or samples of your work. Another page is a great place for this.

Search Box: I love it when blogs have the search box so readers can search for topics. If I love a blog, I'll often search for particular topics. Or I might remember that I read a great post on a blog and when I go back I want to be able to find it easily.

I don't know who you are: I don't know what type of writing you do and I don't know the message of your blog without reading all your posts. Add a few lines in your profile box or in a subtitle. Is your blog about your daily life? Is it about writing? Is it about your adventures? I'm not sure. Tell us.

Follow: I don't follow people by email. I hate it. I get too many emails as it is. I follow things through my Google Reader or through GoogleFriendConnect. I like to hit the follow button on blogs I read. It's like a personal vote. Do you have a way to add this in wordpress? Maybe not everyone agrees with this. I"d be interested in hearing feedback.

So there you go, Martine. Like I said, not much we suggest to change, but I think these things could make a big difference on your blog. Great job, by the way! You are obviously very dedicated and consistent. Keep it up!

Any thoughts, readers? Please share!


Martine said...

Thank you so much! These suggestions are great. Quick question though: I put an email subscription, and an RSS feed subscription button on my sidebar. Doesn't that RSS button direct you to google reader? That was my intent and if it's not working, I'll figure out a way to make it so.

LauraBarnes said...

That's a great question, Martine, and the answer is not really. The RSS feed button you added to your site makes it easy for any feed site to grab your feed. As a Google Reader user, I have to go to copy your feed link that I get from pressing your RSS feed button and copy it into my Google Reader. This really isn't that big of a deal, but truly you should make following you as easy as possible. I would change your RSS feed to something more like the one found on this page: This kind of feed button makes it easy to add you to Google Reader or whatever reader I am using.

Susan @ A Slice of my Life said...

Hi Laura and Martine. First, how fun to find my blog used as an example! Thank you.

I use It's really easy, especially for technophobes like myself. They basically walk you through it. It includes email subscriptions, RSS feed...basically whatever you want/need.

I very much recommend this as opposed to using the WP options. If I had started that way, my life would have been so much easier when I moved the blog because you can just repoint the feed. Good luck!

Susanna said...

My comment has only to do with the following thing. I don't really know how to use Google Reader or Google Friend Connect. So I prefer emails because that way I'm sure to see blog posts from people whose blogs I want to read without having to go looking for them. You've probably already done a post on how to organize your blog reading, but I'd sure love to know if there's a more efficient way than how I'm doing it !!!

LauraBarnes said...

Susanna, email may be good for you, but I prefer Google Reader. I did do a post on it There are other options, but I have been so happy with Google Reader I haven't looked anywhere else. Google Reader will easily take all the blogs you follow and import them to one location for you. Check it out.

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks so much for helping us with wp! I like your feedburner set up (I like almost all things Goggle, so not surprising) and it is really easy to follow you.

Martine, I hope you check into it. It's a nice feature.

Susanna said...

Thanks, Laura. I like the idea of being able to get my favorite blogs all together in one place and at the top of the list. Haven't quite figured out that part, but I'll keep at it... :)

Martine said...

Thank you so much! I'll fix it this weekend.

LauraBarnes said...

Shoot me an email if you have any problems, Susanna. I follow over 200 blogs so I get a lot in my Google Reader. I made a folder of "Essential" reads with about 25 blogs in it so when I'm short on time I just read through that folder. That's my technique at keeping my favs in an easy to read place.

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