Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Blog Critique: Shannon McMahon

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 critique victim is Shannon McMahon of Shannonigans.  Actually, it's a whole website. Take a look.

I have one word for Shannon's blog: Love. 

Shannon's website is perfect from the design to the profile location to the title. I know who she is, I can contact her, I know when she posts, I can search for old posts, she uses appropriate color, I know about her writing. She also does a great teaser technique where she puts part of blog post on her blog and then has a read more link to another site (the site she really wants you to visit). Seriously good blog. Learn from her.

I only have one minor peeve - I hate it when comments have to go through moderation before being posted. I do understand if you've had trouble from hecklers or spammers, but really they aren't that big of a problem. If you can bear it, make it as easy as possible for people to comment. I'd appreciate any readers' thoughts on this if you have them, guys.

Shannon's on the next step of blogging - building blog readership. Shannon, for such a tight blog, you should have a bigger following.  Because you're really busy at work and still working on your manuscript you may not have the time to focus on this yet, but when you're ready, here's some suggestions:
  • Participate in blogfests.
  • Run contests for followers. To enter they must tweet, facebook, or blog about your blog.
  • Ask the people you review for if you can do any joint promotions. You probably have contractual agreements prohibiting this, but if you are allowed to ever get people from those blogs to your blog, that's a huge way to increase your followings. Ways to do that would be, for an example, "If you enjoyed this movie, check out Shannonigans where I tell you five other movies you'd probably like." Another good one would be to say "For a meal that would go good with this wine, visit Shannonigans" and have a good recipe there. Make sense? You could actually do that last one just within your blog. At the end of a recipe post or a wine post, put a cross-reference link from your own blog to a a wine or recipe to go with it.
  • Search your peeps out. Where do wine lovers visit on the internet? What do movie-goers read? Who wants amazing recipes? Find those blogs and leave comments that always include your website address. When possible, say things like, "I do a wine review on my website; I hope you check it out sometime." 
  • Have guests. Guest bloggers can really build your numbers. Invite people from those blogs you found that your peeps frequent to post. 
  • Steal followers. It's not really stealing, but what I mean is go to those blogs that have the people you know would love your blog and get them to follow you. Like if I were going to "steal" your followers, I'd start clicking on pics in your follower box and first, follow their blogs, and second, comment on their blogs with your website address.
Okay, this isn't much, but is it helpful? What do you think readers? Any thoughts/comments/suggestions for Shannon?


Shannon said...

Thank you so much for the helpful critique, Laura! :)

I definitely need to work on building a readership when I have more time. Right now, I feel like I've accomplished a ton just by making a post, hehe. Thank you so much for the suggestions on building a platform. I really appreciate it!

As far as the moderation for comments - I completely understand the feedback. I had to put moderation on because I get at least 15 spam comments a day. It should be set up so commentors only have to go through the moderation process once; after they have been approved as a commentor, they shouldn't have do it again. Does it not work that way?

Thanks again for the feedback and the positive reinforcement. You rock my socks!

Joanna Marple said...

Thanks for giving us a great example, Shannon! I did want to ask how much it really matters to have a blog schedule as long as you are regular? I hardly take note of people' schedules. I just look at what comes up in my Google Reader.

LauraBarnes said...

If you get spammers, then that's what you got to do. Bummer. And yes it is set up to only have to enter the capcha once, which is awesome.

You have accomplished a ton with your posts. I just didn't have anything to critique so I gave platform building suggestions. I haven't been working on building readers either. It's all whatever you can manage in your life. Congrats again on the engagement! And good luck with your writing :)

Alex J Cavanaugh said...

Guest bloggers and blogfests have been great blog builders for me!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks for the feedback, Alex. Of course I must add that you only get what you put into them. I didn't put in much in Rachel Harrie's Platform Building Campaign because of stuff that came up so I didn't benefit as much as I could have. When you really participate, the results can be amazing.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Loved the proposal blog post when I popped over. I don't really mind either way about moderation. I just think it ends up being more work for the blogger. Like the platform building tips.

Susanna said...

Just curious about that last comment, Laura. You said you'd comment on their blogs with Shannon's website address? FOrgive me if I'm being obtuse, but what does that accomplish?

LauraBarnes said...

I just meant she should always include her web address when leaving comments so people can find her. Like if you look at her comment on this thread, you don't see a web address or email. So if you were another reader or the blog owner and you were liked what she had to say you wouldn't be able to find you. It's easy to just add it in your signature like this:

Of course if you are on blogger and you have a blogger profile that's linked up to your web address and you are commenting on a blog that uses blogger comments, then it's not necessary.

LauraBarnes said...

The proposal was sweet, wasn't it? Thanks for the post.

LauraBarnes said...

You do have a point because you use Google Reader, which I do too. But some people actually still go to blogs to read posts. Especially when they only follow a handful of them. Then readers often run to catch when a new post comes up. I always think you should think about all your readers - are you making it easy for that person who only follows 5 blogs and you are one of them? It's going the extra mile. (If you're really consistent about posting often, it's less necessary).

Melissa Sugar said...

Great review for an awesome blog. On the subject of comments, I have a question for you since you also use DISQUS. Can you tell me why only a small fraction of the people who leave comments on my blog through DISQUS, have their name in pink so that I can click on it and let it lead me to their blog? Actually two questions. When I reply on my own blog via DISQUS where I am logged in, my name does not link to me either. The only way I can do it is by signing in to my google account, but when I do that it automatically links to google plus profile instead of my blogger proile which is where I want people to be directed. Sorry to inundate you again like this, but you always have good answers and I am STILL having such a difficult time with my comment section.

Thank you for taking time to help. No hurry. Good to visit your blog again, I have been away working on NaNo.

Melissa Sugar said...

I was very impressed with your blog. You seem to have it down perfect

Matthew MacNish said...

Can't believe I missed this! Shannon's a good friend of mine. Love her blog.

LauraBarnes said...

Well, you can't be everywhere....can you? :)

LauraBarnes said...

She totally does!

LauraBarnes said...

Melissa! Good to see you! I've missed you :)

Hmm, I'm not sure if I'm going to be very helpful. I am pretty sure that the pink link is based on what profile the commenter decides to use to leave the comment. So you aren't going to get a consistent pink on everyone unless you limit the choice in disqus for how people can sign in (which I don't recommend).

I don't like how I have to log in to respond to comments on my blog itself so I generally don't do it. I like responding from my email because I can also reply to the commenters email at the same time. I can't tell you much about how to use it differently since I don't. Sorry! You could try asking Roni Loren at - she uses disqus. Good luck!

LauraBarnes said...

Well, now I just left a comment on your site and realize you don't have all the options selected that I do for people to post under so I'm changing my answer :) I bet the pink link are people who have set up their disqus profile versus people who didn't. You can allow people to login through different profiles (facebook, twitter, etc.) via disqus. That might give people more options and you might have more pink links.

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