Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Critique: Theresa Milstein

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.

Oo, this is awkward...see, I love Theresa Milstein. I've been a fan of her's for awhile. She was even one of my first Saturday Savvy Sensations when her blog was still called "Substitute Teacher's Saga".  So now I'm supposed to critique her???

Well, if it's helpful....but just remember, Theresa, that it all comes out of love :) If you haven't already, take a look at Theresa's blog here.


First, a few things that I LOVE about Theresa's blog:
  • I know who she is 
  • I know what she writes
  • I know what her blog is about
  • She links to where you can purchase her writing 
  • She has contact information posted
  • She tells us what is upcoming on her blog (nice touch)
  • Her posts are relevant
  • Her posts are interactive
  • Her sidebar is clearly separated from her main post area
  • Her background is simple and doesn't distract
  • Oh, and I love alliteration (have you noticed?) so your title makes me smile
Now for the tough love. Most of these suggestions actually have to do with visual appeal, except for the first one. Read on:
  • Get your profile up higher in your sidebar, girl! I actually don't mind you putting Fangtales up first because it is your priority - selling that book, I mean - but right under that we should have your profile pic and About Me. Don't make us go looking. Speaking of your sidebar...
  • Make sure all your graphics fit in the sidebar space. If they are too big, you can make them smaller. I'm talking about your Fan Box and your Map Loco. You have to do a little more advance editing (go into the html and change the "width" number; experiment until it's the right size). It will really clean your blog up.
  • Don't use so much blank space in your posts. Tighten up your paragraphs. Think of people who are reading you on their phones - dead space SUCKS! (and not in a good way:)
  • Make your pictures bigger. This will help with some of your dead white space. Joe recommends putting your pics left justified with your words next to them to help with this as well.vAnother of Joe's suggestions...
  • Use color, bold, and italics to liven up your helvetica font. Using a contrasting color like yellow/gold in your posts will really look good with your blue/purple background. Visit this site for some fun help.
  • Watch the consistency of your font - don't change it up randomly.
  • Enlarge your post headings. Joe recommends post headings be at least 20% larger than the body of your posts. Set this once in your settings and you won't have to think about it again.
Ok, I'm done. Was that so bad? No, I suppose not. But I have to say that really none of this stuff matters that much because Theresa has mastered the number one most important thing about blogging: Building Relationships. Theresa is maybe the sweetest blogger out there. She responds to every comment and is so in tune with her followers. This is really the true artistry of blogging, isn't it?

Thanks for being here again, Theresa! You're always welcome.

67 comments:

Joanna said...

Laura, I love how you come back to THE most important thing that Theresa is sweetheart and puts so much work into building relationships!

Theresa Milstein said...

Thank you, Laura and Joe. I knew you were going to get me on the fonts! Seriously, I appreciate the feedback. I thought you'd find more problems, so I'm breathing a sigh of relief. Now to figure out how to fix some of my sidebar issues. I'm going to link this post to my blog now. Thanks again!

Lora said...

I love Theresa, and her blog. She makes everyone feel invited to read along and more importantly, she makes us all feel like a part of her life through her blogging

Old Kitty said...

Awww yay for lovely Theresa!! I think her blog posts speak volumes about her passion for her craft and her career and her gorgeous personality and I always look forward to reading her blog words. Take care
x

Joanne said...

In the end, that's what it's all about, isn't it? Building those relationships, connecting, sharing. A+ for Theresa on those counts :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I didn't know we could set the size of our post heading. *waves at Theresa*

Slam Dunks said...

I appreciate your honesty Laura.

Related to content--I enjoy Theresa's honesty. Writing is a struggle and I think others can certainly identify from her travels through the mountains and valleys.

Bossybetty1 said...

I love Theresa and I love the suggestions you give here!!!

Talliroland said...

I love Theresa and you've given some very helpful suggestion here.

brigid said...

Really interesting points.
I always think Theresa's blog would make an interesting book in itself. She is such a genuine person and just as nice in real life when I met her in Dublin.

Michael Offutt said...

Hmmm... Now that you've pointed these things out, I have to say that I agree with you. Theresa, you should pay attention to Laura's words. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I adore Theresa! She really is one of the sweetest bloggers out there! I love the way you review blogs, Laura! :-)

Theresa Milstein said...

Shannon, Brigid, Talli, Bossy Betty, Slam Dunks, Stina, Joanne, Old Kitty, Lora, and Joanna, thank you for the kind comments. I'm glad I'm succeeding in building relationships and being sincere. Now to tidy the page and posts. Yes, Michael, I'm paying attention!

LauraBarnes said...

You can and it's totally easy. Just go to your layout settings. Then hit customize and choose post. There you can make your post title as big as you like.

LauraBarnes said...

Isn't it, though? And I truly admire people who are good at it because those are not my fortes!

LauraBarnes said...

Nope, just the few minor corrections. Let me know if you have problems with the sidebar issues. Thanks for participating!

LauraBarnes said...

She definitely knows the meaning of community. Thanks for the comment.

LauraBarnes said...

Yeah, she certainly does honesty well. She's a great example to all of us.

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks!

LauraBarnes said...

Thank you!

LauraBarnes said...

I bet she is genuine in person. Lucky you for meeting her :) Thanks for the post!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks for the support, Michael!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks, Shannon! And I really love your blog. I think I just spent an hour getting lost in it. Great stuff...

Nutschell said...

I love Theresa! These are great critiques, Laura. I'll certainly be able to apply your suggestions in my own blog.I'm glad I discovered this blog (Thanks to Theresa). I'll certainly be following.

LauraBarnes said...

Nice to meet you and welcome to the blog!

AlexJCavanaugh said...

Those suggestions seem fair. You did good!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks for the support :)

Riya Dean said...

Good advice and tips, thanks Theresa.

hhtp://romancereader-riya.blogspot.com/

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks for the comment!

Lynda R. Young said...

I hadn't thought about white space affecting those who read blogs on their phones. Makes sense. I love Theresa's blog :)

LauraBarnes said...

I'm a phone reader myself so it's on my mind. I love Theresa's blog too!

MedeiaSharif said...

Great tips, Laura.

I love Theresa's blog. There's never a dull moment (or post) and she responds to comments right away.

My blog also does the white space thing between paragraphs and before I post I have to change the html code to decrease the spacing.

Karen Lange said...

Great feedback. Am mentally comparing how my blog measures up. Hopped over from Theresa's. Glad I did!

LauraBarnes said...

Good for you daring to go into the code. Many people are afraid of HTML, but it really isn't that tricky, is it? Thanks for the comment.

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks for the hop! Hope the feedback is helpful to you as well :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I really like the new look of Theresa's blog! Blue is my favorite color. Its easy on the eyes. I agree about the side bar. The profile and pic should be at the top, followed by the FOLLOWERS. You want people to click that follow button.

LydiaK said...

Brilliant! Those are such simple but effecting changes she could make (that I could make, LOL)

Theresa Milstein said...

LydiaK, Karen, Riya, Alex, and Nutscell, it is a brilliant idea that Laura has with this feature. Stephen, I agree with you and Laura. Medeia and Lynda, I did the space because I thought it was easier to read. Maybe not?

Brooke R. Busse said...

With HTML, I think you have to know how to handle it. I can do the easy things, like width and color and spacing, but go any farther and I know I'm going to mess something up.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great suggestions. I wouldn't have thought of them. Maybe because I just enjoy Theresa's blog.

LauraBarnes said...

Excellent additions to the conversation! Yes, put the followers underneath and totally, blue is calm and a great blog color. Thanks for the comments!

LauraBarnes said...

Changes even I could make... I've gotta get my fonts unified!! LOL

LauraBarnes said...

Yes, so true. I only mess with width and color and sometimes spacing. I have definitely HTML before...

LauraBarnes said...

I really haven't thought about them before either because I enjoy Theresa's blog :) But once I looked, I saw there were some things that could be improved.

Sophia Chang said...

I'm taking these tips to my own blog. I'm planning an overhaul for my blogoversary and I'll be seeing how I can beg a critique from you then!

LauraBarnes said...

How fun! You won't have to beg too hard :)

Angela Cothran said...

This is great!!! I'm coming back for more!

Michelle DennisEvans said...

Hey, that was good. I've never thought much about colour changes - I should add a splash of colour to my text.
thanks
xx

Theresa Milstein said...

Michelle, if I normally just make links a different color, but that doesn't work if I'm in Chrome. It shows up on the 'Compose' page, but not if I hit 'Publish'. I'm going to try to remember to use Safari for links and to make sure I vary text color a little. Angela, nice to see you. Sophia, good luck with your overhaul and congratulations on your blogiversary!

Ann Ormond Fennell said...

That was very interesting. I think I need a blog check! Thank you Laura for your very helpful insights and Thank you Theresa for putting yourself out there for this. You are both very brave!!!!

LauraBarnes said...

You're welcome! Thanks for commenting!

Alark Betty357 said...

Hi, Laura!

I'm making this a day of blog hopping! I'm a new blogger , however I'm finding it to be extremely interesting and fun!
I got your name from, Lynda's blog so I thought - why not stop by today and introduce myself .

So you critique blogs! That sounds worthy! I might take you up on it sometime in the future when I become a better blogger! Right now I'm just trying to create my own creative blog and make new friends!

Constructive criticism is a plus- so much to be learned there! Mean while, I will continue touring your blog and becoming more aquainted!

Hope you will stop by and visit and leave a comment or two.

Nice to make your aquaintance, Laura!

Nicole Ducleroir said...

Awesome positive and negative feedback here. This is a great series. Keep up the great work!!

Jemi Fraser said...

You always have such great advice, Laura! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Jemi and Nicole, I agree. Alark Betty357, it's nice to meet you, too. Ann, I want to build a better blog. Who else is out there doing this? Thanks to Laura, I've already made improvements.

Nas Dean said...

Awesome feedback! I'm using the tips to improve my blog.

Deniz Bevan said...

Wow, this is super helpful! I've definitely got some photos that are too big for their widget space.

Matthew MacNish said...

I know Theresa! She's awesome. Another post full of most excellent advice, well done, Laura!

LauraBarnes said...

Sorry I'm so behind on my response. I'm so glad to meet you! Just let me know if you are ever interested in a critique. I'd be glad to put you on the schedule. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment!

Laura

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks! I appreciate your kind words :)

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks! Hope it helps!

LauraBarnes said...

Great! Let me know if you need help :)

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks, Matt! Always great to get a comment from you :)

Theresa Milstein said...

Matthew, thanks. Deniz, I have the same problem, but I've been too busy to try to implement that part of the critique yet. Nas, there's definitely great advice for all blogs here.

Thanks again, Laura. I loved getting the feedback.

L_Aussie said...

This was wonderful to read. I can make some changes to my blog now.

Laura Barnes said...

Great! The whole reason I do them is to help everyone :)

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