Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog Critique: Conversations with Self

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.

I'm better! Except for this stupid headache that won't leave no matter how many Advil I take. Though that could be from the virus I call my children. 

But anyway. Thanks so much for the feedback yesterday. It was very helpful. I am sorry I had to push this week's critique to today, especially when the blog comes from the sweetest woman in my blogging world. At least, that's the impression I have of Len Lambert: Sweet and maybe a little crazy :).  Go on and check out her blog at Conversations with Self and meet me below.

Oh, Len, you sweet, mum you.  My husband and I stared at your blog for a long time before he finally said, "It's good." Then, after I pressed him, he said, "I don't know what it's missing, but it's just not right." 

Here's what I think the problem is: I don't know what you want your blog to accomplish. It seems off the bat that you are a rambling blog. You know, a blog for sharing whatever you feel like sharing. Elements of your blog that back this up are your whimsical background, your title, your randomness in posting, your welcome paragraph. Of course, since you write, writing will sometimes find its way into your posts. This is a perfectly fine type of blog to have, and really, anything goes when you blog for yourself like this. So then I would say, "Great blog!" and "Awesome job!"

But I wonder if you are trying to be a writing blog. Or an author blog. You have author interviews and helpful author links and all. If you are, then there are some things we would suggest:
  • Your title is confusing to find. It's not your name and then your blog address is also something different. If you are going to be carpediem202.blogspot.com then that should be your blog name.
  • You don't have your name at all in your title or subtitle. Who are you? At least put your name in your subtitle.
  • You have a nice welcome on the side, but this should be the spot for your profile.  You could blend the profile and the welcome together.
  • Oh, and your subtitle is a little hard to read. Maybe try making it bigger. You could also try a rust color there and see if it reads better.
  • Okay, I'm going to forgive you for the exclamation marks in your posts because I think it's just you :) But for sure, you don't need it in your subtitle. Headings read so much better without them.
  • Joe likes your palette. The background colors, that is. You could really use them well if you incorporated them in the actual blog. Use that rust in your headlines, for example. Use that teal for the inactive tabs (they're too dark right now, anyway - or too close to your font color).
  • What is the purpose of the books on the side? Are they fellow bloggers? Friends? Books you like? Let us know or we'll ignore them.
  • Your words of inspiration at the bottom are too hard to read over the background. Maybe try a yellow font there. Or leave that section blank. It would be pretty without anything on it.
  • And, blog a little more consistently. It's hard. But it will keep you on people's minds. 
I LOVE that you have a Contact Me, Awards, and Writing links. Great job! Mostly, I adore your personality. It's very different and unique and I feel it captured well in your posts. They are honest and beautifully you. Don't ever lose that whatever you change on your blog.

What are your thoughts readers? We'd love your notes!


Freya Morris said...

I love the simplicity in it. Nice clean lines and uncluttered!

AlexJCavanaugh said...

Definitely needs her name somewhere. Very important!

Matthew MacNish said...

I think this is a great example of how it's all about what you want to accomplish. Sometimes blogging is just for fun.

Len Lambert said...

Thanks so much, Laura! :)

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I too love the background palette. Great suggestion to incorporate Len's name in the title or subtitle. I'm learning so much from this series, Laura. Thanks to both of you, Laura and Len!

Mithril Wisdom said...

It's a very nice looking blog, though I agree that finding a core identity as to what you are 'about' is useful.
I still don't have my name in the title/sub-title. I really need to fix that.

Old Kitty said...

Hi Laura, hi Len!

Len - your blog is super duper sweet like you. I love your welcome words to the right of your blog. I agree that maybe you could tweak it just a little bit to insert your name there but that's all! I think your blog truly reflects your personality too - a writer, a mum, a bloggie friend and an author.

I agree about the words of inspiration you have at the bottom of your blog too!

Take care

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Glad you're feeling (mostly) better! Conversations With Self looks like a fun blog!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Her personality definitely shines through — exclamation points and all.

Southpaw said...

I love the colors and the background pattern. I agree that the Words of Inspiration is too hard to read and would be better in the side area.

For me the blog title gets lost in the background pattern a little. Granted I'm looking at this late and I'm tired, but I thought I'd throw that out there.

Ann Ormond Fennell said...

Hi Len, Hi Laura,
I love Len's blog...I love Len too! She is a sweetheart. Good suggestions though. We could all use a fresh eye and suggestions to improve. I have to say I too like to !!!!!!!!!!

Beth Stilborn said...

I got distracted by reading and commenting on her humor post and forgot for a while that I was just supposed to be looking at the blog and coming back here to comment! I enjoyed the blog, although I agreed with many of your critique comments. If it's just a here-and-there blog for fun, then more power to her, but it looks as though she wants to be seen as a writer blog with much of the content and tags, so it does make one wonder.

I would never have known there were words of inspiration at the end of the blog if you hadn't alerted me. Even then I had to look very hard to find them, and could barely read them when I finally got to the bottom of the blog. I have become a great fan of the two little words followed by an ellipsis, "Read more..." and find that scrolling down through numerous long blog posts to find all that a blog might offer is just too much.

Tania F Walsh said...

First time visitor... I think I'll learn a lot here on how to improve my own blog:)

p.marques_guerreiro said...

Super informative, thanks for this! It'll help me take a more critical look at my own blog. I am now off to go and take a peek at Len's blog . It does have a lovely look to it and from the sounds of it it has great content too :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the look of Len's blog too. But many of the critiques are valid. Len probably began her blog when she was finding herself as a writer. Now she's on much more solid ground. She's got variety in her posts, which I've enjoyed. If she takes a few of her suggestions, she'll have a better writer identity.

(I just panicked because my name isn't in my subtitle. Then I remembered my first name is in my title. DUH!)

Melissa Sugar said...

Another wonderful critique. I just jumped over to check out her blog and she has moved. She has created a blog solely for her writing so I am assuming that your suggestions had a big impact. You offer great tips.

Laura Barnes said...

Thanks, Melissa! Isn't her new blog great?

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