Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blog Critique: What Type of Character Are You Hanging Out With

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.

Someday when I'm rich and famous I'm going to buy Betty Alark, I don't know, something. Something nice. See, I'm having an abnormally crazy summer. My three kids, out of school, of course, have somehow discovered how to all be equally needy and obnoxious. My husband's job has been demanding 60 hour weeks. And I've taken on an extra load of marketing work to pay for the vacation that we already took. Long story short, there's just not as much time for writing and blogging as I'd like (hence the reason everything has been on hiatus). 

Anyway, today's blog critique was supposed to come Monday. Last Monday. Ah, you knew it felt like you were missing something. Poor Betty had to endure my constant emails: "Can I push you back again?" And that is how we arrived at this special Sunday Blog Critique. Without any more delay, let's jump in. Here's Betty's blog. Let's discuss below.
Betty, thank you again for your patience with me. You've been a good sport. 

As for your blog, right away I'm just a little confused about what you intend your blog to be. You haven't posted in awhile, and your header is the same as your book so I'm not sure if you are wanting your blog to be a blog or a sort of faux website.

I have spoken many times about blogging, but not very much about people who use their blogs as static websites so I'm going to go with that angle today - not much difference, but a few key distinctions.

Before we begin, some terminology - When I say "static" I mean unchanging. You know, a website that doesn't have regular post updates. The two key things I expect to see in a website that I don't look for in a blog are brevity and design.

First, brevity: A website is not meant to be something you "read" like a blog. It should have key information that can be spotted in a relatively short time and the reader shouldn't have to scroll very far to get to the bottom of your page. I'd like to see, if you are indeed going the route of a website, a shorter home page. Spotlight your book in the center of the page. Give readers a link to purchase. Anything else, including reviews of your book, testimonials, or info you'd like to expound upon should be maintained on separate pages. Remember this is if you aren't planning to update your blog on a regular basis and are planning on treating it as a website only.

As for design, this is much like all the key design points I give for blogs but even more crucial. Without your words to captivate people and draw them in (because of the brevity thing) you must have a stellar design that  does this for you. This is where you really need to focus. The design you have doesn't speak to me as much as it could about your book. The mountains seem to match your wolf, but it's so generic that it means nothing to me about you when I see it. 

This layout also leaves little options in the way of color palette. The change of colors throughout your posts are fun to create, I'm sure, but lack the professional edge I'd like to see from someone who wants me to buy something from them. Some of them are hard to read on the transparent background. I would choose a more relevant template that you can tie into your book.

Some other elements I'd like to see whether you are a blog or a website are your contact info, a prominent link to order your book, and other ways to find you (Facebook, Twitter - if you're on there, that is). 

For other tips I recommend going to my page that says FAMP (From a Marketing Perspective) and reading past critiques. Hope what I have her is helpful and thanks again for your patience.

Anything to add, my dear readers?


Jacquelinehowett said...

Thanks for your take on turning a blog into a website. Have a great Sunday!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah it just needs more definition. I think the fact that the blog title is repeated so often in such a small area is a little distracting.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I've not seen many examples of authors using a blog system as a static website. Thanks for the tips, Laura :)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

The black background for the type is difficult for a blog or website to pull off. I've been on a bit of hiatus this summer too.

Garima Shah said...

fantastic post and Thanks for sharing this info. It's very helpful.
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Alark Betty357 said...

Thanks for your comment, Stacy. I will take it into consideration and lighten things up.

Alark Betty357 said...

I pay attention to my audience so , your point is well taken, Alex! Thanks!

Alark Betty357 said...

Thank you , Laura for critiquing my blog! I'm always open to constructive criticism; that's how we learn and grow! I think you did an excellent job. I will take all comments into consideration and make necessary changes of improvement!

O, by the way, when you do become rich and famous email me; I'll let you know what I want. Lol!
Have a great day!

LogodaedalyGiggle said...

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