Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blog Critique: From the Desk of Laura Stephenson

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.

How can you go wrong with a blog that has Laura in the title? Well, that's what Laura Stephenson wants to know and I am delighted as always to tell her. (That makes me sound a little bit mean and evil, and frankly I'm in a snarky mood so I'll embrace it. Don't worry, Laura, I won't be too harsh.) Go check out her blog and meet below, please!

I'm only going to give a few quick cosmetic/functional suggestions today because Laura has specifically asked me for help with another issue. 

Ready, Laura? Here's some suggestions:
  • We recommend a more broad color palette. Right now you've basically got two shades of blue. Find at least two other colors and work them in places such as your date stamp and your titles.
  • When you work on your palette, pick your correction color (the red you use in your critiques) to fit in with your other colors. Right now the red makes me a little uncomfortable because I don't like how it goes with your blues.
  • Move your profile up to the top of your sidebar. Thank you for having your writing schedule! But I still want your profile first.
  • Under your profile put your Follow Me box. Make it easy for people to click it. The rest is good as is under those two things.
  • Yay! You have depth! I love that you have your critiques and samples on your navigation bar. Since there is so much space on your navigation bar, I think it would look better to increase the font here. Also, go ahead and get us a contact info page and an about page. We'd love to know more about you.
  • You could add some nice color and variety by using the LinkWithin widget. Just a personal preference. :)
That's all I'm giving for function and cosmetic since Laura wants to know how to drive more traffic to her blog. Gees, don't we all want to know that? All right, I've given most of this before, but bear with me as I repeat. It's been a while. 
  • Participate in blogfests.
  • Run contests for followers. To enter they must tweet, facebook, or blog about your blog.
  • Search your peeps out. Find the blogs that have the people you want to draw in - people who are interested in the things you post about. On those blogs, leave comments and always make it easy for people to link back to you.
  • Respond to your comments. This is a great way to build relationships and get people to return.
  • 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.
Now here's the addendum to all those suggestions - it takes time to build this kind of following. Lots of time. You have to decide you want the following to get it and then devote yourself to it.

When I began blogging, I was mostly a stay-at-home mom and had more time to devote to it. Now, my husband is the stay-at-home parent and I work several jobs with only one day off a week - sometimes no days off. With those time constraints, something was bound to fall apart, and I didn't want it to be my writing, so it's been my blogging. I do not get to visit other blogs like I once did. I don't post often anymore. And I don't respond to comments as often as I like. My readership has gone down, and I have to live with that. In other words, if you want followers, you can get them. But you may have to prioritize your life differently to get there.

Okay, I'm done. Any other suggestions for Laura? I love the things you guys add. You always have at least one brilliant thing I hadn't thought of.


Jamie Gibbs said...

Great tips, and great advice on increasing blog traffic. My inconsistent schedule has meant that mine has taken a hit recently, so I need to get back on that soon.

Laura Stephenson said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll be putting them into effect soon.

Jeremy Bates said...

Under your profile put your Follow Me box. Make it easy for people to click it" Oh, do I ever agree. Some people make it so difficult to follow their blog (I eventually give up) or even to comment. Too, commenting on other people's blogs is a must do to build your blog. Good review. I agree with the color change.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Want more comments? Leave more comments! Simple as that. Plus all the other things you suggested.

Sue Roebuck said...

Oh yes, as usual wonderful suggestions - that work. And Alex is right about leaving comments.
Laura B - I was away when you wrote your wonderful news and so missed it, but I just saw it and want to send you many, many congratulations and wishes for much success. You deserve it :-)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Having enough time for blogging really is hard. I could devote all day to it, reading people's blogs, commenting, trying to grow my following, but I just don't have the time. It's frustrating and I keep thinking there's got to be a better way to go about it!

Writing Services said...
Providing response to the audience really increases the personal care and there by increases the traffic for the website.

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