Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Critique: Nancy S. Thompson

It's critique time. 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 is from Nancy S. Thompson. Check it out.

Ok, Nancy, here's what we love:
  • Title: Yes! Use your name in your title. When agents or readers search your name, it's easier to find you. And you are branding yourself after all. I wish that more blogs had the author's name in the title (or subtitle).
  • Profile: Pic and blurb is right up top. Can't miss it. Right on.
  • Follow: It is easy to follow you by email and for readers to share your posts. 
  • Depth: You have pages (depth) and they have samples of your writing/WIP related stuff (query, pitch, etc.). This is awesome for the non-agented blogger. Hmm, I really need to put mine up...
  • Search: You have search! I love that. I want everyone to have search. (Move it up so it's easier to find though).
Now just a few suggestions:

  • Monotonous header: We don't always mind a solid color header, but yours is too similar to the background in the lower part of your blog. If the colors were complimentary instead of shades of the same (like yellow compliments purple) it would be better. You could also....
  • Move navigation: If you put your navigation across the top instead of at the side it will stand out better and help break up the monotony.
  • Post background color: When you have two side columns like you do, a different color behind your posts helps give them more attention. I prefer a one column, actually, but two columns can work if it's easy to distinguish from your posts.
  • Profile: Remove that you "recently discovered you like writing." It immediately makes you think you are a novice and I am more likely to make judgments about your writing even before I've read a word you've written.
  • Consistency:  Your blogging seems to be sporadic. Make a schedule and stick to it. It lets us know you're serious about your craft.
  • Photos or Link Within: I would suggest using more photos or add the Link Within app to add some color to your background.
  • Labels: I haven't mentioned this to anyone before, but I personally think labels are not used as well as they should be. I think they should be, as much as possible, streamlined. Pick label names that can encompass lots of similar posts such as "awards" for all your award posts. Your post titles are for being more specific.
  • Contact info: Where is it? I'm a firm believer in including it on its own page.
Great blog, Nancy! I turn it over to the readers now. Is there anything else you would like to suggest for Nancy? Anything you disagree/agree with that I mentioned?


Brooke R. Busse said...

I'm always super anxious about my labels. I really have no idea why, but I periodically go through them and delete some and change the ones I have on posts. Glad to know that's a good thing. ^^

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great crit. That reminds me that I'll need to add the writing sample and query page soon. I wanted to wait until I'm ready to query. Not that agents go to my blog, looking for someone to add to their slushpile. :)

Nancy S. Thompson said...

Thanks Laura! I appreciate the feedback. I'm so technologically deficient, not to mention ignorant. I would much rather have tabs across the top to navigate, but I don't think my free template offers that. And if it does, I don't know how to change it. See? Duh!

I will change the things I can though, like the in the profile and the colors. As for consistency, I really struggle with that. I spend most of my time writing, but lately my priority has been my son's college applications since I only have October and November to get those done.

I can easily add more photos, but what the heck is this Link Within App? I will also make my contact info visible on my page, though it is easily accessed through my profile and people contact me that way all the time. So by labels, do you mean tags? I'm not sure exactly. See how ignorant I am?!

Again, thanks for taking the time to look things over. I will get on those things I know how to change this week.

LauraBarnes said...

Ha ha, you are making me laugh. Well, that's why I am here to help!

The navigation should be movable. Are you using the new Blogger design look or the old? On the new look, select design. Then select pages. There is a little tab that says "Show pages as" and you can choose top links or side links. If you are using the old look, you should still be able to get to that by selecting pages from the design menu. It will be wherever you go to enter new page links. Email me if that doesn't make sense.

I think writing should always be your priority! I have been struggling with that myself - feeling like I have committed a lot to this blog that I love but not having enough time to write. In that case, I suggest only committing to one day a week. Choose a day, tell everyone that's your post day, and stick to it. You can post more, but just don't post less. If one day is too much, choose one day every other weeks but state that you post every other monday or whatever.

The Link Within app is very easy to install. I have it on my blog. It's the thing at the bottom of each of my posts that says, "If you like this, then you might like these other posts". To install, go to and follow the instructions.

I do know that you can easily be contacted through your profile (excellent), but I personally like a tab because it makes it easier for
your readers. You should always make it super easy for people to do the
things you want them to do.

And yes, for labels I mean tags. And again, that may be my personal
preference so don't necessarily feel like you have to change that. Think
about how you want your tags to work for people and choose accordingly.

Thank YOU, Nancy for being an example for our readers! It takes guts to put
yourself out there and I hope what I said helps!!

Alex J Cavanaugh said...

I do like the simplicity of Nancy's blog. (Which is ironic, as mine is anything but simple!)

Anita L Miller said...

Oh my gosh! This is kind of scary...not sure how mine would stand up!

Nancy S. Thompson said...

Oh thank you so much for explaining all that tech stuff to me. I'm a real dork and haven't a clue. I will be fixing those items this week, I hope. And I always wondered how bloggers got those "If you like this..." stuff at the bottom of their posts. See, I'm really glad I did this. And you very gentle and kind, so thank you. For everything!!

LauraBarnes said...

No way! Not scary at all :) You put your query and your blog out to people all the time - that's scary. This is cake.

LauraBarnes said...

If you have any trouble let me know and I will try to help :)

Wendy Ewurum said...

Laura I need to work on all these things on my blog so I can submit it for critigue, otherwise your post on it will run forever...LOL

Wendy Ewurum said...

I'm not a writer but I'm the same.

LauraBarnes said...

Ha ha, I'm sure that isn't true. Thanks for the comment :)

Lynn Kelley said...

This critique is very helpful. I'm a tech idiot so a lot of this is new to me, too. Thanks, Laura! Oh, and Happy Halloween!

LauraBarnes said...

Thanks and Happy Halloween to you too!

Michelle Fayard said...

I'm glad you mentioned labels, Laura, for their role in helping search engines.

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