Monday, December 19, 2011

Blog Critique: Claire Hennessy

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.

We're back to a regular blog critique week, meaning two. Today's blog comes from Brit-turned-Californian, Claire Hennessy at Crazy California Claire. This is a baby blog, just started in August. Go take a look and we can gather back here for a run-down of my thoughts. 
Claire, you've got a lot of awesome going on. Also a few things that you could change to give you some more pizzazz. And couldn't we all use more pizzazz? Let's start with the awesome first:
  • Profile location is excellent.
  • Layout of blog is clear. I really like the one sidebar blog. It makes the layout really clean.
  • Very uncluttered. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love the simple approach.
  • Your blog posts are clearly separated from your sidebar. The lighter color behind your posts really highlights this. It's a great effect.
  • We like the overall look - it goes with your character though I would call it more whimsical than crazy. (I'm not telling you to change your title, just sayin' my impression.)
  • You connect to samples of your work. This is excellent if you are pursuing publication.
  • You include a way to contact you. Essential. 
  • I know what you write and pretty much who you are.
  • You use pictures in your posts. Nice.
Now for a blog with more pizzazz, consider:
  • Fill up the space with your pictures. There's a lot of negative space around your pics. If you can't get your picture big enough, at least put it next to your words.
  • Ease up on the exclamations! If your words and design are strong enough, you won't need the exclamation points. Let your excellent writing work for you. Save your exclamation points for really, really special occasions.
  • Add a search box. As you get more posts readers will especially want to be able to search through past posts. Always make it easy.
  • Give us a subtitle/tagline under your title that tells us a little more about your "message".
  • Your posting is sporadic. Having a dedicated schedule is helpful when building a following. Along with that, posting your blogging schedule is useful to new followers.
  • You have labels on your posts, but no easy way to access them. Add a label cloud either on your sidebar or bottom of your blog.
One final thing: your blog reads like it's a random thoughts sort of place. Which is great, if that's what you're going for - you've got it down. But if that isn't what you're going for, well, first you need to decide what it is you are going for and work from there. That's often the biggest challenge for baby blogs like yours - it takes a minute to decide exactly who you are and what your message is. Make it a goal to discover what you want to say and you'll get there.

Great job, Claire! Thanks for submitting. Readers, any feedback for Claire?


Claire Hennessy said...

Hi Laura,
What? No exclamation points?? Arrrrgh.
Thanks so much - will try and implement all your excellent suggestions.
Claire :)
PS. My last name has no 'e' at the end.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

It takes a while to find a focused message, a theme if you will. Once she finds it, she'll be off and running!

Pat Hatt said...

Great critque, and yeah it does take a while to get focused. Or just to focus on being nuts and then you can do most anything..haha

Laura Barnes said...

OMG!!! You don't know how many times I thought I checked your name spelling. What a moron I am!! Oh, and ! are ok in comments. And in moments of true excitement or distress:)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I like all the ways to connect Claire's blog. It looks very clean. Makes me think mine is a bit cluttered.

Kimberlykrey said...

Great observations! Gives the rest of us something to think about! :)

Laura Barnes said...

Thanks, Kimberly!

Laura Barnes said...

She will. She's nearly there, I'd say.

Laura Barnes said...

Ha ha, totally. You either have to be totally focused or totally nuts. There's not really a middle, is there?

Laura Barnes said...

I have to admit, it's easier to be clean when you're a baby blog. You tend to accumulate stuff after time. :)

Claire Hennessy said...

Oh sorry, didn't mean to panic you, I don't really mind about the spelling. So, I can save my obsessive need for !!! and use in comments, can I? Well, that will make me go and comment more if nothing else!! Thanks again Laura (and everyone).

Laura Barnes said...

You have an awesome attitude, Crazy Claire :) You're welcome!

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