Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog Critique: Another Author

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 critique comes from Abhishek Boinapalli of Another Author. Since I'm in a get-it-done kind of mood, I'm just going to invite you to go take a look now and cut out my usual intro. We'll meet below.

Abhishek, you have two specific things that I would like to commend you for right off the bat: you have an invitation for guest posts and you have links to articles you have written. Asking for guest posts is an excellent way to get guests, and guests can be so beneficial. And the articles is a good example of what I always ask for in the way of connecting to your writing. It's a nice portfolio.

There are a number of other things that I would suggest you should rethink:
  • Your name is not in your blog title or subtitle. You should have it more prominent.
  • Your blog address ( is confusing - do you want to be a prince? Or the artist Prince? This address should be like your title or your name.
  • Your profile is buried in your sidebar. Have it higher so we can see who you are.
  • The moving widget bar to invite people to Facebook, Dig, etc. is annoying and covers a lot of the blog. I'd lose it.
  • You have a big old ad in the prominent position under your navigation and above your blog posts. This leads me to think your ads are more important than your posts. 
This last issue brings me to the real issue with your blog - it is evident that you want your blog to earn money. Now, there is nothing wrong with monetizing your blog, but very few people are interested in visiting a blog that screams, "GIVE ME MONEY". The over abundance of ads, the placement of the ads, and asking for donations clearly says that. To have a blog successfully earn money with ads and donations I recommend three things:
    1. Place your ads in subtle, thoughtful locations. 
    2. Build a following of people before monetizing.
    3. And, most important, create a blog that draws people's interest.
A very successful blog that monetizes is   Yes, Dooce has ads, and she even has quite a few. But she built her followers before adding advertising and she offered/offers a very specific personality with posts and images that are unique and desired by readers. It is very difficult to reach this level of blogging, but, like anything, if you are sincere about your desire to be a paid blogger, you must work hard to achieve it. I suggest really spending some time trying to decide what your blogging goals are and devise a plan to reach them.

If I am completely missing the message of your blog and if you are more interested in being a writer's blog as your title suggests, then you really need to lose the ads. That message is completely lost in the midst of the ads and money tracker. Focus first on creating a blog for writers with helpful, thoughtful posts. Build your followers. Then you can monetize.

Of course this is only my opinion. Only you know what is best for you and your blog. All bloggers deserve a pat on the back - it's a real commitment - and so I'm giving you one now. Congrats!

How about you, readers? Any thoughts or suggestions for Abhishek? We'd love to hear from more than just me!


Abhishek Boinapalli said...

Laura Barnes,

thanks for the review. Got a few points that I ought to address!! Thanks again!!

with warm regards from Abhishek Boinapalli

Matthew MacNish said...

It's my personal opinion that a blog from and about being an aspiring writer and a blog that is for profit are direct conflicts of interest. I'm not saying it couldn't ever work, I just haven't seen it done.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

Her name is definitely important. And I agree with Matthew. I am not big on ads and won't ever do it on my blog.

Southpaw said...

The first thing I got was a message saying I have to install a plugin to view you all the blog. I won't do that. It will also make me leave right away. I'm assuming it is for the social hover bar since it does not appear on my screen.

Then I would leave because of all the ads. Especially the off center one in before all the posts.

Past that I like the use of images in your posts and the navigation. If the author does want to monetize then defintly get away from the standard blogger template.

Southpaw said...

oops that should be "definitely" get away from...

Laura Barnes said...

You are welcome!

Laura Barnes said...

That's an interesting comment about the plugin. I wouldn't install either if I were prompted.

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad to know I'm not alone on the advertisement turn off.

Laura Barnes said...

I haven't either. But there are a few really popular blogs that I could see, perhaps, being able to monetize now. Like Miss Snark's First Victim. Or maybe Nathan Bradford. But, probably not.

Laura Barnes said...

Good to know! I won't do it either. It says you are interested in something that I am not interested in being or following.

Jamie Gibbs said...

My advice would be to lose one of the sidebars - the main body of the blog seems squashed and gets kinda lost in amongst everything else that's going on.

Laura Barnes said...

Really good observation. I usually always whine about two sidebars. Glad you caught it :)

Melodie Wright said...

Great advice, Laura.
My only advice would be to watch the capitalization in you sub-hed. Yup, I'm being nitpicky but this is a writing blog. If you capitalize after commas here, it's possible you have similar issues in your MS. (if they're not commas, I apologize.) *squints at screen*

Beth Stilborn said...

I've seen ads on other people's blogs, and although I'm not keen on them, they didn't affect me the way these did. I was made uneasy right from the start, when under the blog header was a banner telling me I was the millionth visitor and had won something. Such things make me suspicious. I couldn't tell if the post in the center part was a post or another ad. And when I saw the "Donate by PayPal" I was totally put off, and clicked away without trying to look at the features I usually look at during one of these critiques.

Even if this was the best writer's blog out there, the blatant monetizing would keep me away.

Denise Covey said...

The tiny tiny bit of money a blogger earns from ads really doesn't justify them being there. They are annoying but if that's what the blog owner wants, so be it. Putting an ad right under your header is supposed to be the best way to make money but it is really bad. Most of us writer bloggers don't want to see this stuff and make us suspicious of a site. Good advice from Laura - what is your blogging goal? If it's to make money there's many more lucrative ways.


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