Please welcome today’s guest blogger, Melissa from Momcomm as she shares tips on critiquing your own blog. I’ve gotten to know Melissa over the past year or so because of Facebook group we belong to. She is a wealth of marketing information and she rocks socks at making blogs better. Today she’s sharing some tips from her new e-book DIY Blog Critique.
I’m sure you love when people tell you how awesome your blog is. But deep down, you’re probably itching to be bigger and better… to sell more products, to work with more companies in social media or maybe to just make people laugh harder.
I’ve been editing and reviewing websites and marketing materials for over a decade now. So when I launched my blog Momcomm, it seemed like a natural fit to start critiquing blogs each week using that past experience. After a crazy-long queue of bloggers wanting critiques, I knew I could do more to help. So, I created the DIY Blog Critique so that bloggers could tackle improving their blogs with a virtual “fresh set of eyes.”
While my eBook covers 43 points in detail, here are five ways to critique your blog right this instant (hooray for instant gratification!):
1. What’s your blog about?
I love how Darren from Problogger puts it: “If you’re fuzzy on what your blog is about it’s unlikely that anyone else will have much of an idea either.”
So what IS your blog about? Can you sum it up in a sentence? Defining precisely what your blog is about will not only benefit your readers, it’ll benefit you too. When you can sum this up, your goals, content, design (okay, EVERYTHING) will become that much clearer.
If you worry that you don’t have a niche, then think of it this way: Are you blogging to inspire? Educate? Inform? Entertain? Don’t be afraid to define your blog that way either.
2. Do your colors match what your blog is about?
Colors visually set the tone for your blog. Overpowering colors may scare people away while sparse color may bore them to death.
Choose colors that compliment what your blog is about. For example, if you write a humor blog then subdued colors aren’t really the way to go. Learn what colors mean (like red can indicate strength) and build a palette that reinforces your message.
3. Are your social media profile buttons easy to find?
Do you have a Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or other important social media profile? Well, make sure your readers know it!
It isn’t enough just to have a widget of your latest tweets or a box showing off your Facebook fans. Use social media icons that link to each account and put them at the top of your sidebar or in your header. Make sure they’re all in the same place as well instead of scattered throughout your sidebars.
If you want to put them in your footer, then that’s great as it reminds people who may have scrolled through all your awesome posts that they should follow you. BUT they should still be at the top too.
4. Is your About page doing its job?
Your About page should be a reflection of three things: you, your expertise and your blog. As you write (or re-write) your page, tell your readers a bit about who you are.
Then give them a bit about why you know your stuff. Even for a lifestyle blog, this is important. For example, if you write about food but aren’t a chef, then maybe you grew up in the kitchen. Or you started creating your own recipes because you’re on a limited diet. Whatever it is, that’s your expertise.
Finally, tell your readers what your blog is about. Limit the use of “I” in this section; it should focus on what the reader will get out of reading your blog (tips, laughs, recipes, fun stories, etc).
While it doesn’t necessarily have to be in this order, these are the magical elements to a stellar About page.
5. Do you write compelling content?
What does compelling mean? To me, it means your content causes people to take action in some way: comment on your post, share your post with others, buy your product, donate to your cause, etc.
Writing great content that drives action may come naturally for some but not for most of us. But there are a few things you can ask yourself before you hit “publish.”
Does your content flow or do you randomly bounce around from one idea to another? Do you use photos in your posts? Can readers relate to the topic you’re writing about or can you spin it in a more interesting way? For example, a post running through what you did each day on your vacation may not be as interesting as a post about one particularly funny or sweet story from your trip.
If you’re looking to make your blog even more awesome, grab a copy of my eBook, the DIY Blog Critique. It’ll guide you through improving your blog’s design, navigation and content and includes a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress.
Melissa Culbertson is a marketing communications consultant, blogger and author of the DIY Blog Critique, a 43-point guide to making blogs more awesome. You can find her on Twitter as @momcommblog and at her blog, Momcomm.