Blog Critique #1 – Apprentice Marketer Gazette

94 amazing comments

Well here it is. The first ever Blog Tyrant Blog Critique.

Let me start by saying thank you to all those who submitted their blog to be critiqued. It was a massive turn out. This really was not meant to be a competition or anything like that; just something I want to start doing for my readers.

Wait a second… I didn’t get to submit my blog!
I just want all my RSS readers, Twitter followers, etc. to know that the notification for this only went out to my email subscribers. I really do end up sharing a lot more with those guys as it is a direct and personal way of communicating to a very select (and handsome) group of people. Consider it a thank you for staying subscribed by email. To make sure you don’t miss out on the next one head over and subscribe. You won’t be sorry.

A bit of a twist on things – comments rewarded
To put the Blog Tyrant twist on all of this I want to let you know that if you leave a comment and engage in discussion on this post I will give you an extra entry in to next months blog critique. That will also help us get more people interested and involved and make it worthwhile for everyone concerned.

So here it is. A very rough and quick critique of the Apprentice Marketer Gazette. Please do your usual amazing fantastic thing and provide as much useful feedback as your keyboard can handle.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

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94 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Patrick

    Great critique.

    I thought I’d take a quick look at Fran’s site first, before watching your video, to see what impressions I got.

    I felt the same about 3 main points; the layout was confusing, looked cluttered in the sidebar and I actually found it hard to focus on any of the articles; the subscribe box should be at the top of that column, it is prime visual real estate; had to look a bit, to see that there is free stuff on offer.

    I also wasn’t keen on the ‘Image via Wikipedia’ at the start of each article, meant having to read in further to find out whether article was worth reading, small point, but the first words are critical. If you have to include, then put it later, or just on the actual page that post links to.

    Good site though and infinitely better than mine, which I’m trying to set up properly.

    This is a great analysis, look forward to seeing many more, so please keep doing them.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Patrick.


      1. Gerry @ YourLawnAndGarden

        BT, you strike me as being a pretty thoughtful & a considerate operator. I like your style. But one question keeps nagging me, “Why do you refer to yourself as The Blog Tyrant and not by your real moniker??” I’m curious…


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Hey Gerry.

          Partly to see if I could “make it” without the face, partly marketing exercise.

          I’ll be letting everyone know sometime this year.

          Thanks Gerry!


          1. Fran Civile

            My latest article is about BT’s critique of my blog and in it I comment about BT’s About Page where he explains the Tyrant role he has assumed:
            http://apprenticemarketergazette.com/boomers-making-money/apprentice-marketer-gazette-gets-reviewed-by-blog-tyrant/

            I made a few changes on my blog, but I need to find out where to change the red links that BT mentions.

            Fran


  • chris

    Sitting behind a firewall with no youtube access…now have something to look forward to tonight.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Yeah, I really should transcribe or summarize the video for people like you.


  • Heather@Family Friendly Frugality

    Great info. I have quite a few of the same blunders on my own blog. I’ve never considered the red links on my blog to look spammy since they “match” my theme. I guess that’s girl logic? LOL (I’m just kidding, well kind of…).

    I’m still waiting on that tute on how to make an ebook “cover”….


    1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

      Right there with ya. One of my sites uses dark red for sidebar links…so I didn’t think anything of letting links within the text match.


      1. Fran Civile

        Hey guess who uses red links? Copyblogger no less!

        Just noticed this morning, I go there every single day and just noticed! they are underlined and I think that looks more like a clickable link although someone could say that a spam link is there to be clicked to!

        Anyway, have a good day,

        Fran


        1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

          Honestly, I’d NEVER heard of the red link being spam thing until this critique. I have a site that’s going to have blood red as the accent color and I still intend to make my in-text and sidebar links blood red to match. My readers will know I’m not spamming them based on the content. I bet yours will, too.


  • Tony Hastings

    Great idea BT and I have picked a few tips for my own blog, thanks to Fran for being the first guinea pig!

    Red links – never even considered that, will change some and see how that works, also your point about highlighting comments prompted me to go into Disqus and I realised that I didn’t have many of the features enabled, oh well, better late than never.

    Thanks for an enlightening critique, looking forward to the next one.

    Cheers

    Tony


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      How do you find Disqus to be Tony? I’ve never been real sure about it.


      1. Fran Civile

        I just noticed Copyblogger has red textlinks in the content! I go there everyday and just noticed thanks to you BT!

        Fran


  • Kim

    I had to look at the site before I listened to Blog Tyrant just to see if I had the same thought process and I was really impressed on how thorough BT was.

    I had to address that the header was confusing, couldn’t find the pages, couldn’t see if there was an email sign up.

    Not to sound rude, but I really thought it looked like a content mill site with all those posts all cluttered up. I couldn’t see Fran’s voice with all of the confusing links and repeating links on it. It was almost to the point of being spammy on the side bar.

    Once I read the posts they were quite good but I wasn’t drawn to them by the design. Looking forward to seeing if she makes changes and how they affect her traffic.

    Kim
    http://workathomemafia.com


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Kim. Hopefully everyone gets something out of this.


  • Minimalist4Life

    I also checked out Fran’s site before I listened to the critique. This is great information, and I have a few take-aways for fixes that I’m going to do on my blog.

    These critiques are very helpful in seeing my blog through someone else’s eyes.

    Thanks and looking forward to more!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Glad to hear it!


  • Pikesan

    Great stuff! I better get my blog in order just in case you decide to critique it! I’m encouraged I’m doing at least some thing correctly!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Well played Pikesan.


  • Dorothy

    Hi Ty,
    These blog critiques you’re giving away are worth a lot. I understood what you were saying about Fran’s blog and had to agree with everything you suggested.
    I, too, tend to leave busy pages without reading anything much.

    Fran obviously spends a lot of time creating her blog. I was impressed with it, and now I’m anxious to check it out after she does the Tyrant fixes.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      If she does the fixes…. πŸ˜‰


  • Fran Civile

    Yikes! That came fast … didn’t expect to be the first one! Thank you BT I appreciate the suggestions:

    1.I’ve already moved the optin form up in the sidebar 2.will proceed to add a free download in the sidebar … there is a link now to a page with downloads.
    3.red links came with the theme … I could edit that to blue I guess.
    4.I eliminated some things in the sidebar … I do like the Archives to be available because they go back to Feb.2009 … hey I got a site review on the second anniversary of the blog!
    5.I’ve gone back and forth on the magazine style, the theme comes with several options … I suppose if I went to full content I could have a ‘Featured posts’ or something like that in the sidebar?

    I really appreciate the comments too, thank you!

    Fran πŸ™‚


    1. Leigh

      Fran maybe “popular posts” could be in the side bar. “Featured” suggests something that you would like to to push – popular says other people like it.

      You don’t even need to have comments to have a “popular” sections — you can use page views as your measure.


      1. Fran Civile

        Yes, good suggestions – I see you have a Latest Comments
        but no Latest Posts?

        Fran


        1. Leigh

          Ha! Thanks for noticing Fran – spot on. I just launched 2 days ago so I need to add a few things – right now it’s in private beta by the end of the week I should have the post sections up, search, and such. Whereapy is not ready for the spotlight quite yet — give it a week πŸ˜‰

          Thanks for being a brave soul and getting critiqued for all the world to see — I’m sure it must be a overwhelming but you have a lovely blog. Cheers!


          1. Fran Civile

            You’re very kind … I don’t expect my blog to be perfect any time soon, and in fact I am more focused on providing helpful content! I know one doesn’t exclude the other, but frankly when a beginner marketer is sent to my blog by a link in one of my ezine articles, she is not looking to see if I have Meta links or Archives showing in the sidebar,but she’s deciding how or if she can use the information she came to get.

            Whether she sees the Optin form is important to her and to me because we’ll both benefit if she signs up for updates. Some distinctions are important because our success depends on how well we reach and help our suscribers/visitors,some others are inside shop talk the uninitiated would respond to with “duh”!

            Fran πŸ™‚


    2. FamilyLifeBoat

      It is good to have archives but you could make it a separate page and put that page on your navigation. That page can also have your tag cloud and catagories


      1. Fran Civile

        Thank You! That is an very good suggestion!

        Fran πŸ™‚


    3. Patrick

      Fran,

      Just took a look and it’s so much better now with the topics one under each other, quick work – glad I got to see it as it was.

      Another thought occurred to me about the subscribe box, I’ve read a few people say (inc BT) that having a subscribe box under first post/just below the fold makes a big difference to number of subscribes, this is in addition to the one top right.

      You’re lucky to be first review, should see an increase in traffic I think πŸ™‚

      Patrick


      1. Fran Civile

        Thank you Patrick, I’m thinking of asking the designer Chris Bavota how I could increase the maximum number of words in the excerpt, I’d like 2-3 more lines … About the increase in traffic,yes I hope so since it’s on YouTube also!

        Fran


    4. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

      I use a popular posts plugin to automatically generate my 10 most popular posts – I use “all-time” data, but I can see the draw of weekly or daily, I guess.

      Personally, I’m not always bothered by the magazine style, so I guess it just depends on how you do it…and what style your readers respond to the best. πŸ™‚


  • Leigh

    I love that you emphasize social proof — it’s soooooo important. Nice video too — very clear.


    1. chris

      Scanning through the comments, I read this one as “i love you, too”

      πŸ™‚


      1. Leigh

        Indeed — that works too! I’m a lover not a hater. πŸ™‚


  • Frankie Cooper

    This is an excellent blog critique where I learned a few things that will help me make my blog better.

    Maybe next time I will be able to get my blog submitted to have the option for it to be critiqued.


  • Vivek Parmar

    WordPress is already 70% SEO optimized and have to tweak out only few things to make it seo optimized.
    One thing i like to add you have not tell about the permalink structure of that blog??
    All things are fine and use of H1, H2, H3 tags should be kept in mind before writing an article.


  • Glynis Jolly

    I wish you had picked to one right above this one but . . . it was random. I like that you pointed out the positive and well as what could be worked on.


  • Artur

    I truly enjoy posts like this, especially in the video format.

    I’m always amazed at how much people, like you, are willing to share knowledge and help others improve.


  • TJ

    BT, darn it I swear I was on your email list but now I just went in and did it for sure. What the help is up with me?

    It’s funny because I’ve been thinking how to develop a spot on my blog to critique artwork as a gift to my readers.

    Your blog critique is inspiration that almost feels like a sign from the cosmos.

    You rock!
    Your fan in germany,
    tj


  • Cristina

    Hi BT,

    you mentioned something about h1, h2, h3 and that is something that certainly makes me confuse all the time.
    Great critique.

    Congrats also to Fran for her blog.

    Cristina


    1. Fran Civile

      Thank you Patrick, I’m thinking of asking the designer Chris Bavota how I could increase the maximum number of words in the excerpt, I’d like 2-3 more lines … About the increase in traffic,yes I hope so since it’s on YouTube also!

      Fran


  • Gina

    So helpful! Thank you, Fran, for letting BT muck around on your site. πŸ™‚ And thank you, Blog Tyrant for all the helpful suggestions. I see she already made some changes & I think her home page looks so much better with the single posts one after the other.

    I have to clean up my site I think….it’s so hard to be objective with your own stuff; I feel like every tidbit is so important! πŸ˜‰
    Thanks again. Can’t wait for the next one!
    -Gina


  • liz

    well done BT … lots of very clear feedback … agreed with it all and lovely to see Fran made changes as a result.

    Here’s my 2 cents worth back to Fran … with congrats on a blog that I’ll subscribe to for the useful ideas and information.

    I think that the headings under the Weekly Apprentice marketer Gazette sidebar need to be Pages. I felt that the buttons at the top of your blog weren’t telling me about you and the core business that you write about.

    The Free E Course needs to be highlighted more as it’s lost in all the other headings.

    I went to have a read of one of your posts and have 2 comments … apart from the fact that I like your writing:
    1. As a visual person I’d like to see some key headings or bullet points done in colour so my eye can scan key info … I’m lazy that way!
    2. navigation – I’d recommend you insert crumbs so I can easily navigate and track back to read more of your posts. Right now I have to back out of the post to find another one… and I almost didn’t bother because I’m lazy. If you need the code or plugin for one I’d be happy to send it to you … just let me know.

    Your content is great and with a few tweeks the whole look and feel of your site will be even fabber.

    Congrats and kudos to BT.

    Liz


    1. Fran Civile

      Thank you very much Liz, I appreciate your feedback … I’ve changed the layout a couple of times before and couldn’t decide which was really best, getting several opinions from other bloggers is really useful!

      Your details on how you read the posts are valuable and I say YES TO: If you need the code or plugin for one I’d be happy to send it to you …

      I was concentration on some new direction since new year so I could better monetize the blog without plastering advertising etc… so the content would have to be really targeted in order to lead to results…
      so now I’m getting feedback on presentation too, that’s great!

      I’ll go over and visit you now πŸ™‚

      Fran πŸ™‚

      Fran


      1. liz

        Hey Fran
        Here’s the link to a list of 5 breadcrumb plugins for WP. http://www.awesomewordpresstheme.com/5-breadcrumb-plugins-to-make-wordpress-blog-smarter.html

        If you don’t use WP then I’m sure there are plugins for your site cms.

        My brother and business partner/creative director Marc used Yoast’s plugin and it’s worked fine. I noticed that he’s now put this plugin into a larger SEO plugin.

        Ask your designer to have a look and decide what works best. I love breadcrumbs because they’re like a map that I can use to move around a site.

        Best of luck
        Liz


        1. Fran Civile

          Thank you Liz, I’ll be trying Yoast’s plugin … his stuff is really good!

          Fran


  • Mary

    Interesting, and thanks for sharing.

    I disagree with the comment about only providing ONE way to navigate around your site. IMHO it’s a bit like saying people can have any colour of car so long as it’s black.

    Some people are searchers. Some are navigators. Some are scanners. Some want to see exactly what they came for and nothing else. A blogger who wants to be accessible to as many people as possible needs to cater for their preferences.


    1. Fran Civile

      I agree with your disagreement Mary! I like the way you categorized visitors and I would add that some are not very patient … they’re propelled in by a link in one of my articles and they’re already sputtering: “awright where IS the d…d thing now”

      One thing BT didn’t comment on is the ‘About’ page! I recently found out from another blogger that it should not be exclusively about me but also about the blog … so I kind of followed his example and started out with: “This page has 2 parts: 1.about this blog and 2.about me
      and shortened the long story ‘about me’ – I’ve lived a long time!

      There are more navigation directions in part 1.about this blog!I’ve also been told that a lot of people go to the ‘About’ page as soon as they get interested in a blog and I do too.

      I’ll go visit your blog now,

      Fran πŸ˜•


      1. Heather@Family Friendly Frugality

        I also disagree about navigation. I think it depends on your niche. I post time sensitive deals, when people come to my site they want to quickly scan my most recent archives and make sure they haven’t missed anything.

        I once decreased my listed archives from 10 to 5 and got no less than 10 complaint emails that same day! Same when I tried to limit posts on the main page.


  • Rachelle

    Awesome critique. I didn’t enter the contest because I already got your help I figured that I should let other people go. Now I regret it. Fran’s site was already nice but the changes you proposed really will improve it.

    As a blogger there are two problems with looking at your own blog.

    1- I’m busy writing posts and don’t go around the front of the site often enough. Before BT I never did at all.

    2- Once you look at something for the 1000th time, you don’t get that first impression. Plus for me, I may want to make changes but then I talk myself out of it because of the learning curve involved.

    Bonus – Some people (I hope I don’t fall into this category) just have bad taste in design. Not everyone can be great at design, don’t be ashamed to ask for help from an expert.

    Thanks for this again BT, and I’ve implemented all the changes you’ve suggested, if ever you decide to sneak a peak, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to make it even better. Traffic is up by a full 1/3


  • Pete Carr

    Hi BT/Fran,
    I agree, just looked at your site Fran, fast work.
    The only thing I would mention is your H1 H2 tags,(See you have changed them) Your main title is H1 which is good. I believe and I’m sure many will argue, your post titles should be H2, it gives hierarchy on your site, you do need some H3 titles within your posts.
    Pete


    1. Fran Civile

      Thank you Pete, I’ll work on those tags!

      Fran πŸ™‚


    2. Tim

      And helps with SEO. Keywords should be in H1.


    3. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

      That’s what I’ve always read as well. (of course, when I went back to check…my theme automatically makes post title H1.)


      1. lisa

        H1 H2 and H3, always wondered what these were. I checked mine (thanks BT) and can’t see anything with H1? My blog is being moved from Crazy Domains to Host Gator at the moment by my tech guy so I can’t play with it till Wednesday.
        ciao for now
        Lisa


  • Stuart

    I agree with the suggestions you made BT, such as removing the Meta lines, and of course, the spelling error πŸ˜‰

    I also see “Image by Wikipedia” at the start of each article, and that’s a little offputting for me; it doesn’t exhibit professionalism.

    I personally think if you were to critique my site BT, I’d welcome the insights. If you find big errors, so much the better; major errors mean major improvements πŸ˜‰


    1. Fran Civile

      Thank you Stuart! I didn’t hear about the spelling error,
      clue me in to the area please?

      Fran πŸ™‚


      1. Patrick

        Fran,

        That was the Subscribe … think you had Suscribe.

        Patrick


        1. Fran Civile

          Thank you Patrick,
          I did find it after posting here … but I missed it the first time I was looking and then it was glaring … funny how that happens sometimes!

          Fran


      2. Stuart

        Yeah, just that one word ‘Subscribe’.

        Everything else was cool, I thought your website looked pretty good overall πŸ™‚


        1. Fran Civile

          Thank you Stuart,
          I think your site looks very good and I especially like your writing …

          Fran


  • Tim

    I knew you were from Oz.
    Why do you write mum as “mom” on this site? Is it to not alienate US readers? Curious.


    1. Lisa Chiodo @ Renovating Italy

      Hi Tim, I thought I was the only one to notice that!
      ciao Lisa


  • Tim

    BT, FYI, tried to post on the FB wall but could not for the life of me see how to enter. Maybe make it clearer next time (and I am not a web newbie).


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      I sort of hid it a little bit because the next one won’t be drawn from there.


  • Tim

    To all those who don’t win an entry, I highly, *HIGHLY* recommend you get two books.
    Save The Pixel
    Convert
    Both by Ben Hunt of Scratch Media.

    They are gold.


  • Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

    Okay…two points of contention with the critique and one comment for Fran (since she does one thing the way I used to). Thorough critique overall.

    1. I work under the assumption that readers are lazy. If they have to scroll *all the way* back to the top – or hit the top of page link – to get to my categories/pages, they won’t. To combat that, I usually put things in the sidebar and code page/category links into my footer. (Which I can’t figure out how to do in current theme and have to hit their support forum for it. Driving me nuts…)

    2. I think the magazine style layouts can work quite well if you do them right. I dislike looking at sites that just have their most recent posts scattered around the page, but I don’t mind columns or blocks labeled for specific category posts. It gives me a preview of what I can find in the various categories before I take the time to visit the category page. (And yes, sometimes I *only* care about reading on specific categories, not all the recent posts.)

    Fran – From the orange “zemified” link at the bottom of your posts, I’m guessing you use the Zemanta plugin. Love the plugin, but hate all the junk code it put into my posts. Instead of letting it auto insert pics when you click, try going to the source page (link under each pic) and manually downloading it. Then, manually upload it into your WP image gallery. Takes a little more time, but is worth it not to have all the source info pull into places you don’t want it to. Also, there’s a way to change your settings with Zemanta so you don’t have to manually delete the Zemified link (if you’d prefer not have it at the bottom of posts), but I can’t remember exactly where I went. I think I set up a username with Zemanta, listed the relevant sites and clicked the box to ditch it…

    Since you still want to give credit where credit’s due for images, you can give credit in the caption or at the bottom of your post. Personally, I hate it when people do the photo credit in the caption because that’s better used for an actual caption, preferably with your keyword. (People often read captions when scanning articles). The majority of the professional writers I know and client sites I ghostwrite for all put the photo credit down at the bottom.

    Anyway. I didn’t see the “image via wikipedia” thing everyone else was talking about when I visited your site just now, but I remembered having that problem because of Zemanta, so I thought I’d share. πŸ™‚


    1. Fran Civile

      I appreciate you taking the time to get into details!
      Magazine style: hitting the category name brings up all the posts in that category. There are only 5 categories.

      When you’re looking straight at the top post on the page, you also see the titles above: if you’re interested in ‘Boomers Making Money’ you press on that title and see a few words describing that subject, and all the posts in that category. Same thing happens when you click on the category in the sidebar.

      I would like to eliminate the black bar and line up the category names in a blue h3 font – the theme also allows for a second line of pages …

      Zemanta name:thank for the suggestions on getting the photos and ways to give credit etc. I will try that. There are only a few posts with orange zemantas – I am registered with the zemanta site and can go there for options so I chose to show the darker name because I believe in giving them credit.

      Very few posts have the “Image by Wikipedia” I caught it and took care of it because it was superfluous but to the point of, as one comment said ” β€˜Image via Wikipedia’ at the start of each article, meant having to read in further to find out whether article was worth reading … BIG DECISION INDEED!

      Thank you again Jen,

      Fran πŸ™‚


      1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

        No problem.

        If I’m totally honest about…I wasn’t bothered by your categories being at the top of the page in the black bar. Since two of them look like major keywords, I think it made sense to have them there. (I’m talking about from a reader’s perspective, not a blogging expert.) If you could add your pages in a separate row (or the same one), I think you’d clear up some of the navigation issues others are having. From what I’ve seen on your site, I think your readers would benefit more from quick, at-a-glance access to your categories than your About or Contact page. That said, it would still help to have those in a prominent place…especially if you start building landing pages for a series or a “first time here?” page.

        As for getting rid of the black bar…I guess you’d have to see how it looks both ways. In a way, having it gives the eyes a natural resting place and draws attention when you first hit the page. If you were adding a page that was going to be about something you were selling – for instance – the black bar could help draw more attention than just blue links would. The bar also keeps the page design from looking too plain. It’s still a minimalist theme, but it’s still more interesting than just looking at a word processing document.

        For the longest time, I left the orange thing at the bottom of posts because I didn’t know I could remove it. So I was only mentioning it in case you were like me and didn’t know it was an option. I only took my off because all the options clashed BAD with my sites’ color schemes.

        Again…all just my opinion from a reader’s standpoint. If any of it is semi-useful to you, my work here is done. πŸ™‚


        1. Fran Civile

          I really appreciate your willingness to continue this conversation Jen … When you say ‘from a reader’s perspective’ you make a valid distinction between BT’s excellent critique as a blogging expert and our reader’s expectations …

          I agree with your points about the black bar -thanks- I will not spend any precious time changing that … a mouse-over a title does reveal the category short description and clicking on it shows the description … I think I will experiment with adding the pages on a line below.

          I’ve bolded the titles in the Optin area and added a direction-like title to the Categories widget in the sidebar, also above the tag cloud – I like the tag cloud :)i got a kick out of that when I first saw one, so my newbie visitors might have fun experimenting with it
          and discover some helpful information … ha ha

          I really the look and feel of your site Jen … the colors are cheerful and I enjoyed a couple of the upbeat posts I read! How does a webring work for you?

          I know that the orange thing I saw on someone else’s site made me look into it and after some hesitation I decided to try it and it does really help with finding pictures quickly.

          Well, I’ve spent hours today following this BT review but it has really helped me and I’m particularly glad I met you Jen,

          Fran πŸ™‚


          1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

            That’s one of my simultaneous best and worst traits…I don’t ever know when to stop talking. πŸ˜‰

            Unfortunately, I have to spend a significant amount of time on other people’s websites and blogs – either when I’m researching for client assignments or when I’m simply researching because I like to learn new things. Since my areas of expertise are diverse, I get to see what’s popular across industries…and I’m friends with gobs of other writers on Facebook, so when they post their links, I’ll often check it out.

            I like to pretend I’m not *that* unusual, so I’m assuming the things that frustrate me also frustrate others. The biggie for me is when I can’t navigate a site at a glance or when my eyes get too tired from the design/text layout. I’ll blow off listing someone as a reference over that. (I ghostwrite for some sites with major page rank…backlinks might’ve been helpful to some of the sites I closed.)

            I have mixed feelings about the tag cloud. I used to love using it, but then I found I never clicked on it when I’d visit other people’s sites. Now, I only use it on my eFiction site and fiction blog. I only use a handful of keywords on those sites, so the tag cloud looks less cluttered than it did on my other sites. (Your sidebar is wider than mine were, so looking at your tag cloud doesn’t hurt my eyes.)

            Thanks! I can’t take any credit for the color scheme though. I bought a package of premium templates and that was the color scheme available for that one. (I can take credit for making my site name bigger at the top and the footer widget titles bigger though.) I can’t give any feedback on Webring yet. I just signed up over the weekend, I think. Since I’m not in a “Make money doing X” niche, I don’t know that any of the blogging rings or groups will bring in mass traffic. So far, Facebook is my top source of traffic, with Google being a decent second.

            It’s been good talking to you today. I think you deserve a break from this topic for a while. I’m sure a fresh batch of comments will come through tomorrow or Wednesday as well…


  • Ricardo Bueno

    GREAT thorough critique amigo! When you mentioned you were going to do a blog critique I honestly didn’t imagine you’d get into as much detail as you did…so kudos on knocking it outta the park!


  • Kristy

    nice critique! Very helpful stuff on there. I’ll be curious to watch a few more to see how the suggestions change based on the goals of the blog.


  • Gemma

    I just missed out but am kind of relieved. An excellent job BT and Frans site was a great one to asses. I am using a blog template so your explanation was the first I’ve ever heard of etc. So, thanks πŸ™‚


  • Dave Starr

    I almost didn’t click on the video. So many of these video posts (at least on some blog) are nothing but um’s and ah’s and the blogger stumbling over what s/he wanted to say, as if s/he had never even thought about what the purpose of the video was.

    A very refreshing change here .. cogent comments, a fair critique, actual preferences, rather than a lot of non-committal ‘nice-nice’ words. Very useful.

    And perhaps I am biased becuase of the subject of the blog you chose. I’m in the same niche … trying to awaken my fellow “golden-agers” to the potential before us in our so-called ‘Golden Years. Bang on, Fran.


  • chris

    Just watched the video…

    Great critique of her blog. My question is in regards to listing links. I have a small box for related links – it’s web sites related to my topic. Most of them link to me. Where does one draw the line between listing links for link building, linking to sites because they relate, and keeping people on our site?

    This is purely an academic question for me at this point. I’m in a small niche and I have a short link list. However, I do see a lot of sites with link lists that run 20 long!


  • Steve Roy

    This is a great resource and an excellent idea for creating reader loyalty. I am taking notes on your style and love what you are doing here.
    Thanks for the inspiration.


  • Johanna Castro

    Great comments and presentation BT. I learned a lot without being overwhelmed, and realise how much there still is to learn. When you got into code though it was a little scary for me, which tells me I need to jack up and face up to the technical side of things (wonder if I am in the minority here?). Thank you too Fran, you have an interesting site.


    1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

      I don’t know if you’re in the minority, but you’re definitely not alone. Code scares the crap out of me on days ending in ‘y’


      1. Johanna Castro

        Ha Ha! Well, that makes two of us, so I feel a little better πŸ™‚ However, despite your misgivings, your site looks v professional.


        1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

          Thanks. I didn’t do anything, but change I tiny little big of code in the header to make the text bigger. Otherwise, the whole thing was ready to go and I just had to drop widgets in. Hubby keeps trying to get me to switch over to the web design program he has on his Mac – which he’s yet to explain how I’d get into WordPress – or switch to Joomla. Not gonna happen. He starts talking XML/HTML at me and my eyes glaze over. πŸ™‚

          I LOVE the fish on your site! They were fun to watch for a few minutes once they started running into each other to get to the food.


          1. Johanna Castro

            Thank you Jen! Seems like I provide fun fish for entertainment and everyone else provides useful information on their blogs – I have to get a grip!


          2. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

            Johanna – I wouldn’t say that. I just don’t live anywhere close to Australia – and don’t see a trip in my near future – so I didn’t want to start reading anything that would inevitably lead to the conversation with Hubby where I ask when we’re finally going to make time for travel. (Which would only serve to upset the cat, who’s devastated when we dare leave the house for a day of work, must less a vacation.) :S


  • Lisa Chiodo @ Renovating Italy

    Hi BT,

    Well it was well worth the wait! First of all very odd to hear your voice… very easy to listen to, reminded me a little of David Wood http://www.solutionbox.com (he does great clips).

    I notice some of the things you mentioned happening on my blog. So time for a clean up.

    I had seen comments re H1 H2 and H3 but had no idea what they were or why they were important. When you first talk about how to access the area I couldn’t understand the first bit of the sentence and had to rewind a few times and then just tried it anyway and it worked.

    My tech chap is moving the blog from Crazy Domains to Host Gator over the next few days so I am not able to make any changes till that is done. But after that look out!

    For Fran,

    Hi Fran, congrats on being the first blog critiqued! First up I’d like a photo of you on the home page – there is one on the about page but very small. When looking at a site I often check out the about page first up (yep looking for social proof) and I found yours a bit confusing. I am sure that is not what you intend as there is lots of information there. What I related to was your personal information and your credentials. All of the instructions on how to use the site could use some bullet points and sub titles to make them clearer. From the information there I am assuming you write for people that are not very computer literate.

    PS I also like the four generations… you could talk a little about that?? Why is it important, who are they? How would you work with each generation etc

    so lastly I like you site, and will stay tuned to see what long term benefits you see from BT’s critique

    ciao for now
    Lisa


    1. Fran Civile

      Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for your detailed comment – I will go improve the About Page. Yes my blog’s name Apprentice Marketer is meant to imply beginner marketer.

      My thinking was that I could share with beginners the information I had been learning from the many real experts online …

      An eighth grader can teach a lot to a second grader, right!

      BT’s review and all the comments have been a great experience for me and I’m going to blog about it today.

      Fran


  • Elizabeth @ Sharing Insights

    Thank you, this has been very informative and helpful! I’m starting to think it’s time I start listening and add that “email subscription” I keep hearing about to my site…

    BTW BT, do you ever get people who just subscribe to your email newsletter for the free ebook, and then unsubscribe again? What do you do with them?


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Elizabeth.

      Starting is a mailing list is the best thing you’ll ever do for your business.

      As for the subscribe and then unsubscribe crowd. Sure. But if you have a really good offering they are less likely to just leave because they’ll be so happy.


  • Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper

    Fran, saw your comment about the red links in my email, but can’t find it in all the comments above.

    Go into your WP Theme Editor (under Appearance) and look for the Hex color number for your links and change it in the Stylesheet. I had trouble using my color picker on your page for some reason, but I *think* the number for your shade of red is 76242a. If you want your links to be the same shade of blue as your sidebar, I *think* the color number is 255788. Replace the red number with the blue number and you should be good to go.

    Hope that helps. πŸ™‚
    Jen


    1. Fran Civile

      Thank you Jen! I tried but although I found the exact spot in the Style/CSS and changed the hex code – I had no result!I don’t understand … I’ll visit the support forum
      at the designer’s site and check it out.

      I did figure out how to make a pages menu and put in the top bar … I kind of miss seeing my categories there but I have noticed that most blogs have it that way and I will take the tag cloud out too as soon as I figure out how I’m going to monetize the blog and what I’ll put in the sidebar.

      I kind of went on and on here!

      Thanks again Jen,

      Fran πŸ™‚


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