Blog Critique #3 – Ciao Florentina and Her Favorite Things

58 amazing comments

This Blog Critique has a major focus on how to make more money by recommending things to your readers. Its non-invasive, helpful and almost completely passive.

Ciao Florentina was the winner of the third Blog Tyrant Blog Critique – the random number generator choosing her Tweet out of about 200 entries. As always, please watch the video, visit her site and get stuck in to her in the comments section. The more feedback and discussion that happens the more often I will do these things. Like I’ve said a hundred times, I only want to do them if they are useful to you.

What’s in the video?

I kept the video short, sharp and extremely shiny. Youtube kept rejecting my videos for being too long so I decided to focus in on a few key areas as opposed to picking through everything. Some of the things that get mentioned include:

  • how you can add one page to your blog that helps your readers and makes a lot of money
  • why you need to get away from Feedburner and join Aweber to massively grow subscribers
  • why keyword research is vital before you create an eBook
  • why Twitter buttons aren’t really as good as people think
  • etc.

Something that I totally forgot to mention is that I think Florentina could quite easily use this blog and her Aweber list to launch a recipe book in the future. She has a wonderful knack for taking photos and writing out the recipes with a lot of personality injected into the whole thing. I really think a book could do well if she grew that list properly.

How can I get my blog critiqued?

Okay guys I get so many people asking how they can get their blog critiqued. There are two and only two ways:

  1. Subscribe by email and wait for instructions
    The first way is to subscribe by email and wait for me to send out the call for entries. Each time I do it differently. Sometimes we enter on Facebook, other times Twitter, sometimes on the blog itself. Unless you are subscribed you will miss out.
  2. Order a Skype consult call
    After repeated requests I have decided to set aside a small amount of time each week to do Skype voice consult calls. I normally take only one person a week, sometimes less depending on my schedule. During these sessions we can discuss your blog, your strategy or any other online marketing issues you want my help with. In my other life I charge a lot of money for these types of consultations but am doing it for my Blog Tyrant crowd at a reduced rate.

Please note that I only work with people that I think have the determination and seriousness to improve their business. If you want to try and book a session shoot me an email through the contact form.

What suggestions do you have?

Alright guys, please do your absolute best on this one. I’d love to hear all your suggestions, criticism and feedback about Florentina’s food blog. Please leave a comment and get chatting as it has been extremely helpful in the past.

SO, WHAT'S NEXT?

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

  • Cristina

    BT,
    you make it sound so easy! I just got a couple of good ideas for my new blog. Hope I can launch it soon.

    Thanks,
    Cristina


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Good to hear! And thanks for the Tweet.


  • Ralph

    I’m soooo gonna use this site to score some good food dishes!

    I’ve got a few ideas too that I would like to chip in if that is ok.

    1. Your URL’s are very long. Currently it looks like this
    2011/03/04/shellfish-risotto-recipe/ but I think you could do something like this; shellfish-risotto(-recipe/)
    Your keyword in that particular post is Shellfish Risotto.

    Yoast (SEO guy) just released a great new SEO tool which allows you to track your keywords in each post. http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/

    I ust it quite a bit on my site and it allows me to tweak each post, permalink, title and I can see how often (and where) I use my keywords.

    I love the Blog Tyrant’s idea of a ebook with recipes.
    No doubt I would sign up and get a copy.

    Amazon, but also clickbank would be something to look into. http://www.clickbank.com/mkplSearchResult.htm?mainCategoryId=1297&sortField=POPULARITY&b1=1297&catFromNav=true

    This link also shows different books, etc of what you could promote / sell on your website or even in a post.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    Thanks BT and Cristina !


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Good work Ralph. Always a good idea to shorten those URLs if you are targeting specific keywords.


    2. Jamie

      I agree – Yoast is AWESOME. There’s a post on how to configure it on my blog. It’s geared towards photographers, but it’s applicable to any blogger as well. 🙂

      http://www.themoderntog.com/how-to-configure-wordpress-seo-plugin-by-yoast-for-maximum-online-exposure

      The other big thing that I would do is to change the blog title to something more descriptive. Google gives a lot of weight to the keywords used in the title, so having something targeted like “Organic Food Recipes – Ciao Florentina” will give you much higher rank for the keyword “Organic Food Recipes” and still keeps the name of your site in the title. I’d put your desired keyword first as Google is rumored to give more weight to the words that come first.

      Fun site. I use Thesis too and just love it.


      1. Ciao Florentina

        I’m on to that, as soon as I figure out how to do it , this is a real tech project. Thank you Jamie!


        1. Jamie

          You’re welcome. 🙂


      2. Ciao Florentina

        Figured it out, thank you! I changed the blog title to ” Organic Food recipes -Ciao Florentina Recipes “


    3. Ciao Florentina

      Thank you, I agree with the URL suggestion, I just don’t know how to do it 🙁
      Technology is my challenge with this blog every day and without a budget it takes a long time to get things done. Is there an easy way to shorten those links ? My blog is on wordpress thesis. Thank you!


      1. Jamie

        This post tells you how to change the structure of your permalinks. Sorry to keep promoting my site (really, I’m not trying to spam!) but I already wrote out the tutorials there….

        http://www.themoderntog.com/quick-wordpress-settings-show-up-high-in-search-engines-seo


      2. ralph

        The URL is a permalinks setting.

        Settings > Permalinks. You then have to choose “custom” and fill in this : /%postname% That is pretty much it.
        Have a read of the other suggested site on how to set it up.

        @blogtyrant this is pretty much it isn’t it?


        1. Ciao Florentina

          Wonderful! I just changed the permalinks settings, I guess It will show on my next post. Thank you, thank you!


          1. the Blog Tyrant

            As long as it doesn’t change your old perma links. Far out!


        2. Ciao Florentina

          I just realized it shows already but all my Tweets and Facebook likes are gone, 0 for all the posts 🙁


          1. Cristina

            Yes, it’s a shame but definitely your url will look better.


          2. Cristina

            Hey,
            your tweets and likes look ok now.


        3. Ciao Florentina

          @BlogTyrant It appears it did change all my old permalinks . Besides loosing my retweets & facebook likes, is that really bad ?


          1. the Blog Tyrant

            Yes. I’m not sure why it was recommended.

            It means all the links you have from other blogs will be broken. I’d change it back immediately.


          2. Ciao Florentina

            I already started changing my inside links to match the perma links. Is there a way to set up the shorter permalinks for the future posts without changing the old ones ?
            Also how can I get rid of the retweet button on the About page but keep it on my posts ?


          3. Jamie

            Funny, I changed my permalinks for my photo blog last year a few months after creating several posts and all my old links still worked…check one and see. If it breaks them, definitely not worth it, but if it doesn’t I’d say go for it.


  • EmmaMT

    Great critique BT. LOADS of ideas. I love the ‘favourite things’ page idea. I’m definitely going to add that onto my new baking website. I also think a free e book is a fab idea. I’d love to get one of those from Florentina. Her recipes look amazing.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Great stuff Emma. That is why we do these things!


      1. Ciao Florentina

        So glad you like the recipes, thank you! I will add the Favorite Things page also and the ebook should be ready soon ” 101 kitchen Secrets “


  • Ralph

    3 things that worked quite well for me to get initial traffic were:

    1. Linkedin; i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/groupsDirectory?results=&sik=1302846855042&pplSearchOrigin=GLHD&keywords=cooking
    Is the results when you type “cooking” to search for a group.

    2. Also would try tweetadder.com to find the right audience for your blog. This could be fellow receipt makers or a vegan group to promote your particular vegan posts.

    It is a personal view if you want to use this. One of my websites is about running and I targeted people who were into running to have a peek at my website and it worked quite well.

    3. Another thing is Facebook ads. They have become a bit more expensive but I used it and went from 5 fans to 135 within 3 days for less than 30 dollars. Again very targeted but it worked quite well.

    I wouldn’t recommend using LinkedIn ads, i’ve got burned badly by using those.

    Might come up with a few more things later on, that is how my mind works 🙂 very spur of the moment kind of mind..

    Have a great weekend!

    Ralph


  • Henrik from Tights and Tiaras

    Great critique again, these videos are superb for ideas, not just to the one you are critique’ing, but any site in general. I’ve used the resources found on your blog several times when making my blog, which is on ballet – that just proves that your advices are (apart from good) applicable in any niche, which is great!
    Thank you for a great blog!
    Henrik


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Henrik.

      How did you go with the advertising issue?


  • Tim O'Brien

    Thank you, those tweaks are very insightful and after staring at your own page for so long, outside help, even when it relates to someone else’s site, gives a fresh perspective and generates actionable ideas, which sometimes are so obvious after the fact, but hard to see beforehand. tim


  • Ciao Florentina

    Thank you so much for this critique. I used to have Awebber before but had a fall out with them ( just dealing with the wrong person I believe). I am looking into Constant Contact right now and will change that Feedburner thing a.s.a.p.

    Also I do have an ebook waiting for its cover to be ready ” 101 Kitchen Secrets ”
    Used to have a cute Twitter button and deleted it by accident and now I don’t know how to put it back Ooops

    My blog has also been accepted into the Glam Life Media ad network and I am looking for someone to help me set that up. It took me a while to decide on ads on the blog because I really don’t want them to take away from the intimate feel and personal experience for my readers.

    Thank you so much for everything, I’m really excited to make those little changes !


    1. Jamie

      I’d go with MailChimp over Constant Contact. I’ve heard LOTS of good things about MailChimp lately, and it isn’t as limited as Constant Contact if you want to use the scheduled follow-up emails.


      1. Cristina

        I use Mailchimp.It could be better but it’s definitely the second best option.
        If you need help with it you can ask me anytime.

        Cristina


        1. Ciao Florentina

          Thank you @Jamie and @Cristina! Someone else suggested Mailchimp today so I will look into that one this weekend before I commit.
          I also need some help setting up my ads from GlamLife media, someone very affordable 🙂


    2. Vi

      @Florentina the banner on your blog footer says “Copyright 2010”


  • Rachelle

    First I want to say that your blog has a lot going for it especially your use of photographs to show off your cuisine.

    Why can’t anything I cook look like that?

    You might even consider selling an actual (print on demand)cookbook from your site.

    As usual Ty rocks this review…it’s the best.


    1. Ciao Florentina

      Thank you Rachelle! I take my photos as I cook and right after it’s done. No food styling tricks for me. What you see is what you eat 🙂
      I love the idea of a print on demand cookbook. I will look into that ! TY!


  • Dorothy Ray

    Beautiful blog, Florentina.

    Wonderful critique, Ty. Cooking seems to be far removed from my blog about baby nursery decoration, but you offered several ideas that I can apply. I’m a little shell shocked at the moment about clicking the wrong button to “fix” anything, though. I added a new gmail address which deleted all my GA data and backlinks. Looks like I’m back at day 1 again.

    Florentina, I can’t believe you’re technically handicapped. Your site looks like you know exactly what to do. I hope you get your permalinks fixed back okay.


    1. Ciao Florentina

      Thank Dorothy! I hope I can figure out the permalinks situation or it seems I might be back to day 1 again too 🙁


      1. Cristina

        To remove the Tweet button from your About page but keep it on your posts, go to the settings of the plugin and select not to show on pages. Show on posts.


        1. Ciao Florentina

          That was easy, thank you! looks much better now 🙂


  • Liz @ lifedreaming

    Well done as usual BT … something learned in each of your critiques. And well done to all the commenters … I learn heaps from you as well.

    Congrats Florentina … love your site and have subscribed. I LOVE cooking and am delighted to now have a regular source … your my recipe dealer!

    There’s a lot I liked about your site:
    1. Photos are fab
    2. You write with a very lovely voice
    3. Your About Page was a delight to read … full of passion and a personal connection
    4. I thought your categories were particularly useful as I can now be both specifically focused if I want a particular kind of recipe or I can just have a serendipity wander

    I agree with BT and the others about compiling some ebooks and I’d go a little further.

    Instead of compiling one big book … which could take ages and do your head in … how about you develop Bite Sized Cookbooks that focus on a particular meal of the day … or ingredient.

    You can give 1 or 2 away free and then charge for the others. They could have a Delicious Dozen of your top recipes.

    The other thing you could do is create a gorgeous food calendar for 2012 with a photo [or photo montage] of your images for each month and a recipe down the side. That could be your free give away for next year.

    My only small negative comment [and it’s not really negative] would be to take the archives widget away. People will search your site through the categories and the archive widget isn’t really doing anything useful. Follow BT’s maxim of simple and less clutter.

    Many congrats on your site Florentina and I looks forward to visiting and using your recipes for a long time.

    And BT … I may be contacting you in a few months to take you up on the offer of a site critique.

    Congrats again
    Liz


  • Ciao Florentina

    Thank you Liz! I love the idea of a calendar too and the smaller cookbooks maybe by ingredient like Carrots and have a dozen recipes focusing on carrots…?!
    I am so glad you enjoyed the blog and my recipes, let me know if you have any questions or ever need a special recipe 🙂


    1. Liz @ lifedreaming

      My pleasure Florentina. I’ve already used one of your recipes. Good luck with the site.


  • Ciao Florentina

    Does anyone know how I can remove the google adsense from my pages ? I think it looks bad and I want to put up my adds from Glam Media, plus I haven’t made a penny with google lol


  • Jennifer Reid

    I’m first in line for Florentina’s book…I absolutely love this blog!


    1. Ciao Florentina

      awww, thank you Jennifer Xo’s


  • Parley

    I love the way you didn’t just say what was wrong, but gave very specific ways of making it better for Ciao Florentina and her visitors.


  • Dave Starr

    Great critique as always, BT … I hope folks realize that about 90+% of what you comment on about specific blogs are applicable to almost anyone’s elses site, regardless of subject.

    This is particularly interesting to me, as my wife, whose also a great cook and great photographer has a very nice cooking blog as well, which was going great guns a few years ago, but in which she lost interest. (it still gets hundreds of uniques a day, a property well worth ‘rejuvenating’ in my book.

    Heading over to Florentina’s right now for a first-hand look. Thanks again for some very useful and even inspiring content.


  • rosemary

    I have a question regarding flag counter…what is your opinion on that for reliability? My blog has been getting more followers, the alex rank is under 500,000 however my flag counter for unique visitors seems to be declining.

    I thought Florentina’s blog was great and agree on your comments. It is good to know even the best blogs can still be improved upon. Love the site and your information, by the way!!


  • Ciao Florentina

    Hey guys! So I finally figured out how to upload my Twitter Icon , Yay! Do you like it better in the upper left corner or in the right column between the Previous Posts and Most Popular Posts ? Also do you think I should I move the facebook box under the Most Popular Posts…? Thanks so much!


    1. Cristina

      Hi Florentina,
      I like the Tweet button but I think it is still difficult to find because it’s very small. I would try to call the attention to it somehow or make it a little big bigger.


  • Ciao Florentina

    OK, I moved it up higher and added my Twitter subscribers, You can see it now 🙂


    1. Cristina

      Ok now it looks much better. And the number of subscribers next to it is a great idea, because you have a lot!


      1. Ciao Florentina

        Thank you Cristina, I really appreciate all the advice and suggestions, I need to spend a day on your site as well and learn so much from you ! Xo’s


  • Ciao Florentina

    I value advice a lot so Florentina’s Favorite Things page is Up & Running 🙂
    What do you guys think ? http://ciaoflorentina.com/florentinas-favorite-things/


    1. rosemary

      I think it looks really good…was it hard to do? looks the same as on amazon site …..great idea!!


      1. Ciao Florentina

        Thank you! Once you sign up with Amazon affiliate is kind of easy. If I can do it Anyone can do it!


  • Ciao Florentina

    One more thing checked on the list, the “Why Subscribe ” page is Up , what do you think ?

    http://ciaoflorentina.com/why-subscribe/


  • Vi

    @BlogTyrant I am confused about retweet button – do you recommend to remove it at all or only from about page?


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