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What Do You Think Of My Blog?


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#1 mrgoodfox

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:27 PM

I work full time as an engineer. For the most part I've developed sites for myself. Every now and then I've done sites for friends, family, or few customers. I've decided to start trying to get more customers and see about the possibility of getting more involved in website/app projects (mostly programming, community, content, and seo - not so much design).

so ... I've redesigned my blog with links to my web projects and (not so often) blog posts. Other than the fact that I need to write (good) posts more often, how do you think I can improve the site?

#2 DCrx

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 04:57 AM

I don't understand the question.

Try completing the following sentence. Given what I want to accomplish ________________________; how can I improve the site?

The web zeitgeist is very much like the Little Rascals episodes. There's a lot of "Hey gang, let's put on a show," and very little about the reason why. I've seen about a million "check out my blog for improvement" posts. (Disturbingly, many follow with the stipulation content is off limits). That's like asking -- aside from the writing -- how to improve an author's book.

I keep waiting for this to be revealed as a really widespread, extremely popular joke people like to play. Otherwise it's straight out of bizarroworld.

Okey dokey. I'll dust off some boilerplate from a few years back. It's still avant-garde, because what ever actually changes in the blogosphere?

Why am I going there? Well, since I'm not a Jquery of the month club member, I figure I'll read. I would like to see more blogs (sorry ...a blog) display a heat map. The most popular or otherwise "best" content. Perhaps of the last year. Perhaps ever.

Apparently a reader can share a blogger's interest in analytics, after a fashion.

Uh - oh, that could also be an idea for a end-of-year blog post as well. Best forget all about that. Next thing we know, CMS developers will start using it to develop an inspiration tool to capitalize on what's hot ...supporting the writer and the blog reader.

Nah, that's too much like content managment. And if there's anything developers won't touch in CMS development, it's content management. Makes about as much sense as the writing being off limits when improving a blog ...and yet here we are.

....have you given any thought to a hit counter script? ...done using Jquery, of course. That would really be the cherry atop the hipster sundae of the 'net.

Edited by DCrx, 11 December 2011 - 05:29 AM.


#3 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 08:59 AM

I would place a heading above the image scroll on the home page that describes why the images are scrolling by. Based on this thread, I'm assuming the images scrolling by are examples of sites you've done - your portfolio - but if I hadn't read this thread first, I'd have no idea what those were there for.

Also, on your About page, I'd fill that out a lot more, with some real meaty content that tells me more about why I might want to hire you. Give me some details about what you can do for me.

#4 bwelford

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 09:44 AM

I think I'm probably on the same page as DCrx. The blog as constructed is a fascinating space about you and your interests. However it is not trying to get business. If that is what you want to do, then in your mind you should start from scratch on what website you want to create to get that business. It will include a blog IMHO but not necessarily all that you currently include.

You must first decide what marketing niche you are going after and what needs your prospects have that you can fulfill better than anyone else. Then you figure out what you would say to them in that two or three sentence 'elevator' speech that would excite their interest in getting more from you. You must focus on what you can do that is special. Without that it will be very difficult to get anyone to buy your services.

#5 EGOL

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 10:12 AM

Given what I want to accomplish ________________________; how can I improve the site?

This is my question as well. The current content seems like a random mixture of topics with no theme, no focus and no direction.

There is no rule that you must have theme, focus or direction... you can blog about anything that pleases you. However, if a visitor arrives and likes something that he found there is very little opportunity for the visitor to find something closely related. Perhaps the content should be divided among a few blogs or the effort going into this one would be channeled into a narrower range of topics.

#6 mrgoodfox

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:27 PM

Thanks. I agree I need to give it direction. I've just never spent time on my own blog.

When I said disregarding content, its because i already know that it needs good content.

#7 tam

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 02:59 PM

Having a blog is basically a commitment to posting every week or two weeks. If you never spend time on your own blog and have no direction, then I think a blog is probably not the thing for you. You'd probably be better off with a static website and just update your projects. Blogs are touted as THE thing to have but that doesn't mean everyone has to have one or they are right for everyone.

I don't think anyone can say what will improve it until you know your aim, because the best thing to do is dependant on your goal. There is nothing terrible about your blog, the content can be read - many people will use readers and never see your layout anyway. So I would focus on planning before tweaking the looks.

#8 A.N.Onym

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:25 AM

I won't mention that you need to define the goals of your blog, again.

However, I don't necessarily think that a blog is a commitment, although it is a nice thought to hold on to.

Practically, though, in my experience, you can have a blog and:
- post short posts, diary-style, regularly
- post longer posts less often (the longer, the more detailed the posts are, the more time they take to prepare)
- use it as a publishing system to post irregular news or updates

I'm sure, though, as soon as you'll define:
- your current and future goals in life (such as, going freelance, having passive income from the net, etc)
- define how you'll achieve them (a few web projects, your own blog, etc)
- how your blog will help you achieve your goals
you'll see where your blog lacks and then we'll be able to tell you how to improve your blog to really work for you :)

If you ask us just about blog design right now, I can only say that:
- the design look and feel is fine (I actually like this green color, which is quite rare in my experience)
- I'd put a persuasive block of links to subscribe to your RSS feed (with a counter, when you get more subscribers)
- put an email subscription blog (RSS via email with Feedburner or Feedblitz), again, with a persuasive call to action (including two real benefits to read you. If you don't know them, create them.)
- in both blocks, under the form, mention your posting schedule, after you define it
- list recent posts in the right sidebar
- mention related posts under the post content (or better yet, select them semi-manually from the list) for more related reading. Or better yet, link to your other posts.

#9 mrgoodfox

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:23 AM

Thank Yura. Great review.

#10 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:51 PM

...Other than the fact that I need to write (good) posts more often, how do you think I can improve the site?


The blog is about the posts, not the other site. The only improvement your blog needs is more content. The more content you write where you share your passion, the more readers you will get. You can leverage that visibility to promote your other site as you wish but people are drawn to content, not to links and not to promotional posts.

Be interesting. You'll improve your ability to shape your content to help you in other areas as you practice.

#11 mrgoodfox

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:02 PM

Well, thanks for all the comments. I've already given the content part a lot of thought, decided the direction i want to take the blog, and am already working on the content. I did ask for reviews of the site on points other than content. Most people felt compelled to still talk mainly about the content. Thanks for taking the time.

Edited by mrgoodfox, 12 December 2011 - 05:03 PM.


#12 A.N.Onym

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 09:57 AM

Nima, we didn't just stick it to content. We mostly talked about your goals, but since blog content is critically important, we couldn't help mentioning it.

Now that you have defined your goals, you can share them with us, so we can tell you how to improve the blog to reach those very goals.

You see, various strategies/tactics work in specific cases, so just pouring every bit of our knowledge would be largely ineffective, since we don't know your goals.

So, please share your goals that you want to reach with the blog, and we'll tell you how to achieve them by improving your blog, other than just simply focusing on content.

Of course, some of us might still provide content-specific advice for your narrow goals or their aspects, but given the specificity of the advice, you'll likely need it.

Thus, all in all, you can get more out of us, if you do tell us where you want to go and how you want your blog to help you :)

#13 mrgoodfox

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 10:32 AM

Thanks Yura. At this point I just want to blog more frequently about my web projects (programming, design, marketing, etc) until I get a solid readership. I'm slowly moving the unrelated content to web development off to either my other sites or their own sites. The only actual goal that I have is to write 2 decent blog posts a week.

I did like your comments about more RSS sign up forms and call to action buttons. I'll be working on that later today.
Cheers

#14 bwelford

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:51 PM

The reason why it's important to have goals in any online activity is that without them why should anyone care to read your blog content. The only effect of writing two blog posts per week is to create a little more content for the search engines. Why should I care to read them? Are they intended for me? You have to be visitor-centric here. What's in it for your visitors?

#15 A.N.Onym

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:33 PM

The goals that some of us meant are more related to your life goals and how your blog fits in there.

For example:
- do you plan to sell your services with your blog?
- do you plan to monetize your blog?
- do you intend to create a source of passive income with your blog?
- how comfortable are you with writing educational content in your niche?
- how comfortable are you with researching and writing large amounts of content?
- why do you want to publish information about your projects? Would you live without it?
- what do you intend to achieve by sharing information about your projects?

You mentioned:

I've decided to start trying to get more customers and see about the possibility of getting more involved in website/app projects (mostly programming, community, content, and seo - not so much design).

- are those going to be freelance customers, in what field? is it web development related?
- what do you want to achieve by getting more involved with other projects?
- do you know which projects you'd like to get involved?

For instance, one's goals might be to:
- work at home, or not work at all. Or do what you love for a living, whenever you want, whenever you want, if you want to
- create an additional source of income by providing consulting services, freelance services and to create a stable passive source of income

To achieve this, one might be able to:
- create a noticeable amount of best of the web educational content in the niche
- provide some of it for free to attract readership. This would also need an email subscription list with an autoresponder sequence (i.e., the reader receives 7 articles during the week after subscribing to your RSS feed)
- create more high quality content to provide for a fee (ideally, a subscription, fueled by continually providing extremely helpful content). This would require a paid section, either with downloads or a forum, or a mixture of both, supported by an integrated payment system
- alternatively, without a paid section, one might partner with a few niche leaders to sell their products/ebooks and earn a portion of their revenue (though selling one's own digital products is much more profitable and is actually passive income). If you are going to promote your own products, you'll need a simple ad selling Wordpress plugin (that was discussed around here recently) and, preferably, an ad tracking plugin to mention views and conversions (supported by your general web analytics, be it Google Analytics or Get Clicky ;) )

The above is a more or less standard pathway for building a strong and stable source of passive income, but the details depend on your preferences.

Now you see that though posting 2 pieces a week might be a noble goal, it doesn't tell us what you want to get with the help of your blog. It's a tactic, not the reasoning for having a blog. Why would you like to have one, anyway? You don't really need it to get involved with other projects. Do you need it to get more customers? Which customers (startup, enterprise, small business, etc)?

How to get more customers depend on which ones you want to get, but if you want to get involved with other web projects, you also might want to learn more in web development by subscribing to the most interesting sources and learning new tricks, tools and such (that's your "Recommended sources" directory or a regularly updated resource list - cornerstone, highly linkable content - right there). This might mean that you may want to create a category for "Things around the web" and share your finds in your blog. You can also discuss your finds with bloggers/specialists you respect, want to learn from or who are involved with projects you want to get involved.

Now, hopefully, you see how describing your goals in specifics helps defining what you want to do with your blog, so, maybe, you'll be more specific in how actually you want to improve your life with your blog? :)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 13 December 2011 - 01:49 PM.


#16 mrgoodfox

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 03:37 PM

Yura, thanks for the reply.

Honestly, I didn't start this thread to discuss my life goals. In my first posts I should have specifically asked for opinions on the site's design. I've made enough (not so bad) websites and know the values of content and having specific goals for a site.

In terms of my blog, like I said what I mainly want to do is publish updates about my projects. If someone likes the world and wants to hire me, great, but I don't want the blog to be a "Hire Me" site.

#17 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:59 PM

Oh well ;)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 15 December 2011 - 12:00 AM.


#18 glyn

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 04:43 AM

Put a personal picture, frame better your target audience with graphics.

#19 jonbey

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:07 PM

Yeah, that is something that really makes or breaks a blog. So many times I have seen excellent blogs fail to link to amazon and then get ignored as a result.

Blog optimisation rules:

1. Link to Amazon
2. Drink Bishops Finger

#20 clandestino

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 12:19 PM

I have noticed there is a direct correlation to blogging success and bloggers that drink Bishops Finger. Wonder why that is?, LOL!

I read a book where the author suggested that I, "enter the conversation that is already going on in the readers head." -- Powerful statement.

I wish I could remember who the author is because I would give them credit. I've read so many books, I can't remember. Thank goodness for the Kindle Fire -- there's no more room for book shelves in my office, LOL!



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