Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sprucing up my blog

I got a lot of feedback from my boyfriend and from people in my Blogging 101 class about ways I could spruce up my blog and make it better in general. I may not have taken every suggestion but (I HOPE) it is more focused and less sloppy than before. Here are some of the things I found important to change, and you may want to consider adjusting your blog too if you made some of the same decisions that I initially did.

Feedback: My layout was a little sloppy and not user friendly.
The picture in the heading didn't extend as far as the content of the blog did -- I used a photo editing site to adjust the length of the picture. The widgets in the banner on the side were oddly laid out, they were adjacent to each other as opposed to above/below each other (they looked too close together and one hung off the side of the banner) -- I changed the template layout to a single column display option. There were  two rows of topics in my "tags" banner (6 on top and 2 on bottom, leaving it feeling unfinished and unprofessional) -- I edited what tags could be displayed so a full single row is now being displayed.

AND, my posts were displayed too long (in size, not time) -- a lot of major blogs have the posts shortened (so you just have to push "Read More" if you are interested in reading the post), you had to scroll for 700 words to get to another post of mine, so it was not really friendly to readers and didn't encourage opening up several different blog posts at a time -- I inserted a jump break about 1/4 of the way through the posts so the readers could get a taste of the post before deciding to "Read More" or not.

Feedback: I have spread myself a little thin.
I think that when I had just started the blog, I was basically just blogging about whatever was on my mind at the moment, having a hard time coming up with interesting posts (not that it mattered, no one was reading them anyway, I could have blogged about my cat for weeks and it would have had the same effect). I have written a blog about gardening, writing, blogging, books, movies, random people I've met, phone interviews...you see where this is going? I was a panic blogger. OH NO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE. UM...I MET THAT ONE LADY ON THE PLANE WHO WAS NICE, MAYBE I SHOULD BLOG ABOUT HER?

So I took the advice of focusing my blog a little further. I will blog both about the journey to become an author, as well as things that may interest my future market (YAs), such as short stories, book reviews, movie reviews, etc. I'm not committing to never writing a random topic post again, but I do commit to being much more consistent with the material I'm writing.

Feedback: I need to get better about tying my post titles into my post content.
I recently wrote a post about the book series Vampire Academy which is titled "Does Vampire Academy Encourage Teen Sexuality?" and I don't actually touch on this question until like half way through the review. What I was trying to do was write a review with a twist, but I totally get that I may lose readers who expected to read about sexuality in the VA books and don't see it right away. What I'm trying to do to remedy this habit of mine (because this is definitely not the only post that this happens in), is structure the posts a little better (right now, I type it out and just want to post it right away like I'm playing hot potato, QUICK GET RID OF THE POST!)

Along with writing content that better reflects the title (or vice versa), I'm going to start actually working towards trying to maximize traffic. That means I'll have to learn more about Search Engine Optimization and start putting myself out there with relevant posts and twitter. I stepped outside my comfort zone today and tweeted Richelle Mead with the Vampire Academy review (NOT that I expect her to read it, I realize it's a popular book series and she probably gets thousands of tweets a week...).

I know that this is going to be a living, breathing blog that is constantly changing so I'm sure I'll have several more updates over the coming months as I learn about what is attractive to readers and really narrow down what I need to be writing about. As I always, I look toward your feedback so I can improve!

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