Blog Critique Week: And Then She Snapped

Blog Critique Week continues with Momcomm and The SITS Girls!

All this week, Fran, Kat and I (Mel from Momcomm) will be critiquing the blogs of TEN lucky SITS Girls readers. We’ll dissect a blog from top to bottom in three areas: design, navigation/functionality and content. The reason? To help the featured blogger meet her blog goals and become even MORE awesome.

The goal of a blog critique is to help all of us learn and grow. One suggestion for a particular blog may very well apply to multiple members of our community and get us all thinking about how we can improve what we do.

Diving in now!

Rachel from And Then She Snapped describes her blog as follows:

My blog is about my life. I’m a mother, a wife, a bargain shopper extraordinaire, oh, and I take pictures.

Sometimes I’m not sure what type of blog I have. Am I a mommy blog? A photography blog? I feel like maybe it’s not focused in one particular area, but maybe it doesn’t need to be? I guess this is something I struggle with.

I’m trying to grow my blog, for the purpose of making it a blog that people LIKE to visit, and that my readers get excited when they see a new post in their reader or whatever. I’m not out to work with brands necessarily, although if Nikon wanted to start sending me their stuff I wouldn’t turn it away. (Nikon, are you reading this?)

I don’t intend to make a living from my blog, but I’d LOVE to make a little spending money from it. I’m not interested in “pimping” out products that don’t fit MY brand, if you know what I mean.

Design (Mel)

Header & Menu

  • First, let me just say that your blog name is one of the most brilliant ones out there. Seriously!
  • With your blog header though, unless I already know your blog, it’s not easy to make the connect between “snapped” and photography. As I mention in my eBook, you only have three seconds to make an impression, so really consider what’s “above the fold” (i.e. the area of your blog that one sees before they have to scroll down). A few ideas to make the photography connection more obvious: make the white panels look like Polaroids, somehow incorporate a camera or piece of camera equipment into the header, and/or do something at the top of your sidebar that helps bridge the connection to photography.
  • I’d love to see a pop of color in your header and to the right in your social media buttons. I’m sure it’s a very deliberate choice of yours though to make it black and white, so you may object to the idea of color! There’s a nice simplicity around the B&W but I think it’d make a nice splash to accent your header with one single, bright color — like the blue in your blog post titles or a bold yellow.
  • Your menu is very simple and to the point, which is great. I’m not sold on the font though. I know it’s probably an ALL CAPS version of the one in your header, but it seems stark and boot camp-y when your photos are very warm and vibrant. Perhaps play with using the lowercase version of the font in your blog post titles.
  • I notice you don’t have a tagline, but if you make your focus on photography more obvious, then I don’t think you need one!
  • You had mentioned you’re not out to work with brands, but that you wouldn’t turn it down either. In order to do that, it’d be good to look approachable. How do you do that on a blog? Have a PR/Advertising section of some sort that’s in your main menu navigation. Also, sign up with some companies that match up brands with bloggers. Trust me-these companies will respect you for turning down opportunities that don’t fit with your blog.

Sidebars

  • Your social media buttons are at the top, which makes it easy for people to find you. Yay!
  • I love that your face is on the homepage but I’d like to see a sentence about you (at the very least, your name). It helps build that connection with your readers and will give you a chance to describe your blog. Another option is to include a link to your About Me page here.
  • Your columns are a bit narrow, especially the right one (can’t tell if it’s a different size or it looks smaller because it’s mostly text). Consider shrinking your main blog column just a tad to give your sidebars more breathing room. Even just adding some space between the two sidebars may do the trick.
  • It took me a minute to realize that the “say anything” is a running stream of your latest comments. Consider renaming it or listing which post they commented on so it’s more obvious.
  • One thing I think would be nice in the sidebar would be a button linking to your camera gear. People are always SO curious as to what others use. While it’s in your menu bar, people don’t always pay attention to words (even though you should definitely keep it there). Just a button that says something like “what’s in my camera bag?” would work.
  • Also, play up your camera strap shop in your sidebar! Put an image of one of the straps and a link to find out more/purchase!

Main Column

  • I love the font of your main text, but it’s a little hard to read (either because it’s too small or it’s grey- I can’t tell). I’d bump up the font size just a little or if it’s grey, change it to black. Nothing wrong with grey text by any means, but a larger font size would make it easier to read.
  • Your blog post title font is pretty original. Looks great! I also like the blue color.
  • I like that each of your photos have rounded corners to them. Is there a way to make the white box around them rounded as well? Just a thought, but it definitely looks great as it is too!
  • The bottom of each post is clean and simple. Nice going!
and then she snapped

Show {Off} Your Shot Meme

Navigation (Fran)

  • Ohhh! We’re doing a blog critique today for a Bloggy Boot Camp grad. LOVE it.
  • First off, I want to emphasize that you have absolutely every element you need for your blog, but the trick is to organizing and highlighting various parts more and perhaps in a different way.
  • Let’s start with your original question: Who are you?  Mama Kat summed this up beautifully: You are a photography mom blog.  If I were to prioritize your three identities, I would emphasize photographer first, mom second, and bargain hunter third (if at all).  When people come to your site, the first thing that hits them over the head is that this is a photography community.
  • And yes, I am using the “c” word.  I am categorizing your site as a community due mostly to the fact that you host a weekly Show {Off } Your Shot meme, as well as the other elements that you bring to your site to build conversation around photography.  This is happening with the emphasis you place on your photos in your posts, the camera straps you sell, and even the memes you participate in.  Embrace your identity and help your readers to recognize what your site is about immediately.  Mel mentions several ways to do this.
  • In addition to Mel’s suggestions, I would love to see you add a Flickr and/or Instagram button to your social media icons (unless you are dedicated to solely Pinterest).  Also think about moving your Clever Girl Network ad down in your sidebar, and moving the “I Get Around” link list up.  Always prioritize who you are and what you do over any other elements in your sidebar.
  • The most important piece of feedback we have for you in terms of navigation is to change the way your tabs are opening up.  Currently, when I click on any of the options in your nav bar, a new tab opens up.  This is happening mostly likely because you added a short bit of code, target=”_blank”, to the URL.  As a user, I immediately had 6 tabs opened just trying to click around your site.  Consider changing this in order to encourage people to stay on your site and keep reading.
  • My last bit of advice lends itself to what Mel had to say.  In order to better draw people into your site and to make that pocket change you mentioned, think about how to better grab people’s attention with the elements you already have in place.  Creating eye-catching widgets around your camera straps, favorite posts (rather than most recent), and even a widget that links to your Pinterest, Flickr, or Instagram page would be super fun AND help boost your sales.  Check out the top of Lindsey’s sidebar on The Modchik here for an example of a photo widget that works great for photography bloggers.
blog critique

The Weekend. Photo Dump.

Content (Kat)

  • I refuse to leave negative feedback for someone who lives so close to me…
  • Bloggers like you make me mad…because you can write AND take amazing photos. I would definitely continue to share photos with every post. They alone are worth coming back for!
  • For readers who are visiting for your content, but are not interested in participating in memes, you might consider making the thumbnails that are linking up with you smaller. It took me awhile to scroll past all the lists to actually get to your content and see all of your pictures.
  • You’re a photographer and mom…a photographer mom blog. You can totally be both and I think you do it really well!
  • I would love to see more ‘how to’ posts…maybe a before/after shot and the process it took to get there. You could share your favorite actions and tools. People want to learn how to take great photos…if you can offer some help with that, then you’ll add even more value to your site.
  • You might consider adding a few sentences to your About Me page that talk about how you became a photographer, what level of a photographer you are, what kind of camera you have…since this is a topic you’re passionate about, pay more attention to it on your About page.
  • That’s all I’ve got. I’m not charging you, but I’ll let you buy me coffee and clean my house. I’m a giver like that. ;)

So, did you learn anything from this blog critique? Let us know in the comments below and check back later today for our second critique of the day!

And be sure to head over to visit Rachel at And Then She Snapped and leave her some comment love. Check out her site, see if you agree with our assessments, and maybe even leave one of your own!

how to blog Blog critiques are a fantastic way to critically analyze your site and propel yourself forward. If you are interested in working through this very effective learning process, grab a copy of the DIY Blog Critique eBook! Read through the 43 points that Melissa evaluates as she goes through a critique. Each point has its own page chock-full of detail on what to look at on your own blog. Buy your copy NOW for only $11.00 using the code, SITS11, upon check-out!

Want to Read More Blog Critiques?

Accept no substitutes! Blog critiques from Momcomm & The SITS Girls are the best you’ll find on the web. Here is what we have done to date:

Blog Critique Week: The Well Connected Mom
Blog Critique: The Scott's Crib

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Comments

  1. This is such a neat idea for a critique, and so helpful! Love the name of the blog. :)

  2. Haha! When I saw the name, it made me think of Mama Kat Losin’ It… The photography angle is a good one to highlight.

    I also struggle with site identity. Is my blog a personal blog about our adoption or a resource site for those wanting to adopt thru foster care? Opinions anyone?

  3. Great blog name and I loved the pics! :)

  4. I think that the blog title is really one of the most clever things I have ever read. It is truly exceptional. I love the idea of having polaroid framing the letters, it would most definitely help the title standout in relation to photography.

    • I am definitely going to try and come up with something to try and make the photography part more obvious. Thanks for your kind words about my blog title. I do kind of love it too. : )

  5. I love it, and visit daily or more, but I DID like the header you had just before this one a lot better. xoxo

    • ok, yeah, I think I liked the old one better too…ok, changes are a coming… and thanks for visiting daily (or more)…you’re one of my best bloggy friends, shelly!

  6. Excellent information as I am launching in 10 days! So much to do, so little time! :)

  7. great critique. I love and then she snapped blog! :)

    So now you should critique my blog.. :) hehe.

    • thank you tugboat! isn’t this fun? I was looking SO forward to my critique and now I can’t wait to implement some changes!

  8. Yes: agreeing with Mel that I did not make the connection initially that “And then she snapped” had to do with photography. An image of a camera or of her behind a camera making it a bit more obvious would be helpful.

    I bought Melissa’s ebook today.

    It’s a shame that buying the book alone isn’t enough: then you have to actually IMPLEMENT the book, right? :-D

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