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Blog Critique

Blog Critique Week: A Book for My Daughter

By Sep 18, 2011 May 16th, 2012 29 Comments

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Welcome to Blog Critique Week!

All this week, Fran, Kat and I (Mel from Momcomm) will be critiquing the blogs of 10 lucky SITS Girls readers. Translation: We’ll be publishing TWO blog critiques a day here in the Education channel all week. The ten bloggers we are featuring this week were next up on a sign-up sheet we posted quite a while back. What we are doing is dissecting 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.

If you are interested in receiving a blog critique of your own, then check out the latest on my DIY Blog Critique eBook! Details are listed at the end of this post.

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.

Let’s get started!

Erin from A Book for My Daughter describes her blog as follows:

When my daughter was eight, she asked me to write a book with the “advice” that I routinely gave her. She told me that she wanted to be able to read it when she got older (a proud parenting moment). It took me a few years, but I have finally started to write it down—in the form of a blog. Each entry focuses on either advice I have already given her, things I have learned from my own life that I want her to know when she is older, or advice for other parents as to how to relate to their children (something that I don’t presume to be an expert on).

Erin has two purposes for her blog. First, she wants to capture all of her “words of wisdom” for her daughter for when she is older—this includes her practical approach to life and parenting, as well as stories like how Erin met her daughter’s father, etc. Her larger purpose is to reach out to other women, parents, kids, teens, etc. with stories/lessons for her daughter in a way that is relatable and may be helpful to others.

Erin said she wonders if the categories she’s chosen are clear, understandable, and engaging. She also said she struggles with the idea of branding, adding widgets to her blog (are they even needed?), keywords, and wonders about her header and tagline.

Design (Mel)

Header & Menu

  • First of all, I just love the name of your blog and the idea behind it!
  • Your header really makes a statement when you land on the page. It’s a beautiful image and your header overall has a beautiful simplicity to it.
  • One suggestion I have is that the overall look of your blog is a little dark and lends itself to a more serious tone. I think it could stand to be brightened up just a bit, perhaps by lightening the color of your background or your menu bar (though you’ll have to play with which one would work best).
  • I think the book idea is intriguing to people and you could have a tab in your menu called something like “About the Book” or “On Writing the Book.” It could be a page giving readers more insight into what you’re hoping to accomplish with your blog. This can also be added to your About Me page– just a summary though, with a link to the full page on writing the book.
  • Your menu has an About Me page which is great, but don’t forget the Contact Page. It’s an important page as you never know who’s reading and you want to make it easy for people to contact you.
  • I’m not sure that your tagline really supports your blog name as well as it could. Above you said you want to capture your “words of wisdom.” I think that should be in your tagline somewhere. Maybe something like “Words of wisdom for the practical approach to life.”

Sidebars

  • I just adore the picture of you and your daughter in your sidebar. It cleverly looks like a book cover and really reinforces your “brand.” I really think you could capture that even more throughout your sidebar. Think about words we associate with books and how they could apply to your blog. Ex. chapters, pages, epilogue, prologue, dog-eared (how you could title your most popular posts).
  • The Places You Visit section of your sidebar takes up a lot of valuable space. I’d suggest shrinking those buttons so that you can put two per row. Check out tip #2 on Lynda’s post about 5 Image Tips. To answer your question about widgets, they are extremely valuable when you don’t use too many AND when they are relevant to your blog. A good example is the Facebook widget. All a person has to do is click “like” to become a fan. I have my Facebook widget show my latest Facebook posts so readers can see the conversations going on there.
  • Instead of Archives, I’d use a drop-down for your Categories or list your main categories. It makes certain topics much easier to find for your readers.
  • Your social media icons are in a great spot but they are a bit small given how dark they are. I think they match your design well though so just bump up the size a bit.

Main Column

  • Your main font for your blog posts is clean and easy to read. Score!
  • I think your overall main column is nicely done. If you want to add some POW to it, you could use the font from your header for your blog posts titles…color and all. It’s a bit of coding but I wrote a post on Momcomm about using custom fonts. As a simpler solution, even changing the header color to the blue in your header would add some extra oomph.
  • Since your posts are longer than average, be sure to check over your posts in preview mode and then break up long paragraphs. Another great way to break up long posts is to use sub-headings or to consider breaking up the text into a series.
  • I see that you use green for your comments link, tags, etc. Could you try to pull a color from your header and use that instead? I don’t see any green in your header and a matching color would help improve your blog’s branding.
  • It’s great that you use pictures in your posts and the distressing mask you put on them ties them in nicely to your header. Images are a must for telling a story.

a book for my daughter

Navigation (Fran)

  • It is great that your social media buttons are at the top of your sidebar.  (It is exactly where they should be!)  Consider enlarging them and brightening them up a bit so that they are more eye-catching.
  • Along these same lines, consider adding a RSS button, so that people can easily subscribe to your posts.
  • I am a big fan of including a search bar on all blogs.  Great job!  Because yours is a dark color against a dark header, I almost missed it.  Try changing the color of your nav bar so that is it more readily identifiable.  Mel also mentioning brightening your header altogether, which lends itself nicely with this suggestion.
  • You mentioned wanting to understand more about your keywords and categories.  From what I am seeing, you are off to a great start.  However, by utilizing the Google Keyword tool, you could be driving more organic web traffic to your site.  Example: One of the categories in your nav bar is Living in Istanbul.  When I search this term using the Google Keyword tool, I see that there are 2,900 global monthly searches.  However, by simply changing the wording to Life in Istanbul, the number of global monthly searches jumps to 22,200.  Istanbul Life does even better at 27,100 global monthly searches per month.  With just a few small tweaks in the terminology you’re using for your key words, you could see a change in your traffic.
  • Think about adding a Home button to your nav bar.  As I clicked around your site, I felt like I got “stuck.”  In order to find my way back to your posts, I had to click on the header.

a book for my daughter

Content (Kat)

  • This idea of creating an entire blog inspired by advice and life lessons for your daughter is beautiful!
  • Have you considered opening dialogue with your readers by encouraging them to write posts for their children and perhaps linking up with you on occasion?
  • Inviting guest posters to write a post about what they would put in a book to their daughter might be a neat idea!
  • As a new reader to your blog I’ll be honest and say it crossed my mind that perhaps your son would feel left out when he finds a blog dedicated to his sister. I know you incorporate him quite a bit when you talk about parenting, but what about entire posts focused on your relationship with him and what it’s like to raise a little boy in today’s world? I think it might be a sweet addition.
  • You clearly have some experience writing…your posts are clear, concise, and well written so I won’t bother telling you how to do that. Maybe you can be my editor! 😉

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 Erin at A Book For My Daughter 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 blogBlog 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:

About Melissa

Melissa is a busy mama with 11 years of experience in marketing and branding. She blogs at Adventuroo, a blog about capturing the everyday moments in motherhood, and Momcomm, a blog where she shares can-do tips for blogging, writing and social media.

29 Comments

  • Heather says:

    What a wonderful education tool! Thank you so much for all the great info. I cannot wait to implement some of these ideas and pointers on my site!

  • Gina says:

    Thank you for doing this critique series. It’s so helpful to read about all three components and see how they play out on different types of blogs.

  • Amber Cullum says:

    Such a lovely blog!

    I learned that I am going to spend more time focusing on keywords. Thanks!

  • Nicolette says:

    This critique (and all the critiques) are so insightful. It makes me look at my blog in a new light. Thanks so much.

  • I always learn something from a critique. And sometimes I learn I am doing SOMETHING right, lol! My links match a color in my header!
    Bernice

  • Cindee says:

    Congrats Erin I really enjoy your post. You are and the SITSGirls are so inspiring.I am learning so much from this site and getting the book soon. The question about your son do you plan to do his own blog? Or is this a Mom Daughter experince? I get that! Great blog yeah

    • Hi Cindee. I think that comment about my son was the one that may have resonated with me the most. It is something that I often think about, it is also the reason that I included him in the picture in the heading. I’ve been a parent to a daughter for almost 12 years, and I can see how a lot of my efforts have started to show in her. My son is only 6, and it’s possible that I baby him too much, but I still wonder “Am I doing a good job with him?” He’s a wonderful kid, but maybe I won’t know the answer to that question until he is older. That all being said, the answer to your question is “Yes.” I’m not sure how yet, but I will be adding a section (or a page, or something) dedicated to posts about being a mother to my son. I want to thank Kat again for pointing it out, and for putting it in writing for me to see.

  • Lindsey says:

    Wow Erin – congratulations on being featured here! You’re an excellent writer and this is a wonderful gift to your daughter 🙂

  • misssrobin says:

    I enjoy these critiques as well. They do make me re-examine my blog and think about what I’d like to change.

    What a great thing to do for these women. Plus, I love women who want critiquing. Those who think growth is more important that ego. Thanks for showcasing a few of them.

  • Asianmommy says:

    I love these blog critiques. The advice is so useful and practical. Simple changes can make a big difference.

  • I love reading these blog critiques – and even better it is great to find a new blog that I am going to get lost in reading all the archives – lesson to my own daughters – mama might be reading for a bit later today!

  • I love the blog critiques! I always learn something from them like the FB widget. I’ll be doing that tonight to increase my “likes” on my fan page. I think it’s a great idea for her to incorporate her sign which will also draw in more readers who have sons as well and will add a fresh touch for her and help her not run out of ideas. I’d love to have mine critiqued one day though I’m not sure I’m bold enough. ha!

  • Pattyann says:

    Oh, I love these ideas. It might just help me to design my own blog a little bit better!

  • Marie Cole says:

    Ohhh first critique I have ever read over here…Great info.

  • These critiques are always so helpful! On this one, I especially find the organic keyword examples super helpful…

    And yes – gorgeous blog! Your daughter is very lucky to have you :).

  • Sounds like your daughter truly knows how blessed she is! I learned that changing how I title something might change the amount of traffic I get on my blog!

  • Life As Wife says:

    Love her blog for a lot of the reasons y’all listed!

    Love the blog critiques!

  • I am not only inspired by this critique, but by this blog. I am stuck in a MAJOR RUT & I feel like this week of blog critique is really going to benefit me.

  • Wow! You SITStahs did a great job with so much helpful advice in this critique. I learned a lot! And a shout-out to my girl Erin and her awesome blog. Now it will be all the more awesome-er!

  • Alene says:

    This is great! Thank you so much. I’d love a critique because I have no clue what I”m doing. LOL Great inspiration here. Thanks again!!!!

  • Lindsey says:

    Erin is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Even though I don’t have daughters, I find her wisdom to apply to any situation, including dealing with boys.

  • I just wanted to say thank you so much to Mel, Fran, and Kat on my blog critique today—and to SITs for giving me the opportunity to be critiqued by such amazing women and bloggers. I’ve read thrugh the comments a couple of times, and I can’t get over how much all of you hit on exactly where I thought my shortcomings were. It isn’t just the feedback that is so helpful, it is the suggestions that you make on how to improve my blog that are invaluable to me.

    I’d also like to say to my fellow-bloggers out there, that I’ve been working my way through Mel’s (Momcomm) “DIY Blog Critique” (I’m on lesson 12), and it has been an incredible resource in helping me to really evaluating my blog, with the necessary tips to improve it. A lot of what was noted as a positive in this critique were changes I had made because of the book.

    Thanks again!

  • […] eyes, coffee in hand and dirty kids with matted hair all because I’ve been getting ready for Blog Critique Week over at SITS […]

  • Love the blog critiques ladies!!!

  • What a great idea for a blog.

    And I just learned that I need a contact page…Thanks! 🙂

  • I find these critiques so helpful! You really get me thinking!
    Erin has a lovely blog, doesn’t she? 🙂

  • […] to tell you that today my blog is being critiqued today by three incredible bloggers over on http://www.thesitsgirls.com: Mel from http://www.momcomm.com, and the creator of “The Do-It-Yourself Blog Critique,” Kat, […]

  • I love reading these blog critiques, it really gives me an insight into my own blog and whether I’m getting things right. Good stuff, ladies.