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Blog Critique

Blog Critique Week: Kadbury Is… {Thinking Out Loud}

By Sep 20, 2011 May 16th, 2012 14 Comments

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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.

Let’s do this!

Kristin from Kadbury Is… {Thinking Out Loud} describes her blog as follows:

Kadbury Is… {Thinking Out Loud} is a place for ideas, yours or mine. I love to share my ideas about decorating, crafting and parenting and can’t wait to hear what you have to add to the conversation.  Sometimes, I cook. But generally I leave that up to my husband because he’s never caught the kitchen on fire. Join me as I stumble my way through DIY projects, awesome crafts and raising three kids known as the BLT.

Kristin began her blog as a place to post all her craft and decorating projects. But after seeing how often the bigger bloggers post crafts/décor themed posts she decided that’s not the route she wants to go as she can’t possibly keep up (and admits that while she loves crafting she doesn’t love it THAT much). Kristin describes herself as very sarcastic but wonders if she comes across as full of herself with a big ego, when in fact she’s mocking herself.

Kristin loves the interaction with other parents and bloggers. She’d like to figure out how to make that a larger part of her blogging other than just replying on blogs or through email. She’d also love to know how to go about getting sponsorships and other paid gigs.

Design (Mel)

Header & Menu

  • I really love your font and color choices! You’ve done a great job of using them throughout your blog design, which keeps your branding consistent.
  • Since you don’t want crafting to be your main focus, reconsider the order and topics in the “sharing ideas about” part of your header. I’d move Parenting to the top and then chose Crafting or Decorating. Then add another topic you blog about as the third. Again, it’s to take the emphasis off of crafting and decorating, while not removing it completely.
  • While the header is laid out nicely (I talk about rule of thirds in my eBook), the words are a little cramped. I think what’s causing this is two things. One: the words on the left side (“sharing ideas about” and below) are squeezed too tightly together. Try reducing the size just a tad and adjust the leading (space between lines) in order to make more room. Two: the “squiggle” on the left side of the header crossed into the Sharing Ideas box, which is already full. I like the cross-over look on the right side of the header (near the “d” in loud), but on the left side of the header consider moving the “sharing ideas about” box more to the right so that the header is more balanced.
  • I barely noticed the Psalms verse listed in your green bar. In fact, I had been to your site multiple times before I saw it. Could you move it to your sidebar and write out the full verse instead? I think it gets a little lost where it is now.
  • Your menu includes two important elements: an About and a Contact page. I also think it’s great that your About page is titled “Who is Kadbury?” If I were a new reader seeing your blog title for the first time, that would be my first question!
  • Not sure I dig the grey/white background directly underneath your header and at the top of the blog in general. I think it’s because the white border runs into the white areas of your blog and is lost. Consider a texture that’s only a light grey.
  • In your menu, you may want to consider making 2-3 pages that go to archives of popular topics and/or posts for your blog. For a great example of how to do this, check out the sneeze pages on Copyblogger here.

Sidebars

  • Hooray for not cluttering up your sidebars with a gazillion buttons! While I truly applaud you for that, sidebars are prime real estate and you have lots of extra space. I’d really love to see a picture of you and a blurb of what your blog is about. Some other ideas: list of your most popular posts, drop-down of categories, Facebook widget (it’s so easy to like your page that way). Again, you don’t want your sidebar to become cluttered, but think of some key features that will add value for your readers.
  • It’s great that your social media buttons are at the top of your sidebar and easy to find. The spacing between each one is a bit funky though (I’m picky aren’t I?!) so try to spread them out a bit more evenly. I love how the colors are pulled from your header and background though. Very nice!

Main Column

  • Your main column is pretty clean and simple! Just a couple of suggestions really…
  • First, change your date color from red to black (or grey). Your headline is red and really pops so don’t let the date distract from it. It’s not a huge deal though. Just a fine-tuning thing.
  • A bigger deal is that your social media sharing buttons are at the top of your posts. Think about how a reader would decide to share your post… they’d most likely read through it, then want to share. While it’s fine to have a single sharing element at the top of a post (like a TweetMeme or Facebook Like), be sure you have a way for readers to share at the bottom of your posts.
  • Your post font is pretty easy to read, but I did notice that certain words look larger than others. I can’t tell if this is happening intentionally. If you are trying to draw your reader’s attention to certain text, then try making the font even larger so it’s obvious, or keeping the text the same size and using bold.
  • Also, try using sub-headings to break up longer posts. For example, on your Conference Awesomeness post, you could have sub-headings for the sessions you went to. It makes it easier to read through a post, especially if someone is skimming. (A sub-heading is more likely to catch a reader’s eye and make them stop to read everything).
blog critique

It's State Fair Time!

Navigation (Fran)

  • When it comes to navigation, your site is clean and easy to click through.  There was almost nothing that gave me pause.
  • That was until I came to the Contact Me page and the contact form.  Here is where I must call for an bloggy intervention and urge you to give your readers an alternative to filling out the form.  Consider adding an e-mail address so that people may get in touch with you directly.  If spam is a concern, be sure to properly format your e-mail address as follows: thesitsgirls {at} gmail {dot} com.  This should help you avoid the “spam bots”, but truth be told, I don’t think you have much to worry about.
  • If you are interested in monetizing your blog, you need to lay out the red carpet for potential opportunities.  Currently, your About Me page states that if people are interested in advertising to simply get in touch with you.  That’s fine, but you could probably make more headway by creating an Advertising page.  This would allow you to describe what you have to offer.  Questions to consider include: What size ads can you run?  125×125 pixels?  What about banners or text ads?  Are you open to sponsored posts?  Do you host giveaways?  The easier you make it for PR reps to take the guesswork out of their job, the more targeted the opportunities they can bring to you.  Read our post on 7 Tips for working with PR for more fab info.
  • Making money on your blog is never an easy task.  How you move forward is primarily influenced by how high you set your monetary goals.  In other words, will you be satisfied with making enough money to cover your coffee addiction (ha!), or are you looking for something more?  If you will be content with additional pocket money, then continuing to host ads in your sidebar is great!  However, if you are looking to earn more money, the challenge immediately becomes more complex.
    • My suggestion to you would be to consider using your blog as a jumping off point for other opportunities.  I’ll use myself as an example: I maintained a personal blog for many years before joining The SITS Girls and Bloggy Boot Camp.  Doing so allowed me to hone my blogging skills and learn a ton about the social media space.  Today?  My personal blog is a thing of the past, but I am able to earn an income based on the skills I’ve developed.
    • Consider looking at your blog in an entirely new light.  Add information to your About page, or maybe even add a Hire Me page, that explains who you are and why you are worth working with.  Where did you go to school?  What did you major in?  What do you do outside of the computer that demonstrates your work and leadership skills?  Are you involved with your kid’s soccer team?  The PTA?  Your church?  All these different interests and activities work together to build a very vivid picture of who you are and what you are capable of.
    • Once you have this information together, start Googling and pitching!  Get creative in brainstorming opportunities and then go after them, always referring people back to your blog…aka your online resume.

    blog critique

    Tutorial: spray paint makes a front porch better

    Content (Kat)

    • I love that you seem to have the perfect balance of humor and love in your posts. As a reader, I can tell you adore your family, but the humor from your daily life definitely comes through!
    • You have a great combination of pictures vs. content. It’s great that you break up some of your paragraphs with relevant images!
    • If you’re hoping to increase readership, I would continue commenting back to your readers, as well as working to build a larger following on Twitter and Facebook. I believe you get out of blogging what you put into it. Perhaps actively finding and engaging new friends on both of those platforms might be worth more effort.
    • Your blog header says you write about crafting, cooking and decorating…and then you have buttons in the sidebar that represent each of those categories. When I click on a category button, it takes me to a page where you list those respective projects. If it were me, I might add those options to the navigation bar instead.
    • If you need more advice from me, I’ll be over at Problogger’s place today. He is hounding me for tips on how to blog again. 😉


    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 Kristin from Kadbury Is… {Thinking Out Loud} 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?

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    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.

14 Comments

  • Lots of great info and detail, and you have introduced me to a lovely new-to-me blogger too.

    Thanks

  • Marie Cole says:

    Love all the info. 🙂

  • Kristin says:

    My utmost thanks to Fran, Mel and Kat for their wonderful disection of my blog! I love the ideas and can’t wait to implement them…
    On a quick side note, I don’t know that the words ‘wonderful’ and ‘disection’ have ever been stuck next to each other; I may have just invented a brand new phrase.
    ; )

  • Luci says:

    2 great things I took from this info:

    1.) Include info on how to hire me and
    2.)what kind of advertising people can do with me on the about me page

    And one question:
    On “commenting back”, I currently use blogger and I don’t think people will get my comments unless they check the box that says “e-mail me when people comment” etc. Do you suggest I just relax and comment back to people on the blog site, and if they care, they’ll check that box. Or should I find people’s e-mails and send them e-mails to make sure they get my response…?

    • Luci- It’s a great question and there’s no great answer because Blogger DOES make it so hard. One option is to try Disqus. It’s a plugin of sorts that you can install on Blogger. It will email people when you or someone else replies to their comment. Most people have Disqus accounts and are familiar with its interface.

      Otherwise, if someone leaves their email, you could always shoot them a quick note. Responding to comments is great but without a way for people to see it (i.e. if you don’t end up doing something like Disqus) then you may instead pay them a visit and leave a comment on their blog. Just be sure not to just say “thanks for commenting on my blog” but leave a genuine comment (but I’m sure you knew that!).

      I wish I had a clearer answer than that but we can blame it on Blogger! LOL

  • Alene says:

    This is great info. Thank you!

  • Wonderful information! Especially since I am launching in less than two weeks…this is all good to know!

  • Ashley says:

    That’s interesting information! It makes me rethink somethings on my blog. I wish I knew how to do it myself instead of paying someone else to do it!

  • Autumn says:

    These posts are so inspiring! I had to stop reading this post and tweak my blog just a bit before I could finish reading this. Keep ’em coming, ladies!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I switched to self-hosting in WordPress right after BlogHer in August. Poor timing on my part with school starting, work picking back up, and other life stuff! I really need to work on getting everything in place and your tips, etc. are helping me for sure! Now that I seem to be getting back on an even keel maybe I can start thinking about where I want to go next with my blog.

  • Great practical suggestions for Kristin! Love that you get down to intricate details. You’re helping me think through not only my own blog, but using my blog as more of a jumping off place for using other skills that I have to make money. I believe it was Fran who mentioned that. This kind of affirms something that I’ve been mulling over in my own head lately.

    • Cindee says:

      Thank you for sharing your blog. I am learning so much my head may explode. Ha I thought your blog was great but I see how awesome it can be. Visiting from SITSclass thanks

      • Kristin says:

        Thanks for checking it out! I can’t wait to have a free minute and start working some of the changes the girls suggested : )