Audit Your Own Blog: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

image source: blog.factolex.com

I’ve been spending a lot of time in recent weeks reading blogs, looking at blogs, writing my own blog posts and more. I have seen some good, some bad and some very bad design and layout.

(Double disclaimer here: I am not a Web design expert by trade AND I don’t love my own layout here on katywidrick.com — so this is a bit of do as I say, don’t do as I do)

Why so much attention on what y’all are doing, and often not doing?

Jess, my Fitbloggin’ partner-in-crime, and I are doing two major social media makeovers for our presentation, and several mini-makeovers for people who applied but didn’t get the whole package.

And in the hours that we’ve spent around the Internet, there are a few questions that we’ve asked our bloggers to consider. Now it’s your turn.

 

5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Blog

 

1. Do people know what I look like?

  • Do you have a good, high-quality picture that is visible on your main page? If not, do you at least have a good picture on your About page?

For better or worse, we all tend to trust and relate to people whose names have faces — even if we’ll never meet those people in real life. So find a good picture of yourself (something recent, please!) and consider adding it to your sidebar. If you don’t have the real estate, or would prefer to keep it off the homepage, at least consider putting a shot on your About page.

In addition to giving new readers a way to remember you, it’s a good way to let return visitors be sure they’re in the right place.

Example:

2. Do people know what I stand for?

  • Have you listed your mission statement somewhere on the website? Will a first-time visitor know what to expect in terms of your writing?

There are so many bloggers out there (millions!) that you need to be very clear what you stand for, what you typically write about, what your point of view is and why readers should come back. T

This mission statement doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking — on my homepage (see above) I have a simple sentence [read: elevator pitch] with a much longer description on my About page.

I also use the Author Box on WordPress to give readers a reminder at the bottom of every post:

(fyi — I just unlocked that feature in my theme, but there are also plugins you can use)

3. Can fans share with one click?

  • If a reader likes something that you have written, how many steps does he or she have to take to put it on her Facebook page, Twitter, StumbleUpon or send via email?

I can tell you from experience — if I have to jump through even ONE hoop to share your content…I won’t do it. Unless you’re my husband. But even Lucas finally got sick of me saying

“…do you know that to post your links on Facebook I have to copy the URL, open a new tab and log into Faceboook, find my status section, post the link…”

and let me install the Sexy Bookmarks plugin. There are other good options (Sociable, TweetMeme, Facebook Social Plugins come to mind) but I really love the easy of installation and customization.

Sexy Bookmarks + FB Social Plugins looks like this:

4. Can readers easily subscribe to my content?

  • When a new reader comes to your website, it should be easy for them to get updates automatically pinged to his or her email address or feed reader — can he or she do it with just one click?

One word for you. Feedburner.

Now a few more words. Please please PLEASE make it easy for me to add you to my Google Reader! You just need to add an RSS icon to your homepage, and in many cases, it will be there for you as soon as you install your theme. I urge you to go one step further and burn your feed through Feedburner so you can get analytics and can add that cool “subscribe by email” widget to your sidebar.

5. Would I read my own blog?

  • Here’s the biggie — would you come back to your own website? Is it too busy? Too plain? Doesn’t have any of the above features?

If the answer is no…just make some changes! I guarantee you, when you write blog posts that YOU would read, you’ll enjoy writing them that much more. I’ve talked a lot about my decision to basically start over in the spring of 2010. I’d gotten sick of myself, and had really started to think about quitting the blogging gig altogether.

The minute I gave myself permission to make a course correction, I not only found more joy, I found more readers. Like, a lot more readers.

There are more questions, but those are for another day.

Now I want to know — why should *I* read your blog? Make a good case in the comments and I’ll add you to my reader…providing you make it easy.

Comments

  1. 4

    says

    You should read my blog because I’m passionate about healthy living (food, fitness and other F words … not wait, that’s not me, that’s you. I’m a middle-age woman who’s libido has left the room (sigh)
    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Now on to the real comment …

    I almost lost my life … and my leg. Now I run again … because I can. My blog is my story.

    After a nasty accident, going through a major recovery for my beat-up body that almost died was tough … then I discovered that my mind and spirit are also severely beat-up from the trauma and ongoing pain. So my blog covers my journey of taking one step at a time … learning how to do life with a healthy body, mind and spirit.

    This is a great post … thanks for the tips, I need to poke around my site today and see how it appears to a newcomer. I’d love suggestions and critiques from you … and any of your readers that want to pop over.

    • 5

      says

      I’m glad you liked the post — I’m adding your blog to my Google Reader now, and if I can bring you any suggestions, I certainly will!

  2. 7

    says

    You should read my blog because it’s well written, clearly organized and doesn’t fit comfortably into any niche. This means that while I blog about running marathons, cooking delicious vegan food, camping with my two giant dogs, and my quest to become a professional writer, I don’t force my content to fit into any one box. I like to think my blog is an organic presentation of my life, with a positive twist. Is there a genre for happy living blogs? If not, I think I might just start one!

  3. 9

    says

    I love the author’s plugging. I’m going to try to add that and a share me feature.

    You should read my blog because I’m honest and talk candidly about lots food, exercise, and other life issues.

  4. 10

    says

    Great post and good suggestions on how to objectively look at your blog. I think it can be difficult starting out to know what to do with it, but posts like these sure are helpful. A lil’ HTML doesn’t hurt either ;)

    YES! Come over, take a look… what will you find? Personal style, DIY’s, home cookin’, trends and more… however, I’m still trying to figure out FeedBurner :S

    A.Co @ A.Co est. 1984

  5. 12

    says

    This is a great post, I’ve been trying to figure out how to add the links at the bottom to retweet, digg, etc.

    You should read my blog because I do not post pictures of oatmeal everyday. I am a real person with real weight/food struggles. I also write about my life, which is what I love most in other blogs. I love reading about other people’s dramatic lives!

  6. 14

    says

    I would also suggest doing a favorite posts page or a “timeline” page if you’ve been blogging for awhile. I’ve been blogging for about three years, but only over the past six months or so found my voice as a food blogger. So a few weeks ago I literally went through 800 posts (I was snowed in) and created a favorite posts page for people new to my blog. The response to it has been awesome!

    Sarah

    oh – here it is, ha http://www.thestrengthoffaith.com/p/favorite-posts.html

  7. 16

    says

    I’m Cynthia and I hate change…in theory. It All Changes is about riding the ups and downs that come with life in a healthy manner and enjoying it all the way. Get ready for a fun ride.

    Also I love your little tips and tricks to make me a better blogger. You may not have a degree in design but learning through a non-designer’s eyes helps those of us with even less experience enjoy blogging without paying big bucks.

  8. 17

    says

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post today! This is the first time visiting your blog, but I plan to keep coming back because you’ve made it so easy! I’ve just started my blog and am still in the process of tweaking it. Thank you for your tips, I plan to add/re-do some things this weekend!

    • 18

      says

      Nina,

      I’m glad you stumbled over, too! I’m heading to your blog now, and I’m looking forward to see what you do to update it :)

  9. 19

    says

    This is really good information. The other day when I was in the shower (random thoughts pop into my head when I shower, work with me here ;)), I was thinking about my blog and what my mission was behind it. I am definitely going to write some sort of mission statement!
    Lately I’ve been in a rut with my blog. I love writing, but I think I am boring my readers with the same ol’ same ol’. I’m going to try mixing it up and I already have a few things in mind. :)

    Why should you read my blog? Well, we have the same first name. ;) We are both running IronGirl (if I can get over this injury! Ugh!) And….well, that’s all I’ve got right now. ;)

    • 20

      says

      I do some of my best blogging work on runs and in the shower, so you’re not alone! I’m 100% behind the mission statement idea, because it can grow and change as you do.

      You’re in my reader :)

  10. 21

    says

    This was an awesome post. I really appreciate any advice on improving my blog so I love it when I find posts like these that make it easy to do and understand.

    You should read my blog because I’m passionate about my subjects and I think it shows. I’m a new author so the majority of what I post is about writing, my writing process, or books I’ve read. I’m exploring social media as a way to promote books and literacy in general (book trailers, anyone?). And what blog would be complete without insight into that blogger’s personal life? I give plenty of that – and occasionally try to promote my own work, though I do my best to limit myself in that area. I won’t claim to be an expert in any area, but I know that’s the point of social media, right? Try, try again, and then try something different. My blog is great for anyone who’s interested in reading or writing or just likes to read about other people’s lives.

    • 22

      says

      How exciting — I love how unique your point of view is, and it’s refreshing to see someone blogging about writing. You’re going into my Google Reader right now!

      I actually just heard about book trailers for the first time on Pasta Queen’s blog…fascinating.

    • 23

      says

      Can you send me your blog link? I think the one you included in your comment is wrong, and I don’t want to miss your posts!

  11. 25

    says

    Great tips! I especially like the one about making it easy to subscribe. I have actually gone so far as to ask bloggers if they had an option that I was missing. But now I finally figured out I can add them without it.

    I have a hard time tooting my own horn and telling anyone why they should read my blog. I’d like to say because I am honest and write well? But I hope you at least come visit sometime:) And I did once promote you and your blog and your blogging survey:) I think you and YOUR blog are pretty awesome.

    • 26

      says

      Well, my goodness…you are just the boost that I needed! Thanks for your kind words about me, although I’d submit that tooting your own horn is just good marketing. It’s not hype — it’s letting people know about your hard work!

      You’re in my Google Reader :)

  12. 28

    says

    I think I do all the things you suggest (love the list by the way).

    My header on my blog is the progression of my weight loss from 250 to 143 pounds. I also have a tag line about what my blog is about in the header.

    When I discover a new blog I go immediately to the “About” Page. I want to see a photo, a intro and a LOCATION. So many bloggers leave that out! I like knowing where people live so I can live vicariously through them (And it’s cool when they live somewhere I’ve been).

  13. 29

    says

    You should read my blog because I have an inspiring story to share about transforming my life. I share really good, simple to follow recipes in a very approachable manner, and try to be very relate able for my readers. I’m also very modest. =)

    • 30

      says

      Done! And I love the word “transforming” — it’s such a powerful nod to where you’ve bee, where you’re going, and the journey and adventure along the way.

  14. 31

    says

    I’m Suzanne and I love tooting my own horn! I believe everyone should love who they are and be able to talk about it aloud. I share myself and my knowledge in WorkoutNirvana… a blog about all things weight training. You can learn everything from WHY you should lift weights to HOW. I inspire, educate, and motivate. Check it out and you’ll understand why I call weight training “Nirvana.”

    • 32

      says

      TOOT TOOT! You’ve been in my Google Reader :) And I love reading the “why” posts just as much as the “how.” So keep ‘em coming!

  15. 34

    says

    Amazing. It’s really like you read my mind this afternoon, Katy! I’ve been thinking about exactly these things. I’m happy to know I’m on the right track.

    Gympressions is a celebration of some of the truly amazing things our bodies can do. It’s about trying new things, learning, achieving goals, failing, getting back up and laughing along the way. Please join me as I run, lift, stretch, punch, dance, spin and explore the wide world of working out.

  16. 35

    says

    You should read my blog because I’m a real person. I don’t have a niche (read: I’m not perfect at anything) therefore you never know what you’ll find on my blog.

    I’ve been told that on most days I can make readers cry. Either by laughing too hard, or opening myself up real deep. I blog about infertility, depression, OCD, anxiety and my struggle with weight loss and self esteem – as well as embarrassing stories from my life like this one time I started talking about sex and mahjong in a post office, or how I was once pantsed in front of my mother in law.

    I also occasionally post random shirtless pictures of hunky celebrities.

    Or poke fun at George Lucas.

    (There’s also a link to a farting cat on my About page).

  17. 37

    says

    as a fairly new blogger, i just have two words for you THANK YOU.. this post is going to be so helpful to me as i further develop my blog. after reading this post, i realized that i clearly have a lot of work to do. i would still love for you to check out my blog. my mission is to share the highs and lows of trying to lose weight while living in nyc where everything is centered around food.. my goal is to inspire others and be inspired by individuals who are also on this journey.

    • 38

      says

      YOU’RE WELCOME. :) But as always, it’s my pleasure — I’m just glad you found the post helpful!

      I’m on my way to your blog now…welcome to the blogosphere!

  18. 40

    says

    I’m kind of an open book on my blog. I think I’m relatable and honest. And I can be funny and have a cute dog. The dog’s probably the best part.

  19. 41

    says

    Thanks for the great post – I’ve went over some of your tips and made a tweak here and a fix ‘er up there to try make some improvements as you suggested.

    Why should you read my blog? Aw, that’s easy – my blog is about chasing the good life, whatever that may be to you. I’m a combo of positive motivation, cutesy (sometimes groan-worthy;-)) humour and great food. My goal is to inspire people to eat healthfully and make choices that help them to find “their” good life. (who doesn’t want that?!!)

    I hope you pop over for a visit and like what you see. You will see that I’m still working on your suggestions, but my blog is only a month old and I am getting there!!

    • 42

      says

      oooh, chasing the good life — that is an AWESOME phrase!

      I’m heading over right now … welcome to the blogosphere, and keep the great work coming!

  20. 44

    says

    Really helpful post! I just spent 2 hours fiddling with my site to make sure it is more user friendly.

    You should read my blog because I switch it up every day. Whether it’s photography, recipes, celebrity gossip, or just the ramblings of my own thoughts. You won’t ever see me writing about the same thing day in and day out.

  21. 45

    says

    2 hours? My sympathies :) I tend to get sucked into the update process, and have been known to lose hours at a time…

    I’m heading to your site now to add you to my Google Reader!

  22. 46

    says

    You should read my blog because I do healthy living wrong: I don’t love veggies or oatmeal, I run slowly, I don’t stretch or do yoga, I swear and eat meat and bake with copious amounts of butter and drink Diet Coke…but I’m still managing to do it my own way.

    And I’m not afraid to talk about buttcheek chafing.

  23. 48

    says

    Great advice – thank you! I recently learned that my Feedburner email widget was not working, so I’ve got to get that fixed ASAP!

    I started my blog (Leading the Good Life) at a time when I felt I had lost my personality and was just being washed away in a monotonous and “easy” life. I decided that I need to take charge and make my life what I want it to be. This is not easy! However, as my tagline suggests (“striving to make concious choices on a daily basis”), I am challenging myself to embrace the freedom I have to live the life that I choose. And to choose things that make me truly happy.

  24. 49

    says

    Thanks for this! I find your blog an awesome resource for making my blog a better place. Because of you I just added shareaholic, I am so stoked about it!
    Your idea of a mission statement got me thinking. I think since I have been blogging well over a year now, I have evolved a lot as a blogger. hhmm….
    You should read my blog because I am the underdog. I run, but I am not fast. I try to be organized, but I fail sometimes, I try to strength train, but am pretty scrawny, and I try to be mentally healthy, but I go a little bezerk, a LOT of times! Despite my flaws, I am happy healthy LOVE to blog!

  25. 50

    says

    Love this tips! I need to get myself an author box!

    You should read my blog because I am straightforward and love to blog about just how bananas life can sometimes get. Between staying healthy through exercise and cooking balanced meals, teaching 2nd grade to inner city students, and planning a wedding – I have my share of ups and downs..,but it is all about BALANCE. I may have to juggle many things.. but it works in the end. And seriously.. second graders are just too cute and I love sharing some of there crazy stories! :)

  26. 51

    says

    I need to work on some of these things! I am so happy to have read this advice as I dig deeper and attempt to become a better blogger. If you aren’t too annoyed by the difficulty of adding me to reader you should follow me because I am also in television, I do fun fitnessy things and I’m constantly exploring new things and places and blogging about them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *