Let’s Play “You Be The Blogging Consultant”

I work with a lot of different clients who are either just dipping their toe into the swirling maelstrom of the blogosphere or who have been blogging but want to take their efforts to the next level. There are a number of ways we interact, including a popular in-process Exploding Your Business with Blogging teleseminar with my pal Brad Fallon, but we also share critiques and feedback with each other too, a process that I have always found one of the best ways to learn more about how to be successful.
Heck, every time we have a round-robin feedback discussion I learn of different ways I can improve my own weblogs too, and I’ve been tuning them for years now. 🙂
But this is your chance, dear reader, to get involved! I’m going to share the list of client sites I’m involved with currently and invite you to visit one or more of them, evaluate what they’re doing, and then post a comment here with your feedback to that blogger. Once you’ve done that, you’re invited to post a link to your own weblog too, and we’ll try to respond with feedback on your site too!


Sounds pretty fun, doesn’t it?

The Growth of Emotions In Marketing
“My target is marketers of companies that are considering strengthening their brands and this includes web entreprenuers. My background is as a marketing consulting working with brands and new products for major brands in the U.S. and Canada and the advertising and strategic planning business before that. We developed an emotion-based marketing “system” more or less, to guide companies in harnessing the hidden power of emotions to their brands. Emotions are what makes people decide to do things. Rational brands and positioning really tend to limit decisionmaking and acquisition of things new.”
Love and Relationship Advice from Susie And Otto Collins
“Our audience: people interested in learning how to have great relationships of all kinds–although most articles concern how to create close, connected, alive intimate relationships for adults. What we’re trying to accomplish: 1. Our blog is a way to get our message and products out there quicker to be picked up by the search engines to sell more products and reach more people, 2. An additional ways to add newsletter subscribers to our database, 3. Build more credibility as relationship authorities, 4. Use this tool to further our mission to make a bigger difference in the relationships and lives of others”
Parenting and Babies: Baby Talk Blog
“This is the blog I’ve started in support of my baby products store — Little Giraffe Blankets Store — is a “mommy/daddy” blog, literally and thematically. It’s focused on family life and children both because that’s one thing I really care about and because I’m trying to claim a space in the “baby blog” world for the sake of positioning and so I can run traffic to my store. If you’ve got a second, check it out and let me know what your gut reaction is!”
Here Comes The Blog
“What we’re trying to accomplish is pretty simple – we want a strong word of mouth bridal community. The kind of message board and blog that eventually becomes an industry standard and an automatic ‘go to’ place once women get engaged, like Modern Bride or TheKnot.com. (Aim high, right?) By extension, this will then raise the profile and awareness of our store My Wedding Favors and our other attached bridal sites. I’m trying to write blog entries that are useful and thought-provoking for brides but at the same time, different and – we hope – better than most of the standard wedding planning articles.”
The Motorcycle Diary
“The concept is to create a community of motorcycle riders to share their favorite road trips. I will be adding a lot of different areas to the forum especially for all facets of motorcycle discussion.”
Purses are my passion
This is a blog about purses and handbags and related fashion accesories. My niece Ashley has been doing all of the work. Our ultimate goal is to eventually get affiliate sales and links to one of our other sites which will sell fashion items.”
Design Your Own Web
“To help people make use of the open source resources out there by offering free video tutorials for how to use some of the valuable free programs to create their own websites. Incidental revenue from Yahoo and Google Ads. Trying to make somewhat complex subjects easy to understand and use.”
Duty Free Hawaii
“The theme of the site will be anything relating to Hawaii, and I plan to create content that will motivate visitors to the blog in order that they visit the store and buy products. Topics I will blog about (and have either drop-ship or joint venture agreements with companies to sell products) include Hawaiian real estate sales, rentals, jewelry, clothing, macademia nuts, and similar.”
Note: this site is not yet online.

So what do you think of these weblogs? Are they clean, clear, and readable? Is the writing style effective and engaging? Do they make you consider subscribing?
If you’d like to have some of us look at your weblog, please post the URL and also include a note about what you’re trying to accomplish, who your target audience is, and so on.
Weblogs focused on gambling, pornography, hate groups, or knee-jerk politics won’t make the cut. Just not our speed…

19 comments on “Let’s Play “You Be The Blogging Consultant”

  1. I like the purse one. What’s it about? Purses you fool!! Kind of the “just purses” theme and without a lot of baggage (yes, that’s a pun).
    I’m not saying the rest of them suck. That one just stands out.

  2. Why not let the readers of those blogs “play blog consultant”?
    In other words, have those bloggers post a “We’d like your feedback” post that readers can comment on.
    Of course, I understand that a lot of businesses might be truly horrified by the prospect that all readers might read what some more critical readers might post. If that’s the case, why invite them into the customer-oriented blogosphere in the first place?
    I’ll offer one small piece of feedback… I see a picture (presumably of the blogger) with a link below it that says “Email Me”, with NO CLUE as to who “Me” is. That link should give the blogger’s name. I eventually found the guy’s name, but why was he trying SO HARD to hide it?
    Also, the blog posts don’t uniformly let us know *who* made the post. Yours always say “Posted by Dave Taylor”. Some of the blogs were “friendly” in that sense, others were *not* “friendly”.
    — Jack Krupansky

  3. Great exercise. Thanks for sharing. I’ve posted or commented elsewhere, but here’s a couple more thoughts not found elsewhere:
    Purses Are My Passion: Clean Design. Like the search function at the top. Have the category pages be a compilation of posts. Too many clicks otherwise. I stopped reading Purse of the Week after the second one.
    Design Your Own Web: Probably great content, but too many ads on the main page. As a reader, I’d be okay with keeping them on the archived pages, but it’s a bit overt at the top level. Use bold fonts more often.

  4. Had to check out Motorcycle Diary, being an active motorcyclist myself. My thoughts:
    – The connection between the forums and the blog is unclear. Do especially good forum posts get promoted to the blog, or what? Likewise, on the safety article, should contributions go to the comments or to the forum? Overall, it’s not clear who’s writing the blog, and how the community should be involved.
    – If the site is designed around community contribution, is a blog the best format? Perhaps the forums should be the highlight instead. (www.advrider.com is a good example of an extremely active forum-based site for motorcyclists.)
    – The site creator should take the lead and post some good starting content. Right now the site is designed as a container for reader contributions, but he/she needs to jump-start the readership by providing something for them to read. A good example would be the safety article: right now it provides some accident statistics, then asks for reader suggestions. Surely the author has a lot of ideas to contribute which could get the discussion going.
    – I’d shuffle the ad placement a bit. I’d dump the top ad and use that as a place to make a quick statement about what the site is — much like intuitive.com and askdavetaylor.com. I’d also move the AdSense ad to below the most recent blog entry. IMHO the site should lead off with content, not an ad. Ideally, put an AdSense below the top entry and another below the second entry. I’d also consider making the ad link text red to match the blog headlines.

  5. Well, by accident I thought I lost all my data on my blog when in reality the servers were down for repair right in the middle of a design change.
    After an hour I was so mad I deleted all the posts; and then set out for the next three days to create this new design which seems to have gotten quite a lot of attention.
    The purpose of my blog is to grab your attention in 33 seconds; that’s it; that’s all.
    Hopefully human nature kicks in and people start clicking away and the next thing I know I am getting some very promising email.
    Go figure. The lesson: Most of us wake up in the morning running like a blonde antelope[sorry ladies but they are rare] at 90 mph and the blonde antelop runs into a tree and knocks himself out.
    Sitting beside the tree at 9am are two giant Lions who look at each other and one of them says, “How would you like blonde antelope for lunch?”
    Enjoy the site at : http://sophisticaworld.silkblogs.com
    best, michael

  6. As a fiber artist I went and looked at the purse blog and for some reason I didn’t see a single photo. Maybe it’s my browser, maybe it’s all my firewalls, etc. But I wouldn’t go back because of it.
    Also – and this might be an odd observation – but the comment link doesn’t show any numbers – as in other people leaving comments. I always notice this and it gives me an inkling as to whether people are interested in a blog or not.

  7. Michael P.: I tried clicking on the first two informative links on your blog and both of them cause a pop-up since they are PDF files. That is EXTREMELY user-unfriendly. It would be INFINITELY preferable if you would just provide a few sentences or a paragraph or two or a few bullet points that summarizes those documents. Have a little more sympathy for the poor reader.
    I applied my 10-second test to your blog… I brought it up, visually scanned it for a few seconds, TRIED to start reading it… time up. The only “message” left in my head after those 10 seconds was something about agressiveness being strength and weakness being peaceful. Is that the message you intend readers to get?
    Your blog has a name that doesn’t clue me in as to its purpose and has no tag line to reinforce the meaning. I shouldn’t have to start reading posts to figure out what the blog is about.
    I did read on a little and see a mention of “knowledge web”, which is a topic that interests me greatly (and in fact is my current top research project), but I see no obvious elucidation of what you mean by the term, what your approach is, or whether that is central, secondary, or incidental to the mission of your blog.
    Also, I don’t think is is credible (or useful) for ANYBODY to claim that they are “uniquely qualified as an intellectual transfer agent”, even assuming I had a clue of how an “intellectual transfer agent” is different than say a blogger. Is it a step *above* being a blogger, or is it in fact dramatically *inferior* to being a blogger? It sounds like the latter, but it wasn’t clear from your blog.
    Maybe some of my questions and concerns could easily be answered by diving deep into your blog, but your blog front-end really didn’t inspire me to want to dive into these murky waters.
    In short, add a title and tag line to your blog and a lot of my complaints would vanish.
    — Jack Krupansky

  8. Dave – Slightly off-topic, I followed your link for Exploding your Business via Blogging and am looking forward to some future posts from you on some of the topics in your ad copy.

    Blaine

  9. I took a look at the “Design Your Own Web” blog, and immediately noticed one thing. The last entry recommended going to http://www.php.net for more info, but it wan’t a clickable link. Also, the same thing in the second entry. You recommend several types of WYSIWYG software instead of writig html by hand, but no links to sources to help the reader find them (and perhaps earn yourself a dime or two). Plus you didn’t mention Webweaver, one of my favorites WYSIWYG editors, free to demo and cheap to buy, AND easy to work with. Hop this helps for your future posts.
    Jack

  10. Great exercise! Let me just comment on a few of them (comments are mainly first impresions about the blogs):
    Purses
    Nice, clean design, allthough maybe a bit too clean (too business-like) considering the target audience. Also, I think a blog about something as tangible as purses should have the pictures as large as possible. Purse fans will want to look at these purses as close-up as possible. Small as they are, the pics could have the text flow around them rather than causing such a big white space.
    Baby Talk Blog
    Very small text, no pics, doesn�t really invite to read. Colors are ok, but once I scroll down a bit, without the top banner image, the blog looks kind of dull. RSS feed not very visible.
    Emotions in Marketing
    Even being very interested in the subject, such an amount of (small) text kind of sets me off. Very short sidebar makes me doubt about blogger’s experience (no blogs, no history). Typical Typepad design shows little interest in originality.
    Love and Relationship advice…
    Though it uses the same design as Emotions in Marketing, shorter posts and a more populated sidebar work better. But why is the overall experience so business-like, almost unfriendly? Ah, and feed links are missing.
    Motorcycle Diary
    Nice blog! Design is not that great, but at least the motor pics at the top take me into the blogs world inmediately. Typography is clear. However, navigation is a bit strange, sidebar is not really used well.
    Design your own web
    Blog content doesn�t really match the title. Subtitle promises me I will learn about graphic design, but articles on front page are not addressing that subject. Blog design quite typical, not really what I would expect from a blog about web design. Blogroll too short. Google ads not well seperated from content.
    Anyone feels about taking a look at my blog? Great! critics welcome. It was just redesigned and I am still tweaking for PC/explorer compliance. Ah, it’s in spanish, too, but I hope that’s fine.
    http://www.paulbeelen.com
    and an RSS reader I am involved in:
    http://www.rezzibo.com/default-en.aspx
    Cheers!
    Paul

  11. Thanks for the feedback everyone. It’s a new blog that’s a work in progress. Hadn’t used WordPress before so I am still tweaking it and getting it going.
    On aside note, you guys might want to recheck your own blogs & sites using the new IE 7 Beta. Some CSS is rendering a little different and affecting the layout.
    Robert

  12. Dave – Slightly off-topic, I followed your link for Exploding your Business via Blogging and am looking forward to some future posts from you on some of the topics in your ad copy.

    Blaine
    Hi Dave – I too had looked at the link for Exploding your Business via Blogging as this was a new topic for me. I’m still trying to figure it all out but it looks like you’re really onto something. Can’t wait to find out more.
    Greg

  13. Hello,
    I have signed up for so many different blogging guides, programs, etc. to learn the correct way. I must admit that I spend more time reading about them and have not spent much time maintaining one. I want to make it count because I don’t have a lot of time. What weighs more, blogging or social networks?

  14. I really like the idea of encouraging visitors to read other blogs and post back here with critique. This is a great formula to get feedback and build a larger networking circle.
    I don’t have a blog yet, as I tend to spend more time reading others than writing my own. I hope this is the proverbial kick in the pants to get me started on my own blog.

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