Need constructive criticism for my blog

by zannix
22 replies
  • WEB DESIGN
  • |
First of all, I don't know if there's a section for website reviews on this forum, if there is - please feel free to move the thread.

I recently created a personal development blog and I'd like some constructive criticism and feedback with regards to design, content and any other stuff that you should notice.

I'm going to start promoting the website soon, replace the current Wordpress subscription form with Aweber and create an email sequence designed to engage, provide value and promote products.

But other than that, if anyone runs a personal development blog, I'd love to hear your opinions on where to drive traffic from (I'm especially interested in solo ads in this niche), and how to best monetize it.
#blog #constructive #criticism #opinion
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    In a design sense it looks good. My eye is entertained.

    And good content, too.

    Next step: monetization!

    What path do you have to turn visitors into buyers?

    I don't see one yet.

    Popups are annoying...and yet they work. I fought against implementing them on my sites for years, but once I did opt-ins leapt up...because I gave people a path to follow.
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    • Profile picture of the author zannix
      Thanks @Jason, I have a question. Do you think it's better to monetize the site right away, or wait until you build a solid base of visitors and then start mixing value with promotions?

      I've always wondered this. On one hand, it seems reasonable to monetize it right away, after all, you could be leaving money on the table. On the other hand, I haven't tested this yet but it seems to me that websites that do not sell stuff build trust and following easier.

      What's your take on this?
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by zannix View Post

        Thanks @Jason, I have a question. Do you think it's better to monetize the site right away, or wait until you build a solid base of visitors and then start mixing value with promotions?

        I've always wondered this. On one hand, it seems reasonable to monetize it right away, after all, you could be leaving money on the table. On the other hand, I haven't tested this yet but it seems to me that websites that do not sell stuff build trust and following easier.

        What's your take on this?
        Why WOULDN'T you monetize right away?

        a) you have to learn the process that works for your visitors, and that trial and error is going to take time

        b) people visiting now are just as valuable, just as strongly seeking answers, and have just as much money as those who will be visiting in 6 months

        ...right?

        The visitor doesn't really care that you have offers. It's not going to stop them from visiting.

        They want help and they're getting free help from your articles.

        There's something I'd like you to turn over in your mind a little today:

        To make money you have to ask for the order.
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        • Profile picture of the author zannix
          @Jason, that seems reasonable.

          The only good reason I can think of for waiting with promotions is that you could build initial trust and connection easier because many people are allergic to promotions.

          Even if my guess is true (and I'm not saying it is, it is just speculation), it could have a potential downside - if I wait for a couple of months and then suddenly start promoting to an audience that is used to content without promotions, it could cause readers to unfollow.

          I think you're right. Better to monetize right away and build a readership that doesn't mind promotions. After all, those are the people you can ultimately make money of.
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          All you can do is all you can do - Art Williams
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
            Originally Posted by zannix View Post

            @Jason, that seems reasonable.

            The only good reason I can think of for waiting with promotions until you have a solid base of followers is that you could build initial trust and connection easier because many people are allergic to promotions.

            Even if my guess is true (and I'm not saying it is, it is just speculation), it could have a potential downside - if I wait for a couple of months and then suddenly start promoting to an audience that is used to content without promotions, it could cause readers to unfollow.

            I think you're right. Better to monetize right away and build a readership that doesn't mind promotions. After all, those are the people you can ultimately make money off.
            You have some limiting beliefs about selling

            Bring those out into the sunlight so they can disappear.

            "Everybody seems to be more concerned about offending a few losers than they are about selling a multitude of winners. Who the hell cares about that small percentage of cowards who have nothing but time on their hands and who write caustic (and unsigned) letters in response to almost every solicitation they receive? I know I don't."

            The Gary Halbert Letter

            Your job is to build a business, not be inoffensive to everybody.
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            • Profile picture of the author glennshep
              Hi Zannix, I really like your blog. It's clean, well laid out and looks really good.

              Just to add to the excellent points Jason made, first of all it is imperative that you change your username from "admin". This is one of the first ports of call for a potential hacker, so please make sure that you change that ASAP.

              One important thing I notice that's missing is an "About" page. That kind of page is often one of the first, if not the first, places a new visitor to your blog will go as it helps them to learn who it is behind the blog and what the blog is all about. As it stands, upon my first landing there I don't know who you are, what the blog's angle is or what to expect.

              One really good thing I see is that you're building your list and you have an opt-in form nicely placed above the fold. But why should someone opt in? What is in it for them. Sure, you've made the invitation for them to submit their details to receive content, but what content specifically? At the end of the day, you're asking someone to entrust you with their details, so why should they? What's in it for them? Do you have something that you could give away as a lead magnet/ethical bribe? I would recommend giving something away that will benefit them. For example: "Free Video Reveals 5 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Mind for Success". Do you think something like that would appeal more to your target audience rather than simply inviting them to sign up? Also, I would change the wording on your button from "Sign up" to something like "Yes! I Want it!" or "Give Me My Video". I know you said that you will be changing the form soon, so all that might be something to bear in mind for when you do.

              But I do really like your blog and your content, you're definitely headed in the right direction.
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              • Profile picture of the author zannix
                Originally Posted by glennshep View Post

                Hi Zannix, I really like your blog. It's clean, well laid out and looks really good.

                Just to add to the excellent points Jason made, first of all it is imperative that you change your username from "admin". This is one of the first ports of call for a potential hacker, so please make sure that you change that ASAP.

                One important thing I notice that's missing is an "About" page. That kind of page is often one of the first, if not the first, places a new visitor to your blog will go as it helps them to learn who it is behind the blog and what the blog is all about. As it stands, upon my first landing there I don't know who you are, what the blog's angle is or what to expect.

                One really good thing I see is that you're building your list and you have an opt-in form nicely placed above the fold. But why should someone opt in? What is in it for them. Sure, you've made the invitation for them to submit their details to receive content, but what content specifically? At the end of the day, you're asking someone to entrust you with their details, so why should they? What's in it for them? Do you have something that you could give away as a lead magnet/ethical bribe? I would recommend giving something away that will benefit them. For example: "Free Video Reveals 5 Easy Ways to Prepare Your Mind for Success". Do you think something like that would appeal more to your target audience rather than simply inviting them to sign up? Also, I would change the wording on your button from "Sign up" to something like "Yes! I Want it!" or "Give Me My Video". I know you said that you will be changing the form soon, so all that might be something to bear in mind for when you do.

                But I do really like your blog and your content, you're definitely headed in the right direction.
                Thanks @glennshep, I definitely agree with you, those three things are something I'll do asap

                Originally Posted by trinity571 View Post

                Get your spelling right: I feel freaking GREAT! I think I may have finally found my perfect mourning routine. Mourning! Seriously?

                It's hard to know what the blog is about. Nice theme, but it looks a bit spartan if it is a self help or motivation blog. It looks rather blokeish (road sign and Superman pictures to start with), in my opinion.
                Oh my god, that's a hilarious typo Thanks for pointing it out, I corrected it. Also, great observation about the "spartan blokeish" appearance, I did not think about that. I'd love to hear other people's opinions on this.
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  • Profile picture of the author trinity571
    Get your spelling right: I feel freaking GREAT! I think I may have finally found my perfect mourning routine. Mourning! Seriously?

    It's hard to know what the blog is about. Nice theme, but it looks a bit spartan if it is a self help or motivation blog. It looks rather blokeish (road sign and Superman pictures to start with), in my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ripster
    No offense but NeverXD is a bad name for a personal development blog.
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    • Profile picture of the author zannix
      Originally Posted by Ripster View Post

      No offense but NeverXD is a bad name for a personal development blog.
      Why? What's wrong with it?
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      All you can do is all you can do - Art Williams
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  • Profile picture of the author xayoub
    how much daily traffic do you get?

    for now, use google adsense, and get a lot of subs on your list and facebook page

    after you achieve a good amount of daily visitors, see from where they are comming
    and what they need, then offer them some products
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  • "Warning – Is Self Help HARMFUL"

    I have to disagree with that statement.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    The content is good. The site design needs work though. But if this is a Wordpress blog, i'm sure you can easily change the theme into one that is easier on the eyes. Great info though - especially when i clicked on the "buy now" button under the *is self-help harmful?* post. Made me laugh the response it gave when i clicked on it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kieran D
    Hello Zannix,

    Here are my thoughts.

    Nice Clean Design and Layout:
    - Easy on the eye and makes consuming your content relatively easy.
    - White keeps things nice and simple.

    Good Content:
    - Seems to have some good content on the site with decent titles.

    Needs more Content:
    - It seems a little content thin in my opinion.
    - You could do with creating some more authority content on the site.

    You Need to Monetize:
    - I agree with Jason that you need to focus on monetization next.
    - No point waiting to do this. You might as well monetize straight out of the gate.

    Don't get Domain Name:
    - I agree with Ripster here.
    - To me your domain name doesn't make a lot of sense.
    - Can you elaborate on it a bit more?

    Kieran
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  • Profile picture of the author marks2424
    I have always been one to make sure I do everything the right way and without doing anything wrong and like your site but the only thing that worries me about your site is the use of such famous animated movie character. I wouldn't want you to do all the work you have done and have something happen to your site because of something like that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Markets
    Looks like you don't post often, work on actually posting more and maybe you will start to see results.
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    "There comes a time when people get tired."
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    • Profile picture of the author zannix
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      The content is good. The site design needs work though. But if this is a Wordpress blog, i'm sure you can easily change the theme into one that is easier on the eyes. Great info though - especially when i clicked on the "buy now" button under the *is self-help harmful?* post. Made me laugh the response it gave when i clicked on it.
      Thanks for the feedback man, glad you liked the buy-button joke

      Originally Posted by Kieran D View Post

      Hello Zannix,

      Here are my thoughts.

      Nice Clean Design and Layout:
      - Easy on the eye and makes consuming your content relatively easy.
      - White keeps things nice and simple.

      Good Content:
      - Seems to have some good content on the site with decent titles.

      Needs more Content:
      - It seems a little content thin in my opinion.
      - You could do with creating some more authority content on the site.

      You Need to Monetize:
      - I agree with Jason that you need to focus on monetization next.
      - No point waiting to do this. You might as well monetize straight out of the gate.

      Don't get Domain Name:
      - I agree with Ripster here.
      - To me your domain name doesn't make a lot of sense.
      - Can you elaborate on it a bit more?

      Kieran
      You're right, I have tons of draft posts soon to be published, I'm going to schedule it and release slowly, you know, for SEO purposes.

      I will monetize it over the next couple of days. Nothing fancy, sign up as an affiliate to a few sites and sprinkle the links. I'll go into heavier stuff once I build a decent list.

      About the domain name... honestly I don't know why I chose it but it's the first thing that popped into my mind and I'm going to stick with it. There are many ugly sounding sites that made it, I guess I'm challenged to do the same.
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      All you can do is all you can do - Art Williams
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  • Profile picture of the author Lucian Lada
    A few (obvious) recommendations:

    - If you're monetizing your website, be sure to include a honest and light-hearted disclosure. Something like, "I make money with this website. So be sure to buy every little thing I recommend, otherwise you'll see me begging on the streets of.. wherever you live."

    This achieves two things: it makes your website compliant with regulations, and it points out at the big elephant in the room in a non-threatening way. People know you want to sell them something, so at least be open about it.

    - Regarding your sign-up form: you want to make it attractive by saying you're offering some sort of exclusive content, not just "updates." There's no reason for them to sign up if they can just come back to your website and get the same thing.

    Also, as you probably know, you'll make the most money from your list, so I'd make it a priority to get people to sign up. A form in the sidebar won't cut it. I'd craft the entire home page in such a way that it entices people to subscribe.

    A few ways to do this:
    1. Switch to static page in WordPress for the homepage and use the first section of the homepage, where right now the "Warning – Is Self Help HARMFUL?" article is displayed, to ask people to sign up and to draw attention to the web form in the sidebar.

    You can manually include articles below this section.

    2. Offer not just exclusive content to people who sign up, but also a free gift right away (I'm sure you're aware of this.) And make sure the free gift is not on a topic that is covered on every other self-help website, otherwise people won't have much of an incentive to give away their email address.

    3. Steer clear of pop-ups. Yes, they do increase the list size a lot quicker, but you'll get lower-quality subscribers.
    In essence, you want the homepage to be designed to maximize sign ups, because, as I said, you stand to make most of the sales through your emails.

    Good luck.

    Edited to add:

    I disagree with the person above who says the website has little content. What matters is quality, not quantity. Quality, in time, breeds quantity. I'd take a website with 3 well-written articles over one with 30 decent ones any day.
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    • Profile picture of the author zannix
      Originally Posted by Lucian Lada View Post

      A few (obvious) recommendations:

      - If you're monetizing your website, be sure to include a honest and light-hearted disclosure. Something like, "I make money with this website. So be sure to buy every little thing I recommend, otherwise you'll see me begging on the streets of.. wherever you live."

      This achieves two things: it makes your website compliant with regulations, and it points out at the big elephant in the room in a non-threatening way. People know you want to sell them something, so at least be open about it.

      - Regarding your sign-up form: you want to make it attractive by saying you're offering some sort of exclusive content, not just "updates." There's no reason for them to sign up if they can just come back to your website and get the same thing.

      Also, as you probably know, you'll make the most money from your list, so I'd make it a priority to get people to sign up. A form in the sidebar won't cut it. I'd craft the entire home page in such a way that it entices people to subscribe.

      A few ways to do this:
      1. Switch to static page in WordPress for the homepage and use the first section of the homepage, where right now the "Warning – Is Self Help HARMFUL?" article is displayed, to ask people to sign up and to draw attention to the web form in the sidebar.

      You can manually include articles below this section.

      2. Offer not just exclusive content to people who sign up, but also a free gift right away (I'm sure you're aware of this.) And make sure the free gift is not on a topic that is covered on every other self-help website, otherwise people won't have much of an incentive to give away their email address.

      3. Steer clear of pop-ups. Yes, they do increase the list size a lot quicker, but you'll get lower-quality subscribers.
      In essence, you want the homepage to be designed to maximize sign ups, because, as I said, you stand to make most of the sales through your emails.

      Good luck.

      Edited to add:

      I disagree with the person above who says the website has little content. What matters is quality, not quantity. Quality, in time, breeds quantity. I'd take a website with 3 well-written articles over one with 30 decent ones any day.
      Thank you!

      Lots of great ideas. I'm stealing your disclosure! Made me laugh :')

      I agree with the homepage, I think I'll make a small "sticky" post welcoming people to the site, explaining the site in one or two sentences and a strong call to action to an opt-in box on the right (sidebar form).

      I'll also redo the optin box, as soon as I write the "not so common but very valuable" freebie.

      Thanks again man!
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    I like you site, but I would add more content and more images. Did you create the car going over a bridge icon. Wonder what the message is. Frankly, it is a puzzle to me.

    Links to other pages is needed as people are looking for more resources. Also, you should use social media like twitter and create your own forum to communicate with your users. Remember that most people like the one on one.

    Thanks for your video on success. I think you have a future as a video star - please create some more.

    monetize the site right away?
    Start to monetize the site right away. It might be just pennies. However, they add up. Most people use sad sense. Also, you can rec books on self help that are available on amazon. Most self help books are junk, but there are a few good ones. For example, books by cancer survivors. They contain real life stories are people who are in a struggle, but will not give up.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Lex
    Modern, clean design. Good job! I read your article about stress and it is well-written, although I find it reads a bit like "you should do this, you should do that, you, you, you". Maybe also share some personal stuff, e.g. your experiences with stress in more detail, so it's allowing me as a reader to better connect with you as a person.
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  • Profile picture of the author MarkYoung
    It's a nice looking blog, I don't have any critism for it, you're going the right way.
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