Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
A few weeks ago, I offered free social media critiques to those who replied before the 14th. You see, social media is a specialty of mine. Before becoming an agent, I worked for some years as a social media marketer at a marketing agency outside of Chicago. I worked with clients such as Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, Benjamin Moore and more. A somewhat longer description of what I did can be found in the first critique post.
(Picture tweaks provided by Paula at www.yourvervemagazineonline.info )
1) The Glitter Globe is a blog by Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt
- The bit of text under your blog’s title is much too long. It should be one sentence at most–a tagline. If you feel this description of your blog is important, move it to a separate ABOUT page, complete with a close up picture of you.
- For the best SEO (search engine optimization), you should tag your links to actual words instead of dropping the link into the text. See how I did this in my byline at the top of this post?
- Consider the order of your right nav. Place the things that you most want readers to interact with at the top. So, the Followers and Network Blogs widgets should be at or close to the top.
- It’s great that you use pictures, but rarely do I see a picture of you. Try to include yourself more in your photos. It will help readers feel a stronger connection.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Think about how your blog comes across visually. Where does the eye go? What is the call to action? With that big block of text at the top and a right nav that is buried by a long archives section, it’s time to be more intentional about how the blog looks and how you want readers to interact with it.
2) We have an untitled blog from Heather Marsten
- Xanga is a very outdated site, and I’m not sure how much weight it holds on Google. You should consider crossing over to WordPress or Blogger if you want the site to grow.
- I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this. It seems that this blog exists for a certain group of people to have access to Bible study information. Because I’m not in that group, I feel as though I don’t belong.
- The posts are long, and the color scheme makes it difficult to read. So even if I were drawn in by the content, I’m not sure how long I’d stick around.
RECOMMENDATIONS: What is your goal? If this blog exists to provide content to a church group, then it’s probably achieving that, because the participants know what to do with it. But if it exists to appeal to new readers, the content needs to be completely revamped. Think short devotionals on a daily basis. 200-400 words. Searchable titles like “Daily Devotional for Moms: Psalms 23”. And you’d also benefit from transitioning to another blogging platform…one that allows a more cozy atmosphere.
3) Love, Friendship, and All Things Girly is a website by Bethany Jett
- I love that you are up front about how often readers can expect content!
- Make sure for that middle picture in your masthead, that you are the one facing the camera upright. I think you’re the one upside down at the top, but can’t tell.
- I like your speaking page and your ads
- I feel you can be more intentional about your content. It doesn’t hit a consistent target reader, nor does it deliver on content expectations. With your book being what it is, I expect more of that type of content to be present on your blog. Right now, the blog is a hodge podge of Internet memes and personal stories. Try to hone in on what your book is going to make you an expert in…relationships.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Think about your ideal reader. With your book, you’re going to have readers in their teens and twenties. So focus on this age group rather than moms and family. Focus on relationships. Become an expert. There is always room for personal stories, but be sure that they resonate with your readership. And though I’m a big fan of using photos, be careful not to overload your posts with text-based memes.
4) The Hole on the End of the Bible Belt is a blog by Jonathan
- You’ve gone the extra step and purchased a URL for the site…is there a reason you went with your Twitter name and not something more directly related to your blog?
- In addition, you may want to consider redoing your Twitter name. Again, I’d choose something that has to do with your blog’s title. Twitter makes it so that you can chance your username at any time without losing followers. It would be a good idea to do this if you want to build a brand around this idea of the hole in the Bible Belt.
- Consider using hashtags when you Tweet a new blog post. This will help ensure that your Tweets are seen by people who could potentially become readers.
- I really like the fact that your blog posts are short devotional-type entries. I think this could appeal to an audience. But with this, do make sure that each phrase and word is the best it can be. There were times in your posts that I got hung up on sentences and the like that just weren’t as crystal clear as they could have been. So really take the time with each post to edit for clarity and readability.
RECOMMENDATIONS: This could result in a following for you, but you must be consistent, your content must be superb and you must learn how to spread the word. I know there are a lot of “musts”, but I do think it’s worth it. Think about branding yourself in everything you do. Research hashtags and get in front of your potential audience. Then, blog them away by your bite-sized content.
5) Laura L. Smith is a website by Laura Smith
- A fabulous masthead would really help the visual appeal of this site. If you use Blogger, I can recommend using the discount we were given from Elegant Custom Blogs. In addition to this, you should come up with a tagline that describe what kind of an author you are.
- Your posts are well written, but they don’t get much interaction. Experiment with what it takes to get your readers talking. Maybe you need shorter posts? Maybe they need to be more topic trendy? Maybe the question at the end needs to be less deep and more conversational? Work at meeting your readers where they are. Then, over time, you can draw a deeper side out of them.
- You may also want to think about targeting moms with this blog. Since parents are many times the ones footing the bill for Christian YA fiction, it wouldn’t hurt to try and turn this into a “moms of teens” blog…just to see what happens.
RECOMMENDATIONS: A redesign can make this site feel less heavy and more youthful. In addition, it may be time to tweak your content so that you’re better connecting with your reader.
That’s it for this week…what have YOU done in the past four weeks to make your blog or website better?