As those of you who have been following the blog for a while may have noticed, I recently gave the site a makeover. Most of the changes came about as a direct result of the Social Media Critique I got at the CANSCAIP Conference.
I thought I’d walk you through the why of some my new additions to help those of you out there who don’t have access to your own Social Media Critiques.
Some of these might be a little tricky to visualize, since I didn’t take a screen shot of my “before” blog, but I’ll do my best to explain, and you can always post any questions you have in the comments.
The Layout: when you arrived on my old blog, all you could see was my name, a photo of my cake monsters, the menu, and the blog’s title (Journey of a Children’s Writer) on a whole whack of white space. You had to scroll down to see the posts themselves (and keep scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling to read any of them).
The Fix: I switched to a new template with less white space at the top, added my book cover as my logo (once I was allowed to post it), and switched to a home page that lists and links to all my posts – this is especially important, as I can now tell which/how many posts readers are checking out. Under the old scroll-down system I had no idea if people were reading one post or ten.
About Me: As a writer, I am my brand. The old blog did list my name at the top, but you had to click through to the About Me page in order to find out anything, well, about me. (Side note to writers out there: my pet peeve is landing on a writing blog and not knowing who it belongs to; your name -at the very least- should appear on every page of your blog!)
The Fix: I added an “About Me” widget to top of the side panel, so now my photo and a small bio show up on every page of the blog. Admittedly, I didn’t enjoy having to set up yet another account to do this, (so if anyone knows a way to do this with less fuss, let me know in the comments) but so far it hasn’t had any downsides other than a bit of junk mail and another password to remember.
The Blog’s Purpose: My social media critiquers wanted me to clarify: my blog post titles and photos are usually cake-related, while the content is about writing, potentially leading to confusion.
The Fix: I’ve done away with my catchy post titles, replacing them with more straightforward descriptions of the (writing-related) content. As well, I’m trying to remember to add a description to my Publicize tweets (rather than just the post title). I categorized all existing posts (Writing Advice, Marketing, Query Letters, etc), and added a list down the side for easier topic-searching. And I added a new Cakey Goodness page for those that do arrive looking for cake-related fun. But I’m not ready to stop posting cake photos just yet…
Lack of Info on Other Pages: I know, I know, my old FAQ page was pretty sad. I always meant to add to it, but never did. All it really did was take up space, and tell you how to pronounce my name.
The Fix: More FAQs, a better About Me page, a new Cakey Goodness page, and (most exciting for me) a new Books page (complete with pre-order links- squee!) The point? Don’t have pages that aren’t worth going to . Your readers won’t thank you for it, and they might even hold it against you.
Those are the biggest changes to the blog. What do you think, were they for the better? Let me know in the comments.