Thursday, November 19, 2009

ON BLOGGING ~ Analyze This...

BlogAnon: Joy of Confession

Image by Cool Text: Logo and Graphics Generator

Welcome to our weekly BlogAnon meeting where we confess a particular blogging sin and turn to you for support, suggestions and that blogging bond so we know we're not all alone. Don't be shy. Read along and let us know if you identify with us this week.

I am a very lazy Bumble. If I could get paid to procrastinate I would never have to work again. There are lots of tweaks I want to make to our blog. I would like to add some tabs perhaps, decide what to do about the Blog Roll widget at the bottom of the page, see if there's any way to improve our header. I'd really rather just wake up one day and find it all re-vamped and beautiful. Let someone else take a shot at it and see how they might tidy things up. Ha! Fat chance. But I have had someone else take a look at it in the past and that little exercise helped our blog to evolve into the current phase.

How would you like to be a fly on the wall watching a first time visitor to your blog? Would you want to know what they clicked on? Where they went? Would you like to know if they struggled to find their way around or what things drew them in? You can get lots of stats from Google Analytics about page views and sources, but you can't get any feedback that way - not like the fly would give.

Our blogging friend, DS of Third-Storey Window, left a comment during my recent Pet Peeves post saying it sure would be nice to get feedback about her blog. So I asked her if she wanted to be a guinea pig. I asked her if she would like to get matched up with a perfect stranger and exchange reviews of each other's blogs. Being a woman of her word, she agreed to hear feedback. After finding out which blogs she knew and which she didn't I was able to match her up with another blogging friend of ours, Kaye of The Road Goes Ever On. Kaye just reached her first year blogoversary and was wondering in which direction she should go, so she agreed to take part in this exercise.

I introduced Kaye and DS to each other through e-mail and gave them a list of evaluation questions taken directly from ProBlogger's Build A Better Blog assignment that I took part in earlier this year. I instructed them to visit each other's blog and have a look around. Explore and observe. Then go ahead and read the review questions, answer them honestly and uncensored, then e-mail the responses to each other. In exchange I asked them each to let me know what they thought of the experience - both as a reviewer and one being reviewed. Here is a taste of what they shared...

DS: "I have to confess that I was more nervous about reviewing someone else's blog than about being reviewed myself...We put so much of ourselves into our blogs, whether we realize it or not; I did not wish to hurt anyone's feelings...I found that the questions alone forced me to consider my own blog in a new way, even as I was using them to examine Kaye's place. I do believe--strongly--that I got the better end of the deal...Kaye was able to zero in on a problem--and provide a detailed solution...I am grateful for the review,...thrilled to have met someone new, determined to increase my limited skills and do a better job, and once again astounded by the generosity of this community as a whole...I will definitely implement some of Kaye's suggestions and am glad to know her. That, I think, is the most important thing...That was incredibly helpful and reinforces my feeling that bloggers are some of the most generous people around."

Kaye: "I'm a little nervous to see what she thinks of my site...after a year of blogging I've been wondering why I do it and what my plan should be as I move into my second year...the evaluation will give me an objective view of what I've done and give me a basis to set my direction...She had a lot of positive things to say, and also mentioned a few things I could do to improve. Many of them were things I already felt needed to be done...DS told me she feels like there is a woman to know hiding behind the memes. I think she hit the core...She said she thought my blog was about my family and my books. I think that's how I started. I think that's where I should go...this whole evaluation thing. I really needed it...I am now following her and I notice she is following me."

DS was nervous about reviewing, Kaye was nervous about being reviewed. Kaye not only gave some suggestions to DS, she told her about the tools she could use to implement them. DS gave Kaye encouragement constructively and reinforced the very direction Kaye herself had been considering. They learned from each other and discovered a new blogging friend along the way. Based on honesty and help. That's a great blogging experience. I'm so glad they found the intended spirit behind the exercise. It isn't about what someone thinks is better or worse - it is about seeing things from a different perspective and learning from new ideas. And it doesn't hurt to make a new friend in the process.

I got so inspired by their energy that I even went and created myself my own logo for BlogAnon. No more pirating for me. Now that I've found a tool to use, I can create all kinds of different styles. This is just one example. So give me some feedback. I don't want to be a lazy Bumble anymore. Share your perspective and ideas. Inspire me.

Have you ever had your blog reviewed? Would you be brave enough to ask a friend, family member or co-worker to give you input? Do you have interest in finding a "new to you" blogger to pair up with? Shout it out in your Comment - or send me an e-mail and I can pass along the review questions to you. Don't be afraid to share - your blogger thoughts are safe with us - and others!

P.S. In creating a link to Darren's site, I noticed that ProBlogger just began a new feature called "Review This Blog" - not sure how you get your blog considered but it is an open forum for all readers to provide input on the selected blog. Check it out!

18 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'll admit, I'm lazy as well, and probably even more than lazy, I'm technically challenged. I would love to have tabs, but I'm scared to death to mess everything up. When I made a change to widen my columns, my blog was screwed up for months. Anyway, I think you have become the most industrious little Bumble, and am proud of both of my friends ds and Kaye for taking part in this exercise. I would love to have someone give me their honest two cents on my blog. I'm not the least bit sensitive and always want to improve!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I wouldn't mind at all having my blog reviewed, although being still me, I don't know if I could change the content much. And I could only change the look of the blog with some technological assistance (which I would dearly love to have!) So if anyone wants to come over to my blog and critique it, feel free; I won't be offended! (at worst, I'll increase my intake of chocolate)

The Bumbles said...

Sandy, Rhapsody = I wouldn't worry too much about not knowing how to physically make a change. There's more to a review than layout. There's also insight into the voice of your site and creative viewpoints. The two of you could partner up to do a cross review, even if you are familiar with each other's blogs already. A blind view tends to work best, but the questions will force focus on even familiar places. I'm happy to e-mail you both the questions if you want to pair up or if you have someone you know that you'd like to review for you. Or maybe someone else here will stop by and volunteer to do your review!

kaye said...

thanks for including me in your post today--It was a very helpful exercise and I've already started clean up on my page! have a nice thanksgiving.

The Bumbles said...

Kaye = I'm glad you had a positive experience - and thanks for sharing - like all good bloggers do!

Patty Reiser said...

Desert Greetings Molly,
First I like to logo you created. Secondly, I believe it is a good exercise to have your blog reviewed. A fresh pair of eyes can see things you may overlook.
And to answer your question about getting your blog reviewed on Problogger - there is a sign up in the paid community he launched last month.
Wishing you and Andy a blessed Thanksgiving!
Patty

PS - I would be happy to exchange blog addresses with others to do a critique.

caite said...

I am not sure I am strong enough to know what people really think.It might have me close up the place altogether.

I am very sensitive. ;-)

The Bumbles said...

Patty = I see, I didn't join the paid ProBlogger forum. If I had a business blog I would consider it but for a personal blog I couldn't justify the expense. Patty, I'm sure we can match you up for a review. Your site is a wonder of design to me.

The Bumbles said...

Caite = Orrr...you might get a big pat on the back to make your blogging pride blossom.

Sadako said...

Oh I love those kinds of stats/break downs. I have one very general one--it's awesome. I'm so obsessed with this kind of thing...

The Bumbles said...

Sadako = Google Analytics can be addictive. There are so many variables and filters you can use - it really is a great tool for numbers. But I look at figures all day long at work so I get a brain freeze if I delve too deeply in Google Analytics at home.

otin said...

I would not mind reviewing or being reviewed, but I would only do it 100% anonymous, through a third party. No one is going to tell you that your blog sucks, except maybe the crap blog detective! LOL!

Matty said...

My problem is with the technical aspect of setting up your blog. I just don't "get it" when it comes to making things. The header on my blog was made for me AFTER my attempts at doing it myself failed miserably. It was made by another blogger who told me how to do it, and then did it for me when I couldn't. I don't know how to make "buttons" and "award buttons", and anything else that people make. I keep my blog simple because it's all I know how to do. So for someone to review my blog and make suggestions would be fine, but how in the world am I going to make the changes?

Susan said...

Very interesting questions you've put up here, Molly. I've always wondered what people truly think of my blog. And whether my loyal readers stay loyal because they don't want to hurt my feelings, or if they really enjoy what I have to say? I'm pretty sure I could benefit from a little objective critiqueing.

Almost everything I've learned about blogging has been through trial and error...leaning heavily on the error side. :)

Janet said...

it'd be an interesting experiment! I could imagine what someone would say about mine...well, she takes lots of pictures but she doesn't really say anything. Hey...that's kinda like my life, too!

Kristen said...

I am so glad I decided to visit your blog tonight. I have often felt much as some of the other commenters; wondering what keeps followers loyal, what I could do to improve my blog. I would love to participate in a critique.

shoreacres said...

I really like the new banner, and appreciate the link to the logo maker. I don't have any reason to use it right now and don't have the time to play with it, but it's safely tucked away in my toolbox, just waiting!

I've been doing some tweaking with my own site, cleaning up the sidebar, changing the graphics just a bit and generally trying to simplify it.

One tip I can offer - which everyone else probably knows - is to check your links on a regular basis. I was amazed to find a half-dozen dead links in my blogroll and recommended links. Not such a good thing for folks to find when browsing!

stacybuckeye said...

I realize I am again late to the meeting (not so different than the other life I have) and I love that you hooked up these two bloggers - both of who have great blogs. I wouldn't mind someone giving me feedback on my blog, but I'm not sure I'd like a formal-ish one. I don't want to be told about the things that I know are wrong. It would only make me feel more guilty about being too lazy/busy to get them done. And I don't want to hear about any new things until I get the known problems fixed/tweaked.
But, I do have a problem with asking for help, so this is no big surprise :)