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!