Each week, I dissect a blog from top to bottom in three areas: design, navigation/functionality and content. The reason? To help the featured blogger meet her blog goals and become even MORE awesome. The goal of a blog critique is to help all of us learn and grow. One suggestion for a particular blog may very well get us all thinking about how we can improve what we do.Here we go!
Blogger: A Sort of Fairytale
Stacey is a wife and mom that loves flea markets, estate sales, thrift stores and all things vintage. She writes about vintage, cottage, and farmhouse style, as well as musings from her “sort of fairytale” life on my blog. Her dream job is to be an Interior Photo Stylist and she’s super passionate about vintage style, particularly decorating, but is a sucker for vintage fashion too. She says that she keeps quite busy at home raising her daughter and decorating/making over her first house in the vintage style that she loves.
While she doesn’t want her blog to be a business per se, she would like it to lead to opportunities to write for home decor magazines in the genre she blogs about. She’s also interested in job opportunities in interior photo styling for the same types of magazines. Stacey says that her biggest struggle is not having enough time to post and trying to keep up all the social media platforms out there.
Design & Navigation
Header & Menu
- I really love how bright your header is. The pink from the ribbon in the first image and the blue from the hars really pop off the page.
- The clouds around the images are a nice, creative way to showcase the photos versus a plain ole rectangle. The only hangup here to me is that there’s nothing to anchor the bottom of your header. While a simple word-based menu bar isn’t typically an issue, it’s leaves the clouds looking “cut off” versus the appearance that the rest of it is behind something. Personally, I love things that appear to hide behind another element so I’d make your menu a strip of color so the clouds are “hiding” behind them.
- Same anchoring thing with the top too. I think this may just be fixed by getting rid of the toolbar. To build a strong presence, it looks more professional. Here’s a tutorial on how to remove your Blogger bar or another Blogger bar tutorial if that one doesn’t work.
- I think it’s great that you managed to keep your tagline simple (three words!) yet in such few words they give new visitors an idea as to what your blog is about. My only suggestion there is to maybe add a translucent strip of white behind it so it’s easier to read on the print background.
- I know you mention wanting to work with magazines and to be an interior photo stylist but I don’t see a page in your menu saying so. Consider adding a page about your experience and why someone may want to work with you. Think of it as a mini resume of sorts (and add a link to this page from your sidebar under the magazine you were featured in!).
- The URL confused me a bit because it has “girl” in it while your blog name does not. While I know the other blog name is taken, consider buying a domain name like asortoffairytaleblog.com (it’s $7.99 the first year with this affiliate link which is cheaper than regular price) and then redirect it to your blog. It would eliminate any confusion around someone remembering your blog name but typing in the other URL. Just a thought!
- I like that your social media buttons are custom and oh so cute! The writing in them is a tad small though (I think it’s because the font is more of a narrow font). Consider either making it a big larger or bolded. Also, I think it’d be nice to create that same look for your Google + and Blogger connect link. It’d save room on the page and look pretty!
- I’d really love to see a little blurb about you and your blog in the sidebar. It helps readers build a connection with you and gives them a deeper description of your blog than a tagline can do.
- I think your Popular Posts widget is FAB. I know Blogger has it so that thumbnails come up and it just gives a great visual in your sidebar.
- While the Fairy Tale reads are also nice, I’d shorten them just a bit so there are so many to sift through AND I’d change the color of either the title or teaser so they don’t run together as much.
- I think it’d be great to see a drop-down of your categories or a list even if it’s not too long. It gives readers an easy way to jump to the topics they are most interested in.
- Your most recent post was a Blogger’s Home Tour and I adore the graphic you made for the top of it. Fits so nicely with your design and provides a great visual to draw people to the post.
- While usually I’d say someone’s main column isn’t wide enough, I think yours could be just a tad smaller because it feels like your sidebar is pushed to the edge (especially since sidebar subheadings like Fairytale Reads looks cut off at the end). I think increasing the width of the sidebar just a little will give it some more breathing room.
- I really love the font you’re using for your main column. As for the formatting, just a word of warning for centering posts. They can sometimes look awkward when a single word is on one line with a bunch of white space around it. If you like the look of centered posts (I think it can look really nice), be mindful of how your paragraphs are breaking up to avoid these types of breaks. You may find you simply just move a sentence to a new paragraph so you don’t have hanging words like that.
- First of all, your posts are so bright with all the great photos you use. I think it really gives your blog a nice feel and reinforces with readers that when they want to get vintage ideas, you’re the place to go!
- One area that can really help with search engine optimization is to use good anchor text when you link to a post. For example, in this post about cottage style and your new vintage sign, you link to another post of yours just by saying “this post” as the hyperlinked text. However, try to avoid hyperlinking words like “here,” “this post,” because they don’t help with SEO at all. Search engines consider hyperlinked words as quite important so if your post is about “how to —” then say that or something similar versus just saying “this post.” I wrote an entire post about using anchor text that I think will help!
- I think your Blogger’s Home Tour series is fantastic (and see how I am giving you Google juice for that keyword phrase?!). People love seeing the inside of other people’s houses AND it’s a great way to engage readers.
- You need Pinterest buttons! Your blog posts would do AWESOME on Pinterest (and in fact, people ARE sharing your posts on Pinterest already). The problem is that when you leave someone to just using the Pin It button on their browser, it doesn’t pull a description in. In that link above you’ll see some of them don’t have a good description in them, meaning that someone searching for “vintage table” on Pinterest for example won’t see it. Not sure if there’s an easy way to do that in Blogger but you can always do it on individual posts using Pinterest’s goodies from their website.
- One suggestion for your content is to break up longer posts when it makes sense from a length standpoint and an SEO one. For example, on your cottage style and vintage sign post, you’ve got a sign tutorial hidden in there! What a great post that would score lots of traffic! Of course, maybe it already did but I think you could bring even more eyeballs to your site (with a dual purpose of getting publications to notice since you never know who’s looking) by keeping that separate. Just something to consider in the future!
- In regards to the things you write about, I think you have a great mix but consider more posts that are flea market or antique shop finds like this cool playhouse barn! Not only finds but even tips for doing these kinds of shopping trips would be great types of posts to write.
- As for finding time, I think most readers prefer us to write fewer but better posts than write mediocre ones just because we feel we have to write something. In my Content Brew course, we go through content planning and sometimes having posts mapped out helps because you aren’t wondering WHAT to write about, you sit down and get to it because you already know the topic. As for social media, I think the key is finding out which platforms drive or can drive the most traffic and focus on those. For a blog like yours I’d say Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter if you have time. Your blog is very visual (Pinterest) and about things that interest a wide audience (Facebook). I hope that helps!
So, guys, did you learn anything? Was it helpful? Let me know in the comments below. If you have an extra moment, head over to A Sort of Fairytale and give Stacey some comment love.