Here’s one for the bloggers! If you’re not a blogger you could look here instead?
This is the time of year we are all putting our best feet forward blog-wise, right? We’re sweeping the cobwebs away and making everything look sparkly and new? Well luckily I created this DIY Blog Critique and Tweak for people just like us! I made this last year and put it in my Etsy store, but I thought it might be nice to share it freely now as it seems to be really helpful and not a lot of people even KNOW I have an Etsy store (possibly because it just has one thing in it!)
Anyway, I wrote this after writing a couple of years worth of how-to-blog content and running my super-fun blogging eCourses. These were the things that were top-of-mind, for me. It’s definitely not THE definitive rundown, but it comes pretty close, I think! You can download it below for free, too.
Pip’s DIY Blog CRITIQUE AND TWEAK <– The list below is updated, buy you can also download the original version (which is almost the same) at that link right there! (No email sign-up or other such trickery!) Here’s a glimpse of its dandy-ness!
Now, without further ado, here are some questions to ask of your blog (if you want to!)
Pip’s DIY Blog Critique and Tweak
Have you visited your blog from a reader’s point of view to experience how they might navigate your site? Have you noted down any glitches or problems?
Design and Layout
Fonts – size and choice
Is your font web-safe, legible and the correct size?
Are you using a cohesive colour palette? Do the colours work nicely together?
Does your header look the way you want it to or does it need an update?
Does your template need an update?
Do you have a favicon? Do you want one/need to update yours?
White space/clear borders
Have you got plenty of white space or clear borders between content and sidebars?
Have you got one sidebar or two or more? Is this how you want your blog to look?
Are you using the footer area of your blog well? Do you want it nice and clean or would you prefer useful widgets in there?
Is your post layout working? Do you want to add subtitles, justify text or other layout tweaks?
Are you happy with the overall look – how it all looks together?
Basic Blog Bones
Have you viewed your blog on various mobile devices? Does it work well?
Site description and title
Are these correct and up to date? Do they show correctly in your browser ‘address bar’?
Does your blog look great in Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox?
Do you have a search button clearly visible at the top of your blog?
Are your permalinks/URLs showing post titles or just a number?
RSS Subscribe Buttons
Do you have subscribe via feedly/bloglovin’ options near the top of your sidebar? Or simply an RSS subscribe button?
Email Subscribe Button
Do you have an email subscribe opt in box?
Navigation & Menus
Is your navigation logical and easy to work with? Or does it need a tidy up? Do you need to refresh your menus/categories?
Previous / Next Post option
Do you have this feature at the bottom of each post for fluid, chronological navigation?
Are they easily navigated to and through?
Are your categories up to date and logical?
Are you tagging your posts logically so that you can curate those tagged posts if need be? Do you want to display a ‘tag cloud’ to encourage more page views on older posts?
Do you have a related post widget showing within your posts
Author stuff/About YOU!
Is your about page succinct and up to date?
Photo Of Author
Do you have a photo of yourself on the home page of your blog?
Is there a way for people to easily contact you?
Contact form emails are not always prioritised – have you published your email address on your blog for urgent enquiries?
Purpose & Readers
Blog Mission Statement
Have you written a mission statement for your blog detailing why you are blogging and what you hope to achieve? Is some of this included in your About Me page?
Do you have one? If not maybe you’d like to consider one?
Blog Ideal Reader Profile
Have you created an ‘ideal reader’ profile? To help you focus on who you are writing for?
Are you using Google Analytics to find out more about your readers and improve your blog’s content?
Overall Vision Calendar
Have you written down an overall vision for your work (blog and otherwise) to focus on as your blog grows?
Are you using an editorial calendar to map your content plans?
Are you making time to brainstorm fresh ideas for your blog?
Would you like to think about working with other bloggers on your blog (and on theirs?)
Are you happy with the mix of content? Are you using text, images, video, podcasts etc in the way you most want?
Pages & Posts
Are your existing pages all up to date (broken links? Formatting correct? Images loading?)
Are your most popular posts all up to date (broken links? Formatting correct? Images loading?)
Are you writing about the things you care most about?
Is your own voice (or your chosen professional voice) coming through in your posts?
Are you telling the kind of stories you want to tell, or focusing on your core messages or things you care most about?
Writing for new readers & old
Will your writing be interesting to new readers as well as your established readers?
Are you checking your grammar and spelling before you publish? Perhaps you would like someone else to read your posts and help with edits? Are you writing proper sentences/paragraphs?
Are you conscious of the structure of your post? Are you writing your story logically and clearly?
Are your posts too short? Too long? Just right?
Are you upfront (at the top of the post) when your post is sponsored or commercial?
Do your posts have logical titles?
Motivation & Inspiration
Do you need to work on your time management to find time to blog? Is this a bit of a challenge?
Do you need to adjust the post frequency to keep things achievable and fun?
Are you making time to do fun stuff? Not just doing ‘bloggable’ stuff?
Are you getting stuck because you compare yourself to other bloggers all the time?
Is your purpose still matching your blog output?
Image Size & Quality
Are your images the correct size and resolution for your blog’s post body? Do you know how wide this column is? Are you resizing your images to almost span that measurement?
Are you working on your photography skills and developing great images to use on your blog? Do you need to skill up a bit more?!
Do you want to watermark your images in Photoshop or Illustrator?
Are you labelling your images correctly so they are easy to find in your media library?
Are you attributing images owned by others correctly (and asking for permission to use those?
Are you taking the time to develop your own ‘stock image’ library so that your blog photos are always unique to you?
Are you happy with the way your comment notification system is working?
Are you replying to comments as often and in the way that you want to?
Do you want CAPTCHA turned on? Or not?
Do you have a reliable spam filter – or are you needing to wrangle those pesky spammy comments a little better?
Is it easy to comment on your blog?
Do you have share buttons at the top of your sidebar and/or within your post?
Is it clear across all social media platforms who you are and where to find your blog? (Especially important if you use different handles on Twitter/Instagram)
Social Media Integration
Are you ‘feeding’ your blog into your social media streams? Manually or with scheduling platforms?
Social Media Widgets
Do you have a Facebook feed or like box? Or Twitter or Instagram feed on your blog? Do you want to consider that?
Are you linking to other bloggers you admire frequently in your posts?
Do you have a blogroll? Do you want one? If you have one, is it up to date?
Real life community
Are you finding ways to meet other bloggers or readers in real life?
Community – replying
Are you commenting on other great blogs?
Plugins & Widgets
Are all your plugins or widgets up to date? Are you using them all or can you remove some? Are there some you’d like to add?
Do you want to consider working with an advertising network?
Is it time to offer advertising on your blog?
Do you want to look for a long-term blog sponsor?
Would you like to introduce affiliate links (where you get a commission from sales of a particular product or service?)
Are they the correct size and up to date? Do the visuals suit your blog design? Is the pricing structure correct?
Disclosure, Copyright & Privacy Info
Do you have a disclosure, copyright and privacy statement on your blog?
If you have a media kit, is it easily accessed? Or perhaps you want to create one?
Have you explored keyword tools and thought about keywords and searchable phrases which might bring more visitors to your blog?
SEO plugins and Approach
Do you use an SEO plugin? Are you mindful of SEO? Do you need to find out more about this?
Do you have a shop link on your blog? Are there things you can sell?
Are there products you could develop to extend the reach/readership of your blog?
Do you want to set up a monthly (or otherwise) newsletter for your readers?
Do you need a page for events to promote the things you are doing?
Improvement & Growth
Are you having regular catch-ups with yourself to target areas for change/improvement?
Are you noticing the things you are doing right, and repeating those?
Are you tweaking small things on your blog on a weekly basis to keep things fresh?
Are you looking for existing, older content that you can reuse in new ways? (updated post, eBook, printables etc!)
Phew. Told you it was a good one! I hope this helps you tidy up your blog for the year! Let me know what you think!