Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
A few weeks ago, I offered free social media critiques to those who replied before the 14th. You see, social media is a specialty of mine. Before becoming an agent, I worked for some years as a social media marketer at a marketing agency outside of Chicago. I worked with clients such as Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, Benjamin Moore and more. A somewhat longer description of what I did can be found in the first critique post.
1. Back Porch Reflections is a blog by Jackie
- I don’t really know what this blog is trying to achieve. It seems like a sports or news blog with a mommy twist, but the title of the blog indicates it’s a personal journey type of thing. :/
- I also struggle with the goal behind each post. Clearly, you’re into sports. But jumping from a very journalistic post on 10/05 to what starts as a journalistic post but ends more like a food-for-thought post on 09/30 to another journalistic-type/info-sharing post on 09/19 to further down the page where you have very personal posts. Clearly, you need to identify both your writing style and your theme for the blog.
- Content aside, the design is a bit cluttered on the right nav, and the masthead is pretty lacking. Really be intentional about where you place things and how it looks (for example, in my browser there’s an Amazon ad that is kind of hanging in no-man’s land).
- Get rid of ads.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Choose a theme and a writing style to go along with that theme. Remember, if you go with a journalistic approach, you aren’t going to be followed for your tug-at-the-heartstrings posts, but rather for the information you present. So in that case, you would drop a lot of the feel-good aspects of your posts and focus simply on facts and maybe a question or two posed to the readers.
2. Rajdeep Paulus wanted a critique of her blog‘s masthead.
- I think this looks great. It’s clean, easy to read, looks professional and I think reflects who you are and what you’re trying to achieve on the blog.
- The only critique would be the use of the Papyrus font 🙂 That font is pretty much hated by designers and readers alike. The good news is I think it kind of works in your masthead, though. So I wouldn’t rush to change it. Just know that in the future, Papyrus and Comic Sans are no-no’s.
3. Indigo Tree Publishing is a website by Steve.
- The top of the site looks a bit bare, since your logo is pushed to the left.
- The blue font cheapens the look a bit, I think. Also, I’d reword that paragraph. With only three books available, you need to be careful about making claims that the books represent a “broad range” and that they’re available in the “format you prefer.” (I looked at your ebooks-English page and saw that only one of your titles was available for digital download). Reword it, too, so that it’s more focused on the consumer as opposed to on the publishing house. Something like “Check out the latest from indie fiction authors.”
- It may help to organize the books by genre, and also to focus on just a few genres when you’re getting started. It’s just easier to market to a single type of consumer than to try and reach everyone.
- Your left nav is the same as your top nav…is there a reason behind this?
- Do you have a place where fans can congregate and receive news? I’m thinking Facebook may be a good place for this.
RECOMMENDATIONS: If you want to make this venture profitable, focus on a few genres and then pour your efforts into targeting those specific readers and gaining their trust. Reogranize the site so that the books are searchable by genre, not title. And try to create a brand for your publishing house. Avoid sounding like a run-of-the-mill house. What makes you different? Exploit that.
4. Shannon Hitchcock’s Freelance Writer Website is a website by Shannon Hitchcock
- In your comment, you mentioned you have a debut novel coming out in 2013…but this site poses you as a nonfiction author. If the nonficiton thing is profitable for you, then you may want to set up a completely different site for your author persona. If the nonfiction thing isn’t profitable, then it’s time to switch gears and focus on fiction.
- Everything is hard to read on your homepage. The color, the font–it confuses and strains the eye.
- I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go. You have many options, but none of them (aside from the BLOG page) are very clear in terms of what I should expect when clicking on them. Figure out where you want people to go, and then narrow the choices and make it painstakingly clear what they can expect on each page.
- What genre is your novel? Consider redesigning things to reflect a style that your readers would be naturally drawn to. The nature thing probably won’t cut it for most fiction readers.
RECOMMENDATIONS: I agree that you need a major redesign, but really take the time to think through it. Figure out what pages you’ll need and don’t overdo it by adding a bunch of extra stuff just because it’s important to you. Think first whether it will be important to your readers. And where can I connect with you online? I don’t see any links to Facebook or Twitter. It’s time to think about growing your social media presence.
5. Jen Greyson Author is a blog by Jen Greyson
- I wasn’t sure what the title of this blog was. The URL has it as being “The Survival Mama” but then the masthead talk about you being an author and something about “Survival. Mama’s Point of View”. I’d redo the masthead to focus simply on “The Survival Mama”. If you’re a published author, make a page in your top nav that says BOOK.
- Really think about the order of your top nav. Why is “Blog Hops” first and “blog” last? Don’t people interact more with “blog?”
- Combine your ABOUT page with your AS SEEN ON page and get rid of the WRITING PLATFORM page. Just trying to clean up your nav for you 🙂
- You make it very clear how to connect via social media, which is great.
- The Tuesday Train, though probably a good idea, really takes up a lot of space on your blog and it’s confusing to look at. Either blog more in-between Tuesdays or re-think how you present that on your blog.
RECOMMENDATIONS: This is supposed to be a mommy blog, but the content ranges from writer help to blog-growing tactics to link-sharing…with a little bit of mommy stuff mixed in. If you’ve found more success outside of the mommy thing, then maybe it’s time to drop that angle and focus on something that connects with your fans. If most of your readers are there because of the mommy connection, then I suggest dropping some of the extra stuff that you do and going back to what this blog was intended for.
Share your thoughts on these blogs! I want to hear what you think.