Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blog Awesomeness Is A Click Away {Review}

Do-It-Yourself Blog Critique 
A 43-point Guide To Take Your Blog To Awesomeness
By Melissa Culbertson

Have you ever taken a look at your blog and wondered what other people see?

Have you been bold enough to ask others what they think only to hear back that it's great and lovely and everything is coming up roses?

It's hard to grow that way, isn't it?

I thought so, which is why in late July just before BlogHer '11 I had Melissa give my blog a good look over and provide me with feedback on the good, the mediocre and the please-fix-it-now parts of my blog.

You can read her critique of Have Stroller Will Travel over at MomComm.

I learned a lot from that critique, but in a single blog post there is only so much that she could address. That said I couldn't wait to get my hand on her new eBook. When she first mentioned that she was working on it, I just knew it would be great. (and it is!)

But, WOW she really outdid herself in the 43-point, 58 page eBook on how to bring your blog from the D-List to A-List. Or from the A-List to the A+++List.

So let's get to it shall we?

The part of this book that I think you'll like the best is the laid-back, easy-going style. There isn't any brow-beating or my-way-or-the-highway here and as Melissa clearly states this isn't 43 days to blog awesomeness, it's 43-points. You can take this book as fast or slow as you like. Personally I think it's structured very similarly to the Dummies series of books that I so love. You can start at the beginning and work your way through one point at a time or jump around addressing the areas that you feel your blog could use the most TLC in first.

The book is broken down into FOUR large categories: Prepwork, Design, Navigation & Functionality and Content. Each of these large areas is then broken down into smaller more manageable chunks. For me the CONTENT area was the most useful. This section addressed things like the appropriate kinds of material for an "About Me" and "Contact Page". It laid out solid advice for creating content that flows and keeps your readership engaged and involved. Rest assured, that although this was my favorite area I found nuggets of wisdom in each and every sub-topic.

I'd recommend reading this book in three stages, once from beginning to end with the handy-dandy checklist that Melissa provides. I'd grab a couple of highlighters and make brief marks about those areas that I want to address now, those I need to address later, and things that can wait while you make jelly sandwiches and operate your mom-caravan. Paying special attention to bookmark those links of the 105 that she provides to external resources that really speak to you. These links are present throughout the book and in the puffy clouds at the bottom of each page as well as in the appendix at the back of the book.

As someone who is thinking about starting a new blog, rebranding, whatever you want to call it I also thought this book provided me with a great framework for analyzing and critiquing other blogs to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do next. Since I am not a designer and know there are other folks out there who will be using a designer as well--I think using this book allows you to speak with a designer in a knowledgeable way about what you do and do not want incorporated into your design. 

I also love that Melissa never talks down to the reader in this book. In each step she provides quick tips and tools to go deeper into each of the four areas.

This eBook is an incredible resource for any blogger no matter their niche. I think it would absolutely "up the awesomeness" of a wide variety of blogs from photography to parenting, tech to frugal living and beyond.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of this eBook to review. However, all opinions are completely my own. *Links above are affiliate links.*

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