Give Your Blog a “Facelift”

Last week I cleaned up my Twitter account, and documented that process in a post called Twitter Litter. That experience prodded me to take a long hard look at my Welcome Page. I saw quite a few problems like empty space, links that didn’t stand out, a somewhat distanced and impersonal opening paragraph, and a ho-hum title.

After all, my blog is the center of my social media platform. Which also means that my (and your) welcome page become even more important.

The Title

Before, I had a one word title “Welcome!” Yawn. Then my wife and I (we’re big Mel Brooks fans, as evidenced by his presence on my fav movie lists*), thought about Madeline Kahn’s character Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles, remember how she responded to a knock on her door? We added an Italian greeting and felt like we had the job done. 🙂

*See how my list of favorite films from the ‘60s, ‘70s and, ‘80s compares to yours.

First Paragraph

Originally, my welcome message was incredibly mediocre. As I read through it, I realized that it wouldn’t inspire anyone to continue. Therefore, I doubled the size of my opening blurb, and added more personal information like some of my core beliefs that work their way into my writing. In a nutshell, I presented the ABC’s of me.

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Blog Ecosystem Diagram by I.A. Walsh used under CC License

Empty Space

My blog category list was down at the bottom of the page. It was a slender column with too much blank space. I put them in linear form with five spaces between each one. Now it looks like an abundant amount, mimicking a paragraph.

Link Color

Although the links were now more noticeable and moved toward the top, it may still be difficult for someone to notice them as links rather than underlined text. I customized a brick red color that wasn’t hard on the eyes.

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***Put Ragged Souls on your Kindle at Amazon U.S.***

A Personal Photo

I’m not an ego-maniac who needs to see his portrait prominently displayed everywhere. However, as an author’s welcome page, I thought it necessary. After all, you want people to see the front page; feel welcomed, and then are prompted to click, read, and hopefully comment. It’s all about creating a comfy zone. So, I posted my mugshot…um I mean thumbnail portrait and wrapped the text around it.

The Top Menu

We also changed the pages in the top menu bar. Now there’s a published page that lists everything with links to different sites, like Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

However, the most important change is the addition of a Free Short Stories page. I’ve uploaded one so far but have a few more “waiting in the wings” as they say.

***Notify me when the new Sci-Fi / Horror short story Night Flights is available***

Conclusion

It’s too early to assess the success of these changes as to the impact on blog traffic. But I’m keeping my fingers and eyes crossed. I guess my Facebook Author Page and my blog’s sidebar are next.

My Last Newspaper

I was on my way to work one morning and as I passed by a newsstand I saw the huge, bold headline: Catholic Priest Sex Scandal. The priest’s picture was plastered across the entire front page.  He was a very popular priest and well known, since some newspapers had done human interest stories about him prior to that headline. Perhaps that was the reason for the press’s extra viciousness concerning this incident.

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St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Cathedral by Jennifer Boyer used under CC License

A few weeks later I purchased a copy of the paper, wanting to see the box score from a Yankee game. As I flipped through the pages and scanned the headlines I saw something very disturbing on page 17.

In a small article, nestled among many other small articles that would constitute a page of clippings, was a follow-up story about the #priest.  Apparently, all charges against him were dropped.

An NYPD spokesman said the child involved had been prompted to tell a story because the parents were looking for a cash settlement. The police became suspicious when the child kept changing his story. Detectives questioned him for a statement three times, and not once did he ever give the same answer. When pressed, the parents admitted to prodding their child to make a false claim.

What a group of forthright, just people are journalists and #newspaper editors. Shouldn’t they have put that priest’s portrait on the front page again with a bold headline proclaiming his vindication? Yes, they should have. You know it and I know it. So how could the press not know it?

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Earth Day by Deb Stgo used under CC License

I believe they knew the right thing to do. However, why should they run a story when there was probably something more sensational that day?  Also, why run a story that speaks of your own sensationalism and errors?

I think it’s sad. Have you ever seen anything similar?

Special Thanks to Don Charisma. His #blog Post “Do Journalists Tell the Truth” dredged up this memory.

The Bigotry of Fox News

Fox News: 3/13/2014 “I can think of several Italians that I’d like my dogs to attack” – Shepard Smith.

Yes, he actually said that on the air. It’s his second offense by the way…well, at least the second one that I know about. He never slips and says things like that about Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, or Asians, and I’m glad that he doesn’t. Who could possibly want to listen to things like that? However, the fact that he only lets out little politically incorrect slips about Italians is very telling. It gives us all a window into the slow rusty gears of his tiny little mind.

I’d like to sit down with Shep for a luncheon and tell him straight to his distorted face what I truly think of him. But then again, no. After all, who wants to smell shit while you’re eating?

I can’t help but think that Fox News is acting as an enabler for Shep. Another on-air personality, Bob Beckell, has slipped several times as well, passing horrid comments about Italians and Catholics. Bob apologized on the air, and then did it again a few weeks later. Add that to the fact that there are so many people with Italian last names at Fox who probably talk face to face with Shep and Beckell every day, and it’s obvious that they don’t say anything to either of these two clowns. What makes it obvious? Because if they did, then management would step in and make Smith and Beckell stop their antics.

Here’s Shepard Smith’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ShepardSmith . You can also send him a tweet @ShepNewsTeam

I’ve already gone there and told Shep what I think of him. Now you can too.