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.

blogphoto

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.

googlecov2

***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.

Absences

I have a decent amount of followers and readers, and I feel like I’ve let some people down recently. Why? Because I haven’t been very active in the social media* world lately. Why? Because the move to Idaho and getting the house ready for tenants has been sucking up all of my time.

*I don’t just mean my blog,  I mean all social media like Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and so on.

The photo below is not my office, but an accurate depiction anyway. A lonely desktop pc lovingly waits for an #author to sit down and write something. The empty chair begs for an occupant. Don’t worry. I’ll be back and in full force soon. I have about four posts waiting for the editor-Queen. Therefore the forthcoming weeks should witness a surge of activity again.

desk

Multimedia Desk by Grant Laird Jr. Used via CC License

Most of the large projects are done. The things that need my attention are smaller jobs that require an hour or two of attention. I’ll save those tasks for the early morning or late afternoon. In the meantime, get ready for a wave of new posts in the coming weeks.

What drags you away from your precious #writing?

WordPress Stats: Seeing is Believing

In a previous post called “The Blog, the Tweet, and the Facebook Page,” I mentioned that creating a relationship with other bloggers is a must. I came to that conclusion based upon the behavior of those who followed me on various social media outlets. I also mentioned that I really didn’t push or spend a lot of time on #Facebook. Also, when it comes to blog stats, I usually only checked the “out-clicks” to see how many people were exiting my #blog by going to my Amazon, Nook, or Smashwords.

FB

My Social Network by Luc Legay used under CC License

But I had a jaw-dropping revelation when I looked into my WordPress stats the other day. Facebook was the source for the most referrers, i.e. where someone was when they decided to click into my blog. The second was Search Engines, then Google+ and Twitter. Why are these stats surprising? Because I usually spend the most time promoting my blog on Google+ and Twitter. When I thought about it, it didn’t take long to figure out why this happened. I use Facebook in the same way that I blog, taking the time to visit other pages and leave commentary rather than promoting my own stuff.

Let me be clear for a second, I am not a spammer (and never have been), on Google+ and Twitter. However, when I look back at all of my tweets and Google+ posts, most of them were promotional. I think it’s time to switch gears and use the rest of social media in the same way as I’ve been using Facebook and blogging.

You may experience the same if you go into your WordPress bar graph (site stats for last 48 hours), then look at the referrer’s box and click summaries. You can view your referrers for different time periods as well.

O.K. now that you’ve looked, what did you find out about your stats?

Caution: Automated Tweets Can Make You Look Like a Twit

On January 28, 2014, President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech. The Twitterverse exploded with commentary from people representing every possible moniker in the political spectrum, tweeting after every major point. The pros, the cons, the accusers, and the supporters all put in their $2.22 (hey, inflation).  And the scrolling screen looked something like this (The following conversation is fictitious.  Any similarities to actual names or tweets is purely coincidental)….

___________________________________

Republicant1 @rino
I noticed that the #POTUS hasn’t mentioned Obamacare #SOTU

Dumbocrat1 @moron
@rino  Why should the #POTUS mention it. The ACA website is fine now #SOTU

Republicant2 @conserve
@moron @rino Because #POTUS won’t remind anyone during  #SOTU how he bypassed the Constitution

Author1 @wannabe
Buy my book now! – The Three Little Violent Pigs – #Nook  #Kindle #ebook wp.linklink1

TeaParty1 @angryvoter
Will the usurper in chief #POTUS ever end? This is a long #SOTU

Republicant1 @rino
@angryvoter  #POTUS Usurper and liar!

Dumbocrat2 @libtard
@angryvoter @rino Can’t call #POTUS an usurper. He was legally elected twice.

Author2 @lovewrite
Another 5* #Amazon review for my romance novel – How I’d Love to Fall in Love.  Buy it now! wp.link2linky  #author #write

TeaParty1 @angryvote
@libtard You call that farce an election!?

Author3 @Hackysack
New spellbinding #thriller – Get Out of the Bathroom and Give Someone Else a Chance.  Available Now!  wp.4linklink3

_________________________________

Are you getting the picture? When tweeters are conversing and debating a major live event, the book promotions are incredibly non-sequitur. The authors were either using a bot or just not paying attention, and it showed in a bad way. Do you honestly think anyone bought their books based on those tweets?

I know at least one person who’s bought one of my stories because I don’t tweet book promotions every few minutes.  For all the new authors out there, yes, Twitter can be a powerful tool, but only if you use it right.  Take part in discussions, and have something interesting to say about things other than your work.  It’ll pay off.