I am constantly astounded by the willingness of people I encounter via social media to help a complete stranger without the expectation of personal gain or even asking for reciprocity. Tom Martin, who was both generous with his time and forthcoming with his advice for me, said in a recent blog post that “Giving is the gateway to success.” If that’s the case (and I believe it to be true), then the kind folks who participate in the #blogchat community are assured of having long and illustrious careers.
A little background….
If you’re unfamiliar with #blogchat, I’d highly recommend that you read this “What is #blogchat?” post by Mack Collier, the founder of the weekly chat. Last week, Mack wrote a blog post covering a new idea for #blogchat, in which people could submit their blog to be reviewed by the group. In the end, Mack chose four blogs and provided them to the group in order for each of them to be read and reviewed in advance of last night’s #blogchat. To my surprise and delight, my blog was one of the four picked!
The sheer volume of tweets that came through during the 15 minutes assigned to my blog’s review was incredibly overwhelming. Unfortunately, this made it impossible for me carefully read each one and respond in real time, but I was able to immediately address a few questions and pick-up on a couple recurring themes. Reading through the transcript after the fact, I discovered an incredible amount of helpful tips and advice, constructive criticism, and words of encouragement.
A number of people expressed admiration for the four bloggers being willing to subject their blogs to an open critique. While I admit that I logged onto TweetChat.com with trepidation, fearing my blog would be ripped to shreds, I was also excited and grateful for the opportunity to learn from so many intelligent and experienced bloggers. I am confident that my blog will grow and improve by leaps and bounds as a result of the feedback I received. As a few people noted during the chat, many people would happily pay money to have their blog critiqued by this crowd.
I am incredibly grateful to Mack Collier for choosing my blog and cannot thank Mack and the entire #blogchat community enough for sharing their time and wisdom. It was also a special treat to receive comments from Heidi Cohen and Rob Petersen, who were both teachers of mine in a Social Media Marketing Mini-MBA program at Rutgers. I hope I have an opportunity to repay the favor in the future. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for this Thank You video, giving you a quick glimpse at the man behind the blog.
So, where do we go from here? I thought I’d share some of the key insights from last night and touch upon what I’ll be doing to address some of the comments I received:
- Many people felt strongly that I need to do a better job of highlighting my experience and skills and more aggressively point out that I’m job searching. A few recommendations were improving the “Resume/Professional Information” page, adding an eye-catching “Hire Me” button on the homepage and/or replacing the “Resume” page with a more robust “Hire Me” page. I’ll be rolling out some combination of the above very soon.
- Upgrading to a premium WordPress theme. I’ll be doing this in the next day or two. I’m leaning toward “Fresh News.” Any thoughts or experience you have to share regarding this theme would be welcome and appreciated.
- Removing the QR code from the sidebar. A lot of people expressed confusion over why I would use a QR code to direct someone to a video from my blog when I could simply use a link. In my defense, the video was in two other places on the blog and the QR code was just a further attempt to draw someone in, but I understand the criticism and have removed the QR code.
- Changing the tagline for the blog. There was a clear aversion to my use of the word ramblings in the tagline because it is a word too commonly used and it trivializes my blog. Darren Rowse, the highly respected @problogger on Twitter, suggested developing an elevator pitch and making it my tagline. I’ll be giving this a lot of thought over the next few days, but look for a new tagline coming soon.
- Another concern that was immediately made abundantly clear was that I needed to move the RSS subscription above the fold and highlight it a little better. Will do.
- A few people advised me to remove the archive sorted by calendar dates and replace it with an archive organized by category and add a search option. I will be doing both in the new theme.
- As suggested, I’ll also be switching to only using abstracts on the home page, rather than having each post in its’ entirety.
There were dozens of other helpful ideas/concerns that I’ll be implementing or addressing in some form or fashion with the revised theme. If you have any thoughts or ideas you’d like to add, please feel free to do so via the comments section.