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Wife Advice — Community Consulting Summary

Our fourth Community Consultation wraps up today with an overview of the ProBlogger community’s feedback for Wife Advice.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback, even amongst the kind of chaos only the end of December can bring!

New to community consulting? You’ll want to read Darren’s launch post as well as Wife Advice’s introduction to the community.

Here are the elements which proved most important to ProBlogger readers.

The average blogger vs. graphic design: how to win the battle

The header proved to be the most commented-on aspect of the site, one which many readers felt needed to be changed or improved. One group of readers felt the header looked unprofessional or unappealing and another group was offended by the husband as Donkey and Wife as ball-and-chain representation.

As bloggers we’re often given the advice to create a unique header image to brand our site. This can be difficult, though — particularly if you don’t have the money to hire a graphic designer, or black-belt Photoshop skills.

My suggestion would be to find a cheap logo-design service or hire a freelance graphic designer. If this isn’t something you have the money to do, see if there is anything else you could offer them in exchange. For example: add a permanent link to the designer’s portfolio to your sidebar, write a post advertising their services or write a guest post for their blog (if they have one).

Blogger bias

After the logo, the second most frequently mentioned aspect of the site was the Blogger navbar and the use of the Blogger platform.

I do see the merit in removing the Blogger navbar as it reminds visitors that you’re not self-hosted and can be quite distracting. Here’s a short tutorial on removing the blogger navbar.

Once the navbar is removed, I suspect most visitors to Wife Advice wouldn’t know it wasn’t self-hosted. It’s worth remembering that the target audience is not bloggers, so it’s unlikely they’ll have all the Blogger templates memorized as well as we do ;-).

That being said, I would strongly recommend the blog’s owners do some research on WordPress and whether that would be a better solution for them. A lot of ProBlogger readers recommended it in the feedback (and I second that recommendation.)

Controversial content

The blog’s concept received mixed reactions. While some readers really liked the idea of the Donkey and Wife, others felt that generalizations and stereotypes were being made — particularly male commenters!

On one hand, the unique premise of the blog might be helping to bring some readers in. On the other hand, it could be turning just as many away. It’s quite difficult to tell. It’s the kind of factor you can’t measure with statistics.

One solution might be to keep providing the same content and advice for wives and husbands, but to use a pseudonym other than ‘Donkey’ for the husband.

Ultimately, it’s up to the blog’s authors to decide whether to keep it controversial or to broaden the target audience by making the content and concept a little more benign.

It’s not just black and white

The design of the blog is very simple (mainly text). For that reason, many readers felt the blog didn’t have enough visually interesting elements to pull off a mainly black and white design. The blog’s owners can kill two birds with one stone by getting a new logo that’s full of color.

Does the tag-line sell the blog?

A group of readers felt that the blog’s tag-line wasn’t descriptive enough. At the moment it is: “A donkey. A wife. Advice.” Though we know there will be some kind of advice given, we don’t know who it’s directed at or what it’s about.

I’d suggest going with a tag-line like the one in the title bar, which is a bit more descriptive of what Wife Advice offers.

Getting more subscribers

We all want more subscribers but a number of readers pointed out that Wife Advice wasn’t doing this as well as it could.

It’s good that there’s a page explaining what RSS is, but I’d suggest offering a ‘Subscribe via email’ option from the main page. The blog isn’t tech/internet related and we can expect most of the target audience to be using email rather than a feed reader.

How to make more money with it

One common suggestion from readers was to monetize with Amazon, particularly through affiliate links to gifts recommended by both the Donkey and Wife.

Another suggestion was to sell an eBook of advice, though long eBooks are generally only worth the effort once you have a large and loyal readership.

A shorter report might be a better solution in the mean-time, if the blog’s owners do decide to try this option.

The good — everyone’s talking!

The thing that most impressed me about the blog is the skill shown in getting readers to participate in comments. By asking questions and holding debates the blog’s owners have made sure that the average number of comments on each post is very respectable.

It was also great to see a gripping About page and a Contact page in an easy to find location. Many bloggers seem to forget these crucial elements, so it was great to see them at Wife Advice.

The prize

This week’s iPod Shuffle winner is Lid from BlogWell. Her feedback ventured beyond the obvious and highlighted some important things I would not have thought of otherwise. Congrats :-).

Thanks again to everyone who took part — I look forward to hearing more from you next week!

Lessons for Bloggers From The ‘Death of 2007′

Death
The following guest post was submitted by Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian from Money.Power.Wisdom.

And so another year draws to an end. The ‘death of 2007′ sparks off a line of thinking that will add value to your 2008. It’s about burying the dead past – after learning every lesson possible from it, and using each one to make the future better.

And this applies also to the way you and I blog.

Death Focuses You On The ‘Here & Now’

We often sacrifice today for a brighter tomorrow. We postpone gratification and enjoyment so that we may multiply it in the future. Sadly, sometimes, we put off the important things – until it’s too late.

Death reminds us to live in the here and now. Do the things that matter today. Be wary about what you give up for a pay-off down the line… it just might be something far too precious to risk.

Blogging for influence might lead you to focus too much time and effort on your online activities. As you plan your strategy for future world-domination, ask if you really are willing to pay the price. Family, friends, social networks – all cannot be put on hold for long without damaging relationships permanently.

Death Shows How Insignificant Many Things Really Are

We obsess and worry about many things. We blow up many minor misunderstandings and shortcomings into earth-shaking disasters. We live our lives in a frenzy of self-created crises and emergencies.

Most, if not all, don’t matter as much when viewed in the cold light of hindsight. How many of these ‘terribly urgent’ things will matter some years from now?

As a corollary, this also draws your attention to the really essential things – and adds meaning to your life by directing your actions to where they will be most effective, not merely most efficient.

Look back at the hot, emotional and intense posts and ensuing discussions that have happened on your blog. Does what seemed ‘oh so vital’ then still remain as central or focal to what you do? Are you blogging about what matters – or just chasing rainbows?

Death Creates Urgency

All of us procrastinate. Many of us do it most of the time. “I’ll just get to it tomorrow/next week/when I have time,” we assure ourselves – and rarely manage to get things done.

But what if there was no tomorrow? Would you let these tasks go unfinished? Or would you hurry, re-organize and prioritize differently to get to them right now? Urgent things get done. Important things need to get done. Death can be a beacon that shows up the difference.

Is your blog on track to get you where you want to go? Are you caught up in trivia and detail, being forced to delay growth-oriented activity? Have you done things you need to do today – before wasting time on incidental stuff?

Death Recalls Pleasant Memories

Towards the close of 2007, what remains brightest in our minds are the nice, pleasant, joyful things that happened over the last 12 months. That focus helps energize and rejuvenate us to prepare for the challenges of the year ahead.

Taking time to relish success, enjoy rewards, bask in the glory of achievements is something you may not have thought important or essential. Truth is, it is vital – to happiness, to success, to accomplishment.

Look at what’s great about your blog. The top posts. Your best feedback. Your audience and the attention you’ve got in the blogosphere. Relish and take pride in what you’ve done. Promise yourself you’ll repeat it more often next year. And then, make that promise come true.

Death Makes You Pause & Reflect

In the mad, mad rush towards an ephemeral goal and a vaguely defined set of targets, we often lose direction or engage in unproductive effort. A time-out to rethink the direction you are moving in can get you closer to where you want to be than intense, but unguided, activity.

The end of a year (or month) is a good time to review your goals and targets for your blog. What landmarks did you reach? Which numbers did you make? Are they the right numbers? Why? How else can you make it better?

An hour of analysis and brainstorming every month about where you’re going with your blogging can make a world of difference to where you’ll reach by this time next year.

Death Provokes Gratefulness

We all have a lot to be thankful for. Most importantly, for being alive. Healthy. Rich. Happy. And a lot more.

But we hardly ever think about it that way. We are obsessed over what else we want, how much more we have to achieve, what else is left to attain – and the ambitions, dreams and aspirations drive us on relentlessly.

The calming holiday season before the hustle and bustle of a New Year begins is an excellent time to reflect, feel gratitude and express thanks to the Universe for all you have, enjoy and dream about.

And above all, be grateful for the wonderful online world of opportunity you (and I) enjoy, one that lets us blog, make money, and be happy!

Death Makes Way For The New

This year is almost gone. In many ways, I’ll remember it as a year of loss.

Many special people in my life died… my father, my dog, my professional partner, another team member, and my neighbor. Some deaths were natural, others accidents. Some came in the fullness of time, others destroyed enormous potential and promise.

And the year taught me many precious lessons about life, and about blogging. I’m sure yours did too. Let’s use those lessons to make a difference in the months ahead.

Here’s to a glorious, prosperous and joyous 2008. Happy New Year.

Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian is a heart surgeon using his Internet marketing business to fund heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. He blogs at Money.Power.Wisdom

Improve Your Blog with Networking

Improve-BlogIn Answer to My question – ‘What did You Do On Your Blog in 2007 that Improved it the most’ – David Peralty from xfep.com answered:

The answer to your question boils down to one word: networking.

With everything else I have done in my blogging, networking is really the only thing that has really given my blogs a huge push in 2007. Talking to people from different backgrounds, connecting with them and learning from them. It is really amazing what kind of effect it can have on your productivity, as well as traffic, resources, and even monetization, all from making a few friends.

Without developing my networking abilities, I probably wouldn’t be a full time blogger anymore, and I can’t stress enough the importance of connecting with your peers.

I have met all kinds of great people this year, especially in the second half, where my future in blogging was uncertain. Because of my efforts in reaching my hands out, everything else has quickly continued to fall into place. So once again, I highly recommend bloggers of all skill and expertise spend time refining their abilities in networking.

AdSense Apply Wrong Exchange Rate to November Earnings

If you’re an AdSense publisher who gets paid in your own local currency it might be worth checking your payment reports today because I’ve heard from two different publishers who are reporting that the exchange rate application is wrong. I just checked mine and it’s out also.

It seems that they’ve converted money the wrong way around for earnings for the month of November.

So instead of converting the earnings from USD to AUD in my case – they’ve taken the USD figure and converted it as though it was an AUD figure being converted into USD. I’m not going to give my exact figures – but here’s someone else’s figures:

Earnings in USD – $103.06
Exchange Rate – 0.867 : 1
Earnings in AUD – $89.40

The problem is that they’ve applied the wrong exchange rate – it should be something close to 1.144 : 1 (that’s last month’s rate) and the earnings should be around $117AUD.

While in the case mentioned above the difference is just a few dollars if you multiply the earnings into higher rates (mine are in the five figures per month range) the difference is significant (I’m thousands out).

I have no doubt that AdSense will fix this mistake – but it has thrown a few publishers into a spin today.

Thanks to Mauricio from Geekzone for the heads up on this one.

Update: if you’ve got the same problem let us know in comments below. You might also want to email AdSense on adsense-support @ google.com.

Update 2: Looks like others have the same problem in the AdSense forums

Update 3: so far I’m just seeing this reported by Australian and New Zealand publishers. Any others have the same issue in a different currency?

Update 4: I’ve had an email from AdSense in the last few minutes to let me know that they are now aware of the problem and are in the process of resolving the issue.

Increase Your Direct Ad Sales Revenue with a Clear Advertising Page

Improve-BlogIn This post Jeremy Schoemaker from Shoemoney answers – ‘What did You Do On Your Blog in 2007 that Improved it the most’

I did several improvements to my blog but by far the one that improved it the most was implemented a VERY clear advertising page which decreased our email back and fourth to hardly any and increased direct ad sales revenue by about 400%

PS: Also if you want there is a video online of my presentation @ blogworld where I talk about how I determine the price for ads on my blog

Using Linkify to Make Linking to Others Easier

Improve-BlogIn this post Matt Cutts from MattCutts.com (and Google) shares what he did in 2007 that improved his blog the most.

The shortest, easiest thing I started doing was using linkify.

You just highlight some text and click the bookmarklet to open Google’s search results. Pick the result you wanted and click “create link” and the hyperlink is pasted into your text form.

Since I’ve been using linkify, I’ve found that I link out to good sites more often.

Going Full Time as a Blogger

Improve-BlogIn this post David Hobby from Strobist answers my question – ‘What did you do on your blog in 2007 that improved it the most?’

The one thing that I did for Strobist.com that allowed it to improve the most in 2007 was to focus my full-time attention on it. I had been splitting my time between Strobist and another job, at the expense of my blog, my job and, most important, my family.

Now that I am focusing all of my work efforts on Strobist, the blog is much stronger. And I actually have time to spend with my family again, too. Which is more important than any improvement in my blog.

Note from Darren: As someone who operates in a neighboring niche to David I can vouch for how his going full time has improved his blog. David’s also a great example of someone who not only makes money directly from his blog but who is able to leverage the traffic and profile of his blog into other ways of making a living – particularly through the production of resources and training.

Improve Your Blog by Showing Up

Improve-BlogToday Seth Godin (top blogger and author of many books including The Dip) tells us (in his usual succinct style) what he did in 2007 to improve his blog the most.

I showed up.

Underrated, but important.

Blogging is Like….

Earlier in the week I posted Blogging is Like Watching Grass Grow – a video post about the early days of blogging. I’ve had some nice feedback from it and this morning on a whim decided to do a search on Google to find out what other people thought ‘Blogging is Like’.

Blogging-Is-Like

The variety of posts that I found containing metaphors for blogging was quite amazing (and at times amusing).

As we’re winding down for the year – I thought I’d post some of the results that I found.

Here’s what blogging is like (42 links in all):

By the way – after surfing through most of these I realized that some of them were connected through Successful Blog’s Blogging Metaphor project.