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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!

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Comments

  1. I didn’t join in the comments on this because I really did not like the blog. It seemed to me that there is a tremendous amount of (mutual) deceit and gamesmanship in the relationship depicted here – and I truly hope that is not true in actuality, because that will never make for a successful marriage.

    I debated a long time about saying anything at all because after all, Problogger isn’t the place to discuss such things. So Darren, if you delete this, I’ll understand.

    I might object even more if the relationship is fictional or exaggerated: that would seem to me to encourage dishonesty in couples who might lean that way anyway.

    The very first thing I read – about the “present” that was actually a giveaway at a conference – has actually happened to me, with the difference being that I brought it home and said ‘Honey, they gave these away at the conference today – I thought you’d really like it so I brought it home for you!”

    That’s an honest relationship: I wasn’t currying favor or trying to impress: I genuinely thought she’d like it, and she did, and appreciated my thinking of her.. lying about motives as that blog seems to suggest really creeps me out..

    Anyway, I wanted to say this because nobody should be in a dishonest relationship. If you love someone and they love you, there is not only no need for dishonesty, it is harmful to your future.

    Advice from forty plus years of marriage, by the way..

  2. Hank says:

    On the Blogger NAV bar. While I did not formally participate in the review, I agree that the NAV bar should go.

    On the subject of Blogger, how do you differentiated between:

    Blogger content transfer via FTP to another server.

    -verses-

    Buying a domain and pointing its host record at the blogspot.com subdoamin?

    I would consider the first self hosted and not the second. That said, there is really no way to know if a Blogger blog is self hosted or not unless you do a whois on the domain name and then on the IP address. By the way, Wife Advice resolves to a Google IP address and would fall into the second category above.

  3. Hank says:

    Well said Anthony. I did not participate for similar reasons not to mention the fact that I have been very busy this past week.

  4. Lid says:

    Thank You ProBlogger – Thanks Skellie – Thanks Darren.

    How exciting to win. I wish Wife Advice good things for 2008.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  5. Thanks Darren and Skellie, and thanks everyone for your feedback. It’s been an informative week for us. We will be making quite a few changes right away, followed by a major redesign in the next couple months or so.

    The main thing we’ve learned is that as a landing page, our blog is not clearly communicating our purpose or tone. We are excited to revamp our logo and header; we’ll try to partner with a design company who is interested in using us a case study.

    We know that some people don’t understand the humor on our blog. With the feedback we’ve received here, we’ll continue to find and attract those readers who do.

    Thanks again!

  6. Height Blog says:

    thanks, problogger…. and happy new year

  7. They might want to consider creating a small report with advice, but instead of selling it, they could use it as an incentive to get people to subscribe to their feed. The only way to download the report would be via a link in the feed. They could use something like the Feed Footer plugin to do so, if they were using WordPress. I am not sure how one would do this using Blogger. Just a thought I had while reading the summary.

  8. Amanda says:

    Now I wish I’d read this post earlier, as I work with the Blogger platform for my main blog, and can offer lots of advice for Donkey and wife with regards to their use of the Blogger platform.

    Firstly, the nav-bar: yes, it probably would be a good idea to remove this, for various reasons. Firstly, it is a good idea to drop the obvious affiliation with Blogger in order to add integrity to your site. Secondly (and in my opinion, more importantly), the nav-bar often will lead readers to “spam” blogs which are hosted by Blogger and are far from desirable to view. Just click on “next blog” a few times and I’m sure you’ll understand my point…

    With the nav-bar gone, you may then want to add a search function, which you may easily add as a widget with a quick install.

    Customization of Blogger templates isn’t so difficult at all. I have written a few short articles about this on my site, and in the coming weeks have planned a whole series of posts which will explain how to create a unique Blogger template for your blog. There are also many non-standard templates available to Bloggers which you could use as a base and customize yourself.

    As Darren said, there are benefits of hosting your own WordPress blog, and indeed I have transferred all posts from a personal blog to this platform from Blogger. But it is a long and often tedious process, especially when you consider the implications of creating a new template, transferring all content, concerns about redirection of posts and many more issues besides.

    If you do need any advice or help regarding Blogger, feel free to drop by my blog for advice.

    Overall, I find Wife advice to be a great read: witty and well-written despite the complaints of stereotyping. I wish you the best of luck for your blog!

  9. The whole donkey and his wife thing seemed a little odd. I understand the concept, but still…

  10. Shameel says:

    Dear led: I congratulate you for winning this competition. Your recommendations are really nice.

    I also like to thank Darren and Skellie for providing us this exciting opportunity for helping each other and winning theses fabulous prizes as well.

  11. kristarella says:

    The only problem with removing the blogger nav bar is that now there’s no search mechanism. I find it very difficult to find things on blogger sites because they don’t add a search box in after removing the blogger bar.