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Win 5,000 Visitors by Reviewing Retireat21.com

That’s right: by participating in our community consultation and leaving the most helpful comment reviewing Retireat21.com, you could win a 5,000 visitor StumbleUpon campaign for your blog.

How it works: You give us 1 URL, we send 5,000 stumblers to that URL. If any of them vote up your content, you get even more traffic. If your blog has never been on the front page of Digg, this prize will give you a taste of what it’s like.

What we’re looking for: a thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the running. There will be only one winner.

Darren and I are very pleased to bring you a prize with the potential to launch your blog into the stratosphere. Good luck!

The blog’s owner, Michael, describes the blog like this:

Retireat21.com is a resource for young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. The site is quickly becoming the authority for young entrepreneurs, and contains valuable information and exclusive features such as: interviews with successful young entrepreneurs, the young rich list, ask an entrepreneur, ebooks and courses, recommended resources, and a whole lot more… in fact, it contains everything a young entrepreneur will need in the journey to success. Quite simply, Retireat21.com is young entrepreneurs making money online.”

Retire@21.

The questions your review should answer are as follows:

  • The site features a good number of Young Entrepreneur interviews (accessible via the main page) – do you have any suggestions for better interviews, better questions etc?
  • What can Michael do to improve the interviews?
  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. May the best comment win :-)

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Comments

  1. CFO Yourself says:

    Just a quick question before embarking on your challenge. Would you like us to leave out review in the comment section or on our blogs?

    Thanks,
    Caroline

  2. John says:

    My thoughts:

    * What can Michael do to improve the interviews?
    The interviews look solid. However, the write up leaves something to be desired. It is a lot of straight text. Try to mix in bullet/numbers lists, take advantage of Italic and Bold fonts to help emphasize certain points. I am drawn toward your bold question, but not so much to the answer.

    * Design — I like the use of green/black/white on the site. You are pushing money so you went with colors to reflect that. However your main page, to me, looks like a way to just make money. 6 – 125×125 ads, a newsletter/ebook sign-up, two partial answers that require a click, a ad banner that is larger than your content. You offer no real main page content which seems like you are trying to just increase page views and ad impressions. Give new visitors a reason to stay be offering some content when they show up. Make them want to keep reading because you have solid advice not because they are forced to.

    * Content — A great post would be to take tips from each interview and create a top tips from top web entrepreneurs post. Top domain ideas/site ideas/monetization ideas. A best of the best type post could generate nice buzz.

    * Monetization — The lack of ant contextual ads from google is surprising. You have a nice set of keywords and you don’t seem to be taking advantage of it.

  3. Ryan says:

    Not trying to be in the running for the contest, but if you’re looking to be a professional-quality site, PLEASE learn the difference between “there” and “their”.

    The design also feels to me like it’s a “get my E-Book and I’ll lead you to untold riches” site rather than a resource for learning.

  4. Hyder says:

    The interviews seem pretty in-depth. Something that would make them even more interesting is to ask a case where they learned something they never read about anywhere else – simply due to pure experience.

    People always like to know what makes other people cling on, while the rest let go.

    Design – First of all, you have “home.php” as part of your html on the homepage. Get rid off it. The font for the navigation on top is too small, perhaps giving it a diff. background color would help as well. I think you need a more definitive logo, rather than just a text based one with a “@” symbol. The rest is satisfactory. Perhaps not having your photo at the top of every page of the site would help as well. This would give it a more “resourceful” view rather than a “personal” one. Maybe if you place it at the bottom, except for the homepage of course.

    Content – An idea for a viral post could be an overview of before and after summaries of people you have interviewed along with some of their most treasured secrets. Then let people vote for a winner and offer a prize of a one on one consultation to a random voter/reader/commenter.

    Promotion – You seem to be doing pretty good so far. You could also try doing case studies and do a group project with interested bloggers. Let them write about you, the person who sends the most traffic gets a prize that you get sponsored by someone else.

    SEO – Yeah, you have too many spammy links at the bottom of your site. If they turn humans off, they probably turn spiders off too.

    Monetization – Probably doing more in depth reviews of products used by people you interview, with affiliate links obviously. Gives a more credible stance to it, you know what I mean?

    Crossing my fingers so that you like my suggestions good enough for winning.

  5. CFO Yourself says:

    Not that I will wait for your answer:

    The interviews are pretty good. I might add a few questions on how to handle being an underage entrepreneur. Problems with taxes, etc. Underneath the Latest Interviews sections, he might add a link saying “more interviews…”

    The design is pretty busy. The menu bar across the top and the list of links at the bottom are overwhelming in number from a visual perspective. There is always the trade-off between how much you try to get in front of your viewer and how crowded your page looks. Certainly, the About and the Support could be drop down menus.

    He should have a RSS feed button that allows you to subscribe to a particular feed service, rather than the email feed – it’s too cumbersome for us lazy people.

    Newsletter is one word.

    Not so sure about the viral post. The interviews are good, but some of the other content is a little short. Filling out the content in the non-blog posts would be a good wayto bring more readers in.

    I think the blogger is doing a pretty good job of promoting his blog by having it reviewed on Problogger. My favorite promotion tools: Stumble and Digg. I have also used SpicyPage and FuelMyBlog.

    From an SEO perspective, add some more key words in to his meta-tags – focus on the ones that drive traffic to his site. Also, some more text in the body of his site that describes what he does.

    Monetization – I think that his sponsors are appropriate given his topic, but I did not see any Google ads or similar ad feed. Since that tends to drive the majority of my revenues, I would recommend adding those ads. I am assuming that he is not just promoting the books and courses online for free, although I did not see any information that would lead back to his site, so I’m not sure.

    All-in-all, a good topic for a blog. There are a huge number of young entrepreneurs who need advice that is different than the advice that their more elderly counterparts give. My main suggestion would be to focus on creating good content and really providing the readers with benefit every time they log on.

    Best of luck to Michael.

    Caroline

  6. Ren B says:

    The most ironic thing is that it’s my 22nd birthday today.

    I wonder what would happen if you had posted this yesterday.

  7. Dan Schawbel says:

    Interesting website, especially because it was built by a 21 year old and has stories from 14 year olds!

  8. Well, you didn’t ask about mechanics, but the site does not validate – and it’s really odd to see a site use an : XHTML 1.0 Transitional Doctype and not even come close to being so.. usually sites that don’t care about validation wouldn’t choose that as their Doctype. Anyway, it would all be easy stuff to fix, so its kind of silly.

    Interviews: repetitive text at the beginning.

    “Interview with Matt Wegrzyn of Bodis.com – a very young and very successful domainer. ”

    “Interview with Matt Wegrzyn of Bodis.com – a very young and very successful domainer”

    Careless with mechanics: many questions do not end with question marks.

    The front page disclaims the emphasis on youth, but obviously the prejudice is there: constant repetition of “young, young, young”

    Other than that, I thought the interviews were insightful – certainly so on the questioners part.

    But the whole website screams careless: “there” for “their”, “lets” for “let’s”, lower case “i” when it should be upper case:
    front page carelessness, worst place to have it, big turnoff.

    The carelessness continues within: “bit to risky” and so on..

    I’d move all those junk ads off the front page. Some of ‘em I’d get rid of permanently, but the front page is not the place to start assaulting me with “Make $5,000.00 a week!”. It makes the site look spammy, and the interviews definitely are NOT, so it is sending the wrong message.

    But then again, everything does. Those “click here for full answer” links. Great idea, but the resulting anseeres are disappointing (no depth) and the big newsletter promotion at the top screams spamming.

    Overall, this blog says “young, careless, hard sell” to me. It’s NOT going to attract older people because of that.

    I would: clean up the grammatical errors and spelling, de-spammify it by cutting back on the hard sell throughout, and stop concentrating so much on “young” – I don’t mean cut all that out, but cut back on the concentration, the emphasis (unless, of course, you only want the young – in that case, don’t).

    Your interview with Allen Carlton was good in that respect (de-emphasis on youth).

    Stop turning off older readers. Your http://www.retireat21.com/young-entrepreneurs-who-changed-the-internet/
    needs an acknowledgment that older people have value too..

    More carelessness there: “Were possible” s/b “Where possible”.

    Even your “About” box: “more geared towards retiring prior to having a fake hip installed”. C’mon – that’s bad, bad, bad. That whole thing needs rewriting.

    Then when we click on through:

    About pages written in the third person are not good.. and what the heck is that ever-present newsletter ad doing on the about page?? And again, the concentration on youth: “The scariest part is that these young entrepreneurs are getting younger and younger”.

    Michael, you have an inspiring story there. Tell it in the first person, and while you are writing it remember: YOU get older every day. Someday YOU will be 40, 50, 60.. try to keep that in mind as you write.

    Cutting down on spammy: Your http://www.retireat21.com/blog/9-ways-to-increase-your-blogs-traffic-for-free/
    is way too enthusiastic and lacks depth. Point out why some of these things are just pyramid schemes, why some could damage your reputation.. this is very shallow stuff, little meat. You obviously have the intelligence to dig in and see beyond the gloss, but you aren’t doing it enough.

    Stop plugging that newsletter and ebook so loudly on every single page. Move that off to a sidebar where it won’t be so spammy.

    I hope you can understand that the best thing that can happen to this site is for you to get a little older.. a little more judgment, less carelessness, less hard sell.. and less age prejudice – again, unless that’s your aim, and if it is, then just forget the disclaimers about not worrying about being older. If you want the young market and nothing but, embrace that, celebrate it, live it: there’s nothing wrong with that.

  9. I know it is a blog about making money but I reckon you should design the blog for humans who actually want to read it, rather than focussing so heavily on making money.

    There is no point in me telling you what to do without real evidence (something most people don’t bother with) so my first suggestion is to get a CrazyEgg.com account and run that on your homepage for a few thousand visits. This will give you a good idea of what people want to click on, and therefore what you should focus on.

    There are a lot of elements on the page and so a heatmap will be really insightful. Once you’ve done that I’m happy to interpret the results for you. Contact me!

  10. Yung-Chin says:

    Hi!
    First of all: I like the topic of the website.

    I like the informal style of interviewing and their pretty bare transcription: it fits the “young” image the site boasts. But reading through the interviews I can’t help but think: these should have been video interviews!! That is of course a lot more work for you, but it would definitely add to a quality impression. Your content is already of good quality – now make it look like you put more effort into it than transcribing a phone call! ;)

    A second thought about the interviews: to find the questions your readership is interested in, you could try and announce an interview before you’ll have it, and let people suggest questions (perhaps through a comment section). The interviews currently have no comment section either – is there a reason why you made a separate blog section? (which isn’t the first thing one finds – I wouldn’t have noticed if this review didn’t get me to stick around a bit longer) I’d say, just combine the blog with the interviews, making the site overall more interactive.

    Site design: the navigation bar is messed up in Firefox 2.0.0.10 – some of the items fall half below the visible region. This is easy to fix. Something more important: your current advertisers are putting up animated images that degrade your site’s appearance (eg. “Make 5000 a week!!!” is flashing all the time). If you’re catering to the business crowd, you don’t want the “online casino” look…

    Another thing I like: the “ask an entrepreneur” section. You could improve on it a bit by putting a name with the answer – which super-entrepreneur is answering my question? This makes it more personal.

    I don’t have viral post idea for you, but here are some general thoughts on content that would fit your site. People who come to a site about successful entrepreneurs are probably looking for that feeling of success. Running some news/opinions about the lifestyle bits that go with such success would cater to the needs of that audience. You can talk about which cars the “top 21″ (I like that section too btw) drive, what places they go for food, parties, etc…

    And what about this one: which schools did they attend? What courses did they follow? In general: is there a common factor you can find? There’s still a lot more material you can generate around the interviews, is all I’m saying.

    Promotion? I’d say you need a big resource-type section. Your other content – interviews and stuff you promote – are interesting to someone who has already found the site. They aren’t the type of things people looked for in a google search query. If you set up something like info pages for school kids about which colleges they should aim for (again: make it interactive) – that will draw in visitors. Once they’re on your site they’ll find the interviews are cool.

    SEO – I had to look up the term, so take my advice with a grain of salt :) The only thing I noticed: no tags on your blog posts right now…

    On monetisation: take it easy. You want to keep a quality image. If you have good books, good courses, good advice to sell – that’s all fine. Reconsider the shouting adds – they’re short term income.

  11. What happens if I am already 35 and not retired yet? ;-)

  12. Vince says:

    Interviews :: I would like to see the young people interact with older more seasoned entrepreneurs to show the contrasts and comparisons. It would provide a nice contrast to the site. Maybe even some interviews with veteran money makers.

    Design :: It is clean and has great ‘pop’. It looks professional and will make first time visitors want to explore deeper. It could use some more ‘focused’ and visual navigation on the front page to move visitors in the right direction. some peoples eyes will get lost looking for a graphic to click on…give it to them. The text nav is great for people looking for that. I also think you’re asking too much of visitors right when they get there when dead center on the front page you are asking for their email address…high pressure is out. On some monitor resolutions the headline for the first post is below the fold.

    Content :: Be careful with content about how to make money, there is too much out there. From what I have read the site isn’t making any outrageous claims which is good. But be careful and distance yourself from sites like that. People will scoot on by if they get the idea that it is a ‘get rich quick site’

    Promotion :: A front page ad in the New York Times would be nice. But let’s be real. I would look to getting banners on a few blogs/sites that have the traffic you are looking for. I would stay away from keyword campaigns as this genre is super saturated and wouldn’t be cost effective. At the end of the day good content is gonna get you there.

    SEO :: Loads fine. You hit the magic number of scripts (3). I’m sure there is a site map, but I couldn’t find it. No live bookmark/RSS icon in the address bar. There is a Feedburner icon to grab the feed, but you need to stick with the standards, drop the RSS icon somewhere high on the page.

    Monetization :: Maybe too many ‘blinking’ ads. A little annoying. But then again…the people you want will probably click them and people that are annoyed by them wouldn’t click on the regardless.

    Good Luck

  13. Eric says:

    Could you please tell us when is the consultation closed ?

    Thank you in advance.

    Best regards.

    Eric

  14. Live Crunch says:

    # Design — Navigation is ok, the only thing I don’t like is the flashy ads, yes they do make you look at them but I think color “red” is not what it should be on there. Down almost by the footer you have lots of space and you could use it either for ads or something else. Remove those 125 readers and place RSS button instead.

    # Content — Content should be always something regarding your given domain name, so don’t write about cloths if your blog is about making money. Overall content is not bad, make sure you point out stuff in first 160 characters because that is what is going to be displayed on google search.

    # Promotion — Adsense? it could get expensive tho, due to high volume of “make money online” keyword, try private ads just like the one here on problogger, hit more other blogs like problogger yes you will pay more but you will be more known if you know what i mean?

    # SEO — you placed keywords but not description? ON MAIN PAGE? get that done today and remove keywords and place description for your blog. Get some plugin that does the auto description. Like for wordpress “All in one seo pack”

    # Monetization— Since your blog is fairly new, try to keep less ads on your blog, don’t make your visitors belive you created that blog just to make money and that you are not devoted and passionate about your content. See http://www.bontb.com for example.

  15. Shams says:

    Hey what type of business it is – to exploit all the poor bloggers :-) .

  16. Design —

    The first thing I would do is get the sidebar working in IE7, it wraps to the bottom of the screen.

    Next I think the typography could use a lot of improvement all around the board. There’s no consistancy with line-height, line breaks, type column widths, etc. Settling on a group of typographic styles is very important to keep the reading as easy as possible for your visitors. If you can get a set of conventions going then there’s much less effort involved after reading a few articles.

    I would also like to see regular navigation at the top of the page instead of a sitemap. There’s too much text and it’s too small. I really had to look for what I wanted instead of easily finding the blog or interviews. Maybe moving the sitemap to the end of the page would make more sense so if someone doesn’t find what they’re looking for they then can check the sitemap. You could also devote more space to it and make it more readable.

    Content —

    The interviews aren’t that bad at all although the author could definitely use some copywriting improvements, especially with his headlines. He could also follow up his questions better by asking the interviewee to further explain their one sentence answers.

    The blog section needs a lot of work and the posts could be a lot more thoughtful and turned into complete posts. Most of the blog postings are have baked ideas and with not a lot of meaty reading

    As far as a viral post, I’d worry about writing some really solid content to actually make going viral worth it.

    Promotion —

    I would start by activily participating in dicussions on other sites within his niche in effect proving he’s worth his salt by adding to the conversation. He doesn’t have to find 100 sites and comment on each post or in every forum, but find some with high volumes of traffic and start building there.

    Maybe he could try and win this contest himself and get 5000 free visitors to his site :)

    SEO —

    I would start by adding alt attributes to every image and title attributes to every link. He could also work on his keyword usage in his titles for both the interviews and the blog posts. I would also recommend using h1 heading tags for the titles and h2′s for the subheadings or questions in the interview. I would also get rid of using tables for layout in some spots that aren’t necessary so crawlers don’t choke on them. It also looks like he’s missing the meta information for most every page.

    Monetization —

    I think he should get rid of all the flashing ads in such close proximity to each other, I just look away and definitely don’t even think of clicking. He could also try to use a few text based ads for readers who scan text rather than images.

  17. Bennie says:

    Change domain! I know its for everyone but the first impression is there (Younger than 21) and youll probably lose some readers because of it!

    Anyway good web.site:

    Interviews: David Wilkinson Interview
    This is just a 13 year old kid you need to ask him something about his parents because he could not do anything without them. Maybe what kind of support they give him or maybe some tips on what a young kid that age can do to make something for themselveves not just get money.

    * Design: Menu font is too small consider making a drop list or putting the menu on a side bar.

    * Content: Maybe some tips on how to do things at a young age. If youre younger than 16 you depend completely on youre parents therefore how can they prepare themselves to be an enterpreneur at an older age.

    * Promotion: How about going to diferents schools and promoting not only your blog but the whole mindset of being an enterpreneur that way you can make an impact in society too. It’ll be great!

    * SEO: I was searching at google and theres a retiredat21.com is that yours too? , I dont have experience in this topic but maybe more unique content maybe a good research of how all this young enterpreneurs manage to do the things they do.

    * Monetization: I didnt saw adsense content ads anywhere so that maybe a missed oportunity and you have too many graphic ads.

    The idea is cool and innovative but You need to be clear on what kind of audience is this site targeted at.

    Keep the good work!

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    CFO Yourself – you guessed right, here in comments is fine.

    Eric – we close this Friday – Australian time. To be safe get your comment in by Thursday.

  19. Claude says:

    Some simple thoughts

    - put a RSS logo (head and right)
    - put tags
    - disclaimer doesn’t work
    - use sharethis plugin
    - E-Book could be smaller and on the right
    - META NAME=”Keywords” could be with more words

    All the best for your blog

    Claude

  20. Duff says:

    How about some legit businesses, instead of promoting domain squatters and MLM’s? Or are there no such honest ways for very young people to make oodles of money?

    1st interview is with a “domainer”–in other words, one of those obnoxious squatters who register domains and charge exorbitant prices for them.

    The 2nd and 3rd interviews are with “affiliate marketers”–in other words, people who have figured out how to artificially drive traffic to sites and make money off it. It’s a form of spammer, in my opinion.

    The ads on the side include some popular Multi-Level Marketing schemes.

    I’m very unhappy with this post, ProBlogger. Usually your stuff is very top notch. This one seems like the folks at retireat21.com paid you to write it.

  21. joe says:

    Get a different colour scheme. Green = pukeworthy

    Get some original content – at the moment, it is pretty obvious that the purpose of your website is to enable you to retire rich by getting punters to click on adverts.

  22. Mike says:

    I wouldn’t change anything. Once I saw this site I spent about half an hour reading through the different articles and interviews, which is very uncommon I think with sites on this topic. Great content, design and a layout which makes it easy for people to delve deep into the site.

  23. Undine says:

    As one of your under-21 target audience, when I saw the topic for this round’s review, I was excited, but when I actually looked at the site, I found that had I not been looking through it for this, I would never have continued past the homepage. Well, maybe one more page to give you a chance to prove me wrong… Here are my thoughts (perhaps a bit jumbled – sorry! – and definitely long) :

    My biggest issue, as others have pointed out here, is the unprofessional attitude emenating from the site. If you can’t take the time and attention to proofread or make your site look professional, then why should we take the time to pay attention to what you are trying to say? I won’t go into all the spelling errors, as others have covered those well, but I will echo their suggestion to take care of such careless mistakes that can really repel readers. A simple way to rectify this is to simply read each post outloud before you post it – you will catch the vast majority of errors as well as any potentially awkward phrases.

    Along with this, I assume that you are trying to be “cool” or “hip” or something with the attitude you seem to approach all the writing on the site (esp the “About” page), but that can turn off a lot of readers, especially if you are trying to move beyond the under-21 crowd and attract readers of all ages who want to retire earlier than 65. It turned me off, and I’d like to occasionally consider myself as “cool” or “hip”. Again, by trying to focus yourself on a more professional approach, while still maintaining a personality (easier said than done, I know!) I think you will attract a lot more readers.

    On the front page, you have a “Ask Entrepreneur” section, which is great, but you have an “Answered by” field that has no name, thus rendering it useless. I like this information, but only if it is there. Otherwise, it looks sloppy and ridiculous. And perhaps say who asked the question, which can help foster a community, as I discuss further down. I clicked on the “View Full Answer” link and found the text to be extremely small and completely dominated by the products you are trying to sell. As I will mention a few times more, I think that if you focus on your content rather than trying to sell things to your readers, you will acquire more readers, who will then interact more with your advertisers, thus making everyone happy.

    The interviews seem to be the biggest part of your site, which I think is great. It is really interesting to read about other people who have actually done what you are trying to show others how to do. I think that if you did some internal linking within these interviews to blog posts on your site that expand on topics the interviewees bring up, you will help more people and encourage them to use your site more.

    Now, the most substantive posts I found on the blog were the interviews. I agree with Yung-Chin that videos might help enhance these even more. Perhaps a mixture of video, podcasting and/or transcripts would work wonders. I found the blog posts, however, to be both hard to read and extremely lacking in actual content, which is disappointing for a few reasons. First, there are so many topics you could discuss, but instead it seems you dash something off in 5 minutes and post it without too much forethought. And there are some good starts here, but when I actually read them, I was disappointed and left wanting more. Now, there is a debate raging in the blogosphere as to whether your posts should be short or long, and that is up to you to decide, but I think either long or short, the posts need to be more substantive.

    On your “Making Money Online” page, perhaps if you linked each method to a blog post expanding on it, you could generate a lot more content and hits.

    Please stop pushing the Ebook on me on every page. I get it. You have an ebook. That’s great. But I don’t need to see that at the very top of every single page. If you move it to the side, then I’ll be less likely to get irritated and just leave. You should think about real estate here. I happen to have a high screen resolution and so see far enough beneath it, but a good number of people don’t and really don’t want to have to scroll down just to see something different than they have already seen on every other page on the site.

    For your flashing advertisements on the side bar, two of them are the exact same, but when I hovered over them, they go to different addresses. If you want people to click on them, I’d advise making sure they are each distinct. At the same time, however, the blinking gets old really quickly. Take a look at Problogger’s own sponsored ads to get an idea of how to optimize this section. Also, instead of advertising for “get-rich-quick” schemes (at least, that’s how they seem to me), can you think of any advertisers that might provide services that an entrepreneur (young or otherwise) might be able to use to help his business? Again, making this section more professional increases the legitimacy of your site.

    In terms of promotion, there are a bunch of other blogs that are about the same approximate subject, so if you can start doing guest posts on those, I’d bet that you’d bring in a good amount of traffic that are already interested in your topic. Along with this is networking, obviously. Also, if you start fostering a community by asking questions of your readers (e.g. what are you doing to retire early? what have you found most useful in your quest? who is your inspiration? etc. – the same types of questions you ask in your interviews) then that can help people start promoting your site at no cost to you!

    Also, you have some text in the top right corner saying “Subscribe” but unless you know that you can click on the Feedburner counter to subscribe, it seems like the only way to subscribe is via email. Adding a button or simply turning this text into a link would help greatly. Also, RSS is totally capitalized.

    For your “Latest Blog Posts” on the right side, I’m not sure what you are doing with the short explanation underneath each. Some stop mid-word, some include the exact same information as what is in the title. None of this is good. I’d advise taking the description out entirely – if your title doesn’t provide enough info, maybe you should change the title. Also, perhaps consider changing this section to “Popular Blog Posts” rather than “Latest” since we can find the latest simply on the blog homepage. Finally, why is “Latest” bolded but not “Blog Posts”?

    With your “Ebooks & Courses” section, perhaps you could write reviews of each of these products rather than simply spitting out their promotional information. Since you claim to have successfully used each one, then I’d like to hear what you have to say about them. This goes for the “Software and Tools” section as well. Yet again, you can fulfill this will a blog post about each, which will generate plenty of SEO-rich blog posts. (Side note: for the section links on top, I’d suggest picking “&” or “and” rather than switching).

    Finally, I’m not a big fan of the “No Grey Hair CEOs section. Maybe it’s just the name. Maybe it’s the “There” vs. “Their” errors. Maybe it’s just me. Otherwise, this is yet another opportunity for expanded blog posts that you can take advantage of.

    To end on a positive note, I really do like the color scheme and layout of the site. I think there is quite a bit of potential here, but it will take a good deal of time and effort to fulfill it, as with anything worth doing. Good luck!

  24. Simon says:

    Arriving at the home page reminds me of the many landing pages for ebooks out there. On first loading, I immediately ignored the newsletter sign up form because it looked like it was a form for buying an ebook. You also break some usability conventions on that very form. For example, the fields are coloured yellow, which will mean different things to different people (e.g. Google Toolbar users will recognise this as meaning there is data available to be populated into those fields). You also use an image of a Windows XP form button. I can’t quite figure out why. I’m on a Mac so seeing this button scares me and puts me off. If I’m on Windows I’m going to assume I can resize the text as per usual and I would expect the slight highlight on hovering over the button. But there’s no hover behaviour and as the button is an image, the text can’t be resized. It just seems gimmicky for the sake of being gimmicky.

    The front page also seems to be missing one very crucial element, a description of what the site does. The tagline “Young entrepreneurs making money online” implies that it’s a site documenting successful, young entrepreneurs. This is then reinforced by the fact that the most prominent space on the page is occupied by a list of interviews. There’s very little above the fold on the first page that really sets out the purpose of the site.

    On a more practical note, I find some of the navigation extremely confusing. I clicked on one of the links in the sidebar of the home page that points to a recent blog post. This one. Yet when I get there, there’s no interview on that page. Instead it’s just a placeholder blog post that points to another page within your site. And then, to make matters worse, clicking the link to the interview opens up in a new window. There’s really no justification for opening links in new windows these days, especially when linking within a site. It would seem sensible to incorporate the interviews into the regular flow of the blog, you could tweak your theme fairly easily to achieve this. This would also assist in constructing a structure to the site, which seems to be sorely lacking at the moment.

    Another inexcusable omission is that of search functionality. if it’s there, I can’t find it anywhere. And in the area where I would expect to find it (i.e.t he top right), there is a subscribe field which many users will attempt to enter search criteria into.

    I took a look at the “Making Money Online” page and a few things struck me. Firstly, the main content column is too wide and that hurts readability. Secondly, there’s an awful lot of text there that hasn’t been broken up much. There’s also a table further down which is coloured in such a way that it is somewhat difficult to read. Your methods for scoring each type of site aren’t really explained either, which will reduce the amount of confidence a reader will ultimately have in your findings. (and what’s the difference between a website and a blog?).

    This diminishing reader confidence is exacerbated when you scroll slightly further down the page, to the section that has products you have used. You seem to have added some quotes to this section but have failed to cite them correctly. This raises two questions. Firstly, where do the quotes come from? Are they from genuine users or just from the sales page? It’s heavily implied that they are not from you. Secondly, if you have used these products to make yourself “a lot of money online” why aren’t we reading your opinion of the products, and what they did for you. of you want to sell something like those products, back up your sales pitch with cold hard facts that resonate with your readers. If the facts, and positive effects of those products, have been personally experienced by you, your readers will empathize and you’ll get more clicks.

    After a while of clicking around I found myself in a sort of loop. Each page was pushing the same content. Regular blog posts point to interviews (eventually), the front page points to interviews. You don’t seem to be pushing any of your core content anywhere other than in the top menu bar, which is strange.

    Overall, I quite like the look of the site (although I can’t quite shake this feeling that I’ve seen it before) and it’s a nice idea to showcase and inspire young entrepreneurs. Some of the spelling and grammar needs to be looked at and by making some fairly minor changes you could make your blog seem far more authoritative than it does currently. Some of your articles baffled me, and I couldn’t see the source or reasoning behind them. Backing up your content with the research you had performed would be a step in the right direction.

    Good luck with it.

  25. Kristen says:

    Here are my first impressions…

    First impressions — the page titles are too small and there are too many of them. I like the 3 categories, but consider combining Contact and Be Our Friend? or About M. Dunlop and Ask Michael? Be sure the pages that are most important stand out… Also, the far right sidebar is empty? So pick a 2 column design instead?

    Second impression — the interviews are less interesting than the Top 21 Young Run Websites. Maybe put this on the front page instead? Honestly, unless we know who the interviewees are, we don’t really care… But I WOULD look up “Mark Zuckerberg’s interview” once I know he started Facebook.

    The content of the interviews was fine, otherwise.

    Great start and good luck!!

  26. Barbara says:

    If your target audience is young entrepreneurs, than they are the ones who should critique this site.

    What I like in a site/blog and what my 21 year old grandson would like to see, is totally different. Thus, I will cut my comment short and move on to another post.

  27. WOW. I don’t think Ill be able to compete at this point. However, I did take a gander at a few pages on the website. Obviously you just decided to throw a handful of cash at the site to see what you could come up with. There were some very interesting but meaningless articles like the “No Grey Hair CEO” article. At the end of the day though, you’ll probably make a lot of money with all the emails you’ll end up getting due to the traffic that problogger is pushing your way. Im sure the ROI will pan out.

  28. Julie says:

    Hi, Michael,

    You’ve put a lot of hard work into your entire site. Here are my thoughts and comments. I hope you find something of value in them.

    Design: (1) It’s a nice looking site. However, your ebook screams “buy me.” It should be easily seen, but not the first thing a visitor sees. (2) I was frustrated by the fact that there are no complete paragraphs on your home page. Every time I started to read, I was cut off in the middle of a sentence and had to click a link. This made reading difficult and the visitor was left with too much navigation. There should be an enticing paragraph telling what your site has to offer and which makes the reader want to go looking for more to read, especially on your home page. (3) Your tag line also bothers me. “Young Entrepreneurs Making Money Online” sounds like the site is only for people already successful. I think a better line would be something like, “Be A Young Entrepreneur Making Money Online.” Those may not be the best words either, but do let the readers know you have something valuable to share with them. (4) There are way too many grammatical errors. One here and there is okay, but there are many. This gives your site an unprofessional and unreliable look. (5) “Ask Entrepreneur” is a good idea. But it should read, “Ask The Entrepreneur.” Also, get rid of the “view full answer” links. Make it easy to read by putting all Q’s & A’s on a separate page. (6) I think switching back and forth from “retire@21″ and “retire at 21″ is confusing, especially since the URL differs from the site name.

    Content: How about titles such as, “Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make”, or “10 Secrets To Online Success”, or “10 Best Ways To Jump Start Your Business.” Provide good advice that your readers will want to bookmark and read again and again.

    SEO: Use Technorati tags. Use key words in titles and your opening sentences.

    Monetization: Highly praise the products successful entrepreneurs use and have affiliate links to them. What products work for you? You could use Google ads, but I personally am not a fan of their ads.

    Interviews: (1) Put a “Q” by all the questions and an “A” by all the answers. Sometimes your questions are not clear enough to let the reader know it is a question. (2) You tend to repeat the opening line. Readers don’t want their time wasted. (3) The questions don’t go into enough detail about the interviewee’s niche and the steps he/she took to achieve success.

    Lastly, the fact that you are catering to the 21 crowd doesn’t bother me. Not every site is for everyone, and I find nothing wrong with targeting a certain group of people. But, I think your site is lacking the most important thing … quality advice! What advice you provide, is hard to find. And that makes me want to click to another site. If I am looking for a site to teach me how to make money online, I want to read something that will empower me. Unfortunately, your blog does not do that. When you write a post, try to picture a newbie looking for a lot of information, and ask yourself, “Did I really tell them something worthwhile and did I get them motivated into action?”

    Best of luck to you. I wish you tremendous success!

  29. Cynthia says:

    I have to also chime in on the spelling and grammar errors. I spotted two a first glance and apparently there are many more. None of us are perfect but when you’re pushing “young entrepreneur” – you need to be sharper than this.

    Design: I understand the green for cash but it was a bit hard on the eyes. The navigation print is extremely small, but I’m not “young” so maybe your target audience can read it better than I can.

    From an ad standpoint, having the ebook front and center is probably a good place, but from a reader perspective, I would have moved on. If you don’t put your content front and center, why should I?

    Interviews – they need to be edited. People ramble when they talk but reading it on the page doesn’t work. You can sharpen these interviews without removing the personality and the content. Take out the repetitions, take out the vague sentences and punctuate properly. They also need to be shorter or presented in two parts.

    These interviews could be your niche — people like to read about how other people actually made it.

  30. ashok says:

    As other commentators have noted, it isn’t possible to search the site from the site, and there are typographical errors everywhere.

    I think Undine, above makes an important comment about being “unprofessional,” and I want to echo that but qualify it a bit. What people perceive you as aiming for determines how they will judge you. Your site comes off as ambitious in its look: at first I think “oh! this is going to be like http://www.fool.com, I’m going to get tutorials on what activities help me make money online and advice from all the professionals frequenting the site.”

    But then the little things – starting with lack of a “Get started here” section explaining exactly how you can help me and what I should be thinking about as I peruse your site – start getting to me. Clicking on Ebooks and Courses transfers me to other products that I haven’t been sold on yet, because I haven’t been told where to start (credit to Ryan above for the “this site feels like it’s trying to get me to download the e-book comment:” that might be something you want to build up to as opposed to push outright). The “Making Money Online” section just throws ideas for monetizing at me. It doesn’t even attempt to tell me what approaches I should consider depending on where I am in life and what I want to accomplish, and then list pros and cons. It more or less throws information at me.

    Ironically enough, that’s a strength in the interviews – the more specific the people being interviewed are, the better the interview. The interview with Matt Wegrzyn is where I want to start commenting. It’s a good interview – Matt gives a quick background, talks about his successes, and the narrative makes me want to try domain name investing. He tells his story and thus introduces me to a way of thinking about how to make money – he gets me ready to start the process. The questions are down-to-earth, the sort of thing anyone who wanted to know and was smart but not too knowledgeable about domaining would ask.

    But as has been noted above, the interview looks sloppy. It looks like it was cut and paste from an e-mail. At the very least, this text:

    Interview with Matt Wegrzyn of Bodis.com – a very young and very successful domainer. If you ever wondered how to make money buying and selling domains then this interview with Matt will inspire. Real step by step advice on making money buying and selling domains

    could have been put in italics. A period ending the whole section and “step-by-step” and “If you ever have wondered” are just some of the little things that add to the professionalism aspect. Again, credit to Anthony Lawrence for pointing this out before, but it really is obvious.

    Yung-chin is right about allowing comments. There’s little or no interactivity on the interview section, although you do allow comments when the link to the interview is posted on the blog. I don’t see a forum.

    I also don’t see a place where I can be introduced to the rest of the “team,” and it might be nice to know them esp. if they’re contributing some of the content. One thing about this site is the question of authority – there are many sites like this, why should I pay attention to this one?

    If the interviews are central to your site, then they need to look a lot better. I don’t see a problem with content: looking over the Volk interview, I think the questions are good, it’s up to the interviewee sometimes to provide the relevant information.

    If I had to change your site around, here’s what I would do:

    * put the blog front and center, to make it clear things were being updated and this site invited feedback and interactivity.

    * change the design entirely. The “Retire @ 21″ logo looks stark and cheaply made to me. I’m sorry if I’ve offended, but I think something brighter with a cleaner sense of line (I look at the logo and it looks smudgy to me) would be better. I also don’t like, on the front page, how the “franchise inc” ad stands right next to the blog posts area, and all of that is lower down the page. I would cut that ad or make it a footer, it just seems completely out of place. And do note that the blog feels marginalized, as does the archive.

    * You don’t need quotes around the tagline, and the tagline isn’t very good, if it isn’t misleading, as has been said above. Your tagline should mirror your about me – what are you going to do for me? My own thought is that you should say something like “Introducing You To the World of Making Money Online,” and then play off that tagline and give a few pages to a going-over basics section saying “depending on what you want to do, here are ideas and suggestions.” From there, you can introduce your reader to the interviews, and put links to the people you interview under the relevant way of making money.

    * People have noted above how to fix advertising your feed – there’s nothing that says “subscribe to the feed in a reader.” Again, the feed is only important if the blog is important. The blog seems secondary right now. If you want forums eventually, you need a readership talking to you and each other.

    * the e-book ads are too many and too often.

    * please consider reorganizing the site around ways of making money: the Making Money Online section does a great job listing those ways, and if it had depth, you’d have a killer site and I’d read every interview there ever was just to see how things work.

    I realize it sounds like I contradicted myself with the blog/reorganize the site advice, but I think you know what I mean. Your permanent pages will be complemented by blog posts on the topic, your permanent pages on a particular type of making money will be an introduction to that “theme,” and will link to all the relevant blog posts concerning that theme.

    This sounds trite, but properly organized and updated content people want to read will gain attention. It’s always a fight to keep the archives relevant, and so when your site gets older, you can have “a look back” feature or just do a related posts thing like Darren does. But the organization will do wonders, as will an introduction to the topic of making money for total beginners, ones that have never even tried setting up a website.

  31. Neil Duckett says:

    Interesting and innovative prize i must say.

  32. Interviews: The questions are fine (and I like the consistency across the board). Maybe include more variety in what people do. And what consists of a “young entrepreneur?” Do they have to be under 23?? I’d like to see more “young” people my age (30).

    Design: The site is well put-together. I hate flashing ads, though. They detract from the feel. I like the AskEntrepreneur section on the front page, but can you link the title to a whole page of questions and answers? The page was a little slow for me to load.

    Content: Great resources. I’d like to see a Bookstore section where you refer other books on entrepreneurialism and retiring early. You offer tons of resources that illustrate the point that people can become rich young, but not enough ways and tools to do it. Include articles on each of the points you have on Making Money Online and break them out. How can people use these tools? People appreciate step-by-step, not just a short overview.

    Promotion: finding more people to interview is one way, since they’ll definitely link to the interview. Working with other bloggers can build your promotion, but you seem to know that.

    SEO: it’s fine.

    Monetization: I think you do this in a way that is not annoying to the reader, which is important. Don’t overdo it or you’ll lose your audience. Just keep making sure everything you sell on your site is relevant.

  33. Deb says:

    As the mother of four college-aged children I LOVE the site. Helping my children plan for the future is a very big part of our life right now. As they have been going off to college one by one I’ve given them the same advice, “Do what makes you happy and enables you to never have to live in my basement.”. I’m sending this link to all of them. What better gift to give your child than the ability to retire at a young age!

  34. Sangesh says:

    Ok, may I summarize the points that I have to say:

    1) The right portion including “:: About Michael “, “:: Website Sponsors” could be made to look something different than what it is currently. Ok, that Michael made this site, this does not mean he has to focus himself.
    2) Put your sponsors in the front. They are what your one of the top priority has to be. They paid for it.
    3) The Newsletter section can be somewhere in the middle and right/left portion of the page. Focus on the Entrepreneurs, not your newsletter, which is your main focus, if I’m not wrong.
    4) The top menu also did not quite appeal to me.
    5) Regarding SEO, I focus on meta tags, and I say only one meta tag, which I think is not enough.
    6) Instead of content which is currently in the newsletter section, you can focus any random Entrepreneur or Entrepreneur of the months types :)

  35. Dave says:

    The site features a good number of Young Entrepreneur interviews (accessible via the main page) – do you have any suggestions for better interviews, better questions etc?

    The interviews themselves seem to be reasoable, both in length and content. I would design in an introduction details box at the top of the interview, listing name, age, website links etc – a sort of ‘about’ box for the person beig interviewed. I’d also try and get better quality head shots of those you are talking to.

    What can Michael do to improve the interviews?

    See above

    Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.

    Hate the logo, looks cheap. I do like the color scheme though. Top navigation lists are ok, but I don’t like the 1, 2, 3 numbering – the links are self explanatory.

    The “Get Retire at 21′s” ebook promotion lowers the value of the site tremendously. While this may (or may not) be a decent product, it makes the whole site look as though its geared towards selling you something, and not about good sold advice for those wanting to make some money themselves.

    The website sponsors on the right hand side are like those appearing everywhere these days – ones that flash look cheap and tacky – I’d try and use alternative static banners if possible.

    The footer is over stuffed with links, which looks bad and is just repeating whats linked in the header navigation. If you must put links there, perhaps link to content thats off the beaten track rather than content thats linked on every page anyway.

    Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?

    The making money on line page is bloated and badly layed out. It should be split over a couple of pages, with more padding between paragraphs. The photo used on this page looks low rent – go and get something better from iStock or similar.

    The table on this page – “Website’s, Blog’s or Forums? When starting a website a lot of people don’t know whether to build a stand alone website, blog or forum. Below i have created a chart with the pro’s and con’s for making money online.” is not explained in any way, it just appears to be a series of numbers. Explain it better.

    Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?

    Get someone big from the blogging world, maybe Darren Rowse from problogger.net, to help you with this one. Perhaps suggest offering some free traffic in exchange for comments about your site, which will no doubt help promote the site for you.

    SEO — can you see areas for improvement?

    More content.

    Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

    Too many competing ads – I’d thin them down, not increase them. If you give your visitors too many ways to leave the site, they’ll just close the window or tab. You are also writing for a very web-savvy target audience – the kind of people who are unlikely to click through on flashing affiliate ads. Perhaps use this site to promote other ‘lesser’ sites that can do more in the way of direct advertising and monetisation opportunities.

  36. Leo says:

    • The site features a good number of Young Entrepreneur interviews (accessible via the main page) – do you have any suggestions for better interviews, better questions etc?

    How about Seth Godin for an interview, questions seems ok.

    • What can Michael do to improve the interviews?

    Considering this is a link bait post, not much..
    • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.

    Make it w3c complaint. In some countries it is the law now.

    • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?

    Would I be here if I did….

    • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?

    Probably trying pay per post. The only problem is Google has got wise to that now.

    • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?

    W3c will help SEO

    • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

    There is always a better advertiser, it is just a question of making your product better.

  37. As a young entrepreneur, I need a lot of support. Retireat21.com offers me the support I need to overcome my low moments and take advantage of my high points. They provide an active community, interviews with real people to inspire and teach other community members as well as ebooks and courses. Hearing from other entrepreneurs and joining forces is the most important thing for me. I would love to see you feature a few blogs from other entrepreneurs and their posts.

    As the saying goes, “why have everyone dig their own 3 foot well when the community can build a 30 foot one together?” You should make an initiative page where users can list their goals and see how they can help each other and make forums to do it.

    In this way, Retireat21.com can further help entrepreneurs connect and empower them to achieve their goals and actually retire at 21.

  38. Robert Tatum says:

    The url pf the website is an eye-catcher, especially to young people who are in high school and college that may want to explore earning a living online. This seems to be the focus group that he wants to appeal to – 18 to 21 yrs. old. But sites that are geared toward making money have a universal focus so the first thing that I would do is trying to not limit the focus on the age group, but make it more interactive for all age groups. I happen to be 47 years old, and there is little incentive for me to stay on the site once I am on it. There are no mechanisms for interaction other than signing up for the newsletter. I would add a forum section on the main header that would allow users to make comments on different topics relating to making money online.

    The other problem with the site is that the navigational structure of the site. The navigational structure as it is laid out tends to take the user away from the main content areas and is quite cluttered, with bulletted subheadings. It may be easier to find another theme or modify the existing theme so that it utilizes tabbed navigation – for example I would lay his navigation out this way:

    Home Page – should host the main blog content only

    About Page – could have the press releases, the about Michael page, and the About Making Money Online in this category. This would give the user a better idea of what the site is about.

    Resource Page – Entrepenuer interviews, Top 21 Websites, Young Rich List, & No Grey-Haired CEOs are good resources to refer back to, but he needs to expand this category with additional resources that will actually aid a would-be-entrepenuer in getting started.

    Software/Tools: Another page that can be expanded to add additional software, including his own to help entrepenuers.

    E-Books and Courses: Another page that can be expanded to add additional e-books and courses, including his own to help entrepenuers.

    Support: Should have only one contact form, two is redundant (Ask Michael/Contact Us).

    Other Suggestions:

    Sidebar is too cluttered: Category of Latest Blog Posts should focus on just the title of the post. Adding the first sentence of the post did not appear meaningful. A user wants to quickly get to the content by clicking the permalink.

    The Other Links Category should be broken up or renamed. The posts focused primarily on the interviews.

    He needs to add a social bookmarking widget to promote his blog posts as well as the category as well as feed buttons to give users with different feed readers an opportunity to subscribe to the blog feed.

  39. Hi Everyone,

    This is Michael, owner of RetireAt21.com – I am currently in Ghana, and finding a reliable Internet connection last few days has not been easy – but here I am now.

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you – the generosity of people here is amazing and being able to see “my” site as others see it, is most helpful

    I was not 100% sure what to expect by community consultation – but now I have gone through the process I can say I have no regrets. It may well one day, be the single “thing” that made the biggest difference in taking R21 to where I want to take it.

    Your feedback / comments has been very fair and balanced. I now have a huge amount of work to do – and the site that you will find 30 – 90 days from now will be quite different from the present.

    Thank you all again. I will be commenting about this experience on my blog – and in particular some of the immediate changes I will be making.

    Kind Regards

    Michael

  40. Hi Robert

    One of the biggest “take aways” from this is that we need to have a wider age focus – on the whole make money online niche as you mention.

    Funny enough my Dad is 47 – and he has been saying the same thing.

    I have some ideas – but if anyone else wants to make suggestions on how to make the AGE focus wider while retaining the URL (which I have found is a good icebreaker – that makes people want to find out more) I would be all EARS!

    thank you

    Michael

  41. There is no meta description tag – search engines use it but do not always use the meta keyword tag that is there.

    The green and white theme color and green images are excellent – but there is a lack of organization on the homepage. So the eye tends to wander aimlessly

    There is no focus, so one does not know where to start

    The interviews are interesting – it will be interesting to track these people years from now to see how they eventually did

  42. LJ says:

    While the site is aimed at young entrepreneurs, older entrepreneurs have been through the trenches and can offer a lot of advice. Take advantage of their experience.

    Please pay attention to grammar, word usage, redundancy and please don’t make up words. “Domainer” is not a word. Poor grammar and made-up words convey inexperience and lack of thought or effort; entrepreneurs, whatever their ages, need to be professional.

    Example: corrected blurb for the Matt Wegrzyn interview: “Interview with Matt Wegrzyn of Bodis.com. Real step-by-step advice on making money buying and selling domains.”

    I could not find an RSS feed button on the pages, only the email feed. I could get to the RSS subscription by clicking on the number of subscribers, but there should be a recognizable RSS button somewhere prominent.

    Some of the menu texts do not convey what they lead to. The Top 21 Websites, for example, doesn’t convey that these are 21 websites created by young entrepreneurs. It also appears to have very similar content to the No Grey Hair CEO. Along those lines, “Be Our Friend” should ask for what you want (in this case, perhaps, “Spread the Word”).

    Everything on the main menu should go toward furthering the message of the blog. When I clicked on the software and tools, I expected a list of software and tools that would help someone retire early. What I saw was a “my favorite things” list. This needs to be pulled back into the direction of the site.

    Good luck with the site!

  43. Michael, we’ve never met, so these ideas will be quite imperfect. But after over 8 hours of inspecting and thinking about your website and analyzing the comments made here so far, I think I have a decent sense of how you might improve RetireAt21.com. I hope these suggestions and those of others will prove useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for personal help.

    Interviews

    Depth and multimedia. More questions, more answers, more information. More photos, more audio, more videos. Make each interview the one-stop place for people to figure out what makes that young entrepreneur tick. Don’t settle for anything quick and light. Let these interviews make your visitor ache for the success they hear about and rejoice for the encouragement and instruction they gain.

    For every interview if possible, get a video of you talking to the person, or at least of them talking or doing something. Put all your site’s videos on your own YouTube channel to get even more followers that way.

    Design

    Another commenter correctly suggested that putting your blog front and center on the homepage – that is, featuring recent posts right in the main content area on the homepage – would draw visitors into your site more readily. But you could also benefit by simply displaying teasers, much like Darren Rowse does at this site, on the home page and letting people click through to read the articles whose headlines and blurbs they find most interesting. Either way, the key is to show that you’ve got a variety of fresh intellectual foods for them to feast on.

    Make http://www.retiredat21.com redirect to http://www.retireat21.com/blog/.

    To make your site easier to read, make your default post text darker and your article headlines bolder and a bit darker.

    Use lowercase letters in your article headlines in addition to uppercase – OTHERWISE IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING.

    Unify your hyperlink colors – right now on the front page there are green links, blue links and gray links (and that’s not counting the different mouseover colors). Change all links to a single default color and a single mouseover color – I’d recommendthe blue since it stands out best from the green of the headings and the gray of the main content. This wil increase the number of clicks within your site.

    Scoot the ebook box to the right and make it smaller, or get rid of it on the homepage and only include a “Free Ebook” link up top somewhere.

    That whole link area up top could be consolidated into a single bar with no more then 5-10 links. Maybe “About — Contact — Subscribe — Free Ebook — Interviews — Articles — Blog — Tools.”

    http://www.retireat21.com/about doesn’t load.

    Less can be more on the homepage. Give the reader a few simple, direct choices and she’ll thank you by staying longer. For example, the layout could tell her, in essence, “Welcome. You can read our blog, subscribe for free updates, get our free ebook, read our articles, watch our videos, listen to our audio, check out our tools, learn more about us or contact us.” She’ll take a step in one of those directions and then you can show her many more choices and links.

    Make your favicon agree thematically with your website. Right now it looks like a red cog. Maybe make it a bright gold, gray or green coin with “21″ on it.

    Get rid of the quotation marks around the tagline. Make it all bold or not at all.

    So many of the problems with your website would go away if it weren’t so cluttered. If you set me loose on your site, I’d immediately set to work with the delete key and lots of cutting/pasting. Lots of things need to move out of the way, and lots of things need to be consolidated and grouped.

    Right now, RetireAt21 is a bedroom closet with all the clothes sitting unfolded in several laundry baskets instead of on the racks and in the dressers. The clothes may be clean and good-looking, but the clutter is likely to frustrate anyone looking for something specific. The clutter may well upset them so much that they either leave without trying anything on or frantically ransack the place until they find something appealing, only to leave feeling stressed out despite the quality of what they’ve just found.

    So, you need to put all the clothes in their proper places – hang some up, put others on racks, put others in the dressers. And everything should go where it will be found most easily. So put a link near the top saying, “Free Ebook,” for example, and then don’t include a large box promoting it except on a single page devoted entirely to it. Or consolidate the “About” information (you even have two of the exact same picture of you on the front page!) into a single place and move most of it to the About page. All of this will make your visitors enjoy your site much more, and they’ll be more likely to come back often and bring their friends along.

    An “Articles” link up top would be good too, linking to a page where you list every article on the site.

    Move all of the subscription stuff to a “Subscribe” page and just have an RSS button or some other visually appealing thing appear in the upper right, like a “Subscribe for Free” link.

    The current tagline is confusing. It says your site is about young entrepreneurs making money online – so the visitor may incorrectly expect to only find information about other young entrepreneurs. Instead, shift the focus to the visitor herself.

    Bring the logo and tagline closer together. Each seems lonely for the other.

    Make the text in the site logo more bold and all of the same color. And make the logo more simple. Lose the flying bills too. Remember that Google and Yahoo!’s logos are basically plain text; their power and uniqueness come mainly from the stylization of the text. See LogoPond.com for inspiration.

    Make sure people can easily tell the date on which a blog post on your blog was published.

    Overall Content

    The name “Retire At 21″ seems to divide visitors into two groups: those 21 or younger who have a shot at retiring before their 22nd birthday, and the rest of us, who have already blown that chance. Assuming that “retire” means “stop having to earn a living,” there are surely many people in both groups who would be interested to learn how a person can retire by the tender age of 21.

    So you have two main choices:

    1. Restrict your content’s focus to things done by people 21 and younger (so, not by 26-year-olds unless you’re talking about things they did back before they turned 22)

    2. Focus on sharing principles of entrepreneurship that benefit the under-21 crowd as well the over-21 crowd and downplay the possible exclusivity implied by the domain name.

    I think you could succeed either way. If you go with choice #1, I suggest creating another website at RetireAt30.com (40 or 50 just don’t sound as exciting) and having each site complement the other. You could even work the content to where over the years, your followers “graduate” from one site to the other. If you go with choice #2, make sure your homepage copy immediately makes it clear that the site is for everybody.

    Also, what about offline stuff? There are hundreds of ways to make money as a young entrepreneur offline. Consider expanding the scope of your content to include both offline and online ways of making money. Bonus points if you can teach readers how to make the two realms amplify each other.

    There are many writing mistakes that probably make many visitors distrust you. They are so easy to fix and to avoid. I know dyslexia poses a challenge. But you must insist on having a website free of glaring linguistic errors.

    Audio and video, my friend. Right now is the time to start. It’s okay if it’s not polished. Just record yourself and publish and go from there. You’ve just got to start. I would recommend doing video first or instead, since it’s going to have more of an impact at the site where people can actually see that you ARE young.

    Your content needs to grab attention and keep it. You need to whip out a colossal article that gets you on the world’s radar. The over-21 crowd is much bigger and would love to talk about you if it just knew how good you are.

    Do something that hasn’t been done before, or at least, that your readers most likely haven’t seen and could use. Like a video series detailing every step of how to make money online through affiliate sales or some other tightly-defined topic.

    Get a Flickr account and host your site images with it. More traffic will come from Flickr, and you’ll get to let Flickr handle more of the site bandwidth by hosting a lot of your images. And young entrepreneurs like you will have one more way to network with you and connect with you.

    Make it more clear that the site is by you – or explain who all is involved. This is easily done in a tagline or brief about info in the upoer right, like “RetireAt21.com offers articles by Michael Dunlop and other young entrepreneurs on how you can make more money online and retire earlier than you ever thought possible.”

    Consider adding tools like calculators (how early can you retire if …? for example) and having those go on unique static pages or under one page, like retireat21.com/tools, so people can bookmark it and it can get some social media buzz that way.

    Your tutorials area (retireat21.com/tutorials) is great – lots of good content there. But you need to make it more obvious to the first-time visitor just how deep that pool of content really is. I can’t even remember how I found it. After all, you’ve got like 5,000 pages on the site. It just doesn’t look that way from the front page. How to remedy this? Again, by reducing the number of links on the front page itself and brining them all under several headings that point to pages with much longer lists of links.

    Viral Content

    Make something people can’t stop talking about – especially within your target audience. Some ideas:

    1. Create a free tool that quizzes people and then tells them at what age they can expect to retire. Make it cute, embeddable and emailable. Put it at RetireAt21.com/quiz. Have someone Stumble and Digg the URL.

    2. Create a widget that displays recent headlines from blogs by or for young entrepreneurs. Make it cute and customizable. Make a directory of participating bloggers at RetireAt21.com/directory.

    3. Publish a blog post that provides hard-to-believe information about 32 (pick a number) of the world’s most famous young entrepreneurs and how they achieved success. Bonus points if all the people on the list rose from financial obscurity.

    4. Expand the “Top 21…” page into the ultimate list of young entrepreneurs. Rank ‘em and update the list annually. Encourage visitors to submit themselves and their friends for inclusion. Can you imagine seeing conversations all over the place going, “Yeah, did you hear about that new whiz-kid? He’s sure to make Michael’s R@21 list this year.”

    5. Hold a contest where you offer a cash prize to the person who submits the best article on how to make money as a young entrepreneur.

    6. Make a widget with your logo on it and a link to your site in it, and have it display the person’s age (“19, Retiring at 21!”). Give it out regularly to other bloggers and webmasters as an award, or unleash it to the whole world.

    Promotion

    Build a community through the comment box and the contact form. Connect with people, get their emails, get their URLs, etc. Most of your blog posts still receive 5 comments or less. The time has come for them to start getting dozens of comments each. Make great, meaty content and it will promote itself pretty well, saving you more than the time you spent making it great and meaty.

    Also, use the real world. Seminars, conferences, meet-ups, classes, reunions, parties, shopping trips … everywhere you go, talk with people face to face about your site.

    Flaunt your age. Tell the world you’re 19. Say so on the front page.

    Getting your visitors to talk to you and to each other is a huge key to your success. If they can add comments or even articles to the site, it can make it into a community, a destination. Right now it seems more like a highway leading to other places. Make it a dead end that people won’t care about running into.

    Hire a copywriter, hire a designer. Let them handle the look and feel of the site. That will give you more time to write your book. :)

    SEO

    Google sees 277 Web pages linking in to your site and 6,350 pages on the site – pretty good. A quick MarketLeap Link Popularity Check showed that you are doing well compared to some competitors in your niche, but that you still plenty of room for improvement.

    Technorati has indexed only a few (16 or 17) links to your blog but nearly 500 to your site – that’s in the last 6 months, I believe. Very decent for the site, kind of poor for the blog – especially given how saturated that blogging niche is.

    Right now the first text Google and Yahoo! are indexing from your homepage is “Young Entrepreneurs Making Money Online – Latest Interviews …” or “Young Entrepreneurs Making Money Online – Interview with … .” Change the page title and add a text tagline right under the site logo so the spiders instead see something like:

    Page Title: Money Making Tips for Young Entrepreneurs – RetireAt21.com

    Tagline: Learn how to make money online and retire young.

    Monetization

    What is your ultimate financial reason for this website? Ad revenue? Resume building? Lead generation? Direct product sales? Professional relationships? Consulting services? Something else? Pick a main reason and fit the other reasons around it like the spokes of a bicycle wheel.

    If it were my site, I’d get rid of all the banner ads and only rarely use affiliate text ads. My main focus would be to draw visitors to me as a source of worthy products and services. The knowledge imparted freely at the site would be the appetizer, my fee-based personal help the main course, and any affiliate promotions the dessert.

    Fee-based help could take the form of ebooks, printed books, CDs, DVDs, audio files, site memberships to access premium content, consulting or simple one-off services (such as isolated phone calls or customized reports).

    There’s too much advertising, particularly for other people’s stuff. You should use most or all of your advertising space to share content that leads visitors to purchase directly from you – your books, your consulting, your “I’m 18 … Only 3 Years Till Retirement” T-Shirts, whatever. If you do advertise, I would urge you to pick more subtle ads that don’t scream so badly for attention.

    What can you do for other young entrepreneurs that they can’t do for themselves? What can you do better than they can? What problems do they have that you can help them solve? Focus your whole website on healing their wounds and calming their worries and shedding light on subjects that to them have been dark. And surely you’ll make profitable partnerships here and there as you get to know your visitors personally.

    Try to get some testimonials on your Advertise and About pages, at least, where people you know share a few thoughts about you that help visitors build their trust in you.

    Consider offering premium content at a recurring monthly charge to people who sign up specifically to get access to it. That can be another powerful way to build revenue.

    Other Ideas

    Consider hiring someone to help you implement all the changes you’d like to make based on the community feedback you’ve received here. Also, you should contact every commenter here who you think might possibly have knowledge that might help you, and ask them for more advice. Offer to help them with your expertise as a trade.

    Conclusion

    Ask yourself these questions:

    1. How does RetireAt21 make people feel? What they feel is more important than what they learn when it comes to deciding whether to become avid followers of RetireAt21.

    2. How remarkable is RetireAt21 to visitors?

    3. What difference does it ultimately make in people’s lives?

    You are a smart, hard-working young man, Michael. The world needs more like you. Your website is well on its way to helping meet that need.

    This website and others you have made constitute your online resume. Assemble it carefully.

    Work hard, treat your visitors as honored guests and never stop thirsting for improvement. Best wishes to you and RetireAt21.com.

  44. Hi Folks

    Michael at Retireat21.com here again.

    Once again – thank you everyone. The amount of time and effort that has been put into this community consulting is amazing. I am also very grateful to Skellie and the ProBlogger team.

    As I mentioned the other day, I am currently in Ghana (doing some voluntary work) and getting a reliable internet connection is not always easy – plus I have also been quite ill this week. I would have liked to have been more active in these discussions – but it has just not been possible. So I really appreciate the number of comments and also the amount of detail that so many of you went into.

    Rest assured – as soon as I can I will be updating my Blog about this community consulting and also going to work – to implement many of the suggestions.

    Just about everyone has mentioned I need to proofread all of my copy – as a dyslexic this has been one of my biggest challenges. I do however accept that that is no excuse and while I think it will be rash to state I will no longer make errors in grammar or spelling, there will be nothing like the quantity of them in future. (I promise)

    Really it is unfair to single out any single comments here – because just about all the comments have been helpful but if I may I would just like to specially acknowledge Easton Ellsworth, Anthony Lawrence and Yung-Chin

    One thing in particular that impressed me was knowing that so many of you did a whole lot more than just vaguely look the site over. I feel I have been well and truly examined and I accept that in many areas there are failings, which is precisely the reason why I took the advice of my father (Barry Dunlop) and also my good friend Dean Hunt who suggested applying for community consulting.

    Thank you all again – I do hope you will check back on the site from time to time, to see how I progress.

    Of course, also feel free to comment further – especially if you feel something has been missed.

    Michael Dunlop

  45. No, Michael: I think dyslexia is a perfectly good excuse.

    Maybe you need to get someone else to proofread? That’s often better even for those of us not fighting a handicap.

  46. yungchin says:

    Hi Michael,

    I think your URL is fine – “retire at 21″ is an eye-catching and easy string to remember; what more could you want? As long as you acknowledge for yourself that it’s only a “figure of speech” phrase, and that you’re just as interested to address older members of your audience, it’s fine. Your intentions will show from your writing – so simply don’t focus too much on “young”.

    What software do you use to create content? While getting someone to proofread would be ideal, you could already gain a lot from a tool with some powerful spell-checking built in.