It’s time to summarize and consolidate over 14,500 words worth of advice and suggestions given to Retireat21.com as part of our community consultation program. While there’s a great depth of knowledge to be mined from the comments on the launch post, I want to highlight the top five most common recommendations here.
Before we start, I’d like to congratulate Easton Ellsworth for winning our 5,000 StumbleUpon visitor prize for the best review. I can only hope that will be a proper reward for Easton’s work. Congratulations!
Here were the top 5 recommendations made by the ProBlogger readers who critiqued Retireat21.com:
1. Too much hard sell
A number of commenters felt the free eBook was over-sold as it appears on almost every page. It was suggested that it be moved out of the center of the homepage, or displayed only on the homepage and not elsewhere on the site. What I’d also suggest doing is creating a ‘sales page’ for the eBook which explains what’s inside and how the newsletter works. Before giving away their email address people want to know 1) what the eBook contains — is it even something they want? and 2) how their email address will be used, i.e. how many emails are you going to send them and what will they’re going to contain.
I found it illuminating that while a lot of ProBlogger readers noticed the eBook, none of them seemed to have taken the next step and downloaded it. I think this is because too much emphasis has been put on diverting attention to the eBook without any accompanying persuasion, which is probably why a few people found it annoying.
Other readers were bothered by the gaudy, animated 125 x 125 banner ads and felt that they, coupled with the insistence on the eBook, made the site look spammy. Replacing them with non-animated versions or trying different advertisers could be one solution.
2. Proofreading needed
ProBlogger readers noticed a lot of spelling and grammar errors on the page. While the content can still be easily comprehended, these kinds of errors do make the content seem a little unpolished and unprofessional. My suggestion to Michael would be that if it’s personally difficult to spot and correct these errors, it’s probably worth hiring a VA to proof-read new blog posts or new copy you want to put on the site.
3. Content could be more valuable
In a few words, I’d describe the problem like this: aside from the interviews, which are quite valuable and seemed to be enjoyed by reviewers, the rest of the site wants to take a lot without giving much back. The blog content is quite one-dimensional, as are the entrepreneur ‘Answers’ on the main page. I didn’t see much information that the target audience was unlikely to have seen before. You’ll get more links, traffic and search engine love if your content is packed with value. Here are some questions to ask as guiding principles for content creation:
- What information do young make money online entrepreneurs need to know?
- What kind of tips might they not be aware of?
- How can I be as useful as possible to my target audience?
There were some great viral article ideas shared in the comments on the launch post and I’d suggest Michael jot those down and act on at least a few.
4. Usability and readability issues
Sponsors do take into account subscriber numbers when determining how much an ad spot on your site is worth. The total subscriber count will also be an important factor in deciding how much the blog is worth if it’s ever sold. Aside from the money making stuff, subscribers will help your blog thrive. I’d strongly suggest adding a ‘Subscribe to feed’ icon near the email subscription form, rather than just showing the feed count. This simple tip has seen many bloggers boost their subscriber count.
A few readers also cited that the links at the top of the page are too small and close together to be interacted with. I also found the blog and ‘Make Money Online’ sections were too wide without enough whitespace on either side to separate the text from its surroundings. The line-spacing between paragraphs is also very narrow and makes the text seem jumbled together.
5. Greater emphasis on the blog
While the main page does an excellent job diverting attention to the interviews, the blog is strongly down-played and a new visitor might miss it completely if they didn’t read the small links at the top of the page. A simple fix I’d suggest would be to add a big ‘Visit our blog for more tips’ link above the featured article on the main page.
Thanks again to Michael for participating and best of luck with the site!
You can send an application to Darren if you’d like your blog featured and reviewed at ProBlogger for $250. Click to get more information on our community blog consulting services.