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Another Chance to Win 1,700 Visitors: Review FreeMoneyFinance.com

This week’s community consultation of Free Money Finance boasts a very useful prize for bloggers: 1,700 visitors. Leave a helpful review with some non-intuitive points in your comment and you could win a stampede of 1,700 StumbleUpon users to your favorite post. If your content is good, those 1,700 visitors could grow into a much bigger traffic snowball as votes for your content pile up.

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.

The blog’s owner, who writes under “FMF”, describes the blog like this:

Free Money Finance is a personal finance blog designed to help people grow their net worth. As such, the site covers all money-related topics including investing, retirement, saving money, making money, getting out of debt, etc. The blog is written anonymously by FMF and he shares the strategies he’s used the past 20 years to create a substantial net worth. The blog is updated five times a day every weekday and once each on the weekends. Some content is completely original, but most of it features quotes from other sources and commentary from FMF on his opinions about what is being recommended.

Free Money Finance screenshot.

The blog’s owner has asked for feedback on the following areas:

  • Design – This is NOT my expertise at all and I’d be interested in what ProBlogger readers suggest to make the site look better and become more usable.
  • Posts – Currently when I quote a source, I put the quoted areas in red/maroon shaded text. What do your readers think of this? Good? Bad? Better suggestions? (FYI, I use Typepad and hence might be limited in some design options.)
  • How to drive traffic – The blog is doing well in terms of traffic, but could do better. Other than the standard ideas for driving traffic, are there any suggestions I may not have thought of?
  • Generating revenue – The blog earns a decent income from Adsense and a few affiliate programs, but more is always better! Any suggestions for doing this? (FYI, I give all my income to charity – details here.)

We look forward to your helpful and respectful advice. Good luck!

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Comments

  1. Wow 1700 visitor will definitely boost my blog.. I will try to check this site and give comments on it.

  2. nika says:

    Its missing a USP – unique selling proposition.

    I would need to know what sort of universe this money is being made in – as in a MLM scheme? problogging? shopping for really low mortgage rates, low financing rates of other sorts, etc.

    The word “free” is like the original deprecated term :-) so when I see that it 1) means nothing other than a red flag 2) doesnt do much to pull me in.

    The syntax of “Free Money Finance” is indeterminate – using the word “Financing” would mean more to me. Due to this, it makes me wonder if the author is english-language-native and thus is another red flag to some of us (like maybe most of your average americans) that this might be a splog of some sort out of asia. I have seen SO MANY of those. But thats just me.

    Also, having a huge adsense block on the left where navigation usually is is a red flag for “splog” (ruins credibility for your fast moving surfer).

    Today’s topic mixes religion and finance .. that is a very special sector with little cross-over into mainstream financial blog types. I think you need to choose, if you are going to be posting on this, to differentiate in that direction.

    I am secular, if I see this sort of post I am queued to think “This is a religious site and not for me thanks” and I would move on. But I might not see that bias until I have surfed a bit and then I would have wondered why that POV was not articulated more clearly in all parts of the site (and thus my good will is lost – wondering what else is hidden).

  3. Rommo says:

    I dont really have much to say about the design of your site, the quality of the posts, or how to drive more traffic but I do have a comment about the quality of your Adsense Ads. I had exactly the same ads on my site that you have on yours but I decided to get rid of them because they were dishonest. 99% of the make money from home or make $5000 a day ads are bogus.

    I think for your site and credibility you might want to consider an alternative advertising strategy than Adsense.

  4. Uzair says:

    I am familiar with this kind of design. I see these types of pages mainly on websites selling some kind of e-book. It doesn’t seem a blog, it simply looks like it is single page. The subscription options are provided way below the fold. Please show them above the fold, on the top of right sidebar. Logo is also not too authoritative, and green as background is also not very good. You should also consider adding 336×280 ads to the individual posts. The “blockquotes”, you should add a light background to it. Rest seems good, especially the fluid design.

  5. Uzair says:

    I am familiar with this kind of design. I see this kind of design mainly on pages selling some kind of e-book or any other similar product. It doesn’t seem a blog, it simply looks like it is single page. The subscription options are provided way below the fold. Please show them above the fold, on the top of right sidebar. Logo is also not too authoritative, and green as background is also not very good. You should also consider adding 336×280 ads to the individual posts. The “blockquotes”, you should add a light background to it. Rest seems good, especially the fluid design.

  6. Ades says:

    In no particular order:

    - i think the logo is irrelevant (star), could come up with something better and related to finance
    - i think the design could be improved, i would suggest investing in professional custom design
    - adsense ads on the left hand side make the blog look unprofessional, since you are giving away the earnings to charities why not position them in other areas? in less obtrusive places?
    - where is the important pages on top? eg, about me, contact, advertise, sponsor..etc

    i think that’s about it from me.

  7. M says:

    I dont think the star serves it very much justice. if anything, it reminds me of socialist/communist parties (hope i dont offend anyone) and coupled with “FREE”money finance, it really doesnt sound too credible to me.
    GROW YOUR NET WORTH is nice, the “net worth” has a double barrel meaning to it. intentional or not, its a nice touch.

    seems to me that there are sponsors all over the place. perhaps they could be lumped altogether to the left or right column with the relevant headings, and have a “FEATURED SPONSOR” to inject even more revenue, particularly if it was a private ad, as opposed to adsense and the lot.

    huge blogroll: i would put it under a different section and have just “links” directing people to go there – if youre readers are interested in your blog, they’re going to want to see what else is around.also, the fonts are so small and the yellow is jarring that i got bored of browsing through the category list after 10 or so.

    their are way too many posts under TAX and RETIREMENT and INVESTMENT. either display only the top 3 or 5 posts, or again, have a link redirecting traffic to another page.

    i see a theme developing here so im going to cut this LONG comment short.
    this blog has a wealth of information that are going to be of value to many people. what it needs to do is grip people long enough to get them interested, then redirect to various other pages.
    so rather than plonking everything on the front page, feature one or two, and then provide a link to other pages. remember, “content, content content”: if the content is good, they’re going to want to see more and will start clicking links.
    because of the layout and the “noise” i couldnt figure out what’s what and i coudlnt find a “contact me” or “about” page either. I suggest these to moved up higher, especially the search box. this would help users go directly to what they’re looking for.

    as for advertising, since its doing well in adsense, maybe its time to move on to private ads. feature them e.g. a post on retirement funds, sponsored by X retirement fund company.

    hope this helps, dont mean to be too negative. but the posts, and the advice are very sound, and i find to be valuable so it would be a shame to lose readers because of layout.

  8. M says:

    also, Darren, when’s the competition deadline?

  9. - I would put one “auto” ASdsense banner (468×60) under first post title when visitor looks main page, it’s could be done with plugin.

    - Quote space is for me done best on Johchow blog, you can do something similar.

    - Traffic seek via commenting on online version of money magazines, news, blogs… Building some blogs that send traffic back to this site, using them like hubs.

    - About revenue, cj and shareasale if you need more sponsors in that niche.

  10. Matthew says:

    Hey, I love the readable main column and the size and color of the other two. Just a few suggestions:

    Put the “About” widget (on the left) on top, as well as some subscription info. Maybe make the subscription box smaller, by adding the main rss link and email box, and then having the user click “more” for all the other links.
    Shorten the categories on the left (like “tax posts”) by removing some of the links or keeping only the headings.
    On the right, definitely move the reviews to the top.

  11. I’d suggest hiring a professional designer, or modifying nicer looking template. The star is okay, but doesn’t really have anything to do with your message. Also, the ads on the left sidebar look terrible, you need to use that space to put RSS and subscription links in order to generate return visitors, because right now it’s probably driving people away. Blending these ads a little more will help make your site more StumbleUpon friendly, which should hopefully bring more traffic. Either way, you need to move a LOT of stuff above the fold.

    The way you quote is fine, although when you redesign you’ll want to revise it to make it more modern looking along with the design. It’s very readable though, and I like that. The alternative. of course, is to use block quote tags in HTML.

    You can generate revenue and still make some of the ads smaller by mentioning affiliates in posts more often. I don’t know if you do this a lot now, but it works well for many bloggers.

    One thing to keep in mind when you redesign is validation, right now your site has 109 errors (see: http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.freemoneyfinance.com%2F&charset=%28detect+automatically%29&doctype=Inline&group=0). That’s a real problem and one that you need to address. Also, a quick look at BrowserShots can help you see if your site displays OK in different browsers, I’ve set up a queue here:
    http://browsershots.org/http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/

    That’s about it for me, hope I helped :)

  12. Troy says:

    Wow, not sure how my name ended up like that… help me Darren! :D

  13. sven says:

    There is plenty of room to improve:

    - custom layout, in case you go with a money saving / making theme adjust your theme to it.

    -declutter the sidebar ! in case you want to list a zillion blogs make a recommondation page and write a few words about it, but this is just useless.

    - less is more, as mentioned above your sidebar is cluttered like mad, reduce your categories or create another place where you collect them.

    - get professional help for your layout, the overall structure is very hard to get through and it really feels like 1 big page.

  14. ITrush says:

    I prefer a clean and uncluttered look, simple site makes more money because they don’t confuse your visitors.

    nhick
    http://www.itrush.com

  15. redwall_hp says:

    I would suggest:

    - Moving the subscription links above the fold. Where they are now very little people will use them.

    - Declutter the sidebars. Maybe some of the elements, like the archives, could be moved to static pages.

    - Blend the AdSense ads better…unless you’re already having good results.

  16. BW says:

    Design:
    Too many colors used throughout the site. There is no need to use the red for the quoutes. I would suggest that you decide on maybe 3 colors and focus the site on those.

    3 column layouts are good, but you should use one of them to have some of your naviagtion above the fold. It is cuurently very difficult to navigate the site. Maybe also consider some horizontal navigation under the header. People do not like to have to scroll in order to navigate sites.

    On my PC it took 16 ‘page downs’ to reach the bottom of the page – this is way too many in my opinion.

    Consider trimming the number of categories – again might make it easier to find information

    Does any body still use the Archives list to get information? probably not – ditch it and maybe have a separate archives page.

    Content:
    There are a lot of links to external sites – not sure how google will interpret this.

    far too many internal links to posts within the sidebar – this is what the category list is for.

    The amazon ads are irrelevant (pc mouse when I viewed the site) – maybe focus the ads on more site related stuff.

    Logo – not sure about the star – what is the relevance to the site – maybe it should be more money oriented.

    Increasing Subscriptions – your subscription link is at the end of the page – I almost gave up looking for it… Position this above the fold and better still in one of the columns directly under the heading.

    There is no navigation at the bottom of the page to see more posts

    On the main page you are showing the full posts – there is no incentive for me to click on the post to view it in a separate page and therefore give your site the oppertunity to show me more ads.

    A lot of the posts that I looked at were extremely short and infact some of the individual comments were longer than the original post – now this could be a good thing. But maybe to get more people to keep coming back, you need to produce a few more indepth posts.

    You obvuously have a following, but for someone new to the site – it is too busy with color, sidebar content and lacks an obvious navigation system.

    De-clutter the sidevar, reduce the color combinations and reduce the lenth of the first page and consider only showing part of the posts as teasers. Move subscriptions to top of the page also

  17. Zoe says:

    The overall design is okay, but it doesn’t work for me as much as it should.
    It didn’t tell me quick enough what I’d get out of reading this blog, or make it clear even, that it was a blog and new content was added so frequently.

    I wasn’t certain immediately what purpose this blog served and I needed a more direct reason for looking through the posts – it needs to scream out that by reading this blog you will save money and get some really good advice!

    I think a strong, clear strap line that is more descriptive under the heading would help as would pages and categories with catchy headers.
    An image would also be good in the header, just to make it really clear.

    The categories list would benefit from being condensed and lifted much higher on the page.
    Those are great topics, but they seem to be hidden away in the side bars. Why aren’t they fewer and easier to find?

    The shaded text for the quotes made me focus straight on that and not on the actual content. I found myself skim reading rather than getting the full impact of the post, so I’d maybe lose the red shading. I think it’s enough that the text is indented.

    I would love a free eBook download on how to ‘boost my income’ that other bloggers could use and link back to.

    A forum attached to the blog with money saving ideas and a place where people could help each other out and build a community from the blog would be great.

    To drive more traffic, I’d be tempted to use a real life case study of how someone re-vamped their financial situation with the help of this site.

    It would be brilliant to read and follow an uplifting tale of a reader who was putting the advice in the blog posts to practise and this would generate more traffic as it’s strong content off line.
    You could publicise something like this on TV and radio and offer to do it for some other lucky reader.

    As your profits go to charity, couldn’t you ask your readers to ‘pay it forward?’ If everyone donated a tiny amount of what they saved finacnially from reading your posts, I’m sure it would build up.

    Good luck with whatever changes you decide :)

    Zoe

  18. DB Ferguson says:

    Here’s a few thoughts of the site:

    DESIGN

    - The FreeMoneyFinance logo is very generic, almost to the point of looking like a splog site. The tagline is not clear enough to explain the purpose of the site. Looking at the tag line in the header and the content of the first couple of posts currently featured, I’m still not sure what the purpose is for the site. Also, incorporate any new logo you may create into a favicon to give your blog a stronger visual identity.

    - The information looks quite cluttered in the top fold. There’s not nearly enough white space. This page design could do with a revamp, including adding a top navbar, a larger logo to add more space to the top of the page. I’d also go with one of the better tricks to come out of the Web 2.0 design trend – a larger font in the title for each post.

    POSTS

    - The posts aren’t focused enough on particular subjects. One of the things the site might do is to take its niche-style posts (Making Money, Career, Debt, Credit Card, etc), or other topics that the author is trying to focus on, and title posts like this:

    “MAKING MONEY: Three ways to Save Money by Complaining”

    instead of “Save Money by Complaining”

    A tip I see over and over on blog designing sites (like ProBlogger) is that lists are eyecatching and draw in readers.

    - A table of contents for these post styles should be very high on the sidebars, as opposed to a list of these posts in the left sidebar. These posts styles should be converted to categories, and you should have a maximum of 10. (This is a good tip I got from Lorelle.) Reducing clutter and accenting focus should be the number one revamp of this site, and this would be an easy way to do this.

    - Along this same lines, the blogger should definitely clarify the Tags and Categories feature on the site, which should improve SEO. This is one of the first things I did when I saw the new tagging abilities in WordPress 2.3, and it allowed me to make the topics on my site much easier to navigate. As mentioned above, the post styles in the left column are more like categories, and should be converted into such. The huge Categories list in the right sidebar is a mess, and these categories should be converted to tags and the list done away with (or converted into a Tag Cloud). I was able to do this conversion in my blog with the new Categories to Tags converter in WordPress, but I’m not sure if they have a feature like that in Typepad yet.

    HOW TO DRIVE TRAFFIC

    - And I would definitely second the suggestion from an above commenter than an RSS feed link be prominently positioned near the top, and I’d suggest putting in in the navbar if that is added to this page. Have you considered adding a segment of text at the beginning of each single post that contains a brief mission statement of the blog as well as an RSS feed link? I first saw this on the Weblog Tools Collection blog and liked it so much I adopted it to use on my blog. Within two weeks, my blog subscribers jumped over 10%.

    GENERATING REVENUE

    - When reorganizing the sidebar to emphasize content, I would also suggest featuring more uniform and clear ad graphics (what exactly is Moosetracks?). You may want to resize your sidebar to feature the popular 125×125 size ads on the page.

    - You may want to move the Adsense ads out of the sidebar and into the individual posts. The double whammy of lots of ads at the top of both the left and right sidebars deemphasizes your content to the point where it’s lost to the ads, again addding to the splog first impression that I had of your site. You may make more money by adding the Adsense widget to the space between posts, or within single posts (if you receive a lot of Google traffic).

    OTHER SUGGESTIONS: Connect with your readers

    - Looking at the “About” page, it should definitely have more simple verbiage, maybe with a mission statement, goals for the site, and a brief history. I understand that the blogger does blog anonymously, but it wouldn’t hurt to say something like “FMF is a 36-year old reporting analyst who, aside from blogging, enjoys reading True Crime novels, cycling and spending time with his wife and three kids.” Or something. I’ve found that it is possible to blog with privacy protected and still give enough personality and information to help people identify with the blogger. And the “About” page should be linked in the suggested navbar too – I want to know about the bloggers I read about, and his page tells nothing about his blog mission or himself.

    - Along these lines, FMF should begin to develop a sense of post ownership in the blog by putting his name in the info section of each post. He currently may only have one writer on his blog, but if it continues to grow he might decide to bring on guest bloggers or even staff to help him blog, and it would be good to be able to have established himself as a writer of the blog before these new people come on board.

    _____________________________

    Good luck with your blog, FMF!

  19. Ray roman says:

    I was very excited to see this post as on my site I was ready to begin a weekly feature on financial blog reviews. I have completed an extensive review of freemoneyfinance.com on my blog. You can read it here http://moneyintellect.com/money-intellects-reviews-freemoneyfinancecom/

    Thanks to Darren andn FMF for the opportunity to review his blog.

    Regards

  20. Actually people here commenting might give lots of suggestions but what i see is that site is nicely built,adsense at proper place and content at centre.He could have made content area width a bit more.The only work he has got to do is getting more and more traffic.

    The theme colours and all that stuff is perfect.No problem.

  21. John Cow says:

    Just out of curiosity – are the 1,700 stumbles paid for? If so, directly bought with SU themselves or via a stumblebot scheme?

  22. First, i’d like to say that FMF is a great PF blog.

    Here are some tips that I would suggest:

    1. Move your RSS subscribe options above the fold on the right side bar. Where is your RSS count?

    2. Create some kind of menu at the top of the page so that users can navigate “about, advertise, contact” etc.

    3. Keep the google 160×600 ad on the top left as we all know that spot performs well.

    4. I’m guilty of this as well, but you should consider reducing the number of links in your sidebar.

    5. The button ads on the right sidebar should be all the same size. Perhaps you can change the layout so that you can fit the popular 125×125 button ads. If you don’t want to change your layout, you can always stack them on top of each other.

    Keep up the great work!

    FT

  23. Here are my suggestions from your specific questions:

    Design: I like the green especially seeing you are talking about money and finance. I’m not sure about the yellow. When I first looked at the site my eye quickly went to the right hand sponsors in yellow prior to seeing the name of your site. I like the site layout but I think you have too many different colors. It should blend more. Black is always much more professional.

    Posts: Seeing you are discussing money and finance I would never post anything in red. Red is debt. Again, your colors should blend more. Maybe Greens/Blacks/Light Greys.

    How to drive more traffic: I am working on that on my own site and Stumbleupon has been pretty good so far. Being on Problogger will definitely drive more traffic to your site. And hopefully will generate 1700 for me :).

    Generating more revenue: More traffic will bring in more revenue.

    Good luck and it is nice to see generated revenue donated to charity.

  24. jatyap says:

    You guys probably know more about this sort of thing than I do but here’s my personal evaluation.

    - Contrary to what other people are saying, I’d much rather see the contents split into two columns (you could have two article headings on top instead of just one). Instead of having to read everything at one glance, I’d be interested in seeing what other contents are there, especially if I’m a first-time visitor. I also think a 4 column design would be more suitable than the current 3 column one.
    Reading from left to right is the way I’d read a book but reading an article/teaser this way only makes it look “too short” – and for longer posts, make me feel I’m trying to read “too much”. A taller, denser would probably give the perfect sense of volume to your posts (Think newspaper style, up to down a bit instead of just left to right).

    - Recent posts, recent comments, categories links look a bit small. Think about it. The font of your ads show much bigger than your own links. Would you patronize a site where the advertisement links are the most prominent features on the sidebar? The ads are supposed to be the least intrusive parts of the site so highlight your own content more.

    - The [About] page and the search box should be above the fold. The first thing I look for if I stumble onto a good article or google it, is who wrote the article and why. Knowing about who I am reading is a big factor in determining whether I subscribe or not. I’m sure many others also feel the same way. That being said, I agree with the rest that your subscription options should be above the fold (perhaps along with your [About] page and the search box).

    - The site content is very rich! Congratulations! However, I think you should separate the actual content (articles) from the promotions/contests, highlight the contests but use the ‘more’ tags so readers are teased by it. This would probably just be a minor improvement, though. The way it’s looking right now seems fine to me.

    - This is a big negative for me (but some readers probably like it this way): Too many categories. Consider using sub-categorization, especially with related posts. You also have some categories split by year showing on the main page. Reorganizing this would make your site navigation more efficient.

    - Lots of empty space at the bottom. Consider putting up a footer (you could place the disclaimer and site stats there if you want). You could also use some older posts to fill up this space, or even use it as advertising space (I wouldn’t mind reading to the bottom even if it’s advertising as long as the main content on top is quality).

    That’s my evaluation. Give it some thought! :)

  25. Youyr blog looks pretty good to me and I am most impressed that you are actually earning from adsense ( my current figure is $12.23) However I have read that the use of green seems to promote confidence in the financial sector; so on this basis maybe the colour green could be used instead of the orangey/brown in the central logo.
    Now you did say that the absence of traffic was an issue for you so I will just tell you that as a somewhat new blogger I am always looking for new traffic strategies to utilise. The following is my current method and it appears to be working albeit slowly – however this is better than no traffic. So
    for traffic from web 2.0 sites you could try blogrush.Your blog is linked with other blogs and you get traffic sent to your blog
    via the widget that blogrush embed onto your site. After your blog has been approved (and obviously yours will be) blogrush send you some html for the widget that you place
    onto your site. It is a really very nifty little widget because each day, once you have checked out your own blog you
    can go straight into the blogrush dashboard from your own site to check your stats and enjoy the rush of seeing the actual stats and the possibility of more traffic heading for your blog. still in beta.
    http://www.blogrush.com/r17861446
    You can also join HubPages, where you can write about a topic you love — for free! Includes potential to earn royalties and commissions. Now this brilliant because you can really monetise your pages with amazon, ebay, and adsense. You can also put in a video or three and rss links (although I am having trouble actually doing this) Below is one of my hubs/mini blogs for your info.
    http://hubpages.com/_3ln6lkfbbmpxe/hub/An-Adventurous-Wedding

    Then for another totally free web 2.0 Alvin Phang
    blog submitter from socialmatic.This is a multi site pinger! or submitter – really great submits to 13 sites in the one go.
    http://www.socialmatic.com – still in beta.
    Socialmatic submits to These Services:
    Backflip
    Bibsonomy
    Blinklist
    Faves
    Buddymarks
    Connectedy
    del.icio.us
    Diigo
    Magnolia
    Yahoo!
    Netvouz
    Simpy
    Hope this helps you with your traffic issue. cheers anne
    http://weddings-et-al.blogspot.com

  26. To increase traffic you need to become actively involved in social media marketing – stumble upon, digg, forums, etc.

    And also invest in SEO – SEO is a better long term investment then adwords any day of the week.

  27. Here are some tips in no particular order:-

    1). Menu. It needs a menu at the top like most blogs because i got confused on where to click, i started looking down the right collumn, then i looked down the left to find the nav menu.

    2). Category list is massive, it’s far too long. Perhaps combining 2007 with 2008 etc etc.

    3.) The design isn’t consistent throughout, for example, when you scroll down, the right collumn ends while the left collumn carries on going. Try and get the right collumn to span down to meet the left.

    4). I don’t like how the design spans the width of my monitor. Keeping the width of the blog to a set size is better.

    5). Perhaps put sponsored links under sponsors. Thats the first thing i don’t want to see.

    6). Put a 325×325 ad within your post to generate some more income.

    7). Use a quote image for quoted text, and also maybe use italic font style for quoted text.

    8). Need to cut down on the number of links altogether.

    9). Change the logo to something more professional and unique.

  28. Ari says:

    I dont really have much to say about the design of your site, the quality of the posts, or how to drive more traffic but I do have a comment about the quality of your Adsense Ads. I had exactly the same ads on my site that you have on yours but I decided to get rid of them because they were dishonest. 99% of the make money from home or make $5000 a day ads are bogus.

    I think for your site and credibility you might want to consider an alternative advertising strategy than Adsense.

  29. maheshexp says:

    16 Things that “FMF” can work on….

    1. Color of body text is not as rich as Black.

    2. No images of money / dollor notes in the pages

    3. Better move sponsors down the Recent posts.

    4. Add a RSS Subscribe link.

    5. left side is fully occupied with Ads, could move ads down and use that space for more resource.

    6. No need of such a huge banner, could shorten it with a better logo and put an advertisement there.

    7. It was really difficul to scroll down for to view all the posts he has in various titile.
    Better he could have “Tab navigation” in the top for “DEBT Posts” , “Credit card post”, “Career Post” etc by grouping them accordingly

    8. Better make use of tag in all the post and cut short your page length.
    This will able you to load the page faster and gives a quick glimpse of content.

    9. Left side bar holds various posts. But they are in small fonts. I was searching for “archives” for quite some time and found after 1 min. 1 min of search for the most wanted link is too much.

    10. Do reduce your categories, better organize them to a compact list. Instead of categories, do make use of “tags” and post a “tag cloud” in your blog. that would look great.

    11. Please increase the font size on both the side bars.

    12. I guess you don’t need such a big green color font for Date

    13. Do add “Related Posts” to the bottom of single posts. If you are using WordPress you will find good plugins for it.

    14. Do add “Tags in which your post” is tagged at the bottom of each post. If you are using WordPress you will find good plugins for it.

    15. Put links for “Digg”, “Stumble”, Technorati or “Shareit”

    16. Overall, the blog is content rich and lacks design!!!

  30. Frugal Dad says:

    Since the design reviews have been pretty well covered, I will just briefly give some observation and then move on to the other review areas you were looking for. First, I want to say that I am a Free Money Finance fan and have followed your work for some time.

    DESIGN – I would consider removing the left sidebar and instead incorporate some block ads inline with your text. You could increase the size of your main content area and show more posts without making the site appear longer, vertically.

    I agree with others, a navigation bar is needed across the top with at least some home, about, contact options. It would make navigating a little easier, especially for those stumbling here via a search engine (those not as familiar with your site).

    I would use the top-right sidebar area for a feed subscription icon, and keep the sponsored ads to a standard size, perhaps 125×125. Currently you show four banner ads and all are different sizes.

    Consider moving your “Categories” section higher because that is really one of the stronger ares of your site – there is a ton of information available on a wide range of subjects.

    I like the “Reviews” section, but this could be kept on a static page called “Media” and referenced in the above-mentioned navigation menu. It does add credibility to your blog and should be showcased above the fold.

    POSTS – I’m not particularly crazy about red text when quoting a source as it tends to detract from your own words. Consider simulating the block/indent feature in WordPress by placing a large ” symbol to the left of the indented text, and perhaps italicize the text. I don’t know if this is possible in Typepad, but you might look at some WordPress blogs for inspiration on quoted text. Quite honestly, I might consider just moving to WordPress as you will have many more options in terms of layout and plug-ins.

    HOW TO DRIVE TRAFFIC – I looked at your source code and all seems well there. I like how you’ve integrated your site title with your article titles, your permalinks appear good to go, etc. One suggestion I would have that touches on both design and traffic is to consider using more graphics in your articles. This would improve the visual appeal of your articles, and by keywording the alt tags in your images may generate more traffic leads.

    GENERATE REVENUE – Consider putting together an e-book from one of your more popular post categories (real estate, retirement, kids and money, etc.) and selling them via e-junkie. I just recently did this myself and have sold a number of copies in the last few days. It provides another way to get your message out there, and can help supplement your advertising revenues.

    I admire the fact you are donating revenues to charity, and like I mentioned I am a fan of your work. These enhancements should help you grow readership to further your cause.

  31. Tim Struck says:

    I am a daily reader of FreeMoneyFinance for over two yars now. First off I would like to say great job as your blog is keeping my interest.

    -I get somewhat distracted by all of the underlining. I believe every link in the website is underlined. I don’t think this is necessary.

    -The linklist is too long. I am one of the few people who have actually clicked on every link on your site. My issue is less about pure length and more about relevance. Several of your links go to websites that have not been updated for quite some time and even abandoned. I would suggest spending some time cleaning this up.

    - Make your archived posts easier to find. I understand this might be a trade-off with some Ad revenue but I feel new readers might find it difficult to read archived articles as they must scroll past all the Ads to find those links.

    - I don’t have an issue on overall design as this is more of a personal preference. I’m not a huge fan of the green/yellow color choices but that’s just my opinion and I’m by no means an expert on color as I prefer very simple plain design.

    - As others suggested, create a menu on the top of the blog that contains “about me”, subscribe, contact me, etc.

  32. I spent some time on your site and have the following suggestions:

    Change your layout of your most popular articles. Take the categories that you listed your most popular articles in and move them to the top left or right sidebar. List only 5 for each. More is less. Maybe, you should limit this section to 3 main categories. This way someone can go right to what they want to read.

    Your sidebars were so clutter. Take out what you don’t need. I am not a big fan of recent comments because they don’t tell me much. Take contact, about, etc and make tabs under your header. Lessen your category list perhaps using subcategories with this list. Move the search button up to so I can search within your site. Make the search button be defaulted on your site not Google to keep people within your site.

    Change your Blogroll to “Blogs that link here” and direct it to another page. It was so long! Perhaps of blogs that you read would be more interesting to your readers.

    I liked your content but I found it hard to keep switching link to link to find out what you were talking about. Although providing links within an article makes the article more concise, I would just like to know a little more about what I am linking too. After I read it, I have to “go back” to the original article. I find this a little hard.

    Add “related articles” at the bottom of the posts allows me to go deeper into your site.

    I like the gray box or quotation marks for quotes. I don’t like the red.

    I know you want this site to be anonymous but I would like to know who you are and make it more personalize. A personal touch is really important. Your about site also had a lot of link for me to find out about you. I was jumping all over your site. Personally, a couple of paragraph about you would have been fine.

    I am very visual and love pictures. Add them to your posts.

    As for ads on your site, tell people right up front that ads are for charities (perhaps a graphic above the ads) with a link to which charities you donate the money to. People may be apt to click on them knowing the money is going to charity.

    How about adding an Amazon bookstore of books that you have read or can recommend? People love to read how to grow their wealth.

    Move “subscribe” up to the top left side along with feed subscriptions. Insert a feed symbol like feedburner has for your feed too. Just a visual thing to alert people to subscribe to your feed.

  33. Jeremy says:

    I read FMF regularly, but usually only in my feed reader simply because I have a hard time reading completely fluid designs on my widescreen monitor at high resolution. I know that in terms of compatibility this design can be good, but you may want to consider a max width setting so that users on large monitors don’t see a whole paragraph as one or two lines that span 10 inches of physical space.

    When talking about the sidebars, I think the font is too small. It can be a bit difficult to read. Also, if you’re keeping the right sidebar, consider making it a bit wider so that you can place two sponsor ads side by side and free up some space and have a cleaner grouping of sponsor ads.

    And it has already been mentioned a number of times, but you really need to have an RSS section somewhere prominent near the top.

  34. Helene says:

    The site’s header is eye-popping, but when it’s combined with the bright yellow right column, it’s jarring. Also, the ads placed in both the left and right columns make the site feel like a casino/links site and cause it to lose credibility.

    Adding an About link at the top of the page would be helpful and lend more credibility.

    I think the red font is fine for the Q&A.

    As to generating more revenue, perhaps creating downloadable ebooks would be profitable.

  35. Tom Beaton says:

    This blog could benefit in a number of ways.

    DESIGN
    First impressions are not great.

    Plenty can be done to this design. Perhaps some less garish colours to start. I think something financial should try and look fairly serious, how about trying a blue scheme like Forbes or perhaps a Black and white design.

    The banner could be a lot more exciting and elegant. Perhaps build some sort of brand that could be replicated and used as a theme throughout in order to improve consistency and overall image.

    Use banner ads that are all of the same size. This makes the site look tidier and more professional.

    POSTS
    Posts are generally quite informative.

    I would try a different front page layout with a more magazine styling as you update so regularly, few people will read everything so it would be nice to see the latest 5 or so posts quickly and easily.

    Images in the content to break up the text and bring a bit more life to the page.

    GENERATING TRAFFIC
    Try guest writing for other big blogs in the financial niche and network with some of the other writers. You could maybe negotiate a banner exchange, or a guest post on each others blog.

    Although there are loads of them going around a the moment, competitions always seem to do well.

    INCREASING REVENUE
    Adsense may be a good performer, but you have not really got that many ads on your blog. You could definitely work a banner just after your first post. You could put a few more ads in the top of the right sidebar. Affiliate links for credit cards might do well.

  36. Andy says:

    Here are a few more thoughts to be getting on with…

    Design

    The design is, let’s face it, manically cluttered. Personally, I hate this kind of design.

    But it has its advantages, particularly in sites with lots of content where readers like to browse randomly. If you’re lucky enough to have that kind of reader, then I’d definitely stick with the slightly cluttered look as they tend to get engrossed in looking, and click on lots more articles as a result. If you’re looking for a good example of a cluttered site that just works, check out Lings Cars, a phenomenally successful UK-based car leasing site.

    Having said that, cluttered shouldn’t mean unplanned. You need to put some serious thought as to how best you want to organise your clutter and how to highlight the areas you really want people to click on. Everyone’s noted that you need to move your subscription options to the top, and I’d have to agree – it’s a no-brainer. But you should also consider things like whether you really need most recent posts near the top of your homepage, and whether the search box might be better nearer the top of the page on such a busy site. You might also want to increase the profile of your reviews, to give you more credibility in the eyes of new readers (especially as people tend not to trust ‘cluttered’ sites at first glance).

    I’m in two minds about whether you should increase the use of graphics in posts. The weekly money cartoon really stands out, but I wonder if too many pictures on the homepage would make the site just too confusing. Perhaps expirement with gradually increasing the number of pictures throughout the site.

    Finally, you really need to put something at the bottom of the homepage which leads readers automatically on to more posts – something like “Next 10 posts” would do fine and give readers who are still undecided on which link to click on a hint as to where to go next.

    Don’t be scared into thinking that because your blog is hosted by Typepad, you can’t do cool things with the design. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out sites like the Times Online blog for examples of just what you can do with Typepad: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/blogs/

    Posts

    You specifically asked about quotes. I don’t think the current method of highlighting them in red works well. I’d consider putting them in italics and perhaps putting a border around them. If you want to increase the graphical impact of the site, perhaps a graphical quote mark in the top left of the quote box might work.

    I notice that lots of the posts are short and sweet. I think they are valuable, but you should also consider more in-depth articles. They give people something substantive to read, something to get engaged about, and can be used as linkbait to drive traffic. Linkbait in particular will help Google rankings – I can’t think of much reason why anyone would want to directly link to any of the shorter articles currently on site. If you don’t have the time to write them yourself, make good use of guest writers – the finances for college graduates post of 21 Feb is a great example of this.

    How to drive traffic

    I’d recommend leveraging the userbase of other similar sites. If you’re not familiary with Money Saving Expert, you should be. It’s a massive UK based forum (several million are signed up to its weekly email) covering (surprise!) ways to save money and organise finances. Get involved in the forum there (in a non-spammy way), make real connections and word of mouth traffic will follow.

    Additionally, take advantage of your own community – get them to evangelise for you. Ask them to tell their friends, whatever it takes. Remember, you’re providing a service they already think is useful – they shouldn’t take much persuading before they’ll tell their friends.

    Generating Revenue

    You currently don’t have any Google ads in the body of each post, and I think you should. If you stick to the heavily text based style you have right now, a 336×280 rectangle in the top left of each post, just under the title, would bring in some significant revenue. It may also free up the top left sidebar for other content, like subscription options. I’d also make sure you have an ad at the end of each post too – it gives people something easy to click on once they’ve read the post.

    How much revenue are the current sidebar ads bringing in? You need to assess these carefully and be ruthless about what to keep, and what to junk in favour of a new ad format. I don’t have access to your figures, but I wonder if the Amazon ad on the left sidebar is really bringing in as much as an ad from another ad network would. There are loads of ad networks out there – do some research, sign up to lots, and keep playing around with them until you find the best performing. Then keep testing some more, to see if you can improve revenue still further…

    Depending on how… um… ethical you want to be, you might also want to take advantage of the confusing design to intersperse ads randomly around the sidebar. I’m not sure I’d recommend this in all honesty, but you should consider it.

    Affiliates – you are in the perfect market to find well paying affiliate offers. Seek out the best – preferably ones you would personally recommend – and relentlessly promote them using individual tailored posts – comparisons, reviews, whatever you can think of. As with ad placement, keep testing and trying new ideas to see what works.

  37. LiveCrunch says:

    When you think this isn’t bad advertising, i mean FMFinance get’s comments, reviews and post on PB and all it’s offering is 1700 SU’s which is about $80
    not bad . wish i could do same.

    Here is your review FMF:
    Page load’s slow
    Too much green
    Don’t digg amazon ads.
    Too many links over 150 of them!
    Your keywords arent bad but description is worst , dont use too many commas google will NOT display you.
    Consider professional design
    Remove sitemeter for public (its not working)
    Work on inlinks you have only PR3 with 50K visitors thats something smelly …

  38. Anthony says:

    <>

    1. Put the RSS subscription at the top of the page. Actually replace the Google Ads with it. I am not a big fan of Google Ads being very prominent on a site. I know they have to be seen, but I guess I’d recommend doing two columns of graphic display ads, even if they are affiliate links.

    <>

    2. I think you are ok here; it’s not something so hateful it would turn someone away.

    <>

    3. I don’t know what you are doing already, so it’s hard to comment, but here are my recommendations:

    - I’d say moving the RSS feed up to increase subscribers will help increase return visitors and forwards.

    - If you are not networking in Social Media circles, I would network with other financial professionals that can help you promote. I believe removing the Google Ads will help in the Social Media Marketing arena as well, as some are averse to promoting sites with prominent Google ads.

    - Adding a newsletter where you can send updates regarding the site as well as affiliate offers will help both traffic and revenue, as well as increasing the value of the site by developing a valued in-house list.

    <>

    Make sure you are covering a full spectrum of financial service offerings and promote those to your in-house list (see #3 above). Two niche I would recommend are 1) a Mortgage reduction offering as these are very hot right now due to the mortgage rates being higher and people wanting a way to reduce their mortgages without refinancing, and 2) partnering with a mortgage company so you can be well compensated for your leads. I happen to have two solid contact for both of these.

    Regards,

    Anthony Kirlew
    Founder, Web Traffic Team
    Founder, Consumers Advantage Mortgage

  39. Anthony says:

    oops, I forgot part of my design answer. The pages scroll WAY too much. I’d create separate pages to highlight the other finance blogs, and perhaps a page to highlight popular links and categories so the page doesn’t go on forever.

    Anthony

  40. Duhh says:

    Design:
    The design of the site is lacking any real uniqueness, the colors don’t go well together and the layout doesn’t flow, I suggest changing the colors and making the left sidebar a separate color from where the main content goes as right now it’s rather smashed together. I would also have someone redesign your logo as the current one is once again bland, try putting a better slogan on the logo with a more specific message on what the blog will help the user do.

    Posts:
    I’m not sure if its possible but when you quote text try to make the background a different mellow color (A light whitish/tan maybe) or make the text a less bolded out color like blue or green instead of red.

    How to drive traffic:
    Have you tried creating an account on a personal finance forum with questions and discussion forums related to your topic? Find one an then lurk around for a few days, see where things go and the general feel of the community, once that is done create an account using a name related to your blog (Or use your real name, but I see you choose to be anonymous) and put a link back to your blog in your signature, then just start posting. Posting in discussions and answer questions, try not to self promote but if someone asks a question you’ve written a post about feel free to point that out.

    One more design suggestion, you have way to many links in your sidebar, try removing some, and you really should try reordering your sidebar widgets with an idea of how a user will use your site, not trying to put all the ads on top is the key.

  41. Deb says:

    The first thing that I noticed when I arrived at the site was that the subscribe box was not above the fold. This is crucial. Put your subscribe box on top of those sponsor ads immediately and offer a “freebie” for your subscribers. Something like 23 ways to blah blah blah, 17 ways to reduce your blah blah blah. Those are your subscribers, don’t let them get away.

    I would also make the font a little bigger in the side bar. It seems kind of small to me. I had to squint to read it.

    The only other major improvement I would make is putting the about, contact and archives page on top – maybe, right below the header.

    There’s a plethora of info on your site. It’s easy reading and enjoyable.

    Good luck.

  42. I really enjoyed your writing style – friendly, easy to get through. But I wanted to know more about “you”. Without a name, picture, or identity other than the blog initials, that’s tough. Granted, I blogged under my blog’s initials for a year, turning it into a running joke and gimmick, but even then I could only milk it so far. If you’re going to remain anonymous, explain why you need to be so private on your About page. I do like the links on your About page, but a very short bio/summary would be great along with it.

    Design: Your sidebar color choices interrupt the flow of the eye. Our gaze follows a natural rhythm, scanning the lines of text and graphics. With your current design, my eye hits a “FullStop” with the yellow on the right side, then my gaze naturally tracks left again. But since both your content and left sidebar are white, nothing stops my gaze, and I go right off the page/monitor. It’s disconcerting. If you must have one white sidebar, make it the right one. The eye will move back to the left much more naturally. (Personally I’d make both of them yellow)

    I’d add a horizontal navigation bar under the header. Use it to link to your about page, archives, contact info, things you currently have buried. There’s just too much “stuff” in your sidebars. Move your categories to pages, and link to them from the horizontal nav bar you’re going to ad ;) One “best of” sidebar list is plenty for people to look at…. nearly your whole archive is showing in your sidebars.

    Your subscription buttons/email form are buried in the left sidebar: Move them up, maybe to the top of the sidebar. Get rid of the individual subscription buttons. Just use one RSS button (plus the email subscription option) and let Feedburner do the rest. On the right sidebar, consider breaking up the sponser ads: try something like sponser ad, recent posts. sponser ad. recent comments. And I’d like to see something related to your blog at the top of at least one of the sidebars – not just ads.

    Posts: The red in your blockquotes clashes with your theme… if you want a color, try green. I’m a big fan of images in posts – even small bullet style graphics help liven things up. I especially liked your word association post, by the way. Fun!

    Traffic & Revenue: Try adsense images in the posts themselves. Put together a “free offer” related to your topic to drive traffic – it would fit well with your “free money” theme. Put some of your info together an ebook or mini course, and offer it for sale.

    I hope this helps! I’m redesigning my own blog at the moment, and looking at yours helped me recognize some of the changes I need to make, too.

  43. Matt says:

    First, let me say you converted me to a reader.

    Now, for the things I would change:

    The first thing I would do is move the subscription tools (At very least FeedBurner. If you can capture a visitor’s email address, you can keep them coming back. Personally, I would put it at the very top of the page.)

    I am not familiar with TypePad, but, if available, a block quote system similar to that of Problogger would work well.

    Another thing I would do would be cutting down on links. Currently, you posts are in the middle of two “link highways”. As you have a page dedicated to categories and Archives, I would narrow the categories displayed on the right of the layout and remove the archive, leaving the page.

    I would also move the blog roll from the layout and place it on a page and remove the recent comments widget. That would allow your reviews (credentials) to be move in to a more visible position.

    Using a different color for the top banner and background would make the blog more inviting.

    Also, a more branding-friendly logo would be a wise addition. Something that would show what the blog is about, if it were placed on a T-shirt, for example.

    I am not sure quite how much of an issue this is, but I’ve noticed the your use of smiley’s in your blog posts. While I know useful they can be online, they may not be appropriate on a money and investment blog.

    As far as monetizing goes, it looks like you have a pretty good set up. The one thing I would do is to see if more targeted ads could be found. When I visited, the Amazon widget was displaying ads for jewelry. While it may be something the richer are interested in, they probably aren’t going to sell well on Free Money Finance. It would be good if you could become an affiliate for the organizations you discuss on your blog, for example, Chase and American Express on the “making money with your credit card post”.

    All told, I would say you have a good blog with great content, and with a bit of layout redesign, you could both great content and a great blog.

  44. I will be flying if I get 1700 visitors per day. I will sure visit the site to see what it is all about.

  45. DESIGN

    Your header smacks of cheap clip art and standard fonts. Ditch the star and use something more directly related to money. Try Flickr for Creative Commons licenced photos.

    “Free Money Finance” sets my spam-sense tingling: it looks like the title of yet another unwanted piece of email. It sounds like three search-engine friendly terms bunged together, rather than a complete phrase.

    Your sidebars are too cluttered. I was looking on the top right for a search box and it took me a while to find it. Shunt the ads on the left down and put the “Best of FMF” there. Move all the “Making Money”, “Career Posts” etc to a single “Listings” page. Ruthlessly cut everything which you don’t need on your sidebars. And having only ads above the fold gives your blog an unfairly tacky look.

    POSTS

    Rather than posting short articles five times a day, try posting one long, in-depth, strongly researched article and one short snappy “makes you think” snippet. Otherwise, casual readers feel overwhelmed by the amount of information.

    Always, always proofread – if possible, get someone else to read every article before you post it. Spell checkers won’t pick up errors like this:

    “(including selling your blood — admittedly it’s not a “business”, but I just had to through in this idea to show how some people are so creative when it comes to making money)” – from “11 great ways to make more money”. That should be throw, not through. Careless spelling and grammar mistakes make your writing look sloppy and cheap, even when the content is valuable and strong (which yours definitely is.)

    Be consistent with formatting. Your use of quotes is fine, though you might consider italicising as well as using maroon text – I’m sure some of your readers are colour-blind, and may have trouble distinguishing maroon and black. But I noticed that on the front page, the formatting of ordered lists varies:
    In “Eight Sure-Fire Ways to Sock Away $100” the Wall Street list is at single spacing, and indented. Your personal list is at (I think) one-and-a-half spacing, and indented. But both your lists in “You can win a few copy of Build or Remodel your own house” have items double spaced and are not indented.

    You might want to consider using bold formatting to bring out key sentences and words. If a reader is scanning an article quickly (and most readers do not sit and read every word), bold text draws the eye to what’s important.

    HOW TO DRIVE TRAFFIC

    Firstly, be willing to put in a lot of work. Search the internet for forums which you can contribute to. Be an active, helpful and useful contributor – don’t post links to your blog in every post you write. Look out for anyone asking questions on a topic you’ve recently written on, then offer a helpful reply with some quick tips and a brief “I’ve also written about this in depth on my blog, recently – you might want to check out [url directly to your article on the topic]”.

    Befriend other bloggers who write about finance and money-saving. Email bloggers who you enjoy reading – not as a sales pitch, but just to say thanks. Make sure the URL of your blog is in your email signature, then they can check it out if they want to. Link to other bloggers. Offer a leg-up to newbies and little guys in particular; they’ll be hugely grateful and willing to reciprocate.

    Encourage readers to participate: there are lots of tried and tested ways to do this (contests, comments, “Ask FMF”, etc.) But how about something more direct? Post asking for some readers willing to keep a financial diary of their earning and spending, and have it analysed and commented on by you. This will provide you with:
    – Several very engaged readers who will hopefully draw in others
    - An easy source of ideas
    - An ongoing series to draw other readers back

    GENERATING REVENUE

    Make a much bigger deal about your profits going to charity. I didn’t see anything about this on the site (I probably didn’t look far enough – but how many readers will?) Jaded readers who think it’s “Just another money site to help the founder get rich quick” will be impressed.

    Have a “Donations” page so that readers can easily donate via Paypal. Occasionally (monthly?) ask readers to estimate how much they’ve earned or saved as a result of your advice – and ask them to consider donating a small percent (10%?) to your site.

    OVERALL

    You have very strong content: your write well, your knowledge is excellent, and you have a huge amount of information on the site. The design is letting you down by making Free Money Finance (a) difficult for readers to navigate, (b) look like an overwhelming number of posts at first glance and (c) look “cheap” and unprofessional.

    I would suggest considering a complete relaunch. Yes, it will require a lot of work but you could:
    - Change the URL and name of the site. “Free Financial Advice”, perhaps? Or think of something snappier and less spammy that uses the FMF acronym, if you want to keep that. (“Free Money Fun” … “Find Money Fast” …)
    - Get a professional-looking title. Find an eye-catching but not garish image that epitomises your content and style. A stack of dollar bills? A coin dropping? A money pig..?
    - Have navigation links under the title bar. This is a great place to put links to your contact info, “About FMF” page, archive page and donations jar.
    - Have a “listings” page or similar with most of the information from the left-hand bar.
    - Spread the word. Get your readers excited about the upcoming relaunch. Announce competitions, invite guest posters, offer the chance for readers to be diarists, have an “Ask FMF” series … get imaginative, creative and engaging.
    - Slash the number of weekday posts. Have one long post every day (or even every two days) and one or two short posts per day at most. Five a day might be good for search engines and obsessive fans; it’s overwhelming and even annoying to most readers.

    To end on a positive note, I really like the site, and the very strong content. I’ve been incredibly picky and critical above because I’d actually like to see you make the most of your knowledge and writing abilities, and to reach lots of readers. Hope none of it has come across as too harsh. Very best of luck to you!

  46. I’ve read this blog off and on in the past myself. I find the reason I never stuck with it was:

    a) Finding the subscription button took effort.

    b) Navigation on the site was difficult.

    Suggestions:

    1) Devote one of your side bars to navigation and a subscribe button on the top. Right or left your choice.
    2) Colors on the design are at odds. You got red, blue with green and yellow. It makes me a little turned off right away. If you want to keep the green/yellow look go ahead, but replace the red text with a dark green and perhaps try a lighter shade of yellow as your post background. Also stop using the blue. Also consider increasing your font size it is hard to read.
    3) Drop the star on the top banner. It doesn’t relate to your site that well. Try instead a golden dollar sign perhaps.
    4) Move that blog roll to another page and cut back the number of posts showing on your front page. You want to encourage navigation deeper into the site, not just keep them on one page (This should also refresh your Adsense ads and hopefully encourage more clicking).
    5) The content is good, you just need to make getting around easier for people.

    Best of luck,
    Tim

  47. Like some of the other commenters, I’d suggest updating the logo and minimizing the AdSense presence. But for me, the biggest turnoff to the site is the color scheme.

    Bright Green + Bright Yellow = Strained Eyes

    I’d suggest using a site like kuler.adobe.com or colourlovers.com to find more complementary colors.

  48. Add navigation tabs at the top (About, Contact, Advertise, etc)
    Add a welcome message to or a “First time here” link with a users guide or lists of best posts or favorite posts
    Add a gravitar to brand your site
    Put your RSS feed up at the top, and a link and explanation that ALL PROCEEDS GO TO CHARITY, many people are unaware of this fact.
    For better adsense results change the link color to blue like your other links and also run an adword banner across the top of the site, experiment.
    Tone down the bright colors as Joshua Clanton said.
    For quotes use a larger font but not a different color unless it’s subtle like gray
    Other than that keep up the excellent work! Hope these few ideas help.

    As for traffic increase consider advertising on personal finance blogs and christian personal finance sites, submit articles to stumble upon and other social sites.

    Create a mascot for your site and logo (maybe use a moosetracks’ Moose).

  49. I’ll try to visit that site and check the guidelines later on. It’s gonna big traffic for me.

  50. Chris Auman says:

    Design: One of the elements that I feel is a very important aspect of design is creating a “vibe” that is appealing and enjoyable. The example that I usually give is the feeling you get when you enter a restaurant. You’ll either enjoy your meal there and want to come back or you’ll go someplace else. Even if the “food” is good, the design you present will give the user a certain feeling while they’re reading your site. Certain colors make you feel good, some make you angry and uncomforable. It’s like Taco Bell vs. Chipotle. It’s Mexican food (and granted, one IS better than the other) but Taco Bell is cheesy and cold. Chipotle has a sense of “cool” and I could actually hang out there, drink a beer and do some work even after my food is gone. The feeling I get from this site is overwhelmingly Taco Bell or cold, Dollar store instead of high end shopping. I would work on your color scheme a little so it reflects a high end, comfortable, rich vibe. Vibrant yellow and green and white remind me of cheap plastic toys, not financial advice. Why the gold star? I would check out Elance and get a professional to design you a better, more professional logo as well. You logo should summarize what you do in some way and unfortunately I don’t see financial advice in a big gold star.

    Posts: Again, the colors you choose affect the readers in subtle ways. Red, combined with the green and yellow is not an appealing combination to me. It might stand out but does it have to be that dramatic? I would recommend a more subtle treatment of the text and present it in a shade that’s closer matched to your core 2-3 colors in our design. Nothing ruins a design faster than the use of too many colors. I normally choose 2, maybe 3 color colors with one sparsely used accent color. Then if you need to you can use a few lighter or darker shades of your core colors. Currently you have vibrant green, bold yellow, muted red, dark blue, white, black, with many weights and colors. You need to cut this down to a simple pallet of colors that compliment each other.

    Traffic: Get intimate with your competitors and comment on their posts. There are a lot of sites in your niche and you have your work cut out for you. Check out http://getrichslowly.org/blog/ for a start.

    Revenue: I hate Google ads on sites. Let me just get that out of the way now. I am blind to them so I think you’re wasting that prominent real estate in your left column. There are a million more profitiable and targeted ways to drive traffic. I actually just forwarded a link to a friend today with a recommedation to read one of the best articles I’ve seen in a while about making money with a blog. (Sorry Darren, even better than the posts you’ve made on the subject) Check it out!

    http://www.dailyblogtips.com/ways-to-make-money-online-with-website/