It’s that time of the week where I try to shrink down dozens of in-depth reviews into five actionable points resulting from our community consultation. This week we held Furniture Fashion under the magnifying glass. You can head back to its launch post if you want to read the reviews in detail.
Before we start, congratulations must go to Bruce for winning our 1,700 StumbleUpon visitor prize for the best review. He asked an incredibly important question: what’s your focus? Are you a catalog, or an interior design blog? The answer will inform a lot of the steps John Cavers and his blogging partner take from here.
Here were the top 5 recommendations made by the ProBlogger readers who critiqued Furniture Fashion:
1. The interplay between niche and design
A number of viewers felt the design seemed messy and visually unimpressive. There is little padding between elements (making things seem squashed together), and the color scheme of green, white, red, blue and black doesn’t seem to mesh well. The blog’s niche makes this more of an issue. Interior design is an aesthetics oriented industry and I suspect most readers would question a design blog that doesn’t express a sense of the aesthetic in its own design.
Because of the blog’s magazine-style content, I’d suggest switching to an elegant magazine theme like Futurosity EOS. Having said that, if the existing design is working well in terms of monetization, a few simple tweaks would make it a lot better.
1. More padding between the content, sidebar and header, and more space between items. The lack of padding makes it difficult for the eye to isolate specific elements.
2. A simplified color scheme, without the bright blue (orange might work as a replacement).
2. New ways to make money
Some reviewers wisely suggested entering into furniture affiliate programs to sell items directly from your posts. Another option would be eBay or Amazon affiliate programs to sell homewares and smaller, more shippable decorative items.
Another common theme was the color and position of the AdSense ads in the sidebar. Most notably, that the ads were bright blue — a color not found anywhere else in the blog. My suggestion would be to pick a unique color that matches the theme (a reddy orange, perhaps).
3. Boosting your content
Even if the blog contains mainly catalog style content, it’s still possible to mix this up with posts that could do well on social media. For this niche, I’d suggest:
- Top 10 lists of weird or cutting edge furniture.
- Photographic profiles of famous interior designers and their work.
- Collections of themed tips on interior design.
4. Boosting traffic and subscribers
Catalog-style content can be fantastic for generating well-targeted AdSense, but it usually receives a lukewarm response in terms of long-term loyalty and repeat readership. This type of content is unlikely to gather traffic through social media and links. I’d suggest focusing on SEO and keywords within posts and headlines. Without the hope of social media traffic on catalog-style content, there’s little motivation to write headlines with flair — just go for well optimized ones. Working the full formal product name into headlines is a great way to attract cut and paste searchers doing research and price comparisons.
As for increasing subscribers, I would suggest either not worrying about them (they don’t really aid on-site monetization), or creating more value-packed content. Catalog content attracts curious browsers researching items they’re interested in buying, but it’s not great for attracting long-term, loyal readers. If the aim of the blog is to serve as an online business, though, this might not be so important. The importance of subscribers will depend on your goals.
5. Building a community
Catalog style content works well for making money through PPC ads, but it’s lackluster when it comes to creating a community and comment culture on a blog. To change the culture among your readers, you need to change your content.
- Give advice.
- Provide opinions and analysis — something readers can add their thoughts to.
- Post three items of furniture and ask readers to vote which one they like best.
- Create discussion posts: i.e. “What was the last piece of furniture you bought?”
- Take questions from readers and answer them in-post.
- Write reviews with pros and cons. This will encourage readers to chime in with their thoughts.
Overall, ProBlogger readers felt Furniture Fashion was monetizing well but remained unconvinced about the blog’s design and focus. We wish John a lot of luck in implementing the changes!