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Winner of the Reader Review Competition

Last week we ran a ‘reader review‘ competition where we gave you a link to a blog – Girls Just Wanna Have Funds – and asked you to leave a ‘review’ to help the blog improve.

Chitika came to the party and offered a Tomtom One LE GPS unit to the comment that Ginger (the owner of the blog) found to be most helpful.

Thanks also to the great advertising network – Chitika – for donating the prize. Do check out the range of advertising units that they have available for bloggers at the moment – their new premium ad unit is a great option for many bloggers.

51 people left comments and some of them were quite amazing both in terms of the quality and depth that you went into. In fact it’s one of the longest collections of comments I’ve seen on Problogger (almost 17,000 words between the 51 comments).

So Ginger has chosen her winner and has asked if she can also say a few words about the process of having her blog reviewed. In it she talks about some of the changes she’s going to be making to her blog and announces the winner (last paragraph).

Thanks to everyone for entering and Ginger for letting us review her blog! Now – over to Ginger.

From Ginger

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comb through my site and give me honest, constructive and most of all detailed feedback. I received many comments through my contact page in addition to the 50+ comments here at Problogger. I appreciate the time you all took to give me your feedback around the changes I need to make to the site.

Darren, thank you for choosing my site for the review, this has been on my wish list for a while now so thank you for this awesome opportunity as your readers have been thorough and helpful. Between reading your book and this review I’m certain I know what I need to do moving forward to improve my blog and take it to new heights.

I will be making changes around 85% of the consensus that was held amongst the comments. This includes:

Reducing the amount of Adsense that I use on the page. When reviewing the revenue programs, it turns out that I make more with Essence, Blogher and advertisement contracts and Adsense is last on the list in terms of amount of revenue.

Changing the color scheme: I went back and forth about this but I will work on a theme that is lighter and easier on the eyes. I definitely don’t want to alienate the male readers so I will take this into consideration. All said I love the theme layout and functionality as I think Solostream did a fantastic job with it. So while I may make tweaks to the color and layout, I don’t foresee changing the theme altogether. The jury is still out full posts instead of excerpts on the front page but I will see how it works out when I make changes this weekend.

Site Promotion: This is my top priority as you all gave really awesome ideas around how to do this given my niche. I’ve printed out all comments and highlighted the ones that spoke to this area and will be implementing those very soon, IE connecting with other sites such as Cafe Mom and Work It Mom. I don’t have children so I have often questioned whether or not I could really speak to and connect this audience but I am willing to give it a try.

I’m quite surprised to see that most of the comments liked my writing style, that made me smile as I often think I could do a lot better in this area. I do write from the heart and glad to see that most of you are able to glean some my personality based on what I write.

Special Note: The purpose of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds is for me to be able to write about personal finance from a SINKs (single income no children) perspective. I realize this is different than many of the mom blogs and other personal finance blogs out there but please try to understand that I write about personal finance as it relates to my life. There is no topic that I’ve written about that I havent considered or experienced personally. I will from time to time discuss financial challenges and there are times that I will look to readers for answers because I don’t know it all, so I’m OK with that aspect of the blog even though some commenters did not and thought it made me look as though I don’t have all the answers since I have my own challenges. Well, I do and that is the purpose of the blog, to write about those challenges and keep myself accountable as I move through them.

There was also a comment about my purchasing only organic foods and not writing about buying groceries around sale items. The comment also stated that working moms would just roll their eyes and keep it moving to Safeway. This stood out to me because I now realize that perhaps I haven’t written much to this reader group. However, I purchase organic foods because this is something I value just as other personal finance bloggers value traveling on leisure or collecting comic books. I realize this is something that all women/households aren’t able to do but it is my hope that readers won’t be turned off by this aspect of my finances. I am far from perfect in my quest for financial freedom. I shop way too much around hair and beauty products and let’s not discuss decorating our new home. I’d like for my readers to understand that much if nothing else about what I write. I write from personal experience and articles that hopefully inspire readers to take action. So while I may shop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, this doesn’t mean that I don’t contend with the struggles of making your budget work with rising food prices.

That said, I will be adding a reader request section and reader questions answered section to make the blog more interactive and inclusive of all perspectives.

The Winner

The comment I chose that was most helpful in overall structure of how the information was presented and content is Ananda Palanisamy (no link left). This comment listed each area of improvement in addition to including more areas/issues to consider advertising and getting more readers. They were also VERY detailed in their response as most comments were, but I felt this comment was most helpful.

Note from Darren: Amanda, I’ll be in touch shortly with details of how to claim your prize.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dominick says:

    Congrats Ananda! Also, to Ginger, glad you found some solutions to help make your website better for you.

    It seems like those of us who blog are constantly tweaking, re-tweaking, designing, re-designing, and constantly changing things on nearly a daily basis to try and make our blogs better. I’m really glad you have found some useful ways to fix your site!

    I didn’t get a chance to enter the review contest, but I just wanted to note that I am glad you are changing the color scheme (rose/magenta/pinkish is a tough sell). I also felt your sidebar was overly crowded. I’m not sure if it just needs more spaces between things (and if I’m neurotic about that and it is just a me thing), but I felt rather claustrophobic upon first visiting your website.

    The content is good though. I think your blog is really unique, especially considering most blogs of this caliber are geared towards moms or housewives.

    Good luck to you!

  2. Syed Balkhi says:

    Congrats to the winner :)

  3. Saurabh says:

    great post as usual. congrats chitika!

  4. Bash Bosh says:

    Congratulations for winner!

  5. KiwiPulse says:

    Congrats Ananda Palanisamy :D

  6. Jarret says:

    Congratulations to the winner.

    It’s great that you were able to receive such constructive criticism and suggestions for your blog. And that you are willing to take those into account and apply them shows that you truly are interested in making your blog a better place for your readers.

  7. Mike Goad says:

    Congrats to the winner. Interesting competition, Darren!

  8. Sunil Pathak says:

    Congrats Ananda for your new Tom tom GPS Unit hope you will use it well and find your destiny with it :)

  9. J.D. Meier says:

    I like the follow up and turning insights into action. Feedback is one thing. Follow up is another. Good job.

  10. Hi Ginger,
    I didn’t participate in the contest, but I just read your comments above. I was struck by the organic foods issue, and I just want to say I think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to manage your money in a way that allows you to buy organic – or to buy boxes of Lucky Charms & Oreos if that’s your thing!

    I buy organic selectively, mostly with my daughter in mind. It’s true that food in general is crazy expensive these days, so organic can really make a dent in a food budget. I figure I sort of balance it out by buying very little processed or packaged food and trying to buy what’s in season locally.

    Good luck with your blog remodel!

  11. Jess says:

    Congrats Amanda..

    I think if you believe in organic food – stick with it. I’m no where near rich – a poor student – but I’ve just made up my mind to go organic. I’ve also a planted a big vegie garden to save money. Also I want to start buying fair trade coffee (I saw this documentary on this topic which made me aware of the plight of the coffee growers). I think to myself how may times we buy something without thinking where it comes from.

    I think a lot of students waste so much money on alcohol and then say they can’t afford organic food. In fact there are a lot of farmers markets where you can buy organic fruit and veg at reasonable prices.

    So good on you for standing up for what you believe in. Maybe you could influence some people to change their eating habits too…

  12. Jodith says:

    I’d just like to follow up on my comments in the review. I did not intend to insult you or your shopping habits. I was just trying to point out that you write from a certain level of privilege, and by putting aside that privilege and understanding how someone without that privilege might view what you write, that you might be able to drastically enlarge your audience. As I said, many of the women with lower incomes probably have an even greater need of your advice than professional women do. If you look at what you write with the knowledge of your own privileges, you can see what women from my income class see.

    We are not a classless society, and women from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum face classism regularly in their lives and careers. They will tend to automatically close off when they perceive advice coming from someone with no understanding of their lives. So, while my advice might have been perceived as harsh, I was simply trying to express the views that most of the women in my family and community would express.

    I apologize if I expressed myself too harshly. I tend to be a bit too blunt for my own good sometimes.

  13. Samantha says:

    Congratulations to the winner.

    I found this a very interesting blog post, not only did the comments get me thinking about Gingers blog, but about blog layouts in general. I found having to articulate what I thought about a blog very educational.

    Also reading everyones comments was a real eye opener, there are a lot of clever people out there.

    Any chance of doing something like this again with other sites? Even without the prize I think it would be interesting and fun. Though maybe critiquing other blogs. . would be a blog in itself.

  14. Ryan McLean says:

    Truthfully I wanted to win, but I saw no point reviewing this site on my website as I run an entrepreneurs blog and this would just distract from my focus and from my niche.
    Congratulations to the winner though

  15. joe gelb says:

    people are way too critical of girls just wanna have funds dot com i think its a super blog and will celebrate when it rises to the number one spot in the top 100

  16. CoolProducts says:

    I love how Ginger shared with us in her letter the main things she learned from the feedback she received. A lot of the information she gave could be used to help improve anyone’s site. Congratulations to the winner and thanks to Darren for allowing Ginger to have this opportunity.

  17. Ginger says:

    @ Jodith-Honestly, I think that is your perspective based on your life experience and feelings around classism.

    I run a personal finance meetup.com group with women/readers from varying socio-economic backgrounds and I have yet to come across that slant based on my writing. Your perception is based on your experience and certainly, I wont apologize for being able to purchase organic food.

    I think the very fact that I purchase organic food is something that you dislike or think is “rich”, it isnt. Others can do it but it takes proper budgeting because as you know it’s not at cheap.

  18. Mel Menzies says:

    I agree, Ginger. I like the theme and colour of your site and don’t find it hard on the eyes at all. But then it’s similar colouring to my site. Stick to you guns, gal! If you love it, keep it. You know what they say: you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Mel

  19. Mel Menzies says:

    I agree, Ginger. I like the theme and colour of your site and don’t find it hard on the eyes at all. But then it’s similar colouring to my site. Stick to your guns, gal! If you love it, keep it. You know what they say: you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. Mel