When I found out I’d been chosen as one of the ten Queensland Blogger Correspondents, I was as excited to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef as I was to get some hands-on blogger training from the ProBlogger himself, Darren Rowse.
I’d read ProBlogger for years—since co-founding The Vacation Gals in 2009—and couldn’t wait to learn not only from Darren, but from other successful bloggers from six different countries.
In the hot seat
Indeed, the two, three-hour workshops we enjoyed during our short stay in Queensland were fascinating, fun and oh-so helpful. My favorite part was the first interactive workshop, where each of us bloggers was in the “hot seat” for 15 minutes.
Seated at tables in a big U shape at a Green Island Resort meeting room, we all watched as Darren pulled our blogs’ home pages up on a large screen. One at a time, we each chatted a little bit about our blogs: why and when we launched it, our goals for the blog, and a challenge or question we had for the group at large to address.
As I watched other bloggers go before me, it was so great to see how tactful and gentle, and genuinely constructive, everyone was, offering advice to one another. When it was my turn, I asked for general first impressions of my blog, and I got an earful of candid suggestions.
Most significantly, a couple folks questioned why my co-founders and I went by “Gal” nicknames: our bylines on each of our blog posts were ColoradoGal, TwinCitiesGal and SoCalGal, signifying where we live in the United States.
We launched our blog with those handles because we thought we were being creative. In the About Us section of the blog, we shared our real names with our bios.
Also, each of our guest posters was given a “Gal” nickname—one of our friends who covered outdoor activities was AdventureGal, one who had a thing for Italian ice cream was GelatoGal, another was CruisinGal, for example.
But as some other Queensland Blogger Correspondents pointed out, it was confusing to the new reader who the owners and authors were. Not only did the reader not know our real names right off the bat, when they’d land on an individual article or the home page, but it wasn’t clear if a “Gal” was a blog owner or a guest poster.
I didn’t like the sound of that at all!
A small change … but a big difference
Upon arriving home in Colorado from Australia, I procrastinated a bit on changing our nicknamed bylines, even though my business partners agreed that it was a good idea—not only to make it more understandable to our readers, but to further our own personal brands as travel writers.
I thought it would be an epic ordeal to change the bylines not only on our posts, but on our guest posts as well. So I emailed our friends at Desperately Seeking Word Press, a team that has helped us with WordPress questions over the years, to get some insight on how to deal with the change on more than 1,000 posts.
Turns out, all I needed to do was go into the User section of our WordPress dashboard and change the “Display name publicly as” field to our real names. A simple fix!
I did something similar to our 46 guest posters’ profiles, for whom we’d opened individual Contributor accounts, since we’d originally wanted to give them specific “Gal” nicknames. I changed all of their display name fields to Guest Author.
To make it easier on us in the future, I created just one Guest Author user, and now we use that user name and password for loading all guest posts.
It’s a small change to our site, but one that pleases me so much. I’m proud of my blog posts about family travel, romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways on The Vacation Gals, and I’m so glad that my own name is clearly associated with my work moving forward.
What small changes have made a big difference to your blog? Share them with us in the comments.
In addition to co-running The Vacation Gals, freelance writer Kara Williams covers travel (mainly in North America) for magazines, newspapers and websites. She makes her home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two school-aged children.