Content Marketing, Convince and Convert, Social Media Strategy, Blogging and Content Creation, Convince & Convert News, Social Media Marketing

9 Blog Failures and Remedies

Are you maximizing the potential of your blog?

I’m not. After 7 months with this version, I’ve embarked on a redesign of the Convince & Convert blog. I have three goals for this new design:

- Make the blog easier to use for you

- Encourage conversation

- Make the connections between me and the blog more clear

Here are nine decisions I made about the new site that you can use to improve your own blog.

1. Seek blog expertise
No question that blog publishing is a do-it-yourselfers paradise. Especially with WordPress, only a modicum of technical competency is enough to set up and run a credible blog.

However, if your blog is integral to your business I suggest working with people that specialize in blog design and development. I’m working with Unique Blog Designs, whose designs for Ted Murphy, Shoemoney and others I liked a lot. It probably doesn’t matter (since I’ve never met them personally), but it’s a bonus that they are in Scottsdale, so a face-to-face would be easy to arrange, if needed.

For blog maintenance and technical issues, I work with Chuck Reynolds in Phoenix. He is a patient ninja who knows all things blog and SEO.

convince 9 Blog Failures and Remedies2. Keep it Clean
While it’s true that a blog is a reflection of your thoughts and personality, it’s also true that blogs are inherently copy heavy. It’s about reading. Thus, I am striving for a very clean design. Hat tip here to Amber Naslund’s blog, which I find to be extremely easy to read, and whose font style I’m borrowing from liberally in this new version.

Based on my experience with hundreds of Web site design and usability projects, I’m a big believer in giving the visitor’s eye a limited number of distinct places to rest. This helps with scanability, and is why I am moving to boxed elements on the right hand side of the blog. Each are their own “chapter” conveying different information in a self-contained visual unit.

3. Make it easy to subscribe
Subscribers are the life blood of a blog. They receive every post you write via email or RSS feed automatically. Thus, making it convenient for them to subscribe is clearly a best practice. I have cleaned up my previous subscription interface considerably. Inspiration from Chris Brogan, who has a similar, compact subscription component on his popular blog.

4. Make it personal
This is perhaps the largest change in the new version. When I started Convince & Convert, the intention was to make it a company, thus the emphasis on the C&C brand and the lack of any mention of me on the main blog page. I have since determined that (for now) I’m going to keep Convince & Convert just me.

Consequently, based on advice from the fantastic Mack Collier (see interview with Mack here), I am including my photo and short bio on every page of the new site. (photo is by Tyson Crosbie, one of the most social media savvy photographers on the planet).

5. Where in the World?
I do a lot of conference speaking. I’m addicted to microphones like Pacman Jones is addicted to strip clubs. But, I’m not a huge fan of blogs that plaster large graphics of each conference attended in the right column. Too distracting visually. So, I’ve added dates where I’m speaking, with links to conference Web sites.

I’m also adding a short video clip, so conference organizers can get a sample of my magnetic, swoon-inducing oratory.

6. Keep it Compact
Perhaps – like me – you struggle with the many ways to organize content previously published on your blog. Tag cloud. Categories. Archives by date. Recent posts. Most popular posts. etc. etc. etc.

Each of these adds clutter to your blog. To clean it up, I’m using a tabbed interface that enables readers to sort posts by category, recency, and popularity – what I believe to be the three most relevant sort mechanisms.

7. Recognize and Value Contributors
I am remiss for not having added this earlier, but I’m absolving my sins in this redesign. I’ll be adding some sort of registered visitor recognition tool (perhaps MyBlogLog) to provide a greater sense of community.

8. Encourage Comments
Without comments, blogging is a pretty lonely enterprise. Lively debate is what it’s all about, and I want to increase comments on this next version. To do so, I’m writing more “unfinished” posts per Chris Brogan’s instruction. This is a bit unnatural for me, as I’ve been a magazine columnist and essayist for many years. The notion of not drawing a firm conclusion is strange, but I have found that indeed that type of open-ended post does tend to draw more comments.

The second improvement is to make the comments link more prominent. Currently, it’s hidden at the bottom of the post with the sharing and related posts stuff. I feel it gets lost somewhat, so I’m making the comments link obvious and including it on both the top and bottom of all posts.

9. Don’t Waste Space
The footer of most Web sites is simply a copyright notice and link to a site map. Based on their design for Ted Murphy, the guys at Unique Blog Designs encouraged me to make use of the footer space to replicate recent and popular posts, and to insert my Twitter stream.

I love this idea. It turns an afterthought into a useful way to get additional content.

The new Convince & Convert launches in February. What blog optimization tips can you add in the comments?

  • http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/blog Richard Dewick – makakman

    Hi Jason, you’re definitely on the right tracks with everything you have stated above. I’ve recently redesigned my whole website giving more attention white space. I was guilty of using white text on a black background before, I’ve now gone completely the other way to a more minimalist look.

    One other thing you could add is the use of Gravatars in your comments to give people a face to put the comment. Plus you could incorporate your twitter feed which is always handy.

    Richard Dewick – makakman’s last blog post..2009 Brings A Fresh New Look

  • http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/blog Richard Dewick – makakman

    Hi Jason, you’re definitely on the right tracks with everything you have stated above. I’ve recently redesigned my whole website giving more attention white space. I was guilty of using white text on a black background before, I’ve now gone completely the other way to a more minimalist look.

    One other thing you could add is the use of Gravatars in your comments to give people a face to put the comment. Plus you could incorporate your twitter feed which is always handy.

    Richard Dewick – makakman’s last blog post..2009 Brings A Fresh New Look

  • Greg

    I would just add that the threaded comments plugin is very cool and allows readers to better interact with one another and the author. Also, Jim Jeffers Encouraged Commentary is a very cool commenting technology that allows comments at the sentence level.

    http://donttrustthisguy.com/2009/01/10/encouraged-commentary-getting-started/

  • Greg

    I would just add that the threaded comments plugin is very cool and allows readers to better interact with one another and the author. Also, Jim Jeffers Encouraged Commentary is a very cool commenting technology that allows comments at the sentence level.

    http://donttrustthisguy.com/2009/01/10/encouraged-commentary-getting-started/

  • http://sometimesithink-krissy.blogspot.com krissy knox

    You have so many excellent suggestions here. I especially like keeping it personal and encouraging comments. If I had to pick one more thing, I would say be consitent — speak with one voice. And have consistent regular features your readers can count on like a weekly regular feature, on say, every Tuesday. The same thing every week. That way they will have consistency and will know to come back, and will, for that particular feature! And one more thing, good content doesn’t hurt! I guess I am speaking of more interior features, and you are speaking of more exterior features. but I hope my comment will help someone somehow! Great post!

    krissy knox :)
    my main blog: Sometimes I Think
    Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  • http://sometimesithink-krissy.blogspot.com krissy knox :)

    You have so many excellent suggestions here. I especially like keeping it personal and encouraging comments. If I had to pick one more thing, I would say be consitent — speak with one voice. And have consistent regular features your readers can count on like a weekly regular feature, on say, every Tuesday. The same thing every week. That way they will have consistency and will know to come back, and will, for that particular feature! And one more thing, good content doesn’t hurt! I guess I am speaking of more interior features, and you are speaking of more exterior features. but I hope my comment will help someone somehow! Great post!

    krissy knox :)
    my main blog: Sometimes I Think
    Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  • http://www.retailemailblog.com/ Chad White

    Those are some great points. You’ve definitely got me thinking about how my blog is arranged. I’m launching some new graphics soon and I think I’ll make some other adjustments at that time. One recent change that I’m really happy about is that I pushed my Twitter appeal and follower count up so that it’s right by my RSS sign-up. Those channels are very synergistic in my eyes.

    Chad White’s last blog post..Bird Watching: A Twitter discussion about DoNotReply Addresses

  • http://www.retailemailblog.com Chad White

    Those are some great points. You’ve definitely got me thinking about how my blog is arranged. I’m launching some new graphics soon and I think I’ll make some other adjustments at that time. One recent change that I’m really happy about is that I pushed my Twitter appeal and follower count up so that it’s right by my RSS sign-up. Those channels are very synergistic in my eyes.

    Chad White’s last blog post..Bird Watching: A Twitter discussion about DoNotReply Addresses

  • http://www.sheabeck.com/blog Shea Beck

    Diggin’ the new design, I would add some music. Just kidding, I tried really hard to think of something and either your perfect or I’m fried about now.

    Also, I WOULD LOVE A LIST OF YOUR PLUGINS USED!

    Keep up the good work.

    Shea Beck’s last blog post..Fallible Friday | Victoria’s Secret

  • http://www.sheabeck.com/blog Shea Beck

    Diggin’ the new design, I would add some music. Just kidding, I tried really hard to think of something and either your perfect or I’m fried about now.

    Also, I WOULD LOVE A LIST OF YOUR PLUGINS USED!

    Keep up the good work.

    Shea Beck’s last blog post..Fallible Friday | Victoria’s Secret

  • Jason Baer

    @Richard – Great idea on the Gravatars. Going to do that for sure. Send me a link to your new site!

    @Greg – Thanks for the comment. I definitely want to check out the Encouraged Commentary program. I love Jeffers.

    @Krissy – Thank you so much. In fact, because my travel schedule is pretty crazy these days, I write most of my posts in batches in advance. I typically publish T, W, Th as I find attention is highest on those days. I try to do a Twitter 20 (www.twitter20.com) post every 2 weeks, and a video blog every 3 weeks. I find the editorial calendar approach makes it much easier to tackle. Great advice, thank you!!

    @Chad – Thanks very much. I agree that Twitter and RSS are very similar, although I have 4x more of the former than the latter :(

    @Shea – I’ll definitely publish a plug-ins list when I get the new site launched. Great idea!

  • Jason Baer

    @Richard – Great idea on the Gravatars. Going to do that for sure. Send me a link to your new site!

    @Greg – Thanks for the comment. I definitely want to check out the Encouraged Commentary program. I love Jeffers.

    @Krissy – Thank you so much. In fact, because my travel schedule is pretty crazy these days, I write most of my posts in batches in advance. I typically publish T, W, Th as I find attention is highest on those days. I try to do a Twitter 20 (www.twitter20.com) post every 2 weeks, and a video blog every 3 weeks. I find the editorial calendar approach makes it much easier to tackle. Great advice, thank you!!

    @Chad – Thanks very much. I agree that Twitter and RSS are very similar, although I have 4x more of the former than the latter :(

    @Shea – I’ll definitely publish a plug-ins list when I get the new site launched. Great idea!

  • http://twitter.com/andismit/status/1153592861 Andrew Bruce Smith

    Google Shared: 9 Blog Failures and Remedies: Are you maximizing the potential of your blog?
    I’m no.. http://bit.ly/jHIM

  • http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/blog Richard Dewick – makakman

    Hey Jason, there’s a link to my latest blog post describing my new design on my first comment, but here’s a link to the homepage, http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/ hope you like it :)

  • http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/blog Richard Dewick – makakman

    Hey Jason, there’s a link to my latest blog post describing my new design on my first comment, but here’s a link to the homepage, http://www.makakmedia.co.uk/ hope you like it :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottHepburn Scott Hepburn

    This is great info, Jay. Even the best bloggers and speakers struggle with this stuff — thanks for sharing YOUR tips.

    Hey, speaking of “Where in the World,” are we gonna be luring your magnetic, swoon-inducing self to the Southeast anytime soon? I seem to recall owing you a drink…

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..ScottHepburn: More catching up, this time with @jaybaer, who gives us "9 Blog Failures and Remedies" http://tinyurl.com/bjz6we

  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottHepburn Scott Hepburn

    This is great info, Jay. Even the best bloggers and speakers struggle with this stuff — thanks for sharing YOUR tips.

    Hey, speaking of “Where in the World,” are we gonna be luring your magnetic, swoon-inducing self to the Southeast anytime soon? I seem to recall owing you a drink…

    Scott Hepburn’s last blog post..ScottHepburn: More catching up, this time with @jaybaer, who gives us "9 Blog Failures and Remedies" http://tinyurl.com/bjz6we

  • http://twitter.com/bizcoachdeb/status/1155547647 Deb Kolaras

    9 Blog Failures and Remedies – such a useful post. http://ow.ly/6KZ

  • http://www.onemillionbucks.net/ Patrick Bateman

    Nice post – any ideas one what the max width you should use for your content these days? I tihnk mine is set to about 810 – have a look and tell me what you would change on my blog. I think I do a lot of the things you mention, but sometimes i worry that it’s too colorful maybe, which might detract from its validity?

    Patrick Bateman’s last blog post..To My Loyal Subscribers: THANK YOU!

  • http://www.onemillionbucks.net Patrick Bateman

    Nice post – any ideas one what the max width you should use for your content these days? I tihnk mine is set to about 810 – have a look and tell me what you would change on my blog. I think I do a lot of the things you mention, but sometimes i worry that it’s too colorful maybe, which might detract from its validity?

    Patrick Bateman’s last blog post..To My Loyal Subscribers: THANK YOU!

  • http://twitter.com/jamesfrancisim/status/1167094549 James Francis

    Today’s Helpful Blog: “9 Blog Failures and Remedies” – http://tinyurl.com/bjz6we

  • http://twitter.com/jaybaer/status/1174686826 Jay Baer

    @umpump @chasers Post on the original ideas for my blog redesign is at http://is.gd/hqtR Would love @chuckreynolds to co-write an SEO post

  • http://twitter.com/websuccessdiva/status/1152243191 Maria Reyes McDavis

    reading great tips on maximizing your blog’s performance within design and layout… good stuff. http://twurl.nl/shbcyy

  • http://twitter.com/mackcollier/status/1152875567 Mack Collier

    Great advice from @jaybaer on touching up your blog’s design and functionality – http://is.gd/hqtR

  • NalNabbealafe

    Your are Great. And so is your site! Awesome content. Good job guys! Interesting article, adding it to my favourites!

  • http://YourWebsite NalNabbealafe

    Your are Great. And so is your site! Awesome content. Good job guys! Interesting article, adding it to my favourites!

  • http://twitter.com/ParkHowell/status/ Park Howell

    Working on a redesign of my blog and want to give props to @jaybaer for terrific post on blog design: http://tinyurl.com/bjz6we.

  • http://twitter.com/bigrobby/status/1335708805 Big Robby

    9 Blog Failures and Remedies | Convince & Convert News | Social Media Consulting – Convince &Convert http://ff.im/-1xFUY

  • http://twitter.com/FuelLines/status/ Ashley Cox

    @jaybaer Terrific post on blog design: http://tinyurl.com/bjz6we

  • PiterKokoniz

    Hi !!! ^_^
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Tnx!
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

  • http://YourWebsite PiterKokoniz

    Hi !!! ^_^
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Tnx!
    Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

  • http://twitter.com/itsaguysworld/statuses/6430638395 itsaguysworld (Its a guys worl

    Twitter Comment


    Just redone my blog at bit after reading “9 Blog Failures and Remedies” [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/itsaguysworld/statuses/6430638395 itsaguysworld (Its a guys world)

    Twitter Comment


    Just redone my blog at bit after reading “9 Blog Failures and Remedies” [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/guznuname/status/6430638376 guznuname

    Just redone my blog at bit after reading "9 Blog Failures and Remedies" http://bit.ly/8RbuwC

  • http://twitter.com/itsaguysworld/status/6430638395 Its a guys world

    Just redone my blog at bit after reading "9 Blog Failures and Remedies" http://bit.ly/8RbuwC

  • http://www.nausearemedies.org Nausea Remedies

    Oh!…that’s great helpful, it’s so right to me! Million thanks for the article,

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.