Saturday is blogging tips day here at Stock Trading To Go, and I am excited to review Mikael's blog, The Financial Blogger. Mikael won the top commentator challenge in August, so his blog review is free.
Mike started his blog in November of last year, and averages about 1 post per day. He is a married father of two now I imagine as his about page says he was expecting his 2nd this past July. He works in the finance industry and specializes in personal finance. It is very apparent that Mike is passionate about his writings as well; this is huge for the long haul. A few suggestions I can make for Mike and his About page:
- Link it from your CSS menu. Currently the about page is a dead link in the CSS menu, update this and link it directly to your about page.
- Remove the info from your sidebar. Now that you have it linked from your menu, remove this extra area at the top of your sidebar. This area is the prime real estate, you'll want to put featured articles here (explained further down).
- Remove the intro story, or push it further down. I love stories, but we want to know about you first Mike. I found the best information after the story when you started talking about your family and career (3rd paragraph). I suggest you remove the intro story or push it further down the page.
Mike boasts a three column layout, with a left sidebar, middle content, and right sidebar. When you have a lot to put in your sidebars, then the dual sidebar layout is a good way to go. Mike has a lot of good information in his sidebars, but I have some tips that will maximize their value.
- Feature your top articles. What I can suggest right of the bat from above is remove the about info from the left sidebar, top. This is your most valuable real estate, so what I suggest you do is put a list of featured articles here instead. 5 to 10 will work, and right now readers dont have a way to find the best of YOU, help us do this and it will entice subscribers.
- Add some Feed Flare. Move that blogroll down and put up a big old RSS feed icon alongside maybe a "add to google" button. Right now the only link to your RSS is tiny, no one can see it. Don't show off your subscriber numbers until you surpass 100 atleast (some bloggers say up to 500 but I think that is unnecessary). You want your feed info placed at the TOP of one of your sidebars. At the top of the other should definitely be featured articles.
- Move the search box up, recent posts up, and the blogroll down. Put the blogroll at the bottom of your sidebar, why? Your blogroll doesn't keep visitors on your site, it leads them off. You want to show you like other bloggers, but not in love as to feature them in prime real estate. The recent posts should then be just below the RSS icons on the right sidebar. Search box can go above the categories as well below the featured articles, this will help some.
- Remove the Meta Area. bookmark your login page or memorize it, and remove this area completely. After that remove the "login | Rss" links in the top right corner of your blog too.
With these changes Mike will be well organized and in position to maximize the potential worth of new viewers. The key is to be able to find your best content and make it easy breezy to subscribe to your feed.
Now the header is something that needs to be looked at as it is the whole basis for the image Mike is giving off. A question I asked was this, "do clouds really represent personal finance?" A few considerations for Mike and his header:
- Can you make it smaller? Right now the header height wise takes up a huge portion of the top of your blog. You could push all of your content up and still show off a sweet header by making it smaller height wise. If you don't know the changes needed to do this, is there perhaps a better theme that would maximize your header space? I would only consider a new theme if you can't do the coding yourself though.
- Consider the image. What impression do you want to give off here? Would a picture of a dollar bill be better than clouds, or heck a picture of you hold better value?
Mike hasn't stepped into money portion of blogging yet as perhaps it is just a hobby. I can though recommend one simple programs for once Mike is ready to add advertising to his blog:
- Google Adsense - If you add adsense, I would place it as close to the top if not at the top of one of your sidebars to maximize CTR. Another idea is once you shrink that header down height wise youll have tons of extra room to throw in perhaps a horizontal header block.
Other ways to make money off your blog include affiliate sales, private placements, kontera, review me, pay per post, auction ads, and more. I would start with the basics though and branch off from there.
Overall I feel Mike has a great start for his blog and a nice setup for a financial blogger. His content is easy to read and useful which is huge for gaining subscribers and daily readers. Some argue that content alone will make any site big. Alongside this Mike now has a couple easy ways to better take advantage of new visitors and convert them to daily readers and subscribers. When Mike is ready, he will also already have two easy ways to make some initial money off his blog. Most importantly, what Mike is doing great which I didn't mention above is he is participating in blog carnivals weekly which is great for free exposure and backlinks, and he commenting on his favorite blogs daily. When you are the top commentator you get to better know other bloggers and even sometimes get hooked up with free sites reviews. Gotta love it.