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The Community Pool is for those of you looking for input, whether on post ideas, writing, blog design and layout,…

The Community Pool is for those of you looking for input, whether on post ideas, writing, blog design and layout, or anything else. If you have a post, page, or idea you want to bounce off someone, leave a comment. Your fellow bloggers can then click through and offer input either on your site, or in the comments here (feel free to indicate which you’d prefer).

Read on for the ground rules and to leave a comment . . .

  • You’ll get the best feedback if you can be as specific as possible about what you’d like people to respond to or where you’re struggling.
  • Please keep all comments civil and constructive. We’re here to help and support one another, not to beat anyone down.
  • If you haven’t looked at our Commenting Guidelines in a while, now might be a good time.
  • To keep from losing your place in the comment thread while you visit others’ blogs, right-click on a link to open it in a new tab or window.
  • No diving in the shallow end.

Photo by t_a_i_s.

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  1. I have a question for everyone, when you get sent an alert email to say a blog you follow has a new post how do you feel if it has a few paragraphs and then a “Read more” link? Are you inclined to click to read the rest of the story or do you prefer the full post in your email? I’ve started adding “read more” links onto my posts and just want to know if I am turning people away or making them curious?

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    1. That’s a good question. I’ve understood that if the person doesn’t click the link in your email their view won’t be counted. Not to mention I think people are used to that.

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    2. If the first few lines are compelling enough – I will click the “read more” link…if its just “ho hum” then i may not bother… so I guess if there is interest, they will click through….if not, they won’t.

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    3. The first paragraph really is the catch. Weather the full post is on or not, readers will view your post. Mine is only “read more”.

      I started following them on the Reader rather than e-mail so that I don’t get overwhelmed with IN Box messages.

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    4. I’m happy with the “Read more” although this may be because when I see it it is often on my mobile and it feels natural to be cliciking on it

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    5. Clicking to “read more” does not bother me at all. The first sentencs should be compelling perhaps – but you never know – from someone I know especially, I like to read the whole article.

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    6. It’s easy to click a link. I think you’re taking the best route. People are naturally curious anyway. I’ve been wondering weather or not to put a radio or video player on my blog, incase they may prefer to listen rather than read.

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    7. I like the read more option because I hate scrolling through email posts, especially if (for some reason) the photos aren’t loading. Or if you have more than one post and I’m getting them all once a week instead of immediately. Then I can click on to the ones I am most interested in. A photo and catchy headline are appreciated.

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    8. I’d even say the fist LINE needs to be the hook. Once I start reading something I’m quite likely to click to finish it if I’m hooked in. Problem is, can you control where the break is?

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    9. The Read More link doesn’t make any difference to me. It depends on how interested I am in the content.

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    1. I saw where you said that your blog is devoted to whatever you feel like writing at the time and more power to you for that!
      However, even if there isn’t a true direction for your blog, I would suggest creating some pages and organizing your posts. Even though you’re just getting started, I already find it a little cumbersome to continuously have to scroll down to read all your posts. This will only get worse as you continue to write. Your readers may miss out on some great things if they get aggravated and don’t scroll all the way down.
      Just my thoughts. Hope it helps. :)

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      1. You also need to remember to site your photos. Post the source beneath the photo, it is preferable by whoever’s photo you are using (not to mention Google site crawls) that you post the name of the source/owner and add the link to that. Something like: “By: ChristinaDesignsArt” or “via ChristinaDesignsArt” and then make the name a link. And we would love it if you didn’t link to Pinterest or Google Image Search when possible :)

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    2. I enjoyed your blog. Eclectic springs to mind. The writing kept me interested and I went mooching for more. I would agree with Asizcreatives that a tad more organisation would make it easier to go through but then I also sort of enjoyed not knowing what was going to come next! Keep up the good work.

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      1. I decided to use it instead of just Suzie as it was that little extra thing about me. Thank you for the comment about my blog by the way – I really appreciate it!

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  2. Hi guys quick question from a reasonably new blogger, about an idea I’ve been wanting to try out. I’m hoping to start a fictional series on my blog; it would be a novel length story cut down into parts that I’d post week by week.

    Any opinions on this sort of narrative format? Is it quite common? As a reader, does the idea turn you off? Just after a general feeling, as I tend to use my blog for standard posts and flash fiction at the moment.

    Thank you in advance!

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    1. I’m very picky about my fiction reading. However, it sounds like a great idea.
      If written well, it could definitely keep bringing people back to your blog every week. Compare it to a book that you’ve read that was “a page turner”. You can’t seem to put it down until you finish it. Or a Television show that keeps sucking you back in each week. The same idea applies. You have the potential of getting your readers very excited. Good luck to you!

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      1. Thanks for the response, and the encouragement! I understand it wouldn’t be for everyone, it’d be genre fiction for a start, but hopefully I’ll be able to create characters and a little mystery to keep readers coming back for more. Fingers crossed! :)

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    2. This has been done successfully before – using newspapers. I do not see why this would not succeed on a blog. If the story grips people, has some compelling characters and a great plot – why not. You need to offer an easy entrance for late beginners – I would offer an ebook of past episodes to new subscribers of your email newsletter. And you would have to offer new chapters regularly. Weekly?

      Be bold. Go for it.

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      1. Very good points, and the idea of an ebook of previous episodes is a great one, thank you! Yes, weekly in all likelihood. I’m planning a bit of a revamp for my blog, new illustrations and a layout that will hopefully be recognisable – to go along with the theme of my blogging and the serial.

        Thank you so much for the encouragement. :)

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    3. I’d say (in reference to my own question on here!) make sure that your blog has a “Go to the start of the story” link on it that is very easilt accessible.

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    4. Yes, this is a good idea – and also you’ll have an expectant pool of readers to try ideas out on. Would you consider asking questions as you went along? That could make readers feel involved and more likely to keep reading?

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  3. I started my blog http://blog.rickenba.ch a few years ago, and since about 6 months I blog seriously and often. It is a niche blog for Christians that want to go further in their life with God and become mature sons of God.

    I do know the usual tips to build a platform – blog regularly, have great content, be on social networks. Any unusual tips, any great ideas to further visibility?

    Thanks in advance.

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    1. Outside of what you mentioned, the only thing I could suggest is to also visit other blogs OFTEN. I try to visit at least one (hopefully more) “new to me” blog every day. I ‘like’ posts as well as leave comments. This not only helps me to befriend the blogger (and hopefully garner another follower) but it also puts me little icon on a vast array of blogs that other commenters will see. Hope this helps. ;)

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      1. I’ve been blogging for about a year Ralph. I had great views and responses for quite awhile then I got pretty busy with my last semester of school and went down from blogging every day to about once a week. I had also been viewing and liking or commenting on other blogs a few times a week. This stopped as well. And needless to say my views and likes dropped drastically. With that, blog good content consistently and give other bloggers the same attention you strive for and your visibility will surely go up!

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  4. Hello wordpressers.

    I’m keeping a fairly strict “One topic” blog and it is a fairly restrictive topic!. Whilst I am not overly concerned about the number of visitors I get (my blog was started for me really and other readers are a bonus) I would appreciate comments on the layout. Specifically, the latest post is always the first post seen to the random visitor. I have started including a link back to day one of the project but I’m not convinced that this is sensible and wonder whether the front page should be day one. If you can find the time to take a look and give me feedback then I shall be forever (or at least for five minutes) in your debt.

    http://www.robbyhedges@wordpess.com

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    1. Hi! So I took a look at your blog and I have to admit I didn’t really know what it was all about at first. I saw the links to the start of the project in your posts, but noticed you put them at the end, meaning a new reader would have to read the post first before they saw it.

      Since it’s an ongoing project I think a sticky post at the top of the blog explaining what you’re doing would be a good way to introduce it! Even a little ‘About Me’ widget giving the basics of the project would give new readers a quick bit of info from the offset.

      Now following also (I have a little Tamoretti scooter, in no way cool but he’s my baby), best of luck with the restoration!

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      1. Thank you. That makes perfect sense. I shall get on and do it during the week.
        (your blog reminds me of me 20 years ago, not sure if that is a complement or not!)

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  5. If anyone gets down this far I do have a question that I would like feed back on.

    I’ve been a blogger for about 8 years now and I have more passions that I should! I’m a textile and mixed media artist. I knit, quilt,makes imagery, use natural dyes and make mixed media art.

    Sometimes I think that my blog would grow more if I ‘contained’ or narrowed the focus of he blog. I did start a separate blogs for my imagery and my book reviews, but can’t deide if I should create separate blogs for my other passions too (that sounds exhausting just wrting it down!)
    I’ve thought about ‘not’ doing some of the things that I love, but I can’t ever think of what to let go of.

    My QUESTION is do you prefer blogs that are, for the most part, topic specific (like just knitting, just mixed media etc etc). Does a blog that covers many things bother you or make you curious to come back? Would it bother you if you were a mixed media artist and found knitting and imagery on a blog?

    Thanks so much for the feedback – I’ve been mulling this over for some time so your thoughts would be much appreciated!

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    1. After looking around a bit there’s I have a couple of thoughts you might be interested to hear.
      First, I don’t think you need to create more work for yourself. I’m pretty sure 3 blogs will keep even the best blogger busy. ;)
      Also, “Musing Crow Designs” is devoted to crafts, right? That’s a specific focus, in my opinion. Case in point, my blog is about “Tummy Troubles” but I then break it down into more specific categories. Might I suggest you try something like that as well? Not only would this give your readers the ability to find specific crafts they’re looking for, but it would also make things easier by not having to endlessly scroll down for those readers that enjoy all your crafts. Take me for example, I like the knit, art, and paint offerings but I’m not willing to sift through the rest to get to what I want.
      If you do use that suggestion, or even if you don’t, I would also consider rearranging or shortening your menu pages. It looks a little odd/busy to me with the second row. Maybe take your other blogs and move them into an “Other Musing Cow Offerings” drop down menu. This would hopefully free up some space so that all is back on one line.

      Take my thoughts for what they’re worth but if anything, at least I got down this far! ;)

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      1. AzizCreatives: Thank you so much for your cogent suggestions. I will definitely try to think this through. I notice that you used pages to break down your sections – and I guess that I could add more separate pages easily enough.

        Thank you SO much for taking the time to have a look and make your excellent, well thought out, suggestions. I am very appreciative of your time!

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      2. Thanks again – I’m looking at a dynamic view (Blogger). It suits the purpose and makes things easy to find. It’s difficult to “let go” of the header and the look that I have been with for so long, but it sure makes finding things that interest you easier to do! Now, If I can bring myself to click the “apply changes” button!

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    2. haha I just realized it was actually Blogger.

      I don’t like a Facebook tab that actually sends you to Facebook. And it doesn’t even open in a new tab, that leads to the potential that someone will just close the page, and lose your website. I always choose for new pages to open in a new tab/page/window so that my main blog will always be there. Also, why do you have a Facebook page, if you have a Facebook widget for the same thing? It seems to be a waste of a page.

      I agree that “Designs” focuses your pages to meaning art. I don’t think you need to stop doing anything (ever), or stop sharing it with you. If you categorize and title your posts well, people will find what they want to see.

      PS. Love your art! New follower :) PS Add Bloglovin if you don’t already!

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      1. Hi ChristinaPertz1!

        TeeHee. Sorry if I confused the matter by using Blogger! I have had a WP blog but I was so used to the Blogger platform, that changing was a mind spin, and I went back to my comfort zone!!

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I truly appreciate them! I think that you’re right about the Face Book link. At the time I added it – well, it just seemed like something to add. I’ll take your suggestion with thanks.

        Many thanks indeed! I know of BlogLovin’!

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  6. I’ve been blogging for over a year and a half. I’m considering making changes to my home page on my site. (It isn’t the blog.) I’ve noticed that people who end up on my site may not even read my blog or it doesn’t generate any likes, comments or new followers. I’d love feedback on the landing page. Does it peak your curiosity in the story? What suggestions would you give to change that content and garner interest in the blog? Thanks!

    http://ardisanelson.com/

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    1. At first view, I didn’t know this was a blog. Your pages menu is so small, its almost missed. Have you considered keeping the menu bar up top, but also adding buttons on the sidebar or on the landing page before all the text?

      I also think there’s way too much to read on the homepage. Its a little overwhelming, and while I enjoy the simplistic feel, its kinda dull. You don’t even mention the word “blog” until the 4th paragraph and in order to see it, I have to scroll down. And I am also disappointment that the blue words are not links, I thought they were.

      Your About section could be bigger and its own page, combined with the Contact Me information. You could elaborate on your story there, and just mention the most important 1-3 sentences on your home page and encourage people to read your story on another page.

      I also can’t stand when blogs have a music player that plays as soon as the page opens, so thank you for not making that automatic. Sometimes that’s enough for me to leave the page for good! Especially if I don’t like the music, can’t figure out where it is coming from, or just can’t turn it off.

      Good luck!

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      1. Thanks for taking the time to review my site and provide your feedback. You’ve given me some good pointers to consider in reworking the home page and sidebar. Ardis

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    2. I think a simple enough solution would be changing the theme. This one, as stated before, has small page tabs at the top that also tend to blend in with the other colors. Things are a bit busy for me as well which in most cases discourage me from staying on a page. Try to slim line the design and combine your page tabs into more drop downs if there’s a way to organize them in this way.
      Largely with my site people visit my blog first and find the rest of my site afterward. Maybe in your case it’s a problem with blog visibility. Do you have publicize turned on for all your new blog posts? Do you visit, like and comment on other pages? I know the latter will generate views to your homepage rather than your blog, but if people click follow your blog will show up in their reader, taking them to your blog posts first.

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  7. Hello bloggers!

    I am not new to blogging, but recently I have made a few changes to my blog including the theme and my about section. Since such changes, I have seen an increase in traffic which is great, but I want to know how to make my posts more engaging.

    My site is http://msperfectpatty.com/

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    1. I love your theme! It catches me right away. Although I was not expecting a blog with movie and book reviews. Love how your home page looks. Sorry I have no help for your posts, other than photos are always a plus!

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    2. Your blog is awesome! I love it. I like the theme “Adelle.” I’ve tried to use it myself but for some reason that blog template isn’t right for me. Hmm.

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    1. Wow, your blog is very distracting and unorganized. Try a different theme and use less small pictures.

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      1. Hi Heather

        Thanks for the comment. I have changed my theme… Please have a look and let me know what you think… Is the ‘distracting’ and ‘unorganized’ due to the look only or content?

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    2. I understand the organization and it’s not a problem for me, although I feel like a different theme may suit you a bit better. Try stream lining a bit, maybe with milder colors and a less bulky header/quote area at the top. With this area taking up the whole screen at first it’s a bit hard to tell that the blog follows when you scroll down.

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  8. Hi all. I have a question for those who have experience using the image widget. I want to use it to add a flickr photo and have it link to another website when clicked. However, when using the flickr photo’s URL for the image, the photo doesn’t show up on my blog’s sidebar. Does anyone know how I can get it to show up or does the flickr not work with the image widget? (I know there’s a flickr widget, but it doesn’t have the ability to link to another URL which is why I want to use the image widget.)

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      1. Oh, I guess the code doesn’t show up, haha… I’ll try this. If it works, you just need to delete out the asterisks. If it doesn’t work, you’re welcome to email me (rarasaurdinosaur@gmail.com). Or, you can google something like “Use html to make an image link”.

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      2. Awesome!!! Thank you so much, Rarasaur! I just finished trying out your suggestion, and it worked! I’ve learned something new and will use it again in the future! Thanks, again :-)!

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    1. I’m glad you have it figured out now, but in case you have more issues with this in the future, you can always save the image to your computer and upload it as a media file to wordpress. When you do this WordPress asigns a specific URL to the image. When I use the image widget to link to WordPress image URLs I’ve never had a problem. You can see this in the word images in the sidebar of my blog “Connect” “Photo Challenges” etc.

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  9. Hey everyone,

    As always I’m looking for some feedback on my blog, if anyone would like to take a look and tell me what you think, that would be awesome!

    It’s a sort of general blog, just me writing about my views and my experiences in the world. I also do video blogs, artwork, music and just about anything really, but I feel like I have gotten a bit sidetracked lately and I’m trying to stick to a particular subject or style for future posts.

    Also, what do you think of the name ‘The Hoax of a Digital Life’? Does it work, or will I have to change it?

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to read this, I look forward to your feedback!

    -Bradley

    http://yeldarbinator.wordpress.com/

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    1. I like it! Especially the Laughing God art, that was creepy. I wouldn’t worry too much about sticking to subject or style; after a while, that’ll come to you. Getting sidetracked is the best thing about blogging. Also, “Hoax of a Digital Life” works for me. I’m a bit more curious as to what yeldarbinator means.

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    2. Your blog is very cool. I like it. Get rid of the top blog title and just have your bottom customized title and it would be great.

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      1. No worries. And now that I can see it… I like the title and the fact that its written in a font that reflects the whole digital life concept. I wouldn’t worry too much about finding a niche. Write for you and viewers will come. You may find that you are gravitating toward blogging about one particular thing in the future and in that way your niche will come naturally. ANd, not that you asked this, but I think your theme works really well for your blog!

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  10. I’m new to the world of blogging. I’d like some suggestions on how to make my blog more readable and how I can begin to attract a wider audience.

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    1. First off…Outer Banks in 5 months. Yea for NC! ;)
      (Sorry. I couldn’t resist promoting my state.)

      To the matter at hand. My first reaction, outside of the countdown widget, was the fact that your theme is a little, um…. Halloweeny. It’s a little hard on the eyes, to me at least. As different as it may appear, the colors and overall layout just seem to be a bit too much. I’d consider finding a new theme more suited to your subject matter, as well as, a more traditional and clean layout. Also, the light grey writing on a darker grey background makes for reading to be strenuous.

      If you have read any of my previous comments here in the pool, you’ve noticed that I’m a huge advocate for organization and menu pages. I see that you have a few already, which are great for what they are. However, once you start posting more, that ‘Home’ page is going to continue to grow and readers will be less likely to continuously scroll down to get to everything. I noticed in your ‘About’ section that you have already separated your thoughts into 3 different categories. Might I suggest making a menu page for each of them (or any new ones that you may have thought of) so that readers can jump to what section they are specifically interested in.
      I also noticed that you have the “follow me” widget but no other external connections. If you have a accounts with social media sites, add them to your sidebars and connect the accounts to WP itself. Not only does this help promote your blog outside of WP, it also allows your readers to connect to you on a more personal level. I’ve noticed that the more you interact with people, the more activity you receive.
      Lastly, I’d personally take the “Search” bar widget off. In all honesty, you don’t need it right now and it just takes up valuable real estate. Once you get into the “hundreds of posts” category, then I’d put it back on.
      As usual, when I go swimming in this pool, my opinions are just that, my opinions. I hope that they help you however. :D If you liked what I had to say and have any more questions, I’m always around.
      Best of luck to you in your blogging adventure!

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    2. I agree with Asizcreatives, the blog layout is hard on the eyes. Maybe a theme with a lighter background? Don’t be afraid to try a new theme every month, or week even. I did that until I found one I liked. (Though I sometimes think of changing it . . . ) Other than that, I liked the posts (at least the ones on the front page, sorry, I didn’t explore all that much (for now)), and I’m looking forward to reading something about marathons.

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    3. Thanks for the input. I’m partly colorblind, so the suggestion that I change to a cleaner format is probably spot-on. I’m still learning the options available, so hopefully I will be able to better connect via external accounts. Thanks for telling me it’s ok to change themes! I have a list of three or four I’d like to try out, so maybe that will clear up some of the other issues as well.

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  11. I suppose it’s a bit late in the game, but I’ve commented on a couple blogs here, so might as well let everyone else have their shot . . . Let me know what you think per the layout, organization, etcetera. I’m in the process of re-tagging and re-categorizing the blog to make it easier to find stuff. Oh, and comments on my stories are always welcomed.

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  12. Hi everyone! I just started blogging about a month ago so am very new! When I look at other people’s blogs they seem so much more professional and well-laid out. I am wondering if there are any changes that I can make on my blog to make it better and more user friendly? Do I need to upgrade in order to make the changes or can the format be improved on the free version? It’s mostly the layout I am asking about.
    The blog I am referring to is this one:

    http://insidespacedesign.wordpress.com

    Thanks very much!

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    1. I like your blog a lot. Try capitalizing your title. A blog title that’s all one word is a little weird to me, I don’t know about anyone else. But the idea is very cool. I like to read more about interior decorating.

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    2. I agree with Heather in that you should consider capitalization and spacing your title. And before anyone says anything, I’m the exception not the rule. Simply because “asizCreatives” is my logo. Unfortunately,my current theme doesn’t allow me to display my actual logo. But, I digress.
      I really like the clean look however there are a few more things I would suggest to you:

      Embrace the widgets! Personalize your “follow me” with something clever that pertains to your subject matter. If you have social media accounts, add those widgets as well so that you can connect with a broader audience.

      I’m not all that familiar with the ins and outs of interior design but (as I’ve said many times to others) consider adding more menu pages. Separate your posts into categories and file them under those pages. For example, you could have menu pages for Lighting, Colors, Furniture, etc. You get the idea. ;)
      My reasoning behind that is some of your readers may enjoy all aspects of interior design but some may just be looking for something specific. LIke color scheme ideas. By separating your posts into different sections, the reader doesn’t have to sift through everything to get to what they really want.
      Hope this helps! :D

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      1. Thanks! That is very helpful! I was wondering how to better organise and lay out the blog. I added a “recent posts” widget and I will most definitely add the categories to the menu. Because as it is now, people have to just keep scrolling and scrolling to see more posts and that’s probably pretty annoying for them!
        Thanks for your help!

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      2. You’re very welcome!
        Yes, that’s the idea. I’m one of those people that aren’t fond of the endless scrolling. ;)
        Good luck to you. I’m by no means an expert, but if you ever need anything else please don’t hesitate to ask. :D

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    1. Although, I like the idea of movie reviews, but I find the blog template distracting. I would also re-think the blog tittle.

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  13. Hey all, I am rather “new” but not so new that I have just started. But I wanted to ask a question about sticky posts and having post summaries on your blog. I have Sight as my blog template which calls for both of these wonderful things in the blogging world, would you as a reader, feel distracted by Sight’s sticky posts? And would you as a reader, want to read more after reading the “introduction” in the summarized posts? Thanks.

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  14. This is the only time I’ve been nervous to comment!
    I’ve recently started a new blog- the main aim is to provide support to biology students, parents and eventually teachers.
    I’m on half term next week and plan to tidy up the pages and categories now I have a bit more of an idea of where I’m heading. I also plan to write a ‘where to start’ post for new visitors.
    I’m getting very few visitors so I’d be really grateful for some feedback and tips
    http://www.virtuallytutoring.co.uk/blog
    Thanks

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  15. Has anyone else experience problems with the twitter widget? It seems that no matter what template I use, the right half of the widget is cut off, and the lowest possible width is set at 400.

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