Fix Your Writer Website With This Video Critique

Carol Tice

Fix Your Writer Website With This Video Critique. Makealivingwriting.comLast week, I kicked off a fun contest — my webmaster David Robert Hogg offered to do a free writer website review for one lucky reader of this blog.

And we all got lucky — he actually chose two winners and provided 20 minutes of detailed critique of each. This video is packed with insights about design, usability, and how to set up your site to rank well on search engines.

Thanks to all the writers who entered and shared their questions about how to improve their writer websites.

Congrats to Heather Tucker of Cloggie Central and to Tom Bentley of TomBentley.com, who won the prize! Below you can check out David’s critique of their writer websites.

Enjoy all!

Can’t see that? Try clicking this link.

I had a few thoughts of my own, beyond what David goes into in the video:

Cloggie Central: Heather, I searched and searched but could not learn your last name from your site. That doesn’t present you professionally. I finally figured it out by clicking your email link (which was very difficult to find — it should be in your sidebar and visible at all times, on every page).

If your email address didn’t happen to have it, I would be unable to learn your whole name. I see David found your full name credited on photos in the blogroll…so why the mystery? I would imagine you’re sending quite a few possible clients away from the site due to this problem.

I totally agree with David that a tagline for your blog is essential, so people instantly know what the site is about.

This site has a dual nature in that it’s promoting your blog about Holland, but it’s also trying to sell your writing and photography services. I wonder if your tagline might help you swing it more toward getting hired with something like, “An expat travel writer/photographer in Holland”  — or something that puts the emphasis on the fact that you are a pro writer.

Tom Bentley: I’d just say I’m not a fan of the dual/left-hand column layout you have going on — see if you can get it down to one right-hand column, which is where most people expect to see the sidebar. As David says, simplifying will help here.

I think David didn’t mention it, but getting the .wordpress out of your URL would make you look more like a serious writer pro. It doesn’t cost much, and if you won’t invest that little, it makes prospects wonder how serious you are.

I’m really down on writers using a quote from a famous writer as their tagline. You’re the writer here! It feels like you can’t think of anything good to tell us about who you are.

Like Heather’s site, The Write Word has a dual nature — you’re trying to get hired, and you also seem to be trying to build a writer blog. If it were me I’d write a landing page for the home that’s about your writing services, instead of having the blog be the home page.

Members of Freelance Writers Den can get feedback on their writer websites as part of their membership. Learn more now:

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20 Comments

  1. Kathy

    So, how do you go into your WP blog and get those dates off?

    PS Loved the explanation for how to use meta title tags and meta descriptions, David. You’ve brought them out into the “light” so that I now understand how to be smart about how I work with them.

    • Carol Tice

      Don’t know if you’re a Den member, Kathy, but we have a couple of WordPress videos in our storehouse on fixing common WP problems, and that’s one of them.

    • Kathy

      Yes, I am a den member, Carol. I’ll go and look!

  2. Lynn Allen

    So much great content to thank you for. I took lots of notes and hope to have my own site up soon. The critiques gave me a better idea how to set it up and keep it simple.

    Carol, I’m so glad I found your site. You have created something helpful and inspiring.

    LA

  3. Debra Weiss

    Wow. I loved watching the video reviews. I gained two or three page’s worth of notes for my own site. I put a few of the tips into practice on my site already. I can’t believe I never thought to remove the date.

    Thank you, David, and Carol, for taking time to provide these reviews. They were tremendously helpful.

    • Carol Tice

      I took my dates off a while back. I love that the posts are more evergreen now — which makes since the advice mostly is fairly nonpareil.

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t know! I’ll see if I can get David to weigh in on this.

      I think the main issue is that you don’t want the date appearing either on your blog when people arrive, or in search when people look at the text of what’s at the beginning of your post, as it immediately looks dated…but let’s see what David says. I think people tend to scan the headline and first sentence in search results…but perhaps it’s better to get it out of the URL also.

    • David Robert Hogg

      I think the date within the URL can still have a subtle effect on users – but clearly it’s not as obvious or prominent as within the actual post. I’ve never seen Google “date” a post based solely on the permalink but it could still weigh on how much they value the post as recent content.

    • Carol Tice

      Sounds like I should find out how to get rid of it in my URLs too eh?

    • Debra Weiss

      Thank you both so much for your replies! I noticed some of the big names in blogging aren’t doing it so I thought I’d ask.

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