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Another Chance to Win 1,700 Visitors: Review

Posted By Skellie 25th of February 2008 Case Studies 0 Comments

This week’s community consultation of Free Money Finance boasts a very useful prize for bloggers: 1,700 visitors. Leave a helpful review with some non-intuitive points in your comment and you could win a stampede of 1,700 StumbleUpon users to your favorite post. If your content is good, those 1,700 visitors could grow into a much bigger traffic snowball as votes for your content pile up.

What we’re looking for: a thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the running. There will be only one winner.

The blog’s owner, who writes under “FMF”, describes the blog like this:

Free Money Finance is a personal finance blog designed to help people grow their net worth. As such, the site covers all money-related topics including investing, retirement, saving money, making money, getting out of debt, etc. The blog is written anonymously by FMF and he shares the strategies he’s used the past 20 years to create a substantial net worth. The blog is updated five times a day every weekday and once each on the weekends. Some content is completely original, but most of it features quotes from other sources and commentary from FMF on his opinions about what is being recommended.

The blog’s owner has asked for feedback on the following areas:

  • Design – This is NOT my expertise at all and I’d be interested in what ProBlogger readers suggest to make the site look better and become more usable.
  • Posts – Currently when I quote a source, I put the quoted areas in red/maroon shaded text. What do your readers think of this? Good? Bad? Better suggestions? (FYI, I use Typepad and hence might be limited in some design options.)
  • How to drive traffic – The blog is doing well in terms of traffic, but could do better. Other than the standard ideas for driving traffic, are there any suggestions I may not have thought of?
  • Generating revenue – The blog earns a decent income from Adsense and a few affiliate programs, but more is always better! Any suggestions for doing this? (FYI, I give all my income to charity – details here.)

We look forward to your helpful and respectful advice. Good luck!

  • msanstx


    Other’s here have stated that the header and site design aren’t slick. In some ways you have a Craigslist thing going on here where a lack of slick design may be a valued aesthetic to your existing users (ie readers trust you because you’re not overly commercial).

    Cleaning up the graphic design with that caveat in mind is probably worthwhile, but there are two issues I would address first:

    1) Because your topic is money, you have to get past each visitor’s internal scam blocker to convince them to stay and become a return reader.

    2) You need to help your visitors and readers find their way with a little navigational support.

    When I first visited your site, I assumed it was a get-rich-quick site because it was money oriented, the title is vague, and it wasn’t from a name I recognized. I stayed and read the posts because of this contest, became hooked (added you to my feedreader), and realized my initial impression was way off. I think if you get people past that preconception, you’ll see a huge increase in quality traffic.

    To combat that natural defense, I would take one of your reviews and put it in the top right of the banner – “[Free Money Finance] offers an inspiring mix of timeless investing wisdom and money-making ideas. – Business Week Magazine”. That’s an introduction to your site from brand I know.

    The next issue I would address is the navigation. Other’s have mentioned that it’s hard to find your way around and difficult to find your subscription options. You can address this by de-cluttering your sidebars and moving some of that content (such as Money Blogs) to separate pages. It seems there are two category lists which are competing: The left sidebar starts with Best of FMF, the right sidebar has a simple list of categories. This could all be combined into a cleaner archives page.

    I think your content is great and based on your reviews from major players in field, greater money minds than mine think so too.

    You asked about the red – it’s a bit too harsh. When I read it in my feedreader, it’s just indented and that works well. Another common (and fancier) approach is to add large quote marks to the background via css.

    How to drive traffic:

    It looks like from the footer on the posts you’re handling the obvious social networks.

    Consider partnering with financial sites (such as mint, or even banks/other financial advice sites) to syndicate some of your best/latest articles while linking back to you. This takes considerable legwork to find the right partner, but your content is good enough to get you in the door.

    Again, putting that recommendation from Business Week at the top of your site is going to lower your bounce rate and turn a higher percentage of visitors into real readers. It’s also going to greatly improve your StumbleUpon ratings.

    Generating Revenue:

    It looks like you have site sponsors that you sold yourself. Also consider selling sponsorship of your RSS feed, where the sponsor gets a small plug at the end of every post (in your RSS only).

    This is an area where a slicker graphical redesign of your graphics may help sponsors want to partner with you.

    Normally I don’t care for donate buttons on blogs, but in your case, where profit is going to charity, I think it would be appropriate and work well.