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How a Collaborative Critique Changed My Brand … and My Future #QLDBLOG

Posted By Guest Blogger 3rd of September 2012 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Kara Williams of The Vacation Gals.

When I found out I’d been chosen as one of the ten Queensland Blogger Correspondents, I was as excited to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef as I was to get some hands-on blogger training from the ProBlogger himself, Darren Rowse.

Kara and koalaI’d read ProBlogger for years—since co-founding The Vacation Gals in 2009—and couldn’t wait to learn not only from Darren, but from other successful bloggers from six different countries.

In the hot seat

Indeed, the two, three-hour workshops we enjoyed during our short stay in Queensland were fascinating, fun and oh-so helpful. My favorite part was the first interactive workshop, where each of us bloggers was in the “hot seat” for 15 minutes.

Seated at tables in a big U shape at a Green Island Resort meeting room, we all watched as Darren pulled our blogs’ home pages up on a large screen. One at a time, we each chatted a little bit about our blogs: why and when we launched it, our goals for the blog, and a challenge or question we had for the group at large to address.

As I watched other bloggers go before me, it was so great to see how tactful and gentle, and genuinely constructive, everyone was, offering advice to one another. When it was my turn, I asked for general first impressions of my blog, and I got an earful of candid suggestions.

Constructive criticism

Most significantly, a couple folks questioned why my co-founders and I went by “Gal” nicknames: our bylines on each of our blog posts were ColoradoGal, TwinCitiesGal and SoCalGal, signifying where we live in the United States.

We launched our blog with those handles because we thought we were being creative. In the About Us section of the blog, we shared our real names with our bios.

Also, each of our guest posters was given a “Gal” nickname—one of our friends who covered outdoor activities was AdventureGal, one who had a thing for Italian ice cream was GelatoGal, another was CruisinGal, for example.

But as some other Queensland Blogger Correspondents pointed out, it was confusing to the new reader who the owners and authors were. Not only did the reader not know our real names right off the bat, when they’d land on an individual article or the home page, but it wasn’t clear if a “Gal” was a blog owner or a guest poster.

I didn’t like the sound of that at all!

A small change … but a big difference

Upon arriving home in Colorado from Australia, I procrastinated a bit on changing our nicknamed bylines, even though my business partners agreed that it was a good idea—not only to make it more understandable to our readers, but to further our own personal brands as travel writers.

I thought it would be an epic ordeal to change the bylines not only on our posts, but on our guest posts as well. So I emailed our friends at Desperately Seeking Word Press, a team that has helped us with WordPress questions over the years, to get some insight on how to deal with the change on more than 1,000 posts.

Turns out, all I needed to do was go into the User section of our WordPress dashboard and change the “Display name publicly as” field to our real names. A simple fix!

I did something similar to our 46 guest posters’ profiles, for whom we’d opened individual Contributor accounts, since we’d originally wanted to give them specific “Gal” nicknames. I changed all of their display name fields to Guest Author.

To make it easier on us in the future, I created just one Guest Author user, and now we use that user name and password for loading all guest posts.

It’s a small change to our site, but one that pleases me so much. I’m proud of my blog posts about family travel, romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways on The Vacation Gals, and I’m so glad that my own name is clearly associated with my work moving forward.

What small changes have made a big difference to your blog? Share them with us in the comments.

In addition to co-running The Vacation Gals, freelance writer Kara Williams covers travel (mainly in North America) for magazines, newspapers and websites. She makes her home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two school-aged children.

About Guest Blogger
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  1. Networking, putting great minds together and positive consistent collaboration is the transformation solution for achieving abnormal success. Great work on staying faithful and doing the business transformation work necessary to achieve your goals hoped for. Please be sure to keep us updated on how things are going for you in the future, in another guest blog post on Darren’s Problogger! :-)

  2. Kara, Thanks so much for this advice. I use the Genesis framework and for some reason had not checked that box in the WordPress set up so that my real name was posted after the blog posts! I blog about custom gifts and high light our clients as well. I want my readers to know that I am real and how we help hotels, resorts, museums, corporations, and boutiques create unique luxury gifts. This little change is very helpful and easy to follow….so thanks again! I noticed you said you were from Colorado. Classic Legacy serves The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and you may be interested to see what we have done for them. Thank you again for your good advice! Catherine

  3. Constructive criticism is always worth listening too. After all, those that give it to us have probably been there themselves and speak from experience. It is great for having such mentors.
    Wish you well.

  4. At first i was reluctant too to display my real name
    But readers want to know who you are, if you’re real or not
    I display also myfacebook profile, because now people check your facebook to have an idea of who you are

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a very creative writing style, Kara. It is nice to hear the thoughts, and how this has continued your creative flow with what you are doing with your blog. Looking forward to reading more of your posts, here, and on “The Vacation Gals.”

  6. Hi Kara,

    Simply posting a photo with some text – of me at the beach – on one of my blogs and re-doing my opt-in image made a big difference. Power advice here!

    Each change was a bit more dramatic than your edit but the results were similar.

    Champs pay attention to details. More importantly, champs listen to suggestions.

    Constructive criticism, barbs, whatever we call it, it’s only a simple suggestion.

    We can tune in and listen or tune out. All turning out, independent of hurtful, malicious words, is simply our ego protecting itself, and slowing down our growth.

    Listen up all. Pros, novices, and all in between provide you with spot on feedback at times.

    My dad is a Facebook Guy. He knows little about blogging, or anything outside of FB. But he has offered me some of the best advice for my sites.

    Why? He looks at the web through simple, truthful eyes. Online entrepreneurs or web vets overlook the simple much of the time. We take things for granted.

    A fresh new set of eyes, relatively new to many aspects of the web, sees simply truths that tired eyes miss.



  7. This so beautiful thought Kara. I really can’t afford to lose such a fantastic advice. Every area of your thought is so creative actually with much help indeed! Business is about change to make a constructive difference and once a small change is made, there must be a very big difference in everything. Thanks a lot for helping in that, so far I like it.

  8. Nice one… @ Kara.

  9. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a very creative writing style, Kara. It is nice to hear the thoughts,

  10. Thank for this pots. It is very interesting and important post.

  11. Thanks for mentioning DSWP Kara! I just found it now – going through one of those SEO tasks that I always procrastinate on!

    So appreciated!


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