This guest post is by Ali Luke of Aliventures.
Are your blog posts working well, or leaving readers unsatisfied? Is your About page enticing, or confusing? Does your Hire Me page do a great job of selling your services, or is it too bland?
Often, the only feedback that you have comes in the form of numbers. Maybe readers aren’t spending long on your blog. Maybe you rarely get comments. Maybe no one’s ever hired you.
The problem is, it’s hard to tell why. Without any feedback from readers, you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
Honest, constructive feedback isn’t the same as a comment saying “great post!” Good feedback:
- tells you exactly what’s working, and what isn’t
- offers suggestions on how to fix any problems
- encourages you to make the most of your strengths.
Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking no one will give me any feedback. I don’t have any readers yet. Or maybe your blog isn’t even online—you’re struggling away with your posts and pages, trying to get your core content together before you launch.
Don’t give up. I’m going to give you six easy ways to get feedback.
Six ways to get feedback
1. Look at your current comments
If you’ve received any comments on your blog, look at the following.
- Which posts have the most comments? These will, in some way, have struck a chord with the reader.
- Are there any suggestions that you can use for future posts? Sometimes, commenters will tell you exactly what they’d like to read. Other times, they’ll mention what they’re struggling with—and you can use that as the basis for a post.
- Did any posts get negative or confused comments? If a reader leaves a comment to say that they didn’t understand, you might want to take another look at that post and make sure it’s clear.
2. Ask around on Twitter or Facebook
If your blog is new, you might well have a bigger following on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks. Try asking there for feedback: post a link to a particular post or page and explain that you’d welcome any constructive criticism.
You’ll be surprised at how generous your friends—and even complete strangers!—can be. Don’t discount the opinions of non-bloggers, either; they might not “get” the technology, but they’re likely to be representative of your general audience.
3. Find a blogging partner
Some bloggers like to swap posts with one another. If you’ve got any blogging friends, ask around and see if anyone would be interested. A blogging partner can do a lot more than just read your posts, too—check out Find a Blog Buddy [Day 15 – 31DBBB].
If you don’t know a single blogger yet, try looking in the comments sections of relevant blogs (ProBlogger might be a good place to start). Find someone who seems to be at a similar stage to you, and drop them an email.
4. Post a message in a forum
When I’ve been looking for feedback, often on sales pages, I’ve posted in the Third Tribe forum. I’ve always had great responses from other members, with plenty of insightful feedback. When you put out a request like this, it’s often helpful to specify what particular areas you want feedback on. You might ask questions like these:
- Was my About page clear?
- Did it encourage you to read on?
- Is there anything you think I should add?
If you’re not currently a member of any blogging or business-related forums, you might want to take a look at ProBlogger’s own Facebook Community Group. ProBlogger Community even offers a “blog review swap” thread.
5. Join a blogging-related course
Many ecourses will include some element of interaction—that might be live calls with the tutors, or forums where you can easily interact with other members. There’ll often be a chance to ask questions and get specific feedback.
Even if it’s a big course without any individual instruction from tutors, you’ll find that other members are very willing to help out. People taking an e-course are often more engaged (and at a slightly further stage) than your general audience on Twitter or Facebook.
Checkout ProBlogger’s Courses, where they have both free and paid courses, including several on creating content.
6. Hire a writing coach
For really in-depth, expert feedback, look for a writing or blogging coach. They’ll work with you to help you shape and polish up your content, and a good coach will be careful to preserve your own voice and style.
Coaching is definitely an investment, but many bloggers find it a very worthwhile one. That applies even if you have a strong writing background. One of my own coaching clients, Prime Sarmiento, is an experienced journalist. She wrote about the benefits of getting coaching in a guest post for Men with Pens: Why Hiring a Writing Coach Can Help You Build Your Business.
So, you’ve found someone willing to give you feedback. What should you ask them to look at?
I think there are several key areas where you’ll want to make sure your writing (and formatting of posts) is as good as it can be.
Your cornerstone content
If you’re creating a series of posts as cornerstone or pillar content—posts that readers will go back to again and again—then you want them to be as good as possible.
It’s worth asking someone to read through the whole series, so that they can help you both with the small details (like typos and clunky sentences) and the big picture (making sure that all the posts fit together well).
Your About page
Did you know that your About page is probably the most-read page on your blog after your home page? (Check your Google Analytics if you’re not convinced!) It make sense—new readers will often read a blog post or two, then click on “About” to find out who you are and what the blog’s purpose is.
A great About page can turn a casual visitor into a subscriber. A poor About page might lose you that visitor completely. About pages are really tough to write, so it’s definitely worth getting feedback and even some help with the drafting.
Your Services or Hire Me page
If you’ve got any services (or products) for sale, you want to make sure that your sales page does a great job of drawing potential customers in. That means, at a minimum, being totally clear about what you do and who you work with.
I’ve read lots of incoherent and confusing sales pages—and even decent sales pages often don’t sell the blogger as well as they should. You should always get feedback on a sales page, to make sure that your offer is totally clear.
Your next steps
Pick one page or post on your blog, and find someone who can give you feedback on it. That might be a friend, a forum member, a coach … the important thing is that you get a second opinion. Ideally, it should be someone who understands your audience (even if they’re not part of that audience themselves).
And if you’re not sure who to ask, why not pop a comment below? You might just find a new blogging friend…
Ali Luke is a writer and writing coach, and author of The Blogger’s Guides series of ebooks. She has a weekly newsletter for writers and bloggers, and has just released a mini-ebook How to Find Time for Your Writing –click here and sign up for her newsletter to get your free copy.