Monday, January 23, 2012

Mentoring Mondays - Melissa - Momcomm/DIY Blog Critique

This week's Mentoring Mondays features Melissa from Momcomm and author of DIY Blog Critique Workbook.  I purchased the workbook and know I had to contact Melissa about Mentoring Mondays and I was thrilled when she agreed. 

Momcomm is full of great information for bloggers of all levels, if you haven't been to her site yet you should go (right after you read her interview here).  I love her blog critiques, I always learn a thing or two.

My rambling is over, here is Melissa with her FABULOUS interview.

Blog:  momcomm
Book:  DIY Blog Critique Workbook
Facebook:  momcomm
Twitter: @melaculbertson

  1. Hi Melissa!  I am so excited to have you here. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your ebook “DIY Blog Critique” and your website

I’m a mama to two boys, blogger and freelance marketing consultant. Coffee makes me happy and so does going on a long, long hike. I wrote the DIY Blog Critique last year after seeing how immensely popular my free weekly critiques were on Momcomm. It was a way to help more than just the 52 bloggers I critique in any given year (I do one critique per week).

  1. Blogging has really exploded in the last few years, what is the biggest mistake(s) most people make? What’s the best way to avoid it (them)?

One of the biggest mistakes is trying to pump out content for the sake of feeling like they have to post something. Instead, bloggers should work on QUALITY over quantity, even if that means 1-3 posts per week instead of 4-7 posts.

  1. Let’s talk about blog design for a moment, what are the key elements everyone should have on their blog?  Which do you feel is most important?

At the very least, everyone needs a blog header, navigation menu, a sidebar and social media buttons. Not sure I could say which is MOST important but I will say it’s important as a whole to avoid too much clutter. It hurts the readers’ eyes and doesn’t let them draw into any particular focal point. Let your content shine!

  1. What role does blog design play in readers returning? I have personally added friends blog buttons, countdowns, and such over time. Can you have so many distractions on your blog that turns readers off?

Click here to purchase.
Absolutely! In fact, this is one of the biggest turn offs for readers: too much stuff! I also tell bloggers to focus on only showcasing what’s relevant to their blog’s content. For other bloggers’ blog buttons, I suggest a rotating box in the sidebar or a separate page of your favorites broken down my category (ex. Local Bloggers, Bloggers that Make Me Laugh, etc). Otherwise, it’s too overwhelming.

  1. What is the best way for a blogger to find their audience? After you find a following, what is the best way to keep them coming back?

Honestly, I’d say Twitter is a killer way to find an audience. You can use hashtags and keywords to find those with similar interests. Twitter helps you build relationships that you just can’t build as easily elsewhere. If Twitter makes you shake in your boots, this post about viewing Twitter as a cocktail party will help make sense of it all.

To keep people coming back, it’s all about content. Writing content that others can relate to or that conjures up some emotion for them. Do you inspire people, make them laugh, entertain them with stories, teach them something? Define how you want others to perceive you and your blog and then write content that supports that mission.

  1. In your book you talk about the importance of your “About Me” page. Why do you feel this is one of the most important pages on a blog?  What should be included?

In all my years in the marketing world, the About page is always one of the most visited. As a blogger, it’s just as important of a page. It’s where new fans go to learn more about you. It’s where brands go to find out about you too. As for what should be on one, include a picture of yourself, your name (or nickname if you’re anonymous), a little about you, a little about what you offer your readers and a way to contact you. That sounds like a lot but if you keep it concise, it’ll be just right.

  1. What is best way to improve our writing skills and overcome writers block?  

Ooh this is a big one because as cheesy as it sounds, improving our writing is a life-long journey. To improve writing skills, it’s important to read! See how those you like compose sentences, build emotion, use paragraphs and so on. What is it about their writing that you love so much? It’s also JUST as important to edit yourself. Few people write beautifully without a little self-editing.

As for overcoming writer’s block, I like to use magazines to help me out! I wrote a post about getting blog ideas from magazine covers and it really works! (insert infomercial-like wink here). It also helps to read other blogs and websites. Sometimes just a phrase in someone’s article can trigger a post idea.

  1. How important is proper spelling and grammar? When is it OK to break the rules?

Spelling and grammar will always matter. It doesn’t mean you should write like you did your high school thesis papers. It DOES mean that poor spelling and grammar slow down your readers when they read your blog. Each mistake is like a speedbump and the more you have, the harder it is for people to enjoy your posts. Take the time to read over your blog posts before hitting publish and if you need spelling and grammar help, try the Grammar Girl’s website (I’m subscribed to her emails).

Rules were meant to be broken, right? Yes! Some rules weren’t, like the proper use of they’re, there and their. But other rules, like some of the ones you learned in high school, should definitely be broken.

  1. Why is engaging with our readers important?  What is the best way to encourage engagement?

Engaging with our readers creates a two-way dialogue. You wouldn’t want to keep talking with someone that never talked back in real life, would you? Same goes online. When we engage with our readers, they feel noticed and welcomed. It leads to higher traffic too which helps grow our audience.

Now getting your readers to engage BACK with you can be tricky. I know we’ve all written a post and heard nothing but crickets. At Bloggy Boot Camp last year, I did an entire presentation on getting readers to talk back. There are some great tips not only for blogging but for Twitter and Facebook too.

  1. There is a plethora of widgets and add ons out there, it can be a bit overwhelming. Are there any you recommend? What is the best way to find the ones that will work for you?

Finding good ones out there is typically about getting recommendations from people you know. If you see a feature you like on someone’s blog, don’t be afraid to send them an email asking if it’s a plugin. Off the top of my head, I’d say that everyone needs social sharing buttons at the end of each post and a way to catch spam. Since I get so many people that ask me these questions, I put together a free mini-ebook that lists the resources I use to run Momcomm. While I’m on Wordpress, I link to similar Blogger options if they are available. 

  1. Anything else you would like to add?

I really appreciate you having me on your blog!

Melissa, thanks so much, I am very honored to have you as part of Mentoring Mondays!! I hope you have all been inspired by her as much as I am.  

Please visit Melissa's blog, and check out the book. If you are familiar with momcomm or if you have purchased DIY Blog Critique I would love to hear about your thoughts and opinions. As a matter of fact, I will be posting later this week about my experience using the DIY Blog Critique Workbook .

Have a Magical Day!!
Donna Kay


  1. excellent interview! I learned a lot and am now off to read the stuff she linked to in the interview! :)

    1. The links are excellent, you should sign up for the RSS feed. I love seeing emails from her, I know I'm going to learn something.

  2. This is just awesome! I am going to now be following Melissa to learn how to improve myself as a blogger. Thank you so much to both of you.

    1. I promise you will be glad you did! She is such a sweet person too.

  3. Awesome interview. I learned a lot and I'm heading over to her site now and learn more. Thanks for sharing Donna Kay and Melissa...

    1. Thanks Diane!! Melissa is great! I have learned so much from her site and her book!

  4. Add me to the list of bloggers who'll be checking out Melissa's site! Great interview!

    1. Thanks Kathy! Her blog is great, you will love it. check out the mini book!!

  5. Thanks again Donna Kay for having me! It was fun to be interviewed!

    1. Melissa, it was such an honor to have you. I know you are busy, and you personal life has been chaotic, I really appreciate your taking the time to share with all of us. THANKS!!

  6. Great stuff! Love the Tip about a separate page for favorite blog buttons. And my about me page is boring as heck so I'll be working on that. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lori, be sure to checkout Melissa's blog and sign up for the RSS Feed.

  7. Great interview Donna! I love the book and have learned a lot from it. Heading off to check the links Melissa suggested!

    1. Thanks Deb! She is really so nice too!! Maybe someday I will get the nerve to ask her to critique my blog (after a lot of work).


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