31DBBB Day 26: Improve Another Blog

This is Day 26 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers.

Today’s task is to improve someone else’s blog. We’ve already taken the time to review other blogs for the purpose of improving our own. Now we get utilize our growing expertise by paying it forward to another blogger.

As always, the article on 31dbbb has great suggestions on how you could be of help. Darren says, “The key is to ask yourself what their needs might be and attempt to fulfill those needs in some way.”

I’d like to add three key points to this assignment.

1) Consider the TALENTS you bring to blogging.

This project could be daunting if you try to give out of something you don’t have; instead, share the expertise that you do.

  • If you are great at layout offer that type of advice.
  • If you can offer some content ideas, provide those.
  • If you have faithful readers, point them to a blog article that will benefit them and the blogs author.
  • If you have good editing skills, offer them to someone who may need them.
  • Bottom line, bring what you have!

Recently a friend of mine offered to do some illustrations for some upcoming articles I plan to write. He is a talented artist, but since he doesn’t write much himself, he doesn’t have an outlet for his creativity. His offer is fantastic for me, especially since even my stick figures are amateur.

2) Consider your MOTIVATION.

Darren mentions that the motivation to help another blogger achieve their goals is pretty obvious. He’s right. At the same time I’d like to suggest helping someone even when it might not be an investment for your own interests.

  • A real gift doesn’t expect something in return.
  • People can tell the difference between self-promotion and true goodwill.
  • It is worth making investments in people and seeing them be successful.

3) Consider your FEEDBACK.

Compliments are great; they can let a blogger know what you like about his blog. This kind of feedback can be motivation to continue to produce more of the same. However, what many bloggers need is honest, constructive feedback about the things that could be holding their blog back. Doing this constructively is a little tricky so I’m going to add some suggested scenarios.

  • Don’t tell bloggers what they already know, help them see what they may be missing.

Recently I shared with a blogger that I had a hard time finding the link to the comment section with his new WordPress style. He thanked me and was able to go into the settings and make it larger.

  • Don’t let your criticism sound critical. Share the feedback a positive way.

Instead of saying, “Your blog is too angry.” Consider something like the following. “You always have such intriguing viewpoints, yet sometimes I think the very people you are hoping to be your audience are turned off by the tone. Can I offer a suggestion? Write the first draft of your post just like it is now, especially since it is how you are used to writing. But then before posting it try re-writing it with your desired audience in mind. I bet you will reap more conversations and your desired results this way.”

It is always more helpful to let someone know what their blind spot may be keeping them from; it keeps the criticism constructive, and gives them the motivation to change.

  • Don’t give this sort of feedback without an established friendship.

The point here is not to be an unknown critic; you usually need relationship in order to speak the truth in love. At the same time, if you aren’t providing real, helpful feedback, what kind of a friend are you?

Discussion

  1. What have people done to help you with your blog?
  2. What ways have you been able to help others with their blog?
  3. How do you typically give feedback? What could you do to improve in this area?

The extra mile…

  • Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.
  • When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
  • Please review Erica Mullenix’s blog, Free Fringes, and give her some feedback.

Chad EstesChad Estes is… on a journey from fear to love, from rules to relationship, and from religion to freedom. He blogs at Captain’s Blog and you can follow him on Twitter at @chad_estes.

35 Responses to “31DBBB Day 26: Improve Another Blog”

  1. Charles that is great. I would like some body to review this blog in the light of what you have written.
    http://www.christchosenambassadorsministry.com/ap

  2. Great approach to this task Chad: Pay it Forward :)
    I have tried many of these approaches with the wrong motivation – wanting something back in return. Helping another blogger out (particularly from a Christian standpoint) should be done with a heart of giving. That goes for comments, bookmarking, spreading the word, guest posts, etc

    As for Feedback; shot Paul for the process you put in place for people's blogs to be reviewed. Reviewing someone else's blog can open your eyes to the fixes you need to apply to your won blog.

  3. I paid it forward to the Big Guy himself. What a little paint can't do… ;-)
    http://greeninventionscentral.blogspot.com/2010/0

    • Blogger decided to be unavailable when I tried to comment so I'll comment here on your post.

      I love your writing style. That was a unique approach to improving another blog. I'm already subscribed to Darren but if I wasn't that definitely would have gotten me to check it out. You are great!

  4. I love to help other bloggers, though the help is not always understood. I do also believe in sowing so we can reap, a divine principle. My weaknesses are specifically in generating an audience, but as a writer and designer I can also offer assistance. This was a well conceived assignment and sensitively articulated.

    • I hear your anguish Peter … as Chad says it comes out of relationship though and it sounds like that hasn't been the case.

      That said – if someone publically professes their dislike of their blog but don't know how to fix it then your services should be welcome – if they then rebuff you (as my old pastor used to say) then it's their problem not yours.

  5. This is a great idea! It is a practice I hope to develop well. My passion is to help others. I think one of the best things that we can do to help a fellow blogger is to visit their blog frequently and comment. If we can add meaningful dialogue to their blog it will open doors for others that visit to join the conversation.

    Since I am new to blogging, the feedback that I have received from this group has been fantastic.

    My post for today is: http://larrywestfall.com/cut-the-fluff-and-add-va

    • Larry, I've seen you doing just that this past month- visiting our blogs and commenting- thank you!

    • I agree that the 31dbbb has been great for new bloggers. I've been reading blogs for awhile but not specifically blogging my own. What you said about commenting is good too. You've been helpful and given me some good advice on mine, I know that!

    • Larry – indeed the regular comments is a process I've undertaken on many, many, many (did I say many yet?) blogs – both christian and secular is something I've done for years.

      However it appears that with the exception of a few the owners don't feel they need to reply. A few (very few) of them I can understand because they have a comment stream that is miles long. But those where I've added a constructive comment that furthers the conversation I'd at least expect to see a proportion of them responding – unfortunately they feel they don't need too and I don't understand why.

      If nothing else I think this process is making 60+ bloggers better readers and comenters of other blogs if nothing else.

      And can I just publically say I appreciate your comments on my blog.

  6. 1. I have gotten some great feedback from "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" bloggers. It has been invaluable to me!
    2. Not sure that I have…
    3. I have always tried to be positive, but now I see that is not always the best. The best advice I have been given is comments that point out faults that can be corrected, or advice on trying something new.

    I need to build better relationships with other bloggers. When I was pastoring full-time, I didn't really see the need. I saw my target audience at least weekly. Through 31DBBB, I have learned that there is a whole community of bloggers and communities within that community. I need to find my place and build relationships within that community.

    Post for today: Are you a complainer? http://www.ronniespoon.blogspot.com

    • I love your realization that there are online communities that need pastoring/care and that you are committed to building relationships there. Me too!

  7. 1. People have commented on my blog, they have given me feedback in other areas, made suggestions, etc. I even had someone quote part of my post and told their readers to come to my site to read the rest.

    2. If I've read an article on someone else's blog that does a better job of saying what I want to say I'll try to send my readers to that blog. i've quoted other blogs before. I've acknowledged those who have commented, those on my blogroll, etc I've commented on other blogs, still working on not being a silent rss subscriber.

    I typically give feedback in a post or through the comments on another blog.

    Blog posts for today that should fit this assignment are "Thanking Those I'm Subscribed To" (Blogroll) – http://tijuanabecky.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/than
    and
    "Are You Using an RSS Feed Reader Yet" (quoting another blogger and sending them to their site) http://tijuanabecky.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/are-

  8. What an insightful post. I especially like the tough love, but only from an established relationship part. I've never understood the drive-by criticism, although I'm sure I've been guilty of it. Thanks for the reminder that just because someone asks, doesn't mean we have to answer until we're better acclimated to their space.

  9. Really, as I have experienced it, helping each other improve has been the whole point of this 31DBBB project. It may have started off as "all about me and my blog" but Paul and all of the other guest bloggers have really set the tone for serving one another and putting the needs of other bloggers at the forefront. Thank you, Paul.

    And thanks to all of you who have not only been encouraging to me as a beginning blogger, but also who have graciously given me some constructive feedback. i only hope I can someday be as helpful as man of you have been to me.

    Darren says to pick one blog in your niche and concentrate on helping that one today. It will be hard to choose one from all the great bloggers that are participating in this project (let alone trying to pick someone outside our little group).

    But Chad, you are right in that it is a worthwhile thing to make investments in people, even when there may not be an immediate return for us. Today I write about the Happiness of Serving (from my gardening series): http://junctionforjesus.blogspot.com/2010/06/happ

    • Hey Richard, I enjoyed the article on serving. I think it fit this feedback theme well!

    • Thanks Richard. You and many others participating in this project deserve the credit for raising the bar on serving one another. You've been great about reading and commenting on each others blogs and posting feedback on the review posts.

      It's great to see the principle that it's better to give than receive applies to blogging. :)

  10. A couple of you have become followers on my blog. That has really encouraged me. Another blogger with whom I share feeds has three times in a year mentioned me, my comments on his topic, on his blog. Once he built a blog on my input.

    That's about all I have done in the way of this blog though I do have a good deal of writing background and program development success that I've been allowed to share in a non-blog environment just for the joy of doing so. The same could be of use to other bloggers – for the same reason.

    Today I plan to share some info from one of my blog followers as a special post on my site. To get the maximum benefit for us and my readers they really need to read his full post. I hope they do! It would be well worth their time and "merry" up their life.

    Blogger is down right now so I can't create the post or put a link here.

  11. Thank you for the kind words about today's article. Learning to phrase feedback in a way that it is received is an art that is worth developing; so is caring enough to invest in others lives and their work. I've certainly been blessed to have people do that with me.

    In relationship to my blog my cousin is helping me with design and layout, which is so helpful. I know just enough programming to mess things up. He actually makes things look nice. I think I'll transition from the current blogger theme over to the wordpress theme he developed for me later next week!

    My blog article today is about a day spent in the Philippines while on a mission trip. I learned a life-long lesson that day: http://captainestes.blogspot.com/2010/06/surrende

  12. Yep . . . love the "pay it forward" concept. I'll bet most of you who have been in blogging long enough to know how to help have indeed helped and will continue to do so, simply because you are in Christ and He in you. You can't refrain from helping. It's who you are.

  13. Thank you for the reminder once again, Chad, that anything we add to another's post should add value to the author as well as the reader. You also did a great job on handling constructive criticism.

    Most of the input that I have had to other's posts has been through comments or reviewing other's blogsites by way of our 31 dbbb workshop. It has given us tremendous experience
    and built the relationships for carrying out this assignment.

    The one aspect that intrigued me about this assignment was guest-posting on another's blog. I have not done that yet and I am looking forward to testing the waters.

    In Him,
    Janis

    Last post: http://openmyearslord.blogspot.com/2010/06/are-yo

  14. Ok.. first off I totally dropped out of this blogging experiment/exercise/community since day 10. There was alot of reflection going on in my life. The 1 year anniversary of my mom's death hit me much harder than I anticipated. But, through it I came to some major life decisions and I've been working on them…

    As far as today's assignment, I try to help when I can. I don't read alot of blogs that need help. Most of the pastors I follow have very well made blogs. I have through this exercise given some tips on placement and fonts a few times. I also recently helped a friend set up a blog for a mission trip he's doing.

    Go check out my blog about a sever case of Foot in Mouth disease.. http://guardraildamageahead.com/case-of-mistaken-

  15. I'm back! Like ScottWAyres, I had to drop out for a while (for a week) to knock out a ginormous project that was handed to me. It's been a tough couple of weeks (this project has been going for 6 weeks) because it's a project I don't believe in, and it's forced me to drop other things, finally 31DBBB. But I'm past my big deadline, so here I am. I've missed being here.

    Chad – great post, and I especially appreciate your own personal content. Checking motivation is HUGE. The blogosphere really is full of a lot of selfishness disguised as selflessness, where people can care more about themselves being heard than about saying something meaningful.

    1) My blog is pretty new, so I haven't had that much help offered.
    2) Mostly, I just comment on what people are saying, though I try to add my own take, or another slant.
    3) I could improve by perhaps sending emails to the bloggers with suggestions, or asking for other content. However, I think posting these kinds of suggestions or questions in the public space of comments can be good if other people see the comment and start saying "Yeah – ditto what he said." When more people agree with a suggestion or comment, it shows the blogger that there is a trend that his or her readers are wanting to see addressed.

    Again, great job, Chad.

  16. God loves a cheerful giver!

    Once a lady emailed me and told me that my background image was not showing up on my blog making it hard to read. I appreciated her taking the time to do so. I didn't know it wasn't showing up. The last time I posted it was. I fixed the problem right away and emailed a thank you to her.
    I love supplying my stories and poems to anyone who is looking for content. I don't expect anything in return for doing so. Of course it is customary to include a signature line. When ever I visit a blog and have trouble with any feature, I contact the author. I hope others would do the same for me. Most people write a thank you email.
    I belong to an online Yahoo group and from time to time there are requests for web site reviews. I am honest and to the point and have found that at times I have offended when I really only meant to be helpful. I have learned to state at the very beginning that I am direct and to the point and any comments I make are made solely for the purpose of helping them to improve SEO, appearance, usability, etc. for more visitors and sales. That my comments are in no way meant to be hurtful criticism.

  17. PaulSteinbrueck Jun 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Finally getting a chance to check in after a day full of meetings.

    Here's my attempt to help another blogger… Dave and Jon Ferguson who founded Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL have a new book out called Exponential. I think a lot of you would like it. I'm reviewing, discussing, and giving a way a copy on my blog…
    http://www.liveintentionally.org/2010/06/07/get-a

  18. Very appropriate post. Paying it forward, being generous with our gifting, serving others, caring, generosity and encouraging others. There are so many ways that blogging, done right, can make a difference in other people's lives. Thanks for the post Chad.

  19. Chad,
    Thank you for taking the time to help others. Blogging is something I have been doing for only about ten months and I have a great deal to learn. Your ideas are much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

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