What I Learnt (and what I really didn’t want to hear) from my recent Blog Audit

One of the key frustrations of being a life-style blogger has to be the lack of eyes on your blog (blog traffic). After all, is there much point in writing a blog if no-one’s even reading your content?…

And how can people read your blog if they can’t even find it (here’s where SEO – Search Engine Optimisation comes in)? At the turn of the new year I decided to take some action, starting with some truths!

Why I chose to have a Blog Audit

After losing the .com domain I’d had since 2012 (taken stolen by a fake trainer/sneaker company!) due to missing it’s renewal date, and intermittent breaks from blogging on this site due to other paid commitments, I’m not going to lie, I noticed a massive decline in the number of views to my blog when I came back to it full-time last November, as compared to its hay-day in 2013/14. And although I’ve recently secured a .blog as an alternative, it probably doesn’t hold the same weight as my .com did.

This, for me, was the reason why the number of eye balls to my blog has greatly declined over the years… But I wanted a second opinion, so I sought the help of ‘blog expert‘.

Travelmaker Kai Blog audit video
Screenshot of Mo giving a live video audit review of my blog

Blog with Mo Audit review

Mo, founder of Blog with Mo is a blog coach based in Kingston Jamaica, and creator of the Facebook group Help a Blogger Out (love the name, right?!) I reached out to Mo for help, and after our Skype call earlier this year, she *offered to conducted a recorded audit; an in-depth assessment of what works and what doesn’t, to reveal her professional advice on ways I can improve my blog… There were a few home truths I was hoping not to hear…

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Dated theme

Just as my hay-day for top statics was back in 2014, so it seems was my blog theme – dated (like literally – the theme I used, Morning After, is even retired!) In all honesty, I was aware of this despite my recent blog ‘re-vamp’, I just couldn’t bring myself to change the theme I’ve had since I started writing this blog. I’m sentimental, and between you and me, I quite liked the ‘news-style’ layout with my featured posts on the left, and promos on the right… And yes, I even liked the time-line I proudly displayed of my blog archive dating back to 2012… Ok when it’s written like, 2012 was a while ago – and in the digital age – that’s old!

So hearing directly from Mo pretty much that ‘the theme has gots to go‘ was tough. I was secretly hoping my glossy new pictures would out-shadow a theme being kept for sentimental reasons… Nope, her professional eye saw past that! So I’ve since had to bite the bullet and change the theme to this current one (though as I write this, I still have another tab open with the old layout in case I change my mind later!)

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Font is way too small

Ok, this too I was aware of, however I have a valid(ish) excuse for making my readers strain their eyes to read my content… You see (pun intended!), when I tried to increase the font size it messed up the spacing of the whole text box, which I thought was more of an eye-sore than small (but neat) lettering. So I was kind of hoping readers would;

1. have really good eye-sight

or

2. be reading my blog from their mobile phone, that way they could simply adjust the phone closer… right? How could I be more wrong!

Mo shared that the average blog font size should be 16 points, or larger for advertising. And it makes sense. Reading a blog is meant to be an enjoyable experience, and not a headache – not even for the most informative of content. So I’ve taken this advice on board, and as you can see (hopefully without having to make much adjustments), I’ve implemented the font size change with the new theme.

Grow Your Mailing list

I’ve probably taken for granted what I’d do if my blog was to magically disappear… As in, what if the WordPress systems was to fail or my blog got hacked into (touch wood neither of these ever happen) – how would I keep in touch with my readership?

This was another very valid point Mo made in my video audit review. All this time (well, the times I would be back blogging on this platform), I’d concentrated on building my following via social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The only way to guarantee the the audience is yours, and you have control over continuing to grow it – is by building an email list ” Mo shared.

So now that I’m back blogging on Travelmaker Kai for good, I’m invested in getting to know, and share directly with my following. I have lots planned like a Self-care Retreat in Rio later this year, and I’m working on my first book ‘Travel On Your Own Terms plus a guide derived from it Travel On Your Own Terms‘ (which you’ll be first to get a FREE taster copy of when you sign up to my newsletter btw!) These and more exciting projects will be shared periodically in my newsletter… You might have already noticed the pop-up signup form which greeted you as you entered my blog (did you sign-up? Here’s another chance to in case you missed it)

Travelmaker Kai new blog layout

Other ways to Grow Your Blog Traffic

As mentioned right at the beginning of this post, blog traffic is one of my frustrations (and that of all of many of us bloggers surely!) Another of Mo’s niches’ is on growing your blog following using Pintrest. I had no idea all this time I could be using my Pintrest account to attract viewers to my blog. When I recently signed back onto Pintrest, I noticed my first pin is from one of my earliest Instagram posts possibly dating back to 2014!… Ok, so you get the picture. Dated, and out dated (but 2014 feels like it was just yesterday!) I’m clearly not utilising all possible social media revenues to increase my traffic… Lots to work on, and I’ve already started implementing some changes so it’s just a matter of time before the hits roll in! *does happy dance*

Updated WordPress Blog Theme

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Shopping for a modern new theme actually wasn’t as daunting as I’d anticipated it to be (kind of like how I usually feel after going clothes shopping, as opposed to shopping online)! In fact, once I was able to clicked ‘publish’ during one of my ‘theme fittings’, it felt liberating leaving the retired theme at bay. I even got a little excited over the the vast possibilities – also with free themes, to get an upgraded look. At present I’ve settled for Baskerville 2 a crisp, responsive theme that displays my content in a dynamic grid layout – a must for me as I have so much content on my blog. There are some slight issues though, namely that my tag line is illegible “A Black Girl’s Perspective of a Global Village” (this is a very meaningful aspect for me, as the travel blogosphere isn’t representative of diverse travellers), and the title covers my face… Some will call it vanity, but I call it putting a face to the brand Travelmaker Kai!

So I’ll be hanging out in the fitting room of blog themes a little longer until I find the perfect fit. Or just keep changing things up every now and then!

The downside of my blog audit

It has to be said, there was a slight downside. Firstly to take any form of critique, especially about something personal which you’re passionate about, you have to have a thick skin. I welcomed Mo’s direct and honest feedback. The downside for me however was the tardiness of the delivery.

My much anticipated video audit review arrived almost 4 weeks after the expected date given to me, proposed to be within a week. And even after sending two gentle reminders (the latter, I was almost sure I the deal was off for my audit so I shared my own home truths about ‘keeping one’s word’ and ‘professionalism’, though in a diplomatic manner) – silence. No communication (even to say ‘I’m busy’ or ‘you know what, I changed my mind your blog isn’t worth saving’!) By the 4th week however, a message from Mo came through as an unexpected surprise, and I was sent a 17 minute-long live video review of my blog with lots more suggestions for change than I’ve shared in this review.

Was it worth the wait? In hindsight, yes – of course! But a quick ‘bare with me I’m tied up at the moment‘ wouldn’t have gone a miss.

Blog with Mo audit.jpg
Blog with Mo video blog audit is a useful resource

And this second petty thing I wasn’t going to share because I thought it’s just me being over sensitive, but no, I won’t silence my initial thoughts (you can let me know in the comment box if you think I’m being overly sensitive) is when Mo remarked towards the end;

and get your life together girl!“… Ouch.

A tad patronising if you ask me. That final statement felt like an unnecessary salt to a wound jab from someone that doesn’t know me, besides looking through my blog… I’ll take it that it’s as a sentiment lost in translation. But nether-the-less, here’s opportunity to clear the air;

I might not make a ton of money as these ‘10 ways to travel with a backpack‘ strategist bloggers do, and yes, my following isn’t what it was – but I’ll have it be known my life with or without a monetising blog is quite together ‘with the dignity of being my authentic self’. And considering I’ve managed to visit over 40 countries in the last 5 years (I wasn’t counting until I had to make a point!) – I’d say my experiences count for something right.

You get my drift? But hey, maybe I really am just too sentimental for my own good!

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Thanks for helping this blogger out!

Overall, I’m really grateful to have had an unbiased, critical review of my blog from the perspective of someone with experience in creating blogs. When I’ve asked friends and family to offer the same or similar, I’ve always had a basic response of  “it’s nice”, “cool” and “well done” (now can you see why I thought it was ok to keep my dated theme?!) So Mo’s professional eye was much welcomed. 

Would I recommend bloggers to get an audit done? YES!

Want some advice on improving your blog? Join the community of bloggers at Help a Blogger Out.

Let me know your thoughts… Are you thick skinned enough to get a blog audit? If you found this blog post useful feel free to share it in your networks!

See you again soon!

Kai x

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*My blog audit was given on barter. A full blog audit at Blog with Mo costs $70 which includes a written report outlining strategy and a 12 Point Steps to Growth.

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