Monday, February 29, 2016

#atozchallenge Blog Check Up in 7 Steps

       Here's some good words of advice from one of Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassadors team.  

Blog Check Up in 7 Steps
Guest post by J Lenni Dorner
The April A to Z Challenge is fast approaching. Time to do a Blog Check Up! I've encountered many blogs that need a few minutes of tender loving care. Here's a seven-step checklist to help you:
Step 1- Using a computer (not a phone or tablet), surf to your webpage. Not your admin area, but the page that the public sees. Do you like the way it looks? If not, note what you want to change. Use the A to Z list to surf to three other blogs (any random three), then surf back to your own. Do you still like how it looks? (This is a color test.)
Step 2- Click on your links. Does your Twitter icon go to your Twitter page? (As opposed to going to "" If you think I made that example up, you haven't clicked on as many Twitter icons as I have. I found that error 42 times last year.) Check your Facebook link, Pinterest link, Instagram link, etc.
Step 3- Even though I just discussed clicking your links, I'm going to make this a step onto itself. Check your Goodreads icon. (Skip this step if you don't use Goodreads.) People come to your blog to connect with YOU. If you have a Goodreads icon and it goes to instead of to your Goodreads profile, that isn't helping you or your blog. (Unless, perhaps, you're getting paid for that click.)

I see many people making this mistake. Go to and click on Widgets. There you will find pre-written code that will link your guests to you. It gives you various options to suit your needs.
Step 4- Can your blog be followed? You just joined a massive blog hop. A majority of bloggers who make this commitment do so because they want to be found, heard, and followed. The marketing blogs will tell you to create an email list for your blog army. That's certainly good advice.

I'm going to toss in that you should offer at least one other method. Why? Because some people will visit over 300 blogs in April. They do not necessarily want 300 new emails a day, a week, or a month. However, those same people might follow your blog with services such as:
·         BlogLovin'
·         LinkyFollowers
·         Networked Blogs (limit of 200 blogs that a person can follow, requires Facebook)
·         Google Friend Connect (only on Blogger, possibly being phased out)
·         Wordpress Reader (only those with a Wordpress account can use)
·         RSS feeds (several options for those people who use that service, but must be set up correctly)
Step 5- Site rating. Look over your blog posts. If you have adult material, you need to note this up front. Most importantly, you NEED to have an AC label on your link at the challenge sign up page OR YOU WILL BE REMOVED.

What is adult content?
·         Excessive Violence — If your blog reads like a how-to guide for Hannibal Lecter, you have excessive violence. If you've written the A to Z guide of how to beat up anyone, make bombs, and kill without detection, you have excessive violence.
·         Nudity for sexual purposes — If you write erotica, you have adult content. This gets tricky with art blogs. If you fall into a gray area, ask the challenge hosts for a ruling before April.
·         Strong and frequent harsh language — If the F word is being used as a verb, or it is used more than three times in a blog post, that is considered adult content. If your every blog post drops at least three curse words, that is adult content.
Adult Content blogs are not written for children. The purpose of the rating is to protect the young and those sensitive to such topics. Those people are not the core audience for such blogs, would not follow such blogs, and possibly present legal trouble if they land on adult blogs. The hosts and their volunteer teams take on the responsibility of keeping the challenge safe and legal for everyone. Please be respectful of this.
Step 6- Check your site on a mobile version (smartphone, some tablets). Can people still access your social media? (If that's important to you.) Do you like the look of your blog?
Step 7- Is your blog a blog? There's always someone trying to get their "click to buy sunglasses" site in the linky. Guess what? They get removed. The difference between a selling website and a blog that has some items for sale is all about content. There must be actual posts with actual content that people want to enjoy.

There are plenty of good people who are willing to help you get your blog ready for the challenge. This is the time and place to ask.

J Lenni Dorner is a speculative fiction and reference guide author who blogs at:
This is the fifth year that J is taking place in the A to Z Challenge, and the second year serving on Arlee's team. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Definitely make sure your blog is set up for mobile viewing.
Many are also following through Google+, so be aware of it.

Ann Bennett said...

Checking links is a good point. I wondered why no one liked my Facebook page but so many viewed it. Oh well, live and learn.

Heather M. Gardner said...

So important!
Thank you!


cleemckenzie said...

I have to go through this checklist! Keep forgetting. Thanks.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

One of the most irritating things I find when visiting new blogs is when I can't figure out how to comment or how to follow. We need to keep it simple.

L.G. Keltner said...

Thanks for the great tips! It's always frustrating when I find an amazing blog and can't find a way to follow it. I have several like that bookmarked so I can still find them easily.

Michelle Wallace said...

Thanks for the reminder!

J Lenni Dorner said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed the post. I hope it helps this year!

klahanie said...

Interesting post. Step 8, wake me up at the end of April!. Thank you, my friends with the weird obsession for the alphabet with 26 letters...

Gary :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder to check my links.

Lisa said...

Hmm, I'll have to figure out Google+ also. I have a page/profile/whatever, but never use it!

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, this is a good list. I'd better go check all my links right away.
One thing that happens to me is that I go to reply to a commenter, but when I click on their name, I get redirected to their Google+ page -- which is fine, except that not everyone remembers to list their actual blog or website in their "About" profile on Google+, and then I don't know where to find them!

J Lenni Dorner said...

That's an excellent point.

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks J for some important blogging tips for anytime and not just April.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

MLQ said...

Thanks! I'm a first-time A to Z Challenge blogger. I've just started posting on my Facebook and Twitter timelines. Can you tell me where the links should go on my blog? I want to be sure I'm all set for when the challenge begins.

J Lenni Dorner said...

I would recommend putting your Social Media icons on in the left widget area or along the top.

This article may help if you are looking for more technical assistance.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Absolutely. And thank you, Arlee, for helping me to share this with everyone.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Good blog maintenance tips! Ready for another year!
Life & Faith in Caneyhead

pamlovesbooks said...

These are the most excellent tips. Seriously DO THESE!!

JEN Garrett said...

Love this checkup! I do all these things, so I guess mine is healthy and ready to go. :)

J Lenni Dorner said...

Just a reminder...

See that? My mouse assures me that this badge is not working. None of the address matches the blog or the person. Which is why clicking it doesn't get a follow... but the average reader isn't going to know this!

Check your widgets, badges, icons, and links.

JEN Garrett said...

I think I've shared this everywhere I can think of and any more sharing would be borderline spammy. Good post, though!